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Endless search for "the right" sound

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by acidmisery, Jun 5, 2017.

  1. acidmisery


    Jun 5, 2017
    Hey so this is my first post here, I've been playing bass for about 6 months, played guitar for about 10 years before that. As for discussion, I bring you this scenario:

    I play in a band, we mostly just jam, did a lot of harmonica and uke and guitar for a while. I eventually bought a bass, a Squier P. When I started playing I was recommended La Bella strings, and I started with their 45-105 SS flats, after light youtube research. From there I went to their black tapes, and eventually their SS rounds. La Bella nylon acoustic guitar strings are my definite favorite so I just stayed with what I thought I knew.

    So as I'm sure y'all know, the flats and tapes just don't pop during an acoustic jam. It's a shame since I LOVE the La Bella tapes. Typically we have myself on bass, a drummer, some hand drums, and guitar (acoustic and electric, varies). The low bops on the congas kinda mush with the bass (started cutting down my low mids, sounds kinda nice anyway) but still the rain of cymbals and piccolo snare would make it so I was but a groovy rumble.

    For most folks that might be fine, but see in my band the guitar and bass are almost equally lead. Oftentimes the guitar is just rhythm and it's the bass improv that has to be good, we're working with a saxophonist who could eventually take more of the lead but for now it's where we're at.

    So I tried 45-105 stainless steel rounds from La Bella. Idk they're just not quite right. Too stiff, a little gnarlier to play than nickel rounds IIRC, and they just... don't sound RIGHT. you know? I want a bright but still gently thuddy tone, something that doesn't just bite hard like stainless steel, it barks and growls you know?

    So my question, at long last, is what should I try next? Tried some Rotosound flats on a short scale P, they were kinda floppy but still not bright enough, but brighter than La Bella to my ears. I have some DR Hi-beams that I'm going to restring my buddies short scale PJ with eventually, so I'm stoked to try those since I hear the round core makes them floppier. I'm also thinking of buying a set of DR Sunbeams to see if maybe SS just isn't for me. Or is it all about gauge, should I drop to a 40-90? or there about? Do I just need a jazz bass?? lol. Also eventually gonna try La Bella white nylon tapes, but maybe after I replace the neck on my p bass... or buy a 5 string lol...

    So yeah, I'd love to talk some bass strings lol, it's my latest passion. Thanks :)
    trothwell likes this.
  2. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Welcome to TakBass!!!

    D'Addario XL Nickels. Just as you described. Plenty of bright. Plenty of low end. Responds well to EQ. I have tried literally dozens of brands over the years. I always come back to the XL Nickels.

    Also, what kind of amp and/or preamp are you using? Speakers? Are you going through the PA or filling up the room with your amp?
  3. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    GHS Boomers nickel rounds, Med-Light gauge.
    Affordable, easy to find locally and sound good IMHO.
    I play in dance bands and use fingers.
    Arthur U. Poon likes this.
  4. Baltimore Bass

    Baltimore Bass

    Jul 14, 2016
    I'm a big fan of nickel roundwounds if I'm not playing flats. Round core strings are comfy and give you a good fundamental, but I'm a bigger fan of hex core- I feel like you get a slightly broader frequency response and they're comfier for me since they're stiffer than round cores. My personal favorite roundwound strings are DR nickel lo-riders, 45-105. They sound great and last FOREVER compared to other brands. Sometimes I'll play GHS Boomers, same gauge. Hope this helps!
  5. ThudThudThud


    Jun 4, 2010
    You might also try D'Addario tapes. They have a surprising amount of 'zing' for a tapewound.
  6. acidmisery


    Jun 5, 2017
    Thanks a lot for the replies, I've tried lots of D'Addario guitar strings and have only been wowed one time, so maybe will try the bass strings. Definitely going to keep looking into different DRs as well, thanks :)
  7. Yup... "endless" is right. ;) You will find out soon enough your definition of "the right sound" will constantly change, so you might as well enjoy the journey.

    My 3-yr journey has led me to GHS Pressurewound ML7200 (44-58-80-102) and GHS Boomers (custom, 45-60-80-105)...so far.
    Arthur U. Poon likes this.
  8. trothwell


    Apr 9, 2008
    I really like GHS Progressives, made out of "alloy 52". If you're into Labella strings, I think they have an alloy 52 roundwound string also; might be worth trying; seems to me to feel and sound like something in between regular nickel and steel strings.
    Arthur U. Poon likes this.
  9. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    I'm also thinking D'Addario XLs or GHS Boomers.

    If you're looking for a smoother feeling string with slightly less top end, GHS Pressurewounds are hard to beat, IMO. They have loads of midrange punch and big, solid low end.
    michael_t likes this.
  10. Klonk


    Apr 28, 2011
    Did you say you were cutting some low mids? That usually doesn't help being heard in a live mix. But I get the "endless search" part. I've been playing bass for 25 years, discovered flatwound strings 8 years ago, and feel like I can never settle on a "favorite" string. I have four gig-worthy basses at the moment, with four different brands of string.. and it's rarely the same four brands for a long period of time, neither.

    Growly flats would be Fender, D'Addario Chromes, TI flats. Flats that can be heard well enough in a mix would also include Sadowsky Black label and Blue label flats, IMO. Roundwounds check out D'Addario XL Nickels and GHS Boomers, but also Sadowsky Blue label nickel rounds.
    Arthur U. Poon likes this.

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