How do you install flatwounds?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by JayfromDeeKay, Mar 20, 2012.

  1. JayfromDeeKay


    Jun 23, 2009
    After searching around the forums a bit, I've found several threads where people mention that you have to take special precautions when installing flatwounds vs roundwounds.

    Some say that only the silk part must wrap around the tuning post. Others emphasize that you must put a 90 degree bend into a string before threading it around the post, or it will lose integrity. Some say you should never cut a flatwound string, or it might unravel.

    Then, on the other hand, Fender says on its website that you should cut each string so that it's about 10.2 cm longer than what it needs to reach the tuning post, so that there isn't too much string wrapped around each post.

    Now I'm a bit confused, and I got two sets of Fender 9050L flatwounds arriving in the mail any day now, that I'm gonna put on my basses (jazz basses), so I'd like to hear you guys' way of installing flats, so I will get it right.
  2. bassist4dalord

    bassist4dalord Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 2007
    SW Missouri
    Weird.. I've only ever installed flatwounds the same way I've installed roundwounds. News to me!
  3. hennessybass

    hennessybass Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2008
    Bayou City
    I've used flats for many years now, and I've never had any issue. I do nothing special or different than I would with a set of rounds.

    I have heard that La Bella recommends that you not put your flats through body. That might just be a La Bella thing... I've done it, and had no problem.
  4. M.Mannix3


    Jun 12, 2010
    I've installed a set of Chromes on both of my basses. I didn't do anything differently than with rounds. I cut the ends and no problems here.
  5. I've only used flatwounds over the last few decades and I've never done anything other than cut the string to length (usually cut some of the silks), insert the string into the hole of the post and start winding. I don't string through the body of my Lakland. That's been the method for TIs, Fenders, Chromes and Rotosounds. Never had a problem on any of my basses.
  6. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    If I could only own 36 basses what would they be?
    I ran into a problem years ago. I tried to put tapewound long scale strings on a 30" scale bass. When I cut the strings to be short enough for the bass the tape winding unraveled. So instead I used a set of Dean metal flatwound strings on the bass and it worked fine.
  7. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    Same. Never an issue here.. you are being to careful. Measure,cut, wrap and tune.
  8. hotbass57


    Nov 27, 2011
    Just put Chromes on my new fretless. Did same thing I do with rounds.
  9. billgwx


    Apr 10, 2009
    Centereach NY
    LaBella now sells through-body versions of its flats, so that shouldn't be a problem.
  10. gnjpowell

    gnjpowell Inactive

    Nov 12, 2010
    Concord, NH
    Bass & guitar tech, FOH sound, backline rentals
    Measure twice cut once...
    Kipp Harrington likes this.
  11. tjh


    Mar 22, 2006
    I will generally bend the string at 90 degrees about an inch back from where I am going to cut it (if I do) .. the sharp bend should prevent any kind of loosening of the windings, and this is the portion I insert prior to winding .. I have never had an issue either way, but somehwere along the line one of the reps I had spoken with (Labella ??) recommended this, so I just do it ...

    I tend to allow a little more length than some if I cut, especially for E and A strings to make sure that I can wind well down the post for a good break angle at the nut, but other than that just take care not to 'twist' the string as it tightens (may not intonate properly if twisted) ... JMHO
    Kipp Harrington likes this.
  12. I do the same as tjh. I make the string length about 2" past the post + the 1/2-1" I leave for the 90 degree bend that tjh referred to. Bend the string first, then cut. Try to keep it tight while winding it, and wind downward always. If you need to; and you've got a nice string install on the bass already; use the old strings for a length guide. Take the time to do it right, and it will serve you well.
    John Sr.
  13. I just restrung my son's Squier last night.

    I measure 5" beyond the tuner stem and bend it right there at a 90* angle. I cut the string about 3/4" or beyond the bend. Insert string and wind away, making sure the string wrap is downward. Once I get light tension I stretch the strings slightly. The 5" seems perfect for Fender style tuners and most tuners, for that matter. Then tune it up, check the neck relief, and set the intonation (if needed).

