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Flatwounds...some questions about them inside...

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Grahams Groove, Jul 11, 2001.


  1. Hey...you can look in my profile to what i play but to sum it up, we play mellower rock, and stuff like Phish, Panic, and we do alot of just plain old jammin'. What kind of sound will flats give me combared to roundwounds??? Can someone please describe each kind of string and tell me how they play, how they sound, which are harder/easier to "fret", which last longer, which stay in tune best, and all the info you can give me about them. What will they do to my sound, what areas sound boosted/cut with which strings, etc...???

    My string change is way over due, and my stock roundwounds are on their last leg.... Also, please reccomend some good but cheaper end strings for each "application"....thanks alot!
    Peace,
    Graham


    Oh, and if you could maybe name some common CD's or band or bassists that use different kinds of strings so i can hear what they sound like.
     
  2. bassmonkeee

    bassmonkeee Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    Jeez, you aren't asking much, are you? :)

    All I'll say is that flatwounds aren't for everyone. I've been using TI Jazz flats for years now, and they are simply the best string that exists, IMHO. They are a little more expensive per set, but the longer you leave them on, the better they sound. I've left sets on for as long as 3 years, and some people hve gone longer. The most prominent person that springs to mind who uses them is Carol Kaye. Check out her work to hear them.

    Good luck!
     
  3. how do they cut through in a band setting? I have a loud drummer and a med. guitarist, and a guitarist with a marshall tube w/ 2x12"....But then again i just picked up a 2x10 and a 4x10, and am in the process of buying another power amp... does TI stand for anythign? and how much are they???? ALso what do they sound liek??? Sorry for the questions, but i need to make a decision since i cnat really try them out first....
     
  4. Flatwound

    Flatwound Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2000
    San Diego
    If you like James Jamerson, well, you'll probably like flats. Joe Osborn played with America, the Carpenters, and tons of other folks. I recommend listening to America tunes like "Horse With No Name" , and "Tin Man" to hear a pretty cool flatwound tone. Osborn plays with a pick, but you can get a somewhat similar sound fingerstyle.

    The main difference, IMO, is that flats lack the "ring" of rounds. They can be fairly bright, but in a different way. They're not most people's choice for slapping, either.

    Flats are primarily thumpy and deep. I tend to use some boost at about 800 hz. to get some definition, but I sometimes cut the bass, depending on how boomy the room is.

    If you want inexpensive flats, I highly recommend the Fender 9050 ML set. You should be able to get them for under $20, assuming you are in the USA.

    I wrote an article for the BGRA comparing some flatwounds, but it hasn't appeared yet. I'll have to e-mail Matt Schmill and see if he can get it posted. Anyway, here's the address: www.bgra.net .
     
  5. See, im a really big slap fan....dont do it alot, but when i do, i like it to be good. What does that do for slapping, and are there any flats that do sound good for slap n pop?

    Also, i heard somewhere that flats tend to make you lose a little tone...that true?
     
  6. See, im a really big slap fan....dont do it alot, but when i do, i like it to be good. What does that do for slapping, and are there any flats that do sound good for slap n pop?

    Also, i heard somewhere that flats tend to make you lose a little tone...that true?
     
  7. You don't lose tone, you just get a different tone. And you can slap with them it just doesn't give you that typical slap tone. I slap mine, it sounds neat, but I also have them on a fretless.
     
  8. DaveB

    DaveB

    Mar 29, 2000
    Toronto Ontario
    I love Flats...when I'm playing alone. But they don't cut through the band mix very well. I've gone back to steel roundwounds which, for me, are way better in the mix.
     
  9. if you want a string that cuts and sounds good for slap, i think you're looking in the wrong direction. try DR rounds like sunbeams or lo-riders.

    not to dis flats, but it doesn't sound like what you're looking for.
     
  10. misterk73

    misterk73

    Apr 11, 2002
    Flagstaff, AZ
    After having used Rotosound and Ernie Ball roundwounds for quite a few years, I finally took a leap of faith last year and tried some flats. As far as I'm concerned, I don't have a reason to go back to rounds. I like the sound of them -- SO much warmer and punchier than rounds IMHO. I also like the feel of flats -- their smoothness has always seemed more natural to me, and has helped me further develop a personal style that's always included a lot of string sliding.

    So far, I've tried TI's (too floppy), Rotosounds (too much tension), and Fenders (tighter than any rounds I've ever played, but I LIKE that and these are my current strings of choice). Lakland Joe Osborn's are next on my list to try.

    I'm not big into harmonics and slapping -- they're effects to me, nothing upon which base an entire song or even a part. However, when I do incorporate these things into the music I'm playing, I've experienced no problems achieving the desired "effect" with flats. I even prefer the way the flats and my occaisional effects pedals -- envelope filter, chorus, OD -- interact.

    As far as flatwounds not being appropriate for a band setting, is the goal to "cut through the mix" or enhance the overall sound of the group? (I recently reintroduced rounds during a recent practice and the unanimous feedback from my bandmates was "Bring back the flats!" I agreed with them wholeheartedly.)

    Some people say that flats sound muddy -- I think that may have as much to do with the rest of their equipment as the strings themselves. As for me, I currently play through a 4x8 combo and have a 2TEK bridge on my bass -- punch and clarity haven't been issues for me so far.

