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Strings on Fretless?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Son of Spam, Dec 28, 2001.

  1. Eh, I searched, but didn't find anything that directly answered my question...or i might jsut be dumb ;)

    Anywayz, I have a Fender Jazz Fretless... Guy at the music shop says I HAVE to use Roundwounds or whatever he said.

    Anybody know what strings I SHOULD use on it. I'm going for a very smooth warm tone. Price really isn't a problem, as long as they aren't any ungodly high amount.
  2. don't believe the guy at the music shop - he's probably only got roundwounds in stock, and can't be bothered getting anything else, or something.

    anyway, i play a fretless, and this is i know, and have been told.

    first, roundwounds are fine and well on a fretless, but only if you've enough money to replace it soon, because they quite dig into the fretboard, until it is completely worn out.

    second, for a warm, smooth tone, not entirely unlike a double bass, you want some flatwounds. which brand, guage, etc, is something i could not tell you - it's personal preference, but the rotosounds i bought cost no more than the roundwounds of the same guage, and they feel so much better under the hand.

    flatwounds are usually what are recommended for fretlesses anyway, with good reason.

    try reading up on it all a bit.
  3. Thanks, I just got the fretless a few days ago and am now scared about the digging into the fretboard :eek: :eek:


    Is there such a thing as tapewounds? I heard him taklinga bout that as well. But i asked about flatwounds when I was there. I will probably try them out.
  4. boogiebass


    Aug 16, 2000
    My two favorites on a fretless are: GHS Pressurewound and TI Jazz Flats. They both sound great and are very easy on fretless boards.
  5. The string you're thinking of is a taperwound. The string's outer wrap stops before the saddle exposing the inner wrapping. This apparently has some effect on the sound, though I don't know enough to compare myself. I'm sure others here will help you further.

    For all the info you could want on strings go to http://www.bassplayer.com (this is their old site). Go to the 'gear' page and look for 'The Controversial World of String Design'. Then go confuse your little sister :D
  6. tapewounds are flatwounds - the "tape" bit describes the winding around the core.

    it is like a tape, instead of a wire.

    but they are called flatwounds because the result is that they are pretty much flat and smooth all the way along.

    they tend to be nicer to play too.
  7. notduane


    Nov 24, 2000
    Ohhhh yeah. Fender, GHS, LaBella, and Rotosound :D all
    market nylon tapewound strings. If ya' get Rotos, be sure
    to select the correct set for your bass. They come in lengths
    for short-scale, extra-long (for string-throughs! :rolleyes: ), etc.
    The "LD" set works on 34" scales.

    Then there's the Elixir variant with the poly/nano-web coating.
  8. the rotosounds flatwounds are the best made strings i've ever seen

    they are beautifully made, and they sound pretty good too.
  9. Thanks guys. I'll make sure to check these all out.
  10. Tsal


    Jan 28, 2000
    Finland, EU
    Do those happen to be Rotosound Jazz Bass 77's you are talking about?

    If so, how do they sound and feel? I heard they would be quite bright(for flatwounds) and have high tension?
  11. they are (were) the jazz bass 77s.

    they were bright, for a flatwound, but the tension didn't feel like much more than most flats.
  12. progplayer


    Nov 7, 2001
    I like the Pedulla Nickelwound strings for my Pentabuzz. Good tone. I tried the GHS boomers (willis') but they weren't my style. Also tried the Ken Smith strings and those too weren't my style. Rotosound's are good IMHO but I think they dig in on the board real good....hmmmm
  13. Ive been using DR High Beam roundwounds for a while on my fretted, but now that I am getting a fretless, I'm thinking about getting some rotosound flats... Can you slap/pop with those things and get a good sound? Some poeple say they sound dark, dull, and dead- which obviously is not good for the upbeat funk fingerstyle/slap/alt-rock I play...

    Does anybody know?
  14. y'can't really play funk on a fretless - the metallic sound generated by the slapping/popping is the metal string hitting the metal frets - obviously, the absense of frets causes a slight problem, but i'm sure that there's some way around it.
  15. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    Consider Elixirs. They are roundwound but the teflon coating keeps them from damaging the fretboard too fast. You might need to have a fingerboard resurfacing every 5 years or so, but IMHO that's a small price to pay for GREAT tone. They also last FOREVER -- well over a year -- so in my book they're a good deal in the long run. They aren't quite as bright as nickel roundwounds but then they NEVER change.

    If you're looking for a darker sound, then the flatwounds may be the way to go.
  16. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    you can play funk on a fretless - you can slap it, pop it, strum it - whatever, there's loads of ways to play it. It's not going to sound the same as on a fretted bass, and you may have to change your approach to a certain technique to make it work, but it's all there...

    As for rounds chewing up the board - they do a bit, but any bass that's been made specifically as a fretless should have taken that into consideration and have slightly tougher fingerbaord wood... And the chewing only means that you have to get the board dressed every 4-5 years, which isn't a big job, and doesn't cost a load - tis a small price to pay for having the sound you want...

    ...as it is, I'm not a big fan of the roundwound-on-fretless sound, and stick with Elites Flats on my 6 string... didn't like Elixirs either, or the rotosound flats. Love the tomastiks... but it's all taste, so don't take it as gospel when someone tells you that one set of strings rock or another suck - Parrott loves his Rotos, and that's cool, it's just taste!

    happy new year!

  17. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings

    No offense but this thread is "interesting":D

    1. You can play funk on a banjo if you're funky. You can do it on a fretless, too... I do it all the time.

    2. You do not "have to" use flatwounds anymore than you "have to" use roundwounds. If some people can use roundwounds without wear problems, maybe you can, too.

    Son of Spam, "you" have to figure out what sort of fretless sound you're after, then and only then can you figure out what strings you'll need to accomplish it. If you described a sound that's associated with rounds, the guy at the store could be on target. Personally I've never liked the flats or the "compromise" strings (groundrounds, pressure wounds, etc.). YMMV

    I slap and play fingerstyle on a couple of fretlesses and I use Ken Smith Burners NPS (Nickel plated Steel) roundwounds and DR Sunbeams (Nickel roundwounds). At the rate my Ebony fretboard on my Elrick is (not) wearing I may have to get it dressed around 2012. The Phenolic board on my Zon may when it and cockroaches are the only thing left after the bomb.

    I had a Carvin LB75 fretless with Ebony board for a couple of years. Sold it with practically no wear (very, very, very light surface scoring).

    If you keep the strings low and play with a light touch...
  18. boogiebass


    Aug 16, 2000
    I don't consider them to be compromises at all, by any definition of the word. Hybrid, perhaps. But pressurewounds, in particular, have their own unique tonal characteristics that some players prefer on certain instruments over rounds or flats.
  19. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    That's the beauty of opinions, bb;). I "do" consider them a compromise, supposedly in the name of less wear at the sacrifice of the true sound of a roundwound.
  20. boogiebass


    Aug 16, 2000
    Yes, in much the same way a roundwound string is a compromise in the name of brightness over the true sound of a flatwound string.

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