Flatwound Shootout!

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

  1. steamthief


    Jan 25, 2006
    Mentone Beach
    Can you recall your likes and dislikes with the other contenders?
  2. ljazz


    Dec 10, 2002
    Cookeville, TN
    A serious flatwound shootout should take about 3 years..... seriously. There is just no sense in making any kind of judgement on them until you've given them several months of solid playing and breakin time. Even Labellas take time to sound like Labellas. Heck, the sticky rosin like crap on the TIJF's takes a good 2-3 weeks to wear off, and they sound completely different when it does. I just put a new set of Chromes on my P (thicker gauge....new band is playing detuned to E flat), and even with three solid weeks, they're nowhere near to sounding as smooth as the set they replaced.

    Trying out a new/different set of flats is a serious commitment of time and patience in dealing with the tone as they breakin. Flats are like baseball glove..... lots of love and patience working it/them in until they work just right.
  3. BogeyBass

    BogeyBass Inactive

    Sep 14, 2010
    round or flat brand new strings always sound like boing boing boing:bassist: got to give em about a week or more to settle in. heck ideal string sound comes in maybe at 30 days it seems. when i first started playing bass i could not stand the fret noise and chatter you got while playing bass. So someone told me try flatwounds. The music store had only one set of flatwounds. Rotosound jazz bass 77, had a cool looking lion on the cover. anyways i played a 105 gauge E and the set they sold me was a 110. I was a little upset at first because the larger string tweaked my neck, and at the time i had not learned how to adjust my neck. after trial and error and a little help I got the neck set right.
    At that point on i was so impressed by the tone i was getting, i played 110 roto sound flatwounds period. I have tried GHS and Labella. I play bass,heavy to very aggressive and every GHS string i ever bought would break at the ball end after about 2 or 3 weeks of playing. I think i found a really great midrange sound with the GHS string especially on the A string. and loved to just pound the hell out of it or pull real strong to get long sustaining notes (the A which i broke the most) but when you break strings at shows with no backup it really starts to piss me off. So i stuck with roto sound because they sound great and would never break. the GHS strings seemed to be "softer" in feel, but likewise would dent up faster from the frets and loose sustain quickly. I must say i now go back in forth between round and flat. by having two different basses stringed up using 110 to 105 E string gauge. My last sets have been 105 roto sound round wound. ( say that ten times fast):smug: you really got to talk your guitar player into tuning down to play a 110 E. Just a half step makes a big difference. I stick to a 105 to hang with keyboard players who cant detune or able to transpose easily.
  4. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Inactive Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Just clean the strings after you put them on. I used to have to do that with Labellas because they left my hands dirty.
  5. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Inactive Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Depends on the tone you want. Most recordings are done with a fresh set of strings. Anthony Jackson would change strings before every take! Other players change their strings before each live show.

    I had my Labellas on for three years, but they were still nice and bright because my hands don't sweat and I kept them clean.

    I love new round wounds. :bassist:

    Me too! Always the A string. I used to break Boomers where they went over the saddle. I used to change them every 4 weeks.

    I use D'Addario XLs now. They last forever.
  6. P. Bass

    P. Bass

    Mar 17, 2010
    I always rub down new flats well with rubbing alcohol on a micro fibre cloth before I string the bass. Flats usually get a tacky feel if you don't clean 'em after some lengthy play. Pinch each string w/ the alcohol rag & it'll keep 'em nice & silky.
  7. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Inactive Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
  8. My experience as well- in my case two sets had E and A strings that are a LOT darker than the D's and G's. Maybe the D's and G's will mellow to match the others, but I kind of like their brightness. So, hmm....They do sound good in general though. Not sure I like the feel- they're pretty stiff to me.
  9. ljazz


    Dec 10, 2002
    Cookeville, TN
    If it was only that easy...... and really, the sticky crap was not the point of the post. I wipe my strings down after playing ALL the time. I swear that crap is rosin, and simply giving them a wipe down after putting them on will not get it off.

    But again, not the point of the post.

    The point was that I can't think of a single brand of flat that sounds perfect right out of the pack. They all have some "zing", including Labellas (well okay, Pyramids are thumpy right out, but they too need a bit of breakin).

