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Old flats - are they still good?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by allanmac00, Mar 24, 2019.

  1. allanmac00

    allanmac00 Supporting Member

    Mar 7, 2006
    I recently scored a 78 P bass that I'm guessing went unplayed for many years due to it being in very nice condition. It came strung with what I think are Labella flats - they sound amazing, appear to be in great shape, but they are really sticky in some areas.

    Is there a general shelf-life for these type of strings? I wouldn't be surprised if these are 10 years old or more, although again they seem to been played very little. I would like to keep them, but only if the stickiness goes away. I also haven't used Labella's before so I'm not familiar with what they feel like when you're breaking them in.
    Bruiser Stone and Alehouse like this.
  2. Kro

    Kro Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    New Jersey
    If they sound good, stay in tune, and intonate well...

    They're still good! :thumbsup:
  3. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Maybe wipe them down with rubbing alcohol on a cloth to get rid of the icky stickys?
  4. Root 5

    Root 5

    Nov 25, 2001
    Canada, eh!
    IMO you can easily get 20 years out of flats, even longer. They only come into their own when they're 'old.'
    Relsom, ELG60, aldaa and 1 other person like this.
  5. At various times I have used rubbing alcohol , after shave lotion (Old Spice and Mennon skin bracer) and WD 40 to wipe down strings. WD 40 is petroleum based so try not to get it on the neck wood. Alcohol is probably best for sticky strings. The others help with sticky strings and add a bit of lubricant to make them slide better. If you don't want any additives on the strings , stick with alcohol.
  6. Intonation determines replacement
    tindrum, jamro217, petch and 2 others like this.
  7. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    The flats on my Jazz bass (DR HiBeam flats) are more than 10 years old. Still tune up fine and hold fine. Sound better every year! :D
  8. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    It's probably something that will wipe off.

    That being said, my fingers stick to steel strings like I have sticky dries syrup on my fingers. I literally can't play them well until they get a layer of oil, dirt, and fast fret worked into them.

    Do you usually play nickel strings or steel?
  9. zoonose


    Apr 4, 2005
    Alexandria, LA
    The intonation on the E on my last set of Chromes was... vague. That was my sign :)
  10. C_Becker


    Mar 30, 2017
    Check if the frets have made any divots into the strings and check for intonation.
    klyph and zoonose like this.
  11. bassfreakah


    Mar 26, 2011
    Endorsing Artist Ernie ball strings
    I love old flats!!!!! to me they have a rubbery thud that will shake the venue. Wipe them babies down with a clean damp cloth.
    walking Bass and nixdad like this.
  12. red_rhino

    red_rhino Gold Supporting Member

    Depends. If there's a greenish, furry mold growing on them, and they smell a little funny, they're probably still good. :roflmao:
  13. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    I remember the story about when James Jamerson finally broke a string, and wanted to send it back to La Bella and have it soldered back together.
    tindrum, petrus61, gepettus and 2 others like this.
  14. dan1952

    dan1952 Commercial User

    Jun 27, 2012
    Anderson IN
    Artist Endorsement with Supro Huntington Basses / Owner, Dan's Music, Inc..
    My Chromes are 10 years old, and they're just getting broke in.
    RustyAxe and Pbassmanca like this.

    MYLOWFREQ Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    New York
    That's what worked for me. I took out a fretless bass I have that sit in it's bag for 8 years and interestingly the stings were sticky. I was surprised as I cleaned the bass and the strings very well before I stored it, and it literally never got played by anyone for 8 years (I was in a different continent).
    tindrum likes this.
  16. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    Lost Wages, Nevada
    Epi EA-260 Bass.JPG In a nut shell? ^^This^^ pretty much says it... The La Bella DTFs on this old Epiphone EA-260 are at least 12 years old, and they're just fine... although the silk is looking just a little ratty...:cool:
  17. Bijoux


    Aug 13, 2001
    Yes, they are still good! ;)
  18. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    If they sound good and they hold their intonation then they are good. It takes time for new flats to break in and really open up to their full tone. Most roundwound players love to load up a new set of rounds. Flatwound players dread the day they need to change strings because of that break in period.

    Flats pretty much die when they die. You’ll know when and if yours ever need replacing. But multiple years on a single set of flats is the norm rather than the exception. I’ll easily go five plus years on mine. My oldest set of flats will be celebrating eight years of service and still going strong come this July
  19. Have had a set of RotoSounds on 2 different basses over a 6 year period...
    They still sound great...no problems w/ intonation or keeping pitch...
    I really hope these strings last forever...far and away my preferred choice to play...
    Like others have mentioned, a wipe down w/ clean cloth can remove the ‘stick’...mid gig, a wipe of a sweaty brow can get ya through the ‘stick’ for a few tunes at least...
  20. Ross W. Lovell

    Ross W. Lovell

    Oct 31, 2015

    The flats weren't good when they were new. Definitely not any better now that their old and stale.

    Not a flat fan.

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