My flatwound/tapewound experiences

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Steve Bassman, Mar 1, 2006.

  1. Steve Bassman

    Steve Bassman Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Tampa Bay, FL
    I posted this on another site and I thought it might be of interest here:

    I've been searching for the best flatwound string for my '62 Reissue Fender Jazz Bass for a while. Here's my experiences and opinions so far:

    D'Addario Chromes - Very clear sounding, almost too bright for my tastes. Windings have gaps that make them feel a little sticky, like half-rounds. Medium tension. Good choice for someone wanting a bright sounding flat.

    Fender 9050 - Smooth feeling flat with old school thump and sufficient high end. Clicky pick tones and vintage fingerstyle sounds. Very stiff and high tension, especially the medium-light (100-50) set that I tried at first. I found the lack of silk at the peghead end irritating. It made these string a pain in the ass to install. I used and enjoyed the light guage (95-45) set for a while.

    Thomastik Jazz Flats - Unique midrange heavy sound that is very versatile, but way too light of a guage in for me (and I think I play with a fairly light touch). With these strings I experienced major fret buzz all over the neck. I tried setting up my bass differently and adjusting my technique to accomodate these strings, but ultimately decided I didn't want to do this (I shouldn't have too, really). If Thomastik would make these strings in a heavier guage, I'd try them again. BTW I have always liked Thomastik strings for jazz on my upright bass.

    Rotosound Jazz Bass - No thanks! Very bright and rough feeling for a flat. These are brighter than a new set of GHS boomers! Tension was fairly high on the 105-45 set and the output was very low (something to do with the magnetic properties of the outer windings, I am told). Nothing "old school" about the feel or sound of these strings. Again, maybe a good choice for someone seeking a very bright flatwound string.

    Labella Deep Talking Bass Flatwounds - Very smooth finish with the most vintage, old school thump, yet with enough top end to satisfy. The E string in particular is impressive in it's depth of sound, though it's a little thumpier than the other strings in this set. This is the 760FL set and the tension is similar to the Chromes, although the guages are quite different; Labella sets always seem to come with a heavy E & A and a light D & G compared to other manufacturers.

    As of this writing, the LaBellas are my favorite, with the Fenders coming in second place and D'Addario Chromes a close third.

    I've also tried three different brands of black nylon tapewounds:

    Fender Nylon Tapewound - Textured feel and low tension. Fairly bright with "clacky" top end.

    Rotosound Tru Bass - Smooth feel and huge guage. Sound was all thump & no sustain. The intonation was awful on the E string above the fifth fret with these strings. Did not posess an "upright bass" quality to my ears.

    Labella Deep Talking Bass Nylon Tapewound - Smooth feel and fairly bright. Sound is articulate with nice warmth. Tension is about the same as light guage roundwounds.

    Once again, the LaBella strings are my favorite in this category as well, this time by a much bigger margin. I use these strings on my recently acquired Godin A4 fretless and they are a perfect match for this bass. I even liked them on my Fender.

    I hope this is helpful.

    - Steve

    My web page
  2. RSalvador


    Nov 19, 2005
    Springfield, MO
    Very helpful! Thank you. I've just started trying to figure what strings to go to next for both my basses, 5 string and fretless.

    Still reading but this helps a lot for my fretless. I was thinking about getting the Fender tapewounds for my fretless but now I think either the Fender or La Bella Flats.
  3. Steve Bassman

    Steve Bassman Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Tampa Bay, FL
    I should mention that this post of mine is referring to the old Fender flatwounds that were made in Mexico. The current ones are made in the US and are similar to D'Addario Chromes in my experience. The La Bella 760FL set are still my favorite flatwounds.

    - Steve
  4. MD


    Nov 7, 2000
    Marin Co. CA.
  5. iiipopes


    May 4, 2009
    There is a rumour that Fender stainless steel flatwounds are subcontracted by D'Addario. I disagree with this, but then again, I am not privy to any confidentiality agreement that may or may not exist between the two companies. I can tell you from experience that whether made by the same company or different companies, they are completely different strings:
    1) Chromes are shiny; Fenders are grey.
    2) The width of the windings, especially on the E string are different. Chromes are generally wider, Fenders vary, and are actually narrower on the E string to retain flexibility.
    3) The windings are wrapped in opposite directions.
    4) The ball ends and windings are different.
    5) Of course, the silks are different.
    6) Chromes start bright and zingy and fade to thump rather quickly (in the flats manner - not in the rounds manner); Fenders growl with the growl fading slowly over the course of a lot longer time, depending on how often they are gigged.
    7) Chromes are very smooth and polished; Fenders are a little grainy to the touch.
  6. Steve Bassman

    Steve Bassman Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Tampa Bay, FL
    I was just adding an update since people are still reading my original post from 2006.

    - Steve
  7. Yahboy


    May 21, 2008
    Great personal opinion sharing from 2006.

    I am a 760fl fans too. But I have jump to Shadowsky flat last week.Very satisfied and happy with it.

    Let me make some describe to the Flatwound E string I have use.

    760FL, yes, it is thump, it should thump because it is labella deep talking bass.

    9050L, it punchy and sound big.

    ECB81, meh...... it is a great Muddy sound E.

    Shadowsky black label, yes, this is the great solid and focus E compare to above brand.

    You should try the shadowsky flat.For me, it sit between Vintage ~ Modern tone.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2016
  8. I used to use the Rotosound Tru Bass nylon and Steve's right they are heavy and thumpy but switched to Status Hot Wire .45 - .105.
    Major improvement,deep thump yet the notes are clear and have good sustain if you need it.Medium tension.

    You order them direct from Status-Graphite & they cost around $25 a set of 4, $32 for a 5 string set.
  9. theduke1

    theduke1 Supporting Member

    Dec 22, 2010
    Manitowoc WI
    I have been uning La Bella deep talking bass strings on both of my L2500 G&L basses. One is fretless. Now the package says " Acoustic Bass Strings", but these strings are standard on Carvin thin line acoustic electric basses.
    I first put these on a 5 string Michael Kelly acoustic bass I had at the time.
    I have since put them on every bass I had. GAS you know lol.
    They have nice tension on the low B, are easy on the fingers as well as the bass and work well for all styles of music. The only complaint I have heard is they are not good for slapin &popin, but I don't play that style.
    I have used Roto sound 66 jazz nylon strings and like them as well. has the lowest price on La Bella strings that I have found.
    Make no mistake they are pricy, but last longer than any other string I have used.
    Thanks for your indulgence
    The Duke
  10. FFTT


    Mar 15, 2009
    I'm really happy with my D' Addario 105 Tape Wounds.
    Well balanced, good tension, slickety fast, and they sing without all the string noise & clack.
    Really great for fat, smooth D/I or amp mic'd up.
    Best choice for preserving vintage frets.
  11. Exactly the same four flats I've tried, except ECB84 (vs. ECB81) and Sadowsky (vs. Shadowsky ;)), and exactly the same assessment.
    Yahboy likes this.