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What Strings Do You Use On Your F-Bass?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by winston, Apr 29, 2003.

  1. winston


    May 2, 2000
    Berkeley, CA
    So what are my fellow F-Bass players using? I have a gorgeous BN-5 that I've yet to find the perfect strings for.

    Most of the time I use the bass in passive single coil mode because it sounds so damn good. Right now I'm in a Latin jazz group and a dub/reggae project. I play with pick or fingers, sometimes tap but rarely slap. My ideal sound is deep and clear with a full but not honky midrange. Here's what I've used so far:

    1) Stock La Bella Super Steps-Didn't like these at all. Both the set that came on the bass and the identically gauged set I replaced them with died very quickly (even though I wipe strings clean after playing). These strings also have weird overtones, particularly higher up on the B and E.

    2) D'Addario Medium XL's-These were my favorites. Really complex midrange, not too bright. B was pretty disappointing, though-maybe I'll try the Slowounds with the tapered B.

    3) Adamas Medium Light Nickel-The best cheap strings I've found--flexible, good string to string balance, but not the most detailed sound overall.

    4) Dean Markley Light Nickel-Plated Blue Steel-Dean Markley's the company I've had the best luck with over the years and I like these strings quite a bit. However, I think I'm coming to realize that I don't really like stainless steel in my bass strings.

    I'm thinking of checking out Slowounds, DR Sunbeams or Fatbeams, possibly TI Jazz Rounds. I have TI Flats on another bass; I've considered putting some flats on the F but I'm not sure they'd bring out the instrument's remarkable tone and sustain. Anyone using groundwounds or pressurewounds?
  2. DaveB


    Mar 29, 2000
    Toronto Ontario
    I don't own an F Bass but have seriously auditioned them a number of times. You might want to try the TI Jazz Flats as an experiment. I think they would compliment the F Bass tone and they have more than enough sustain.
  3. Ziggy


    May 9, 2001
    Orange County, CA
    I have used both the D' Addario and Dean Markley strings... picked up the D' Addarios for a show I was doing last month, March. (alot of Motown, Classic Rock and R & B tunes)

    My preference is, and has been for some time, the Dean Markleys. I use the Blue Steel Roundwounds - ML. Those are probably to brite and 'farty' for your sound, but the "nickel wrapped" should be a bit softer and warmer...

    Don't know if that helps, but thought I would toss a nickel into the pot,
    michael s.
  4. I have used DR Hi-Beams on my passive BN6, and was very happy - they lasted a long time and had nice bright sound (without annoying "twang") for months.

    I just installed Platinums from Club Bass (www.clubbass.ca), and so far like the sound, although I am still undecided on the tension being a bit higher than a like (the only gauges available in the set are 30 45 65 85 105 128, I was used to 30 40 60 80 100 120). And I don't know how they will last, but for the price ($32.95 CAD) I HAD to try them! :cool:

    I need to replace the LaBella Supersteps on my Studio 5, and I am torn. I like the feel and looser tension offered by the tapered strings, but preferred the sound of the DR's on my BN6. I'll see how the Platinum experiment works on the BN6 before deciding later this week.
  5. Jim Dombrowski

    Jim Dombrowski Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    Colorado Springs, CO
    A nice replacement for the LaBella Supersteps are the Fodera Diamond taperwound strings. I used them on my F Bass fretless for years.

    On basses not requiring taperwound strings, I like DR Lowriders.

  6. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    Hey all,

    I like Labella Hard Rockin' steel strings a lot. They don't have the harmonic-beating quality of Super Steps, and they have great fundamentals they last a long time. Ed Friedland hipped me to these, and I think he uses them on everything.

    Club Bass strings are great too. Good sound, long lasting. I think Dave made a modification with the Platinum series that is even better than the strings I've tried from there.

  7. winston


    May 2, 2000
    Berkeley, CA
    Thanks everyone for your replies. I might look into DRs and those Fodera tapers sound interesting.

    One more question-is it possible to use non-taper strings on the non-adjustable wood-bridged fretless F-Basses, or does that mess with the action/intonation too much?
  8. Jim Dombrowski

    Jim Dombrowski Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Using non-taper wound strings on the non-adjustable F Bass bridge would result in very high action.

