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crippled by flats

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by thunderbolt, Apr 14, 2010.

  1. When I first got my bass, it of course came with rounds on it. After learning and fooling around for about a month, I got horrible blisters on my fingertips where the the rounds had chewed me up. A local bassist recommended that I try flatwounds, so i went to the local shop and got some D'Ad Chromes. Now first of all I want to say that even more than the texture of the strings (which was my whole reason for buying them) I loved the sound. They have such a deep mellow buttery tone, it was exactly what I was looking for, EXCEPT FOR ONE PROBLEM: the chromes are so high tension that no matter where I play, even right up by the neck where they should be the flabbiest, there's always a discernable "pip" noise of my fingers plucking the strings. This gets really annoying when I play fast because of the constant "pipipip" in front of every note. Let me know if you know what I'm talking about. I'm pretty sure that the high tension is the reason for this because I tried some lower tension strings that didn't have this problem. THEY HAD A TOTALLY NEW PROBLEM: I'm so used to the high tension of the chromes that I can't rock out on lower tension strings without lots of nasty fret buzz, and the strings bounce off of the fretboard unless I'm playing super lightly, which is no fun at all.

    So my question is: how can I get rid of that "pip" plucking noise with my high tension chromes, OR what kind of string should I try that would be high enough tension but no noise?
  2. bongomania

    bongomania Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    I'm pretty sure nobody would hear the finger noise in a band mix, especially if you are "rocking out" as you say. Otherwise, you can roll off your tone knob some, or you can go the "Jaco chicken grease" route, or the "Jamerson dirt and crud" route to deaden the strings a bit.
  3. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    This, like callouses, comes with practice. I too struggled with rounds, but I started on them *very* early, so my fingers have been tough for a long, long time.
  4. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    I've had Chromes on my 4001 for a couple years now and I have yet to use this bass with my band, who plays hard rock/alt. Less than 1/2 hour ago I received and installed a set of Blue Steels on it. I think it's my main bass again.

    Maybe I'll stick the Chromes on an old P bass and break it out when I feel like playing "Day Tripper".
  5. adivin

    adivin Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2009
    New Orleans, LA
    You may need to check the set-up on the bass after switching to Chromes.
  6. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    I think its highly likely that any string change will require at least a cursory check of relief and intonation.
  7. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    If you put higher tension strings on your bass, it likely will need to have a setup done to compensate.

    The first thing I do to any bass i get is rip of the rounds, put on new flats, and do a complete setup.
  8. RCCollins

    RCCollins Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2008
    San Diego, California
    and when you switch back to lower tension strings, you will need to adjust the setup AGAIN.
  9. Craig_S

    Craig_S Banned

    Oct 15, 2008
    Metro Detroit
    I'd start by rolling off some highs, like bongomania suggested, or setting the EQ on your rig flat and dialing out the frequencies that are bothering you. I never noticed that 'pip' sound you're talking about on either the Chromes or the LaBella's. You could be digging in a bit too much (?).

    Personally, I dropped Chromes for LaBella 760FLs and don't plan on going back. The LaBella's aren't as stiff as the D'Addario's and they sound better to me.
  10. Thomastic Jazz Flats have much less tension, I didn't really like them for that reason and use La Bella "Jamerson ropes".....they give me the sound I want from my P bass...but are high tension.
  11. I'd suggest trying some different flats too. Different basses (in my experience) seem to respond to strings differently. I've got La Bellas, Chromes, TIs, and Fender flats on various basses that they seemed to work best with.
  12. gre107


    Dec 25, 2005
    What this sounds like is that after you hit the string of the note you are sounding your finger then hits the string behind it. It is that string (the one behind it) that is making the click.

    When this happens it is usually that you do not have enough relief in the neck and your strings are very low.

    This happens to me fairly often since I like to have a very very very low action and I adjust my setup when the temperature changes.

    A good way to test this is by muting the note on the string you are playing and seeing when your finger hits the string behind it after playing the intended note if the click is occurring there.

    Also, fret the first note of the lowest string on your bass with your left hand and with your right elbow press the string down to the neck so the string rests at the bridge end on the highest fret. Then with your right hand tap the string down with your right hand at the halfway mark (usually the seventh fret) and see if you get a "click". If you do then you have enough relief (or are in the ball park of where you need to be) if you don't here a pronounced "click" when tapping the string then your neck is too straight and need more relief.

    To solve this issue put a little more relief in the neck and then adjust the string height accordingly.

