flatwound strings for progressive/psychedelic/rock/jam/stoner band?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Richard Sabines, Dec 10, 2012.

  1. Richard Sabines

    Richard Sabines

    Sep 25, 2007
    I'm playing with a new original band that covers all that genres.

    We just made two rehearsals last tweek, the first one I played roundwounds in my p bass and it sounded right and I can be heared very well. Next rehearsal I changed the strings to daddario chromes because I love the sound and feel but I feel I don't cut in the mix too well.

    I must say that we practice in a small room with a 30 wats hartke amp one drum kit, one synthesiser, one crazy blues guitar and me, while with roundwounds my sound was very present, flats didn't make it, but I love the flats, my question is: When we play the gig next week with a big Ampeg amp, if I use flats will I be present in the mix or better sitck with roundwounds?
  2. Luckydog


    Dec 25, 1999
    Not sure where you stand relative to your amp and everyone else, but i would bet you that live, out on the floor, your flats will be plenty present in the mix...i find that with rounds the bass competes too much with guitar, and the louder things get, the worse it is. The flats typically have their own sonic space, and the increased fundamental note is your magic for being heard. Its totally different when you're clustered together in a small practice space.
  3. Richard Sabines

    Richard Sabines

    Sep 25, 2007

    Thanks luckydog, I think I will do that, I played once with a SVT Ampeg and chromes and that was an incredible huge sound, but it wasn't that noisy music as we are playing now..

    I have a set of chromes laying around and it's about to arrive a set of GHS precision flatwounds and a set of GHS pressurewounds, which one of the three do you recommend for my p bass?
  4. Keep in mind a lot of players who use flats for recording use rounds when they play live because the highs help you to cut through in a dense mix. One notorious example would be Flea who used his vintage jazz bass with flats to record Stadium Arcadium and went on using his Modulus with rounds live as it did not cut through otherwise. If you play with loud distorted guitars you are better off with the rounds. I love the GHS flats but for what you do I would not recommend them. They really have the Motown 60's sound. IMO Best flats for rock are Rotosounds 77. They are the brightest flats out there. Think Steve Harris.
  5. Richard Sabines

    Richard Sabines

    Sep 25, 2007
    one person says rounds, the other flats, anyone else?
  6. ScottTunes

    ScottTunes Gear-A-Holic Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2011
    So Cal
    D'Addarrio Chromes are a good flat-wounds for rock and blues. Sound is in between flat and RW... In fact, too RW sounding for my taste.

    Best flat wound I've ever used is Pyramid Gold. However, I've had difficulty getting a matching set. It seems at least one string is dead... But once that is "sorted," they are superb! My sound and style is/are derived from 60 Mowtown Rock, and 50s/60s blues. I also play classic rock... Actually, most everything except thumb and snap...

    I understand why Flea uses RWs on stage... He needs to fill in, and sound more like (or closer to) a guitar. With flats, there is more sonic space between bass and guitar, and therefore more noticeable dropouts during solos... Also, I believe RWs are available in lighter gauges than flats, and can be less fatiguing for him... Just guessing though...

    Flats can do just about everything well. Depends mostly upon your personal preferences. Flats are also cheaper in the long run, since they take so long to wear out!
  7. DrSpunkwater


    Sep 17, 2012
    Use roundwounds. Flatwounds are nice for jazz and such, but they're nowhere near as versatile as roundwounds.
  8. Luckydog


    Dec 25, 1999
    I'd strongly suggest the OP try ti flats before accepting this as fact. I do not find this to be the case at all.
    comatosedragon likes this.
  9. capcom


    Mar 23, 2005
    I also use D'Addario Chromes. I noticed that most flatwound strings are when fresh they have somewhat an "airy" tone lacking some mids. But once they are properly broken in they begin to sound sweeter and mid heavy helping you cut through the mix.

