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Question for Flatwound players...

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Rockit, Apr 18, 2009.

  1. Hey,

    I just started using GHS Brite Flats on my Epi Allen Woody Rumblekat for a Roots Rock gig I've been doing and I am absolutely loving the tone as is the rest of the band but man, my fingers are starting to hurt. I've got pretty good callouses from Roundwounds but after the 3rd set last night my index and pinky fingers were a little sore.

    I do a lot of slides especially up to octave notes and I was wonder what some of you use to lubricate your strings with??? I use Finger Ease normally on my Roundwound strings and it usually does the trick but it doesn't seem to work out well on the flats. I've heard everything from Vasoline to Hemp oil, what's your take?
  2. mr.hughes


    Sep 12, 2005
    Hey Rockit -

    If anything I've always found the opposite. I use D'Addario Chromes and find them very easy on the fingers -might be something to do with whatever substance is on the strings - some kind of black residue. Sorry to be of no use in your query.
  3. I have never heard anyone complain that flats were harder on their fingers than roundwounds. If you normally use a string lube, maybe the rounds allow the lube to penetrate and stay on the string, where the flats, wipe off quickly???????
  4. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Nah, there's still ways for the lube to sink in the windings on flats. But I think the best bet is to just get used to it. I too had this problem when I used flats, and playing through it turns them to calluses, and you're good to go.
  5. doktorfeelgood

    doktorfeelgood layin' it down like pavement Supporting Member

    I once saw Tab Benoit's previous bass player, Carl Dufrene, spray the whole fretboard of his Geddy Lee tribute Jazz bass with WD-40 before he started every set that night. It seemed to work for him. He was using roundwounds, too. Crazy-est thing I ever saw but he was a smokin' player, fer sure. He would keep a small can on top of his SVT and fog down the whole neck. I read somewhere that WD-40's main ingredient is fish oil.... I use it a lot around the house for a multitude of applications but never thought about using it for that. Give it a shot...Might be just what the doktor ordered....lol :D )-(
  6. Mudfuzz


    Apr 3, 2004
    I've never had this problem with flats, and I've never lubed my strings. On the other hand rounds do this to me but I don't use rounds so still no lube on the strings.
  7. msiner


    Sep 2, 2008
    Tucson, AZ
    I have seen a few complaints here on TB for ground-wound strings like the GHS Brite Flats or D'Addario Half-Rounds. The hypothesis seems to be that the grinding process leaves them feeling a bit coarse. If that is the case then maybe you would want either real flatwound strings or compression wound strings.
  8. I think what it is that even though my hands sweat a lot, the Fingerease gets wiped away after a while and the strings seem to get a little tacky from the salt in my sweat.

    I read that John Taylor of Duran Duran and Tina Weymouth from Talking Heads use a little Vasoline to help them play a little smoother. I'd also hear about an Upright guy who used a little Hemp oil on a napkin. I might try a little mineral oil and see how that works.

    I don't think I'd use WD40 as I think it's a ingredients might be a bit toxic.

    From Wikipedia:
    WD-40's main ingredients, according to U.S. Material Safety Data Sheet information, are:
    * 50%: Stoddard solvent (i.e., mineral spirits -- primarily hexane, somewhat similar to kerosene)
    * 25%: Liquified petroleum gas (presumably as a propellant; carbon dioxide is now used instead to reduce WD-40's considerable flammability)
    * 15+%: Mineral oil (light lubricating oil)
    * 10-%: Inert ingredients

    The German version of the mandatory EU safety sheet lists the following safety relevant ingredients:

    * 60-80%: Heavy Naphtha (petroleum product), hydrogen treated
    * 1-5%: Carbon dioxide

    It further lists flammability and effects to the human skin when repeatedly exposed to WD-40 as risks when using WD-40. Nitrile rubber gloves and safety glasses should be used. Water is unsuitable for extinguishing burning WD-40.

