EB Cobalt Flats and Yamaha TRBX605- first blush

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by vindibona1, Jun 12, 2019.

  1. One of the forum members recommended these strings for the TRBX605 and as the stings I had on it were months old I figured why not? I'd not had flats on a bass since forever, but did play a bass with flats some time ago and they felt odd.

    Well yeah, the flats feel odd, having played rounds for a couple years now. But these flats aren't at all as I would have imagined flats to be, but was "forewarned" on the other thread that the Cobalt flats had some "grit". Well... yes they do. It's only been a few minutes of playing and honestly they, at least at this moment have more bite than do the DR Sunbeams on my jazz bass or NYXL's on my BTB675. It is really shocking as even with brand new strings I wouldn't expect what I was hearing.

    The Cobalts are LOUD! Had you asked me about the output of the TRBX pickups I would have told you they didn't have quite the output of my Aguilars or Barts. But these strings increased the volume beyond my other two basses? I ended up lowering the pickups a bit as I had raised them as far as I dared to increase the output. And still they were louder than the other two basses.

    While I know flats to be smooth in texture, I expected to glide along smoothly as well. But what I felt was a lot of "stiction" in both hands. Was it because the strings were just new? I dunno. But I wiped the strings down with Finger-Ease and that solved that issue. They still feel weird to me, but I'll get used to it.

    The next month or two will tell the real tale of these strings. I wonder how the EB Cobalt rounds are in comparison to the flats?
    Yahboy and tindrum like this.
  2. Day 2: They Cobalt flats still have the initial zing. Still, even with the Finger-Ease applied lightly to the strings I'm still experiencing a lot of "stiction". While rounds have a rougher surface so far I've found them to be a bit more agile in both hands than with the flats. Will the flats get slicker feeling over time?
  3. The "stiction" you're experiencing with the Cobalt Flats comes from the way the outer ribbon wire has gaps in between almost like half-rounds. They do that on purpose to achieve the flexibility.

    When I tried the GHS Brite Flats (= half-rounds/groundwound) for the first time last year, the "stiction" caught me off guard at the outset. The good news is 90% of the stickiness was gone by the third week.
    FRoss6788 likes this.
  4. Interesting how one would think that the rougher round windings would (at least initially) have less stiction than flats. But then again, not having a near-contiguous wrap would give the roundwounds less surface area at the fingertip.

    As I continue to play these strings, with the help of Finger-Ease (see below) and some play time the strings are becoming easier to play. On the TRBX the Cobalt Flats certainly provide a sonic gestalt that my other basses don't have. I think still, my Ibanez BTB is the most versatile bass I own. I got tapped to play bass again tomorrow night (though I really wanted to play acoustic after a month of being assigned to bass). If it's indoors I'll bring the BTB. If it's outside I'll want to play the TRBX.

    [As a side note, I don't know why more bass players don't use Finger-Ease? Not only does it help left hand movement but makes my right hand significantly faster, reducing the momentary hang-ups when trying to pluck quickly.]
  5. Yahboy


    May 21, 2008
    The few months old 5 string set on my friend's TRBX605 still sound like fresh roundwound string, nice upper mid bite and thicker low mid than GHS PW. The B and E string sound better clear and focus than GHS PW too.

    The 5 months old 2814 set (replacement set from EB ) on my jazz bass sound pretty growl along with thick low MID voice.

    Another great flatwound bass string after the Ti JF344.
    vindibona1 likes this.
  6. Update:
    It's taken a bit to get used to the Cobalt Flats, but I'm finding I REALLY like them on this bass. It really makes it (literally) feel like a different instrument. The tonal variety is SO different. One thing that has really changed is the quality of the sound I'm getting from the bridge pickup alone. It's more Stingray-esque in nature than it was before. I think the palette is wider than with any of the other strings sets I've had on it before.

    My only question (maybe not only) is- How are the regular EB Cobalts different than the flats, in both feel and tone?
  7. UPDATE: July 7, 2019
    It hasn't quite been a month since I tried the Ernie Ball Cobalt Flats on my Yamaha TRBX 605FM. But there has been enough time and things to report back on.

    To be honest, at first I wasn't so crazy about the EBCF's. Initially I felt that rounds had less stiction and even though I did use Finger-Ease, and it helped to a degree, I don't know that it (at the time) got me to what I really needed in terms of hand mobility. So I played with them until about a week ago and thought I was done with them.

