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Flatwound Strings

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by L2ATJR, Oct 4, 2020.

  1. L2ATJR


    Sep 3, 2020
    I am VERY new to the bass. I figured that I have some time during this pandemic, so why not learn something new.

    This is my BB434M. I changed out the knobs for StewMac Speed Knobs, replaced the pickguard, and added a Levy’s strap. Together with some open-back, over the ears headphones, my PJB Big Head headphone amp, and lessons via TalkingBass, I’ve started on this journey.

    I’ve been reading all of the posts regarding flatwound strings. They sound like something I would like to try. If I maintain the OEM string size, looks like the flat wounds require higher tension. Will the truss rod need to be adjusted? Is this a task I can do (I want to learn my bass) or should it be done by a professional?

    imabuddha, tindrum, alarius and 7 others like this.
  2. Bozzy


    Apr 29, 2020
    I switched from rounds to flats a few months ago. I'm very happy with them. They are so much easier on the hands. I've also found that it's easier to do slides and play faster with flats. As for the tension, it didn't make a difference at all for me (FYI they're dunlop strings). You may or may not need to adjust the truss rod and I recommend that you go to a guitar store if it does happen. Better safe than sorry :D PS: The dunlops I use are still surprisingly bright sounding and they work alright for slapping.
    thabassmon and L2ATJR like this.
  3. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    Flats will indeed add tension to your neck, which means a truss rod adjustment is probably in order. Dong a truss rod adjustment isn't a tough thing, but I think it'd be a good idea to have someone who knows what they're doing at least show you how to do it the first time - you need feeler gauges and a bit of special knowledge to really do it right.
    JRA, tindrum, OogieWaWa and 3 others like this.
  4. Malcolm35


    Aug 7, 2018
    Years ago I put on some flats, no adjustments, and went right on playing. I also added some foam rubber under the strings at the bridge. Love the sound.
    shadven, Roger W, bobyoung53 and 2 others like this.
  5. Son of Wobble

    Son of Wobble

    Mar 8, 2010
    You definitely can do this job yourself. Looks like you've got a slot in the body to allow easy access to the truss rod. Have you got the tool? If so, I would change out the strings (without touching the truss rod, then bring them up to full tension and see where you're at. You might be able to complete the setup by adjusting the bridge saddles. A more likely scenario is that the new strings are slightly higher tension, and this might require a turn of the truss rod to add back bow and bring the fingerboard down flatter. A 1/4 or 1/2 rotation will most likely suffice.

    Now, every subsequent time you adjust your setup, put a $50 in the jar to represent the money you saved doing your own simple setup. This fund will support your pedal collection moving forward.

    Watch a few tutorials, then jump in with both feet. You won't hurt the bass.
    JRA, jmattbassplaya, Nutmeg and 6 others like this.
  6. It depends on what flats you put on as to whether or not the neck will need adjusting. Flats like Chromes or other 'higher tension' flats may require some truss rod tightening. TI Jazz flats (my current favorite all-time string) are low tension and may actually require adjustment in the other direction, depending on what strings are there now. But more often than not, I find i am able to put on flats and just play.

    That being said, learning to set up your own bass is time very well spent. There are oodles of online tutorial on setting your bridge, intonation and action. Despite some folks pulling out spark plug gauges and calculators, setting neck relief/action is 1000% a preference and easy to do carefully with the right aool (usually an Ikea-esque hex-wrench). Set it where you like it so that it is comfortable to play and doesn't ground out the strings on the upper frets and off you go. Once you figure it out, it's easy enough to sight down the neck and see your desired curve/shape.
    cdef, friend33, bobyoung53 and 5 others like this.
  7. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    You might want to consider these.
    I have them on three of my basses.
    Sure, I could've put flatwounds on my newest one, but...
    Didn't have to tweak the truss rods, either.
    L2ATJR likes this.
  8. bassdude51

    bassdude51 "You never even called me by my name." Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2008
    Central Ohio
    If you string with TI flats (about 140 lbs pull), you'll probably have to loosen your truss rod. Their tension is less than most round wounds.

    D'Addario's Chrome Flats ECB84 40-60-80-100 are about 172 lbs pull and that's about equal to the pull on round wounds 45-105.

    Some manufactures list the string pull tension, others don't. Some flats are gonna have around 200 lbs pull. You'll need a neck that can handle that.

