Fretless: Strings?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Torger, Dec 2, 2012.

  1. Torger


    Jan 25, 2012
    Hi, Im pretty new to playing bass, so my knowledge of strings is quite limited. I bought a cheap Squier fretless J bass and just wondering what strings to use. Currently im using medium gauge roundwounds on my Ibanez, but I don't want to damage the fingerboard. I'm thinking of using flatwound chromes but I'm worried that i wont be able to get that mwaah sound.

    So any suggestions on string type or gauge?:eyebrow:
  2. cvsurg

    cvsurg Supporting Member

    May 17, 2011
    Roundwounds will give you the best singing tone (mwah); I've got DR Sunbeams (.045-.105) on mine. Having said that, though, there are other factors to get the most mwah; a flat fingerboard, and a low action are mandatory. If you are doing your own setup, you actually want some buzz when you finger the strings unamplified- the buzzing is mwah; the buzzing won't be heard over an amp, unless they are way too low. You can get that tone with flatwounds, but it will be more pronounced with rounds. Also, pickup settings on the bass will affect the mwah; if you have a Jazz-type setup(two pickups), backing off the neck pickup some/completely will enhance it. By the way, if you have an ebonal fingerboard on your bass, don't worry too much about string marks; they are mostly cosmetic, and can be removed with a light sanding followed by steel wool. Have fun and enjoy!
  3. Torger


    Jan 25, 2012
    So roundwound is generally a better option for that smooth tone?
  4. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    any metal strings of any type will eventually wear out the fingerboard in time... proper technique goes further than string type in slowing down the wear.

    Set up and pickup location have more to do with mwah than string type. tapes and flats can mwah harder than stainless rounds with the right setup / touch.

    my jazz style fretless with flats gets significantly more mwah than my fretless P with rounds.

    If you like medium gauge rounds.... put medium gauge rounds on the fretless.
  5. Torger


    Jan 25, 2012
    Thanks, Ive never used flats before, so i may try them out for experimenting's sake. Mostly i just wanted to know if flats were neccessarily a bad choice.
  6. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    not at all... I really like the SIT Powerflats (ground wound) that I have on my jazz pickup loaded fretless 5 string.
  7. lowsideonacurve


    Feb 24, 2011
    I have Fender flats on my Squier VM fretless Jazz and I get plenty of mwah. The PO used rounds and left some heavy wear marks in the fingerboard, that I sanded out with a 9-1/2" radius sanding block and 400 grit, then lightly finished with 1,000 grit to leave a bit of grain in the ebonol fingerboard.
  8. pnchad

    pnchad Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2005
    for about 40 yrs - I own 18 high-end (Sads, Foderas, etc.) right now

    TAPE WOUNDS!!! unquestionably the BEST

    they are round wounds underneath the tape (most makers) so that they have the attack and the mwah but are smooth to the touch and the fingerboard

    I think they also add a slightly darker warmer acoustic type tone when you play closer to the neck :hyper:

    LaBella makes 'em - seem to be the best - last forever
    Fender makes 'em - pretty cheap too
    Others I can't speak for
  9. Gintaras


    Dec 11, 2004
    Kent Island, Md.
    I have dr sunbeams on my squier fretless. Low action... Love the sound and the mwah.
  10. I have a Warmoth fretless P/H as NP5/BigSplit on order, and I'm hunting for appropriate string recommendations.
    The board is ebony, so wear is not a real concern.

    The desired result is the NP5 yielding a clean upright sound, and the BigSplit in the 70s bridge position for some spank on demand.
  11. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    If you want an upright sound, get an upright. The string that I have found that gets closest for me (and I've tried dozens of strings and played upright for 20 years) are Roto TruBass 88s. It's about as close as I can get. Is it close? Not terribly.
  12. I'm not at all interested in getting an upright.
    My TI Jazz Flats had a very nice thump on my fretted P-bass... so I'm asking about for user experience on a fretless P.
  13. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    It just so happens that I have a set of Roto TruBass 88s on my '76 FL P-bass. I like the sound; it's nice and full, but no woody growl, which to me is the sound of a double bass in jazz. Hence my comment - I wasn't trying to be flippant. It's just reality that you can't get very close to an "upright sound" on an electric bass. They are completely different animals. However, TruBass 88s on a FL P might get you somewhere approaching the Ray Brown type of upright sound.
  14. The only thing that scares me off about Rotos, is they appear notorious for a quick death.
    I've seen those comments time and again from many community members.
  15. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    The TruBass 88s are tapewounds. They'll outlast all of us.
  16. The Labella Quarter Rounds look interesting.
    SS wrap, ground wound. The bass player tone review shows them as pretty bright.

    I sent a query to bassstringsonline, as these are not listed on their site.
  17. bass5str


    Jun 27, 2010
    welcome to the land of the fretless! strings are a rather personal thing. it has taken many of us years to dial in what we like by both feel, tone, and playability.

    since we are all chiming in i will share that i use ti jazz flats and ti jazz rounds depending upon the fretless and what sound i am going for. for me this has to do with what i want that bass and i to sound like.

    there is no really simple answer here and please don't worry too much because wood+metal = some wear... there is no way around it.

    the good news is that...

    as james said, a good technique (even if you are a super aggressive) will keep your board healthier longer. a lot goes into this category not the least of which is more side to side movements as opposed to up and down bends, as well as how heavy/light your touch is.

    there are other things to consider if you are super worried such as epoxy on the fb or swapping it for a harder material. i wouldn't worry about either since you are just starting out.

    my other suggestion is to not go cheap on strings. good quality strings will last a looooong time :bassist:

    to give more specifics it would help if we knew what sound/style you are going for and what type of gear you are working with. although i still say technique aka fingers is the larger hurdle.
  18. atomicdog


    Jun 18, 2011
  19. gary m

    gary m

    Jan 17, 2011
    Mid -Atlantic
    I use GHS flats exclusively, with good results.
  20. Danno1985


    Aug 27, 2012
    Milwaukee, WI
    My brother's first bass was a MIM fretless jazz. After realizing how quickly the Roto 66s were eating the fretboard, he coated it with marine epoxy. I helped him out and let's just say it took a LOT of trial-and-error to get it nice and level and air pocket-free.

    I picked up a Squier Standard not too long ago, defretted it, and coated the neck with several light coats of polyurethane. It took a long time to dry, but it is very durable now, and the application process was, predictably, MUCH easier. So, if you're going to run Rounds on it (I tried a couple "bright" flat sets like the new Fenders and Chromes, and they were not right for me), I'd recommend going the poly coating route.