Has the bass world changed to flatwounds?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by itsmecraigl, Apr 12, 2012.

  1. itsmecraigl

    itsmecraigl Guest

    Feb 27, 2010
    Here's where I come from:
    Playing in 1965 with a Gibson EB-3 in a soul band. Bass came with flatwounds and I used them for years without changing.
    Then came the early/mid 70's and I switched to a P-bass with Rotosound and D'Addario roundwounds, playing rock. Couldn't get enough of that piano sound and with a coupla 15's in a cabinet it was the real deal.
    Now I see a shift in opinion again. I play in an acoustic trio and fill in for rock acts in emergencies. I see where the rounds are just not thumpy enough and are too twangy in the acoustic trio, so I get on here and I see all these posts about flatwounds.
    My question is simple. Is there a current shift away from roundwounds?
    After all these years I realize strings play perhaps the biggest role in the sound, next to the type of pickup, of course.
    What gives? Any opinions? Did you change from rounds to flats, and if so, why?
    Also if you're playing with a humbucker, are you using rounds or flats?
  2. oldcatfish


    Jan 8, 2011
    Never have used flats, except to try them out. I like nickel rounds and don't see any reason to change.

    As to your question about the trend...I wonder if it has to do with the more full range voicing of many current cabs and modern amps. After all, rounds can sound very brittle if not eq'd properly--at least in my somewhat limited experience.
  3. BassBob1


    Dec 21, 2010
    I played with rounds since I stared. I switched to flats at the end of 2010 and stuck with them pretty much exclusively for the next year. I only recently switched back to rounds after experimenting with various strings again. I would say the shift of going back to flats you speak of is more a TB thing. I don't notice them being as popular with bass playing friends and people I meet in music stores. I also distinctly remember the last time I bought flats the guy behind the counter asked me why and seemed very surprised.
  4. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    I think there are just a lot of people on TB that have the hots for them or like to experiment. Among other bass players I've known personally, none of them used flats. Among the pros I pay attention too, the only one that I'm aware of that is famous for using flats is Steve Harris.
    I've tried them and half flats. I don't see what the big deal is.
  5. itsmecraigl

    itsmecraigl Guest

    Feb 27, 2010
    Rounds are still my favorite. In an acoustic setting, if I EQ with more bass, all I get is a loud E string. If I take the high end down a notch, it sounds like a blanket is in front of my cabinet. Think I'll try flats for the acoustic gigs to see if I like them. Ordered a set of LaBella Deep Talkin' Flats after reading about a thousand posts on here.
  6. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    I use them on my #1 bass, like them a lot, and they fit in well with my current main band.

    That being said... for the worship sets I occasionally play, flats are pretty much not ideal and I'm anxious to get my 2nd bass (with rounds) back from the shop for those gigs. The lack of sustain can really come up and bite you, especially on the slower legato stuff.

    I would say a more fair characterization is that a lot of bassists are realizing flats have their place just like rounds do, and they are opting to go for the right tool for the job more often now rather than just stringing every bass they own with the roundwound string du jour.
  7. jbiscuti


    Dec 22, 2007
    NYC / LA
    Endorsing Artist: Grolsch Strap Locks
    I started playing with my "working band" (cover band) in 2006 and I have used many different basses along the way, but always always ALWAYS flatwounds.

    We play an extremely wide variety of music from Beatles & Billy Joel to LMFAO & Usher and there has never been a moment where I wished my bass had rounds on it. Even the very few slap songs along the way went fine - boosted the treble on my Stingray and got all the zing I needed.

    I have converted many others along the way who never would have tried them otherwise. Most of my friends will now only play flatwounds.

