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Think about flats for my p-bass

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Mikhail1, Mar 24, 2013.

  1. Mikhail1


    Apr 8, 2008
    Ok I am toying with the idea of putting flats on my p-bass. I have a j-bass that will never wear anything but rounds so I feel that I can cover just about anything musically speaking. I have been playing bass since 1976 and swore off flats since rounds became readily available. But... I have always loved the sound of flats, especially when played with a pick. So I'm looking at picking up a set of flats but can't really decide between D'Addario Chromes of GHS Precision flats. I know I will go with the lightest sets available but that's about it. Pros and cons of each would be appreciated.
  2. Thump (decay) is partly related to tension.
    Low tension strings such as T-I Jazz Flats have a nice thump to them.
    They attack quickly then decay rapidly with less sustain.
    I played these on my MIM-P for almost a decade. They last forever.

    The DA Chromes are a bit brighter than the GHS.
  3. GHS Precisions will thump, similar to LaBella.

    Chromes will 'cut' more, and you'll be able to get more treble from them.

    Since flats never go bad and I never need to throw them away, I keep 2 sets around and alternate between Chromes and LaBellas on my P (currently Chromes).
  4. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I have tried a few flats and and like Chromes they play sound and feel great. The tension is a little high but they get more flexible as they age as well as their tone improves.
  5. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I don't hear Chromes as bright and trebly myself. Only for the initial stages. They sound pretty thumpy to me when dead. GHS flats are way cool, too, but Chromes come in a 40-95 set, and now that they sell singles, you can make up a balanced tension set with a 40-55-75-95 for about a dollar more than the 40-60-75-95 set.
  6. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    A P bass with flats, played with a pick, is one of the coolest bass tones that exist IMO. Doesn't work for all styles of course, but it's so damn cool. :bassist:
  7. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Unrelated to the topic at hand, but I found the opposite to be true. TIs having less thump and more sustain than say, la bellas which are the definition of thump and quick decay (which sound really cool on a fretless too, can't get closer to an upright sound on electric than that imo)

    However I'd say that it's also in the fingers. Playing with a soft attack for example will yield more sustain and a rounder tone in my experience, so it's something to be considered.
  8. 57vintage


    Mar 24, 2013
    After playing roundwounds exclusively for years, I tried Rotosound flats on my Precision in 2007 (they're still on it, proving their longevity).

    I found that the bottom end was better and not being one to want to pop and ziiiiing, that suited the bluesy-rock band better.

    The one downside was that as a fingerstyle player, my fingers were wrecked (blood blisters and Sid Vicious-esque scratchplate gore) with the "dryness" of the flats compared to the wirewounds and I ended up playing through the pain of open wounds.

  9. garak7

    garak7 Irritating the Neighbors Since 1964 Supporting Member

    Aug 20, 2010
    Bend, Oregon
    ^^^ Wow, that is what I call really digging in.

    I tried all of the above and ended up liking La Bella Deep Talkin' Flats the best. They have the sound that I come to expect with a P Bass, plus the feel and tension agree with my playing style.
  10. SBsoundguy


    Sep 2, 2011
    Los Angeles
    I bet this is the ultimate way to preventing people from touching your gear at gigs.
  11. Flats on a P is a no-brainer, give it a try. I've been wanting to try for years but never got to actually doing it, but when I got my first P a while back I immediately bought new flats and put them on, didn't even try the rounds that came with the bass. Sounds fantastic, I even roll off the tone quite a bit (which I never did with my other basses using rounds), and I play fingerstyle so I really don't understand why people keep saying they are too dull, for slap maybe, I can understand, but not for fingerstyle.
  12. 57vintage


    Mar 24, 2013
    I'm playing with a blues band at the moment and just took my reserve bass (a Cort GB334A, with a single coil and a humbucker) along to rehearsal as there's the occasional need for octave fills and it's a lot toppier than the Fender.

    Last time out, I took the Precision along and they all remarked that it has the bass sound perfect for the material we're doing. Berry Oakley, someone said. I have his sound, but not his talent. RIP.

    My fingers have recovered from The Night of Gore, by the way.
  13. lmfreeman9

    lmfreeman9 Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2007
    Some great previous comments. I'd start with the lightest gauge chromes, which I use.

    Playing flats is perfect for bassists who want to serve the song and not primarily to stand out and cut through. I feel bass should be felt more than heard.

    I wish I could use a pick-it is a very cool sound with flats.
  14. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Well, there's certainly enough examples of players killing it on flats. Thinking of Casady, Doug Ferguson, Jack Bruce, Richard Sinclair, etc. It's not such an in-your-face sound but the notion of being felt more than heard is not particularly true in all cases. It all in what you do with it. The mentioned players may have a more polite tone (especially Ferguson and Sinclair with Caravan) but they're not what I'd call pocket players in the usual sense.
  15. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I agree the brightness many complain about only lasts a short time and the true sound from these strings only improve. I was at a Guitar show a week ago and picked up a set of the Chrome lights 95-40 and had been wanting to try them ...they were like less than half price so a no brainer.
    I put them on one of my P basses and and they are really nice, less tension with the same Chromes tone I love.

    I always use 100-45 but this could be my gauge from now on.
  16. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I think he was refering bass players in the norm not bass players who play more lead or solo bass. For the many of us who feel playing in the pocket and felt is better than heard the flatwound strings work best for it. Flatwounds and that syle of bass playing is what drew me to wanting to be a bass player...the old school tone.
    If I wanted a brighter in your face solos style I think using rounds with an active bass would be the way to go.
  17. Smurf_Byte


    Aug 21, 2011
    I think I'm going to have to give the JimmyM balanced tension chrome set a try. That is, after my Circle K balanced rounds are done. I'm really liking the balanced tension feel rigth now.
  18. It's bot that they are bright and or trebly. For me, they are capable of more treble than the Labellas.


    Then you'll have quite a wait! My Circle K's seem to last a disturbingly long time.
  19. I have La Bella 760FLs on my P-Bass....I've tried pretty much every flatwound string out there and these are my favorite....sound great with fingers and a pick....the tension for me is just right.
  20. singlemalt

    singlemalt Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2007
    White Salmon, WA
    TI jazz flats. Yes, they cost quite a bit more.

    If you don't like them, I guarantee you can easily sell a set cut for a p bass, and recoup some of the cash. I've bought used sets here on TB. They last forever.

    The low tension is easy on the hands. They have a huge range, rewarding all your dynamic efforts.

    I'd be surprised if you ever you ever took them off, except to use rounds again. I've got sets still going after years of play. I've played one set for years, put them on the shelf while I played DR Hellborgs, and then reinstalled the TIs and they are still going strong.

    Like that bottle of good scotch that seems extravagant, these strings are worth trying. Once you've tasted the goodness, the value is easy to see. And they last much longer than a bottle of good scotch, at least around my house.

    It's a huge change from round wounds, so take your time and let your ears and fingers adjust. Its classic sound. Listen to something like Jeff Beck's Wired with Phil Chen and see how the flats and p bass nail it.

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