Flats or half rounds on an active 6 string fretted bass?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Omega Monkey, Jan 31, 2018.

  1. Omega Monkey

    Omega Monkey

    Mar 8, 2015
    So, I bought a 6 string not too long ago (early/mid 90s Carvin LB76 with a quilted maple top and ebony fretboard). I got it back in July and the strings seemed reasonably fresh (some manner of run of the mill roundwounds, no idea what specifically) so I've been playing them as is (after I gave it a desperately needed setup shortly after getting it). In the last month or so they've been dying though.

    I havent had a 6 string before and I'm still getting used to it but I wasn't all that happy with the feel/response of whatever was on there. I like a really low action because I play with a light touch. I like flats sometimes, but overall I've always greatly preferred rounds. But my bass "collection" (about half a dozen at this point) is big enough where I don't necessarily need one bass to do it all. So I'm considering flats or half rounds or maybe even tapewounds for this thing.

    I play a lot of different kinds of music, but my current bands are an original progressive/fusion/jam band, where I'm reasonably likely to use OD or fuzz and get pretty heavy, and certainly a good amount of effects; and group that's more jazzy/fusion/surf/soul/rock/pop that's a mix of originals with lots of covers.

    My other basses are

    *Yamaha BB415 5 string (this will definitely stay with rounds and is my other main bass right now)
    *80s BB300 4 string (might try flats on this at some point, but I really like the zinginess it has with some nice rounds)
    *Kramer aluminum neck (essentially a medium scale P, the other 4 string candidate for flats, but it has a nice Ric like character with rounds)
    *Carvin LB70P (I've had trouble getting this to setup and sound how I want, and I just realized flats might be interesting with the piezo pickup, if I can get the action low enough)
    *Carvin LB20 fretless from the 80s (this already has flats that have been on for about 10 years, but I kind of want to treat the neck and take it back to rounds for more of a Jaco vibe)

    Amp wise I have a Trace AH 600-12 (tube pre), a Genz Benz GBE 750 (tube and SS pres), and an SWR Bass 350 (tube pre). Cab wise, my main is a Goliath IV 410, secondary is a Genz Benz 410 XB, I also have an old Trace 2x10/1x115 stack from 1990, and I'll be moving to a Genz Shuttle 2x10 for home use and small gigs.

    For effects I use octave, qtron, fuzz/OD (amp or otherwise), compression, phaser and other modulations, delay, and occasionally reverb.

    Soundwise I love the Stanley Clarke/Marcus Miller kind of stuff, Squire/Geddy/Chancellor, etc... but also dig Geezer Butler, Jack Bruce, etc... And I usually play with my fingers but sometimes a pick instead, and definitely slap on a regular basis.

    So I guess I'm looking to hear about people's experiences and/or preferences using something besides rounds on a modern extended range bass (especially with a high C), what styles they use it with, sound clips if possible, etc...

  2. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone.

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    I was surprised by this guy’s tone with La Bella Copper Nylons -
    (Playing starts at 1:18)

    Omega Monkey likes this.
  3. Aidil


    Dec 4, 2014
    Jkt, IDN
    GHS Pressurewound L7200 light 4 string set + PWB128 low-B single+ PWB28 high-C single. Almost balanced tension from the whole 6 strings (many 6 string sets have quite far different tension on the low-B), easy on the fingers, as well as you could get round wound sound without too much zing.
  4. Steve-Mo

    Steve-Mo Supporting Member

    Oct 25, 2010
    Western NY
    Bingo! Seriously, try this out. I've done this on all of the 6 strings I've owned.
    ObsessiveArcher and Omega Monkey like this.
  5. Aidil


    Dec 4, 2014
    Jkt, IDN
    Yeah, I've been using these on my 7 actually (with additonal plain .020p string) for more than a year and I also had the same set on my 6 which I have sold, and I would have had these also on my other 6 that I still have, but couldn't cause the low B winding length was a little short for the bass.
  6. Steve-Mo

    Steve-Mo Supporting Member

    Oct 25, 2010
    Western NY
    Must have been a multiscale 6? The one where the winding was too short.

    I too use a GHS .020 for the high f - surprising how well this fits with the pressurewounds, really.
  7. Versatek6

    Versatek6 Fretless is like Trombone

    Oct 7, 2008
    Twin Cities, MN
    I'm using GHS Pressurewounds, too. Surprise!

