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DR FatBeams or Sunbeams

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by STILLJAZZIN, Feb 18, 2014.



    Jan 20, 2014
    I recently bought a used 5 string fretless Ibanez bass. I'm trying to get the Jaco sound, and I like the Marcus funk, growl, oink sound also.

    Since it is fretless, I replaced the old strings with new flat wounds. They just sound totally dead. Then I tried pressure wounds, they were an improvement, but still not close to the sound I want. So I am going with round wounds. I have used Fat Beams on a 4 string, they sounded great. I have a new set of Sunbeams, don't know if they are worth trying, or should I just buy Fat Beams since I know they are good. Has anyone played on both, will I even notice a difference in tone. I want low end growl and that mid range Jaco sound. Thanks for any input.
  2. GastonD


    Nov 18, 2013
    Belgrade, Serbia
    FatBeams happen to be my favorite kind of stings so far, but then, I have never played a fretless... I guess that depending on the material your fingerboard is made of, you might wanna rethink using the roundwounds.
  3. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    Aug 11, 2012
    Upstate NY, USA
    Yes, I've used both, but not on fretless. It's definitely worth trying those Sunbeams, especially since you have them already. Yes, those two strings sound VERY different. I don't think you'll get the mids you need for Jaco-esque tone from those Fat Beams. You can also expect the Sunbeams to be warmer, less bright, and easier on the fingers (and, one might guess, on your fingerboard, too). OTOH, the Fat Beams will deliver more growl.
  4. Jaco who?

    Jaco who?

    May 20, 2008
    The FatBeams will sound brighter, maybe too bright at first, but they'll last longer than the sunBeams. If you have a light touch and you can get the action low enough, fretboard wear will be pretty minor. When the SunBeams go dead, they go DEAD, ime..........
  5. tommy gilstrap

    tommy gilstrap Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2004
    Orange Park, Fl.
    Jaco used Roto Sounds, epoxied rosewood fingerboard and favored the bridge pickup.
  6. Levin


    Oct 30, 2012
    If you like the Fat Beams go with them! They are in the more mellow part of roundwound steels. But they sound great, on fretted as well on fretless!
    They will sound more jaco/miller then the sunbeams as they are steel and not nickel, I mean both are basically Hibeams but sunbeams being warmer and fat beams... emphasing on the lows more then Hibeams.
    In my opinion Fat Beams well, fatten up the tone of most passive fretless jazz/similiar basses. They define the tone well too which is important on fretless.
    Many go with the sunbeams on the fretless for the warmth! But it seems you want a brighter/more growly sound.


    Jan 20, 2014
    Excellent input, thanks guys. Levin, you are right on, Sunbeams are warmer, that is not what I am looking for. I need to cut through with a voice for high notes, and have low end growl. There is nothing warm about that. I only play in my studio with rhythm tracks from a synth, so a big fat bottom is not a requirement either. I want those Jaco mid tones in the higher register, and growl like a mean dog down low. I'm going to get some Fatties, if that does not make this bass come to life, I will try the Sunbeams. :hyper:
  8. ilovenofrets


    Dec 25, 2010
    I use Sunbeams on my Foundation fretless. Love the sound I get with them, especially soloing the bridge pickup. Your taste may vary, so it's wise to try both and decide for yourself.
  9. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    I use Sunbeams on all of my fretlesses. I use Fat Beams on most of my fretted basses. Couldn't be happier with either type on the basses I use.
  10. I use Sunbeams on my MM Big Al4, love the warmth,I tried fat beams on MM BA 5 and I wasn't impressed,Imho I thought they were a little muddy and lacked punch, what I did like very much were nickel Lo-riders ,not to brite with growling low mids. You might want to give them a try.
  11. Levin


    Oct 30, 2012
    I've tried the nickel lo-riders, and some others. I think you should go for Hi-Beams if anything as Fat Beams really 'fattens up' basses that lack in the lows, but to some they seem muddy and too dark, and there's always the lack of definition as there is on fretless for some, the Hi-beams are a tad brighter but feel the same to me, it's just that I think the hi-beams are better on passives cause they cut trough more than fat beams on most basses I've tried.

    Of course, I LIKE my fatbeams more, but I like it dark... :D

    Of course, since I've discovered LaBella Deep Talkin' roundwounds nothing else is on my jazz...

    Enough off-topic! For you jaco/miller-sound you would want a bright steel-string, and lo-riders (hexcore) or hi-beams (roundcore) is basically just different feelings, and the loriders will feel more stiff.

    I think that the looser the better for getting mwah on fretless with steel, so I would go with maybe 40-100 something Hi-Beams for the tone you're looking for if you don't want to test the fatbeams.

    If you're going to buy new strings anyway I say go with Hi-Beams if you like DR! They are plenty high, bright and Jacoish, and are easy to play.
    I myself have no great experience in finding a good bright longlasting steel-string, for I haven't looked as I often search for something fat and dark but yet steel when I search for 'my' perfect steel string. For most basses. But I'm on the lookout for a good bright stainless as well as I will too also soon play a bit of Jacoish things on a fretless and thusly am in need of such strings.

    It will be fun! I've of course heard a lot good about Rotos swing 66 stainless but they tear your fingers apart. I love my Fodera nickels, maybe I will get some of their steels, they seem to be plenty bright according to most. Or SITs. Oh well. No rush.

    Good luck finding your string for that bass!
  12. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Nothing dark about Fat Beams on any of my basses. I won't use stainless steel on any of my fretlesses... the nickel Sunbeams work great.
  13. Kubicki440


    Feb 6, 2011
    I have DR Fatbeams (MM5-45) on my 5-string Fretless Brice, and DR Sunbeams (45-105) on my Ibanez SRX400 fretless (conversion with superglue [CA] fretboard finish). I prefer the sound of the Sunbeams myself. The Sunbeams seem to have an overall warm sound and feel good under the fingers. The Sunbeams don't sound too dark, I guess it depends upon your attack as well.

    I used to use RotoSounds back in the '80s and liked them but they never seemed to last longer than 4 weeks. Perhaps they have improved since then.
  14. Dig the sunbeams nice light tension.. wound well.