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Fender Tapewounds?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by jonners98, Jul 4, 2020.

  1. jonners98


    Apr 23, 2013
    England, UK
    Hi all!

    I currently play fretless with flatwounds exclusively, and I wanted to dip my toe into the world of tapewounds to see if they suit me.

    I'm usually a D'Addario guy, but the tapes from them are super expensive here in the UK, so I'm looking at the lower priced options, namely Rotosound and Fender.

    The Rotosound 88s look killer, but I've heard that the Fenders are capable of a bit more bite in the tone - can anyone verify or dispel this?

    Ideally I want to be able to get the boomy upright tones but be able to get a bit of bite in the top end when the tone's rolled up. Cheers!
  2. I use all the brands you mention. The Fenders are most unlike the others in that they have a rougher texture and, yes, a brighter tone. They're good strings.

    The Rotosound tapes feel glass smooth under the fingers are a huge gauge ( .065" to .115" ). You may have to widen your nut slots. The Fenders are 58-110 and you may get away without any nut mods.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2020
    fretlessguy likes this.
  3. jonners98


    Apr 23, 2013
    England, UK
    Thanks for the advice!

    I'm more than happy to widen nut slots if necessary, I had to do so on three of my previous basses to fit the .120 E string on the D'Addario balanced tension rounds I used to use!

    In essence, I want to maintain the advantages I get from flatwounds (no fingerboard wear, smooth feel, less upper harmonic content to sit in well w a band), but just edge into that tapewound vibe, being able to get those booming dub sounds if necessary but still being able to get some bite where it's needed.

    Do the 88s give that 'bite' with the tone up in your experience? If they do, I'd definitely choose them as the smooth feel seems like a dream (and they have a very good rep for longevity)

    If not, however, I'd probably have to try the Fenders as an option with some more tonal variety
  4. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    I have used all of the domestically sold nylon tapes there are. The Fenders do have good tone, but underneath the nylon wrap they are very, very light scale, 37-88. The D'Addarios and other 50-105 sets are light scale underneath the wrap, about 35-90. The Rotos have an almost unweildy tight G string, and are engineered to go thump like a double bass, not bite. On an acoustic-electric bass, I actually used a La Bella G string with the rest of the Roto set to even out the tension. No loss of tone or sustain. The best set for as much bite as a nylon tapewound can give, and still give the signature tone of a nylon tapewound are the La Bella White Tapes regular gauge, 60-115. These are like a standard 43-95 set of stainless roundwounds under the wrap. Yes, a new nut to accommodate the wider string diameters and a new setup on the bass are worth it if you want to go nylon tapewound. Remember that the nylon tape is about 15 thou overall thickness or so either way, but adds no appreciable mass, so the tension and feel of the strings are like the light or extra light conventional sets, with the exceptions noted. Here is a chart of my experiments over the years with nylon tape strings:

    Black Tapewound Strings Nominal (package) Gauges

    String: C G D A E B
    D’Addario X 50 65 85 105 135
    Fender X 58 72 92 110 X
    Galli 35 55 75 100 115 130
    GHS 35 50 70 90 105 130
    La Bella Beatle Bass X 50 65 80 100 X
    La Bella Regular Scale Light gauge X 50 65 85 105 135T
    La Bella Regular Scale Regular gauge 43 60 70(74) 94 115 135T
    Pyramid 32 55 75 95 112 135
    Rotosound regular scale 50 65 75 100 115 135
    Rotosound medium & short scale X 65 75 90 115 X

    La Bella: same gauges for white & copper tapes as well
    La Bella White Tapes C G D A E B
    Nominal 43 60 70 94 115 135
    Actual measurements 43 62 74 95 115 135
    String core without nylon 26 43 56 74 95 118

    Fender Tapewound G D A E
    Nominal 58 72 92 110
    Actual measurements 58 74 94 110
    String core without nylon 37 50 69 88
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2020
    wschenk and trothwell like this.
  5. As much as it might seem counter-intuitive, tapewounds are actually brighter in tone than flats IMO. If you want smoothness (feel) and a bit of bite when needed, La Bella 760T (60-115) or 750T (50-105) sets are worth looking at. You can get some bite from Rotosound 88s and Fender 9120s too. When I first tried my 88s I was shocked by how middy and bright they can sound. They last decades too! I've had mine since 2003 and still going strong!
    trothwell likes this.
  6. jonners98


    Apr 23, 2013
    England, UK
    Thanks very much for the advice - I had heard that the Gs on the 88s were unforgiving, and I must admit I'm not going for a 'replica upright' tone. On your suggestion, I'm definitely thinking about a set of La Bellas - they are pricey (nearly £50) but I know they get a very good rep, and still come in cheaper than the D'Addarios.

