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Should a new player stay away from flats?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by rollyolly, Jan 22, 2012.

  1. rollyolly

    rollyolly Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2011
    I love the old school sound of flats. But is there any reason that a newbie should stick with rounds while developing fundamentals? Would the tension of chromes be too much for a beginners hands?
  2. snyderz


    Aug 20, 2000
    AZ mountains
    Interesting question.
    Play whatever floats your boat.
  3. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    The only reason I can think of is that flats are not prone to finger noise, so a new player could develop some nasty string squeak habits that hinder him from playing on rounds later.
  4. Bassmunnky


    Jul 3, 2004
    New York and Philadelphia
    Endorsing Artist: Ernie Ball MusicMan Guitars

    Once upon a time...basses only came with flats...even in prehistoric times...like the 70s.
  5. In my opinion, I think you should try flats as soon as possible. If you don't like them, don't get rid of them. Keep them around. In a few months, try them again.

    The first time I tried flats I didn't like them. A year or two later, I ordered a custom P-bass and asked for LaBella Jamerson's on it. They sounded beautiful.
  6. I started out with flats in 1967 and again in 2008 when I re-started. Flats are a classic sound for bass.

    They will also be easier on your fingers. My warwick came with roundwound strings that cut finger tips like velveeta cheese. Zeeeeep......zoooooop....Owwwww!
  7. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    Just wanted to join the long list of resounding "No"s

    I had a student who took 1 lesson and I talked about flats vs rounds, he switched and never looked back.

    He was playing gospel, church stuff, thought it was a good fit for him. Plus he found it easier to slide.
  8. michael_atw


    Feb 28, 2009
    Jamestown, NY
    You should get some Pro Steels :)
  9. rollyolly

    rollyolly Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2011
    I'm thinking either chromes or T-I jazz flats. Would you say the tension of the T-I's is similar to medium roundwounds? That might make it easier as a rookie.
  10. anton72

    anton72 Supporting Member

    Absolutely right. I tried flats just when I was a beginner and didn't like them at all, but recently I tried 1971' vintage Fender Precision strung with flats and man it was beatiful. Nothing compares to this sound and feel... The reason behind it I think is that your musical taste develops with years you play and eventually you come to loving right things)
  11. I think that the flats of years ago are different than the flats of today

    The GHS precision flats and Daddario chromes are light years ahead of what was available in the 70's - I'd even bet that LaBella Jamersons are a different animal today vs. when Jamerson played them


    (ps: IMHO, go with flats and never look back!)
  12. experimental bassist

    experimental bassist

    Mar 15, 2009
    Another "No".

    Chromes are about the same tension as other strings. I use them on my ABG.

    Thomastik Jazz Flats (TI's) are LESS tension than most other strings. I use these on my Precision.

    The only thing a beginner may be missing with flats is the joy of developing and maintaining finger callouses. ;)
  13. PBnJBassist


    Mar 8, 2011
    Dallas, TX
    Absolutely not. That's why there are light gauge flatwounds. I've done so much experimentation between flatwounds and roundwounds that plenty of expressions thrown around such as: "loose like rubber bands" or "tense like bridge cables" seem to be over-exaggerated. Tension should always be taken into account but never should anyone (new to playing the bass) go from extra light rounds to Steve Harris Rotosounds without proper adjustments to the neck.

    My advice for new players is to buy a light gauge set of both rounds and flats. From there, they should pick their sound of choice and up the gauge if they feel up to it. Personally, for budget purposes, I recommend D'Addario XL Rounds & GHS Precision Flats. Shouldn't cost anywhere over $45 for both and any player will get a good dose of what either string-type sounds like.
  14. BassBob1


    Dec 21, 2010
    I would say TI's are much more like light gauge rounds. Before I tried TI's, DR sunbeams .45-1.05 were the lightest tension string I had ever used. I like Chromes .45-.100. They feel just a little be tighter than say D'addario XL nickels in the same gauge.
  15. Craig_S

    Craig_S Banned

    Oct 15, 2008
    Metro Detroit
    I think a new player should use whatever he wants, but I believe there are benefits to learning with rounds. The biggest benefit is being forced to learn cleaner left hand technique. Flats don't squeak like rounds when you slide on them. Learning on flats and moving to rounds at some point might be a little frustrating.
  16. colcifer

    colcifer Esteemed Nitpicker Supporting Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    A Galaxy Far, Far Away
    I think players should start out with relatively unforgiving gear (eg acoustic vs electric guitar) but that's just me.
  17. finfrocka


    Jul 12, 2005
    San Diego
    I think that playing any string with a higher tension right from the get go would be a good idea. It would definitely build your finger strength quicker.

    But on the same token, it could frustrate a beginner because of the difficulty it would take to pluck.
  18. Reaper Man

    Reaper Man

    Jan 15, 2010
    who cares- like everyone else has said- play whatever you want. Try them out, you may like them
  19. Queg


    Nov 20, 2009
    SF Bay Area
    I wish I had started with flats.

    I believe it would have helped me focus more priority on groove, tasty note selection, and effective use of space; rather than filling everything with right-hand machine gun speed and mindless running up and down scales. This is coming from a punk / thrash background.
  20. +1 for TI Jazz Flats. Sure they're more expensive, but they last forever, great tone, I love 'em.

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