Flatwound recommendations? How do Roto Jazz 77 compare to Fender 9050L?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Thom Fioriglio, Oct 30, 2020.

  1. Thom Fioriglio

    Thom Fioriglio Supporting Member

    Oct 24, 2019
    Long Island, NY
    Hi all, so last time I posted about Flatwounds several months ago, I put them on and kept them for a few days took them off. Just not for me, or so I thought. Tried them again and lasted about 2 weeks and took them off. Kept thinking about them and gave them one more try and become hooked. Have been using Fender 9050L's 45-60-80-100 on my Fender Player Precision Bass and love them. I find they have good punch and have settled in with a nice flatwound tone. And the tension is very comfortable. I play through a Fender Rumble 200 amp.

    I was curious to try roundwounds again, as it had been several months now playing with flats, and I surprised myself and just don't like them. Besides the feel, I can hear every little squeak and chime of my fingers on the strings. But man, what punch! I am fighting with myself about keeping them on as they are more versatile and I can roll off the treble and get a somewhat tone, but I am just missing the feel of the flats.

    I am in my early 50s, currently playing by myself. Grew up on 80s alternative - U2, Smiths, Cure, Alarm, Big Country, Waterboys, etc and always played with a pick and Rotosound Swing 66. Now that's I've picked up the bass again, I fell in love with the playing of Duck Dunn and David Hood and the blues and soul and that flatwound tone. And classic rock bass.

    I know this is a long story, but I thought the backstory might help with some recommendations. So, I am ready to try out some other flats. Last time i posted I got a lot of suggestions. I have already tried LaBella Deep Talkin' strings and did not like them. I just found them too dull, especially the E string. I like the Fender 9050s and know they get a lot of love around here. I don't want to spend more than $40 so forget TI flats. I searched around and couldn't find a direct comparison between the 9050s and Roto Jazz 77. I always liked Roto strings. On their site, they are considered Rock flatwounds. Some say the tension is much higher. Any other suggestions I could try without breaking the bank? And I am not interested in half rounds.

    Thanks all for getting through this and any recommendations to help a fellow bassist find his tone.

    Bootrice likes this.
  2. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    There’s a good comparison of flatwound string on YouTube right now that compares Labellas, Rotos, Chromes, TI’s, and a mystery set:

    Personally, I’ve played many different sets of flats, and my personal, least favorite was Rotos. I tried the Steve Harris set and they were bridge cables. High tension doesn’t describe them well enough - they turned my beater P bass into a bow for hunting.

    Chromes are nice, but I had trouble hearing myself in a mix with them. They actually maintain a nice level of clarity that allows them to work as a “slapping” string if you have any desire for that, but, again, they didn’t cut it in a live mix for me.

    TI’s are very low tension but they have the mids you want for live playing. They stand out really well and actually do a great job for rock music.

    I’ve used Pyramids before. Overall, decent. Did more of a Beatles, old school rock sort of thing from the 60’s.

    The current set I’m using is Labella LTFs. These actually have a similar feel to TI’s with a little more tension. Very smooth and nice feeling. I’m still breaking in my set but I find them to have a nice mix of old school thump and high end clarity without being brittle. Unfortunately, this is the one set I haven’t tried live yet. No clue if these would work in a mix or not, but I think they would behave similarly to TI’s with a bit more low end warmth and far less of the plastic “click.”
  3. trothwell


    Apr 9, 2008
    Rotosound 77 comes in several options; I think the 40-100 set is perfectly comfortable, but would probably avoid anything higher.

    I like the sound. Not real thumpy-vintage, but more like... midrange-vintage?
  4. Barton Lee

    Barton Lee Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2018
    I'm using the Roto SM 77 flats (40-60-80-100) for the first time on my two main basses and really like them in this gauge. I've always used the much stiffer RS 77 (45-105) and while they sound great on my Fender P, I'm liking the lighter Roto SM 77 hybrid gauge a lot, especially on the Fender J.

