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One step brighter than Flatwounds for recording

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Sam Miller, Dec 5, 2020.

  1. Sam Miller

    Sam Miller

    Dec 5, 2020
    I currently have La Bella LTF-4A Flatwounds on my vintage Rickenbacker. I love soft, warm sound live through a bass amp, but not so much for home recording, where you have to consider how the mix sounds through smaller speakers. I end up trying to get more definition out of the bass post-recording through adding subtle distortion and boosting the highs, but the bass still sounds a little flat, lifeless, undefined, lost in a mix when translated to smaller speakers. In the hands of a skilled engineer, I suspect you can make any type of strings work. However, I am just a humble home recording dude.

    I am thinking of switching strings, but I find many roundwounds too bright for my liking. Any suggestions for a type and brand of string that is a little brighter, richer mid/high timbre, than flatwounds but still retains most of their warmth and silky feel---in other words, a string sound somewhere between the usual round and flatwound types? Nickel-plated, tapedwound? What type and brand of strings would you suggest.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2020
  2. ShawnG

    ShawnG Supporting Member

    May 2, 2020
    Ft Worth, TX
    I would suggest giving EB Cobalt Flats a try.
    IMO, they are their own beast, somewhere between “normal” flats and rounds.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2020
  3. Sam Miller

    Sam Miller

    Dec 5, 2020
    Thanks ShawnG for you suggestion. I'll look into Cobalts. One thing I should add is that I chose La Bella strings, because they are lower-tension than usual flatwounds, better on a thinner neck. What is the tension like on EB Cobalts?
  4. AboutSweetSue


    Sep 29, 2018
    I’ve never used Pressure Wounds but I guarantee they’ll get the nod. Cobalts are about two or three steps from La Bella...Fender 9050s are a solid option.

    1. Fender 9050 (More mids, retains good bottom)
    2. TI Jazz Flats (A bit out there. They nail that mid content and upper but lose the low end...)
    3. GHS Brite Flats (Good all around string)
    4. I hate Chromes. Sounds like you’re playing through a tin can.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2020
    J_Bass and sonojono like this.
  5. ceesaar00


    May 17, 2017
    Yes. Cobalt Flats.
    They are lower tension than regular flats.

  6. CallMeAl


    Dec 2, 2016
    Ithaca Ny
    I like Fender 9050 and Chomes for “bright flats,” especially when new.

    Pressurewounds have a great mid punch and growl, possibly the sound you’re looking for, but I wouldn’t really say they have a “silky feel.”

    I like flats with a little distortion, but bump the lo mids

    Another thought, If you have some rounds lying around, Eucerin + Rounds = juicy broken in goodness
    Eucerin Skin Cream Kills Strings DEAD!!!
  7. sonojono

    sonojono Supporting Member

    Bright flats?

    Cobalt Flats. Just watch out for your arm hairs!!
  8. burgerdj


    Dec 4, 2006
    +1000 on Cobalt Flats. You likely won’t go back to roundwounds.
    franvarin and Low Crow like this.
  9. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Mill Valley, CA
    I would have also recommended Chromes for the brightness issue, but they are not low tension.
    Mvilmany likes this.
  10. Adienn7


    Jan 26, 2007
    cheap round wounds.. but tape your fingers.. and play with a pick..
  11. Sam Miller

    Sam Miller

    Dec 5, 2020
    From Ernie's website, "Ernie Ball Slinky Flatwound Bass Strings combine the smooth feel of traditional flats and the power of Cobalt. Featuring a SuperBright Cobalt ribbon wrap, Cobalt underwraps, and optimal hex-core to wrap ratio, the new Flatwound Bass strings are the first flat that actually feels like a flat and sounds like a round." Seems that is the sound I am looking for.
  12. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's

    +1 for Pressurewounds. Really the best compromise between flats and rounds. Chromes to my ear are very mid heavy and honky. I found the LTFs to be a bit less bright than the T.I.'s that I have gone back to for flats.
    e-flat, 2milehighspike and Jonathan C like this.
  13. GBassNorth


    Dec 23, 2006
    Cobalt Flats should give you the sound you're after. I have them on several basses for the exact same reason you're mentioning. Just a note on the Cobalts - some (very few) people I know report getting sore fingers playing them, might be a Cobalt alergy or might be the way the strings are wound. I've never had any problems with them. If you need to go a step brighter than Cobalts there's always Chrome flats but they are an acquired taste. I have them on one bass and it's sounds really good in some mixes but not so good in others.
    franvarin likes this.
  14. Sam Miller

    Sam Miller

    Dec 5, 2020
    What brand of Pressurewounds do you suggest?
  15. Sam Miller

    Sam Miller

    Dec 5, 2020
    Good to know. In another forum, someone brought up that sometimes the Cobalt Flats feel sticky? Maybe a reaction to the person's sweat? Odd, eh? EB extra slinky cobalt flats, randomly get sticky during gig!
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2020
    GBassNorth likes this.
  16. I'll throw out a suggestion for GHS pressurewounds. They have a round-wound like brightness at first but, once they settle in, are a good compromise between flats and rounds.
    petch and staurosjohn like this.
  17. spantini


    Jun 13, 2020
    Lakeland, FL USA
    I'm using La Bella 0760M .052-.110.

    If you're recording into a DAW, you could try experimenting with adding a duplicate track and re-amping that through a guitar amp sim. Finding the right one will really clean up the sound which you can lightly blend with the original.
  18. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    Another vote for GHS Pressurewounds. They're precisely the thing for when you don't want rounds or flats.
  19. S.F.Sorrow


    Dec 6, 2014
    If you want definition when mixing bass you shouldn't boost the highs but the mids. Mids can of course mean anything from 200Hz to 3kHz (or even wider depending on who you ask) but depnding on the song/genre I would try somewhere between 700Hz to 1.5kHz for definition. Remember to eq the bass IN THE CONTEXT OF THE MIX, not soloed. That's the mistake most people make when mixing/eq'ing bass: The settings where the bass sounds best soloed is practically never the settings that actually work in the mix.

    If you still want new strings there's always pure nickel roundwounds. They're almost as warm/smooth sounding as flats but generally have a bit more upper mid presence. They don't have the THUMPY character of flats though, they behave very much like roundwounds. My favourites are the Pyramid Pure Nickels closely followed by the GHS Balanced Nickels. Both are great. The Pyramids have a long break in period before they sound great so if you want fast results the GHS Balanced Nickels are the best choice.

    If you want flatwounds with more upper mid presence the TI Jazz Flats are great. In fact, they are my favourite strings EVER. They have very loose tension and may seem a bit lacking in the lows until you get used to them and realize that they're actually PERFECTLY balanced. I can't think of any other bass strings that sit better in the mix than the TI Jazz Flats. Still, they are so unique and utterly different from any other strings out there that they're not for everyone. It's very much love or hate with the TI Jazz Flats.

    I've never found a "halfway" type of strings I liked. Bright flats, pressurewounds, groundwounds, half-rounds... whatever they are called they all sound horrible to me but lots of people like them so YMMV.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2020
    uwrossl and e-flat like this.
  20. krfoss

    krfoss Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2007
    Orange County, CA
    I just out roto sound 77s on my p bass and am enjoying the sound. A little brighter, but still full.
    molteni likes this.
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