Fretless strings

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by jworrellbass, Aug 2, 2009.

  1. jworrellbass

    jworrellbass Commercial User

    May 17, 2009
    Colorado Springs CO
    Owner, builder: jworrellbass
    I'm sure this has been asked a few times, I'm going to ask again. What strings really bring out that fretless sound on a electric bass?
  2. IMO there are two "that fretless sound"s: upright-y or Jaco-y.

    For upright-y I'd go with flats. For Jaco-y I'd go rounds.
  3. JPrinos


    May 16, 2008
    Toronto, Canada
    If it is the prverbial 'MWAH' you want, round wound strings with action set as low as you can get. Hopefully you've got a J-bridge pickup. Dial that one in alone with the tone set to full bass.

    Action is important because the 'MWAH' is a function of the string vibrating onto the fingerboard along it's length past the point where you're fretting.

    Some people also epoxy the fingerboard to protect the board from the roundwounds and to get a particularly middle-tinny sound.

    Good luck.

  4. jworrellbass

    jworrellbass Commercial User

    May 17, 2009
    Colorado Springs CO
    Owner, builder: jworrellbass
    I used to use roto rounds, after seeing Tony Franklin's slap style with the Firm.
  5. funkytoe

    funkytoe In Memoriam

    Jan 17, 2008
    Northern California
    Best fretless string I ever used for an electric bass was the GHS Brite Flats in light gauge. They are roundwound strings that are ground down. So, they retain the brightness and mwah of a roundwound string without eating into your fretboard like a set of rotos.

    Everyone who ever played my fretless would always ask - What strings are these and where can I get some?
  6. RedLeg

    RedLeg Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2009
    Kaiserslautern, Germany
    Nov Shmoz Ka Pop?
    I opted for ground / half rounds. not as bright as rounds, not as dead as flats.
  7. LilRay

    LilRay Commercial User

    Dec 27, 2007
    Between my Roscoe and Leather
    Owner: Cockeyed Cow Custom Leathercraft

    Try a set of DR Sunbeams. I've seen Tony use them on his fretless. They are supposed to have less an adverse affect on the fretboard. In other words they don't damage it as quickly as standard rounds.

    God Bless, Ray
  8. kcolyar


    Feb 28, 2007
    Moab, Ut 84532
    I have used D'addario nickel light gauges for years, I love the feel and they last a while. They are not super bright and then die like some other brands I have used. My first fretless went four years od being played 3 to 4 nights every week and very minimal fretboard wear. I am impressed with them.
  9. JTE

    JTE Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Well, YOU need to define "that fretless sound" first. Is it Jaco's mid-range heavy sound, or his bright edgy one? Freebo's funky snarl? Pino's singing growl?

    Having said that, yeah, it's been asked a million times. But it's already a new month,so I guess you get to ask it for August. You could go through the searches and find all the various comments about this topic, but I'll be nice and save you time.

    First, you'll get people telling to avoid roundwounds like the plauge, and others who'll tell you to use whatever sounds best to you and deal with fingerboard wear (the second group are right, the others are misleading). Then you'll get a recommendation for just about every string made. Third, you'll be totally confused or just say "forget it, I'm buying the same strings I use on my fretted bass".

    That's where I'd start if I were you. You already know how those strings work and react to your touch and how you play. If you don't like 'em on fretless then try some others.

    Personally, I like DR Sunbeams (nickle round wound on a round core) and D'Addari XL-165 (similar alloy on a hex core) for my fretless. I'm in the blessed position of having two good fretless basses so I just put a set of Lakland Joe Osborn flats on one, and I'm digging that voice too.

  10. ^ Yeah, what he said. John, I'm really coming to enjoy your posts...thanks for your wisdom!

    To the OP. Much of this will be a function of your particular instrument. I think there are some very solid recommendations above, but if you can tell us what you're playing there might be some additional options worth suggesting.
  11. Here are some strings I have used and enjoy. There are many others out there I am sure are as good or better, but these have done the trick for me when it comes to fretless.

    Roundwound Jaco mwah sound; Fender 7150 and 7250 sets. Carvin nickels as well.

    Flatwound upright sound: D'Addario Chromes, GHS Precision Flatwounds, TI Jazz Flats

    Somewhere in the middle: GHS Brite Flats, GHS Pressurewounds

    All have their good points and strengths, and perhaps a sniggle or two. I have enjoyed them all.
  12. Ryan Mohr

    Ryan Mohr

    Oct 23, 2007
    Could you describe the tonal differences between the 7150s, 7250s, and Carvin nickels?
  13. fozz


    Mar 12, 2008
    I use DR's on my fretless jazz (Lowriders, to be exact).

    They're a compression wound string. The coils are very close together, making for a less corrosive finish. For comparison, say Rotosound rounds are an 80 grit sandpaper, where the DR compression wound rounds are a 160 grit sandpaper. But, you still get a wonderful roundwound sound.

    I have the action set low, and play on the bridge pup, with the tone knob turned "almost" all the way down. The sound is "other-worldly". Quite incredible through my SVT.

    I have a set of Flatwounds on a Hofner solely for that Beatles sound. Other than that, I cannot stand flatwounds and don't have them on ANY other bass.

  14. Ive been wondering as to what strings to buy for my bass as well. Ive got a MTD kingston KZ fretless 6. That I really like but I'm wondering if putting some better strings on it will improve the sound I am getting.
  15. the low one

    the low one

    Feb 21, 2002
    Me too, I like Status Hot Wire half wound at the moment on my fretless Jazz.
  16. dannybuoy


    Aug 3, 2005
    Everyone who plays fretless owes it to themselves to try a set of GHS Brite Flats or Status Hotwire Halfs! I've used both, and after trying normal flats/rounds for a bit they are a revelation, the best of both worlds.
  17. MarkusBass


    Feb 24, 2008
    California Coast
    Graphic Designer: Lakland
    +1! My fretless came alive with these.
  18. Beefbass

    Beefbass Guest

    Feb 4, 2001
    I use Fender rounds.