Flatwound Shootout!

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by steamthief, Sep 3, 2010.

  1. P. Bass

    P. Bass

    Mar 17, 2010
    That's a valid point, especially after I now recall something about a Stingray. While the slightly lower action you can use w/ the 105-50 set makes fretboard feel a non issue, the right hand location over the pup on this bass makes for a very stiff finger feel at that location as opposed to say the P-Bass pup location. To me it's fine - but I've been playing flats for 47 years & I LOVE a stiff feel when diggin' in to make notes POP. There is SO much more to making flats talk than gauge or string make.The tonal considerations that are being discussed here are all well & good if you're standing right in front of the amp. But on the "floor" it's not what is relevant. You have to get the thump to PROJECT CLEANLY to be appreciated by your audience. I am so happy to hear you young guys debating this flatwound issue. It is making a comeback after being lost for a long time. If you are going to get serious about being a good flats player, you must, out of necessity, develop an appropriate right hand finger style technique or everybody's gonna start telling you it sounds "muddy" or "it's not cutting thru". I'm not trying to be negative in any way guys. I'm trying to promote flats because that thump is in my blood & I'd like to see it stick around & get more refined, using the technology at our disposal these days. The tools you use to accomplish that are important, but it's gonna get lost in the mix if you neglect technique.
    Keep on groovin' bros!
  2. Yeah once the strings get too stiff it's just too hard to play them. That's why I like light gauge strings, even for digging in. I don't have crazy low action though.

    I've never heard flats being used in a live performance (haven't been to very many other than worship on sunday though). I can't comment on how they sound live in a band situation. In recordings I've noticed they don't seem to stand out as much in the mix (might be the fault of the person doing the mix) But I notice the "thump" people love from flats. I like something middle of the road. Rounds are usually too clangy with too many overtones. I like a strong fundamental, but I also like some zing. That's why when I try flats in the future I want to try chromes or TIs because they have a lot more of that zing than most flats. It's like the best of both worlds!

    I'm just glad people are open to other things. It would be boring if everyone used the same stuff.
  3. "Q"


    Feb 9, 2010
    Sacramento, CA
    If you do that though you're going to be taking a big hit on output which might not sell a person on flats. I find I lose quite a bit even coming from the same gauge of rounds.
  4. ljazz


    Dec 10, 2002
    Cookeville, TN
    Chromes user here......

    I HATE them brand new. Very bright, very unbalanced, and they stay that way for a while. But once they break in, they smooth and balance out, and the mids are the shniz. I find they cut through, because of those singing mids, better than any other flat. They sound wonderful on my MIA '08 P. I was about a second away from a pup swap, but ended up throwing on a set of chromes..... they woke the darn thing up! The big problems with the Chromes is that you'll have to leave them on and break in for months before you can really make an honest judgement on them.

    TI's have great mids too, but the low tension actually causes me some pain in my plucking hand if I'm going back and forth between those and a roundwound strung bass (something I can't get away from in my current band). It's a drag, because TIJF's on my G&L SB1 are about the best sounding combo I think I've ever played..... bliss!

    I love Labellas in all gauges, but the lackluster mids (in all gauges, imo) rule them out as my go to flat. Also, they sound horrible on my '08 P, but incredible on my G&L SB1. I have a very old set here that get occasional play when I'm needing some thump.

    I have an ancient set of Fender flats here that get occasional use...... in fact, they just came off of my Jazz....... man, they are bright..... I like them on the jazz for some old school slap. I like them for some down-tuned stuff as well (great because of the higher tension).

    But as mentioned, all of this is subjective, and really depends on your particular setup and situation. The great thing about flats is that you can pick them up, and if you don't like them, pull them off, put them away, and try a different set...... one day you'll find yourself digging up that old set to try on something else..... and you may find they work on that something else.
  5. I drive Labella 760N strings on my Carvin AC40 piezo semi-hollow...has a great tone! Played in Sunday night...slides are so GROWWLY! :)
  6. ... apart from the La Bella 760FM set - choice of champions :D!


    Seriously though, I'm astounded that so many people have a preference for 'bright' sounding flats :confused:!? I really can't see the appeal in that 'plinky plinky' tone :meh:. Might just as well use rounds and do it 'properly'. Still, string choice is such a personal thing that I really shouldn't be surprised.

    Once the La Bellas are worn in, they have a really deep, smooth, rounded tone (not too much attack - just a gentle swell), which really pushes the fundamental note forward in any mix. Zero finger noise too, if you roll the tone control down a tad. That I can see a use for.

    Just my $0.02 ;).
  7. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Inactive Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    I had them on an old Norma violin bass. They were very cool.

    I also like the tone Graham Maby got with Joe Jackson on his Ibanez P bass copy back in the late 70's/80s.
  8. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Inactive Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    So people can hear what notes your playing?

    I saw Nikka Costa a couple of years ago in NYC and her bass player was trying to get a Motown tone with a Jazz and flats and an SVT (wrong amp) and his tone was so dark you couldn't hear him well. It also had no punch.

    I guess if you are playing quiet music that tone would work. Or for recording down tempo stuff.

