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Strings for fretless

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Pep, Jan 18, 2012.

  1. Pep

    Pep Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2010
    Louisville, KY
    Fretless bass is new to me so I need a recommendation on what strings to purchase. I was thinking something flat wound.
    I don't want something too heavy.
  2. bherman

    bherman Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
    Alot of it depends on the sound you want. I play blues, r&b, jazz, some funk and use tapewound flats (LaBella) on my G&L ASAT fretless. Really mellow, deep sound. Others looking for a more jaco-like sound will point you towards lightweight rounds.

    Do some searching on the strings forum - there's been lots written on string choices for fretless.
  3. Mojo-Man


    Feb 11, 2003

    TI JF344's for flats.
    Also GHS Pressurewounds, or Ken Smith Compressors, work great for fretless.
    And GHS Nylon coated strings are different.
  4. Staccato

    Staccato Low End Advocate

    Aug 14, 2009
    GHS Tapes for fretless. They're not flats, and they do last a long time!
  5. Fender tapewounds are a good middle of the road choice-basically they're roundwounds with a light rubber coating. More growl and definition than flats, they last forever, and generally run in the $25 range.
  6. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    All my fretless heros used rounds, so I did too. I can't get the same growl or hit the same harmonics using flats.
  7. GHS Pressurewounds.
  8. I have used these strings on my fretlesses for many years, and have found something good about all of them:
    GHS PRECISION FLATS: Old school thump with clear tone and smooth finish. I have them on my SX Shorty Jazz Fretless and a Carvin AC40 Fretless currently. My fav flats.

    GHS TAPEWOUNDS: Something new I am trying on my Carvin Bolt 5 fretless. Very uprightish tone with really thick sound. I am pleased thus far. Have heard thenew ones have the same qualities.

    TI JAZZ FLATS: Everything you heard is true. Low tension, pronounced midrange, very smooth to the touch (like touching glass, although you can feel gaps between the windings on the E and A strings). They are really in a class of their own. They worked really well on my 96 Fender Fretless P, which I alternate with......

    SIT POWERWOUND NICKELS: Most underrated strings made. Lots of mwahhh, long lasting, and smooth touch. Go to rounds for my fretlesses from here on out.

    Here are some other string sets I have used in the past. I do not currently use them, but someday may revisit them again:
    GHS Pressurewounds: compressed strings with a smooth touch, which translates to easy on the fingers and the fingerboard. I prefer them on my fretted Jazz instead of fretlesses these days. Lot of love for them these days on TB, and not without a good reason.

    GHS Brite Flats: Good sounding, but felt too rough and high tensioned to me.

    D'Addario Half Rounds: Like the GHS Brite Flats (also a ground wound string) a great tone but a little too tension heavy for me, even in the light gauges.

    Fender Flats: The old version was hi-tensioned and felt smooth to the touch, a great Motown vibe. The new models are less tensioned, but still smooth and thumpy. Probably the best price-wise of any other flatwounds mentioned.

    Fender Tapes: I haven't used the new version made now, but the older ones were low tension, kind of like the TI Flats of the tapewound world. Not as smooth as other tapes, and has more of a "roundwound" sound than other tapes.

    LaBella Tapewounds: Higher tensioned that the GHS or Fender tapes. A very good thick acoustic sort of vibe. Expensive, but you can get them from Carvin.com - Guitars, Amplifiers & Pro Audio for a decent price, even with Carvin's expensive shipping charges.

    D'Addario Chromes: Another flatwound set, but like TIs have their own sound, which is brighter than other flats and even twangy. The older ones seemed smoother than the ones made currently, but still have that same unique sound.

    Good luck with your search for fretless strings, and I hope you find what you are looking for.
  9. GHS Precision Flats....a good, thumpy and inexpensive option

    Sadowsky Black Label Flatwound stainless light gauge...very nice strings but 48 bucks.

