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My P-bass String Quest

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Rip Topaz, Aug 19, 2012.


  1. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

    Aug 12, 2005
    Willow Street, PA
    Beta tester for Positive Grid
    I got my MIA 60th Anniversary P-bass back in February of this year.

    I've gone through several string changes since then, in my quest to find the perfect strings for this bass. Yeah, yeah, flats are better on P's. We've all heard that, and for the most part I believe it, too.

    The stock Fender strings were fabulous. I left them on until they were completely dead, and considered getting another set, but ended up going with Chromes instead, since that's what was on all of my other basses.

    However, this particular bass just doesn't quite do it for me with my normal Chromes. I love it for a few weeks, then I'm off to try something else.

    So far, I've had the light gauge Chromes. Loved them, but when I did some jamming in a rock/metal situation, the flats just didn't work as well.

    So I switched. Off with the Chromes, on went the DR Low Riders (SS). LOVED THEM!! Nice and punchy with some real "hair" when the tone is opened up.

    Now the DR's are dying, and it's time to try something new. This time I'm gonna try D'Addario EXL160TP (medium gauge rounds, .050-.105) I'm expecting a few days for them to settle in and to have to do a full setup, since I'm changing gauges.

    I got a 2-pack of these, so I'll be sticking with them for at least a few months, but if they fight me too much I can see the Chromes going back on. I'm really used to playing with flats, so I keep falling back on them. I've got a set with almost six months on them if I don't like the D'Addarios.

    Next up is a set of TI's, if I don't dig the D'Addarios. Shouldn't be an issue though, since I used D'Addarios in a lighter gauge before and was ok with them.

    Anywhoo, just figured I'd document my string quest here, and if I change again, I'll add to this.
     
  2. Lots of the classic P w/flats sounds are with LaBella flats. There are Chromes on my fretless and one other bass, but the P (5 string) gets the LaBellas.

    Lots of folks love the TI's as well. I am one of the few who do not care for the lack of tension, but I am clearly in the minority on that.
     
  3. Deaky

    Deaky

    Oct 24, 2006
    I would put new Fender strings on either the nickels or the new flatwounds 9050s.
     
  4. gary m

    gary m

    Jan 17, 2011
    Mid -Atlantic
    I've used nothing but GHS Precision Flats or Pyramid Golds for many many years on my P bass. LaBellas never did turn my crank personally, but to each his own.

    To me, the iconic P bass sound comes from GHS flats and an Ampeg fliptop amp.
     
  5. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    I am also a string experimenter. I think that my top strings for a MIA P bass would be
    LaBella 760 Flats (They just sound so darn good!)
    DR Sunbeam Rounds - Great all around sound and feel
    D'Addario XL160s - for a more aggressive sound.
     
  6. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

    Aug 12, 2005
    Willow Street, PA
    Beta tester for Positive Grid
    Yeah, I think that's what it comes down to, experimentation.

    I've been totally happy with every set I've tried so far on this particular bass. Maybe it's just a "grass is greener" complex.
     
  7. king_biscuit

    king_biscuit Supporting Member

    May 21, 2006
    US
    I don't think you are in the minority. They do work great on fretless, though.
     
  8. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

    Aug 12, 2005
    Willow Street, PA
    Beta tester for Positive Grid
    Update. Last night I jammed with a classic rock band. My bass vanished in the mix, had some cool grind but when everyone else played I just disappeared.

    Today, the flats go back on.
     
  9. madbassplaya

    madbassplaya

    Dec 28, 2007
    Give Dunlop Nickels a try. I found them to be a good string on a P bass that I had. KJung does too from what I've seen him post on here.
     
  10. f.c.geil

    f.c.geil

    May 12, 2011
    Three best strings in a mix, IME (in no particular order): LaBella 760, TI Jazz Flats, Sadowsky Black Label Flats. I have the Sadowskys on right now, and may be going back to the LaBellas. I think I like them just a bit better in the mix. Soloed, the Sadowskys are better. Decisions, decisions...
     
  11. kraigo

    kraigo

    Jun 21, 2007
    Minneapolis, MN
    I'll second the recommendation for GHS Precision Flats. I've got either Precision Flats or Lakland Joe Osborns (OEMed by GHS, a slight variation from GHS Precision Flats) on all of my basses.

    KO
     
  12. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

    Aug 12, 2005
    Willow Street, PA
    Beta tester for Positive Grid
    The thing that really bugs me is that my local GC only stocks about 3 different kinds of flats at any given time, so every time I wanna experiment with different strings, I have to order them online.

