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Flat-wounds: How long is too long?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by mobeme23, Nov 8, 2018.


  1. mobeme23

    mobeme23

    Aug 27, 2018
    Hey everybody, i'm pretty new to the TB crowd, and i've been playing now for only a few years. I'm wondering about various opinions regarding the typical life of of flat-wound strings.

    Currently, my G&L L1505 has D'addario Nickle flats (not sure of the specific gauges).
    To me, when this particular set was freshly broken-in, there was a distinct brightness and attack that i liked, but as i continue to play the strings, they have gotten warmer and a bit more punchy. while it's still suitable to me, my untrained ears might be mistaking that as dull or dead to a more well-experienced player.

    i'm sure there are numerous factors contributing to a given set's "shelf life", but i'm curious about what indicators to look/listen for as the strings age.

    What are some indicators that it is time to switch out?
    thanks for helping out a noob!!
     
  2. Flatwound: Well-aged vs. Dead...

    Trust your own ears as to how they should sound. The most important thing to keep in mind, though, is how they sound IN A MIX, not all on their own.

    By the way, there is no such thing as "D'Addario Nickel Flatwound". D'Addario Chromes (as they're commonly known as) are actually stainless steel.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2018
  3. mobeme23

    mobeme23

    Aug 27, 2018

    thanks!
    i should have looked into the actual type of strings (going from poor memory).
    great point about judging by how they sound in the mix.
    so far, at least on recordings, they still sit nicely in the mix.
     
    Nunovsky likes this.
  4. oldrocker

    oldrocker

    Feb 13, 2005
    Long Island, NY
    I just changed out my Labella DTF 760FL set. I've been using this same set of strings for over 6 years across 2 different P basses.

    For the most part the strings still sounded OK but the G string was pretty dead. Probably would have left them on longer but they starting having trouble staying in tune.
     
    mobeme23 likes this.
  5. mobeme23

    mobeme23

    Aug 27, 2018
    Ok, so you can string them up more than once...
    i also play drums, and for drum heads, they are typically a one-and-done use. so, i'm glad to hear that bass strings are good for more than one use.
     
  6. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

    The whole “flats only get better” thing is bunk. Trust your ears and if you can afford to, change them when they aren’t doing the job anymore. There’s nothing magical about a crusty old set of flats.
     
    Gabbs, shughey and mobeme23 like this.
  7. I like to use them until they break. Which, when it finally happens is tragic.
     
  8. ak56

    ak56 Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2015
    Carnation, Wa
    I only went 37 years with the original flats on my Fender Musicmaster. Only changed them because I was doing other work on the bass.
     
  9. Aidil

    Aidil

    Dec 4, 2014
    Jkt, IDN
    I had had my first set of D'Addario Chromes for about 2 years before I sold the bass with it.

    Now that I have another set of Chromes on another bass I bought 6 months ago, I think I'm gonna use it until one of the strings break or cannot hold the pitch... or... simply I'm bored with it.
     
    mobeme23 likes this.
  10. superheavyfunk

    superheavyfunk

    Mar 11, 2013
    Toronto
    I had a set of Fender flats on a P bass for 10 years before the E snapped on me.

    Some ppl like the thud and some don't. If your strings aren't sounding the way you want them to, switch them out... Nobody can tell you how long to keep them on.
     
    Quantized Harmonic and mobeme23 like this.
  11. Holdsg

    Holdsg I should be practicing Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 10, 2009
    Alta Loma, CA
    Endorsing artist: Remic microphones
    best unkept secret in bass ownership. If you don't like something about your bass, or are bored with it, try a different type of string on it. easily reversible mod, that you might just strike gold with.
     
    quickfix, pcake, JRA and 11 others like this.
  12. Ross W. Lovell

    Ross W. Lovell

    Oct 31, 2015

    For me.......2 hours was waaaaaaaaaaay toooooooooo long.

    Went back to round wounds on my fretless.

    Probably doesn't help you?
     
    JRA, jmattis, Element Zero and 2 others like this.
  13. mobeme23

    mobeme23

    Aug 27, 2018
    that has been my method thus far. i'm glad to hear from most folks that it is mostly about trusting your ears and a lot of trial and error. thanks to everyone for the input!
     
    JRA likes this.
  14. shughey

    shughey

    Nov 21, 2006
    Dover, NH
    +1
    I like well broken in flats, but there certainly is a point with certain flats where one or more of the strings can become subby w no articulation. I had this happen to a 4+ yr old set of La Bella 760FLs. At some point the tone went from warm to reggae sub tone. Unless I was to play reggae, this tone would be totally useless, even for Motown tones. I've avoided this issue with my current set of flats by wiping down after playing, and a once-in-a-blue-moon alcohol wipe rubdown. They still sound very warm, but retain some level of attack and articulation.
     
    Mili, David Jayne and petrus61 like this.
  15. Dabndug

    Dabndug

    Sep 27, 2017
    Somewhere in Oz
    For me, with heavy use, rounds last months at best. Flats last years. Frequency of use, body chemistry, playing style, and cleaning regime will all affect the useful life of your strings.
     
  16. Jewce

    Jewce

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    20 years?
     
  17. Dr. Love

    Dr. Love Supporting Member

    Nov 5, 2008
    Lubbock, TX
    If they no longer stay in tune or you aren't happy with the sound anymore then change them. If you're happy and they hold pitch, rock on.

    Also lots of things like playing style, environment and body chemistry can affect strings life. There is no set expiration date.
     
  18. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    I change strings when they don't sound good any more.
     
    LoTone likes this.
  19. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    For me if and when they break.
     
    mambo4 likes this.
  20. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    upload_2018-11-8_23-2-32.
     
    2F/2F, BillMason, Mili and 1 other person like this.

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