    I try to have the relief in the neck about .010 (?) just about 3/4 - 1/2 the width of a credit card.

    Changing the EQ is a compensation that only hides the issue and does not solve the actual problem and results with a poor tone. To get the best tone you need to allow the string to vibrate freely. Playing with a louder volume and softer touch allows the string to play with a more consistent dynamic where the drop off in tone/attack is more subtle and allows for a more consistent sound. Playing closer to the frets vs. in between the frets makes no difference at all. The strings frequency stops at the fret regardless where you hold it down unless your set up is so high that the string is angled above the fret. If this is the case then the bass is pretty much unplayable. String tension has very little to do with this also. String tension (of the string itself) is involved in the wrapping. Having higher tensioned strings just means that they tend to be more rigid and require more force to get the tone out of them. The actual tension of the string when it is on the bass (tuned) is the same to get the note.

    Hope this makes sense and helps out with your problem?

    All the best!
  13. Meatrus


    Apr 5, 2009
    Not wanting to sound hasrsh...but all three of your problems can be cured with experience/change of technique. Switching to flats because rounds are giving you blisters is not at all necessary, we all had blisters when we started! I of course understand that you may prefer flats now anyway, but don't be afraid to give rounds another go in the future, the blister stage doesn't last long.

    The pipping is not something normally associated with high tension strings, so again down to technique (not wanting to sound blunt; but your doing something wrong :)).

    Lower tension strings is another thing you may have to adapt to, the correct setup will also eliminate buzz.

    Hope the above doesn't sound too harsh, I don't mean it to be at all, just think it may help you.
  14. elzeder


    Mar 19, 2010

    I recently moved to flats after 15 years on rounds

    I played standard gauge 45-105 with some experiments on the way mainly smaller when in a slapping phase and 110 for the big sound (didn t really seem to matter so much though the 105 is pretty good already)

    I checked a lot to see what strings to get, and I finally went with the la bella deep talking flats 760 FL, which is the 43-104 gauge, for some reason it seemed better than the standard 760FS set, maybe something about the fact that a perfectly "balanced set" cannot miraculously be 45 65 85 105, but has to be rather stranger

    the tension is perfect i would say lighter (even if people think flats are heavier in general and in the same gauge area) and easier to play , no adjustments needed, the feel is just so F...ing nice (no burns when you slide unless what I heard about chromes) and the sound is amazing
  15. joinercape

    joinercape Supporting Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    +1 on the LaBella 760FL's, and even better, try the Sadowsky medium flats. I used TI's for years, but then tried the LaBellas which are only slightly higher tension, but you can really dig in with them. They required only a quarter turn tighter on the truss rod. But now I found the Sadowskys which to me are way more consistant, a bit brighter at first, but the best sound and feel I have ever experienced. It's all trial and error, you'll have to try different brands with your bass and your style. Personally I hated the Chromes, way too stiff feeling, though they do sound very good. Best of luck in any case...
  16. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I Grow Organic Carrots
    Flats usually have the annoying clicking sound. That is one of the reasons why I don't play flats.
  17. Stranger Danger

    Stranger Danger Feel Like A Stranger Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2010
    I play the same strings and I know what youre talking about and I too think its a technique issue. You may want to try using less tension in your fretting hand. Try pulling back with your shoulder on the fretting hand side to fret the strings with less finger tension. It helped me. Additionally realize when playing with a band, nobody is gonna hear that.

    Playing with yourself is fine but playing with others is much more fun.

    Also, if you think the blisters with rounds are bad, Try playing chords on an acoustic guitar for an hour everyday for a couple months. You'll never complain about rounds again.

    Peace and buenas suerte.
  18. Marley's Ghost

    Marley's Ghost Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2002
    Tampa, FL
    I tried Labella deep talking flats but didnt like the tension. If you want to go back to rounds, try DR Sunbeams or Lo Rider nickels. Much easier on the fingers. But as others have said, good technique will compensate for strings, setups, etc.
  19. stflbn


    May 10, 2007
    Personally I've never understood blisters from playing. Even after taking years off with playing at all to raise a family and then jumping back into practicing/playing full time, i've never encountered blisters, or even hard callouses for that matter.
  20. lmfreeman9

    lmfreeman9 Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2007
    +1 except for the days when I had no amp and I dug in hard to hear myself. Now, I turn up the volume and use a little pressure as possible with both hands. Forget about blisters, my fingers never get sore.

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