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Does anyone make flatwounds for acoustic bass?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by DennisO, Oct 28, 2018.

  1. Hi all. I bought a Ibanez acoustic electric bass. 32 inch scale. I hate the strings on it, they're like hacksaw blades lol. I searched online for flatwounds or halfrounds for it with no luck. Does anybody know something I can use?
  2. SLaPiNFuNK

    SLaPiNFuNK Commercial User

    Jul 28, 2006
    LA California
    The Brains: FretNation.com
    Flats are flats.
  3. GHS makes a set of their Precision Flats in medium scale. Best bet.
    michael_t and TN WOODMAN like this.
  4. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    I think you'd want to avoid large gauges. Otherwise any flats will do.
    TN WOODMAN likes this.
  5. BobDeRosa

    BobDeRosa Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 16, 2012
    Penfield, NY
    Owner, Tritone Jazz Fantasy Camps
    I'm not sure about the "flats are flats"-type comments. I find that both flats and tapewound strings negatively affect the intonation (most fretted notes run sharp) on my Fender T-Bucket, which has only a piezo pickup. My luthier explains it by saying that some manufacturers of ABGs (I think he mentioned Martin as being one) caution against using strings that stray too far from the recommended tension or core size. If anyone else has had this kind of problem, how have you dealt with it?

    And just FYI: patience is generally not one of my best virtues, but because of the intonation problems with other strings, I've decided to keep phosphor bronze strings on for at least 6 months, just to see if I can learn to like them--or, more accurately, to see if I can make these ABGs sound good for what they are rather than try to coax another kind of sound out of them. I'll let you know how that goes in spring.
    TN WOODMAN likes this.
  6. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    Maybe consider a set of LaBella white nylons?
    jthisdell, mikewalker and TN WOODMAN like this.
  7. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    "Flats are flats" was in response to the idea that there are flats specifically made for acoustics, which there aren't. I wouldn't use Labella Jamersons on an acoustic bass but any light gauge flats work well, in my experience.
    TN WOODMAN likes this.
  8. SLaPiNFuNK

    SLaPiNFuNK Commercial User

    Jul 28, 2006
    LA California
    The Brains: FretNation.com
    You can't set intonation on most all acoustic basses. They are going to have intonation problems with any strings if you look at it that way.

    Most problems come from not creating a proper witness point at the bridge which is a must with flats as they are less flexible (generally) than rounds.

    There is less adjustment on an acoustic so need to stay away from obvious things like tapered strings etc...

    Tapewound are not flatwounds... they are tapewound.
    Dominic DeCosa likes this.
  9. HaphAsSard


    Dec 1, 2013
    If you want something smoother, the usual suspects are:

    0) smoother rounds, with a finer round wrap wire;
    1) Elixir rounds, whose coating is around the entire, finished string (unlike coated strings of other marques, where it's applied to the wrap wire prior to winding it onto the core);
    2) pressurewounds;
    3) groundwounds (known in other commercial ways, such as Brite Flats by GHS and Half-Rounds by D'Addario);
    4) nylon tapewounds. Most of them are variation on the same formula, namely a steel roundwound (core, round winding and all) wrapped in black nylon tape. Exceptions are as follows:
    - AFAIK Pyramid tapes technically have (a steel roundwound under) an originally round nylon winding, which is then ground smooth post-wrappage. Fender used to have a set made similarly, called "Nylon Filament";
    - GHS tapes, or more accurately the lowest strings (B-D-A), are not roundwounds underneath but true flatwounds;
    - alongside their more traditional offering, La Bella also makes tapewounds that aren't black but transparent, they call them "White Nylon Tape Wound" strings, and make them in three flavours: a) Gold (actually wound in "golden alloy", a type of brass, under the clear tape), b) Copper and the unqualified c) White (stainless steel);
    5) flatwounds proper.

    Of the above options, here's what comes in "acoustic" (bronze) variants:

    A0) try a bunch of bronze sets by different makers, there may be some that are smoother;
    A1) Elixir come in not only nickel-plated steel and stainless steel, but phosphor 80/20 bronze too;
    A2) GHS makes a Pressurewound Bronze set. For acoustic bass guitar but also electric (only the final wrapping is bronze, so both the core and the intermediate wrap are magnetically active and work with magnetic pickups, with decent output).
    A4) OK, as I said above, there are the La Bella Gold White Nylon and Copper White Nylon sets, which may be seen as "acoustic". They too work on electric bass, probably for the same reason as the GHS (steel intermediate wraps).
    A5) oookay, it now occurs to me that there is indeed a La Bella flatwound set made with an outer golden alloy ribbon winding, the Deep Talkin' Bass Gold Flats 760FGS. One TB user did mention them having a somewhat "acousticky" character - on an ordinary electric bass, i.e. solid-body and mag pickups, though. No one, IIRC, said anything about their unplugged tone/volume (in case this is relevant to you), nor were there any reports regarding installation on an ABG. Or so I remember - take a browse for yourself:
    (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) (f) (g)


    If the "hacksaw blade" simile referred to sound instead of feel, the options above are already ordered by increasingly smooth tone.

