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Dogal Traditional Vintage Flats review

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by e-flat, Jan 7, 2018.


  1. e-flat

    e-flat Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2009
    Washington State
    Dogal Jaco Flatwound Review (Pics Added)

    As documented in the thread linked above, I recently picked up a set of Dogal Jaco Flatwounds and slapped them on my main P Bass for a spin. I was so impressed with them that I decided to get a set of Dogal’s other flats, their Traditional Vintage set. I’ve had them for a couple of days, so here’s a first impression review.


    First off, the previous set of Dogal flats I tried had sort of goofy packaging. These Traditional Vintage flats arrived in a much more professional looking package, no photocopied artwork. Each individual string arrives inside a plastic sleeve, which is in turn inside of a paper sleeve, and both of those sleeves are sealed in an air-tight package. Very high quality packaging, and I’m sure this eliminates string corrosion issues if stored for an extended period.




    Feel & Appearance: These Dogal Vintage flats have a very loose, noodly feel in the hand- almost exactly like TI Jazz Flats. They’re very soft and rubbery feeling when you pull them out of the package. The surface of the Dogals is as smooth as you are likely to find on a flatwound string. The only string I’ve tried which is smoother than this Dogal Vintage set is the DR Legend flats I have, which have an outer wrap layer that is so tight and polished that they look like they are formed from a single piece of fused ribbon. The outer ribbon of the Dogal Vintage is not THAT tightly spaced, but it is incredibly consistent and their surface is silky smooth to the touch.


    The silks are black with a thin layer of gold (or brass?) wire wrapped over the top of the silk. It’s an interesting and unique look.


    Another interesting thing about the construction of the Dogal Vintage is the fact that they appear to have a copper inner wrap. (See picture below)



    I’ve been doing a lot of string swapping this week and was taking my other set of TI Jazz flats off of my Fretless P at the same time I was swapping these Dogals onto my Fretted P. Comparing the E strings of these two sets was interesting.


    Both sets are round core, and both E strings are .100 gauge. Unstrung, both E strings were equally limp & rubbery feeling, but the Dogal Vintage E strings was significantly heavier than the TI E string. While both strings are .100s, I believe the greater mass of the Dogal might be due to the inner copper wrap layer mentioned above. In past correspondence with Dogal, their rep mentioned to me that the Vintage flats “have copper inside”, and I wasn’t sure if I should take that to mean that they had a higher copper component in the alloy of the core or outer wrap. It appears that, quite literally, the Vintage flats have a copper layer beneath the outer flat ribbon. This copper layer seems to have a VERY significant impact on the sound, which I’ll discuss below. (@HaphAsSard , I believe we've discusssed this in the past, and this post and pics may solve some questions you've had...)


    Tension: The Vintage flats are what I would consider to be a light gauge of flats (.042, .058, .077, .100) and the gauges of the Dogals are not far from the TI Flats (.043, .056, .070, .100) aside from the A string. In terms of tension, though, the sets are quite different. Straight away, I loved the tension of the Dogals. They have a more stiff feel when strung up than the TIs do, but since they are a light gauge and round core they are super supple to the fretting hand. I found this to be true of the Dogal Jaco set, too, but the Vintage set was a pleasant surprise because I wasn’t expecting such a substantial and firm feel from a “light” set of flats. Great resistance for plucking, super easy to fret, and you can set them low for easy playing. I love that.


    Amplified Sound: The Dogal Vintage are unlike any flats I’ve tried once they are strung up. These are a quiet and nuanced flat, there’s no other way to say it. I think this HAS to have something to do with the inner layer of copper and copper’s lower magnetic signature than steel. Maybe some of you metallurgists on TB can educate me here. I swapped the A & E strings from the Dogal Jaco set for the A&E strings of the Dogal Vintage set as I was stringing these up. The output difference was not subtle, it was pretty drastic. This is NOT a loud, aggressive string set.


    What the Vintage set lacks in output, it makes up for in tonal color and character. After a minor pickup adjustment ( I brought the pickup a little closer to the strings on the E & A), these strings came to life. I’ve been racking my brain for the best way to describe these strings and yet I’m still sort of at a loss. They have a very singular sound.


    They are definitely an “old school” flat, so let me compare them to La Bellas LTF or 760FL since a lot of folks have experience with that sound.


    Imagine the sound of 760FLs with a slight bell-like clarity in the highs and a much softer attack to the body of the note. That’s close to the sound of the Dogal Vintage, but the mids are really tough to describe--- they have a hollow quality, though there’s good mid presence. Nuanced, slightly brassy, and never overbearing. That’s the best way I can describe the A, D & G strings. They’re laid back but they have a gorgeous timbre and great sustain.


    Now the E string. It’s got that old school “thud” right out of the package, similar to my old La Bella 760FL. After setting the intonation and really making sure that the witness points were dialed in, there is definitely greater clarity to the E string than when first installed. I’ll have to wait & see how these settle in before really deciding about the E string, but as they are right now the slight imbalance doesn’t bother me at all. If the E opens up a bit more as the other strings mellow, I think these could be a very nicely balanced set.


