Tried flats last night for the first time, but didn't seem to cut it

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by throbbinnut, Dec 15, 2013.

  1. Alrighty, we had a gig last night, and I do have 2 or 3 variables at work here, so it may not be the strings, but I played the first set with my new Squier 51 P-bass with single coils and Rotosound 77 flats. It was alright, but for the next set I broke out my Fender Modern Player Telecaster with D'Addario roundwounds and the mudbuckers, and then everything was awesome. I played with that bass the rest of the night, and I could hear myself, and everything seemed good.

    So, was it the strings, or the pickups, or the bass? Amp is a homemade 80 Watt tube amp through an Altec Lansing 421A 15" speaker, tone rolled down about half-way on both basses, playing with fingers on both basses. I adjusted the amp to have equal volume for both basses (had to turn the preamp up for the single coils), but the rounds/humbucker just seemed to have more presence (mid-bass) in the mix. Any ideas? I may just be a roundwound lover after all...

  2. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Well, first off, did you try rolling the tone back up? No need to leave your knobs in the same position when you make a huge change like going from rounds to flats. Any time you make a major change in gear (strings included) you have to dial it in. Let you ears be your guide, not numbers on a dial.

    That being said, I have a love/hate relationship with flats as well. I can't stand them when I am playing alone. But they seem to sit well in a mix. I use them sometimes but always tend to go back to my good old D'Addario XL strings.

    Do you have a sound guy? What did he think?

    But the simple answer is try dialing in your bass with flats. This may require tweeking on both the bass and amp. Forget the numbers and dial positions and let your ears take the EQ where it needs to go.

    Good luck with it either way.
  3. mrb327


    Mar 6, 2013
    Nobody Knows
    +1 to everything Two Fingers said. At some point maybe also consider trading the strings from one bass to the other, and try again.

    You wont be the first one here to jump ship...or back and forth
  4. RxFunk


    Dec 2, 2012
    How long had the flats been on your bass?
  5. prd004


    Dec 3, 2010
    The first time one uses flats it usually goes something like this.........

    They feel great on your fretting hand, almost alluring, but the tone seems to be missing so much that you think "there's no way I could ever use these"

    Then either A) you take the flats off, never use them again and you become one of those people who describe it as a dull, lifeless thud here on talkbass.
    Or B) you plan on taking them off but either you're too lazy to do it right away or you decide to leave them on for a short while before reaching a conclusion.

    If you're on plan B you then slowly become accustomed to the flats and you realize that the tone can be useful and that for some styles of music the flats may actually work.

    Eventually you grow to love flats, and while they may not be perfect for everything, they are awesome for many things.
  6. Khronic

    Khronic Richard J. Naimish Banned

    Oct 24, 2006
    Grand Junction, CO.
    prd004, very well put, thank you for sharing that. +1
  7. Thanks for the feedback. Yeah, I was fiddling with the tone knob on my basses - I always dial in a low-fi tone where the treble just disappears so I don't have any clanging from the string. I probably won't give up on the flats yet. I'll leave them on and try them a few more times. They are only a couple of weeks old. We don't have a sound guy, so no telling what it sounded like out front.

  8. Vintagefiend

    Vintagefiend I don't care for 410 cabinets at all.

    Aug 6, 2013
    Columbia, MO
    As soon as I put flats on a P-bass, I was a total convert.
  9. Vintagefiend

    Vintagefiend I don't care for 410 cabinets at all.

    Aug 6, 2013
    Columbia, MO
    well, flats naturally have less treble and are already pretty 'clang-less' - you can turn your tone knob and treble up. Mids too. Gets some pretty cool overtones happening that way, especially with an 80w tube amp.
  10. Jwood

    Jwood Supporting Member

    Jan 20, 2011
    Richmond, Va
    I used flats for the first time last night at band rehearsal. Felt good but sounded like crap in my opinion. Tried boosting and cutting treble and mids, and certain times it sounded like i wasn't in tune. I'm going to leave them on for a few more rehearsals before I make any finial decisions but first time round was kinda depressing.
  11. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    It's also a thing of what you expect to hear coming out of your amp, what the tone is you're familiar with (like the frequencies you're "listening for" when you listen to the mix). Every time I play a bass with rounds I go eh, doesn't sound like flats, occupies a different place in the band's sonic space, feels different, etc.
  12. Mike in Chicago

    Mike in Chicago Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2011
    I don't like the way they feel. I need the feel of rounds. Flats (and this is from my doing acid and dust all the time) make me feel like my fingers are melding with the string…it's a weird feeling. Flashbacky. Again, mainly from behavior in a past life.

    But they sound pretty good.