    Depending on what kind of music that you play..............flats are nice!
  9. TDR1138


    Apr 11, 2007
    Section 204
    Agree with this 100%. But I will say, make sure you have the right size hex wrench and that it’s seated in the nut completely before you start turning it. I’ve seen more truss rods damaged by people stripping out the nut by using the wrong tool or not having it set into the nut properly and then rounding it out while they’re trying to get it to turn. Start with the right tool inserted fully and properly, and you’ll really lower the chances of damaging things. Also remember to make small adjustments at a time and avoid forcing anything.
    iiipopes, L2ATJR and Clutchcargo like this.
  10. You dont have to adjust the trust rod. Understand flatwound strings sound darker than rounds, they feel a lot smoother than rounds too. You should try different strings as a beginner to see what you like in my opinion but it can be expensive. Keep your rounds just in case flats arent your thing. I love flats tho haha.
    L2ATJR likes this.
  11. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    You may or may not need to adjust anything. It depends on whether there is enough difference in the tension.

    But here's the deal...There's really nothing you can break by turning a truss rod incrementally +/-.
    There's nothing you can break by adjusting anything on your bridge either. So if you feel like you need it adjusted take it to a shop. Some folks would be glad to let you watch. It's really not a sophisticated mechanism but people get intimidated. Rightly so, I guess, because a nice instrument is an investment. But it's nothing to be afraid to try.
    That said, I'd swap the strings and maybe you don't need to adjust anything.
    p.s. I am a big fan of experimenting with strings. Try whatever you can. Differences are subtle sometimes but that's the way to find what you love. The best part is they are relatively low cost so there's no commitment if you find a set you don't like.
    Speed knobs are cool.
    L2ATJR likes this.
  12. funkinbottom

    funkinbottom Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2006
    Northern CA.
    It might not need any adjustment at all. Either way, it's easy to do. Here is a video of John Carruthers, who has worked for just about every manufacturer out there (as well as his own custom builds). The first video is for TR adjustment. I post the other three in case you have interest in learning to do a complete set up. Which is good to know and will save you $$ by doing it yourself.

    ancjr, jmattbassplaya, int and 6 others like this.
  13. funkinbottom

    funkinbottom Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2006
    Northern CA.
    Oh, and nice bass. That pickguard looks fantastic.
    L2ATJR likes this.
  14. mikewalker

    mikewalker Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2017
    Canada, Eh!
    L2ATJR likes this.
  15. MotorCityMinion


    Jun 15, 2017
    I agree with many others here. Some tweaking may be necessary. The type of music you like would also help define whether or not you would like Flats.
    L2ATJR likes this.
  16. Not all flats are high tension, some are, some aren't, almost any string will be a little different from another. Some flats like La Bellas for example feel higher tension but they're really just stiffer. I like both La Bella DTF's and Fender 9050's.
    12BitSlab, fig, L2ATJR and 1 other person like this.
  17. lucas303


    Mar 11, 2019
    Nice looking bass. You can definitely adjust the truss rod yourself, just follow a good online guide (I like the Fodera video series on YouTue, personally) and use some common sense. Not only will it save you money but you'll get to know your instrument even more closely than you do from just playing it.
    L2ATJR likes this.
  18. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    Flats of the same gauge as what is already on the bass generally need a truss rod tweak because with less space between the windings of the flat ribbon wrap than between the windings of the round wrap, flats generally have more mass for the given diameter of string. It is mass, not diameter that determines the tension of a string at a given pitch and scale length.

    So if a player goes lighter, for example, from a typical 45's rounds set to a 40's flat set, then the truss rod adjustment may be none, a little more, or a little less, depending on the overall mass, and therefore tension, of the set.
    L2ATJR likes this.
  19. I highly recommend the Ti flats - they are pretty expensive compared to some other flats but they can last you years if you take care of them. I have a set on my '69 P-bass that have been on there since 2015 and they still sound and play great. Plus as others have said they are low-tension compared to other flats so they are easier to play.
    L2ATJR likes this.
  20. L2ATJR


    Sep 3, 2020
    Thanks. I have a complete set of SAE and Metrix hex wrenches (I believe the Yamaha BB434M is metric). I'm going to go for it.
    int likes this.
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