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Fretless String Help

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by j.weaver, Dec 3, 2013.

  1. j.weaver


    Jun 12, 2007
    Topeka, Kansas
    Hello all,

    My fretless jazz has stiff flats on it, and I want to get a looser, lower action with more mwah - but even though I'm a careful fretless player who never bends string up and down, I am also concerned about fretboard wear over time.

    In light of these criteria, I would like to get some feedback on comparing the following options:

    - Roundwound nickels (the ultimate choice, but could scar ebony board)
    - T-I flats (looser & more flexible than trad flats)
    - Fender tapewound rounds (a compromise between tone and fretboard retention, but I've never tried them on a fretless)
    - Groundwounds - my previous experience was less than desirable (albeit 20 years ago)
    - Another option? Please share other tech innovations that bring great mwah and feel while also protecting the fingerboard.

    Thank you in advance for your help!
  2. I wouldn't be afraid to run nickel rounds. Ebony is tough. It'll wear a little but nothing to worry about.
  3. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    Everyone's gonna tell you fingerboard damage doesn't matter and you can get it replaned in a few years when it gets bad, but labella white tapes are awesome. Bright with no fingerboard damage, and very flexible.
  4. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    D'Addario Chromes get a lot of love. I have a set but I've never used them because:
    D'Addario Half-Rounds - a 'groundwound' string that's flat on top. Used these on an ebony fingerboard and thought they were fine. I got the Chromes (brighter than the HalfRound) in case the HalfRound were too dull - but they weren't, for me.

    Had TI flats and thought they were fine. Save them for last 'cause they're pricey. If you can find what works for you for less, you're done...

    Pressure-wound is an option not in your list - these are -much- smoother than conventional rounds.

    There is also the TI Jazz Rounds - there was a thread here just a little while ago. I followed it for a while. They looked interesting and IIRC got favorable reviews. A search should turn it up for you.

    -Probably- fingerboard wear is more feared in theory than practice. You might see a mark but that's a long way from actual grooves that affect sound. And sanding the fingerboard true again is an easy if infrequent operation.

    When I had an ebony board, I treated it (once) with Zymöl Bridge. This is a hard carnuba wax primarily marketed for orchestral instruments - they never seem to worry about fingerboard wear...

    For my money, I'd give Jason at BassStringsOnline a call or an email, describe the sound you want and your instrument, and be guided by his suggestion.
  5. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    The first thing to try is a lighter version of the same strings you're using. I did that on my fretless acoustic and it worked wonders. Went from a .110 to a .090 E.
  6. j.weaver


    Jun 12, 2007
    Topeka, Kansas
    Thanks for the tip! I didn't know about the white tapewound strings.

    Do you have an audio clip of them on a fretless, or know where I might hear one?
  7. j.weaver


    Jun 12, 2007
    Topeka, Kansas
    I would, but I know I don't want to keep a traditional flatwound on the bass. I want the brightness and mwah.

    I've decided to first try a set of La Bella's White Nylon strings, and if they aren't bright and/or expressive enough I am going to throw on a set of DR Sunbeams. They are a nickel roundwounds on a round core, and they are supposed to be amazing on a fretless bass!

    Thank you all for your input!

  8. Kael


    Dec 26, 2004
    Oklahoma City
    Fingerboard wear is overblown. Use whatever strings get you the tone you want.

    Starting with nickel rounds is a good base to begin at. If you have an ebony board, nickel rounds will take a LONG time to wear the fingerboard to anything past minor cosmetic wear.

    What tone are you after?
  9. Jaco who?

    Jaco who?

    May 20, 2008
    Let us all know how you like the Sunbeams. ;)
  10. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    I'll second that. If it does start to wear, epoxy will get you even more muah!
  11. bigcam


    Dec 3, 2013
    I've been using flat wounds since the mid 60's. I like the GHS stainless 45-105 M3050 medium on my G&L USA 2500 fretless, and EB USA Musicman SUB5. The Fender USA American Jazz, and EB USA Stringray HH 5 sport Fender tape wounds 45-105.
  12. radioface


    May 2, 2013
    Ground wounds are the way to go if, you love your board.
  13. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
  14. j.weaver


    Jun 12, 2007
    Topeka, Kansas
    Okay. I was going to get the Sunbeams, but I will try the white tapes first.

    Just look out for a PM from me if I don't like them! :)