    Altough I never had problems in upper midrange 1.5K hertz whether they were new or old where you get the upper cutting element of your sound. But if you are in to extreme trebles, and natural "zinginess" of roundwounds then of course you better use rounds.
  10. Richard Sabines

    Richard Sabines

    Sep 25, 2007
    mixed opinions, I guess I will have to try flatwounds live to know
  11. I think flatwounds would be great for the genre you're playing. Solid low-end fundamentals will have a presence beneath the swirling fuzz and phased guitars. Kick in some overdrive if you need brighter midrange harmonics.
  12. Laurent

    Laurent Supporting Member

    May 21, 2008
    Napa, California
    I use Ernie Ball Flatwound and love them. I A/B'ed them against Fender flat over the WE and hated the Fenders. They were too stiff and too mids centered tonally.

    Give Ernie Ball a try!
  13. u84six

    u84six Nobody panic, the bass player is here! Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2006
    I'd use roundwounds if you're primarily playing loud rock music with a loud grungy guitar player. The guitar amp will have bass frequencies so it's best you focus on mids and highs to cut through. There are some flats that have a nice mid range, but flats generally have less overtones, so when competing with a loud guitar amp, you'll want a string that covers a wide range of tones, and I find that rounds do that best. When the guitar isn't the prominent instrument in the band, flats sound much better. I would never use flats in a heavy metal band. :)
  14. Johnny Mac

    Johnny Mac Riff-finder General Supporting Member

    Sep 28, 2005
    Springfield, MA
    Steve Harris uses flatwounds in his heavy metal band, and I think most flatwound players would argue that it helps rather than hinders his ability to cut through.

    The way I heard it explained was that flats, by giving you a stronger fundamental, take you out of competition with the guitars and allow the bass to sit in its own sonic space. Instead of trying to cut through the mix, you move to a part of that wasn't occupied before, and make the mix clearer as a result.

    (Disclaimer: I've never used flats myself, beyond playing the occasional flatwound-equipped bass in a shop. I'm repeating information that others have told me, and everything I say should be taken with many grains of salt.)
  15. Now I have GAS for some flats. GAS for strings? Hoo boy, where shall I start? Where will it end?

    - Jimmy Rage
  16. Richard Sabines

    Richard Sabines

    Sep 25, 2007
    The Harris thing: yes and no, I've tried the strings that Harris uses, Rotosound 77 flats, and right out of the package believe me: they are roundwounds!! very bright and grindy until they broke in, so I wouldn't count him if you consider that he puts new strings on his bass for each gig.

    The problem with the band I'm playing is that we are a VERY noisy band, so I think the fundamentals of the bass go to the garbage lol

    I just put a set of ghs pressurewounds on my jazz bass and will see how it sounds on the gig tonight
  17. Richard Sabines

    Richard Sabines

    Sep 25, 2007
    wait until you try flats and have some GAS to try every single brand of them :help:
  18. Pbass4003


    Dec 1, 2012
    Queens, NY
    I feel bad for you. You ask a simple question, and you get polarized and highly subjective advice. Feel free to PM me if you want some samples on me playing live with my P with flats (Chromes too). I would be happy to go over my rig, amp settings, setup tips, etc to demonstrate how I achieve my live and recorded tones with flats (distorted guitar and keys too).

    The unfortunate reality is YMMV is a very true expression. I can go on all day about how my setup cuts through any mix like a knife, and I owe it all to my flats, blah blah blah. At the end of the day, it comes down to your playing style, setup, pickups, manipulating the tone knob, amp settings, even (and especially) the way your cab is "tuned."

    FWIW, I recently switched to Fender 9050CLs because I wanted a more balanced set with a thicker E than what D'Addario offers. I can can tell you, they deliver! Those are some of the growliest strings I have ever used—of rounds or flats! The moral of the story is experiment and YMMV.

    Other notable threads on this subject:
  19. I'm a bit surprised even Rounds cut through in that situation; 30 watts for bass versus drums + "crazy blues guitar".

    I'd string for the sound I want in a particular band, then use enough amp+cab to have me in the mix. The big ampeg at the gig should be more than enough, unless your guitarist goes nuts with the Marshall stack on the other side of the stage.
  20. Luckydog


    Dec 25, 1999
    You need heft, and you need to emphasize the appropriate frequencies. My suggestion for flats was only part of the equation. You always need to eq properly, whether it is with the knobs on your bass, your amp, your pedals/effects, amp, cab, and very importantly, FOH. But strings are a good place to start. At the same time, your band members need to work as a team, and not fight each other over volume and frequencies.