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Hammer-ons & pull-offs with flatwound strings

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Rockin John, Oct 6, 2004.


  1. Just changed my rounds to Elite flats (as per thread in strings) and have discovered how much I obvioulsy relied on hammers and pulls. Those little flicks and licks that sound really OK with rounds, simply don't with flats.

    This technique doesn't seem to suit flats at all...well, Elite flats at any rate. Pulls in particular just aren't there and the note clearly needs plucking with flatwounds.

    This observation might be of use to someone else changing from rounds to flats.

    I have no problem with having to modify my technique as the sound and feel of the strings is (I think at the moment) exactly what I've been looking for for a long time. Others might not be so amused after spending hard-earned on flats only to find this out.

    Cheers.

    John
     
  2. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    I gotta try flats sometime. I had no idea so many bassists used them.

    Before I started hanging-out here, I truly thought that flats were either comletely 'OUT', or only used by old men playing one-five-one-five in polka bands or something.

    This has been rather fascinating me, but I've not yet read what you really get from flats (except I've just assumed you get NO ringing harmonics or sustain). What are the advantages? How do they sound?

    Thanks,

    Joe
     
  3. Flats have been used by most of the great bass players (past and present) at some time in their careers. An they have been used in all types of music including your 1-5-1 guys.

    I like them for their smooth supple feel. Crashing highs aren't my thing, neither is fret noise so rounds aren't really for me. (I discuss my Elite new rounds in Strings). I'm a light touch player with a ludicrously low action and these strings suit my playing well.

    John
     
  4. The big difference with flats is that they cut down on string squeak and sound less "airy" than rounds. They have plenty of sustain and harmonics are clear. You really have to try them yourself.

    I don't know why you're having trouble with pull offs, John. My pull offs are as loud as the average plucked note, so something's up. Maybe technique, or maybe you have funny strings.

    EDIT: If you were to be going here you could hear an example of harmonics on flat wounds.
     
  5. I've found that tapping is also somewhat ore difficult with flats.
     
  6. Lewis7789

    Lewis7789

    Sep 17, 2004
    Akron, Ohio USA
    Sales; ClearSonic Mfg.
    I use D'Addario Groundwounds on my fretted Jazz. And I think they sound great. I'm not a fan of clicky brights and fret noise either, so I went with the Groundwounds. I've always liked James Jamersons' tone. But because I slap, tap and play a lot of harmonics, I didn't think a total flat wound would work.

    My guitarist just turned me on to Fret-ease? That polish for your strings to make them slippery again? That stuff is awesome. I change my strings about once a year and don't boil them, so that stuff is great when they really start to get sticky.
     
  7. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    It's 'Finger Ease', I think - right? I use that all the time, but now that I'm getting more into fretboard-tapping, I found that that stuff makes my finger tip slip off the string if I soak'em with too much of it. Now I spray it on and then wipe the neck down real well, instead of leaving it soaked.

    I've been thinking of trying those ground-wounds. Are they ground all the way down to half the diameter of the wound-part? I mean are they as smooth as flats, or is there still some of the notch between the windings showing?

    Joe
     
  8. Lewis7789

    Lewis7789

    Sep 17, 2004
    Akron, Ohio USA
    Sales; ClearSonic Mfg.
    Yeah, you're right, It's finger-ease, or something like that. It's in a little white arosol can. I'll spray some on then wipe the strings down with a cotton towel, or usually the sleeve of my shirt... Thats stuff works pretty well, but I only use it once in a while. I don't know if it will deteriate my strings or not?

    I like these ground wounds a lot. Actually, they're called "D'Addario 1/2 Rounds" and come in a tangerine orange color pack. I'e used them for about 4 years now. I used them on my fretted 6 string, my fretless 4 and my current Jazz fretted 4. They have a nice smooth rich tone. A lot like James Jamerson, (on my bass with my technique, at least). I don't like bright and clicky strings, but flatwounds get dents where the frets are pressed against them. These strings are simply round wounds ground to a semi-flat wound. Not as sticky as flats, but not as notchy as rounds.
     
  9. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Thanks, Lewis -

    Do they still ping clearly when tapping harmonics? I wouldn't want to give up that - I like a bell-like tone for fretted/tapped harmonics, yet still some chunky, 'authoritive' beef for smooth fingerstyle plucking (like what I gather flats would do for me - but I can't imagin bell-like harmonics from a flat!).

    Joe
     
  10. Lewis7789

    Lewis7789

    Sep 17, 2004
    Akron, Ohio USA
    Sales; ClearSonic Mfg.
    Yeah, they'll still ring with tapped harmonics. I have a the bass up to about 3/4 and the treble rolled off about 1/4 on my Jazz and a flat EQ on my SWR rig and they still have that clear ping when tapped. I do some tapping harmonics in my fusion ban, and it still sounds good. I don't like the clicky treble, just nice smoooth mids and tight bottom. And I'm always playing traditional harmonics in my bands, still clear as a bell.
     
  11. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Cool - I'm going to try a set.

    Thanks,

    Joe
     
  12. boogiedown

    boogiedown

    Nov 1, 2004
    flatwounds are great, as long as you dont plan on doing any slapping or popping. They have a much richer thumpier sound and are great on fretless basses.
     
  13. Lewis7789

    Lewis7789

    Sep 17, 2004
    Akron, Ohio USA
    Sales; ClearSonic Mfg.
    While slapping and popping flatwounds might be an aquired taste, I used to slap my Ibanez fretless 4 with Thomastik-Infeld Jazz Flatwounds and I thought it sounded pretty good. Of course, I tend to like tones that are a bit different. :eyebrow:

    I actually got a compliment from the sound engineer on my Fender Jazz at my Friday gig. We did a sound check and I only played about 5 seconds worth and he said "Great! That's all I need." I said "That's it?" He said it sounded great and all the levels were perfect. I told him I don't like a lot of treble and a nice smooth Motown-esque sound. He said the bass sounded great. I'm usually getting pushed by the sound guys to turn up the treble because it sounds too muddy. I listened to the recording of the show today and it did indeed sound just the way I like it! Whoo-hoo! A soundman that understands not every bassist has the same tone. :)
    (not making fun of soundmen, I run sound myself.)