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P-Bass: Round, Flat, Half?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Epac, May 4, 2012.

  1. Epac


    Jan 6, 2010
    Bronx, NY
    I should probably make this a poll, but I was just wondering...as a P-tone is something both deeply personal and universal, both a workhorse and a exotic bird in different settings and creeds...what is the right style of string to use, in your own opinion?

    I'm just getting into the P-world...bought one a few months ago, and been digging into it...got a great opportunity to pick up an American at a great price. Put some flatwounds on it, mostly cause I'm a big pino-jameson fan and love that type of playing...tried some rotosound swing 77s on there, then some chromes. Both cool for a minute, but gradually fell out of favor with me because to my ears they have somewhat of an overly-mid-focused sound, where I like to get more clarity in the lights and highs. Would love to be able to keep that sweet old school sound with more definition/clarity, and was thinking about either trying ghs precision rounds as they are the talk of the town on these threads...also thinking about throwing some rounds on them. As I am not in the financial position to experiment widely, thought I'd come on my favorite forum and see what flavors of P were out there...

    I'm assuming most of yall P-dudes out there use flats, it'd be interesting to hear some testimonials through of people rocking rounds or halfs regularly...I've always liked alot of definition, clarity, lows and highs in my sound, which explains why I'm thinking of going with rounds or half-rounds...

  2. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

    Aug 12, 2005
    Willow Street, PA
    Beta tester for Positive Grid
    I currently have 3 different P-basses: an MIA split coil, a single coil 54 copy, and a budget split coil.
    All wear Chromes. The MIA, however, has been fighting them. The 54 sounds fantastic with flats, as does the budget one, but the MIA struggles. It gets a good tone, but I can't help but miss the tone I was getting with the factory rounds.

    I've got the Chromes just about worn in, but the fresh set of stainless Lo-Riders sitting in the case are just begging for a little playtime. I've been debating it for about a week, and I think today may be the day.
  3. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    If you've got three P-basses, it seems like a no-brainer to me: Flats on the '54, flats on the budget split and nickel rounds on the MIA. Now you've got all the 'basses' covered.

    EDIT: I guess that's not really what you were asking was it? For me, personally, a P with flats and a P with rounds are almost like two different basses altogether. In a straight-up rock or pop setting, I'd probably consider rounds to be "classic P-bass", but if it was blues or soul; flats.
  4. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

    Aug 12, 2005
    Willow Street, PA
    Beta tester for Positive Grid
    And a fourth soon to be built. I'm in the middle of another build, but when it's finished, my next project is a slab body SCPB.

    And lovin it. My biggest problem is always deciding which one to play. I tend to lean towards the MIA for most stuff, but I'm filling in with a country band right now, and the 54 is just so perfect for this band. The single coil is so thumpy and LOUD, even though it's a cheaper bass than the MIA, it gets ALOT of play.

    Definitely two very distinct tones. Flats work just fine for the rock stuff, too. Especially Chromes, as they tend to be brighter than most flats. What I really love about them is how low I can set my action since they have a higher tension than rounds.
  5. klokker


    Jan 7, 2009
    Steele City, NE
    My band is bass, guitar, keys, drums........straight ahead classic rock. For our sound, rounds work better than flats....more aggressive and defined etc. IMO. I use nickel lo-roders......like the high tension etc.

    Can't explain it, but a more modern tone works better in our band than vintage. Sits in the mix better.
  6. NKBassman

    NKBassman Lvl 10 Nerd Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2009
    Winnipeg, MB, Canada
    I have two P-basses at the moment, one with flats and one with Rotosound RS66. Both sound awesome.
  7. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    I love the sound of ground rounds (Brite Flats) on my Hoppus P. Plenty of thud, but they get spanky when you dig in.
  8. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    I've got a set of SS Hi Beams on mine right now, but I'm going to try out some stock Fender 8250's and Roto RS66's to see which I like better.

    I'm kinda thinking that I'll prefer the nickel 8250's on it. Every time I pick up a decent P bass in a store it sounds fantastic to my ears.
  9. Root 5

    Root 5

    Nov 25, 2001
    It really does depend on the sound you want and the style of music you want to play. I personally prefer GHS Precision flats on my P-basses.

    If I was you and wanted a string that can cover the most sonic ground, I'd be looking at either GHS Brite Flats or D'Addario Half Rounds.

    The D'Addario strings are pure nickel and have a warmer tone; the GHS are pure nickel with some iron alloy and have a slightly brighter tone.

    Another option is to buy pure nickel roundwounds. NPS is okay, too. By adjusting your right hand & the onboard controls - you can get decent 'Motown' thump and the brightness for punk, or whatever!
  10. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

    Aug 12, 2005
    Willow Street, PA
    Beta tester for Positive Grid
    I just broke down and installed the Lo-Riders. Put the Chromes away for another time.

    The change to rounds is a major difference. Really reminds me of the sound that the bass had when I first got it. It had the stock Fender strings, and I played them until they were toast. Great rock sound.

    The DR's are that sound to me. Nice and bright where they need to be, but still able to thump pretty well when needed. The only thing I see being an issue is when they start to go dead, it'll make me crazy and the Chromes will come back out to play.
  11. Catbuster


    Aug 25, 2010
    Louisville, KY.
    Ballsy steel rounds until the end for me. Rotosound 66 are what do it for me.
  12. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Intergalactic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon sofware
    How about dead ground wounds?

    Set your amp a bit bright and roll off the treble on the bass. Roll up the treble for some spank when you need it.
  13. Epac


    Jan 6, 2010
    Bronx, NY
    That's probably what I need to do, get multiple P's! Ha, only one for now (and for the near future), so I'm going to have to get as mutable a tone as possible.

    I think this is the ticket for me. The band I'm in right now plays a variety of stuff, so I need something that can hang with loud guitars and also get nice and warm during the slower tunes. Plus, just something that sounds good to me personally and fits my playing styles. THe Chromes and the Rotosounds just ended up sounding a little too vintage, a little too thumpy...I don't know, perhaps the fact that I had the Chromes just laying on the ground opened for months (literall) cause I tried them on my J-bass and didn't like them, maybe that had something to do with their tone being weird, lol.
  14. Epac


    Jan 6, 2010
    Bronx, NY
    Any particular brand? I haven't even heard of ground wounds, ha!

  15. gary m

    gary m

    Jan 17, 2011
    Mid -Atlantic
    P basses get flats, specifically GHS precision flatwounds.
  16. cm3ohana

    cm3ohana Supporting Member

    Aug 1, 2005
    I find the D'Addario half rounds to be a good balance. The GHS Brite Flats are still on the thumpy side compared to the half rounds IME. I compared both and the Pressurewound and keep the half rounds on my bass just for the versatility. Keep on mind that it doesn't do thumpy and it doesn't do round wound bright but it's a good middle ground.


    Mar 2, 2005
    Salida, CA
    I going to be slapping some DR Sunbeams on my Ibanez RD650 Roadstar very soon. I am sure this will make for a great combo.

  18. cm3ohana

    cm3ohana Supporting Member

    Aug 1, 2005
    Love the Sunbeams....my favorite strings. I have them on three of my basses.
  19. I prefer flats, and have P-Basses that are strung with GHS precisions, Fender original flats, Chromes and LaBellas. My Lakland Duck Dunn sounds great with the stock Lakland stainless steel medium rounds, though. (I rarely change strings, and kind of like it when they go dead.)
  20. LarryO


    Apr 4, 2004
    I am all about rounds, except in a pbass. Flats all the way