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Flats for Jazz Bass / Swing Band

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by LBS-bass, Nov 26, 2018.

  1. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2017
    I know someone will do it anyway, but before you tell me to use the search function please know that I already did that and came up with a multitude of classified ads from people who are selling or have sold TI Jazz Flats. Searches are not always going to bring you the info you want, even when it's a question that must have been asked many times.

    So, here I am, asking. Scenario: I have a Fender Jazz Elite that I'd like to restring with flats because I'm primarily using it to play walking lines and similar stuff in a swing band. It's a string-through bass. What's on it now are very dead roundwounds, gauges are 40-95. I like my strings supple and bendy. The deadness of these strings is working pretty well for this band so I am leaning toward flats from here on out, but I have not put flats on a bass in close to 40 years. I'm a little out of that loop.

    I have read a lot about the TI strings and might be tempted to try them. I have also read that flats can be tricky on a string through bass. Your thoughts and recommendations are welcome.
    Pbassmanca likes this.
  2. GrapeBass


    Jun 10, 2004
    Graphic designer: Yorkville Sound
    Many people have suggested the La Bella Deep Talkin' Bass tape wound strings. I've already put a set on my fretless AGB and must concur that they are the bee's knees.

    That is all
    Rip Van Dan, equill and LBS-bass like this.
  3. DrThumpenstein, Pocket4 and LBS-bass like this.
  4. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    "Supple and bendy" is a perfect description of TI jazz flats. You should go work for their marketing department. ;)
  5. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2017
    Those are seriously light gauges. How would these feel compared to the same gauges in rounds? More tension or less?
  6. TI Jazz Flats should be flexible enough not to cause any major issues with thru-body installation.

    Now that you've already found some for sale in the classified (thanks to the search function ;)) why don't you give them a try?
    LBS-bass likes this.
  7. Nohrellas


    May 11, 2016
    Not that light, 40-100 is pretty normal and if you actually match the tension (with daddario strings for example) of the D and A strings you end up with 40, 55, 75, 100.
    Flats of the same gauge should usually have more tension than rounds. Roundwound strings basically have "holes" or "gaps" in them from the round wire, so they're less dense, while a flatwound string with its ribbon wire leaves little to no empty space. More mass moving at the same string tension = lower pitch, so you'd have to tune them further up which results at more tension.

    edit: here it is quickly drawn in paint, hope it helps and doesn't add to the confusion. Everything else being the same, flatwound strings are more dense and therefore have more mass.

    View attachment 3227323
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2018
  8. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    Lost Wages, Nevada
    To rounds of the same gauge, they would probably feel like they had higher tension. You give the impression of being new to flats; if so, lighter gauge flats than the rounds you're used to, is a good way to get used to them. They will feel more like the rounds you usually play, tension wise. However..
    Flats in general are higher tension than rounds in general - but, honestly, not by anywhere near as much as people think. What they really are, is stiffer than rounds - because of the flat outer winding. High tension and stiffness feel the same, but stiffness won't pull your bass neck into a big "U" like really high tension strings might - if the neck is messed up to begin with. But, as has been mentioned, unless the flats are specifically designed for a string-thru bridge, it's not a really good idea - most of the time. The sharp break angle over the back of the bridge is very hard on flats, and can cause the outer winding to separate - or break. People here will tell you that they've been doing it for years without a problem; and I'm sure they have. Maybe you'll be one of them, too; who knows? ;)
    LBS-bass likes this.
  9. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2017
    Thanks, everyone. I appreciate the input! I am kind of new to flats. I'm an old school rock bassist who is just starting to explore some of the standards and jazzier techniques, now that I'm semi-retired. So it was always rounds for me until recently. I experimented with flats and half-rounds early on but never used them much. That was a long time ago. Things have changed a lot.
    DJ Bebop and Pbassmanca like this.
  10. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2017
    I went ahead and ordered the string-through La Bellas. I'll check out the TIs if I don't like these.
  11. Which set of La Bella (as in gauges) did you order? I ask because La Bella Flats in general are a lot stiffer than the TI's. They're not what I would consider "supple and bendy".
  12. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2017
    The extra light ones.
    • String Gauges: .039, .056, .077, .096
    These are similar gauges to what I currently play, but I'm ok with them if they're a little more stiff, I'll just hit them closer to the neck. I don't do a lot of bendy stuff in the swing group.
    fermata and michael_t like this.
  13. zoonose


    Apr 4, 2005
    Alexandria, LA
    I've used TI jazz flats and D'Addario Chromes on a string through bass, no problems with either one.
  14. The bridge on your Elite Jazz also has a top load position. I have TI Jazz Flats on my 2015 American Standard Jazz bass and I have them top loaded. Every time I play that bass I am blown away at the balance of the TI Flats.
  15. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2017
    I should have looked for that. It's strung through right now and has been since I bought it, so I didn't even check. Thanks; that creates more options for sure.
    Ralph Manak, wmmj and Garagiste like this.
  16. bherman

    bherman Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
    Only issue you might run into is that the strings you ordered might be extra-long and will only work through body. Better check before you top-mount them.
  17. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2017
    Thanks. I will string those through. If I decide to try another kind, I'll have additional choices.
  18. Timmy-Watts

    Timmy-Watts Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2010
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Labella flats have that tone that is closest to a woody thump upright tone you would want when walking lines. The tension is generally tighter, so get a lighter gauge. But they will deliver the tone, and are the smoothest feeling flats. Most other flats, including the TI, are tacky feeling by comparison. And the TI's have next to no tension. They'll have even less than your light gauge rounds. Not for everyone.
    Quantized Harmonic, wmmj and LBS-bass like this.
  19. Garagiste


    Feb 16, 2013
    Brooklyn, NY
    The only time I have ever experienced bass strings that broke was running flats through a string-through bridge. They aren’t made for that. Also, based on my experience with two string-through basses, there’s no discernible difference in tone or resonance running the strings through the top load position versus through the body. Lastly, based on what you describe as your optimal feel (“supple and bendy”) I would bet TI flats would make you very happy. I’ve had them on P and J basses. Though the sound was fantastic, I just don’t feel like I am playing a bass unless there is a certain level of tension. So I have Chromes and Labellas on my bass guitars.
    Andy Daventry and LBS-bass like this.
  20. If you get down this way (Alameda) and want to try a bass with TI flats, I have a couple basses strung with them you are welcome to try.

    To give you a sense of how stiff they feel compared to rounds - If I compare them to say D'addario XL or ProSteel with a 105 E, the D'addario is stiffer than the TI. The TI's feel about the same stiffness as Lo-Riders light or med-light with the 100 E string.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2018
    LBS-bass likes this.

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