    I had a barely used set of DR Pure Blues in the drawer which I wanted to try again. These strings saved the TRBX from going back to Sweetwater in the 11th hour. They were a lot brighter and snappier than I remembered. But not was I was looking for on this bass. Then I tried the NYXL's again and was fine with them. But my curiosity piqued again about the EBCF's...

    So I threw them in the hypersonic cleaner then reinstalled them. I did wipe them down once again with Finger-Ease and this time they were a lot smoother and silkier feeling and very little stiction. I also adjusted the pickup height as the magnetic pull is so strong that the G string's vibration was actually affected.

    Now mind you, I'm not new to bass, but new to SERIOUS bass playing and am much more aware of what sounds good to me. So I started playing a bit more with the blend knob. I can put the thing in the passive mode and there isn't all that much I have to do to get major sound changes out of this thing. I think I like either a bit more neck pickup- or alternately a bit more bridge... or all bridge. Before I was reliant pretty much on staying 50/50 and just adjusting the tone. Once I started playing with the blender with these strings the world opened up.

    If you had asked me 10 days ago about these strings and or this bass I'd say they were good, but would be #3 in the stable. But I'm just beginning to love the combination of the bass and these strings. I'm having so much fun working with the TRBX now. I don't think my BTB or Jazz5 has seen any practice action in a couple days now.

    The bottom line for me was that the Ernie Ball Cobalt Flats just had to settle in, smooth out the stiction and I had to make those final tweaks in the bass' settings. I'm on hiatus until the first week of August but am so anxious and exited to try this bass on my next bass gig.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this.
    bearfoot, El Thumpo and Yahboy like this.
  8. The tone quest for my TRBX505 has been limited to string experiments for the last year. But I do agree with you that these Yamahas do provide plenty of tonal versatility on its own to keep us busy with "experiments" aside from string choices.

    Thanks for taking the time to post this.
    vindibona1 likes this.
  9. I think what's funny is that these strings have been teaching me how to use this bass more effectively. I've had it for 15 months and only in the last month have discovered how to make it sound even better. Until now it has been rare that I've dialed up one pickup more than the other and usually tend to keep things at 50/50. Now I'm playing with front bias, back bias, passive, active and in the process learning what I like- which is a huge step for me in the bass world.
    michael_t likes this.
  10. Yahboy


    May 21, 2008
    Strung a set of 2814 on my client trbx304.
    Compare to stock Daddario EXL , the E string sound better refine and clear in finger and solo preset.
    On flat preset, overall output are louder and growl even flat onboard EQ. The Mid voice still well present once I bump both bass and treble knob 1/2 turn.
    And the G string sound more meaty.
  11. The cobalt flats have been my choice of flats as well since I discovered them within the last year. I'm in the same camp where (coming from chromes) the stickiness was a little offsetting, but not so much of a deterrent due to the wonderful sound of the strings and their flexibility.

    After a few months they seemed to get less sticky (that or I just got used to them) and it seemed to not be an issue as it was. I too use fingerease for outdoor shows in the summer, as the humidity makes everything a sticky mess at times.

    I have only used the cobalt flats on passive precision basses, but will be switching over a set on a fretless Jazz within in the next month. So far they have exceeded my expectations, and continue to be my favorite flatwound string.

    They seem to work well on quite a few basses, active and passive, which is a great indicator of the quality of the sound, at least in my opinion.
  12. I will suggest that you throw the strings in an ultrasonic cleaner to get rid of whatever makes them sticky. I found that cleaning the strings in the cleaning machine with hot water and a drop of dish soap, then just wiping them down with Finger-Ease makes them so much easier to get around on and gets rid of whatever it is that gives them that inherent "stiction".
  13. I found using a little isopropyl alcohol gets most of the stickiness off new strings. Just playing them smooths them out in no time.

    Regardless, these strings are nowhere close to as coarse or sticky as a new set of rotosound SS roundwound strings.

    I do use finger ease in the humid summer months during outside shows, but not much in other's situations. I find I just adjust to playing the flats after a short time, and it's not an issue after that.
  14. Yahboy


    May 21, 2008
    I own 3 set of cobalt 2814, the first set are sticky which has bigger winding gap. But others 2 are less sticky with closer winding gap.