    However, if you ask George, he'll send you another blank of Corian. You can then create another bridge saddle with the proper height and profile for non-taperwound strings. He sent me one last year, including some hand-written notes on the best way to get the desired string height. I never did get around to shaping the new saddle, and I just sold the bass and sent the blank to the new owner with the bass. I had also thought about creating another saddle out of hardwood instead of the Corian the George uses. if you try this, you have to be sure that the thickness is correct. It needs to be snug, but if it is too tight, you could crack the bridge if it swells. That's probably the reason he uses Corian instead of wood for the saddle.

    Jim D
  9. Thumper


    Mar 22, 2000
    Syracuse Ut
    Hey Jim, what's the latest on your fretless Roscoe journey?

    I'll start my search here: does anybody make black roundwounds? I want to put black strings on my fretless Fbass (green ceruse, ebony board) just for looks, and all I've found are flats.
  10. xush


    Jul 4, 2001
    mobile AL
    I'm using DR's on my BNF5, and I posted a link for some black rounds in the '6 string fretless' thread that you also posted in. They're not cheap, but they have me curious too. I emailed juststrings about them, we'll see if they have any info for me...
  11. Jim Dombrowski

    Jim Dombrowski Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Thumper: The Roscoe fretless journey has been an interesting one. I ordered a new SKB3005 fretless from Keith, and was able to get one that was nearly complete so I could avoid the long wait. Then, a couple of weeks ago I found a really good deal on a used fretless SKB3006 so I asked Keith to hold off shipping the 5-string until I had a chance to play the 6. The 6-string arrived yesterday. I played it for about two hours and decided that, although it's a stunning bass with killer tone, it's too damned heavy! I also found that I could live without a high C string. So, I'm getting the 5-string and selling the 6-string. I'll probably run ads to sell it this week.


    Jim D.
  12. Thumper


    Mar 22, 2000
    Syracuse Ut
    Jim, regarding GAS, and the search for "the one" it's like the Dead said "what a long strange trip it's been."

    How heavey is too heavy?

    I've acquired a fretless Fbass, your fretless 535, and a fretted Sadowsky after I got my Elrick, and the Elrick is still my favorite....I guess the search is winding down.

    I checked my Fbass last nite, it has a non-tapered B, so maybe my bridge saddle has already been modified.
  13. Jim Dombrowski

    Jim Dombrowski Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    Colorado Springs, CO
    I don't know the exact weight of the Roscoe 6, but I'd guess it's close to 11 pounds. Some people don't mind the weight, but I find it uncomfortable.

    I keep hearing good things about the Elrick basses, especially the fretless models. I'd love to try one, but I'm not ready to order one just to find out. I've never really cared for the body design either, so I'm not sure I'd want one.

    Are there photos of your Elrick fretless anywhere here on TalkBass?

    If you have a non-tapered B string on the F Bass, the bridge saddle has definitely been modified, or it would have very high action.

  14. Thumper


    Mar 22, 2000
    Syracuse Ut
    Jim, I don't want to add to anyone's GAS, so I won't send you any photo's :D The only one on talkbass is the one in my avatar. Aero's website has a full shot of the bass as well.

    I'm don't think Elrick's are for everyone visually. However; this is the only bass I have ever played that when I first strapped it on, it felt like I was home again (home being my '66 Jazz, but I'm addicted to 5ers). My Sadowsky is close, but it's fretted....

    Did you ever fondle that Benavente you spoke of once? I've heard very good things about them as well.
  15. Jim Dombrowski

    Jim Dombrowski Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    Colorado Springs, CO
    A friend of mine has three Benavente basses, and while they're nicely constructed, I found each of them to be very different and tonally inconsistent from bass to bass. When you play a Roscoe, MTD or Sadowsky (for instance), you know that you're getting a particular sound associated with that builder. Each Benavente sounded very different from the others, as if he's still experimenting with woods and construction techniques.

  16. gfab333


    Mar 22, 2000
    Honolulu, Hawaii

    I play a different style from what you've been doing, so take my post on stringing my BN5 with a grain of salt.

    I play R & B, funk, and top 40 stuff. I play fingerstyle as well as the Marcus Miller slap thing. but I gotta admit, I really admire the guys that can play a mean tumbao, with feel! That said, I've tried various DR sets, GHS Super Steels, Fodera Diamond Compressed round / stainless steel, and Fender 7250 nickel plated.

