Looking for advice choosing flatwound strings

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by kridershot, Oct 10, 2017.

  1. kridershot


    Aug 24, 2017

    I have recently started experimenting with flatwounds, and I love the feel and the tone, but I am still trying to find "the one". I have so far tried Chromes (ECB81 45-100), La Bella (740FS), Ernie Ball Cobalts (45-105), and also La Bella 750T tapewound.

    Here are my impressions:

    Chromes: My favorite tone out of them. I love that it has those strong lows but at the same time it's bright enough to be used in rock songs. It sounds very dry and to the point. The only problem is that they are so stiff I can barely play after a few songs.

    La Bella 740FS: I like the tone, very classic, but not as much as Chromes. They feel much better too, not very stiff, and definitely more slick. The Chromes sometimes get sticky or have a "dirty" feeling to them that I did not find in La Bellas (I always clean them before stringing).

    Cobalts: They also feel sticky and dirty like Chromes, but probably have the best tension out of the ones I tried. The tone is not my favorite though, too "modern".

    La Bella 750T (tapewound): I like the tone but they are way too floppy.

    So I am basically looking for something that sounds like Chromes but feels like La Bellas, or at least is not as stiff as Chromes are. I decided to ask around before buying yet more strings.
    So far my most obvious choices are getting lower gauge Chromes or TI Jazz Flats.

    I searched the forums for the Custom Light Chrome set (ECB84) but found only a few impressions. Anybody have experience and would recommend them? Or are the Super Lights (ECB80) better?

    I see a lot of people swearing by the TIJF, but I am afraid I will find them too floppy too.
    Are they as low tension as the La Bella tapewounds? And what is their tone like compared with the ones I have experienced?

    Thank you!
  2. Yahboy


    May 21, 2008
    Try Fender 9050L or Sadowsky black label 40-100 . Both tension is bit lower than Labella 760FL i use before.
    Linnin and michael_t like this.
  3. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    The strings come in varied gauges so if you don't like the tension but like everything else about them, you get can a lighter set.
    Badwater and lz4005 like this.
  4. Maybe Ti Jazz Flats?

    I have Chromes but are on my AEB so can't really compare them to the bass that had TI's. My go to strings are La bella 760FMs and the TIs are complete opposite.
  5. Coolhandjjl

    Coolhandjjl Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2010
    If Chromes has the 'tone', others in the same tonal family are EB Slink Cobalt Flats and Fender 9050s. Just look for a medium or light gauge, or down tune all four a full step with the standard gauge.
  6. Another vote for the Fender 9050L.

    I tried both the 9050L (45-60-80-100) and the Chromes ECB84 (40-60-80-100) in the past and prefer the 9050L for their tonal balance and playing feel.
    Linnin likes this.
  7. Lex P.

    Lex P. You've got it awful loud -Kathy P. Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2003
    I am very satisfied with TI flats. Easy on my fingers too. My band mates actually noticed at the first practice after I switched from rounds. They were very complimentary. Imagine that!
    Jeff Scott and armybass like this.
  8. Klonk


    Apr 28, 2011
    If you like the sound of Chromes, but the feel of LaBella (by the way, they are 760 FS, aren't they? Or is there a 740 FS set that I don't know about?) then I would try Sadowsky Black label flats, Sadowsky Blue label flats, or Fender flats.

    Sadowsky Black Label flats come in 040-100 and 045-105, and are LaBella-like in feel, but with a bit more low mids to my ears.
    Sadowsky Blue Label flats come in the same gauges as black label, have a sound that resembles Chromes a bit more, but are not quite as smooth to the touch as black label.
    Fender Flats, check with @michael_t , he knows alot about them (and I don't) :)

    Outsider: Dunlop flats. Sound a bit like Chromes, very middle-of-the-road flats, easy to play, but not as smooth as LaBellas (not many brands are). So it's going to be a trade-off involved here.
  9. kridershot


    Aug 24, 2017
    Thanks everyone!

    Indeed, I messed the code for the La Bella strings I tried, it's the 760FL, the light set. Thanks, @Klonk!
    I like their feel better than Chromes both because it's more slick but also because it's not as stiff.

