Upping My Flatwound Game

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by JimmyM, Jun 18, 2019.

  1. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Always loved flats but mostly needed rounds through the years, so that's what I ended up using except on rare occasions. Just started doing gigs with a mellow but edgy 4-member band with a fingerstyle electric guitarist, harmonica, drums and bass. On the gigs I've done so far, I used dead Dunlop Super Bright Nickels, which do a great imitation of flats but miss the mark this band needs. But only one of my basses was stage ready with flats and none of my Fenders were. So for the past few days I've been working on some of my lesser played basses and converting them to flats, and now I've got 5 to choose from! And best of all, I used old strings that I had laying around so I didn't have to go out of pocket. None of them are worth a lot, and a couple were rock bottom dirt cheap, but they all have great sound and good reasonably low action, which is a must for me.

    Please allow me to present the collection and dissect them a little...

    Flats basses.jpg

    2009 Danelectro Dead-On Longhorn: Got it for half off after it and its twin sat in Sam Ash for a year. While the Chinese Danos often get slagged for being even more cheap and flimsy than most Danos, it's been a total rock for me, sounds terrific, and even survived several flights checked as baggage in my SKB Bass Safe and a gigbag. And once you get it in tune it stays there, despite the really crappy Kluson knock-off guitar tuners. Drilled a hole for a Dunlop Straplok in the upper horn when I got it (the original is behind the neck in a really bad location), and it hasn't moved, either. Sports an older set of LaBella short scale DTF's 39-96 as of a few days ago, and like all my shorties with wood bridges, took very little time to set up for flats.

    2005 Jay Turser violin bass: Bought it new as a relief bass for my sore shoulder, ended up loving it till I got the violin bass next to it. Always sounded more even and less exciting than the other, which totally has THE sound. But recently, I've been playing it more and I'm thinking the tone has somehow improved and is getting more badass. Plus it's built and plays better than the other, which has a slightly twisted neck and that quirky 60's Japanese thing of making the string spacing the same from nut to bridge. Being a practical sort, I'll probably use the Turser more with them since it's less of a challenge to play more difficult lines. And it's not far enough off the mark of the other tonally to where I'll feel inadequate by any means. Has D'addario Chromes balanced tension 45-95.

    1967 or 68 Realistic violin bass: Got this in I think 2012 as a project. Only bought it because it was hilarious that it was sold at Radio Shack. But it turned out great and became my go-to hollowbody. It's the standard Matsumoku violin bass build of the late 60's with some quirks...the aforementioned strings spaced out the same from nut to bridge and slightly warped neck, and it has rattly tuner paddles that always need super glued, but it has THE sound you expect from violin basses as discussed before and still feels pretty good under the hands despite the spacing slowing me down somewhat. Sounds awesome with dirt, too, especially fuzz! Has LaBellas 39-96 that I put on when I first got it, and was the only bass ready to play out that I had till this weekend.

    1995 Fender Precision Lyte with EMG PJ actives and BQC Preamp: Bought in 2008 as a relief bass that was more Fendery than the Turser. Hated the stock active system, discovered it only sounds good with really hot pickups and sounds blah with vintage output pickups. Went through Duncan Quarter Pounders and DiMarzio Model PJ before the EMG's. Seems a strange choice for flats, but I've used it before with Chromes and was really happy with the sound and the ability to dial in different classic flats tones without changing amp settings. A bit cleaner and more hi-fi for lack of a better term, but I was quite happy with it before. Was sporting new Dunlop SBN rounds 40-100, but put new Dunlop flats 45-105 on it Sunday evening. Wasn't sure if I'd like the heavier gauges, especially when the truss rod took two days to set right, but I love the extremely smooth feel, they're lower tension than most flats, and they go way thumpy when dead. Might still prefer them lighter, but my next bass has had them for a few months and it's working out on them pretty well, and it's not like we're Vulfpeck, if you know what I mean.

    Parts PJ: Got the J style neck from StewMac in the mid-90's, bought the plywood body and bridge off Ebay as a package in 2000 or 2001, and in both cases it was because they were the absolute cheapest parts I could find at the time. Mostly has been a tester for parts and strings where I didn't want to mess up a good bass with something I may not like. Feels cheap compared to my MIA Fenders and my Hammersmith, but plays pretty well otherwise and sounds like any good Fender should now that I've got my favorite EMG Geezer Butler PJ's in it.

    Flats game before tonight: weak.

