Flats or rounds or tapewound for a Squier VM Jazz Bass?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by PRW94, Dec 11, 2014.

  1. PRW94

    PRW94 Guest

    Jul 20, 2012
    My son plays bass in addition to guitar, plays bass regularly in worship services at our church. His first bass was a Hofner Icon, which he got because he's a Beatles fan. He's done OK with it, but he's now finding it one-note and limiting, so he's getting a Squier Vintage Modified Jazz Bass (lefty model, natural, maple fretboard) for Christmas.

    I know that comes with the Fender 7250ML .045 to .105 roundwound set, which I've seen good reviews of. I've told him he ought to try those out for a while before he changes, because this is going to be a much different experience than the Hofner.

    However, he's determined to change to flats like he has on the Hofner (he uses LaBella), and is even talking about going with black tapewound, because he played a Jazz Bass at a guitar shop one time that had tapewounds and he loved it. (My son is not your average 20-year-old in his musical styles and tastes, he's into Beatles, Byrds, Tom Petty and Beach Boys.)

    So "Santa" is going to bring him a set of strings, too.

    Does anyone have any experience with flats or tapewounds on this bass? If so, No. 1, are the tension issues going to require significant neck, etc., adjustments from how it comes in from the dealer? (It's coming from Sweetwater, I prefer to buy local but you don't find a lot of lefty basses hanging around.) And No. 2, he likes LaBella, I figure we're looking at the 760FS .045 to .105 set for flatwounds, does anyone know if those will work well with this bass, or should we look elsewhere like to Rotosound, TI, etc? And what about the tapewounds? Those gauges look so much larger especially on the top strings.

  2. Unfinely Tuned

    Unfinely Tuned

    May 11, 2012
    New Jersey
    I went through this same ordeal with my Lefty 70's VM which turned into a project for me. I first switched out my trusted DR Lo Riders for a set of D'Addario Chromes and haven't looked back for almost 3 years now. I never tried flatwounds on a bass before at the time and really like the mellow but wide range of tones I can get with some EQ'ing and knob turning. I could never justify the price of TI strings since I am just a hobbyist who gigs every so often and have so many basses that use flats, but the opinions of them here on TB are stellar. I also have never used Rotosounds or tapewounds for that matter either, maybe some more experienced flatwound fans may be able to advise you in that matter.

    I use 45-105's on it as far as I remember, and have used La Bella flats on a separate bass. I cannot compare the two unfortunately since the VM is a jazz and the other is a P+J, but from what I've heard and played on a MIA Fender Jazz, the La Bellas may be a tad brighter in tone. If your son is used to flats on the Hofner, he may like the thump of either the La Bellas or Chromes on the VM also because they will sound fuller and more harmonic after playing the hollow body. The classic rock and styles he likes cater to flats on the VM. The Squier is a great bass and I would put mine up against any similar bass and even a MIM jazz any day.

    The Squiers are a great bass for the beginner bassist and also the more advanced, I don't have any issues with the action or the E string, I play pretty hard and this bass can take a beating from a working musician standpoint. I do have the neck adjusted about once a year mainly due to the weather in the east and constant playing on my part. The bass has a following here on TB and is a very good starting point for modifications. Mine has turned into quite the player for me, as I've replaced the pickups with DiMarzio Model J's, swapped the bridge out for a Gotoh 201 and slapped Chromes on it along with some Fender knobs.

    Good luck to your son with the Squier, he will be content with La Bellas or Chromes. The bass is a keeper for what it offers lefties. Being a lefty is tough in finding basses but I proudly show off the Squier next to my Spector and two USA G&L's. I get a lot of looks at local music stores when people see the Squier logo on the headstock. Check out the Squier VM club here on TB for more info on flats, mods and reviews. I hope this helps.
  3. gary m

    gary m

    Jan 17, 2011
    Mid -Atlantic
    I'd like to recommend GHS Precision Flatwounds, which I use on both my fretted and fretless basses with excellent results. The tension is a tad lower than most flatwounds, and they mellow nicely over time.

    My favorite tapewound set is made by D'Addario, which I use on an Dean acoustic bass that I record with from time to time. Either set would work with your Squier VM, but the GHS flats would give you more of that classic 60s tone, if that helps.
    nerkoids likes this.
  4. If he wants flats:
    -D'Addario Chromes, either light or super light gauge
    -Fender 9050L's or 9050ML's

    If he wants tapes:
    -D'Addario tapes
    -La Bella white tapes
  5. nerkoids


    Jan 3, 2014
    I have a lefty 70s VM Jazz too, and I have GHS flats on there. These strings were made for this bass.

    I may have mentioned it before... :smug:
  6. nerkoids


    Jan 3, 2014
    For tapes, I loved my Rotosound RS88s. D'Addarios look intriguing, though...
  7. PRW94

    PRW94 Guest

    Jul 20, 2012
    Thanks. He loves flatwounds, was just afraid of them messing up the neck of the bass (although he's good enough at instrument repair to tweak his own truss rods, plus we have a quite good and reasonably-priced tech in town who's great at Fender work, set up my Strat yesterday).

    Would you advise the set with the .095 on the bottom or the .100 or .105 on the bottom? He's used to light gauge strings on the Hofner, I think that LaBella set has .095 on the bottom, but I'm sure the feel is different because of the short scale (I have a short-scale Lennon Rickenbacker and .013 to .054 on that guitar feels like slinkies).
  8. Flats being naturally stiffer than rounds doesn't necessarily mean they're any harder on the neck depending on the gauge selection. Oftentimes people use the term "high tension" when describing flats being stiffer/tighter under the fingers, not the actual pulling weight exerted on the neck.

