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Pulling the dadgum trigger, need advice.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Fingerpickingood, Feb 15, 2016.


  1. Fingerpickingood

    Fingerpickingood

    Oct 30, 2014
    Texas
    :eek: I'm biting the bullet and dropping (to me) a substantial amount of cash on a high-end used fretless. I know there are TB members who can buy and sell me, but I'm a blue collar fella, so... Anywho, it's currently strung with rounds. I don't know what brand, gauge, etc. I worry about this, because I've witnessed a fair amount of vitriol regarding rounds on a fretless. Should I get flats? What brand? What gauge? (It's a fiver). What the heck are half rounds? Tape wounds? HELP!!! :eek:
     
  2. Kukulkan61

    Kukulkan61 Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2011
    Northern Arizona
    I've heard that rounds dig into the fretboard finish and that's why flats are preferred, But I think it depends on what the fretboard is made of ??
     
    Lumdingo, JLY and Fingerpickingood like this.
  3. Marko 1

    Marko 1

    Mar 9, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
    So is it safe to assume you're not experienced with fretless, or have you played plenty (and sure you're gonna love it), just never owned one or had to make this decision before?
     
  4. Kukulkan61

    Kukulkan61 Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2011
    Northern Arizona
    I owned a fretless for like a month, couldn't warm up to it so I sold the neck and put a fretted neck on it, I'm not experienced with fretless but I'm sure there are lots of players who use rounds as well...
     
    Fingerpickingood likes this.
  5. Fingerpickingood

    Fingerpickingood

    Oct 30, 2014
    Texas
    I have played this particular one quite extensively, as it has been sitting in my local GC for the past four months. I REALLY, REALLY LOVE this bass. I've been GASsing for a fretless for quite some time.
     
    superheavydeathmetal and GKon like this.
  6. Kukulkan61

    Kukulkan61 Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2011
    Northern Arizona
    If your really liking it get it and experiment with different strings...
     
    Fingerpickingood likes this.
  7. Fingerpickingood

    Fingerpickingood

    Oct 30, 2014
    Texas
    I just don't want to chew up the fretboard... Not when I'm dropping this much cash.
     
  8. Sav'nBass

    Sav'nBass Supporting Member

    Jan 18, 2009
    Northern Va.
    Halfrounds.....
     
    bigtone23 and Fingerpickingood like this.
  9. Fingerpickingood

    Fingerpickingood

    Oct 30, 2014
    Texas
    But what, precisely, ARE these half rounds???
     
  10. bassbenj

    bassbenj

    Aug 11, 2009
    The deal is this. On a fretless bass, rounds will eventually chew grooves into the fingerboard even if it's ebony and even faster if it's softer like rosewood or maple. Stainless steel rounds are the worst, nickel less so. When I got my Alembic 6er fretless I noticed the strings (which were supposed to be "pressure-wounds" immediately chewing the fingerboard. I FREAKED OUT!

    Well, to stop the chews you need strings smooth on the outside. Standard are flat-wounds. These are strings wrapped with flat metal tape and are quite smooth. They are also the dullest sounding strings of all the types. They do have a certain appeal, to many people though. The brightest you can go and still have smooth strings are ground-wounds. GHS makes them and calls them "brite flats" and D'addario makes them and used to call theirs "half-rounds". These are round-wound strings (which are strings wound with plain old round wire) that have been ground smooth on the outside. These are my favorite and "standard" fretless string because they don't chew grooves in the fingerboard and yet are reasonably bright sounding if you want that. My G&L fretless has D'addario grounds on it. My Alembic has GHS brite flats on it. Love 'em.

    Another thing to consider is nylon wrapped strings like Fender or LaBella sell. I use these on my Carvin AC50 semi-hollow body fretless. They are very smooth and nice strings with a great feel and a decent sound. Worth trying on your fretless bass. They are wrapped with nylon tape on the outside and hence are usually black with a plastic slippery feel. Since they are plastic covered they don't chew.

    And of course, lastly there are round wounds. Nothing is as bright and will sound like that. Hence, some people use them on their fretless because they want the tone. If you go that way you'll just have to figure that one day you'll have to take your bass and have the fingerboard leveled to take the grooves out. In this case you just have to consider that the "cost of doing business" to get the tone you want. It's not "vitriol", it's just how it is. How long you go between operations depends on how you play and the bass.

    A compromise between rounds and grounds are pressure-wounds. As it turns out my Alembic came with rounds though they called them pressure wounds. GHS and Ken Smith and few others make true pressure wounds. These are round-wound strings they run through rollers to sort of smooth the outside. They still chew a bit but much less than rounds. I've used them, but don't like them because I think they have a strange tone, but that is for you, not me, to decide.

