flatwound frustration

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by fretbuzz, Apr 9, 2002.

  1. a fellow talkbasser got me thinking about using flatwounds next time i change strings, needless to say, $30.00 later im going home with a set of Rotosound steve harris flats. nice quality, but i wonder if these are something i want to stick with over the long haul. as a newer player am i better off with rounds until ive got more years playing under my belt? can flats hurt my budding style? and lastly, can the flats be removed and reused later or do they not respond well to that sort of thing. btw, i play a fretted american jazz, thanks for your 2 cents.
  2. grovest


    Feb 26, 2002
    I don't have the decades of experience like many others here, but I use Thom. flats on my Cirrus fretless, and here's what I can tell you. Flats sound doesn't 'dull' nearly as fast as roundwounds. It's also much less bright to begin with. It's not a problem to remove them and put them on again later. They also won't cramp your budding style any more than different gauges of round-wounds would. Fact is, there are soft, hard, flexible, less flexible strings no matter what the format (round, flat, 'pressure wound', ovoid, etc).
  3. Fretbuzz, flats are a little less responsive than rounds, so starting out on them I think is actually better for you. Just my opinion, but, I'd compare them like this:

    Roundwounds = Power steering
    Flatwounds = Manual steering

    As Woody said, their sound doesn't "dull" the way rounds do, in fact, there are some players I've read about that don't change thier flats for years. Neither are better, just different.

    Mike J.
  4. power steering/manual steering, nice comparison. so your saying that i will need better technique with flats (less forgiving) and that will improve my overall skill? i have noticed that i need to be right at the fret for good clean sound (no fretbuzz) maybe ive been too sloppy with my finger position using the rounds over the last year and a half?
  5. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Nononono, it's better to start out on roundwounds.
    Here's why:
    Roundwounds are brighter and the wounds make it harder to play without fretnoise, thus forcing you to concentrate on good technique.
    When you start on flats, it's pretty easy to play with a clean sound, but when you THEN switch to rounds, it'll be much harder to adjust.

    My 2 cents (thanks to the Euro I now can use this phrase too :rolleyes: :D ).
  6. thanks for the input JMX, i have been using rounds for going on 2 years now. i DO feel comfortable with rounds, i just wanted to try flats and they kinda freaked me out. maybe i should use the flats for a few more weeks and then put them away for a while. i just dont want to end up NOT feeling good about rounds. like "after years of flats i cant play rounds anymore!" i dont want that to happen.
  7. Does JMX dare to disagree with me? :p

    Fretbuzz, you know what would be the best thing to do? If possible, get a second bass and have each bass strung with one set. It may sound expensive, but, if you hang around here long enough, you'll have another bass before you know it. G.A.S. has a way of taking over one's life. ;)

    Mike J.
  8. well, what i've noticed is tha playing flats give me greater finger strenght (both hands) and this makes it very easy to play rounds cleanly...
  9. I've found that overall I prefer Flats to Rounds. However, I also prefer P-Basses to J-Basses. I currently own 4 P-Basses and 1 J-Bass, plus a couple of others. Two of P-Basses wear Flats, two wear Half-rounds. My J-bass wears rounds, pure nickels.

    I cannot get the sound a Jazz Bass is supposed to get, at least the sound my head tells me it's supposed to get, with anything other than Rounds, and the only Rounds that I can tolerate are Pure Nickels.

    As for the Rotosound, tried a set of the very strings you bought about 3 years ago. I hated them. They were the stickiest strings I've ever used. I also tried the Thoms. Nice sound, but the looseness drove me nuts. I have found that my favorite Flats are Fenders with the D'Addario running a close second. My favorite Halfs are D'Addario, but I just bought my first set of GHS Brite Flats at the recommendation of a friend. Haven't had a chance to gig with them yet.

    As has been stated above. You'll probably end up with another bass or two. Get a P-Bass and string it with Flats. Put the Rounds back on your J-Bass and try a set of "Pure" Nickels.

    Neither string is going to hurt, or improve your technique etc. At least that's been my experience over the years.

    Good Luck.
  10. Steve Harris said in The Guitar Magazine in 92 that he originally used roundwounds, and switched to using Rotosound flats as with rounds there was too much screeching when he shifted position on the neck- this explains his choice - which isn't really for tone reasons as he goes for a roundwound-style tone.
    (Rotosound Jazz Flats as Steve Harris uses are very bright for flats when new, but go dead very quickly- Harris sometimes switches basses in a gig for this reason).

    I've got a 35-95 set of Roto Jazz Flats on my defretted Hohner TWP600B acoustic, and they've been on for about 6years now.
    I like 'em.
    the tension is about the same as on the Roto Swing bass rounds 45-105 I use on my electrics.
  11. they will definitely give you a different sound, feel and may affect the way you approach a song and your note choice. As for cramping your budding style - think of it this way, the may be the quickest way to find a voice of your own. Not sure if it has been polled here yet but I'd guess that most of TB'ers use rounds. Flats will if nothing else differentiate your sound from the majority.
  12. I too thought the steve harris flats were sticky as hell, i found i couldnt stand it anymore and took em off. i think ill work on a getting a 2nd bass a try some fender flats, thanks for great advice.
  13. I find it hard to understand why people find Thomastik Jazz Flats to be "loose". Sure they have less tension, but I find I can have a much lower action, and straighter neck, than with rounds, and still have the ability to dig in. I currently use them, and have the lowest action I've ever had in my life, 1/16" under the B string at the 12th fret, and 3/64" under the G. My neck is dead flat, no relief whatsoever, and I'm not a light touch player, I like to have dynamics.
  14. I too have been able to get some sweet low action with flats.
    I also agree that flats wont cramp your style. I've played flats exclusively for over a year. when I got my new bass, I had it strung up with rounds. at first I had to adjust a little. I think the rounds show your sloppyness or mistakes more. but, after a day or two it's all back to normal.
    who knows? like Paddygil2 said, it might be a good way to make your own sound, it did for me.
  15. Bongolation


    Nov 9, 2001
    No Bogus Endorsements
    While I keep other strings on my newer basses, I keep flats on my vintage Precision. Vintage sound means flats, end of story.

    Flats are getting harder and harder to find, and when you do, they aren't cheap. I was happy to find Fender 9050Ms for around $15.50 at www.juststrings.com with shipping less than sales tax would have been if I'd bought them here.