TI flats..ya learn something new every day

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by adouglas, Jul 12, 2005.

  1. adouglas


    Jun 23, 2003
    Bridgeport, CT
    So last night at practice, I was looking at my aging (18-24 months or so...I don't usually change strings until they really die) set of Elixirs and the coating that's flaking off like skin shedding after a sunburn, and it suddenly occurred to me that, in 23 years of playing, I've never once actually tried putting flats on a fretted bass.

    Could be because my early role models were John Entwhistle and Chris Squire. Could be because I always just assumed that flats would be too muddy, and I kind of like having some growl (but not excessive zing).

    Anyway, on a whim I pulled the set of Thomastik-Infeld Jazz Flats (.043-.136) off of my fretless and stuck them on my fretted 5.

    Surprise, surprise....they sound great (at least to my ear). They feel great. They're smoother-sounding than the old Elixirs, but there's still some growl there...enough to keep me happy, anyway. Perhaps it's that they've got a round wrapping under the flat wrapping. They seem to sit better in the mix, too. And a part I've always had a bit of trouble playing cleanly and smoothly, with a complex run all they way down near the nut, became much easier.

    D*mn. Now I need to buy another set...$71 shipped from Juststrings.

    The whole thing with choosing strings is very frustrating to me. Reviews and mfr descriptions are all totally subjective. And bass strings are just too blasted expensive to try a bunch of different ones looking for some you really like. And even when you do change strings, sometimes it's like going to the eye doctor...is A better or worse than B? Well, it's *different,* but sometimes that's all you can really say.

    I bought the TIs in the first place based entirely on subjective reviews from the net. They seemed fine...but better than others? Who knows? At $71 a set, I'm not likely to go try something else unless they really suck in some horrible way.
  2. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    I've got TI flats on my SR5. They're great for fretted. I never would have thought of trying them but that's what the seller had on it when he sent it to me.
  3. cheezewiz


    Mar 27, 2002
    Go to www.thedudepit.com and get 'em from Dude. He sells TI's MUCH cheaper than that.
  4. adouglas


    Jun 23, 2003
    Bridgeport, CT
    $65.85 shipped...$5.24 less.

    Cheaper, yes. MUCH cheaper? Don't think so.

    Thanks for the lead, though. Didn't know about dudepit. More stuff to do when I should be working! Woo hoo!

    BTW, he didn't have the strings I need listed in the store. Only the xtra longs...that's what the price above is, but I think the regular 34" scale flats are the same. Doesn't mean he doesn't have them, though (don't you dare not report that sentence to your department of double negativity!).

    Department of Redundancy Department
    Ministry of Brownian Motion
  5. bassmonkeee

    bassmonkeee Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
  6. adouglas


    Jun 23, 2003
    Bridgeport, CT
    Guess I shoulda done more homework.

    Thanks for the link. I'll keep it around for the next time I have to buy strings.

    In 2010 or thereabouts!


    PS: Does that Bongo make flushing noises when you turn the knobs?


    (I do think it's a cool bass and it doesn't look all THAT much like a toilet seat when it's actually being played...oh, hell, who am I kidding? It DOES look like a toilet seat, always. Still cool, though.)
  7. I have TI Flats on my P for years now, and they keep singing. I plan on moving them to my J-fretless to see how they work there. I find TI Flats to be pretty middy, and I want more thump from my P.

    The cost of TI Flats for me is very low, as I've not had to change strings in a number of years. They've never gone dead on me.
  8. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    I just ordered a set of TI jazz flats. Enough people have been raving about them, and I've been itching to try something different in the string department (I've used D'Addario nickel rounds for about 531 years now), namely something with less zing on the top (new roundwounds drive me nuts and usually take a week or two of 'breaking in' before I get happy.) Sound examples I've heard sound cool enough, so I'm gonna give them a whirl. Gonna try 'em out on both fretted and fretless.
  9. BuffaloBob4343

    BuffaloBob4343 Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2005
    Buffalo, NY
    I look forward to your report. What make/model are the guitars?
  10. triggert


    Feb 5, 2005
    Got any links to some of those examples? Been trying to hunt for some before I buy new strings but I can't seem to come across any.

  11. adouglas


    Jun 23, 2003
    Bridgeport, CT
    Bear in mind that any sound samples you might hear are subject to huge numbers of variables...which bass, which wood, which electronics, which settings on the electronics, how the sample was recorded (to tape or to a file, for example), whether it was recorded through a preamp or direct with no eq or with post-bass EQ and/or effects/compression (or live, for that matter), room acoustics, playing technique and skill, not to mention freshness of the strings....

    Which basically makes it all useless IMHO. If it were a controlled situation, where you can hear YOUR exact bass/eq/strings/amp/situation compared directly to the EXACT SAME setup with everything identical except for the strings, well, then, that would be a different story.

    But even then, there would still be variables (string age, corrosion, technique, phase of the moon, whatever).

    This goes back to my orignal point...comparisons you read about/hear on the net are next to useless in an absolute sense. There simply are too many variables to make an informed choice. So at the end of the day you wind up relying on the unsolicited, uncontrolled, unverified written opinion of those who choose to post on the forum. Put as much faith in this as you deem wise...it's hardly a scientific sample.

    Basically, you're paying your money and taking your chances. Don't fool yourself into thinking that you're doing anything but that. If you're not willing to risk the price of a set of strings, then you should not buy them based solely on what those on the net say (or based on what you hear in some random sound clip, for that matter).

    Speaking only for myself, I'm perfectly willing to risk a few sawbucks on what I think is a consensus, knowing full well that I might get burned. How else could I possibly determine whether the strings are good or not? Even walking into a store and trying a sample set on one of their basses doesn't work, because I would not have MY amp and MY bass in MY room to compare it to. IMHO it's a crap shoot no matter what you do.

