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Flatwounds and hammer-ons and pull-offs.

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Vapor Trail, Mar 31, 2009.

  1. Hello everybody, this is my first post. I have been mulling over switching to flats for some time now. After 20 years of playing with rounds I feel a little apprehensive making the switch. However, I feel like I'm ready to give flats a try after reading all of the posts here (quite a bit of them)!

    I have just a few questions for the converts:

    How do flats stack up with hammer-ons and pull-offs? I utilize this technique quite a bit with my playing and have been curious as to the response from the flats regarding this technique.

    Is it possible to put rounds on the first and second strings and have the flats on the third and fourth strings? I'm curious about popping on the first and second string. Is it okay to do with flats? Chromes more likely? Is there a suitable slap sound with higher tension flats?

    I feel like I'd have to abandon all my technique if I make the switch, even though new avenues await me I'm sure with the flats. Can you guys please help me out? Thanks!
  2. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    You can get a variety of gauges with flats. Not all flats are high tension. My Chromes are the 45-100 (with a low B 132), but you can also get 40-95. TI Flats are low tension flats, even lower than a lot of rounds.

    Chromes are bright and punchy, but TI's have more top end to them and stay pretty bright for a flat.

    Yes, you can mix rounds and flats. I've played with E and A rounds and D and G flats because the D and G rounds typically sound so weak and thin. You can use whatever you want and even mix them up if need be.

    If you want flats that are more pliable or easier to manipulate, just get a lighter gauge of them. Some are very high tension (I've heard...and recall from years ago that Fender and Rotosound flats are very high tension) but not all flats are.

    Try starting with either TI Flats or the lightest gauge you can find in another brand, first.
  3. Joe Smithberger

    Joe Smithberger Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2002
    Canton, Ohio, USA
    First off, I am a huge flatwound string fan. However, IMO if you slap regularly and/or do a lot of low action fingerboard gymnastics, you may be disappointed. The Thomastiks would be your best shot of what's out there.

    You don't have any info in your profile. What kind of bass are you playing? What kinda music?
  4. I play an Ibanez SR500 and I actually like to play with high action. That was something else I wanted to mention but forgot to in my post. Is it possible to have the wicked action with the flats? I am not a low action player so I'm looking for something with higher tension than the TI Flats (which according to a lot of posts here is a lower tension flat). Also, I'm not a pick player. Is it just me or do most of the flat guys use the pick? Are flats more of a detriment to the finger player?

    It's not that I'm an obscenely technical player, its just that I like to throw a little in every now and again. So a set of flats that allow me to retain any versatility would be the most ideal.

    Sundogue, I feel ya on your newly discvered role as a bassist. I can tell you're digging the new sound, I'm in a similar situation now regarding the abandonment of flash and remembering what it was that brought me to the bass to begin with. I'm ready now to abandon my quest to be the virtuosic type of player and concentrate more readily on my reading and my bottom end.
  5. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    That's cool. I tend to concentrate on the bottom end of the girls in the audience more, but if you're into your own and reading, who am I to judge? (jk) ;)

    I don't like very low action myself either, though it is a bit lower with flats on than I've had it with rounds (but not because of flats).

    I like the tension of the Chromes more than the TI's. My 45-100 feel very good playing to me. I don't always use a pick...maybe a bit more than half the gig (perhaps 3/4) with a pick. Depends on what the set list is on any given night and what I'm in the mood for.

    If you want more "playability" (for lack of a better word), try the Chromes in 40-95 gauge. They are bright, and I find the Chromes are not incredibly stiff (they aren't like steel rebar). I think they are just a bit stiffer than my DR Sunbeams (rounds) which were just a bit stiffer than my TI Flats. I can certainly do bends and hammer-ons/pull-offs, etc. with the 45-100's. If you play with higher action, you'll probably have no problem with them.

    Flats and a pick, on a P-Bass through an SVT, is just kind of a traditional rock tone. :D But most players play with their fingers and flats certainly sound and feel great played with fingers. I find I need to EQ each a little differently (more upper mids and highs, and less lows when I play with fingers) as the pick adds a bit of "snap" to the sound that is way too harsh sounding if played on my finger setting.

    It's just takes a bit of experimenting. But that part of the fun.
  6. I play a 50-105 set Chromes on my fretless and have to to say they are by far the most comfortable strings I have ever played, they sound great and are pretty flexible tone wise. and as far as hammer-ons, pull-offs and even slapping they cut it even on the fretless with the heavier "medium" gauge. I've never tried um on a my fretted but have been thinking about it more and more as of lately. I never use a pick and Chormes feel great on the fingers!
  7. Can you guys answer the question about flats and tension?

    Is it the way they are manufactured that tends to bias them a little more to the tenser side.

    Or are they predominately a looser string and only certain brands are of a higher tension?

    I'm curious because this is such an important variable to consider. Along with the gauge and such...I'm sorry it's just that I'm very new to the world of flats and want to make sure I have my facts straight before I purchase a pair and maybe judge them incorrectly, before giving the right ones a proper chance. Thanks guys!
  8. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Flats in general are higher tensioned, but it really comes down to core wire. Hex core strings typically have a higher tension than round core (Flats and Rounds use both kinds of core wire). There are rounds with way higher tension than flats and visa versa.

    You can get the tension specs for virtually any manufacturer's strings to compare and find just what you are looking for.

    Check out this link for more info...


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