    It will always be a mostly-roundwound world but I am doing my part to spread the gospel of flatwounds to anyone who will listen. :hyper:
    DocGeorge likes this.
  8. Duckwater


    May 10, 2010
    USA, Washington
    I love flats, but I don't know any other bassists in real life that use them. I just got my guitarist onto them and he's hooked, TI George Benson strings on a 73 Les Paul. It sounds heavenly.
  9. itsmecraigl

    itsmecraigl Guest

    Feb 27, 2010
    "I think there are just a lot of people on TB that have the hots for them" <<<<
    So true, social! Opinions are so all-over-the-place on here. I keep doubting myself.
    One guy says 'XYZ strings suck". The next guy says "XYZ's are the greatest string I've ever used and I've been playing for 60 years".
    One guys says a certain bass is a great value and the next guy says his fell apart during the gig. Man, you have to filter out a lot of misleading information on here.
    The more you read, the more you find yourself going in circles.
  10. M.Mannix3


    Jun 12, 2010
    I have only played bass for just under 3 years, and my first bass was a Squier VM Jazz and for a while I was frustrated because I wanted a big, warm thump out of it (I probably should have bought a P to start with but whatever) so I gave it a series/parallel switch which made it considerably fatter sounding but it still had some clank that bugged me so I switched the strings to chromes and I love the sound. I also have an Epiphone EB-3 with chromes and the big warm sound that this thing puts out is killer. It's currently my favorite tone. I guess I knew I didn't want to play punk or prog and (don't everyone kill me for this, but,) I really have no interest in slap, so why have the rounds when I can just get some nice, fat mellow flats?

    Also my favorite music is from the late '60s when rounds were just coming into existence so that probably helped my decision.
  11. mcm


    Oct 2, 2007
    Nashville, TN
    for me there has been a change. flats are it. i do like rounds, just like flats better. much ballsier, and flats are not so dang ringy and modern sounding.
  12. Vintage Guy

    Vintage Guy

    Feb 26, 2008
    I liked them so much on my Fender 4 string that I put them on my Fender 5 string. They work out great for my rock cover band.
  13. Mushroo

    Mushroo Guest

    Apr 2, 2007
    Flats forever! :)
    I've had nothing but good comments live & in the studio since switching to flats.
    Even people who know nothing about the bass will say "can you switch back to that bass?" (the one strung with flats)

    My biggest problem with roundwounds is that, if I am playing in a band with both guitar & piano, they simply don't sound in tune to my ear.
  14. fisticuffs

    fisticuffs Commercial User

    May 3, 2011
    Madison, WI
    I just started using some half-rounds on my second bass just to change it up. I like them more than I remembered. Might go all the way flat. Looking for a fretless though and that I'll go flats for sure.
  15. jumbodbassman


    Dec 28, 2009
    Stuck in traffic -NY & CT
    Born Again Tubey
    have some basses strung with each. which i use depends on gig/venue. Just recently put a set on one of my more hifi basses which always have rounds. Its growing on me quickly. next up is to put flats on one of my 2 ric's
  16. itsmecraigl

    itsmecraigl Guest

    Feb 27, 2010
    Guys, good thread!
    Mannix, in all these years I've been playing, there is absolutely nothing that can compare to the low end a Sidewinder pickup can put out. It's the DEEPEST bass pickup I've ever heard. Looked at the Epi and will probably buy one before I die (long scale, though). Ain't spending $1400 for a Gibson, that's for sure. I own an Epi LP Special and even though I've never gigged with it yet, the quality is amazing.
    Should have asked what flatwounds you people were using, but I didn't want to start a string war. I tried the D'Addario Chromes and wasn't impressed.
  17. Duckwater


    May 10, 2010
    USA, Washington
    Roto 77s on a Ric are awesome, ala Deep Purple
  18. jumbodbassman


    Dec 28, 2009
    Stuck in traffic -NY & CT
    Born Again Tubey
    you will be disappointed with the epi pickup. bass is fine , pickup is nothing like the original
  19. jumbodbassman


    Dec 28, 2009
    Stuck in traffic -NY & CT
    Born Again Tubey
    was thinking more Sir Paul but Roger is cool too. Actually saw him first tour he used the black ric on with the j pups added.
  20. famousbirds


    Aug 3, 2009
    "Clean" sound is a huge sticking point for me. Flats were a revelation for me - the tension is high enough to get low and yet completely buzz-free action, and there is zero string noise.

    With Chromes and Fender flats, the tonal profile is pretty similar to roundwounds. Flats no longer mean all bass and thump with no sustain.

    At this point, I don't think I'll ever go back to rounds. I'll spend two hours trying to get them set up to play as smooth and clean as my Fender flats, and take them right back off.