Strings For Fretless Bass

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by mesaphlin, Feb 7, 2013.

  1. mesaphlin


    Apr 6, 2011
    Hello everyone,

    I would like to ask you that which brand of strings (roundwound or flatwound or other wound kinds) is best for a fretless bass guitar?

    I just want a set of strings that would not eat up a fretless board faster than most anything if you know what I am saying...

    Thank you so much in advance for your comments and information.

  2. RxFunk


    Dec 2, 2012
    Roundwounds will eat up your board faster that Flats will, so you should probably use flats or tapewounds on your fretless. Beyond that, there is no best brand, it's just a personal preference issue.
  3. skychief


    Apr 27, 2011
    South Bay
    Three recommendations for your fretless:

    1) tapes

    2) tapes

    3) tapes

  4. Sonic

    Sonic Lord of the Grump

    I like DR Legends. They're roundwound. Just my preference though. I'd say take a trip to youtube and see if you can find some sound tests.
  5. Jaco who?

    Jaco who?

    May 20, 2008
    TI flats - great feel, horrible undefined tone

    D'addario chrome flats - really smoooth, nice and articulate, stiff, should have tried the ECB80 (40-95) instead of the ECB81 (45-100)

    Sit silencers - Horrible. just horrible. Goofy overtones and felt like sandpaper

    Dunlop nickles - nice for a short while, got really stiff about the same time they went dead, about a week and a half.

    DR sunbeams - Great nickle roundwounds, I quit usung them right after I sanded off the marks on the rosewood board, but it took a good two years for that to happen, and the way I play now, I think it would take at least twice that time to muck it up.

    D'addario Tapewounds - great articulate strings, but need to EQ out the boomy bottom end they exhibit some times.

    Just my experience, with a MIM fender jazz, your ears and playing style and music preferences might be different........

    DR legends are flats, btw
  6. Sonic

    Sonic Lord of the Grump

    Yea, you know, like I said :bag::smug:
  7. This is not a question easily answered due to the numerous options you have. Let's talk about them.
    First, let's address the roundwounds issue. I've owned the same three fretless now for around an average of 15 years apiece. Not a one has had to any repairs or replacement of the fingerboards whatsoever. I've always played light gauge nickels or GHS Pressurewounds when using rounds on them, play with a light touch, and do vibrato with the same technique as playing a cello or violin. All this leads to less wear and tear on the board. You can also coat the board to reduce damage. Rounds do give you the classic "mwah" sound. It is worth the future repairs if this is what you are seeking. Ebony makes a better fretoboard material than rosewood due to it's hardness, by the way.
    Flats and tapes are great as well, and do not give you the same wear as rounds. Flats give you more of an upright sound and are very warm and percussive. Tapes are a mix of almost all types of strings, depending on which brand you buy. They make a great tone and are very kind to the fingerboard. They are currently on all my fretlesses, although I am thinking about putting GHS Pressure wounds back on my P bass fretless.
    Determine what type of sound you want, and experiment till you find a fit. The best thing to do is to first try a string set you already use and like.
  8. Liam76


    Dec 28, 2012
    I run D'addario nickel roundwounds on my Warmoth fretless (ebony fingerboard). I've been using them for 4 years, and the only wear I get is ghost marks, but no scoring. I've tried half rounds (have them on my Squire VM fretless) and flats, and they all left similar marks.

    I was concerned about using roundwounds at first, but figured I could get a radius sanding block, or at worse, order a new neck in a few years since it's a parts bass. I guess if I had a neck-thru fretless, I'd probably be more cautious, but so far it's never became an issue.
  9. micgtr71


    Dec 4, 2012
    I think tapewounds are too clacky and flats dont have the mwah factor...for me anyway. I use nickel roundwounds and they don't kill my board.
  10. Personally I just can't get on with flatwound strings. Period!
    I therefore use Rotosound 55's on all my fretless basses. Not as harsh as rounds on your board (or fingers) and still bright enough to sound like rounds! Everyone's happy! :)
  11. zfunkman


    Dec 18, 2012
    I use Thomastik Jazz Flats on all my basses. They sound and feel great! They also last a very long time. Expensive but worth every penny! Rounds will eat up your fretboard and you will have to get the neck dressed at least once a year which, eventually, it will be gone.
  12. henry2513

    henry2513 Supporting Member

    May 9, 2011
    Los Angeles, Ca
    I use rounds on my fretless, play between 20-25 hours a week, bass is 14 years old, number of times the neck has gotten dressed? Once - and that was to fix a slight imperfection from the manufacturer.
  13. gary m

    gary m

    Jan 17, 2011
    Mid -Atlantic
    Fender 9050 flats on my LTD fretless.
  14. 4-string


    Jul 23, 2006
    Stop worrying about the fretboard and play that bass with the strings you like. Fretboard wear is totally blown out of proportion IMO.

    My fretless jazz has never seen anything but rounds, the first 4 years or so D'Addario Pro Steels. Now it has DR Sunbeams on, which are great strings for fretless.
  15. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    Id only get a fretless with ebony board and would use rotosound swing66 rounds on it.
  16. JTE


    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    I'll reiterate what 4-string said (and what I've said in every thread about strings for a fretless, as the topic comes up at least once a month and TB does have a search function).

    USE THE STRINGS THAT SOUND RIGHT. Not using rounds because they might cause fingerboard wear is like not driving your car because the roads will wear your tires.

    In my experience, most of the "damage" caused by roundwound strings on a fretless bass come down to poor technique. If you play with just the touch you need to stop the note, if you attack the strings with just the amount of plucking/picking force needed to get a clear sound, and if you keep your strings, fingerboard, and hands clean, and if you don't bend the string and move it laterally across the board, you'll have so little real wear that it'll be years before you have to worry about strings damaging your bass.

    My first fretless in 1987 had an unfinished rosewood board and I used rounds on it, either nickle (D'Addario XL-165 or 170) or stainless (D'Addario XLS-570). I didn't have any problems with that board for about six years, and most of that damage was caused by my prematurely dressing the board with a sanding block. I replaced it with a thick chunk of ebony, and now once a year I buff it up with a hardware sponge the equivalent of 0000 steel wool. I got another fretless with an ebony board in 2009, and it's always worn DR Hi-Beams or Sunbeams 45-105 ('though right now it's got a set of Lakland Stainless in the same gauges) and what appeared to be wear was merely some lines from the windings on the strings rubbing against the finger funk on the board. That's why I clean the board everytime I change strings, which ain't often.

    If you like flats, use 'em on your fretless. If you like bright rounds, use them instead.

    Don't worry about your precious bass not being able to handle it. The instrument's function is to make a wonderful sound, so THAT is what's paramount.