    I'd had a set of Fender 9050 medium light flats on the Jazz before and I've used them on other basses over the years. They're a good, all-round string with average stiffness (imo) and not lacking in brightness. I like them more on a J than on a P bass. Chromes have worked for me and but I prefer the Fender strings. TI flats were a little too low tension for me but I'll have to give them another try one day.
    trothwell and Thom Fioriglio like this.
  5. sunbeast

    sunbeast Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Denver, CO
    The Fenders have more midrange growl than more vintage flats like the Labellas and they seem to retain it. The Rotos are brighter at first but I find them extra dull when they wear in. I loved them for years, but they don’t really stick out in today’s market. Chromes also start pretty bright but mellow into a decent smooth scooped vintage flat. The EB Cobalts are the brightest true flats I know of and tend to stay relatively aggressive. I think the Fenders are the best budget middle-ground option these days, and the Cobalts if you want to get the most roundwound-esque aggressive with a flatwound.
    DJ Bebop and Thom Fioriglio like this.
  6. sunbeast

    sunbeast Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Denver, CO
    Also agreed that the Roto tension feels a bit higher in similar gauges. The Fenders feel nice and comfortable for me.
    DJ Bebop and Thom Fioriglio like this.
  7. sunbeast

    sunbeast Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Denver, CO
    I’ve had good luck with GHS Pressurewounds for a sort of middle ground between the feel and tone of the flats/rounds, though they don’t really nail either tonally (they have a cool thing all to themselves).
    ancjr and DJ Bebop like this.
  8. Thom Fioriglio

    Thom Fioriglio Supporting Member

    Oct 24, 2019
    Long Island, NY
    Thanks for the feedback. I really do like the Fenders, just thinking of trying something different. Though I've watched several comparison videos of various flats, and to be honest, to my ears, the differences are so subtle, I have difficulty hearing them.
  9. sunbeast

    sunbeast Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Denver, CO
    Most likely you will feel/hear preferences when you try them out! For me they can sometimes feel or sound fairly similar until I try them out in a live mix when I find clear preferences. What seem like small differences alone can really become obvious in a band. That is where I found my clear preference for a more mid-forward flat like the Fenders, and a medium tension (so not as floppy as TIs or as tight as some Labellas or Rotos).
    jmattbassplaya likes this.
  10. uwrossl

    uwrossl Blues/Soul/Rock N Roll Supporting Member

    Nov 13, 2009
    I found the Rotos 40-100 set to be ok but overall pretty meh. They got dull quickly after break in.

    If you want something that gets you closer to Duck Dunn etc. but don't want to go full vintage like GHS or La Bella because they seem dull to you Dunlop Flats IMO are the best choice. 50-110 set is maybe a slight bit higher in tension to the Fenders you currently have and the 45-105 set a bit lighter/lower. Great string to string balance and extremely clear fundamental. They thump nicely without being dull, have plenty of sustain and a short break in period. Excellent feel and not grabby like Rotos/Chromes/Fenders/Cobalts are to start. Feel under the fingers is more akin to DR Legends and La Bellas. To me it's the best hybrid between traditional and modern flats.
    FRoss6788 and Thom Fioriglio like this.
  11. Ggaa

    Ggaa Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2018
    I had LTFs on a Wick Streamer Standard. Based on a cellphone vid it sounded great in the mix, full but clear. Flats sounded better on that particular ax than any rounds....
    EatS1stBassist likes this.
  12. Bruiser Stone

    Bruiser Stone Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2017
    Dayton, Tennessee
    I put a set of Roto 77’s (45-105) on my Jazz and hated them. Transferred them over to my P and they sound and feel fantastic. My P is a ‘78, but I have Fralin stock-wound PU installed. The Fralins (no matter my bias in favor of La Bellas, especially the LTF’s until the D string suddenly went wonky) do seem to open up nicely with brighter flats. We’ll see how long this honeymoon lasts.