    A proper flatwound shootout gives each set at least several months worth of breakin time prior to making any worthwhile judgement.
  10. ReidK

    ReidK Jst sy n t lsy cmprsn.

    I think this is the first time I've seen someone suggest that an SVT lacks punch and might be more suitable for quiet music. :)

    I suspect the problem was mostly in the EQ... I can't see any reason that a jazz/SVT combo, even with flats, would be excessively dark unless it was dialed in that way. Wrong EQ can make any bass sound like mud.
  11. the low one

    the low one

    Feb 21, 2002
    I've been using Status Hotwire flats recently and lke the tone and tension.
  12. goran


    Dec 17, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: Bartolini

    I think these tracks should be posted every time "Motown" and "flats" are mentioned!
  13. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Inactive Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    I said "clean", not "wipe." You have to use some kind of solvent. Alcohol works fine. The sticky crap is usually some kind of oil from the manufacturing process. The Labellas had an oily metallic smell and left my hands dirty. They probably polish them, and that's what's left on the string.
  14. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Inactive Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Yeah, he had it dialed in for that cartoon-stereotyped-motown tone. But it's the wrong tone. That's why I posted those Motown clips. That's the real tone.

    I dislike SVTs in general and always did. I often have to use them in rehearsal studios. Can't stand the things. I've written about this before, but the main issue is the EQ. They were designed to roll off the low end and put a big hump at 250Hz to simulate the low end. The Ultra Lo button doesn't boosts the lows, it cuts the mids. It's not possible to get a flat EQ setting, even with the knobs at 12:00, and the amp has a grainy boxy tone.

    I think they are more popular now because people think they were more popular back then, but in the 70's the Acoustic 360 was the king. I never liked the 18" W bin though.

    I did own an old B-15 that was pretty nice, but they lack lows and highs. And contrary to what a lot of people think, they did not use B-15s or B-12s to record Motown tracks. The bass was DI. They had a B-12 in the studio as a monitor though.

    Yeah, I'm an old fart. lol When I started playing all basses came with flats. The old Maxima flats Rickenbacker used to use were really nice! Probably the best flats made. The Fender flats used to be good right out of the package. I haven't used them in years though and heard they are different now, probably because they are winding their own strings.
  15. uncle Bob

    uncle Bob

    Sep 16, 2010
    Drector of Sales LaBella Strings
    Bass strings are like any other strings, except that they are obviously costly.
    The idea of checking out several sets is an expensive way to go.
    A good rule of thumb may be to check out a particular brand and take note who are the players that use that brand.
    Then do a little research in checking out their styles and their instruments.
    The same set will perform differently on every bass, and the same set coupled with your bass will act differently thru your amp or another.

    There are so many variables to making the appropriate decision.
    Ultimately its in your hands so to speak.
    Choose cautiously as a full page ad never sounded good on any bass.
  16. ljazz


    Dec 10, 2002
    Cookeville, TN
    Gottcha..... I got caught up on the "after you put them on" part....... I don't make a habit of using solvent on my strings once on my bass. Once off, yes, but never while on. I'm clumsy enough.

    But again, not the point. The point was simply that getting to the true tone of a flat takes weeks, if not months. Pretty tough to do a shoot out.
  17. P. Bass

    P. Bass

    Mar 17, 2010
    Thanks for showing up Bob. With regard to defective FLATWOUND strings - This is THE age old problem. Roger Sadowsky has even said that it is flatwounds that are most prone to defects. Since you guys make his flats, can you please address this aspect of flats to the best of your knowledge within your company. Much appreciated Bob.
  18. waynobass


    Feb 27, 2008
    Here are the grades for my one-man shootout conducted over the past couple years.

    D'Addario Chromes: C
    GHS Precision flats: B
    old Fender: D
    new Fender: A
  19. P. Bass

    P. Bass

    Mar 17, 2010
    THAT'S just a tease bro. Care to expand on it? I'm listening.
  20. DBTOYS


    Sep 22, 2009
    Bend Oregon

    what gauge of chromes are you using???
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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