    Before I discovered the joy of flats, I used to use D'Addario EXL165 (Nickel Rounds, 45-65-85-105). So, when I decided to try a set of flats, I decided to downsize them to 40-60-80-100 (D'Addario Chromes ECB84), which seemed to work fine for overall playability.

    In fact, I didn't even have to tweak the truss rod as EXL165 and ECB84 turn out to be very similar in terms of overall tension.

    ECB84 (Chromes Flats):

    G 40 37.83 lbs.
    D 60 46.49 lbs.
    A 80 47.52 lbs.
    E 100 40.29 lbs.

    Total 173.13 lbs.

    EXL165 (Nickel Rounds):

    G 45 42.52 lbs.
    D 65 48.35 lbs.
    A 85 45.34 lbs.
    E 105 38.08 lbs.

    Total 174.29 lbs.
  9. Unfinely Tuned

    Unfinely Tuned

    May 11, 2012
    New Jersey
    Wow, the replies in this thread are really good. this info about the flats is great and I may look for tapewounds next time around. I use La bellas on another bass and they are stellar.
  10. I'll second this. I had these strings on the VM jazz natural/maple. They tamed some of the brightness and gave it a really sweet and smooth tone.
    chea-pass and nerkoids like this.
  11. FerruleCat

    FerruleCat Guest

    Mar 29, 2014
    Tulsa, OK
    I recommend D'Addario Chromes (flats) or D'Addario Black Nylon (tapes). The tapes can be a little clicky depending on your technique. But both are solid strings with nice, rounded tone. Since he dug the tapes that one time, I'd get him those.
  12. Unfinely Tuned

    Unfinely Tuned

    May 11, 2012
    New Jersey
    This thread had me motivated to try some Nylon D'addarios on the VM. I will get to try them out tomorrow and hope I will like them. I never played with tapewounds so this is my first time. I really like the Chromes and Labellas but actually saw a set of the black D'addarios at a local shop and figured to give them a try since this bass has been a project for me and taught me so much about jazz bass tones and builds in general.
  13. nerkoids


    Jan 3, 2014
  14. tjh


    Mar 22, 2006
    .. since he is 20, and not really a kid, a gift certificate for Bassstringsonline for a set of his choice might be a decent option ... that way 'santa' is sure to please ... ;)
  15. I have the same bass, I am a lefry too. It is such a good bass it'll play well with many strings. IMO LaBella's are my favorite flats and will do great on this bass. For rounds I use Ernie Ball Slinkies.
  16. sigmafloyd


    May 1, 2011
    I have this bass and am a string junky. For flats I think the light chromes (the one with the pink label) are the best, or fender flats. I did not like GHS precisions.

    For tapes, I would recommend daddario because it does not involve any nut filing.
  17. Troph

    Troph Guest

    Apr 14, 2011
    Kirkland, WA
    I had flats on this bass for a few months after I had gotten it new, but eventually I decided to experiment with some other strings. I'm very glad I did. From the "Duncan Designed" single-coil pups to the all-maple wood design, this bass begs to release some zing, and flats just don't really match up well. After trying a few different sets, I eventually settled on nickel Ernie Ball Hybrid Slinky's as a good option on this particular bass, as they last quite a while, they're relatively inexpensive, and they are versatile.

    But honestly, the best thing to do is to let him experiment. Bass strings are relatively expensive, but they really make a huge difference in tone.

    As for tapewounds, I really like D'Addario tapewounds, but (especially with single-coil pickups) you're likely to get some extra RF noise because you won't be grounded via the strings. This bass doesn't have much shielding to help.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2014
  18. Stradivarius


    Aug 27, 2013
    Buenos Aires
  19. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Supporting Member

    Fender Neck Test 1.jpg '78 P-Bass-1.JPG Nah, unless the neck is defective to begin with, you shouldn't have a problem. Most "normal" gauge flat wounds have very little more actual tension (pounds of pull) than most equivalent gauge rounds. What they do have, is a higher degree of stiffness - which isn't the same thing as tension, but does feel like it. So..
    Tapes? There are several kinds, and they range from pretty bright sounding (La Bella white tapes) to very woody and dark (Roto TruBass 88 tapes). Yeah, the gauges are pretty large, but most of that is the nylon outer wrap. Inside, they tend to be fairly light gauge round wounds. But, you might have to widen some nut slots to make them work... I like the Rotos, myself, but.. pay your money, and take your pick...
    Flats? Again, there's a wide choice of tone. D'Addario Chromes are generally considered to be the brightest (and, tend to stay that way, too). La Bella Deep Talkin' Flats - especially the "Jamerson" set, are the darkest, thumpiest ones. With everything else somewhere in between. The La Bellas you're contemplating are certainly good strings (I use them, too), but, since this is his first try with a long scale bass with flats? I'm tempted to recommend the Fender 9050Ls. I had them on my '78 P-Bass for quite a while; I only replaced them because they weren't quite Old School Thumpy enough for that bass. They're living comfortably on something else, now... I think of them as Goldilocks flats; they're not too anything. Not too bright or thumpy; not too stiff or high tension; not too expensive; and they don't take too long tp break in, either. Just right... I'd say they would be a good choice for first flats; and they'll let him decide whether he prefers thumpier, or brighter...:thumbsup: