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Low tension/flexible medium gauge flats?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by bassbourne, May 10, 2020.


  1. bassbourne

    bassbourne

    Nov 20, 2019
    I'm looking for a set of medium gauge flats which are low tension, meaning they don't put too much tension on the neck, and flexible, meaning they are easy on the fingers.

    I'd like to stick to medium gauge (45-65-85-105) if possible or at least close to that (not more).

    I read somewhere that Dunlop medium flats may be the way to go? Can anyone vouch for them or recommend any others?
     
    uwrossl likes this.
  2. tindrum

    tindrum

    May 2, 2007
    Suffolk, VA
    Ernie Ball Cobalts are definitely in the less tension camp. Compared to average flats they are very flexible, though not as loose feeling as TI’s.
     
  3. I haven't had a chance to try the Dunlop flats yet for myself, but they do get good reviews around here both for their semi-modern flavor and for comfortable tension/stiffness.
     
    uwrossl and bassbourne like this.
  4. Yahboy

    Yahboy

    May 21, 2008
    Dunlop flat 45-105 ,Sadowsky blue flat 45-105 and EB cobalt flat 45-100 has pretty close stiffness. But they all has different voice present.
     
    bassbourne likes this.
  5. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    Massachusetts
    Dunlop (my favorite), Labella Low Tension
     
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  6. Stan_da_man

    Stan_da_man

    Aug 29, 2006
    UK
    I would go for Dunlops.

    EB Cobalt flats aren't true flatwounds IMO - they're more like groundwounds.
     
    bassbourne likes this.
  7. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    "Low Tension" and "Medium Gauge" are inconsistent concepts. To quote Scotty off Star Trek, "I can't change the laws of physics, Captain!"

    Given pitch and scale length, tension is a function of mass. For flatwounds, whatever make, for a particular gauge, they are very similar in having much less space between the windings since ribbon wrap is used instead of round wire or variations on that theme. So there is somewhat of a positive correlation between gauge and mass, and therefore tension. So all 45-105 sets will have somewhat more tension than lighter gauges, and none of them can be considered "low tension" in the sense of a TI flat, a La Bella 39-96 or their LTW sets, or even the Optima RB set, which is 45-100, but the middle gauges are only 58 and 78, not 60-65 and 80-85 like other sets.

    Now, that said, if the ribbon wrap is beveled at the edges, that will promote flexibility, which may feel a little better in actually fretting the string. But it is different from raw tension. Many players confuse tension with flexibility, which factors in more to the feel because of the finger pressure to get the string to the fret, or deflection.

    There may, indeed, be sets that are more flexible, and feel better. I will defer to the rest of the forum for those subjective determinations, since I play mostly rounds with Fender 9050CL's (no longer made in the CL, closest is the 45-100 L) on one bass.
     
    bassbourne likes this.
  8. Technically, EB Cobalt Flats ARE flatwound, not groundwound. They do feel like groundwound because of the tiny gaps between the outer windings, which is part of the design to make them more flexible than traditional flats.
     
  9. e-flat

    e-flat

    Jun 15, 2009
    Washington State
    The Dogal Jaco Flats in .105 have a bit less tension that a standard .105 set of flats due to their round core construction. They’re a little more $ but great flats nonetheless.
     
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  10. bassbourne

    bassbourne

    Nov 20, 2019
    That's true. I shouldn't have said low tension. What I meant is a set of medium gauge flats that's on the lighter side compared to others.
     
  11. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    La Bella 43-104;
    La Bella 39-96;
    Optima RB 45-58-78-100;
    La Bella LTF;
    TI Jazz Flats;
    Pyramid 44-96;
    Just about any other singles set of 45-60-80-100 or 105

    And remember, raw tension is not the same as flexibility and feel.

    And lastly, a good setup to make sure the neck relief is in spec, the nut and bridge saddles are cut properly, overall height adjustment of the strings, and pickups adjustment will do more to make a bass easy to play than any set of strings.
     
    bassbourne likes this.
  12. bassbourne

    bassbourne

    Nov 20, 2019
    Thanks for the responses.

    Thinking I'll go for either the Dunlop (mediums), GHS (mediums) or La Bella 760FL. Does anyone know how these compare in terms of tension and flexibility?
     
  13. bassbourne

    bassbourne

    Nov 20, 2019
    Thanks for the reply.

    I'm actually currently using a set of Fender 9050L and looking to move up in terms of gauge. The Fender 9050L feel a tad on the thin/floppy side to me compared to the medium rounds I'm used to, but I don't want to go too much heavier (and preferably medium gauge rather than a more taut light gauge as that's what I'm used to).
     
  14. Sounds like the Dunlop flats 45-105 should do the trick for you.
     
    bassbourne likes this.
  15. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    Wow! I don't know what to say. There are several sets from different manufacturers that have the 65-85 for the D and A strings, and almost everybody in today's world call that medium to medium heavy.

    Have you tried raising your action just a little bit so you have a little bit more room to "dig in"?
     
  16. bassbourne

    bassbourne

    Nov 20, 2019
    I'm probably not wording things correctly. Been a long day haha. But yeah, I agree that 65-85 for the D and A is medium. I'm used to rounds in that gauge so the light gauge Fender flats feel a little thin, but I've heard that flats are generally a little tighter than rounds, hence why I'm looking for a medium gauge flat which is on the more flexible side.

    Good point. May try raising the action first to see how these play then.
     
  17. bassbourne

    bassbourne

    Nov 20, 2019
    Great, thanks. Reckon I'll get a set of these.
     
    uwrossl likes this.
  18. Stan_da_man

    Stan_da_man

    Aug 29, 2006
    UK
    Then why not use a roundcore? All I know is that they definitely do not feel like flats and more akin to sticking your fingers in honey.
     
  19. That stickiness is the result of the gaps in the winding just like half-rounds (groundwound) feel sticky.
     
  20. Stan_da_man

    Stan_da_man

    Aug 29, 2006
    UK
    I know... hence why I hate groundwounds.
     
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
    Feb 26, 2021

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