    In conclusion, there are no "acoustic" flatwounds that I know of, if by that we mean: made with a flat bronze ribbon. Cello strings made like that do exist (by Dogal, IIRC), but not bass guitar strings.
    EDIT: oops! I forgot the La Bella Gold Flats! See edit in red above.
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2018
    mikewalker likes this.
  10. Aidil


    Dec 4, 2014
    Jkt, IDN
    +1 on the Elixir if you want to stay with acoustic strings (phosphor bronze or 80/20 bronze strings).

    The Acoustic Bass 80/20 Bronze w/ Nanoweb Coating strings have been on my acoustic for more than 2 years. Sure, these aren't flatwound, but the nanoweb coating manages to make the surface sleek thus not too harsh on fingertips. String squeaky sounds are also slightly reduced compared to previous coated phosphor bronze strings that came stock with the bass.
  11. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    It always amazes me how much energy we all spend trying to run away from phosphor bronze, with the string makers not figuring out that so many of us Hate phosphor bronze rounds on an acoustic bass. Hello, string makers - you're missing an opportunity.

    Anyway, you might want to give La Bella CB60's a try. They are contra bass strings, and the 60s probably fit your bass. They are Way softer feeling than phosphor bronze rounds. If you wind up trying them, please message me and let me know how it went. Thanks.
  12. I put Chromes on my acoustic-electric. They work great.
  13. mark107


    Jul 10, 2009
    I've had a Martin acoustic bass (B-40) for over 25 years. I've used it quite a lot. I've tried a lot of stings on it, including flats (deep but dead), and rounds (too bright with not much low end). Most of the last 20 years I had LaBella black nylons on it, which at least made it sound like a small bass rather than a big guitar. But the low notes were mostly overtones, and they never fully won me over. On a whim, I put on a set of DR Sunbeams, 40-100, that had been on one of my Fender's for a few months. They were not dead, but certainly on the way. They are by FAR the best string I have even had on the Martin. Smooth, clear, completely free from ugly overtones on the low E, and not clanky at all. The phos. bronze strings are not very good in my opinion. They start out too bright, then go dead, and often feel corroded as they age. The DRs feel fantastic. After 25 years, it finally feels like a real instrument.
  14. AboutSweetSue


    Sep 29, 2018
    Lebanon, TN
    Flats are a tad bit quieter on an ABG with the darker flats being moreso than brighter flats.

    I tried some Rotosound 88s on that ABG once before I sold it. They had good volume, and made the bass sound very woody and hollow but with thump. I’d say the Nylon Rotos where my top pick. Not really a flat, but they have qualities often appreciated in a flat.
  15. InhumanResource


    Dec 28, 2012
    Wouldn't the added tension be of concern on an ABG? I would be hesitant to crank on all those glue joints with flats.
  16. Aidil


    Dec 4, 2014
    Jkt, IDN
    not all of us... at least not me. I don't hate phosphor bronze rounds on my acoustic. Reason is, I don't want to make my acoustic electric bass sounds the same as any of my electric (slab or semi-hollow body) basses. I want it to have acoustic bass sound, whether it is amplified or not. I'm using my acoustic electric bass just as what guitar players seek when switching to his/her acoustic guitars from their electrics, that is to get acoustic (bass) guitar sound.

    Also the way I read it, OP seemed to want phosphor bronze or 80/20 bronze strings in the form of flatwound. But I'm not OP, so I could be wrong...
  17. imho tapes are the way to go not flats. ymmv.
    scuzzy likes this.
  18. Tim Schnautz

    Tim Schnautz

    Jan 30, 2000
    I put tapewounds on mine
    scuzzy likes this.
  19. AboutSweetSue


    Sep 29, 2018
    Lebanon, TN
    I’d probably be mindful of what I am putting on an ABG, but they are tougher than people give them credit for.

    I’ve personally smashed an acoustic, a junk P Bass neck, and I’ve left an ABG in the trunk of a car and later a hot shed.....for weeks in Tennessee during the summer months into winter....strung up with Fender flats. The beating of the guitars always resulted in me being surprised at how incredibly tough they are. The neck was ridiculously tough. The acoustic bass was incredibly resilient. The only issue was with bridge lift, probably due mostly to being in a hot trunk.

    So, I’d say flats will be fine (I’d probably not put heavy LaBellas on one), and I think the first thing to go wonky on an ABG would be the bridge lifting. Of course, that’s what I personally saw, but that’s not to say the heel won’t slip out first.

    I typically don’t abuse my instruments. These were beaters, and the end of their tenure resulted in that being literal for the sake of curiosity.

    I sold that Dean for $50. Thing was still playing top notch even after all the abuse. I mean, it even floated down the Caney Fork river once when I tipped my canoe.
    InhumanResource and HaphAsSard like this.
  20. scuzzy


    Feb 15, 2006
    Troy, MO
    Labella black nylons. You're welcome.
    justjake and Tim Schnautz like this.

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