    My advice would be to start with a set of ground-wound strings and then as time goes on try a set of the other types every now and then to see what you think. There are also TI flats which are said to be flexible and very nice but are quite expensive so I've never tried them.

    As to gauges I don't worry much. I just buy a standard string set (medium) and have at it. If one wants to get down to tiny nuances in strings there are places online where you can buy strings in various gauges etc. But I try not to go that far. When you get into 5 and 6 string sets availability starts to get scarce (especially locally) and prices go up! Hence, I usually just go with standard sets I can easily find. I'd decide what type of string is best on your "new" bass before I started fooling with gauges.

    Good luck.
     
  11. catcauphonic

    catcauphonic High Freak of the Low Frequencies Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2012
    Seattle WA
    Just wanted to congratulate your use of the word 'dadgum' in a thread title :thumbsup:
     
  12. Sav'nBass

    Sav'nBass Supporting Member

    Jan 18, 2009
    Northern Va.
    They are roundwounds that are flat on one side.... Go to basstringsonline.com and under category look through the various categories of strings. There is a brief description of each one.
     
    Fingerpickingood likes this.
  13. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 Life: It's sexually transmitted and always fatal Supporting Member

    ^^^|great writeup @bassbenj covers all the highpoints, fwiw I use tapes. I like the soft tension and the feel. They can be as "bright" as roundwound without the finger noise and zing. Labella makes tapes in "white" actually clear nylon tape, most others are black.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2016
  14. bassbenj

    bassbenj

    Aug 11, 2009
    And a "ground-wound" "hint". These strings when new tend to have a "sticky" feel to them. The thing to do is before you install them on the bass get some 0000 steel wool and pull the strings through it a few times to get rid of the feel.

    But DO NOT do this on the bass. And keep the operation way from your pickups! Let me tell you, picking steel wool fuzz off your pickups is no fun at all! :rollno:
     
  15. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 Life: It's sexually transmitted and always fatal Supporting Member

    Synthetic steel wool aka "scotch brite" pads work as well and there is no magnetic needles left behind. IMHO ymmv etc...
     
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  16. Fingerpickingood

    Fingerpickingood

    Oct 30, 2014
    Texas
    Thank you all so very much for your input, particularly @bassbenj. Judging from his excellent and informative write up, I think I can narrow it down to either grounds or tapes. Allow me to elucidate a bit: I am an unabashed and unapologetic metalhead. I will be using this bass in both a metal band and a rock band. The B standard tuning is perfect (I have another five as well) because the metal band plays in drop B (an easy transposition), and the rock band plays in E standard. Does this information sway your learned opinions towards either grounds or tapes?
     
    wintremute likes this.
  17. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 Life: It's sexually transmitted and always fatal Supporting Member

    You have to try them yourself, I have never gotten along with 1/2 rounds/ground wounds.
    Pressure wounds or tapes, Steve Harris acolyte here. So I'd have to also say you may find joy with Roto 775ld monel flats. Stiff as all get out but glorious when you want the clickety clack, and work well when picked.

    I'm a 50/50 5vs4 player (half 5 half 4) player, and have played in drop tuned bands as well (d natural) with the Roto flats on a 5 string corvette FNA Warwick. Had tapes on my 5 string Lakland.
    Flats and fat grit sound killer, darker but more focused than rounds.

    I must add my fave pressure wounds were SIT and Smith Compressors
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2016
    Fingerpickingood likes this.
  18. Fingerpickingood

    Fingerpickingood

    Oct 30, 2014
    Texas
    Well, I don't particularly like playing with a pick, hahaha. So there's that. And I use overdrive in both bands, courtesy of a Joyo Ultimate Drive. Only slightly more grind for the metal stuff.
     
  19. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 Life: It's sexually transmitted and always fatal Supporting Member

    Oh and if not already stated hit up @SLaPiNFuNK and request VIP status at the best bass string site in the world (and a really good dude)
    Bassstringsonline.com ask questions and he answers. Jason us the man when it comes to strings and honesty, it will save you a large amount of coin too...
    Lots of clear definitions of strings, and a HUUUUGE selection of strings all in one place. Can't lose.
     
    pudgychef and Fingerpickingood like this.
  20. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 Life: It's sexually transmitted and always fatal Supporting Member

    Well neither does 'Arris so Allright wit me mate.
    I did use a pick, and still do on occasion.
    Speed metal was just too tough for me to keep pace "back in the day" I used this 1455604945474.
    And still wear it around my neck to this day.
    Stainless steel....also homemade stone (agate) picks.
     

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