Roundwounds or Flats for the Gig?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by cassanova, Sep 24, 2021.

  1. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    Got an old school style motown gig tomorrow night. I'm not a fan of flats, can't stand the way they feel, but am thinking they'll be more authentic for the gig than nickel roundwounds. I asked the band leader if he had a preference and he doesn't care as long as I play as expected. What say you folks? Go with the flats or stick with the roundwounds? Bass will be Fender Jazz 5 string, ran through Mesa D800 + and Ampeg cab.
    dkelley likes this.
  2. Jefenator

    Jefenator Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2008
    I wouldn't switch just for one gig.
    If your bass has a passive tone knob, that should get you in the ballpark. That and/or careful plucking technique (thumb plucking can work wonders IME but it does slow me down a lot).
  3. Well, you have a wrong bass to sound authentic for "an old school style Motown gig" anyway, so instead of switching out the strings, you can just use the EQ knobs on the amp to tone down the nickel rounds to get close. Using just the neck pickup along with a foam mute would also help.
    Paul New, Chickenwheels, Mili and 4 others like this.
  4. Oddly


    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
    I'd certainly hesitate to change strings the day before a gig, for one thing.
    Just use a foam mute, that should get you close enough.
    If anyone but you actually notices, I'd be amazed.
    Good luck on the show!
  5. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    - i wouldn't switch my preferred setup, but
    - i definitely wouldn't switch for one gig, but
    - wouldn't ask for anyone else's opinion of what i should play in the first place.

    if rounds are your thing = play your thing! ;)

    i hope you have fun on the gig and that you knock their socks off! break a leg! :thumbsup: :bassist:
    Koog, 7dollarbologna, Holdsg and 5 others like this.
  6. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    I used rounds for years doing Motown stuff and the like. Flats are fun if you like them, but you don’t so rounds.
  7. Standalone


    Jan 17, 2005
    New Haven
    Dead rounds and a good muting technique in the RH and LH
    Chickenwheels likes this.
  8. Moving Pictures

    Moving Pictures Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2002
  9. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    I can play them, it's just how they feel I don't like. Out of curiosity, how do the flats compare tonally to rounds for this type of music? As others said, and I agree, I doubt anyone would notice, but I'm thinking rounds will give the music a more modern sound on the bass, than that classic motown sound, even with a mute.
  10. gidbass

    gidbass Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    rounds, and just use the tone knob and play close to the neck.

    Good Luck!
    Grizelda100 and smogg like this.
  11. Just put a piece of foam under the strings near the bridge and Bob's your uncle.
    Chickenwheels and REV like this.
  12. derlewine

    derlewine Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2013
    Shove some foam under the strings near the bridge, you’ll get that Motown thump (or close enough). Don’t swap strings for the one gig
    Standalone and Chickenwheels like this.
  13. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Pot the tone knob down a little and it’s all good. And don’t play hard so you get a darker tone. It’s all about the playing anyway.
  14. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    If you like rounds, play rounds. Turn down the tone, roll off the treble on the amp.

    It's not 1969. A more modern tone will probably be what they want anyway.
  15. Esteban Garcia

    Esteban Garcia bassist, arranger, aelurophile Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2018
    Portland, OR
    Play what you like and adjust tone as needed. Nobody's gonna know or care what kind of strings you play if you're hitting the notes and keeping the groove.
  16. C Stone

    C Stone

    Sep 4, 2020
    Foam mute, roll off the tone, favor or use the neck pick up only and play as close to the neck as you are comfortable with to get you closer that vintage tone.
    Have a great show!
  17. OldSchoolFlats


    May 29, 2021
    I don’t gig, but have played for fun off/on for years. I do wonder if people will really hear much difference though in a noisy live setting, unless you open-up the tone/treble and find your inner “Marcus Miller”.

    Per my handle here (OldSchoolFlats), I have generally used flats, but I am liking the “growl” I can get with rounds, with the tone down. While palm-muted picking on flats used to be my thing, I am a recent convert to finger-style with a P pickup and a 10-lb ash body.

    Had planned on putting flats on my 5-string, but now, I am not so sure. In my case, though, I have a P pickup, first time, and am loving it. Probably won’t get quite as solid a “thump” with J pickups, but again, I don’t gig...
    ...but did start on a Jazz. Never could get a solid sound out of a Jazz: I was lusting for a P pickup and didn’t know it.
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2021
    cassanova likes this.
  18. Chicken Wing

    Chicken Wing

    Mar 26, 2017
    Play what you like. I can get a passable old school tone out of rounds if needed (turn down the tone, pick up closer to the neck, light touch)
    Chickenwheels and cassanova like this.
  19. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    A few folks are recommending foam, which is fine, but placement is everything and tough to work out on the fly. I’d skip it unless you have it all worked out already.
  20. In fairness, it's not rocket surgery. There's at least one video on it I've heard.

    Piece of foam, shove it under the bridge. Simples.
    retslock likes this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Oct 28, 2021

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