Roundwounds and flatwounds

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Gunnar Þór, Dec 8, 2001.

  1. Can somebody tell me what the visual and sonic difference between roundwounds and flatwound strings are? If there are other kinds of strings then please tell me about those as well. I'm asking because I saw a beautiful used Rick 4001V63 for close to nothing today* and I want to be able to tell what strings are on that thing, I also heard that you can't string a pre-4003 Rick with roundwounds, anyone want to comment on that?

    *I knew more about the thing than the clerk did (having a Rick is a dream of mine), the look on his face when I told him the model, that it was a reissue and offered to check out what year it was manufactured was awsome! :D
  2. DO - A - SEARCH.

  3. Greetings, Gunnar!


    I am a proud owner of a V63 as well. Yes you can use roundwounds; the V63 is a reissue of the 1963 4001C, but the difference is that the reissue has the dual truss rods and was designed to work with rounds or flats, whichever you prefer.
    In fact, it comes with nickel rounds stock from the factory.

    Visually, in a lot of cases, you really won't see much difference between a flat and a round unless you look closely.

    Sonically, rounds tend to be brighter, have more finger noise (squeaks), great sustain, more upper harmonics. Perhaps more aggressive. It's a subjective thing.
    Rounds tend to have more of a fundamental thump, GENERALLY not as much sustain, and usually not as much high end. A smooth sound. No finger noise. They have a smoother feel. Tension varies depending on the brand....Fender flats are high tension, TI Flats are lower tension.

    To hear flats on a Rick, listen to McCartney on Sgt. Pepper, or much of his work with Wings.

    You can also hear some TI Jazz Flats on my song "Ethereal Funk". Just click on my link at the bottom of this post. That's my Precision Bass strung with the flats, played fingerstyle, then I switch to slap at the end. The TI's are the best flats I have ever used. :)

    Also, you can hear my Rickenbacker on the tracks "Disconnected Strings" and "Auld Lang Syne".

    My Rick is strung with Rickenbacker nickel rounds, but I'll be switching to TI's nickel rounds at the next change. I don't personally dig flats on Ricks.
  4. Thanks for the advice, that Rick of yours is a beautiful thing. Too bad it'll take me around 2 months to come up with the money for the one I like, let's just hope it won't be sold until then. Again, thanks for the advice.
  5. RicMeister

    RicMeister Guest

    Nov 25, 2001
    Hi Gunnar-- I'm just the opposite of Slaphappy. I have a set of Pyramid Gold flatwounds on my Ric 4003 and love 'em! Rickenbackers are well known for their prominent mid-range and high end. Flatwounds can make the overall tone of a Ric more even, with a bit more pronounced bottom end. However, it just depends on what you want.

    I've talked quite a bit about Pyramid Gold in many of my other posts, and it probably makes me sound like a walking advertisement for that brand. But it's difficult to overhype the quality of these strings. They really are the best I've ever used. I haven't had a chance to try the Thomastik-Infelds yet, but I HAVE tried their acoustic guitar strings and they are very high quality. So I'm guessing that the T-I bass strings are right up there with the Pyramid Gold. You couldn't go wrong with either brand.

    Slaphappy-- That IS a beautiful Ric!! I'm envious! My Ric 4003 is a mapleglo model, so it's similar to yours. But I've always loved that vintage horse shoe pickup. I bow down before your Ric!!!!
  6. Thanks, Ricmeister :)

    The reputation of Pyramid Golds precede themselves. McCartney used them on his, so there you go. Sounds really cool, just not for me on my Rick. I love my TI Flats on my Precision, and will likely put another set of them on my Jazz as well.

    Again, it's all in the tone you want. Experimentation will likely be necessary :)
  7. I'll check out those Pyramid Gold strings next when I have to get new ones. I have my P-Bass copy (first ever bass) strung with D'Addario "Slowounds" (Same as roundwounds, wound real slow, or so the packaging says) are those any good?
  8. RicMeister

    RicMeister Guest

    Nov 25, 2001
    Gunnar-- Sorry, but I can't give you any kind of opinion on the D'Addario Slow wound strings. I don't play round wounds of any brand anymore, and I don't know of anyone who has played the Slow wounds. I tend to believe that D'Addario makes very good quality bass strings, and I know several guys who really like their acoustic guitar strings. But stay away from D'Addario electric guitar strings. They SUCK!
  9. Thomguy


    Oct 15, 2001
    New York, USA
    Do the strings have a certain color wrap on the ends? Perhaps I can narrow it down with a little description.

    As to your question: Visually, you can see the flat ribbon of the outer winding (especially the low E & B) on flatwounds, they feel smooth when you run a finger up and down them, no finger noise. Sonically, flats are "thuddier", less distortion, "dryer", "woodier" "smooth" (Jamerson, Carol Kaye, motown vibe) Rounds are typically "crisper", "punchier" with higher output and usually deliver some distortion.

    Remember to compare apples to apples, however. If you compare nickel rounds to stainless steel flats from two different manufacturers, many of my stsements would be misleading. Then again, it's tough to define tone in words. Like the old quote, "Talking about a piece of music is a lot like dancing about a sculpture."

    BTW, Slaphappy; NICE Ric! Glad you like our strings!
  10. AndersK2


    Sep 11, 2000
    Hej Gunnar!
    D'Addario Slowounds are the best strings I have tested so far. They have a very mellow and rather dark sound, that I like.
    I don't like metallic sound in my strings.
    If you would like a little brighter sound, try D'Addario XL's or Earnie Ball Slinky.
    Of course strings age and needs replacing with time and the difference between new and old ones can be striking, as you maybe already know.
  11. Thanks, Kevin! I was wondering when you were going to help us out, here :)

    BTW, I'm aka Dan the Speakerman at the Pit and FDP :)
  12. Thomguy


    Oct 15, 2001
    New York, USA
    Happy to help, Dan, er.. S.H. and good to see you!

    Typically I'm around more frequently and try not to keep folks waiting too long but this time of year is hard on time with budget and R&D meetings, etc. Good group here though...
  13. Thomguy: My strings have a color wrapping at the end of them, E's red, A's blue, D's black and G's green. At the other end of all of them is a blue wrapping that made getting the E string through the bridge take ages. Not that I don't like the strings, but those are the only ones I've really tried on my bass (I bought it used and the ones that were on it were so old they hardly made a sound). I'm visiting the US soon, however, so I'll be able to pick up some flatwounds and tapewound strings, I really want to get a feel for them. I'm thinking about Pyramid gold flatwounds (based on what Ricmeister posted) and I'm open to all recommendations on tapewounds.
  14. Thomguy


    Oct 15, 2001
    New York, USA
    Well, we don't make tapewounds, so for those I think LaBella is the ticket, anyone care to confirm or suggest another tape? I have little experience with tape's.

    As for you color-coded strings, they sound like D'Adarrio slow wounds. They used to color code the ball ends, which originally were solid balls. Then they changed to a more typical ferrule-end and color coded the wraps. If you're going with the Pyramids flats, I think you're in for a treat! I personally don't think they're as nice as the Thom's, but, then again, I'm biased ;-)