    I don't see flatwounds being any different, but I've never used them.
  14. I install them differently.......when I used to play rounds I would install them with anger and that I play flats I install them with a happy, zen-like calm.
  15. iabssplyr


    Aug 5, 2009
    Clinton, IA

    I felt the same way going from electric guitar to the bass. Those pesky B and E strings kept breaking all the time. Now it's four thick strings and peace in the valley!
  16. JayfromDeeKay


    Jun 23, 2009
    Thanks for your answers guys, just what I needed to hear.

    I used to play with Rotosound 66 for years, before I tried flats. They have a nice growl, but after trying flats I can't go back to the sandpapery feel of the 66s.

    My experience with flatwounds so far have been with:

    Pyramid Gold: super-smooth feel and not too tight, not too floppy, and the ADG sound great, but I never learned to love how the E is much deader-sounding than the other strings. If it weren't for that E-string, I would be in love.

    Rotosound 77: nice melodic sound, a bit dry, quite tight. I like them, but they are far too expensive where I live (they cost more than twice the price of a set of Fender flats here).

    I can't wait to try the Fenders (9050L set). Gonna use them with a foam-mute and see if I can get a good thump out of them. I like the strings to be rather tight, since it allows me to fingerpick faster.
  17. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    OK, I actually use the 9050CL set on my P-style fanned fret bass. With body-through stringing, the E string will just clear the nut and you have the silk over the windings. With top-load stringing, you do have to trim the E string silk a little closer so the string doesn't bind the tuner post. It's not the best picture, but here is a picture of my bass strung with them:
    A Different Custom P-style Bass - TalkBass Forums
  18. JayfromDeeKay


    Jun 23, 2009

    both my jazzes are top-loaded, so I'll probably have to trim them a bit.
  19. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    The thing to understand about flatwounds is that the outer wrap of the string is quite thin and fragile. The outer wrap stops where the silk begins, on both ends. On the length where the outer wrap is, between the silks, you need to be careful not to bend it too sharply. If you bend it over too tight a corner, the outer wrap will break and unravel, and the string is ruined.

    Now, if the string is the correct length for the bass, the outer wrap should end a little bit past the nut, but before the tuner post. What's called the "tail" of the string (from the beginning of the silk out to the end) is no problem to bend or cut as needed. As described above, hold the string out and find a point about 3" beyond the tuner post. Bend a 90 degree angle, slip it through the post hole, bend an opposite 90, clip it off, and start winding. Get 3-5 nice neat turns. Just like you would with roundwounds.

    What you cannot do with flatwounds is shorten them very much. If the string is too long for the bass, and the outer wrap extends beyond the tuner post (that is, the silk starts past the post) then you can't use it. If you try to do the 90 degree bend on the portion of the string that has the outer wrap, the outer wrap will break. If you try to cut the string before the start of the silk, the outer wrap will unravel.

    Note: I'm talking about steel core flatwounds, as used on electric basses. Most "rope" core flatwounds, as used on uprights, can be cut and bent along their length. That's different.

    The situation is similar at the bridge end. The part of the string with the outer wrap, before the start of the silk, cannot be bent too sharply. On a strings-through-body bridge installation, the silk should come up through the body and around the corner. If the outer wrap has to take the sharp bend, it will break. Some through-body installations may have a nice radiused bushing where the string turns the corner, and you may be able to get away with bending the outer wrap over it, but it's risky.

    The overall rule is that flatwounds need to correctly fit the instrument. You can't cheat like you can with roundwounds. When they fit right, they are easy to install and will last for many years.
  20. JayfromDeeKay


    Jun 23, 2009

    thanks for your post. Clear, concise information, so you understand the 'why' of it. Great! Thanks! :cool:

    By the way, two sets of Fender 9050Ls arrived in the mail, so I'm gonna put em on and post my impressions a bit later today.

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