Is it bad to use flatwounds on a through-body bass?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by BassBot, Aug 5, 2009.

  1. BassBot


    Oct 31, 2006
    San Francisco
    Recently, a guitar shop owner told me that I shouldn't string flatwounds through the body of a bass, because the bend in the strings at the bridge weakens the integrity of the string. This could cause the string to break or degrade the sound in some way. He said that I should only string flatwounds on string-through-bridge setups.

    Any validity to this claim? I recently switched to flatwounds on a string-through-body J bass and now I'm curious.
    Zach77 likes this.
  2. K-Funk


    Sep 24, 2007
    Auburn Hills, MI
    I'm also curious; it was noticeably more difficult to put flats on my string-through Precisions....
  3. I've had flats on my string through tele-bass for a while and had no problems. Sounds great too. I guess I could see it being a problem if you were swapping strings- say flats to rounds and then wanted to put the flats back on repeatedly. I don't think it's really a problem. IMHO, YMMV, etc.

  4. basspro


    Mar 10, 2009
    Las Vegas,NV
    I would have to diagree on that, i use roundwounds on all my string through basses
    and have never had a problem.You could use flats, it's just a matter of tone preferance.
  5. etoncrow

    etoncrow (aka Greg Harman, the curmudgeon with a conundrum) Supporting Member

    I use flats exclusively and have never had a problem with their use on a string-through; these include Fender SS, Chromes and TI Jazz.
  6. mikeswals

    mikeswals Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    I've never had a problem. I've use flats before on my vintage string thru StingRay...heck look at all those years Bernard Edwards had the original flats on his Ray.
    Also one set of Smith flats I have are 8yrs old, and they were originally on my 51RI P, and then I put them on my 55RI P three years ago.
  7. The is from Birdsong Guitars manual:

    Funny thing is Scott shipped me my fretless Birdsong with flats strung through the body.
  8. scottbass

    scottbass Bass lines like a big, funky giant

    Jul 13, 2004
    Southern MN
    I strung T-I Jazz flats through-body on my P bass. They've been on over a year - sound great, no problems. I didn't go nuts registering them to the saddles. I just gave them a very gentle curve to set the bend point. It was well short of what you would call a crease or a kink.
  9. bongomania

    bongomania Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    I've had flats on string-through for quite a while with no trouble. That said, LaBella flats specifically are known to have problems with string through. Some people have done it successfully, but others have had problems with breakage, to the point that LaBella now has a warning on their packages of flats saying string-through will cause breakage.

    Again though, that's just that one brand. Chromes, Fenders, and TI's seem to be just fine string-thru.
  10. Low Main

    Low Main Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2004
    I think some brands of flats will develop problems if you through string them.

    Depends on how they were wound and what bass is involved, etc.

    I tend to avoid through stringing flats because some of the string makers say not to do it. Maybe they're just playing it safe with what they tell people.

    Lakland also says not to through string flats. Or at least they used to.

    I keep waiting for some bass manufacturers to do through stringing with the body stringing holes drilled at an angle for a less severe break angle as the strings travel up and over the bridge saddles. Maybe there's a company (Warrior?) already out there doing something like that. Not sure.
  11. JTE

    JTE Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Lakland recommends that you string their Joe Osborn flats through the bridge rather than the body. But I've got a set on my Sting Precision bass (replica of a 1954 SCP, with STB only), and have had no problems. Besides, those are essentially GHS Precision Flats, which is what Leo used on the original StingRay. That bass was also thru-body only.

    But, the reason for those warnings is that flats are more finicky about the bends and how the windings can separate. The string company doesn't have much control over how carefully you install the strings, so to help reduce problems, they put that warning out there I think.

    But, the real deal is that thru-body and thru-bridge don't really make any difference. I've heard all the reports and conjecture, but here's what I know. I've strung my Laklands by alternating so two strings went through the body and two through the bridge. One bass was E D body and A G bridge, the other was the opposite. I did this wth my Hamer Cruise bass (with a Gotoh bridge) as well once. Side-by-side on the same bass I couldn't tell which strings were thru-body and which were thru-bridge. I had to look.

    So, if you have the option, then just stay safe and go through the bridge with flats. if you don't have the choice (e.g. a Fender pre-1954 or reproduction of one, a Fender Mustang, a Fender Telecaster, a pre-EB StingRay, etc. then just be very careful when stringing it up.

  12. Mr. Ray

    Mr. Ray

    Feb 20, 2009
    Labella Flats do not recommend string through the I guess it depends on the brand of flats. Does stringing through the body really change the sound? I really don't thinks it matters IMHO.
  13. etoncrow

    etoncrow (aka Greg Harman, the curmudgeon with a conundrum) Supporting Member

    Nope. I agree it really doesn't matter to the sound; especially sitting in the mix of a full band. But it does matter when relating the string length and design to the bass scale and design. A Birdsong 31" scale 5-string has a double string through B string in order to achieve optimum string tension on a short scale bass. The other four strings are single string through. While it is possible to string from the bridge you will run out if wrap and begin winding the string around the tuner if you do not 'string-through'. But Chrome flats work and sound terrific on the Birdsong short scale strung through the body IMHO.
  14. BassBot


    Oct 31, 2006
    San Francisco
    Thanks for everyone's input. As an update, I took my through-body Fender J to a very well-regarded Bay-area setup man with the flatwounds on it. He seemed to think it was no problem stringing flatwounds on through-body basses. As others have mentioned, you might just be a bit more careful when bending the strings through the bridge. But if you dig the sound and feel of the flatwounds, you should go for it.
  15. markdavid


    Jun 29, 2007
    I would say its not worth the potential string breakage , I have a bass with string through body bridge and I string through the bridge rather than the body because it seems to make zero difference to the sound and just makes it more difficult to remove the strings when you change them
  16. precision punk

    precision punk

    Mar 15, 2009
    Small increase tension wise, if strung through body at least thats how it feels to me.
    But, you shouldn't have any problems.
  17. Jefenator

    Jefenator Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2008
    If using flats on my '51 RI is wrong, I don't want to be right! :D
  18. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    I agree with Labella's caveat on their strings, but I've used Fender and Chromes through body with no issues.
  19. milo


    Jul 22, 2004
    I have Rotosound flatwound on my Spector rebop 5 string,with emg 40dc and emg bts in it.
    I like them very much because they are more natural sounding than roundwound i had on it.
    yes they are a little dull sounding but the preamp does the job done.
    now I can get very upright sound on one side and slap machine on the other

    In september I will buy 2 sets of rotos thats how much I like them:bassist:
  20. Jay Corwin

    Jay Corwin Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    I use DR HiBeam Flats and was concerned about the same problems after reading a bunch of NO-NO threads about it here. An email to DR cleared things up - they said it's not a problem with thier strings.
    El Papa likes this.