Should I be using flatwounds?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by thrasher717, Jul 21, 2003.

  1. thrasher717


    Jan 17, 2003
    North Dakota
    I read many posts about flatwound strings, yet I see little or no advertisement for them in major catalogs (i.e. Musician's Friend). I've never tried them -- what's their appeal? I play classic/hard rock with a P-Bass.
  2. Flatwounds are going to give you a warmer, more smooth sound. Typically for rock music people use roundwounds. As always though, there is no rule on what to use. Buy a set and see if you like them. I'm not a huge fan, but you may love them. I do like the flatwounds for fretless though.
  3. PhilMan99


    Jul 18, 2003
    US, Maryland
    I'm actually switching back to flat-wounds, for that ol' time "thump" characteristic of acoustic-bass style, motown, or jazz. I stopped using flat-wounds years back (late 70s) because of intonation problems. flats are much better these days, though. I'd have moved back to flats sooner, but I stopped playing bass for a number of years...

    Round-wounds are better for rock/metal/slap generally. Much more high-end (tone/harmonics), and generally better sustain. To me, though, round-wounds sound like low notes on a piano, which I really hate. I don't slap, though, or play chords - both techniques arguably call for round-wounds.
  4. DaveB


    Mar 29, 2000
    Toronto Ontario
    I have been going back and forth between flats and rounds for years.When I practice alone Flats are THE string. I love the tone.But in the band mix it's a bit different story.
    My electric bass gig is a Motown/Funk/Classic R&B band. Even with the Motown/Jamerson stuff we do I find that when the volume gets cranked the Flats get a little TOO thumpy.Live I seem to prefer the clear punch of rounds rather than the thump of Flats.
    If I played Jazz on my electrics then I would use Flats for sure. But my Jazz gig is 100% upright so the electrics don't fit into the equation for Jazz.
  5. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Do you listen to Iron Maiden? Apparently Steve Harris uses flats, so they've certainly got some application for classic/hard rock on a P-Bass. :D

  6. I've had the same experience. I love the sound of flats played unaccompanied, but when I play with a band, the sound just doesn't cut through enough for me.

    Again, I have the same preference. I play mostly a Fender RB5 with roundwounds, which gets a reasonable thumpy Jamerson tone when I pluck at the neck and adjust my amp and tone controls. I've tried using flats, but I find myself liking the sound of the RB5 with rounds much better, even for Motown stuff.
  7. bassmonkeee

    bassmonkeee Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    I have flats on quite a few of my basses.

    I've got Rotosound Monel flats on my 6 string ABG, Labella Tapewounds on my Cort Curbow Retro, and TI Jazz Flats on my US Curbow 4 string fretless.

    I've also used the Rotosound Monels and Jazz Flats on my 75 Jazz Reissue, 6 string US Curbow fretless, 5 string US Curbow, etc, etc...

    I've NEVER had any problem cutting through in a mix when using flats.

    In fact, I've had just the opposite experience from DaveB and Cap'n Scarlet. When I play alone I like the full spectrum of the rounds, but when I play live, I prefer the flats strong fundamental, and no nonsense tone goodness.

    So, as with anything, YMMV, IMHO, Void Where Prohibited....
  8. christle

    christle Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2002
    Winnipeg, MB
    I also found that when I played with TI Flats I easily cut through the mix. The only rounds that I found that do that well for me are DR Hi-Beams. As for flats, the TI's are the only ones for me. :bassist:
  9. Rounds are typically fat with harmonics, sizzling highs and killer sustain. A flat outer wrap acts as a filter that totally reshapes the sound. You could definitely say you'll get attenuated highs and less sustain, but aside from that, different flats have very different sounds from each other. I have three favorites. TIs are very lush with good sustain (think of the acoustic jazz Spirocore sound). LaBellas are comparatively "dry" and authoritative (I'm currently playing these; think of classic flatwound sounds). Pyramids are very smooth and rich with fast decay and lower output (think of the "Hotel California" bass sound).