    I asked Jason at Bass Strings Online for his recommendation. It was these. The instrument is a Yamaha TRB6p with Bartolini pickups and the factory preamp.
    Omega Monkey likes this.
  8. Aidil


    Dec 4, 2014
    Jkt, IDN
    Yap, an Ibanez multiscale SRFF806. The low-B is 35 ½ inch scale and it needs string with 37 ¾ inch winding length to clear pass the nut whilst the PWB128 is available only in 37 ¼ inch winding length. But it is fine with my 35" scale basses.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2018
  9. Omega Monkey

    Omega Monkey

    Mar 8, 2015
    Thanks guys. I might check out some pressurewounds if I can find gauges I like. I had actually ordered a custom set of balanced regular old d'addario nickel rounds, which is something I've wanted to try for a long time. The concept of balanced tension seems so logical to me, I don't know why companies don't just do all their strings like that. Either balanced or some sort of gradation from high to low, but typical string sets are really just all over the place from string to string (but especially heavy in the middle it seems, ie A and D strings).

    What do people like about the pressurewounds over say the d'addario half rounds? Because d'addario seems to be really good about offering a wide variety of gauges in most of their lines, whereas other brands it's more like "you'll take what we give you and you'll like it". Unless somebody knows a good source for a variety of singles or what set to look for. I think I'm going to be shooting for about 35 lbs per string. I ordered that balanced set on monday so I'm hoping they'll be here in the next couple of days.
  10. Aidil


    Dec 4, 2014
    Jkt, IDN
    You've been in this forum since 2015, surely you are familiar that in here BSO is your friend to get strings from many kinds of brands, including various kinds of singles. Even for me, which resides on the other side of the globe.

    Did you order D'Addario EXL220BT set? This would be my choice also if I would ever get back using the XL Nickel, with XLB130 low-B single and XLB028W high-C single (not the XLB032 since it would be the highest tension of the 6).

    Some like D'Addario Half Rounds, some don't. I used them on my old 6 for few months but then I concluded that I didn't like them. If you care to search, there are lots of discussions on this topic. I like D'Addario rounds, I like their flats (Chromes), but when I had wanted to get the best of both, their Half Rounds weren't just it. Turns out, the Pressurewound is what I'm after for the kind of mixed between flats and rounds.
    Omega Monkey likes this.
  11. Pressurewounds are what I would call "semi-rounds" and as such they're closer to rounds both in tone and feel compared to half-rounds, which are closer to the flatwound tone and feel. I'm a huge PW fan for their unique tone (extra punch & crunch with less zing) and feel (smoother than rounds).

    Here are the actual PW tension numbers for a balanced 6-string set:

    C 028 - 33.2 (lbs.)
    G 040 - 37.2
    D 054 - 36.5
    A 076 - 39.3
    E 096 - 34.2
    B 128 - 34.0

    And here's the GHS Tension Guide.
  12. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    A couple years ago I put together a Warmoth 5-string fretless bass tuned EADGC and, because I wanted it to sound conspicuously different from my other basses (my other fretless wears tapewounds, and all my fretted basses wear stainless steel roundwounds) I started experimenting with different string types.

    I eventually settled on Ken Smith Slick Round strings. This is a nickel-iron alloy roundwound string which is then ground flat on the outside. The marketing pitch is that this gives you "the sound of roundwounds with the feel of flatwounds!"...but I think it actually yields something altogether different. They definitely don't sound like roundwounds; while they have a lovely extended treble response it never comes across as "bright" or "twangy" or "metallic". And they have a very pronounced lower-midrange "punch". The feel is pretty neat, not quite as stiff or thuddy as most flatwounds. Especially for a bass with a high C string this is a desirable set of qualities, because it never seems to give off that "hey, is that a guitar?" vibe that some thin, roundwound high C strings evince; it always sounds like a bass no matter what register I'm playing in.

    btw, one of the string sets I tried before settling on the Slick Rounds was Ken Smith's Compressor Wound strings...this is a nickel-iron alloy roundwound that has been squeezed semi-flat on the surface (unlike the Slick Round which is ground flat). Same idea as the GHS PressureWound strings...and I've heard it alleged that they're even the same thing just re-branded, but I have no idea if that's true. You would think the difference between a squoze-flat nickel-iron alloy roundwound and a ground-flat nickel-iron alloy roundwound would be minor, but ime there was a huge difference. I hated the Compressor Wound strings! Had none of the qualities I was looking for, none of the qualities that I love about the Slick Round strings.
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  13. FantasticFour


    Dec 14, 2013
    I'm a half round enthusiast but I'd still pick Pressurewounds for an active bass.
    Omega Monkey likes this.
  14. Omega Monkey

    Omega Monkey

    Mar 8, 2015
    What I ordered was all because I couldn't find a set that was close enough to what I wanted, so I ordered:


    Which those should all pretty close to 35 on a 34" bass. I think literally every pre-assembled set I found had 65 and 85 for the D and A strings, which is just unnecessarily heavy I think. If I was going to go heavy anywhere it would be on the B string, but then I would want a nice even transition to a lighter C string. I'm hoping I hit close to the magic numbers on the first try.

