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flatwound compared to roundwound

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by JVbass, Jan 18, 2012.

  1. JVbass


    Feb 15, 2009
    Cleveland OH
    In the 26 years I've been playing bass, I have always used roundwound strings. I am looking for a 'quieter' string that won't clank and scratch....someone on here spoke of flatwounds. Can anyone describe the flatwound's sound characteristics as opposed to the roundwounds?
  2. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    Flats are very smooth to the touch of course which means you have very little if any string noise compared to rounds. Tonally they warmer, rounder and have a muted high end, similar to if you put a foam mute at the bridge while using roundwounds, though maybe not that extreme.

    They have less treble, more mids.
  3. I'd suggest starting with D'addario Chromes.....easily the most popular flatwound....to get the feel and tone.

    There are many other types and tones, but Chromes are a good middle of the road.
  4. Hard to really describe. Rounds sound more like the low end of a piano, flats sound more like a double bass played pizz. But there are a huge range of sounds out there with different strings and different playing techniques.

    Suggest you buy a set and experiment, but try them with a band before you make up your mind. Solo rounds will sound richer but in a band context flats come into their own more. Or post more info about bass players you want to sound like.

    I have flats on a couple of my basses - one fretless (Ernie Balls) and my Beatle bass (La Bellas).
  5. JVbass


    Feb 15, 2009
    Cleveland OH
    I'm going to first try a set of half rounds before trying flat wounds...have any of you tried half rounds???
  6. I tried half rounds briefly... They didn't do much for reducing unwanted noise, and they sounded like dead roundwounds. I use flats now on my main bass.
  7. Look into GHS Pressure Wounds. Just like you I've played rounds on almost all of my basses since the 70's. Recently I bought a CV Jazz which had flats on it when I bought it and I never play flats on a Jazz Bass. A PBass yes but not on a Jazz.

    I was going to switch over to rounds when one of our members suggested these Pressure Wounds. More like a round than a flat. Not as bright as a round but still punchy and articulates well even on the E string. Lower string noise. Nice even tension across the set. It's probably the best string I've ever played on a Jazz Bass. Very expressive without the zing of rounds.

    Just one more possibilty to add to the hopper. :D
  8. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    I use dead half-rounds with an active 3 band eq. on an Ibanez Musician. It Does a great P tone among many others.

    If you turn the treble down, the clank goes away. Turn the treble up and it still gets some spank when necessary.
  9. +1. I just started looking at flats, and scored a new set of chromes about a month ago here on TB.

    I like my chromes; they have that old school sound I've been looking for.
  10. kevteop


    Feb 12, 2008
    York, UK
    If you want to know what flats sound like, listen to any of the old Motown hits.
  11. If you want to know what flats sound like... turn your tone pot all the way down. You can make rounds sound like flats, you can't make flats sound like rounds.
  12. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Steve Harris might argue with that ;)
  13. What kind of flats have you been playing?

  14. No no no no no no no no no no no no.


    I would once have agreed with you on this, but I was wrong.

    Flats can have tons of life played the right way. Including lots of tops, though quite different from rounds. More percussive or more breathy, depending how you play them.

    Exhibit A: "Silly Love Songs" - Paul McCartney & Wings - YouTube
  15. +1,000,000 get the dang Chromes. I reccomend light or custom light gauge as they will get you the closest to RW tension. Also, I got mine on Amazon for $23, so they are also the only FW string worth trying (IMHO) that are within the RW price point.

    FWIW - Don't dwell on this too much, or you'll go crazy like I did when I was in your shoes just a few weeks ago: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f16/another-help-me-choose-some-flats-thread-836746/
  16. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Ya, flats have driven me crazy over the last year. Finally settled on Chromes.
  17. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    Call me crazy but I just put some d'daddario tapewounds on my decade and I think they bridge the gap for me between flats and rounds more than chromes.
  18. BassBob1


    Dec 21, 2010
    Yeah I would recommend chromes as well. I also spent the last year driving myself a little crazy with strings with both flats and rounds. I have since settled on the .45-1.00 gauge Chromes which is what I have spent the most time with in the last year. I haven't tried LaBella's yet and I think I've run out of reasons to try other strings since the chromes inevitable end up almost right back on. I have however tried Rotosound 77's in different gauges and TI flats. I even tried different gauges of Chromes. I tried half-rounds once and didn't like them.

    If you want to try flats get a set of chromes. If you want to try other strings but stick with flats, your fellow TB'ers can point you in the right direction.
  19. ersheff


    Jan 8, 2012
    I have often tried adding a little dirt via a Fulltone Bass Driver or playing palm muted with rounds in the past, only to find that it wouldn't blend with any of the music I was playing.
    I've got flats on my bass now, and on a recent blues recording session used both of those sounds. Not typical blues sounds, but we were trying to stretch out a bit.
    I think the less aggressive nature of flats made the slight edge of pick and/or overdrive work really well when we wanted to push it a bit. Then a clean tone worked really nicely for a more typical shuffle with acoustic guitars. Articulate without being bright or aggressive at all.
    Just something to think about.
    It certainly takes a bit of time to get used to flats. Somewhat higher tension, significantly different feeling on the fingers for both hands, a little more burn (for me) on the left hand fingers when sliding around on the fret board. That being said, I've only had them on for about two weeks and feel pretty comfortable with them now.

    I should add that I considered going with the light 45-100 set (which would be one step down from the medium rounds I was using before) but according to the tension measurements that D'Addario so graciously puts on the back of their string set boxes, the tension of the medium flats is just barely higher than the medium rounds, where the light rounds are significantly lower. I'm sure that's not the only thing that contributes to the "perceived" tension but, for me, it was what settled the decision to go with the medium Chromes, and I'm glad I did.
  20. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    Flats click too much for my taste.

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