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Roundwounds for a TI Flats lover? Flexibility, tension, tone

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by nick0, Oct 30, 2013.

  1. nick0


    Feb 19, 2013

    I've been playing TI Flats for . . . going on four years now, and I always gig the bass that has them, even when I want a bit of roundwound growl, and even though they're not on my preferred instrument. My favourite bass (pbass) has had DR Sunbeams (105-to-45, I think) on it for well over a year now, and by now I've figured out why they're not for me; close, yes, but no cigar, because of the feel. Please hear me out.

    E string: With the index finger aligned with the bridge, press the e-string down with your thumb. Note the exact amount of force you're using, the sharpness of the angle of bend at the bridge, and the gap between the E and A string. The gap is larger for the TI flats than Sunbeams. I'm not sure which is the higher tension, or more flexible string, but the Thomastiks provide better E-string control.

    G string: With the same measurement, but using finger instead of thumb, Thomastiks are more flexible. This I can see from the saddle-to-string angle, when bent. It's quite sharp for the TIs!

    So, I'm looking for a set of roundwounds with a similar beautifully balanced string-to-string tone and feel of the TIs, at the same or slightly higher perceived tension, and with a similar lush/rich tone (midrange presence?). Smoother winds are preferred, and not ones that will eat vintage-sized frets. I play 80% fingerstyle, 20% pick.

    From reading the forums, I suspect the TI flat equivalent feeling rounds are made by Warwick, Ken Smith, R Coco, Circle K, Fodera, Alembic, LaBella, another type of Thomatik . . . or maybe those new D'Addario balanced ones? I don't have the money to try them all, or even most of them. :-(

    Your recommendations please.
  2. Duckwater


    May 10, 2010
    USA, Washington
    If you like the sound your Sunbeams you can always make a custom set for balanced tension, you can make alterations to your current set based on whether you want a stiffer E string or more flexible G string(or maybe both).


    You can find the D'Addario balanced sets for as low as $12.00 a pack(before shipping). I suggest trying these out first and seeing where you want to go from there.
  3. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    TI jazz rounds.
    CapnSev, Coolhandjjl and Pier_ like this.
  4. jongor


    Jan 11, 2003
    I'm a TI flats fan too and have been using a set of the D'addario balanced tension lites for months now and love them!
  5. You might want to try Thomastik-Infeld Jazz Roundwounds.
    They have great tone, very small, smooth outer windings, internal silk and give a warm articulate sound. These strings have a low tension, are very easy to play, last a long time and that makes up for their initial high price. They are very kind to frets.
  6. nick0


    Feb 19, 2013
    Duckwater: The next Sunbeam up from a 105 on bassstringsonline is a 120. That's usually used for a B0, yeah? DR doesn't make something around a 110, do they?

    Duckwater and Jongo: K, it looks like I'll have to give those D'Addario's a try. Does the 45 in this set feel the same as a 45 in their normal XLs?

    Pimpernel Smith and 3234718: Unfortunately I've found that TI flats are the most flexible I can go for live playing. That 105 E for the DR Sunbeams is more flexible, so I'm guessing I wouldn't be able to control TI jazz rounds as well as I need to. 'call it a failing to stay cool and a lack of professionalism, but I get caught up in the moment and sometimes play a bit harder than I should. ;-) But I would really like to try these some day!

    Looking at bassstringsonline for "weird" gauges turned up a few different sets from LaBella, and Ken Smith. Has anyone compared the feel of any of these to TI flats? How do they feel string to string?
  7. Bassdude15


    Feb 26, 2013
  8. jazzercountry

    jazzercountry Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2000
    Las Vegas, NV
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland Basses
    TI Superalloy.
  9. MixBass


    Feb 23, 2006
    L.A. Harbor
    Co-founder. GrabAxe
    I like the TI rounds as well but for a more trad round I'm using these. Great string at this price.
  10. nick0


    Feb 19, 2013
    I'm definitely interested now! Say, while those tension charts are only one piece of the puzzle, would this custom set be closer to TI flats than the D'Addario balanced set? Or would it sound funny?

    Thomastik Infeld Jazz Flats
    G 043 37.03
    D 056 37.47
    A 070 31.30
    E 100 34.39

    D'Addario Custom (singles) Set
    G 042 ~37.00 lbs?
    D 055 34.69 lbs
    A 075 35.41 lbs
    E 105 38.08 lbs

    D'Addario Balanced Set
    G 045 42.52 lbs
    D 060 40.86 lbs
    A 080 40.05 lbs
    E 107 39.45 lbs

    'did some research, and apparently Ken Smiths have a floppy E-string . . . Do any TI flat players like LaBella quarter-rounds? The tight G and D sting is something I try to avoid, since I find it makes the tendinitis in my middle finger flare up, especially with grippier strings. Also, has anyone tried a DR Low-Riders set with the same gauges as the balanced D'Addario sets?
  11. Duckwater


    May 10, 2010
    USA, Washington
    I didn't examine the site well enough, sorry about that. DR nickel lo-riders have more stiffness/tension at the same gauges, they may be a good choice. I haven't tried them with the same gauges as the D'Addario balanced set, but I imagine the tension is different due to the big differences in string construction.

    Yes it does.
  12. inthebassclef

    inthebassclef Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2012
    I actually use TI Powerbass and they are just as nice feeling as the flat. I use the TI flats on my p bass and I have the TI rounds on my modulus. I must say they have they claim that they are perfectly balanced. It is actually true. The rounds have strange gauges yet they feel exactly right in their gauging. You might want to try either the Jazz rounds or the powerbass. The jazz rounds are brighter and the powerbass are a more mellow rounds. Hope this helps.
  13. jongor


    Jan 11, 2003
    I'm actually using the Super light D'Addario BT's,

    G 040 32.42
    D 055 34.69
    A 070 31.21
    E 095 31.66

    Wow, less tension than the TI flats!

    They don't feel floppy or loose thought, they have a nice bounce to them and sound great.

    I put the 107 BT set on another bass and thought they were too tight, but they sounded nice too.

  14. Stan_da_man


    Aug 29, 2006
    I have a similar question to the OP - I'm looking to put rounds on my Jazz bass but want something with the tension and feel of the TI flats. I've tried TI jazz rounds but they were too low tension for me. I was thinking Sunbeams 40-100? Or maybe D'Addario XLs 40-100. Any advice would be great.
  15. Definitely the Sunbeams (round core) over the D'A XL's (hex core).
    Or, the Dunlop Super Bright (ie Super Crunch) Nickels, which are more flexible/supple than the XL Nickels due to a smaller hex core.
  16. Stan_da_man


    Aug 29, 2006
    Ideally I'm looking for a 40-100 gauge, I've heard the Super Brights in that gauge are even lower tension than TIs? How about the normal Dunlop nickels?
  17. campbems

    campbems Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2013
    I have been a TI Flat user on all my basses and have recently found the Curt Mangan Nickel Wounds to be the best sounding and feeling strings I've ever used. Be worth a shot to look at these hand made Boutique Strings.
  18. Stan_da_man


    Aug 29, 2006
    Never heard of them TBH! What gauge would you say is the best if going from TI flats? Do they have that flex that TI gives?
  19. campbems

    campbems Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2013
    DAVID KARNS Custom XL Nickel Bass 5-String

    This is the sets I use and they are pretty close to the same tension and are perfect for me with me using a lighter touch. By far the best sounding rounds I've ever used.
  20. Coolhandjjl

    Coolhandjjl Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2010
    Best sounding rounds I ever put on. Only sold them because I am too ham fisted to be able to appreciate their flexibility/tension. Check BSO for prices.

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