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Flatwounds and a sore left hand...

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Evil Undead, Nov 25, 2012.

  1. Evil Undead

    Evil Undead

    Oct 31, 2009
    I've just switched to chromes 105-45 because I prefer the sound of those to the rounds I was using. But the higher tension is making my fretting hand ache.

    My action is still identical to before (about 2mm at the 12th) and relief is the same so there can't be that much more tension.

    Is it all in my head, or is it something that I'll get used to?

    They sound so good that I don't really want to go back to rounds.... would a lighter gauge of the same string help, maybe 40-100?

  2. jasper383

    jasper383 Supporting Member

    Dec 5, 2004
    Durham NC

    Try the light gauge of Chromes.
  3. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    I tried the Chromes, and yeah, they're pretty tight. I much prefer the DR flats I'm using now.
  4. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    I have the Jamersons on a P bass it took time to get used to them it's like exercising how long have you had them?
  5. noeinstein

    noeinstein Supporting Member

    Sep 3, 2004
    Northern California
    I use flats, mostly Chromes, exclusively. This problem has never occurred to me, maybe I don't know any better. Is there an explanation for it? I'd like to hear it... maybe I'll experiment with some rounds. :confused:
  6. Evil Undead

    Evil Undead

    Oct 31, 2009
    Only a day or so. Maybe I'm just not used to them yet? They feel so weird.
  7. jasper383

    jasper383 Supporting Member

    Dec 5, 2004
    Durham NC
    Have you properly set the bass up?

    With flats, you can often really get the neck flat and the action low because the strings don't travel much.

    But again, I suggest the light Chromes if you can't come to terms with the 45-105 set. No reason to kill yourself if you don't have to.
  8. Evil Undead

    Evil Undead

    Oct 31, 2009
    My relief is as low as it's going to get, about 0.3mm. Action goes (from E to G) 2mm, 1.6mm, 1.4mm, 1.1mm. So I think that's quite low. Ish. What do you think on that one?
  9. Evil Undead

    Evil Undead

    Oct 31, 2009
    I found that I was getting a bit of choking right up at the dusty end so I've had to raise my action very slightly :(
  10. capcom


    Mar 23, 2005
    I guess I know what you mean. Problem is probably the string height is too much at the NUT. You probably didnt notice it before when you were using lighter gauge strings because the force to press the strings on the fret was still at a managable level for you. But once you switched to heavy gauge strings thus the tension increased the problem arised more significantly.

    This causes extremely unneccessary tension on left hand at especially from first to ~like 5th or 7th fret, regardless of how your setup is at the bridge or how your trussrod adjustment is. You can setup your strings extremely lower and adjust trussrod for super smooth action but if the string height is too much at the nut then the bass will still be extremely hard to play especially when using tighter strings.

    If that is the case, naturally I advise to lower strings at the nut just before to the point that it wont buzz. This operation may require some experience and necessary tools. So you may want to bring your bass to a luthier.

    I also use almost heaviest gauge flatwounds on my bass and never had difficulty on my left hand because my bass's setup at nut is just at the point of very slight buzz when the strings are new. Once the flats sufficiently broken in, the buzz also completely disappears.
  11. southpaw420


    Aug 25, 2007
    Try the light ones. I find that the medium ones feel alot stiffer.
  12. Jay2U

    Jay2U Not as bad as he lóòks

    Dec 7, 2010
    22 ft below sea level
    It's certainly not a matter of action or relief. This is just the strings being more massive. The flatwound has more density, so physics dictates a little more tension. It's not as bad as many think. A flatwound does pull some extra pounds, but is more friendly to the fingers. I'm sure that you'll get used to it, just like I did.
  13. tonym


    Apr 12, 2011
    ^^ This. I changed to the light one and still get the sound I want.
  14. sigmafloyd


    May 1, 2011
    Id suggest letting your hands get used to the flats. I played chromes for about a year and then switched to rounds. It wasn't until I went back to chromes that i noticed how much more tension they had. Your hand gets used to different tensions, just takes time
  15. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

    Aug 12, 2005
    Willow Street, PA
    Beta tester for Positive Grid
    Two suggestions:

    Try the lighter gauge, as suggested.

    And also, wait a few days, let them settle in, and do a complete setup. Lowering the action helps, but you'll have to kinda train yourself to play lighter to compensate or you'll end up choking the notes.
    Setup is EVERYTHING when it comes to flats. If they're too hard to play, your setup needs tweaked.
  16. Lazarus.Bird

    Lazarus.Bird Mr. Personality

    Aug 16, 2010
    The lighter gauge strings have excellent tension. I even use the "regular lights" for Drop C tuning and think they feel great.
  17. davidjackson


    Sep 10, 2011
    I use super heavy "Steve Harris" signature rotosound flats on my P bass. The first couple of weeks had my hands and forearms 'buzzing' after I had played but they soon got used to it. Lowering the action really helped too. When I was playing those thick rotosounds with a high action I probably developed muscles capable of cracking coconuts open!

    Now I am used to them I wouldn't switch back so I would urge you to persavere to give them a reasonable trial.
  18. ^ tune down a semitone and see if it's easier = Action and nut the same, just slightly lower tension. If easier, def buy lighter gauge for standard tuning.

    I found 40-100 Sadowsky SS flats about as stiff as I want to go for standard tuning. But when I detune with them they feel perfect for me. :)

    I'm taking off the 45-100 Chromes that came on my new acoustic for La Bella tapes for exactly the same reason - left hand speed/fatigue.
  19. You might get used to them, and you might not. Remember how your left hand felt the first couple weeks you played bass?

    In any case, you can always go down a gague. Nuthin wrong with light gague strings.
  20. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    From a long time Chromes user go to the lights 100-40 ga. I tried the 105's and they were to much. Also give it some time and set those suckers low, flats are made for that.