Flat, Round, Half Wound - Tension Differences?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by stoopalini, Nov 22, 2016.

  1. stoopalini


    Dec 12, 2007
    Central Texas
    As I learn more about bass strings, I'm reading that flat and half wound strings do a lot to reduce, or remove, the string noise when sliding your fingers across the strings. This is something my wife has complained about a lot, and I've done my best to EQ it out of her sound. But of course, that only goes so far before it starts to negatively impact the tone.

    Her latest bass is the Ibanez AGBV205 (30.3" short scale, but uses long scale strings). The low B on this bass is a .145, which isn't widely available, and I can't seem to locate any manufacturer who makes a flat or half wound .145 string.

    I contacted Newtone Strings, and asked about creating a custom set, but they replied stating they don't make flat wound strings.

    So my question is, does going to a flat of half wound string change the tension in any way? Where I could get away with a .130 string, tuned to low B, and still have proper tension on the 30.3" scale length? If not, any recommendations for having a custom set created without breaking the bank?
  2. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Tension just depends on how the string is designed, the wrap style (flat/half/round) itself doesn't dictate it. Take a quick look at the GHS bass string tension chart and you can see that for sets with identical gauges the tensions vary by type of construction. Most sets they make are roundwounds but you will find some with much higher or lower tensions based on core, type of metal, etc.

    As far as reducing string noise, working on left hand technique is the way to go if she likes the sound of the strings otherwise.
  3. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    String noise is 100% technique related.
    40Hz and Linnin like this.
  4. stoopalini


    Dec 12, 2007
    Central Texas
    Agreed. I have been an active rhythm and lead 6 string player for 20 years or so, and I understand how technique relates to the nuances in your sound, including string noise.

    She's been playing bass for about 12 years, and cello for about 25 years. That said, if the flats help her to better manage the dislike without having to modify technique, then that seems the way to go. I have tried to instruct her with technique in the past, and, well, ... if you've been married for any length of time, I probably don't need to say anything more :)

    She wants to change her tone from what she's been using (EBMM 5 string with rounds, and a MXR Bass DI+ direct to sound console) to something more akin to a standup, smooth sound. She also wanted the classic look of a Hollowbody, hence the artcore.

    So I was thinking the flats or half wounds would be a good match to what tone she's describing, as well as a reduction in string slide noise.

    The challenge is finding a set that'll have good tension on this 30.3" scale 5 string bass.
  5. HaphAsSard


    Dec 1, 2013
    Since building a big flatwound string that is still flexible enough not to go annoyingly inharmonic/chorusy past the first third of the fretboard is apparently not a simple task, normal offerings from companies only go up to .136".
    Here's a list (it omits flats from the traditional tone camp, which I take it to be more of you guys' interest, but you won't find low Bs larger than .130" from those - La Bella, GHS, DR - either) from a recent post of mine:
    Below in the same thread, @ixlramp suggested ordering a custom set from Pyramid Strings. The custom order online form is in German
    PYRAMID maximum performance strings - Sonderanfertigungen, Custom Shop, Custom Strings, Instrumentensaiten Bestellservice
    but if you shoot them an email they're more than willing to work with you (in that case, remember to specify that the bass has a standard long-scale length requirement, even if it is a shortie per se; or simply include precise measurements - tail to bridge to nut to B string post):
    [email protected]

    As for gauges, I'd try something along these lines: .140(or 145) - .105 (or .107) - .085 - .065 - .050; I wouldn't attempt larger (while Pyramid flats are not the stiffest/tightest around, flats in general have more tension, real and perceived, than rounds of same gauge, Thomastik-Infelds, and La Bella LTFs excepted).
    As for prices, I doubt they're gonna charge more than 60 bucks (shipping excluded), but don't quote me on that.

    Oh, and as concerns tone, Pyramid Golds are also in the traditional-sounding flatwound group.
    stoopalini likes this.
  6. stoopalini


    Dec 12, 2007
    Central Texas
    Thanks for the info. I contacted Pyramid, and they said they don't offer half or flat wound strings in these gauges.


    They said they offer a short scale set for something like the Hofner, but nothing in long scale at these gauges.
  7. HaphAsSard


    Dec 1, 2013
    Meh. So much for them being "more than willing to work with you"... I could have told you as much myself, as far as what they make and market usually, but I was hoping they'd volunteer to make you something custom gauge-wise. I guess I should stop mentioning them. Sorry about that.
    You're back to Octave4Plus and their (somewhat expensive) .140".
    Or available flatwound Bs from other manufacturers. As I mentioned, Rotosounds and also Chromes might feel like they have more tension than they actually have because of stiffness. You can find single strings at Bass Strings Online, which I and perhaps others linked to in the other thread.
  8. stoopalini


    Dec 12, 2007
    Central Texas
    No problem, I appreciate the info and guidance. The bass is currently undergoing surgery, getting a LR Baggs piezo system installed (see my thread in the electronics sub forum), so I suppose we'll just wait for that to be completed and have her play with the rounds for a few weeks. If she still wants to venture into the flats, then it looks like .130 is about the largest we can get on the B. The other gauges seem to be available out there, even if only as singles.

    I suppose I could get all flats and just leave the low B as a round? She's usually not sliding a whole lot on that string anyhow. But the tone difference may be apparent..?
  9. HaphAsSard


    Dec 1, 2013
    Certainly worth a try. Not the first time I hear of such an arrangement. Combined with a bright type flatwound set it may even be not that shockingly different.
  10. stoopalini


    Dec 12, 2007
    Central Texas
    HaphAsSard likes this.
  11. DaveAceofBass

    DaveAceofBass Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2004
    Charlotte, NC
    You don't need a low B that size in a flat. Flats are tighter than rounds. Labella and D'Addario should offer short scale flats that feel great. LaBellas are more thumpy but D'Addario are brighter. Contact Jason at bassstringsonline.com and get a set...don't mix rounds and flats.
  12. stoopalini


    Dec 12, 2007
    Central Texas
    The issue is the guitar doesn't use short scale strings, but has a short scale. I can't find a long scal flat in the .140 range
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