Modern Flatwound Strings With OK Slap?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by OldSchoolFlats, Jun 12, 2021.

  1. OldSchoolFlats


    May 29, 2021
    Aging 15" speaker flatwound thump player here getting back into bass after many years...
    ...I want to include some slap in my "revival", but had assumed that meant roundwound. I'd been leaning toward GHS Pressure Wounds, but in a recent thread, it sounds like Dunlop Flatwounds and a few others have a more modern twist that might make actual flatwounds viable.

    Mostly I like the more old-school Motown thump, but I'd also like the ability to:
    • Occasionally play some respectable slap.
    • Not change strings more than every 6-9 months.
    I have a Boss GT-1B, with a good compressor patch, and plenty of EQ (on bass too), but I'm worried any flats would go dead, and ONLY thump after a short time.

    I only have one bass, a Sire P7 5-string, so I realize I'm dealing with compromise. Ideally, I'd have nickel rounds on a jazz, and La Bella Deep Talkin' on a precision. I like moderate tension, so TI Jazz Flats are out, though I love their sound.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2021
  2. Aidil


    Dec 4, 2014
    Jkt, IDN
    I play those flatwound strings with a more modern twist you've referred. Despite I've never used ErnieBall Slinky Flatwound (the CobaltFlat), I say that it is the set you should be putting on top of your list. I've been using D'Addario Chromes on various basses in the last 5 or 6 years, and I've just put Dunlop Flatwound on another bass in the past month. Yeah, the Dunlop has its brightness at start, but it's a different tone of brightness. I still say the Chromes are brighter and have been proven can keep their brightness for long.

    Others who have used the Cobalt Flats and Chromes said these two are the brightest flatwounds available to date. And mostly agree the Cobalt flats are slightly on top.
  3. OldSchoolFlats


    May 29, 2021
    Based on research/reading, I'm leaning towards the chromes (medium).

    Question: Are the chromes all the same length, so the silk windings all start at the same distance from the nut?

    The La Bellas I used before have a couple of different lengths in a set, which, depending on where your tuners are, can result in the windings (not just the silk portion) going around the tuning pegs. La Bella emphasizes to not let windings go around the pegs, saying the string will break.

    I've been dealing with the raspy piano sound of rounds on my bass, thinking flats were useless for slap, but in hearing several YouTube vids, I actually prefer the flats slap sound. I realize Marcus Miller, my favorite player, would give me the "stink-eye" for going with flats, but I like the old-style sound.

    This article suggests that Chromes are probably the top pick if you want to slap on flats: Flatwound Roundtable - Guitar Pickups, Bass Pickups, Pedals

    I'd mostly play finger and pick on them, but I'd like to add some slap to my "bag of tricks".
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2021
    DJ Bebop likes this.
  4. OldSchoolFlats


    May 29, 2021
    BTW, it sounds like the chromes have lower tension than La Bella Deep Talkin' (my old go-to), so presumably the tension of chromes is more like rounds.
    jmattbassplaya likes this.
  5. Aidil


    Dec 4, 2014
    Jkt, IDN
    I also have a bass with La Bella Deep Talkin Flats, but these are on a short scale bass. I have never used La Bella flats on long scale bass, so I couldn't compared them with Chromes.

    Chromes are relatively high tensioned compared to the same gauge roundwounds. Depends on what brand and type of roundwound you are used to, most members here would've agreed if you play D'Addario XL Nickels 45-105 as your preferred roundwound gauge, then you should choose 40-100 or 40-95 when moving to Chromes. More so when you want to use them for slap. I certainly prefer light gauge on my bass I bring when playing slap line.
    Mili and Turxile like this.
  6. OldSchoolFlats


    May 29, 2021
    I was going to go with medium (105 E). With the lighter gauge, do I lose much "thump".

    BTW, reading through the threads on chromes, it sounds like the B is "mushy". I have a 5-string, BTW.
  7. Kenan


    Sep 13, 2014
    I really relate to you as a fellow thumper who wants to hit a few slap accents on more modern tunes. You're not gonna like this, but lower tension is the biggest factor that's going to get you there in flats, in my experience. La Bella Low Tension Flats are my all time favorite string and they feel very versatile; both thumpy and slappable. Chromes in the light guage also get there. I've never tried TI flats, but I'm sure they're in the same ballpark.
  8. Aidil


    Dec 4, 2014
    Jkt, IDN
    I used to think using lighter gauge strings would sacrifice my low-end frequencies. Now, I've been using more and more on lighter gauge strings. Even a .120 low-B or a .095 low-E still has plenty of bottom end.

