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Strings that won't damage a fretless

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Uhhhhh55, Feb 24, 2013.

  1. Uhhhhh55


    Feb 24, 2013
    I'm buying a new bass, I've read reviews and they say roundwounds are damaging on the fretboard. Having never used anything but rounds except on an upright, I don't know what to get- I mostly play jazz, but I often play slap, and I read that flats really have no potential for slap. What about tapewounds? Or are some flats good for a bit of slap?
  2. InvertTheIdols


    Sep 23, 2012
    I've found there's not a thing I can do to get a slap tone on fretless (not that I've found the need to try a whole lot), so flats won't make a difference as far as slap potential on a fretless.

    If you're into jazz, I would recommend flats. Nice smooth sound, especially on a fretless. I don't know much about tapewounds, however.
  3. One other option, the so-called "best of both worlds" would be half rounds. When I get my next electric (I have my sights set on either a MIM or preferably and American Standard fretless Jazz), I'm going to use D'Addario halfs. I used them before on my old '79 Precision and liked them. So those would be great for fretless.
  4. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Play flats or tapewounds - don't worry about it - in a few years, have the fingerboard resurfaced IF it needs it.

    Wood is wood - when it wears, it can be sanded and resurfaced. Don't worry about it. You don't choose different roads to drive to make the tires wear more slowly - you do what you need to do.
  5. Uhhhhh55


    Feb 24, 2013
    Thanks for the advice, all of you!

    I've decided to get tapewounds. What are some good brands that will last a very long time?
  6. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    First of all, what is the fingerboard wood? Finished or unfinished?

    Tapes are as variable as you can impagine. Roto TruBass 88s are smooth thump, LaBellas have much more mid and growl, but there are some QC issues. My set had a bum D string with a major burr. Others have had similar issues while others love 'em.

    My favorite tapewound is the Fender 9120M set. The nylon wrap is much more round than most tapes which make them feel a bit like rounds and they have a nice bite and growl. They'll last you 10 years or more!
  7. henry2513

    henry2513 Supporting Member

    May 9, 2011
    Los Angeles, Ca
    I use roundwounds, other than some marks on my fretboard I haven't had any damage to it and I play about 20 hours a week. I do play with a very light touch, don't slap and don't do any string bending, just back and forth vibrato.
  8. bass whaler

    bass whaler

    Dec 27, 2012
    Flatwounds work exceptionally well. Slapping? Depends on many things like scale and where you sit the strings. I like flatwounds on the trebble bass upright, very cool. Some of the old school rockabilly fellas can pull off slap OK on these jumbo acoustic Basses. It seems to me that the bow works best on flatwounds.
  9. Troph


    Apr 14, 2011
    Kirkland, WA
    I love the sound of these D'Addario Tapewounds on my fretless Jazz with DiMarzio Model J pups:


    They're a little more expensive up front (like flats), but they seem to last a long time. They're really, really smooth/soft and produce great "mwah" sounds, as they say. I can't imagine they tear up the fretboard at all...

    As for slapping? No, not really.
  10. SLaPiNFuNK

    SLaPiNFuNK Commercial User

    Jul 28, 2006
    LA California
    The Brains: FretNation.com
    Any vibrating mass that has pressure applied to it pressing against a softer surface (wood) will eventually show sings of wear. This includes flats and tapes, the end decision just may happen slower.
  11. wobble man

    wobble man

    Feb 15, 2013
    If you always used rounds, I would say stick with the rounds because you prefer that sound. If the bass has a a dense wood fretboard like ebony or pau ferro, yes you will get some visible scratches with rounds, but is really only cosmetic damage. It takes many years of heavy usage to require leveling the fretboard in such a case. Lots of fretless players use rounds. I used rounds exclusively on my Warwick Corvette w/ ebony board, it always played and sounded just fine, just looked a little worn in after a while. But I wouldn't recommend rounds on a softer wood fretboard like rosewood or such...
  12. nukes_da_bass

    nukes_da_bass Banned

    Feb 19, 2006
    west suburban boston
    Chromes slap well. Fretless slapping won't sound the same as on a fretted bass but the fundamentals and harmonics on Chromes seem to be similar to many rounds.
  13. 4-string


    Jul 23, 2006
    Big +1. Play your favourite strings and worry about wear when or if it happens.
  14. zfunkman


    Dec 18, 2012
    I use Thomastik Jazz Flats. They're a bit pricey but worth; they last a really long time and some say the actually get better as they age. Thay also sound incredible. Switching from rounds to flats was one of the best bass decisions I ever made. I use them on my fretted basses too.
  15. zfunkman


    Dec 18, 2012
    Having to get the neck of your bass "dressed" every 6 months is a pain. The wood DOES wear. And if you keep doing this the wood will eventually wear out to nothing. There are good sounding flats out there. Swithching from rounds to flats was the one of the smartest things I've done in bass playing. They had better "playability" and actually sounded better and I had more control over my tone. I use Thomastik jazz flats but I hear the chromes are pretty good too.
  16. ram936


    May 29, 2002
    Massillon, Ohio
    I like the La Bella nylon tape wounds on my MIM fretless Jazz. I also use them on some of my fretted basses. Flats are a good choice on a fretless, too, but string choice is just as personal as choosing the right bass. Experiment. Good luck.
  17. cst bass

    cst bass

    Jun 3, 2011
    I also use La Bella nylon tape wounds on my fretless. I really like these strings a lot, very smooth, very consistent sound across all strings. When I first bought them my D string was dead. La Bella sent me out a new one very quickly. They have great customer service.
  18. 4-string


    Jul 23, 2006
    Every 6 months? I have had my fretless jazz for 6-7 years, so far no issue at all. That bass has never had anything but rounds on it, stainless steels for the most part. D'Addario Pro Steels to be precise.

    Have you actually experienced what you describe first hand?

    I have nothing against flats at all, but for fretless I prefer rounds. That's what I use, and if that means that I somewhere down the road have to clean up the fretboard, so what.

    I also drive my car every day, even though I know the tires and everything get worn. :)

    Sorry, don't want to be a jerk, I just don't get the whole protect your fretboard thing. It's a bass, just play the damned thing.
  19. bherman

    bherman Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
    Another vote for LaBella Tapes. I use them on my Rob Allen fretless - feel and sound great!
  20. tylerwylie


    Jan 5, 2008
    Dunwoody, GA
    Easier to replace tires than a fingerboard for most of us ;) That said I use rounds as the wear comes more from technique than anything. Even Jason (Slapinfunk) has mentioned he's used flats that have worn fingerboards faster than rounds in some cases.

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