    D'addario Chromes....perhaps the most popular flatwound strings
  10. atomicdog


    Jun 18, 2011
    Rounds will deliver more growl. I run Rotosounds on my Fender Jaco JBass and love the sound. Don't get freaked out by tales that rounds grind the fingerboard. Sure, they will over a period of several years, but so what?
  11. colcifer

    colcifer Esteemed Nitpicker Supporting Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    A Galaxy Far, Far Away
    Not to thread-jack (well, kinda to thread-jack) but I've been using Jazz Flats and want a thumpier, more even, tone. Kinda upright, kinda motown but in a modern way (totally makes sense, right?). And more tension (Jazz Flats+low action makes digging in a bit of a challenge). I got the Jazz Flats originally because they were all MF had for 35", six string basses and that's all of my experience with flats. Tapes sound nice.
  12. bherman

    bherman Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
    I use the labella tapewounds , a bit more tension and great tone. Try Jason at bassstringsonline - about $30 a set
  13. Am using on my Conklin/Benavente 7 string fretless.

    Have used SIT Power Wound, but prefer the less bright sound of the Silencers. Still not as thumpy as many flats.

    The set of D'Addario semiflats that I tried had very uneven "flatness" - some strings were very "round". Also, felt somewhat jagged - rough edges on some string windings. Do a search, I think another TBer had the same experience with the D'Addario's.

    Purchased from Brian at The Low End.

    Too many choices, eh?

    Good luck in your search.

  14. Pep

    Pep Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2010
    Louisville, KY
    Thanks everyone who recommended their favorites. I'm thinking of trying the GHS Precision Flats and either the Fender or Labella Tapewounds.
    That should be a good starting point.
  15. rasturino


    Jan 21, 2012
    Getting my first fretless bass (also play fretted - many years): I've acquired a used fretless MIM Fender Jazz Bass neck with lined rosewood fingerboard to put on my late-60s Precision Bass.

    I prefer the sound of roundwound strings and would especially like to stick with roundwounds on my p bass because of the low-bass p bass pickups. I'd like to go as roundwound as I can without gouging the fingerboard. I'm not against surface-scratches; I'd just rather not make gouges that impact the playability.

    For my specific case (especially the rosewood), do you have a recommendation? I've read these forums and the string makers' brochures -very helpful! I have strings in mind: DR Sunbeam nickel-coated or DR color coated - what do you think?

    Also, I've read about strings that have flatwound exterior over a
    roundwound interior: who makes them? Are they good?

    Also, any comments on LaBella Super Steps (roundwounds) on fretless?

    Also the posts re: tapewounds & groundwounds (I see D'addarios described as rough & low-tension) - any experience putting them on rosewood?

    Finally, I'd love to hear any tips from anyone who has put a fretless j bass neck on a p bass. FYI, my p bass is all original except for the strings & the finish. The body finish was beaten down & repainted; I don't care about it. So I'll welcome suggestions for customization that won't take too long (I'm short on time).

    Thanks in advance & best regards!
  16. AmadeusXeno


    Mar 8, 2011
    I'm using Rotosound flats on my fretless gauged 35-45-65-85. They feel, sound, and play great for me. I don't think they sell a set in that gauge though, I took them off one of my 6 string basses. I still tune it to standard E-A-D-G.
  17. I have a question that may be considered a highjack, but the answer will probably help the OP.
    I've been using Chromes on my frettless for a while and liked them, but not enough harmonics. Switched to Ken Smith Compressors and like the tone a lot better but some of the mwah went away.
    I want to try TI Jazz Flats, but as others have said they are an investment.
    Anyone tried Compressors and TIs and can do a compare more on the mwah action than the tone?
  18. ilovenofrets


    Dec 25, 2010
    My biggest influence on fretless is Tony Franklin. His tone is what really attracted me to fretless years ago. Now being a full-time fretless guy myself, .040-.100 rounds it is. DR Sunbeams to be specific.

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