NOS Burns London Vista-Sonic Black Nylon Tapewounds

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Turbocharbo, Feb 23, 2021.


  1. Turbocharbo

    Turbocharbo

    Feb 16, 2005
    Here's something you folks might find interesting...

    I recently bought 3 sets of NOS Burns London Vista-Sonic black nylon tapewound strings manufactured by James How & Company (Rotosound). They were made in the 60s for the Burns London Jazz Bass, an instrument I own and love. I've always been a fan of that 60's sound (palm-muted pick playing / Gainsbourg etc) and thought I'd take a chance on these strings and see what they sounded like.

    Well, they feel and look awesome but all of the A / Es have these awfull overtones. I tried re-setting up my bass but alas, there is no way of working with them. No surprise as they're almost 60 year old strings. I can tell these were once great though. They're really mellow sounding and make my bass kind of sound compressed. You can dig in without it ever becoming obnoxiously loud.

    Is there anyway I could revive these or it's a lost cause? I was thinking of sending them to Pyramid in Germany to get them cloned. Could be cool to have someone copy them as I'm sure they could be awesome.
     

    Attached Files:

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  2. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    They look like they were made by Rotosound under contract. With the silk going over the bridge saddle, that makes it difficult to set a witness point for clean articulation. On some of my instruments, I use a small length of stainless steel tubing with the i.d. larger than the string so it won't bind or slip through the hole in the bridge, but thin walled so the o.d. is lesser diameter than the ball, so I can run the string through the tubing before running it through the bridge in order to move the silk back off the saddle and re-set the witness point. That might help.
     
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  3. Martin Beer

    Martin Beer

    Dec 4, 2004
    They may not be much different from modern day Rotosound 88s. Rotosound don't tend to change the formula often on their long-established lines, and I'm sure they've mentioned in their publicity somewhere that their tapewounds were originally developed for Burns.
     
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  4. farace

    farace Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2016
    Connecticut USA
    They look a lot like the Rotosound Tru-Bass strings, down to the silk color (maybe these are a touch more yellow than gold). I have a set on my Ampeg by Burns Vista Sonic Bass.

    0A37CB3C-13A6-4435-AEE3-D2921FA37F3C.jpeg
     
  5. Turbocharbo

    Turbocharbo

    Feb 16, 2005
    Although these were made by James How (Rotosound) for Burns basses, they sound and feel nothing like the modern Rotosound 88s! I've had a Jazz bass stringed with 88s for some time now. They have much larger gauges and have this "thuddy" sound to them. These OG tape wounds are much more balanced and soft sounding. I'd prefer these over the 88s if there wasn't so much of these weird overtones to the lower strings.
     
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  6. farace

    farace Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2016
    Connecticut USA
    I can’t say I’m particularly thrilled with the Rotos; I only installed them because they were developed for Burns, but to my ears the tone is uninspiring, and I’ve been meaning to replace them. With what, I haven’t decided.
     
  7. Turbocharbo

    Turbocharbo

    Feb 16, 2005
    Ive had GHS Brite flats on mine forever. The best strings for the Burns I’ve found so far.
     
    farace likes this.
  8. farace

    farace Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2016
    Connecticut USA
    I’ll give that a try. I was thinking of D’Addario XL nickels, but only because that’s my fallback when I don’t know what to try.
     
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  9. nixdad

    nixdad

    Aug 15, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    Heck, that black leatherette packet alone is worth the price of admission.
     
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  10. flatwound62p

    flatwound62p

    Apr 24, 2017
    Australia
    Have you checked for string twist? Also maybe try lowering your pickups, the tapes might have more mass than the set they replaced, so more magnetic. Just a couple of things that have caused me to get weird overtones.

    If all else fails a foam mute near the bridge kills pretty much any weird overtone. Better than throwing them in the bin anyway :thumbsup:
     
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  11. Turbocharbo

    Turbocharbo

    Feb 16, 2005
    Want to buy a set? :p
     
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  12. Turbocharbo

    Turbocharbo

    Feb 16, 2005
    I tried lowering the pickups to no avail. I can hear the overtones when I play the bass acoustically so maybe it was a string twist? How do I check for that?

    Foam mute didn’t help but palm muting the strings was the only way of getting an acceptable tone.
     
  13. nixdad

    nixdad

    Aug 15, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    I have no need, but thanks!
     
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  14. HaphAsSard

    HaphAsSard

    Dec 1, 2013
    Italia
    Detune the string (until the ball-end is free to spin), then tune it up again and listen if any change in tone has occurred.
     
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  15. farace

    farace Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2016
    Connecticut USA
    That would be cool case candy, but what I’d really like to find is the original tool for turning the truss rod gearbox shaft. I ended up making my own by taking a short length of heavy chrome tubing, bending it into an “L” shape, and squeezing one end in a vise so that it would engage the flatted end of the adjustment shaft. A gearbox embedded in the neck heel for turning the truss rod nut—Jim Burns could certainly unnecessarily over complicate things when he wanted to!
     
  16. flatwound62p

    flatwound62p

    Apr 24, 2017
    Australia
    Get the string very loose, pinch it with your thumb and forefinger just behind the nut, lift it above the nut and then run your fingers down the string all the way to the ball end. The ball needs to be able to turn freely to get a twist out, so make sure it's not catching on a saddle or anything else, take off the bridge cover if your bass has one.

    You should see the ball turning around a little bit if you do have any twist so try and eyeball it while you run your fingers down the string if it'spossible.
     
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  17. Turbocharbo

    Turbocharbo

    Feb 16, 2005
    I tried it and the strings still sound weird so the conclusion is that there is no twist.
     
  18. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
    Dec 3, 2021

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