New strings! Flats! Short scales! Oh my!

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by HelpImaRock, Jun 15, 2019.

  1. It might be time to change strings. I've primarily been a guitarist for the past 30 years and it's easy to tell on guitar when you need new strings. They're dirty and don't hold tune. Or, you've broken them. Or you have a gig. Bass I'm still getting used to.

    My previous two bands were in NYC and I was always playing out of different backline rigs of various quality. I took about 2 years off of bass as we geared up for, and then moved to NorCal. Now I'm back in a band and playing my own rig for the first time. And with that noticing how I'd like to sound and how my technique, bass, and rig may not be providing that.

    The reason I think it's time to change strings is because there's a hollowness to the notes as I go up the fretboard. Now this may be just how this bass sounds, and I never noticed it before. There doesn't seem to be a lack of sustain and they still stay in tune wonderfully.

    The bass is a prototype for the Reverend Mike Watt sig I lucked into 5 years ago. It's a 30" scale toploader, and the bridge on mine has no string through option. It came with D'Addario roundwounds which I disliked greatly. I ended up with a set of LaBella 760RL short scale roundwounds, 41-106. I'm now in my third band with it, and thinking it's time to change strings. I could just get the same set, but I'm open to other options.

    Previous to the Reverend, I owned an MIM Precision and a Danelectro '63ri short scale. I remember loving the change from rounds to flats on both of those instruments. I'm pretty sure I did the LaBella 43-104 set on each, but it's been so long, I can't remember. I like LaBellas because while they're not exactly balanced tension, they're better than the previously mentioned D'Addarios I was playing. D'Addario bass strings seem to have a ton of tension on the G, and they get floppier as the gauges go up. I really hate that. On the LaBellas, yes there's some more tension on the G. But the other strings aren't a floppy mess.

    In the past 5 years there's been some new options that have come out. On guitar, I use Dunlop rounds. And because I grew up with unbalanced strings, it's just something I work with. Dunlops aren't any better or worse than D'Addarios, but they are different. I noticed they've come out with a set of flats for short scale, but I have no idea about how the tension is balanced.

    So I'm interested in your thoughts. About new strings. About moving to flats for a third time. About new other options that are short enough for a toploader only bridge (which takes TI out of the running). Thanks for reading!
  2. Looking into this further, I've discovered the strings I currently play are no longer offered by LaBella. So it seems that if I'm intent on changing strings, even if I want new rounds, I'll have to find a new set to play. I'm not happy about it at all. But thems the breaks. I'll try calling LaBella tomorrow morning for a recommendation.
  3. Predictably, LaBella recommended the 43-104 flatwound set. I called Dunlop and left a message, but nobody got back to me.
  4. Leo Thunder

    Leo Thunder

    Sep 27, 2018
    I don't know what "hollowness" means but if tuning and intonation hold, the strings should be fine.
    I clean my strings by leaving them to soak in 95% alcohol for 24 hours (12 hours work too, I just found 24 make a difference). It does wonders on roundwound strings but also restores the edge on flatwound, albeit not in such a spectacular way. Maybe that is worth trying first. Of course, a spare set of strings would be good to have and possibly answer the question about "hollowness" being a real change or just a sudden perception.

  5. I think there's a lot of different factors going on with my tone and I'm learning how to harness it. Cleaning my strings is definitely a good thought. Though there's part of me that says these strings will stop holding tune eventually, and why not just switch to flatwounds now.
  6. Leo Thunder

    Leo Thunder

    Sep 27, 2018
    Yes, they will wear out with use just like a pair of jeans but it will take many cleaning cycles before anything becomes noticeable.
    Of course, if you want different strings, you do it now.
  7. Interesting observation. I bought a new compressor and it brought the A, D, and G strings some added brilliance. However, the E sounds thumpier than it did before. I know E string thumpiness is a thing with short scales but it's interesting to hear that gap widened by a pedal.