    Flats game tonight: strong.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2019


    Dec 15, 2013
    Nice little bass family you got there :bassist:
    zon6c-f and JimmyM like this.
  3. BassDaddy77


    Feb 12, 2010
    NE Ohio
    Flatsville USA! Sweet gang of misfits to choose from! :bassist:
    JimmyM likes this.
  4. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Totally the Land of Misfit Toys here! A couple I haven't played onstage in years, and they've all only seen occasional use.
    zon6c-f, dan1952, Misfit toys and 2 others like this.
  5. bobyoung53

    bobyoung53 Supporting Member

    I've had flats on my main Fender P/J down here in Lima, I'm using .039- .096 on it, I tried a new set of DR Sunbeams on it a few weeks ago, took them off the next day, way too clangy, I do really like those strings on my Tony Franklin fretless though, backwards i know. The fretted P/J sounds great with a pick through an SVT and a single B-15T 15" cab.
    I remember Lafayette (Radio Shack's competitor) selling basses and guitars when I was a kid. I laughed before when you said you had a Realistic violin bass, haha! I have an Eko violin bass, sounds great but it's a real POS, I think it has single coils, it sounds nothing at all like a Hofner. I remember drooling over a triple pickup guitar(wow!) in the Lafayette catalogue that I KNEW was going to sound just like the guitar in Freddy and the Dreamers' "I'm Telling You Know":laugh:.

    JimmyM likes this.
  6. 2saddleslab

    2saddleslab Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    Gotta love the Longhorn.
    JimmyM likes this.
  7. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    And I'll bet it does :D My buddy Vance Brescia who plays guitar with Peter Noone and Herman's Hermits uses Teiscos, which I imagine are awfully similar to that one in the Lafayette catalog, and they do "I'm Telling You Now" at some of their shows and it sounds just like it!
    bobyoung53 likes this.
  8. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Bump so the after-work crowd can enjoy my awesome collection of flatwound crap basses :D
    HD007, mc900ftj, Mastermold and 5 others like this.
  9. fenwickbacker


    Jun 12, 2004
    New Orleans
    Sweet collection! 4 of my 5 basses have flats, though I've settled on Labella 760FLs as my favorite strings.
    JimmyM and TemplesOfSyrinx like this.
  10. EatS1stBassist


    Apr 15, 2016
    So cal
  11. Hey Jimmy,
    Nice collection!
    All good choices for flats.
    I once had a early 60s Dano.
    You should try a flat pick on that dude.
    It might not be the sound you wanted,
    but it is sure another tool in the tool box.
    EatS1stBassist and JimmyM like this.
  12. ardgedee


    May 13, 2018
    Radio Shack had a history of using interesting OEMs for their audio equipment. In the 60s they mostly sold third-party stereo equipment, from Fisher and Wharfedale back when those were the TOTL brands. In the 70s they rebadged Stax and AKG headphones, ELAC turntables, and Hitachi tape decks with Realistic logos. In the 90s, Crown amps and PZM microphones, and Linnaeum speakers, also with Realistic badges on them.

    A lot of stuff at Radio Shack was garbage, but there were a lot of interesting gems there too.
    staurosjohn, JimmyM and petrus61 like this.
  13. msb


    Jul 3, 2002
    Halifax,N,S. Canada
    Nice little Longhorn . Great little basses ! And they can thump .
  14. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Sometimes parts just come together well. Nice collection.

    So how about this band? What kinds of stuff do you do?
    EatS1stBassist and JimmyM like this.
  15. The Flats Are Strong With This One!
  16. edencab


    Aug 14, 2013
    Toronto, On

    Hi JimmyM...love your parts bass :thumbsup:;)... my kit bass is strung with GHS Precision flats...great tone and feel...happy with the stock pick ups, but may change someday

    bobyoung53 and JimmyM like this.
  17. CapnSev


    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    Man, I go flats 100% of the time. I love the tone, but the feel can’t be beaten. For that reason alone, I’ll go flats every time.

    Besides, there are so many varieties out there these days, you can practically get into roundwound tonal territory if that’s what you’re after.
  18. Kudos to you my friend for mentioning one of my faves from that time period ie “Freddy and the dreamers”. Anyone remember “The Applejacks”,with the rare sight of a female bass player?.
    EatS1stBassist, bobyoung53 and JimmyM like this.
  19. RudyTardy


    Aug 20, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Been absolutely loving the Dunlop flats 45-105 on my CS ‘59 precision, Jimmy. Great mid presence to accompany the thump.
    JimmyM likes this.
  20. I opened this thread wondering if someone had finally tried hammering their flats as flat as they will go...
    Need Gigs and JimmyM like this.