    As you say, the whites are the brighter of the two, so this may be a nice option for me, as long as they are not excessively bright/nasal and still retain a reasonable amount of warmth - do they still offer this in your experience?
  7. jonners98


    Apr 23, 2013
    England, UK
    Thanks very much! I love my flats, but I want something a little different, and other suggestions have put me onto the La Bella whites as a nice versatile option too. Do they still retain a lot of warmth and thump when the tone is rolled off? If so they seem like a perfect middle ground.
  8. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    Yes. I had them on a bass with an asian mahogany body, which tends to emphasize mids to upper mids, and they were not nasal. One set I gigged constantly for two years until the fret divots in the nylon wrap finally chewed out the wrap.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2020
  9. DCCat


    Jan 20, 2020
    If warmth is important, you might want to consider the LaBella Copper Whites. Not as bright as the whites (though possibly still bright enough -- a bit more than the blacks -- depending on what you want). The warmth of those strings is lovely. And they look cool. Be advised, though, that they're lower output than the other LaBella tapes (aside from the Gold Whites), so you'll need to crank up your amp a little.
  10. jonners98


    Apr 23, 2013
    England, UK
    Nice one, that's reassuring! I love the long life of my flats, and it's nice to know the tapes will be the same - in fact I don't have to worry about frets wearing into them as my bass is 'void of frets' ;P
  11. jonners98


    Apr 23, 2013
    England, UK
    Interesting. Have you found that tapes in general are lower output than flats/rounds?
  12. HaphAsSard


    Dec 1, 2013
    Not him but, other than them having thin metal strings underneath the tape, not really - it's just the La Bella Copper White and Gold White Tapes that are lower-output: copper and "golden alloy" (80/20 bronze) are not magnetically active, so their out-most (under the nylon, that is) layer doesn't contribute to the string being sensed by mag pickups. The white-whites (stainless steel and clear tape) and the blacks (also s-s) don't have that quirk, and neither does almost all the competition (the sole other exception is, probably/predictably, the Warwick bronze tapewounds).
  13. jonners98


    Apr 23, 2013
    England, UK
    Ahh, I see, thanks very much. I had wondered about the Warwick bronze tapewounds (advertised for AEBs of course), and this makes sense - I know bronze alloys are associated with good acoustic projection and tone, but do not work as well with magnetic PUs, and of course the opposite is somewhat true with other materials (steel, nickel etc).
    HaphAsSard likes this.
  14. HaphAsSard


    Dec 1, 2013
    Well, compared to guitar strings - which, if bronze, only have a magnetically active core to let them (barely) work through mag pickups - bass strings have multiple wraps going for them: when manufacturers dabble in alternative wrapping materials, the intermediate windings under them are probably always made of good ol' steel, and lend a hand to the core for sensing duties. Bronze ABG strings are a small enough, if established, niche that anything else new and encroaching that territory need be made able to swing both ways (= piezo but also magnetic)...
  15. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    Having gigged many of the domestic tapewounds, The La Bella standard gauge (60-115) white tapes do exactly what is desired in this post. Yes, you can dub when you want to. If you really are after a deep dub, consider (passive bass) changing out the .047 tone cap for a .068 or even a .100. The white tapes have bite when you want it. And the last set I gigged I played for two years of consistent gigging before the frets finally wore enough divots in the nylon tape that they started to lose stability. And as you surmise, yes, it's worth a new nut.

    The Roto 88's, by contrast, are more of an upright bass emulation string. They bloom, but don't necessarily have all the sustain. They don't "bite." And the G string is really tight compared to the rest of the strings.

    Other variations on the La Bella, same standard gauge:
    Blacks: the darkest, more like well seasoned flats; again, less bite.
    Copper: a different mid emphasis, good for jazz and low key (stylistically speaking) genres and styles.
    Gold: more like well-seated nickel rounds with the tone knob turned down to about 7.
  16. Can't believe the question I was about to start a thread on was contributed to just yesterday! I too was musing on Fenders, if only because of price (and the fact they'd be installed on a Fender).

    If one is not prepared to widen the nut slots, are any tapes worth risking?
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