    The best sounding set was the DR stainless steel marcus miller signature 5 string set (that's what the label says). next, the Fender set, but they died off pretty quick. The Fodera sounded good, but was too stiff / high tension for my liking. The GHS sounded good, but the taper B did not have the articulation that I was looking for; it did not provide enough string tension for my liking. I'm still exploring...
  17. Brian Barrett

    Brian Barrett

    Nov 25, 2001
    Murfreesboro, TN (Nashville)
    Dealer LowEndBassShop.com, Builder LowEndBasses.com


    I hope this helps. With the Benavente's they’re built to the order and to customize the tone the purchaser wants. Different woods are used to create different tones. That's the nice thing about Benavente's, their not cookie cut basses. People can get what they want and the electronics amplify the tone not cover it up so everything sounds the same like many. There are a lot of builders building this way because people are tired of being stuck in the realm of, I can buy X, Y or Z bass and they all sound pretty much the same.

    Benavente offers different pickups to give the purchaser a selection to choose from because all pickup makers sound different and have different attributes. The Preamps in the basses are all the Benavente pre's which are clear yet aggressive and give you full control over the tone of the instrument.

    I think you will find this is the reason why you will find a number of Benavente owners have 2-5 Benavente's. Unlike many instrument that have one tone and no matter how many of that make you buy they will all have very much the same tone. Benavente's are built for the customer and the desire he or she wants to capture. We can build you 2-5 basses that all sound the same if you would like. Many buy different wood combinations and pickups combinations to create different situational instruments and yet they can get that out of one brand unlike some other makers.

    I hope this helps and if you have any other questions feel free to contact me.

  18. Jim Dombrowski

    Jim Dombrowski Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    Colorado Springs, CO

    Everything you say makes sense, and I was not trying to be overly critical. My point is that if I hear or a play a Benavente, and then decide to order one, there is a chance the bass I get will sound nothing like the bass I heard (unless I order the exact same bass). This might be ok in some instances, but someone ordering a custom bass often wants certain woods or options based on personal preferences. They may be surprised that the sound of the bass is not what they were expecting.

  19. Brian Barrett

    Brian Barrett

    Nov 25, 2001
    Murfreesboro, TN (Nashville)
    Dealer LowEndBassShop.com, Builder LowEndBasses.com
    Hey man, no problem. I wasn't on the defense but just wanted to explain.
    I've had a number of sadowsky's come through and I think they all sound very different. I've only had about 3 out of all the ones through the shop I would personally keep. Same goes for MTD's and other brands. My point is that even a bass with a sig sound like Bartolini or Fbass or sadowsky or Smith is still going to sound very different depending on the woods. Smith never sound the same, they always have a different voice. You can tell the smith sound, but you put a room of Smiths up against each other and they all sound different. People buy on the woods they desire to attribute to the tone.

    Take Fodera, there are no two fodera's that have the same sound. Totally different from a Smith sound and the Fodera is more inclined to depend on the woods put into the bass.

    I guess maybe what I'm trying to say and it might be just to me self to figure out how to explain it :) But a Smith has a sig sound and the wood attributes to that sound. A Benavente's sound comes from the player and the woods in the bass. The preamp is there to enhance the tone of the woods and pickups, not to create a signature sound.

    Nothing neg about either one, just different. Basses that I find are less colored and tend to enhance more are sadowsky's, Nordstrand, Fodera, Fbass, etc. Smiths are wonderful basses and I love the smith tone. But its more of a signature sound almost like hearing a Pbass on a record. You know its a Pbass.

    When you hear a Fodera do you know its a fodera or do you just think "Man thats a kick a$$ sounding bass" ? I don't think they have a distinctive tone they rely on the player and the woods.

    WOW, ok, I'm threw :)
  20. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    I still don't get the "Bartolini sound" thing. I have a house full of basses with Barts and the only quality they share is that they sound great iin their own way. Otherwise my Brubakers would sound like my MTD which would sound like my old Tobiases which would sound like my Stambaugh which would sound like my Lakland which would sound like my Elricks which don't even sound like each other;) Ad nauseum.

    They don't.

    I know this is OT but I'd love to know what the Bart sound is supposed to be? I've heard people call them muffled, I've heard people say that they have no highs... both claims are ridiculous IME. It would take real talent to limit my MTD to sounding muffled.

    On my F Bass Studio 5 I current have Smith Burner NPS Nickel strings and they feel and sound great.