    Sounds mushy as "weak" sounding?

    Chromes .132 is the flat wound low-B I've used the most. I've owned 4 of Chromes low-B: the 1st one was sold with the bass, the 2nd one was taken off because I'd like to use D'Addario Nylon tape wound on the bass, the 3rd one is the only one I still use up to now (it's been 4 years or so), and the last one was taken off cause I'd like to try Dunlop flat wound. Never have I considered Chromes .132 low-B as weak sounding.
  9. OldSchoolFlats


    May 29, 2021
    Good to hear that you like the B. A few posts suggested that the B was not so good: gauge too small was they way they put it. Sounded to me like they were describing a B that was not tight enough (common on 34” scale), but maybe not.
  10. OldSchoolFlats


    May 29, 2021
    Should a low-E that’s 100 (rather than 95) in the Chromes be readily slapable?

    I’m hoping that light-gauge Chromes and La Bella are higher tension than TI Jazz Flats. TI Jazz has a silk winding throughout string, and a softer metal, I believe.
  11. Aidil


    Dec 4, 2014
    Jkt, IDN
    I've read the opposites: some complaints were regarding how stiff the Chromes .132 low-B is. Tension-wise, D'Addario tension chart PDF says it's 35.9 lbs, which is in between XL Nickel .130 at 34.5 lbs and .135 at 36.1 lbs, so it's pretty obvious. But, due to the flat wound construction, it is way stiffer.

    The stiffness resulted in less pronounced/more tubby sounding at higher frets. But, hey... it's a flat wound string, it is somewhat expected. At least it can be set with low action.
  12. IvanBassist

    IvanBassist Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Münster, Germany
    Endorsing Artist: Mesa Boogie, Tech 21, G&L
    You might want to check out Slinky Cobalt Flats
  13. TheLowDown33

    TheLowDown33 Supporting Member

    Jul 4, 2009
    If you have nothing against the tension, Ernie Ball Cobalt flats are the answer here. I have tried so many strings in order to get a good compromise between slap, modern grind and thump and I've found that they are pretty much the only flatwound string that can compete with rounds or pressurewounds for that high frequency content.
    Dominic DeCosa and staurosjohn like this.
  14. staurosjohn

    staurosjohn Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2010
    Nottingham, MD
    I think the Cobalts will work for what you’re looking for… I have them on my (modern P #2) :thumbsup: Modern P#1 is the one with PW’s (actually, now, sporting Roto rounds - again) ;) I’m a ‘very infrequent slapper’ - but can with either of these 2

    Last edited: Jun 13, 2021
    Mili, zie and nattiep like this.
  15. Phaidrus


    Oct 25, 2009
    Dunlop flats are quite flexible, for flats, so I suppose appropriate for slapping/popping.
    PennyroyalWe and BLDavis like this.
  16. MTN.bass72

    MTN.bass72 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2010
    Blue Ridge, Ga
    I can't respond to your slap question, because I don't slap... but I use the lighter gauge Labella, 760fl, with a 100 E string, and they thump all day long...

    Maybe give a lighter gauge LaBella a go, since you love flats, and LaBella
  17. jmattbassplaya


    Jan 13, 2008
    Light gauge Chromes are very much like rounds, IMO. The do have a good slap tone if that’s what you’re after.
  18. OldSchoolFlats


    May 29, 2021
    It looks like the Chromes are only available in the regular for us 5-string guys, not custom set: XL Chromes | Flat Wound Bass Guitar Strings | D'Addario

    Was reading one place that the regular set is unbalanced: tight high strings, floppy low strings. Hoping to pull trigger soon, but want to check the details first.

  19. OldShark


    Apr 18, 2021
    Yes, I do think so. Those Chromes ECB81 were originally strung on my Sire V7 4-string FL. Of course slapping on a fretless is a different story...

    Attached Files:

    Kahfi92 likes this.
  20. Chicken Wing

    Chicken Wing

    Mar 26, 2017
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