    I ordered a set of the custom gauge Chromes, I will post my impressions once it arrives and I try them on.
    And it seems like I will have to give Sadowskys and Fenders a try too. I've been checking some videos and enjoying the tone of the Sadowskys in particular, but won't know for sure til I get them.
    Klonk likes this.
  10. hotbass57


    Nov 27, 2011
    labella low tension flats are a nice alternative to TI's and Chromes. I have them on a jazz and Pbass. They are very smooth feeling, great balance and tone. Not sticky feeling at all. Tension is less than Chromes and a tad more than TI's. I also have TI's on 2 basses love them, but you have to lighten touch on them a little. you can still dig in, they make you play differently in my opinion.
    Lex P. likes this.
  11. kkaarrll


    Jun 1, 2014
    ghs precision is what you are looking for
    AModestRat, nerkoids and Linnin like this.
  12. I've been going back and forth between flats and rounds since around 1975. I started playing in 1966 and used La Bella Heavies - what is now called the "Jamerson" set. About 2 years ago I started back with flats again. I put Chromes on a bass, Fender 9050s on two basses. I liked them both a lot and found very little difference. Then I put a set of the Labellas on another bass. They have the best sound, IF that sound is what you are looking for. One caveat: they are high tension. For me the sound is worth it.
  13. tallboybass

    tallboybass Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2003
    Tulsa, Oklahoma
    Do it.

    Yes, there's your answer.

  14. Linnin


    Jul 19, 2012
    Linningrad, Earth
    ^^^This Just So Happens To Be The Truth^^^
    AModestRat and kkaarrll like this.
  15. Badwater


    Jan 12, 2017
    If you can manage the E and A strings on the chromes, they have a set called EBC84 which has the same E and A, but the D and G strings are smaller with less tension. To me the EBC84 set has the same tension feel as round wound strings, and they have the Chrome sound. However, if you use a stock stingray, the .040 G string will be a lot weaker than the rest of the set.
    kridershot likes this.
  16. Klonk


    Apr 28, 2011
    FWIW, I got "addicted" to the smooth feel of LaBella flats too, and it led me to now having Sadowsky Black Label flats on my main bass. Plenty of other good flats out there (I like TIs, Chromes, LaBella, Rotosound, Pyramid gold, et cetera) but that smooth feel combined with the classic, flatwound sound with a slight addition of mids in there make the Sadowskys hard to beat, IMO.
  17. kridershot


    Aug 24, 2017
    I went ahead and tried Thomastik Infeld JF 344 (43-100), and the custom light gauge Chromes ECB84, which has G and D strings (40, 60) from a super light set combined with A and E (80, 100) strings from a regular light set.

    The TI flats indeed are amazing, no wonder they are the favorite flats of many players!
    They are not nearly as floppy as the tape wounds, instead I found them more similar to medium roundwounds in stiffness. A pleasure to play.
    Their sound is very nice and mellow, but like the La Bellas they lack that thump Chromes have and I was after.

    The custom light Chromes are a huge improvement on stiffness compared to the regular light set.
    The set more well balanced in terms of tensions, so there's a noticeable improvement on the ease of play that I welcome very much.
    I didn't notice a difference in volume between the G and D strings and E and A, though they are not as thumpy and sound a bit more "metallic" than the thicker G and D on a regular light set (that's the best way I have to describe it).

    All in all, I am happy with the custom gauge set and will probably stick with it for now, it seems like a good compromise.

    I also bought a set of the GHS Precision flats, as recommended here, but I didn't get around to try them just yet.
    I didn't get the Fenders because I couldn't find them ready available where I am, but will definitely look for them again in the future.

    Thanks everyone again!
  18. mcrawfordmusic


    Dec 11, 2010
    Worth checking out Dunlop flats - smooth and good balanced tension. Tim Lefebvre uses them.

    Biggest pro about the chromes is that they are available at most shops.
    basmicke likes this.
  19. Klonk


    Apr 28, 2011
    Interesting that you say LaBellas lack the thump that D'Addario Chromes have. A lot of people think that LaBellas have thump, and Chromes have clarity (which some would say is the opposite of thump in a way). I like whenever you get a new opinion on things, because I think we sometimes forget to use our ears, and just read and re-read "stated truths" :)
    bonruiz and quickfix like this.
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