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What are semi-flats and would they be ok for fretless?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Nash79, Apr 19, 2009.

  1. Nash79


    Sep 20, 2008
    hey just defretted my Samick. Dont really want flatwounds. i heard about these semi-flatwounds just wondering
    1.What are they
    2.Would they be okay for a fretless without ripping up the fingerboard

    cheers :bassist:
  2. Linkert

    Linkert Guest

    Oct 24, 2006
    2. My semi-flats or halfwounds are doing great on my defretted Ibanez Artcore.
  3. Semi-flats are not true flatwounds. They are roundwounds which are literally ground down to a flat surface. This gives the feel of a flatwound, but are a little bighter than flats.

    Like most things that are a compromise, they have their quirks. The groundwounds are usually not quite as polished as a regular flat, and are a little "sticky" or "rough". Their life before dying is usually not as long as a regular flat. I have used two different sets of semi-flats: D'Addario Half-Rounds (The old stainless ones, not the new nickels) and GHS Brite Flats. I preferred the feel and sound of the GHS set, although I have not tried the new D'Addarios with the nickel coating.

    Some other strings that are similar in concept and won't eat your board quite so easily as rounds are GHS Compressed Strings, which are rounds but have been "squashed" by rollers. This smooths the surface and makes it similar to a semi-flat in sound, but still feels like a round. Dean Mrkley makes a set called "Fretmasters" which have been compressed on the windings over strings but left true round over the pups to get a round sound.

    Another option: Tapewounds. They are wrapped in black vinyl and give the bass and "upright" tone. I have used LaBellas, which are flats and Fenders, which are roundwounds. Both are great sets. GHS has its own set of Tapes now, which have yet to try, but are supposed to be thinner and not the huge, thick-gauged strings that the LaBellas and Fenders are.

    Best of luck with whatever you decide.
  4. DaveAceofBass

    DaveAceofBass Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2004
    Charlotte, NC
    If you want a roundwound sound with something that won't eat up your fingerboard get some Ken Smith Compressors. If you want a more upright tone, go with flat wounds. The half or ground wounds I've tried all suck.
  5. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Moddified roundwounds wind up being two different kinds. First is the ground ones. D'Addario Half-Rounds, GHS Brite-Flats, and Dean Markley Ground Round Wound (if DM still makes those) all start as a roundwound string, then they grind or polish the rough edges off the round final wrap wire.

    The other large class of semi-rounds are like the Ken Smith Comprssors, GHS Progressives, etc. These are roundwound strings where the final wrap wires are pressed instead of ground down. They don't remove any metal, but the strings are not nearly as flat on the outer surface as ground rounds, just less abrasive than regular rounds.

    For me, my fretless however has to have full-on roundwounds to get the sound I want. The image of strings chewing up fretless fingerboards is highly over-rated in my opinion. Yes, they do eat up the fingerboard, but that's more due to the way you play than the strings themselves. A light touch with both hands, applying vibrato ALONG the string instead of bending, etc. all contribute to the life of the fingerboard (and string). I used stainless rounds on my fretless' rosewood board for a long time- around 7 years- before it wore to the point of needing replacement. And that was with pretty aggressive use, and I buffed the board a bit too often with sandpaper and steel wool.

    I replaced the board with a chunk of ebony and that's been easily 15 years I think. No wear at all on that.

    I strongly suggest you base your string choice on sound, not on fingerboard wear.

  6. NWB


    Apr 30, 2008
    Kirkland, WA
    Just try some flats in a full-band situation. Then ask yourself about their tone.;)
  7. the low one

    the low one

    Feb 21, 2002
    Status half round are great. Like all half rounds they can be a bit "grippy" when brand new but that goes in a few days and then they give you a much brighter tone than flats. They are more flexible like rounds too which I like as I change between fretted and fretless during the set.
  8. dannybuoy


    Aug 3, 2005
    +1, I have these on my fretless and they sound great. I used GHS Brite Flats before that, but ended up with these after being recommended them. They sound better and are smoother. Very long lasting, lots of growl and mwah!

    Right now I'm looking at a set of flats to replace the rounds on my P-Bass but I can't decide whether to go for the flats or the Status Hotwire Halfs...
  9. Jools4001

    Jools4001 Supporting Member

    Don't overlook Elixirs. They are a true roundwound but have a very thin coating called nanoweb or polyweb that stops dirt and grease getting in between the windings.

    They also have a smooth slippery feel that some don't like but which I think suits fretless perfectly, and in my experience they are very kind to the uncoated rosewood board on my fretless fiver having been using them for 5 years with no appreciable wear.

    I also like the sound of them. From new they don't have the initial zing of uncoated rounds (I guess that's because the very coating that stops the windings clogging up with grease also clogs up the windings to a certain extent). From new they sound like rounds that have been played in for a few weeks, but the thing is that they stay like that for absolutely ages - far more life than standard rounds and very consistent.

    When they die they die quickly, the coating comes off in fine spider web threads and the sound goes thuddy very suddenly

    They are expensive, but in my experience they do last a lot longer. I change regular rounds on my fretted basses about once a month, Elixirs last me about 6 months and the fretless is my main bass these days
  10. loopee

    loopee Supporting Member

    May 12, 2009
    Surrey, B.C. Canada
    I love the GHS Pressurewounds - a little bit of everything and nice on the fingertips too.

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