    Much of the difference that I hear in the timbre disappears as I roll the tone knob back. The higher strings just have such a pure, rich sound that at first I was surprised to hear the “thunk” of that .100 E. The E string of this Vintage set actually speaks like a heavier gauge string, (maybe a .103 or .105) probably due to the greater mass mentioned previously.


    Initial Impression: Were it not for the initial imbalance of the E string, I’d say without hesitation that these are tied for my personal Top Precision Bass Flats.


    I love TI flats for their rich midrange, and they’ve become my “flat to beat” for a P Bass. These Dogal Vintage are of the same caliber, sonically, and feel very different but every bit as good as Tis. Honestly, I like the feel of the Dogal Vintage a bit better than the TI, as I think the Dogals have the ideal tension / pliability balance.


    Sonically, these are gorgeous - clear, soft attack, deep and nuanced. If you’re strictly a hard rocker, these are probably not your string. If you play any sort of roots music, I’d recommend these without hesitation. Motown, soul, traditional country or bluegrass, dynamic typed of rock music, or any other style which you’d use flats for… I’d recommend these in a heartbeat.

    PICS:
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  2. HaphAsSard

    HaphAsSard

    Dec 1, 2013
    Italia
    @e-flat: thank you a million for adding to the knowledge base of this forum and the wider web in general, regarding electric bass guitar strings.
    A couple questions, off the top of my head:
    - so it's the Dogal Traditional Vintage flats that have the copper round wrap, whereas the Jaco System do not? Is that correct?
    - could you put together a direct comparison of the two types?
    - if I read the two reviews correctly, neither product is the answer to a player who likes the Thomastik-Infeld Jazz Flat tone but can't put up with their looseness; or is one of the two at least vaguely comparable in tone to T-I's, and if so which?
    - conversely, which one, if at all, would you suggest to a bassist who is down with the tension and suppleness of Thomastiks and La Bella Low Tension Flexible flats but is looking for a tonal response different from either?

    Thanks in advance, and again! :)
     
  3. e-flat

    e-flat Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2009
    Washington State
    You're absolutely welcome, @HaphAsSard , and here are some answers to your questions:

    - The Dogal Traditional Vintage have the copper inner wrap layer. The Dogal Jaco do not (at least that I can see).

    - If I were to compare the two Dogal flats, I'd say:
    -----> Dogal Jaco: full output, deep & full low end, very slightly scooped center mids, clear upper mids & highs. Articulate but not too modern.
    -----> Dogal Vintage: low output, balanced EQ with soft attack, nuanced, old school sounding "thunky" E string, beautiful clarity to the rest of the set.

    - Compared to the TIs: I'd have to say that the defining sonic characteristic of the TIs is their midrange. Neither of the Dogals have that midrange "bump" right out of the package, and neither set feels similar to TIs in tension.

    - For a person who likes a medium tension string and wants something sonically different than the TIs, I'd say:
    -----> Get the Jaco set if you want thicker lows but with a "modern" clarity like the TIs can produce (though not modern in the Chromes sense.... just focused, bold, clear)
    -----> Get the Vintage if you like the softer side of TIs, nuance, rich timbre, articulate, supple feel - but you want something that incorporates some of the warmth of La Bella LTFs

    Honestly, these string sets are both quite unique. It's hard to compare them to other strings. I have an ongoing Reaper file where I compile quick & dirty string recordings right when I first install them. I should post them to Soundcloud & put them up here so you can hear TIs, both Dogals, LTFs and a couple others on the same bass. Its just crap noodling, sometimes without even intonating the newly installed sets.... But as a reference for myself (recorded through the same settings on a VT Bass DI direct to Reaper) when I try to remember how a certain set sounded its very useful. (Embarassing though to stick it up here since I never intended for anyone to hear it! :D)
     
    HaphAsSard likes this.
  4. HaphAsSard

    HaphAsSard

    Dec 1, 2013
    Italia
    That was super-helpful! I'll be on the lookout if and when you do decide to put the files up. No pressure though. I'll just add that, far as me, I couldn't care less about a clean performance or inventiveness in a string demo. Sometimes the demoer's chops may even prove distracting in those cases: I may watch a whole video in vain hope of getting to hear how the E string sounds mid-fretboard, only to realise the player in his unfathomable wisdom decided to play exactly three eighth-notes off it, tops, during the course of five minutes... :banghead:
     
    e-flat likes this.
  5. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    Lost Wages, Nevada
    Yes... most excellent review. I'm not generally a fan of "less than stiff" strings - especially flats - but these sound like they'd be worth trying. On my Alembic, maybe...:unsure:
     
    e-flat likes this.
  6. e-flat

    e-flat Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2009
    Washington State
    After a week of playing, the E string still has that old-school “thunk”, but the note is a bit more defined.

    I’ve been going back & forth frequently between a P Bass w/ TI flats and my main P Bass w/ the Vintage Dogal. They are very different strings, but if I had to choose one I’d go with the Dogal. Smooth, warm, and “buttery” sounding ... it’s easy to compensate for the lower output if desired, and they just sound old & rich with a beautiful soft top end. There’s also a VERY subtle mid growl that I only noticed in comparing these with other strings. Beautiful.
     
    Jonny American and HaphAsSard like this.

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