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Question about usage of flat wound strings

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by skaine, Oct 22, 2019.

  1. skaine


    Dec 11, 2014
    Today i had a conversation with a guitarist friend who mostly plays blues and an experienced one.

    He told me that he prefers jazz bass rather than precison bass in a band. Not trying to start a jazz bass vs precison bass debate here by the way. Thats not my point.

    I asked him why and he told me that P basses have more heavy and punchy sound compared to jazz basses, so his guitar sound disappears in that punchy sound. Because of that he prefers more round and warm sound that his guitar sound can be heard better.

    I can hardly tell detailed stories in English due to my limited grammar and vocabulary, but it was like:

    If a punchy P bass is a square with corners, so does his guitar sound. When played together two cornered sounds doesnt go well together, so he needs circles or ellipses instead of cornered sounds.

    He told me this in a technical way of course, but i cant completely explain the details correctly :)

    Back to my question, as far as i know there are many bass guitarists using P bass without a problem in a band, especially in a blues band.

    So i wonder is this the reason people use flats in order to decrease that punch and get a warmer sound? What else should i consider in that matter?
  2. A P bass' sound is more felt than heard in my opinion, a Jazz bass is the opposite; it's more heard than felt.

    Their two sounds can overlap depending on EQ, strings and playing technique, but essentially that's it.

    When you put flats on a P bass, it sounds thumpier, and sits further back in the mix, a Jazz will do the same, but since it naturally sits farther forward in the mix, flats push it back less, and this may sound better to some players.

    Different strokes, different folks.

    By the way, your English is very good. ;)

  3. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Song Surgeon slow downer. https://tinyurl.com/y5dcuqjg
    P with flats is standard for blues bands, not that other basses due fine with flats.

    I would question whether the guitar player's tone is too bassy since "his guitar sound disappears in that punchy sound".

    Is he referring to P bass with round wound strings?

    Also, playing a J with dead flats with the neck pup off and over the bridge pup will get you close to a P tone.

    Are you asking whether you should put flats on your bass? Yes, especially for blues.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2019
    dagrev, Kukulkan61, Thibby and 6 others like this.
  4. skaine


    Dec 11, 2014
    Thanks very much, now i got it.
  5. MobileHolmes

    MobileHolmes I used to be BassoP

    Nov 4, 2006
    That just seems pretty specific, and weird. I get that a J and P are different (I own both) but they aren't really all that far apart tone wise, and with EQ, and different pickup blends on the J, they both have quite a few sounds in them.
    Wisebass, Minimalist, JRA and 4 others like this.
  6. skaine


    Dec 11, 2014
    Yes for blues only. He didnt tell about the string choice, he made a general statement, also it didnt come to my mind to ask if he has a bassy sound. I wanted to hear the bass guitarist side of the story from people who are more experienced than me :)
  7. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    I doubt this guitar player can tell the difference between the two without looking.
  8. This thought just came to me: it also depends on the volume ratio between the guitar and bass.

    If the bass is very loud, it can start to swallow up a guitar if the guitar isn't that loud.

    What do you all think?

    drumvsbass likes this.
  9. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    Well, yeah. And vice versa.

    I think this guitarist is making a generality from his own specific experiences. Not valid.
    Wisebass, Reiska, jfh2112 and 3 others like this.
  10. godofthunder59

    godofthunder59 God of Thunder and Rock and Roll Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2006
    Rochester NY USA
    Endorsing Cataldo Basses, Whirlwind products, Thunderbucker pickups
    The last person I would take input from is a guitar player.
  11. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2006
    Wisebass, Low84, JRA and 1 other person like this.
  12. DavidEdenAria


    Dec 13, 2013
    On a Hill
    Too many other factors involved...what is the guitarists rig? Watts, size and number of speakers? Sure a J bass on the bridge pickup can really cut but strings make a huge difference on any bass....does the bassist use exactly the same sound all night? Does the guitarist do the same?

    Unless you have effects on a P bass and a channel switching amp etc, a P bass will not get quite the variety of sounds of a J bass...but many J players i see in blues bands rarely touch the pickup settings...who knows? But i say they can overlap.

    Another thing, what kind of blues sound? I saw many Chicago blues acts in the 70's with a variety of basses and amp rigs....the tone was often pushed hard and it varied a LOT, likely getting into speaker distortion...it changed in the 80's for sure.
  13. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    I've never seen a P bass with square corners. Is he playing a Bo Diddly guitar?
  14. klokker


    Jan 7, 2009
    Steele City, NE
    Right. The generalizations your guitar player is making are way too broad. Also the notion that a P bass is "felt" and a jazz bass is "heard" is far too broad a generalization as well. Way too many factors to consider.

    A P bass does have a distinctive sound that can sit in the mix a little differently, but its not automatic. Both round wound and flat wound strings can be round and warm. Depending on the flat, flats tend to have less high end than rounds and in some situations don't cut through as well as a result. High end can help you cut through even when you don't hear it in the mix.

    It's impossible to really say what's going on here. My guess is that your guitar player wants to hear his guitar in the band like he hears it on its own, and that's just not the real world. Hard to know.
  15. I think your guitarist is speaking out of his derrier. As most do at times.
    Cheez, bigswifty1, Holdsg and 4 others like this.
  16. DavidEdenAria


    Dec 13, 2013
    On a Hill
    I know the kind you're talking about LOL! Guitarists argue about 'bedroom vs. live tone' and i tell them its the same, my 71 Marshall Smallbox 50 on 10 and use the dang guitar volume and tone controls !

    The best guitarists actually listen to the live mixes of the BAND from the board or whatever....what works in a given venue varies a lot...hopefully the sound guy (or girl) knows what to do and the monitors etc.
  17. dramatwist


    Sep 27, 2019
    ...stuff is WAY overthunk around here, often based on offhand comments... if you don't look, I defy you to hear the difference between a Jazz and a P...
  18. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    Any guitar and guitarist, paired with any bass and bassist, can make their combo of instruments work, if they listen to each other, and are willing to change their sounds and how they play to complement what the other one is doing. But yes, changing instruments is sometimes a good tweak - sometimes a P will work better, sometimes a J will work better. It's also possible that a (looks around to see if anyone is watching) non Fender bass might be just the ticket at times.

    I have personally played blues (In Chicago blues clubs) with a metal necked Kramer with rounds. Yes, heresy to some, but it's not always the instrument that makes the tone.
    Cheez, TylerJ, Wisebass and 8 others like this.
  19. bearfoot


    Jan 27, 2005
    Chittenango, NY
    The guitarists' general description sounds accurate to me. A guitar sound with a lot of low mids may muddy up with a P bass, but this depends also on the P-bass pickup, its electronics, string type, and tone knob position.

    If this is a prelude to working with a guitarist that will not compromise on tone or frequency space, I'd take it as a yellow flag. Especially if I didn't own a jazz bass already, which I don't.

    A professional guitarist will make the necessary adjustments without controversy or drama, and still get "their sound". As will a bassist. But merely stating a preference is ok with me. It is interesting though how that shoe is never on the other foot. How many bassists tell their guitarists not to play humbuckers, because you prefer a single coil tone from the other musician? That pretty much never happens.

    As long as its a conversation between adults, it shouldn't be the prelude to a problem.
    Brocephus, Jeff Scott, skaine and 2 others like this.
  20. klokker


    Jan 7, 2009
    Steele City, NE
    Hmm. I agree if you're listening to the whole band mix. However, I think I could hear the difference, all things being equal, if they were played on their own.
    Element Zero, bhendrix and dramatwist like this.

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