    I love Fender flats on my Jazz. I’ve tried the heavy 9050M set.
    Thom Fioriglio likes this.
  13. thedovewarlord


    Dec 29, 2010
    Ok, here's my input. I've tried a nice handful of brands and gauges and currently convinced that the D'Addario Chrome Flats 50-105 as a great (and personal #1). Certainly it's best to try on your bass, because I have a mid 60's P that sounds best with 45-100.

    The OP and I have the same musically background tastes, U2, Smiths, Cure, etc.... and I know that the Chromes can provide the necessary bite and growl associated with those bassists, but they also go above and beyond and mellow, motown like nobody's business. I have not tried the TI's but they are on my list. In my travels, I've found more options, rather than avoidance, though my recent taste test of rotos 77's was not great (theyr'e on my fretless), my issue is with the gauge being too light (45-100) than the quality of the string or the character of the tone. That said, 105's are my thing, but Chromes at 45-100 have better feel and sound than the 77's personally.

    I hear great things about Labella's deep talking flats, but I get the feeling they dont have the upper mids that the chromes have. I had Labella's white & copper tape wounds on my fretless so I can say from my experience Labella makes quality strings that work string to string in a very consistent and pleasant way.
  14. Five String

    Five String Supporting Member

    + on the posts that Rotos sound good at first then get dull and meh. After playing a few sets I decided there was such a thing as a nickel string sound and that I was not that into it. I liked 9050's a lot. You didn't ask but think about tapewounds.
    uwrossl and Thom Fioriglio like this.
  15. MuttThud


    Aug 31, 2017
    I’ve also been down this road. Tried several different flatwounds on different basses (passive PJ, active EMGs, passive Stingray), all short scale. With my Stingray in particular I loved the mid-range energy and bite of rounds (EB super slinky) but didn’t like the string noise. Switched to flats, most brands didn’t gel with me either because I missed the tension of the rounds I’d been using (TI flats in particular felt too flexible) or there was something missing in the sound for me.... great to have old school thumpiness but I wanted a bit of upper mid bite as well. The ones that work for me are Dunlop flats, 40-100s in my case as I also realised I like lighter strings (and with a low action). Thumpy with tone knob dialled back but strong presence with tone open, so pretty versatile overall. Worth a shot IMO.
    uwrossl and Thom Fioriglio like this.
  16. Thom Fioriglio

    Thom Fioriglio Supporting Member

    Oct 24, 2019
    Long Island, NY
    Thanks all for the feedback. Some nice suggestions. I put the Fender 9050s back on today after work and they just feel fabulous. I’ve become a flatwound convert. I like the 9050s a lot but will look into some of the other suggestions made.
  17. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    I have Roto 77s on a semi-hollow and I really like the way they feel. I have a couple sets of LaBella flats waiting for them to die but I kind of like the Rotos that came on it.
    I don't have any Fender flats on a bass right now.

    So the choice is simple, I have Rotos, that's what you should have. It just makes sense.
  18. Kukulkan61

    Kukulkan61 Inactive

    Feb 8, 2011
    Northern Arizona
    I use Chromes, have been for the last 10 years and I also use Fender Greenies, I play live all the time and never had a problem cutting in the mix, most of my gigs are with no FOH help, I dont understand why some say they get lost in the mix, maybe they should get better amps???
  19. I have a set of the superlight Chromes on one of my basses and I think they're great. Definitely agree though that they sound and feel the best after having been broken in.
  20. Rlbragg15


    May 25, 2013
    I use the Fender 9050L set (45-60-80-100) on my Fender AVRI '63 Precision and AVRI '64 Jazz. I've tried other flats, but these just work on these particular basses for the tone I'm after. They do a good job of providing a slight mid presence while providing some growl on the E string and warm/full tone on the G. They are very flexible flats in terms of tone in my opinion.
    Thom Fioriglio and Kukulkan61 like this.