Flats with the playability of rounds?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by KoalaOnBass, Jan 19, 2021.

  1. KoalaOnBass


    Feb 18, 2016
    So I'm considering putting flats on my precision because I love the smooth and thumpy sound, but I'm hesitant.

    I've only ever tried flats once (they came installed on the p when I bought it used) and they were INCREDIBLY difficult to play. They felt so stiff that I couldn't get through a single song without my fretting hand aching and cramping up. I believe they were some kind of Fender flats.

    Now, I wonder: is that just how flats are? Or are there models out there that are more comparable to rounds in terms of comfort? I typically play D'addario nickel wound rounds, 45 - 100 or 105, with no issue.

    I'd really appreciate suggestions on flats that are in a similar ball park (if they exist) from you guys.:)
    lowendrachel likes this.
  2. La Bella Low Tension Flats (42-100) would provide you with the traditional flatwound tone with roundwound-like playability. So, would GHS Precision Flats 45-95.
  3. marchone

    marchone Since 1951 Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2009
    I have TI Jazz Flats on my Precision. TI JF344 are .043 - .056 - .070 - .100.

    They are much easier to play than the Rotosound Swing Bass 66 Roundwounds I have on my single coil bass.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2021
  4. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX

    But you can get TI flats. They are lively enough that you can slap/pop without the thud. That’s the closest I’ve ever come. I use flats and rounds on different basses and if I’m practicing on the TI basses I don’t immediately feel like I have to change basses when I change techniques.

    I’m not a “flats or nothing” guy. So that’s my position. Rounds and flats are made for different reasons and there is a valid reason why every new bass ships with rounds, but flats have their own magic too. And TI Jazz Flats do a good job splitting the difference. Not cheap. Worth it.
    maxschrek, Loring, roccobass and 9 others like this.
  5. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    TI also last a very long time so even though they cost more, it’s a break even. Not trying to sell them. I use LB flats on a fretless too. But the TI have a brighter tone. Chromes are quite lively when they are new but after a week or so they mellow. Great flats, high tension. But don’t sound like rounds after they break in.

    Another option is TI Jazz Rounds, they have a smoother feel so less fret noise. But round wound.

    I will try any set on any bass. So I’ve played a lot of brands. Have fun.
    Dubious Aa, Loring, legalbass and 2 others like this.
  6. KoalaOnBass


    Feb 18, 2016
    Thanks for the help! I'm seriously considering the TI's now. :thumbsup:

    I'm not after the sound of rounds (love the thump of flats), though, just the playability. Would you say that chromes are significantly harder to play than TI's or rounds?
    SethD, petrus61 and TrevorOfDoom like this.
  7. the baint

    the baint Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2010
    Greenville, SC
    Techtronic Industries, North America employee. Opinions are my own.
    Labella Low Tension will have a similarly easy feel as TI's (from what I've read) but are less-expensive and have more of the traditional flats thud than the more lively TI's (again, from years of hearing about them, not personal experience.

    I've really enjoyed the LTFs on my Stingray, but am curious about TI's at some point for a little more mid-presence.
  8. The D'A Chromes are known for their stiffness, so if you want to try them, you might want to go light, ie 40-95, which would probably have the same stiffness as the XL Nickel 45-100. Also, their tonal character is less traditional than La Bella.
  9. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Commercial User

    Sep 9, 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Manager of Brand Identity & Development, GHS Strings, Innovation Double Bass Strings, Rocktron
    Yep, price. Larger companies go with what string they can buy in bulk for the best price. Those aren't flats.

    Smaller companies rely on price to a point; they understand the end user is most likely going to put on "their brand" of strings as soon as they get the bass. So, why spend the extra for a set of flats if the end user doesn't use them?

    Some boutique companies will offer you a choice, but not many.
  10. leche


    Feb 2, 2009
    I have chromes on my bass, you might consider using those, but playing in D standard (D-G-C-F) tuning. Lower tension and lower notes :bassist:
    MisterUbu and KoalaOnBass like this.
  11. bigshiny

    bigshiny Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2010
    St Louis MO
    Labella FL’s
    rob_thebassman and KoalaOnBass like this.
  12. Medicine Man

    Medicine Man

    Apr 10, 2015
    Absolutely. I just put some medium gauge Chromes on, and they are some CHONKY boyz. TIs are much floppier with solid mids. (Too supple for me, but I have a "dig in" problem.) Labella low tension flats will give you that vintage thump in a more forgiving action as well. The GHS flats get a lot of love around here, but I havent used them
    KoalaOnBass likes this.
  13. JeezyMcNuggles

    JeezyMcNuggles Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    Cobalts. I personally prefer fender though. But, cobalts really do sound like rounds.
  14. JeezyMcNuggles

    JeezyMcNuggles Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    Oh, you want the feel. Ghs pressurewounds. Just wear them in a bit.
  15. I think the OP wants the traditional flatwound tone with the playablility (stiffness/flexibility) of rounds. Both the Cobalt Flats and the Pressurewounds may be too roundwound in their tonal characters.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2021
  16. Dan_reeves


    Jun 14, 2013
    I was going to suggest the GHS Precision Flats 45-95 also. They are really easy to play and sound great! Have not played the Labellas, so can't compare.
    Fluid Power likes this.
  17. dangevans


    Mar 26, 2014
    Just buy lighter gauge ones and see how it works.
    Aqualung60 likes this.
  18. Dan_reeves


    Jun 14, 2013
    I read this and thought of an off-topic question - do flats generally cost more because they are more expensive to make, or is it more of a scalability issue? Just curious - thanks Jon!
  19. JeezyMcNuggles

    JeezyMcNuggles Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    Yeah, maybe you're right.
  20. Yeah whatever flats you try, OP, go lighter gauge for more flexibility since that's what your goals are.
    Aqualung60 likes this.

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