    Anyway, thanks for the information on the pressurewounds and slick wounds as well. I think pressurewounds will probably be the next set I try after the ones on the way. May go for slick rounds after that if I haven't found what I'm looking for or am still curious. Would also like to keep the set price in the $35 and under range if possible, but I guess strings that are closer to flats I wouldn't be changing them as often most likely. For me rounds get to a certain point and not only do I not usually like the sound, but they seem to fight me as well. Not sure if they just lose elasticity or what. My poor 5 string I think has had the same strings since like May (rotosounds which frankly I did not like very much). But those things are just DEAD. I actually have strings to put on it to (just an off the shelf Dunlop set I got for cheap as a 2 pack), just haven't gotten around to putting them on yet. When I bought that one, I believe it had DR Marcus Millers, which just seemed perfect (bass was listed on TB for a while before getting sold to GC where I found it). Unfortunately they had just gone out of production recently. So I just the Dunlop super brights and those were pretty good too. I think I bought the rotosounds because that's what they had in the store for a 5 at the time and I hadnt ever tried them before. So now it will try some dunlop nickels, and then after that likely either those again or the super brights. But that bass is a completely different thing. It's already low mid focused so I want it to be nice and growly and bright with lots of definition.
  15. Ken Smith Slick Rounds = GHS Brite Flats = Alloy 52 (nickel-iron) half-rounds (groundwound).

    Here's the tension info on the GHS BF:

    C 027 - 33.4 (lbs.)
    G 045 - 38.3
    D 056 - 35.9
    A 077 - 39.3
    E 098 - 38.8
    B 129 - 36.4
  16. Omega Monkey

    Omega Monkey

    Mar 8, 2015
    I got the DAddarios I ordered the other day and put them on a couple of days ago. So far I like them. Still need to do a full setup once they settle a bit (probably over the weekend if I get a chance). The balanced tension seems good. The lighter tension on a few of the strings from a typical set is better as well. I don't need E and A strings that are 20% tighter than the others. The C string went down a lot which is great. And between more appropriate guages and just being new, I can do a lot more of the guitarish sort of stuff that is kind of the point of having a 6 string (for me at least). We'll see what I decide to go with when it comes time to replace these, if I just go for the same thing again or try something completely different. But the info in this thread is definitely very helpful, so I don't just blow $40 on a set of strings that are just completely not what I want. The DAddarios ere only $27, which isn't really any more than it would cost to go to GC and just get an off the shelf set.
  17. All the Ken Smith strings are custom made by GHS or just re-branded. The Pressurewounds sound really good on a six. I used that setup for about a year. My only complaint is that the frets need a really nice crowning or you get a zingy buzz that is not apparent with round wounds. This might just be me, though.
  18. Omega Monkey

    Omega Monkey

    Mar 8, 2015
    Fortunately my bass even though it's about old enough to rent a car, it's almost brand new in terms of condition. As in, if I just told everyone it was made in 2017, they would believe it more readily than if I told them it's at least 23 and maybe as much as 25 years old. I will likely try something like the pressurewounds for my next set in a few months, just because I'm curious to see what they'll be like. Or I might try them on a 4 string to see if I like them overall first before shelling out for a 6 string set.
    Arthur U. Poon likes this.
  19. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    I'm another 6-string player who's using GHS Pressurewounds. I use the M7200-5 string set, and I buy a single .028 C-string. For this particular bass, they're the best strings I've used.

    I was considering trying GHS Brite Flats on my bass, but I started reading the Pressurewounds thread here, and bought a set.
    Omega Monkey likes this.
  20. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    I read that you're looking for a bright sounding string from one of your previous posts. IMO Pressurewounds aren't a super bright sounding string, even when they're fresh out of the pack. So trying a set on your 4-string first might be a good idea.

    However, they have a strong, defined sounding low end, and lots of mid range punch. They do have a defined sounding high end, but they're not a piano string bright sounding string.

    But still check out a set. I was very surprised with their sound, and they have an incredibly long lifespan.

    Best regards!
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