    This post, like everything else you read on the net, is worth EXACTLY what you're paying for it. Never forget that.
  12. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    In this thread: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=190889

    And adouglas has an excellent point. There's no way of knowing for sure what strings will work until you've tried them yourself on your own bass. By listening to sound examples, you can get a general feeling for something (whether it's strings, amps, basses, anything). In my case, I've read enough good reports, heard what sounded good to me on a particular bass, and so I'm gonna give 'em a shot on my own basses (a Rickenbacker and a fretless 4-string Carvin-parts bass, to answer BuffaloBob's question) to hear how they sound.
  13. spiritbass

    spiritbass Supporting Member

    Jun 9, 2004
    Ashland, MO
    My name is Ken and I used to be predjudiced against flat-wound strings. Until I found the Dudepit and TI Flats. They are not your normal flat-wound string. A couple of big differences: the silk wrapping between the core and the wrap and the virgin metal utilized. Laugh about the unadulterated metal if you want, but that's part of the tone difference. Good strings, period.

  14. TI Jazz flats are good strings (for flats).
    I like them for anything that needs good low end thump but I just cannot get passed the dull flat's sound. While TI is about the best, it still exibits this to a good degree, aleit much less than other flats. Playability on the TI Jazz Flat is second to none and they last a very long time I have read.
  15. I revisited the TI Jazz Flats I had stored in my desk drawer.
    They are not nearly as dull as I had previously remembered. They are very good on Lows and have really decent mids for a flat string. They are very smooth sounding. They fit about 80 percent of the struff I play.
    I will keep them on longer this time for a really good checkout.
  16. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Question. Will a normal gauge of TI flats (the ones with .43 - whatever) on a 4 string have less tension than say, light gauge elixirs?
  17. adouglas


    Jun 23, 2003
    Bridgeport, CT
    If I understand the physics of the situation, no.

    (If anyone knows better and can explain why I'm wrong, please correct me.)

    The frequency at which a string vibrates is dependent on three things: Length, mass (which for our purposes is the same as thickness of the string...thicker strings weigh more) and tension.

    The length part is something you can't change, and the tension part is easy (when you turn the tuning peg, you're increasing tension, and therefore the frequency at which the string is vibrating goes up). A more massive string (thicker) will have more mass, which means you have to pull it tighter to vibrate faster. Make sense?

    So...consider a very light string vibrating at a given frequency, and a much heavier one tuned to vibrate at the same frequency. Which do you think would have to be pulled tighter to play the same note? The heavier one, of course.

    If this is hard to visualize, consider what you'd have to do if you put the same thickness of string all the way across the fretboard. The G string would have to be MUCH tighter than the E string...thicker (more massive) strings have to be pulled tighter to vibrate faster.

    This is why you have thin strings for the high notes, and fat strings for the low notes. The gauges are selected so that the tension for each string is more or less the same as that for every other string.

    So: All else being equal, a heavier gauge string will have higher tension than a lighter gauge string.

    (One of the other factors, length, works like this: The longer a given string is, the tighter it has to be to vibrate at a given frequency [think about what happens when you fret a note...you're shortening the string, so you get a higher pitch at a given tension]. The B string on 5 string basses has always been a problem because the tension is so low it gets floppy, which is why there are 35" scale basses...and you never see a 35" scale 4 string, because the extra length is not necessary.)

    But...if your bass is set up well, tension shouldn't really be an issue. If you have a really high action and have to push down so hard you get cramps, then try setting the action lower. YMMV, of course.

    Why *not* use light strings? Lighter strings sound "thinner" and if the tension is really low, they'll get floppy and you'll get a lot of noise if you start digging in and playing hard.
  18. bigtexashonk

    bigtexashonk Supporting Member

    I'm primarily a flatwound player and have the TI Jazz Flats on several basses. Not only is the feel/tone great right out of the box, but the tone gets even better after they've been on the bass for about 6 months. Wow. Solid, Fat, Growl - everything a flat should be.

    Sure beats rubbing BBQ sauce into new bass strings like Stephen Stills used to do when restringing.
  19. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    In regard to the first statement, you really can't say this without knowing more about the individual strings. IOW, you can't just look at gauge and say, oh, this .044 must be lower tension than this .045 (or vice versa). (You could if the differences were really extreme, but that's not the case here.)

    The reason is that there are variances in string construction (e.g., core-to-wrap ratio) that affect tension, even within the same gauge. So the only way to know for sure whether TI Flats are lower tension or not is to check the data (if available). TI publishes these data on their website; however, it appears that Elixir doesn't. So it's not a matter of physics decreeing that the TIs can't be lower tension. In fact, given that Elixir lights are 45 65 85 100, and TIs are 43 58 70 100, and given my own experience with TIs, I'd bet that the TIs are in fact lower tension. But the only way to be sure is to check the data.

    As for your second statement, you're right ... but what I'm saying is that things aren't always equal, even when two strings look the same and have the same external diameter.
  20. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Alright, you guys seem to understand my problem. adouglas, yes normally id agree with you but its just that i hear so much about TIs being low tension that im agreeing with richard in saying that there is more than just the factors you mentioned that affect tension.

    ALso, sorry my elixirs are super lights. .035 - .095 i believe, which, richard, makes it a little more complicated ;)

    These strings are on my Godin, and even tho i dont really play it much anymore, i want to bc it sounds great, but the super lights are thin sounding and above the 12th fret i have to play so gently or it gets lots of noise (think of that noise when Flea digs in).