    There is a popular urban legend that the key ingredient in WD-40 is fish oil.
  9. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    If your fingers were bleeding or something, I'd say there might be a problem. Otherwise, just bear with it and develop callouses.
  10. madbassplaya


    Dec 28, 2007
    When I had flats on a jazz bass, they did give my fingers trouble when sliding. Because the string is so smooth it creates more friction I guess? I got used to it though.
  11. nemo


    Mar 19, 2004
  12. JKambing


    Aug 5, 2008
    Dude, might be to do with your set up. When I first started using flats, my fingers were chewed up pretty good, and my finger joints would hurt a little. I had a really bad setup - high action and the flats were really high tension. I tried the same brand of flats some weeks later, after I learned how to set up my bass. Never had the problem since.

    Could also be a technique problem.. When I switched to flats, I was using the same amount of (high) force, and pressing down very hard on the relatively slinky strings. However, most flats aren't too slinky, and don't need alot of finger force to press down.

    Hope I was helpful. You might want to rule out the above before you start using lubrication, as lubrication (IMO) isn't a great long term solution.
  13. I just looked up your string set on www.juststrings.com. If you are using the short scale set on your Woody, the set's gauges go from .49-.108, which is pretty thick for a short scale. This means that the tension on the strings must be fairly high, requiring more finger strength to push down. This in turn means more pressure on your fingertips. Since it is a ground wound string, and not as polished out as a regular flat, you may want to go to a more traditional flat which would be smoother.
    My Allan Woody has a set of SIT short scale rounds, but I think it would be marvelous with a set of flats. My two candidates would be a set of shortscale strings: D'Addario Chromes (45-.100) or a set of GHS Precision Flats (.45-.95). I have used both sets in the long scale versions and like them.
  14. Deacon_Blues


    Feb 11, 2007
    I currently have my three basses strung with Pyramid Golds, D'Addario Chromes and TI Jazz Flats. Out of these, I dislike the feel of the Chromes the most, and TI's aren't very far behind. The pyramids have by far the smoothest feel out of these. The other day when I was playing the bass strung with the Chromes, I noticed how the strings started to feel sticky. That don't happen with the Pyramids.
  15. I had been using D'Addario EXL 170 Roundwounds (45-100) and I liked them a lot but like I said, I really wanted to get an old school sound with this Roots Rock thing I'm doing. My Rumblekat seems to really lend itself to flats and like I said my band is really digging the sound a lot. A couple of other bass players were in the audience and they told me they loved the tone too.

    I've tried lighter gauge strings but they don't work for me so it's either medium light or medium gauges. I my have to try some regular flats now that I know I like the sound of them.

    I've use Fast Frets and I'm not really a big fan of it but I may look into it again. I have some pretty good callouses from roundwounds and my hand strength is really good because I practice 2-4 times a week and gig 4-6 times a month so it seems I'm always playing.

    My other bands is loud, straight ahead rock (ACDC, Dictators, Ramones, Stooges)so this Roots thing is not only a contrast in style but also in sounds for me.
  16. NWB


    Apr 30, 2008
    Kirkland, WA
    Go with real flats. Shouldn't be any problems.

    Also, try that bass strung with flats with the hard rock group. Both you and the band may be very pleasantly surprised!

    BTW - I did the flats on a fretless on a bit of a lark with my hard rock band. It was a completely different sound and experience than I ever expected. It sounds so good that it's became my main setup. Go figure.
  17. i've noticed this too. the pyramids are by far and away the smoothest thing i've ever touched, usually when i go to slide down a few steps i end up at the bridge by accident.

    but seriously the pyramids are properly polished (you can even see the scouring in places), and are also made of nickel which i def. think helps.

    to the OP: if your fingers are really that weedy then i suggest getting some tape wounds.
  18. whitespike


    Nov 28, 2007
    Austin, TX
    ROundwounds kill muy fingers. Just opposite. Flat were stiff and weird at first. Break them in and they'll give some and you'll get used to them.
  19. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    I think it's just a case of your fingers getting used to the strings you play. I've never had any problem with flats, but rounds do tend to irritate my fingertips after extended play. there's no lube or work-around needed - just get used to them.

    I mostly use LaBella Deep Talkin' flats, but I also use D'Addario Chromes and Roto 77's. I like them all.
  20. I had the bright flats on my P for a long time, Liked the sound but never liked the feel.
    Ground wound strings just feel weird to me.
    Fast fret helps some.


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