    Bottom line: experiment. And if you're really unsure about the initial investment, just go to your local Guitar Center or other shop, find a bass with flats, play it for a while, and do what your gut tells you. I'm glad I did.
     
  11. misterk73

    misterk73

    Apr 11, 2002
    Flagstaff, AZ
    After having used Rotosound and Ernie Ball roundwounds for quite a few years, I finally took a leap of faith last year and tried some flats. As far as I'm concerned, I don't have a reason to go back to rounds. I like the sound of them -- SO much warmer and punchier than rounds IMHO. I also like the feel of flats -- their smoothness has always seemed more natural to me, and has helped me further develop a personal style that's always included a lot of string sliding.

    So far, I've tried TI's (too floppy), Rotosounds (too much tension), and Fenders (tighter than any rounds I've ever played, but I LIKE that and these are my current strings of choice). Lakland Joe Osborn's are next on my list to try.

    I'm not big into harmonics and slapping -- they're effects to me, nothing upon which base an entire song or even a part. However, when I do incorporate these things into the music I'm playing, I've experienced no problems achieving the desired "effect" with flats. I even prefer the way the flats and my occaisional effects pedals -- envelope filter, chorus, OD -- interact.

    As far as flatwounds not being appropriate for a band setting, is the goal to "cut through the mix" or enhance the overall sound of the group? (I recently reintroduced rounds during a recent practice and the unanimous feedback from my bandmates was "Bring back the flats!" I agreed with them wholeheartedly.)

    Some people say that flats sound muddy -- I think that may have as much to do with the rest of their equipment as the strings themselves. As for me, I currently play through a 4x8 combo and have a 2TEK bridge on my bass -- punch and clarity haven't been issues for me so far.

    Bottom line: experiment. And if you're really unsure about the initial investment, just go to your local Guitar Center or other shop, find a bass with flats, play it for a while, and do what your gut tells you. I'm glad I did.
     
  12. Bongolation

    Bongolation

    Nov 9, 2001
    California
    No Bogus Endorsements
    Did anyone mention that flats are tremendously easier on the hands? Well, they are. It's like taking a vacation for your fingertips.

    I use Fender 9050Ms on my vintage Precision and they sound and play fine - it's a pretty close duplication of what they were supposed to sound like new. Remember when basses always came with flats? No, you're just kids...:D

    A guy gave me a brand new set of Fender 8250s because they weren't right for his bass (they're for through-body only), and I put them on my "Hot Rodded" American Precision. Lots of sound, but boy are those things murder on the fingers. Why one set of roundwounds should be rougher than another I dunno, but they sure seem to be.

    BTW, Fender strings are cheaper because they are assembled in the Ensenada plant out of US and German materials. I saw a nice site about this that showed the machines in action, making the strings one at a time under constant supervision. Very interesting...
     
  13. Paul A

    Paul A

    Dec 13, 1999
    Hertfordshire U.K!
    Hi,
    I like flatwounds a lot, my 63 p reissue wears nothing else.
    Word of warning though, the black nylon coated Rotosounds are HORRIBLE!
    They are the most uncomfortable strings I've ever tried.Don't be tempted to try sliding with those!
    You'll end up with friction burns!
    Didn't Bill Wyman exclusively use flatwounds?
     
  14. fourfinger

    fourfinger

    Apr 17, 2003
    Central Ohio
    To me, flatwounds do cut through just fine -- do listen to "Tin Man" by America, or Led Zeppelin or Iron Maiden or Jamerson for different good examples of how flats can "punch through" rather than "slice through " a mix.

    I use Chromes -- high tension, good for getting low action and low flop on bass with stable neck.

    I have not tried many brands, but the conventional wisdom on this forum is that TI Jazz Flats are unique in their low tension, as well as their tone, so probably better than Chromes on basses with less stable necks.

    Many other brands of flats have a following, too.

    Excellent site for comparing tones of flats vs rounds on various basses and styles is the Lakland site.
     
  15. ljazz

    ljazz

    Dec 10, 2002
    Cookeville, TN
    holy thread resurrection!
     
  16. "Search".

    Though I have to rebut on the point of Chromes being high tension. Check the numbers; they are SLIGHTLY higher tension than equal-gauge rounds. Poster might have meant 'feel' instead of tension.
     
  17. Wow

    Huh

    A very good authentic flatwound that might be a good transition from rounds is Daddario Chromes. Get 'em light medium or Xtra lite. For the full expression of the flatwound idea, nothing beats LaBella DTB (and I've only liked the standard guage set)IMHO. They're very musical, complex sounding to my ear. Good luck in finding your tone.
     
  18. Kenny Allyn

    Kenny Allyn

    Mar 25, 2006
    Memphis
    With Chromes I drop to 100s rather than 105s ...

    I use Chromes on my alder body, rosewood neck P bass and it sits in a mix great! Chromes did not like my maple neck, alder body 70s Jazz though, so I switched to TIs much better!

    I tried Roto flats on my P bass and took them off in 2 days, the Chromes just add that extra definition on the P bass IMO.

    [​IMG] ...
     
  19. bongolation, could you give us a link to that string making site?