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Flatwounds on a Fretted Bass?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by moptoptony, Jun 26, 2003.

  1. Is there a significant sound difference between flatwounds and roundwounds on a fretted bass? Would you use them on your frets?
  2. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    search some, this has been discussed a bunch of times... back in the day flats and fret was the only option. Many many many bassist use flats. Jamerson is one of the biggies... old dead flats on a fender fretted P.

    They sound thicker, rounder, fuller, etc. Rumour has it recording engineers prefer a bassist to use flats.
  3. glwanabe

    glwanabe Guest

    Apr 21, 2002
    I recently switched to fender 9050 flats, after having tried various rounds. I love these flats!They give a warm growly tone, sustain till you stop them and feel great on the fingers. I had always heard that flats were dead sounding, I do not find this to be the case. They are just not as bright. Give them a try.
  4. Beefbass

    Beefbass Guest

    Feb 4, 2001
    I have TI jazz flats on my Pbass deluxe special. It sounds awesome! I had them for a while on my fretted MIM jazz, and they sounded great too. So did the Fender 9050ML's I had before that.
  5. I have t say that personally I have never once encountered this supposed preference. Maybe it was so back in the day, but I doubt it now. If it were so, most if not all studio bassists would be using flats, and AFAIK they don't.
  6. corinpills


    Nov 19, 2000
    Boston, MA
    oh man, I've heard it every time I've plugged in for a session- and a lot of times at live gigs. It just makes so much sense. The truly great mixers are masters of subtractive EQ- that is getting rid of frequencies that are competeing in a mix- and recording with flats already takes a giant step in that direction. Everybody goes in with their full range 19- string basses with tons of sizzle and growl and honk and blah, blah, blah- stuff that gets in the way of the guitars and the vocals. In the mix, they try to get rid of all that and get the bass back to being a bass. Every time I set up my rig for a session, the engineer starts smiling when he/she hears the tone I'm going for. Not that I'm much of a session cat, but I've recorded a lot and they always love the flats.
  7. Beefbass

    Beefbass Guest

    Feb 4, 2001
    The flats just sound so good for recording though, don't they?
  8. Depends on what you're going for. They're not my thing most of the time, but they're mucho cool if that's the sound you want. As I said, if everybody agreed hands down that flats recorded better acros the board, you'd see people like Marcus Miller and Jimmy Haslip--both of whom have done more sessions than I can count--using flats. But they don't.

    I'm not knocking flats at all. I have a set of T-I flats on my ABG and they're the best thing I've found for that instrument, for my tastes. But I just don't think the idea that flats are widely preferred for recording holds up.
  9. Actually, no offense, but it doesn't make much sense to me. First, why stop at bass? Why not have the guitars play flatwound strings? Put blankets on the piano strings to subtract frequencies? Tape the bejesus out of the drums so everything sounds like an '80s LA record? I know I'm engaging in a reductio ad absurdum here, but to me the truly great engineers find a way of dealing with the way instruments actually sound and don't necessarily insist on muffling them ahead of time. Personally, I was really glad when engineers stopped insisting on using a roll of duct tape on every drum and started being more willing to let drums sound like themselves.

    Second, a big problem with taking the "giant step" toward subtractive EQ you mention is that once those frequencies are gone, you can't put them back convincingly, even with radical EQ. And there is some music--quite a lot actually--where the flatwound thump doesn't cut it and you want another sound. Think The Who, just to name one example. You could argue that it actually makes more sense to go in with a more full-range sound and cut *if needed*, rather than curtail your frequencies ahead of time. I don't know that I'd go that far either, but you see my point. My own feeling is, whatever gets the sound you need is what you need to do. Could be roundwounds, flats, tapewounds, rubber, halfrounds, fishing line. Your sound may be flatwounds, and that's totally cool. But it's kind of a big step to elevate that personal preference into something like a truism of bass recording, you know? It just doesn't work for everybody.
  10. corinpills


    Nov 19, 2000
    Boston, MA
    Nope, in fact everything I say is true and all bass players should do exactly what I tell them to. Somebody go get me a drink.

    Right, VERY, VERY, VERY obviously anything like that is a matter of personal taste. It's not a great revelation to say "well, not in every case, I mean, what about the Who?", that's not exactly Soloman- like wisdom, is it? More like completely obvious. What I was saying was that engineers seem to really like flats becuase it makes thier job easier, that's all. And I wasn't talking about deadening things (see Ric Lindsay's post), but rather defining the dominant frequency range of an instrument. A lot of my favorite albums feature round-wound strings, I wasn't bashing them. I've purchased every Who album at least 5 times in different formats, so ...

    I think that if you check every single post ever posted on this board where anyone expresses any sort of opinion or preference, you will find another post right after it syaing "That's a matter of taste" or "it depends on the situation". Can't we all just assume that at this point?
  11. Well, what I was saying is that as far as my experience goes, this preference for flats doesn't exist. I have never had a single artist, engineer, or producer ask me about them or complain about rounds. I'm not Ultimate Session Man by any stretch, but I think I would have encountered this view by now if it were in any way standard. I don't doubt your personal experience for a second, I just doubt that it can be generalized.

    As for the other point, no, actually I don't think we can assume what you'd like to assume. To belabor another VERY obvious point, we all know how deficient the Net is as a means of communication. Online, we lack a lot of the normal cues we use for determining meaning. So people misunderstand and are misunderstood all the freaking time! This is why things like IMHO and IME were invented in the first place. In this kind of setting it's always seemed to me that the best policy is, if you're not sure how you're coming across, take a little extra trouble to be extra clear.

    And I think you're wrong about every opinion getting a response like the one you describe. It's about how you express an opinion. (I'm referring to the generic "you" here, not you personally.) If you say, "The recording engineers I've worked with really like flats on a bass," you'll rarely get a word of argument from anybody. There's nothing to argue about; it's personal experience. If you say, "Engineers prefer flats for recording," then you will get an argument, because that's presented as a statement of fact, and plenty of people don't think it is one.