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Make flats sound like rounds?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Doner Designs, Dec 1, 2019 at 8:13 PM.

  1. Doner Designs

    Doner Designs Steve Doner Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2012
    Metro Chicago Area
    Doner Designs is an alias for Steve Doner
    I like the feel of flats and lack of finger noise but like the buzzy sound that rounds can make. Is there any pedal that can produce that buzz? Not talking about fret buzz from action set too low. The sound I’m talking about is almost like distortion but isn’t distorted or fuzzy.

    I use TI flats or EB Cobalts. Both have lots of mids but no flats can produce the grind/buzz I’m thinking of.

  2. LSMFT6

    LSMFT6 We brake for nobody Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2006
    B7664A2C-6598-49D0-AFCB-CC889D787D47.jpeg I’m a longtime TI Flats user and I like to have the option of getting a roundwound-esque sound like you mentioned. One pedal I’ve recently had a lot of luck with the is Spiral FX White. It’s meant to be a dirty boost but it also does an awesome job of enhancing the treble/high content of my tone.
    And I and Doner Designs like this.
  3. Doner Designs

    Doner Designs Steve Doner Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2012
    Metro Chicago Area
    Doner Designs is an alias for Steve Doner
    Thanks. I was thinking that some kind of dirt pedal might get there, but there are so many and I’m not sure if any get it quite right.

    Guess I need to get out the headphones and listen to some sound samples.
  4. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    This is why I'm using dead rounds for my new blues/jazz band after initially starting with flats. Never found a pedal that can imitate that slightly grindy sound of rounds hitting the frets with flats.
  5. Doner Designs

    Doner Designs Steve Doner Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2012
    Metro Chicago Area
    Doner Designs is an alias for Steve Doner
    Hmmm. That’s an option I didn’t think about; thanks!
    JimmyM likes this.
  6. DDXdesign

    DDXdesign formerly 'jammadave' Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 15, 2003
    Wash DC metro area
    I like the feel of flats and the sound of rounds so I use Chromes, but once those get settled in and mellow out I like the recent spate of clanky highband ODs to bring back a round zing. Right now the B7KU is doing it for me but the DP3X will do it and the SubAtomic from DSM, etc.
    Fuzzbass likes this.
  7. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    As DDX said, try a multi-band distortion/overdrive pedal. These allow you to distort higher frequencies, while leaving lows and often mids totally clean. End result is lots of extra harmonic content on the high end that can make dead rounds sound new, and flats sound similar to rounds. Note: you probably won't need to dial in a huge amount of distortion to get the result you want, so don't worry that you have to go "heavy metal". :)

    Ones that I own (mostly) and recommend, no particular order:
    • Darkglass X series - crossover frequencies are user-adjustable, which means lots of versatility
    • Tech 21 DP-3X (dUg Pinnick pedal) - fixed crossover frequencies, but still a versatile pedal
    • Brimstone Audio Crossover Distortion XD2 - large box pedal, sounds great
    • Brimstone Audio Basilisk - very similar to XD2 but with extra distortion (I don't own it, gotta mention it though)
    • Ashdown LoMenzo Hyperdrive - semi-parametric bandpass distortion, but gets into treble range
    • Ashdown just released a three-band distortion pedal (lows, mids, highs) - haven't tried it myself though

    These single-band dirt pedals might also work well:
    • Tech 21 SH-1: Kind of a no-brainer because this is the Steve Harris pedal. Steve is a flatwound guy who likes zingy tone, and this pedal has a Bite switch that adds some really nice zing
    • Darkglass B7K series: not a multiband, but can be configured to focus distortion on the highs via the pre-OD bass cut ("Thin" setting)
    • I was going to mention the Tech 21 Oxford because it can be set up for great zing/clank, but it's discontinued and the SH-1 can cover most of that territory

    There are other pedals that may help, but I can only recommend those that I'm familiar with. Good luck!
  8. jwr


    Jun 28, 2010
    Overland Park, KS
    I use chromes on my Elrick and they sounds just like rounds to my ears with just their preamp. So, I'm going to say you need a good preamp. Personally, I like my preamps a little brighter. My personal favorite, and it's no frills really, is the Providence Dual Bass Station. It will do exactly what you are looking for IMO.
  9. DeepFriedBass


    Nov 21, 2019
    20 bucks will make your flats sound just like rounds!
  10. J-Mags

    J-Mags Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2018
    Durham NC
    Ernie Ball Cobalts have some of that RW zing. That's why I didn't like em, but I could see them really working for some people. Chromes too.
  11. pingvuiini


    Feb 2, 2009
    Maybe try tapewounds??
  12. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    I recently tried GHS Pressurewounds and like em a lot. They have some of the round wound grit, but are much smoother feel. Not silky smooth like flats, but smooth enough to prevent finger noise. They seem to be settling into a spot tone-wise between typical rounds and flats.
  13. mattj1stc

    mattj1stc Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2009
    Dallas, TX USA
    I've used the GHS ground wounds/bright flats. They're basically a round wound that been ground down to make them flatter. Not quite as bright as rounds, not quite a thumpy as flats - in the middle. To me, they felt more like flats, but sounded more like rounds. I used mine mostly for a fretless with a delicate fingerboard.
  14. CapnSev


    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    I second the EB Cobalts. You’ll be happy.
  15. C Niz

    C Niz

    Sep 14, 2019
    New Orleans
    I second the pressure wounds, also playing with a pick helps add some attack to flats
    Blue Swede likes this.
  16. noeinstein

    noeinstein Supporting Member

    Sep 3, 2004
    Northern California
    I’m currently preferring dead rounds to flats or half/pressure wounds. The sound is just what I want.
    JimmyM likes this.

    MYLOWFREQ Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    New York
    How about we trade my used rounds w/ your brand new ones. We can keep doing that as long as you want :laugh:
  18. jwr


    Jun 28, 2010
    Overland Park, KS
    In my experience tapewounds sound even further away from that clarity of rounds. What brand do you use? I’m curious.
    Doner Designs likes this.
  19. braingrinder


    Jul 21, 2019
    Just buy Ernie Ball cobalt flats, these are very bright sounding strings unlike other flats.
    Doner Designs and freedomryder like this.
  20. sunbeast

    sunbeast Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Los Angeles, CA
    There are different types of tapes that have different characteristics. They are basically regular (usually roundwound) strings with a layer of plastic wound over them. The plastic does seem to dull harmonics to a degree and you don’t get that fret growl of metal on metal, but there are definitely some bright tapes out there especially these days. The Labella White/Copper/Gold tapes are all on the brighter end of the spectrum I believe (definitely the whites in my experience). The biggest downside of tapes is that you lose the ground connection of your fingers through the bridge since you are no longer touching metal- this may or may not matter depending on your bass and where you are playing (if your bass buzzes when you take your hands off the strings then it will buzz all the time with tapewounds).
    My first taste of bright tapewounds tone was with Graham Maby playing with Joe Jackson. I would guess he used Rotosound tapes, but not sure on that:
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019 at 8:53 PM
    Doner Designs likes this.

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