    I really gotta get over this instant gratification. I'm gonna stick with the D'Addarios for now, at least until I wear them out a bit. It's a waste to change them now, they only have three days on them.

    My next set will either be the GHS Precision Flats, or TI's because I've been dying to try them.

    Funny, a year ago I was ALL rounds, all the time. Now, a bass without flats just doesn't sound right to my ears.

    Something else I should probably point out is that I'm not necessarily looking for a "vintagey" tone, I just prefer the feel and sound of flats.

    I still play rock and dance music, and sometimes worship or even metal and country. So having a nice top end to the sound is critical, even if it is accomplished with creative EQ.

    And yes, I slap occasionally. I actually prefer the sound of flats for slap.
     
  13. f.c.geil

    f.c.geil

    May 12, 2011
    I'd also remind you that some basses want certain strings. Chromes are well thought of around here, but sound horrid on my P Bass, for example.

    If you're looking for a more rock sound in a flat, then I'd strongly suggest Rotosound 77s. I absolutely love the sound of them, I just didn't like the tension - maybe I should have tried a lighter gauge...
     
  14. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

    Aug 12, 2005
    Willow Street, PA
    Beta tester for Positive Grid
    I totally agree with this. The bass in question is a 2011 60th Anniversary P, and it really just doesn't seem to like rounds.

    Not a fan of Roto 77's. I don't mind high tension but they are ridiculous.

    This bass really likes Chromes. Only reason I took them off was to try something different. I also liked the stock rounds that it came with, and DR Low Riders were pretty good sounding. But overall, so far the Chromes are the winners.
     
  15. u84six

    u84six Nobody panic, the bass player is here! Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2006
    US
    Personally, if I were playing metal or really hard rock, I definitely wouldn't use flats (and I'm generally a flat user, but don't play metal). The problem that bassists have with metal bands is that there's usually competing bass frequencies coming from the guitars. If your guitarists refuse to cut back on the bass so that your bass frequency can cut through, you're better off focusing on your mid-range and try to get more of a grinding, overdrive sound instead of pure deep bass. With flats, your sound will start off with a more rounded tone (like an upright bass). That's not something that generally works with competing bass frequencies. I would string my bass up with very bright rounds (the kind you would use for slap/funk, like bright steels), adjust my tone so there's less bass and more mids, add some overdrive, and boost the volume a bit. Pretty much any stainless steel rounds will do the trick. And you might even want to consider a lighter gauge than you would normally choose (e.g. D'Addario ProSteels .045 .065 .080 .100).
     
  16. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

    Aug 12, 2005
    Willow Street, PA
    Beta tester for Positive Grid
    I should clarify. When I said sometimes metal, that mainly happens at home or when jamming with friends. I'm not in a metal band.

    I'm actually auditioning with a pop/classic rock type band with 2 guitars and a female singer. I can see flats working just fine for this.

    They cover stuff like Crimson & Clover by Joan Jett, some Adele stuff, some oldies (where the flats will really shine). There are some songs with a harder edge, but not full out metal by any stretch.

    When I play, I use a BDDI clone (yeah, the Behringer one, I love it no matter what anyone thinks) for a little grit, but with flats, that grit doesn't really show as much as with rounds. I like both tones but I prefer flats.

    I actually only tried the P with flats setup at the beginning of this year, after over 30 years of using rounds. It was like a light suddenly came on.
     
  17. u84six

    u84six Nobody panic, the bass player is here! Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2006
    US
    I'm at the point now where I've tried pretty much every flatwound string you can get, and to my ears, Sadowsky Black Label Flats are my favorite. They have just enough brightness and thump to cut through a live mix and they are very easy on the fingers (mid tension and smooth like glass). I would recommend these to anyone who likes a flatwound string. They don't go dead and they last forever!
     
  18. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Columbia, Md
    Endorsing Artist: AlienAudio Basses
    I have Chromes on one P-bass and DR Sunbeams on another. Very pleased with both setups.
     
  19. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    Half rounds get dissed around these parts, but my P-bass craves Brite Flats. Especially 6 month old Brite Flats. Über goodie!
     
  20. They get my vote! I have a StellarTone so I can roll it all the way to the bass side and still get a fat thump for reggae and the like. If I want a string with more bass to it, I'll put on some LaBella Jamersons.

    I still haven't tried enough strings on my P-bass to settle, but I'm happy with those two.
     

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