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roundwounds on a fretless?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by tww001, Dec 15, 2004.

  1. tww001


    Aug 13, 2003
    Telford, PA
    Can I use round wound strings on my MIA Fender Fretless Deluxe Jazz? I really don't like any of the flats I've tried...tension is too high and the tone isn't bright enough. Should I be worried about tearing up my finger board? If so, any body have any suggestions for low-tension, bright flats? Or maybe some kind of half-wounds?
  2. I'm running EXL-220 rounds on my MIM-J fretless, because I got a set for free.

    They do the mwah thing nicely, but I can see where they are already chewing up the finger board. The pros say you're supposed to let it tear up, and get a board refinish when required... all part of the wear and tear on a bass. YMMV. I'm anal about this sort of thing, and it bothers me a lot.

    I'm going to remove the TI Flats from my P, and put them on the J-fretless. I think the tone will be good for fretless, and it will decelerate the finger board wear.
  3. JAL


    Dec 15, 2004
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Personally, i love Rotosound flatwounds for my Warwick fretless (105-34 red end). Ive talked to many people about the string debate, even the adjustment guy from warwick. What i have found:
    1) If you have a maple or rosewood board, it will wear faster. (All wear on a fingerboard is normal)
    2) If you have a wenge, or ebony neck, it will still wear, but much slower. The denser the wood, the better it wears.
    What type of wood is the fender?
  4. tww001


    Aug 13, 2003
    Telford, PA
    my fender's neck is rosewood. I'm not anal about the wear and tear as much as I am about the money to get the fingerboard replaced. I rather try and find some really bright flats of half-wounds. Of the flats I've tried on my fretless so far:
    The stock Fender strings - terrible, too much tension, too much thud
    TI Jazz Flats - inconsistent tension, inconsistent tone
    Ernie Ball flats - the best of the three, but still too much tension

    Any experience with D'Addario halfrounds? I've been reading the discussion about TI Jazz flats vs. the Chromes, but how are the half-rounds?
  5. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Three things...

    Try a set of Nickel roundwounds, they tend to be less abrasive than most stainless steel strings IME. Make sure you're not bending the strings across the fretboard. It's possible to develope your technique to the point where you experience negligible if any wear.

    I've used roundwounds almost exclusively on my fretlesses and the boards still look practically like new. It's no accident.

    I even slap on mine;)
  6. jeff schmidt

    jeff schmidt no longer red carded, but my butt is still sore.

    Aug 27, 2004
    Novato, CA
    Yes but Brad - even if you play 24 hours a day it would still take a year to play all of your basses. :D

    FWIW - I use Nickel Rounds on my Pedulla and it sings.

    In fact - I also use them on my MTD535. And if you really must know - I use Zon Ultra nickle on both basses - buy them by the string for the custom guages.
  7. Dynna


    Oct 23, 2004
    I know that Gary Willis has a layer of Devcon 2-ton epoxy on his fretboard as protection from round wounds. It tweaks the sound a little, but the coverage lasts for YEARS. There was little to no noticeable wear after 5 years, when last I saw his bass.

    The simplified process is to tape off the neck precisely at the edge of the fingerboard ALL the way around. Remove your strings. Mix the epoxy, and use a business card to spread a nice even layer of it on your fretboard. And work FAST. Let it cure as per directions, restring, and voila!

    I haven't done it. I thought about it. Heck, I thought about sending Willis the bass for him to do it. But with time and cost against me, and the Ernie Ball folks wondering why in the world I would do such a thing, I passed.
  8. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md

    I played my first fretless, a 5 string Jazz that I built, for 10 years. No wear. Roundwounds from day one.

    Plus my Brubaker fretless has been to three NAMM shows... still looks like new.
  9. slugworth

    slugworth Banned

    Jun 12, 2003
    So. Calif.
    >>> Ever try the Rotosound RS-55's?...Compression wound stainless...Most of the stainless steell brillance with reduced wear....Very nice strings for fretless basses...Just a suggestion...

  10. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md

    This is Gary's Ibanez you're talking about?
  11. If you're tearing up the fretboard or worring about tearing up the fretboard with roundwound strings, just apoxy the fretboard like Jaco did.
  12. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Roundwound string technology has come a ways since Jaco. Back then using Rotosounds was like putting a hacksaw blade on your bass. It's very easy to find full roundwound strings that won't chew up a board when used "properly".
  13. Fo' Shizzle

    Fo' Shizzle

    Aug 28, 2003
    I'm using the Elixer Nanowebs on my fretless 5 and love them. Wear on the board is minimal. Sound is great. And they're 4 months old and I can't tell any difference at all.
  14. tww001


    Aug 13, 2003
    Telford, PA
    I put a set of GHS Boomers (45-105) on my fretless MIA Fender Jazz Deluxe, they sound terrific. Thanks to everyone for their input.
  15. RudeMood


    Nov 7, 2004
    Austin, TX
    Try some pressurewounds - I know GHS and Rotosound make them They are a hybrid between rounds and flats. They have more of a roundwound feel, but don't have the ridges you feel when you play. They have more pop than flats, but are not as bright as some rounds.
  16. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Hm - I never thought of that; I suppose some players go from fretted to fretless, and out of habit still scrub the string from side-to-side for a vibrato (I'll bet I did last time I played one at a music store).

    I remember once in the seventies putting a set of rounds on my Rick4001 that were called 'Londoners'. They had a noticeably rough or ridged sort of texture on the windings, and those things tore up my frets so bad I couldn't believe it! I'm saying there were many big ridged divots taken out of the frets in just a week! I don't mean just marks - I mean noticeable, concave divots. Needless to say, I was miffed.

  17. elros


    Apr 24, 2004
    Proprietor, Helland Musikk Teknologi
    I've used Elixir Poly-Web strings on my Acacia 4-string fretless (Gaboon Ebony fingerboard) for the six years or so it was my main instrument. And FWIW "main instrument" means lots of playing. It still looks and plays almost like new.

    Of course, proper technique probably matters.
    And, proper care for the instrument also matters.
  18. good enough for jacko P , he put 10 layers of varnish in his fretboard , maybe thats sumthin u could think about??
  19. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    I would suggest coating the fingerboard, rosewood dosen't like the rounds, Mike Pedula will do it for about 4 bills, but on that bass I would check around for what coating to use and apply it yourself. Also make the switch to nickle round wounds there still plenty bright but there much better for wear. In fact most coated fingerboards from the factory still recomend nickle strings. D'addario and Pedula both make good sets. And I'm sure theres others out there. After you do it you'll probably get the frettless jones and go out and spring for a Buzz (PEDULA, noboddy does frettless better), but that jazz is a fine place to start. GOOD LUCK
  20. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Not doing this can make all the difference in the world... but it'll be our little secret;)

    Roundwounds have come a long way from the old chainsaws they originally were:D

    Again, there are loads of compromise strings available. If what you want is the sound that only roundwound give there's a relative easy way to do it:

    1. Use nickel rounds. I've gotten great results on fretless with Ken Smith Burner NPS, SIT and DR Sunbeams.

    2. Learn to play in a less destructive fashion.