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Flats on a fretless?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by red7flag, Feb 11, 2020.

  1. red7flag


    Oct 25, 2017
    Dickson, TN
    I am new to flats. Just put my first pair on my G&L LB-190 and love the deep rich rice. Have been considering a Tony Franklin fretless. How would flats sound on the TFB? In addition to tone, I would think Flats would be easier on the fretboard.
    TN WOODMAN and teh-slb like this.
  2. Fresh Eddie

    Fresh Eddie

    Nov 13, 2008
    New England
    Flats on a fretless are like peanut butter and jelly! Give it a try.
    vanderbe, SJan3, mrcbass and 21 others like this.
  3. arbiterusa


    Sep 24, 2015
    San Diego, CA
    Interestingly enough, I'm not a big fan of flats on my fretlesses. Tried quite a few. Miss the sustain and definition I get with rounds.

    I had, up until a few months ago, a fretted Jazz bass. LOVE the sound of flats on that. Considering getting another fretted bass just to run some of those Fender 9050s on.
  4. godofthunder59

    godofthunder59 God of Thunder and Rock and Roll

    Feb 19, 2006
    Rochester NY USA
    Endorsing Cataldo Basses, Whirlwind products, Thunderbucker pickups
    Flats on my fretless Precisions! FB_IMG_1575296919177.jpg
    Inky13, stubborne, BEADG63 and 23 others like this.
  5. woodyng2

    woodyng2 Supporting Member

    Oct 4, 2015
    Oregon Coast
    My fretless experiences have been really hit or miss. I loved a set of Labella classic black tapewounds on a Carvin AC40 bass i had. I used the same set on a Yamaha cheapy fretless and they sounded great.
    For a while i had a Mexican J bass with half rounds,and just thought the metallic sound and the fretless sound didn’t mesh. (I don’t know how Jaco did it!)
    I currently have a defretted Rickenbacker Cheyenne ii that has a set of Chromes on it. I like the sound very much, but not the feel. (It might be the setup,too,there’s not much sustain on the upper strings). I had previously tried a set of the black labella tapes on it,and the E string sounded pretty clacky and unmusical to me. Overall,i prefer flats and tapes to rw strings on most of my basses,and especially on fretless ones.
    My next string change for that bass is likely going to be a set of Labella low tension flexible flats.
  6. ThudThudThud


    Jun 4, 2010
    Flats on a fretless?
    It'll never catch on...
  7. I don’t like flats, especially on fretless since I’d be doing a lot more sliding than on fretted. I feel that all the extra friction between my fingers and much more surface area of a flat-wound string holds me back....not that I’m a virtuoso or anything, I just would like less holding me back than my own talent (or lack thereof).
  8. woodyng2

    woodyng2 Supporting Member

    Oct 4, 2015
    Oregon Coast
    What flatwounds are you using?
    Most of the flatwound sets i’ve used are super slick feeling, certainly less friction than rw’s.
  9. Riff Ranger

    Riff Ranger Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2018
    Bigfoot Country
    The only flatwounds I have ever used, or suspect I ever will, I have used on my fretless. But I play fretted instruments with roundwounds 99% of the time.
    Giffro likes this.
  10. I tried a set of D’Addario’s I think, a loooong time ago and took them off the same day. Then I bought a fretless that came with flats. Took those off the same day, too.
    AlexanderB and Giffro like this.
  11. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Flats on fretless?
    Freebo on the early Bonnie Raitt records (pre '77 or so) is my halllmark for flats/fretless. There's an astoundingly beautiful performance of "Love Has No Pride" by the two of them on YouTube.

    Rick Danko used flats on his freless basses (the Ampeg, a Precision, and a Gibson Ripper).

    I believe Bill Wyman's fretless wore flats.
  12. grrg63


    Dec 14, 2005
  13. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
  14. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Try Cobalt Flats if you want to still have a bright tone. I think half rounds strings are also great and much less prone to causing fretboard wear than rounds.
  15. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    me: only fretless, only rounds, only happy.

    OP, you have to do what you think best, but: fretless + rounds = fingerboard tragedy is overplayed here. it takes a long time to wear out a fingerboard...some TB folks are wearing out metal frets way sooner!
  16. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    True, and this goes triple if your fingerboard is ebony.
    ChrisBowsman, tindrum, Giffro and 2 others like this.
  17. RedMoses


    Jul 4, 2012
    They go together like bread and butter, your gonna love em. Try La Bella Tape Wounds, great mid range and string feel.
  18. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member


    i just removed a 30 y.o. maple/ebony neck from a J: it has wicked string marks after 3 decades but it is not quite ready for a re-do --- it still plays without issues!
    JEDI BASS and ChrisBowsman like this.
  19. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    You could probably sand it down yourself.
    ChrisBowsman and JRA like this.
  20. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    i will be doing the work! it's probably my best neck (feel)!
    ChrisBowsman and Dr. Cheese like this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Mar 2, 2021

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