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Flats vs. Rounds Conundrum

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by jetbike, Nov 8, 2012.

  1. jetbike


    Apr 2, 2011
    Sydney, 'Straya
    My take on the string dilemma as old as time:

    I've been playing for about 20 years, but never really worried about string selection. After many years of really not caring (it was grunge's fault) I found Rotosound 66 rounds and stuck them on my Jazz Bass about for about a decade.

    I recently made the switch to flats. I bought Roto 77's, put them on my P-bass and it was (like most people's experience) an absolute revelation.

    So, here is my conundrum, I'm totally in love with the silky-smooth feel of these strings and the thump, but the higher tension of these strings isn't something I like, and a bit of zing can be nice (especially when playing with effects).

    So, I'm switching back and forth between rounds and flats, love the brightness and tension of round, love the smoothness and thump of flats.

    I only have my P-Bass currently (although working on it with Mrs Jetbike). Apart from buy a second bass and stick rounds on one and flats the other, what's a boy to do? Are there bright(er, I know they'll never be as bright as rounds) flatwound strings that have lower tension?

    Would stainless steel be another option (not smooth though).

    Any advice would be gratefully received.

    Ps. Also loving the not having to change my strings with the flats. Makes saving for the Geddy Lee Jazz easier.
  2. Rockin Mike

    Rockin Mike

    May 27, 2011
    You could put a piece of foam or sponge under roundwound strings close to the bridge to make it thumpier... it's not the same but kind of headed in that direction, and it's easy to remove when you want the full roundwound sound (triple rhyme score).
  3. JoZac21


    Nov 30, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Sounds like you might want to try Thomastik-Infelds... but, warning, they're very expensive.
  4. You might like tapewounds. Or groundwoung or pressure wound.
  5. soulman969


    Oct 6, 2011
    Here's your answer; http://www.bassstringsonline.com/Pressurewound-Flats_c_176.html

    Best solution for a single type of string that bridges the gap between flats and rounds. Mellower than a round, brighter and punchier than a flat, more of the feel of a round but with less string noise and all the tonal variety you usually get from rounds.

    I play them on my Jazz Bass and would play them on the PBass as well if I didn't want the variation of having a set of good old thumping flats on it. For $20 to try a set you really can't go wrong.
  6. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Sorry to not give you your magic compromise, but I don't think there is any type of string that will give you every quality you seek - not even bright flats or groundwounds.

    My advice: Get a Jazz and keep a set of rounds on it. Keep your Precision and keep a set of flats on it.

    Problem solved... :meh:

    Bassmunnky likes this.
  7. jetbike


    Apr 2, 2011
    Sydney, 'Straya
    I think you might be on to something.
  8. spacebassed


    Jan 31, 2009
    Tapewound would be a step in the wrong direction for what he's describing IMHO. Something in the pressure wound/compression wound or half round/ground wound family would be the way to go - you get the best of both worlds (I use Ken Smith Slick Rounds). Typically, in terms of brightness/mellowness, it goes:
    Stainless Steel Roundwound - Nickel Roundwound - Compression/Pressure Wound - Ground Wound - Flatwound - Tapewound

    Some examples of Compression/Pressure Wounds are: Ken Smith Compressors, GHS Pressurewound, S.I.T. Silencers

    Groundwound/Half Rounds: Ken Smith Slick Rounds, GHS Brite Flats, S.I.T. Power Flats, D'Addario Half Round

    D'Addario Half Round
  9. spacebassed


    Jan 31, 2009
    ...And let me add that, as far as a traditional flat with low tension, TI's are hard to beat.
  10. One Drop

    One Drop

    Oct 10, 2004
    Swiss Alps
    The Roto flats are one of the highest tensioned out there. They aren't very bright when broken in, either.

    Before going to half-rounds and the like I'd try a brighter flat like TIs or Chromes, or the new Fenders.

    Look for used flats to experiment, cheaper and you can hear them broken in quicker.
  11. soulman969


    Oct 6, 2011

    He is and all you need to do is to get Mrs. jetbike to agree with both of you, or all three of us actually. It's why I have one of each but I prefer the Pressure Wounds to straight Nickel Rounds on my Jazz and the flats on my PBass.
  12. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

    Aug 12, 2005
    Willow Street, PA
    Beta tester for Positive Grid
  13. jetbike


    Apr 2, 2011
    Sydney, 'Straya

    I think we have a winner!

    (Although my real preference is to get a second bass)
  14. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    mystic nailed it I think. A bass with flats, a bass with rounds. Roto's wouldn't be my choice in either these days but that is another thread... Though next time you change the rounds, try a set of athomastic Super Alloy or Power Bass rounds. Either provide a ton more thump that other rounds. They alao last a lot longer. The SA's are my fav rounds period. Not terribly expensive either, atleast in the conus.
  15. iiipopes


    May 4, 2009
    Nobody has mentioned a set of medium tensioned flats that growl when you want them to:

    Fender 9050CL flats in 45-60-80-105. These are the strings that converted me from rounds to flats. They are mellow when you want them to be, they growl when you want them to (almost like a subdued Roto growl), they are absolutely consistent string-to-string and up the neck, they last seemingly forever, and they are economical. I use them for everything from Thursday night to Sunday morning.

    They are the closest I have found to a string that bridges the conundrum the OP has posted.
  16. jetbike


    Apr 2, 2011
    Sydney, 'Straya
    Sorry to raise this one from the dead, but my D'Addario Chromes 40-95 arrived today. So smooth, so warm and bright.

    Love at first sight. Add a bit of compression and they sing. Add distortion and the grit flies. Through the octaver, fat and funky. With fuzz they are creamy. So nice to play, perfect tension. Strings bend with ease.

    Thanks for the help. Honestly the best strings I've ever played with.
  17. jasper383

    jasper383 Supporting Member

    Dec 5, 2004
    Durham NC

    Yes, Chromes or the new 9050 Fender flats were the way to go.
  18. rockscott


    Aug 28, 2010
    No one string can give you every tone you desire. I put 66 rotos on my Tbird, Xl's on my fender and chrome flats on my hollowbody. Three very different sounding strings suited to three very different sounding guitars.
    trothwell likes this.
  19. JPSBassist


    Feb 10, 2010
    Santa Barbara
    I feel your pain.

    For me, after 20 years as a guitarist, I discovered that I like flats because I can hide some of the finger-noise on the string that for some reason I can't seem to get my guitar trained hands to get away from.

    I discovered an Italian import string, hand-wound flats, carbon steel, by a company called Dogal. They're excellent. They have punch and thump, as good as any ground/half wound I've tried.

    They are called Dogal Jaco Ultraflats. And yes, the great man discovered them in Italy and liked them so much that he allowed Dogal to use his name.

    Here is the link: http://www.dogalstrings.it/Strings_...Jaco System: Ultrapiatte&PATH=Strings_Moderno

    They are the only flats I use.

    And I totally agree with MysticMichael... put the flats on your P, get a J and load it with rounds. You'll have a bunch on tonal options that way.