    But you need a little attack to define the notes. You don't really hear the treble in a band situation because it's not as prominent as with round wounds. Even uprights have highs.
  9. Surly


    Feb 2, 2007
    South Florida
    So how is the tension of the 760FL's compared to say Chromes? I currently use light guage Chromes and have been wanting to try a different kind of "bright" flat.
  10. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Inactive Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    It's been a long time since I used either, but I remember the 760FLs having less tension. I don't like Chromes.
  11. markjazzbassist

    markjazzbassist Supporting Member

    Apr 19, 2005
    Shaker Heights, OH
    i've owned/tried most of them, just not all at the same time. i've honestly found the descriptions here the most useful.

    strings are easier to describe and are more pronounced than other things, so i've found TB has helped me a lot with my decision to stick with Labella 760FS.
  12. I remember watching a video on youtube of a guy comparing different brands of flats, as soon as he played the chromes I fell in love. I do like the zingy sound, it's just that rounds have all these weird overtones that just don't sound very good. Bright flats have the same zing without all those overtones, the fundamental becomes more prominent. This is why I like bright flats.
    [quote="Q";9704345]If you do that though you're going to be taking a big hit on output which might not sell a person on flats. I find I lose quite a bit even coming from the same gauge of rounds.
    If that's true I might as well get a heavier gauge set of TIs or some other low-tension set.
  13. CapnSev


    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    It depends on how bright you like it. I thought Chromes were way to 'plinky', but Sadowskys have very usable highs. The TIs on the other hand are not inherently bright, but they have enough highs to get a glassy tone if that's what you want, but they punch like Rocky Balboa.
  14. Rezdog

    Rezdog Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2004
    T.Rez, Canada/Motown
    Greetings from the North,

    I'm a fan of Graham Maby as well. He used tapewounds on his Ibanez P/J. I use LaBella tapewounds on a Reverend BH5. If you want to hear them recorded check out http://Bezhig.com Go to the Music section and select the 'Change Your Ways' album. Give a listen to 'Change Your Ways', 'Bunker', & 'So Many Know'. 3 variations on a different flavour of flats or should I say tapewound flats.....

  15. Sparkdog


    Sep 18, 2006
    Burbank, CA
    "Sparkdog, if you didn't get duds, would Sadowsky have replaced Chromes for you?"

    Possibly, they were very nice, sounded similar to Chromes but a little smoother attack and less tension. Regarding the bad E strings, I have no reason to bag on Sadowsky, I think Roger is a great guy and makes amazing basses (if I had a spare $4 grand I would own one) but he gets defective stuff from his suppliers from time to time just like everyone else. Does anyone think they open and inspect every package of strings? And even if they did, how would they know a string is dead by looking at it? My dealer in LA (Bass Exchange, THE pro shop in town) told me they had a number of complaints and attributed them to a bad batch of strings. They contacted Sadowsky, who promptly replaced them all. I would certainly try them again, I just settled on the Chromes because they are very consistent, just get better and better with age, and I get everything I need from them. They're also easy to find, which is not always the case with the Sads.

    "Do you go with the 50-105 Chromes? More tension than a set of rounds of the same gauge?"I]

    Yes, those just work for me. Like one guy posted about the TI's, the tension thing gets overblown I think. The tension is a little higher than rounds of the same gauge, but not by much. D'Addario (unlike almost every other mfgr) publishes tension ratings for all their strings, and the Chromes are only slightly higher than their XL roundwounds. The feel is certainly different than rounds, and the wrapping makes them feel stiff to some folks, but you get used to it. 3 of the 4 basses I gig with have Chromes on them and when I pick up the lone Jazz with DAD nickel rounds of the same gauge, they feel rough and wimpy to me by comparison. I only keep that bass strung with rounds because if I do a hard rock/pop gig it's a better fit for the music. The way I see it, rounds sort of enhance the natural tonal range of a Jazz bass...growly, bright, and in your face. But flats do exactly the same for a P bass...they bring out all the wonderful aggressive mids and thumping low end that makes us love them.

    "What sucked so bad about the DR?"

    They were just lackluster in every way. I bought them because I love the Lo-Riders and High Beams, but these had none of the character those had. To me they sounded like dead old roundwounds, lifeless and dull, with none of the characteristics I love about flats.

    Again, only my opinions.
  16. Funny, I actually prefer flats on Jazz basses and rounds on P basses. Flats sound kind of dull on a P, especially with the tone rolled off. Jazz tone seems to cut through that dull thump of the flats so you still hear great jazz tone without the overtones and string noise of rounds.

    Again, all the more reason why I like bright flats. Best of both worlds.
  17. P. Bass

    P. Bass

    Mar 17, 2010
    A lot of the appeal for flats is in note decay & if you make sure that there is a bit of leading edge attack on the notes, the thump projects better. How you approach this end is what is important.
  18. You bring up a point no one has really mentioned, and that is the kind of bass also matters in what flatwound string tone you get.

    For example:

    On Jazz basses I love LaBella 760FL flats, and did not like TI flats;

    On split coil P-basses I love TI flats, found LaBellas to be just okay, not great;

    On single coil P-basses I love Fender 9050 flats;

    On my G&L L2000, the TI flats were okay, the LaBellas better, but the D'Addario Chromes were the best sounding.

    I could go on but you get the point. In my experience (and yours may indeed differ) I've not found one string I like best with all basses, each has a voice that suits some basses more than others.
  19. "Q"


    Feb 9, 2010
    Sacramento, CA
    One of the conundrums with a P is: it really needs to be a good one in order to shine. And in fact, a good rule for ANY modding would be that you should like the sound already. If you're playing a cheap P knockoff that sounds lifeless and has dead spots a set of flats probably won't be helping much. And having just one pickup with no active EQ doesn't give the bass anywhere to hide, its go or no go. Sadly, I've even had pretty bad luck with the American Standard series from Fender but, I've found the American Deluxe to be very reliably good sounding. Try some flats on a G&L P and see what it sounds like.
  20. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    Quite a few years ago I did my own string shootout using ever flat and tapewound I could find.

    I found I prefer Labella 760N tapewounds.

    Sonically they're everything I need in a string and they're also very easy to play.