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Flats and Jazz Bass - Good Thing ?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by jnewmark, Mar 1, 2013.

  1. jnewmark

    jnewmark Just wanna play the groove. Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2006
    Stax 1966
    Third St. Cigar Records staff musician.
    I'm really tempted to put some flats on my 4 string passive MIA jazz bass for a Blues band gig I do once a month. Not really looking for that dead, kind of thud, but something a little less hot that the Nickle wounds I normally use. Do flats take away anything from the typical Jazz bass tone ? Also wondering if I should stick to the same guage that I use for round wounds ( 45-105 ) ?
  2. tbplayer59


    Jan 20, 2013
    Flats have gotten a bad rap being characterized as "dead, kind of a thud," but good flats sing, albeit with a rounder, mellower tone.
  3. Do it :bassist:

    But go a gauge lighter to start. I'm sure many will tell you that Chromes would be a good place to start, myself included.

  4. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    Try some Sadowsky flats.
    Great tone and less tension then Chromes or LaBella's
  5. christle


    Jan 26, 2002
    Winnipeg, MB
    TI Jazz flats sound great on a Jazz bass.
    Iofflight and bmac314 like this.
  6. One of the reasons why I've chosen the D'A Chromes for my Highway One Jazz is the fact they're one of the brighter ones of all flats. I've had the same set on it for the last three and a half years and they're still going strong.

    I wouldn't call it "dull" or "thuddy", but rather "smooth" and "mellow" with still enough of the typical Jazz bass focus.

    By the way, I would suggest 40-100 (D'A ECB84) if you care to try out the Chromes.
  7. tylerwylie


    Jan 5, 2008
    Dunwoody, GA
    Not on TalkBass. Flat's are widely revered here, it's kinda creepy.
  8. PhatRon

    PhatRon I blow bass

    Feb 29, 2012
    Lake Stevens, Wa.
    I use the fender flats (light gauge) on my jazz and they sound wonderful together. Has some real nice zing and full round bottom. definitely not your typical "thud" sound.
    most flats do however have a little more tension than you might be used to so don't shy away from the lighter gauges if that's not your thing.
  9. Shakin-Slim


    Jul 23, 2009
    Tokyo, Japan
    Good thing? There's nothing better! :D
  10. Troph


    Apr 14, 2011
    Kirkland, WA
    There is nothing necessarily wrong with flats on a Jazz bass. That's how a lot of the originals were strung.

    But I happen to think that my single-coil Jazz pickup combinations sound so much better and more distinctive with a good roundwound, that it's a waste to "tone it down" with flats. :)

    If this is your only bass, I'd say stick with rounds. You can't get back the zing once it's gone. But you can add some mellow with the tone knob and EQ...

    If you have multiple basses, then by all means, keep a different set of strings on each!
  11. burnunit

    burnunit obsolete

    Nov 17, 2007
    Charlotte, NC
    Oh my goodness, I am loving my new Sadowsky flats. I can't imagine them sounding bad on any bass.
  12. Marial

    Marial weapons-grade plum

    Apr 8, 2011
    Yep. I have the Sadowskys on my Highway One Jazz. Love 'em (after trying Chromes and TIs).
  13. bluesblaster


    Jan 2, 2008
    Its a very good thing.
  14. jnewmark

    jnewmark Just wanna play the groove. Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2006
    Stax 1966
    Third St. Cigar Records staff musician.
    Thanks for all the replies everyone. I've never really paid any attention to tension, probably in the last 20 years or so, because I've always used Fender Medium gauge Nickle wounds, so whatever that tension is, that's what I like. I know I probably would like the same tension in any string. The Chromes seem to be a favorite here on TB. These would be going on my second Jazz, so I could leave them on for awhile. There seems to be more than one type of D'Addario chromes, though. :confused:
  15. PJ Muzikmansky

    PJ Muzikmansky

    Jan 4, 2013
    I may be bucking the trend here...but I much prefer roundwounds on a jazz with most of the tone rolled off for live work.

    IME flats on a jazz sound much too one dimensional when played live, and accentuate the mid-range 'honk'.

    You lose all the growl when both pickups are on full...my favorite sound on the jazz (and the best sound for walking a blues line IMHO), because that beautiful 'dark' character, with just a hint of 'zing' on top, is lost and you're left with a more 'generic' bass sound.

    To each his own I suppose. But IMHO Flats are better suited to a P bass (which...I also believe is a better bass for blues)
  16. PJ Muzikmansky

    PJ Muzikmansky

    Jan 4, 2013
  17. jnewmark

    jnewmark Just wanna play the groove. Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2006
    Stax 1966
    Third St. Cigar Records staff musician.
    Interesting. I tried a Pbass with flats, tapewounds, but could not get enough definition when in a Blues band situation. Actually, I had a 70's Tele bass with the big humbucker, and that bass was more present with flats than any P bass I tried. But, I fell in love with Jazz basses shortly after, and it's been nothing else since. Yeah, I tried rolling off the tone knob, but that just seems to throw a blanket over the tone of the Jazz; however, I don't have it full on either. I thought flats might round out the tone more than anything else.
  18. PJ Muzikmansky

    PJ Muzikmansky

    Jan 4, 2013
    I understand completely where you're coming from.

    However, in my experience, flats did not improve my tone in a live setting.

    For example...I used a jazz bass strung with TI flats in a small regularly-gigging jazz combo I was in. Had the same strings on that bass for 8 years. They sounded good with the back pick-up soloed for modern jazz-be-bop walking lines etc, but no good for anything else IMO. Too 'hollow' sounding, either with front or both pickups on full. I found DR sunbeams to be a much better all round string for a Jazz bass. If I want 'thump', I palm mute: simple as that

    Of course a lot of this will be affected by the amplification you are using... Just about anything will sound good through a big tube amp

    When all is said and done though...let you ears be the judge. That's what I do. I never let anyone tell me what I should or should'nt use, so If you want to experiment with flats...I say go for it. You might just find that you like them !
  19. .
    I'm loving D'Addario Chromes on my Marcus Miller Jazz.
  20. I've tried rounds, La Bella tapes, TI's, Chromes but liked Sadowsky flats SS 40-100 the most. Perfect string balance, tension, and clarity with thump.

    That said, I have TI's + foam on it now for DB tone on quieter gigs (jazz, duo with piano). Great tone, soft and warm but doesn't cut thru in loud setting. (I use P-Basses for loud gigs - one with Sadowsky flats + pick for thump, other with Roto rounds for more grind).

    I did like dead roundwounds on my jazz bass for over 10 years. Very versatile.

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