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What tapewounds to sound like an upright?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by cazclocker, Mar 19, 2017.

  1. cazclocker

    cazclocker My social skills are rapidly dwindling.

    Oct 24, 2014
    Newton, Kansas
    I'm a longtime user of Fender Precisions strung w/ TI Jazz Flats. I'm in the process of converting my Indonesian-made Squier "Precision Plus" into an electric upright (sort of), and I'd like to know what tapewounds would most closely emulate the sound of a gut-strung doghouse. The Squier is fitted with a set of EMG Geezer Butler P-J's, and I've been really happy with the sound so far. Yes, I'm much happier with my other P's but for a little $120 Precision, it's got a great tone.

    So far my signal chain is the Squier into a Lava Cable ELC 12-footer, into a PF800 into a PF115HE. Like I said, I've been using TIJF's for a long time, but for this bass I need a thuddier sound, so I think I want to try some tapewounds. But I'm unfamiliar with the various brands, except for the Jamerson LaBella's, Cobalts, and some set by Rotosound I heard about recently.

    Is there some kind of consensus as to the superiority of one brand of tapewounds, as opposed to another brand? Or is it another one of those things where the opinions are all over the map?

    Thanks in advance...
  2. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    What I use for a faux-upright sound in a bass guitar is LaBella tape wounds. Mind you this is on a home built short scale, piezo pickup hollowbody so there a quite a few differences from your bass. For the record, I don't find tape wounds to be all that "thumpy". They are after all a round wound string covered in a nylon tape outer wind.
    Zane DeBord, scuzzy and cazclocker like this.
  3. Nothing wound in tape will sound like an upright. Even if you wound an upright in tape, it would no longer sound like an upright.
    ColdEye, MattZilla, petey293 and 2 others like this.
  4. craigie


    Nov 11, 2015
    Deamadream is right that only an upright will sound like an upright IMO. However, labella deep talkin tape wounds (black with gold silks) are awesome strings. Think Paul McCartney. That's the sound of them on a hollow body. Not really like an upright but more of a thumpy sound than a typical electric bass sound. The Ibanez portamento with piezo pickups does sound awesome. Maybe an acoustic bass guitar with the frets pulled and.piezo pickups with deep talkins and a preamp and EQ will get you some of the way there.

    Nothing will give you the big percussive attack of the DB, nor the growling, clacking, depth of tone etc. With great DB's the whole bass just vibrates and the notes open up and blossom.

    Funny that you mention gut strings which have a less focused sound and larger initial attack and fade than steel strings. You can probably get closer to a modern upright sound of guys who use steel strings, low action and amplification like Eddie gomez and Stanley Clarke.
    cazclocker likes this.
  5. el_Bajo_Verde


    May 18, 2016
    They're not tapes, but I found that La Bella Low Tension Flexible Flats sounded a lot like an upright to me
    ColdEye and cazclocker like this.
  6. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    The closest to upright tone I've ever heard has been a fretless acoustic bass guitar with tapewounds strings (brand doesn't matter) with very high action played hard with the meaty part of the index finger. It kinda sorta sounds like an upright. Not too far off. The question is whether or not kinda sorta and a generally unpleasant playing experience is better than using a regular bass tone or playing an actual upright.
    tfer, scuzzy, ColdEye and 2 others like this.
  7. CrashClint

    CrashClint I Play Bass therefore I Am

    Nov 15, 2005
    Wake Forest, NC
    DR Strings Dealer (local only)
    A friend had three pickup sensors put in his Tacoma along with LaBella Tape wounds. It is the closest thing I have heard to an upright and the action was pretty high. He let me borrow it for a one set gig and man did it give my left hand a workout.

    Gorn and cazclocker like this.
  8. cazclocker

    cazclocker My social skills are rapidly dwindling.

    Oct 24, 2014
    Newton, Kansas
    Thanks guys. I realize I'm not going to sound just like an upright, I just wanted my Squier Precision Plus to sound more like an upright than my other Precisions.
    Which LaBella strings have lower tension... Deep Talkin' or Low Tension Flexible Flats?
  9. HaphAsSard


    Dec 1, 2013
    Besides La Bella, I've seen folks swear on Rotosound and Pyramid black nylons for maximum upright emulation. Ask @iiipopes and @beate_r, respectively.
    cazclocker likes this.
  10. woodyng2

    woodyng2 Supporting Member

    Oct 4, 2015
    Oregon Coast
    Another vote for the Labella classic black tapewounds. They sounded especially urb-ish on my semihollow Carvin Ac40 fretless. (Piezo pickup).
    City and BluesWalker like this.
  11. chilliwilli


    Aug 17, 2005
    I think your confusing Rotosound Tru bass 88 with labellas. Labellas have purple silk and McCartney used the tru bass which have gold silks on let it be along with other tracks on Abbey Road
    Groove Doctor likes this.
  12. skwee


    Apr 2, 2010
    Tapewounds help my bass sound fretless, though not necessarily like an upright, since it is a solid-body instrument. The instrument itself sounds woody, though, and when we are playing a bluegrass tune, it could be said to resemble that upright sound.
  13. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Interesting, I get maximum upright sound/vibe from TI Jazz Flats (the brand you are wanting to move away from).

    ps I actually play upright.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2017
  14. VerryBerry

    VerryBerry Supporting Member

    Mar 4, 2012
    Alberta, Canada
    I think GHS Precision Flats are pretty thumpy / woody sounding on a solid body bass. I have a set on my 70's series Classic Vibe Squier and coincidentally I have also put in Geezers split coils. Again, not quite upright, but will definitely sound different compared with your other basses.

    I think these are higher tension though. For me that is mitigated somewhat, because I tune that bass to E-flat.
  15. morgan138


    Dec 10, 2007
    I know you're probably/mostly being hyperbolic here, but...they haven't even invented steel or synthetic upright strings that sound quite like guts.

    If you can pull that off with an electric bass guitar, I will definitely subscribe to your newsletter etc.
    ColdEye likes this.
  16. I have the Rotosound Tru bass 88s on a Michael Kelly Dragonfly fretless ABG. It sounds great, and with some foam under the strings, I can almost sorta get the upright vibe.
    But if I compare it to my upright, not so much.
  17. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    You also need to play up over the neck and get more finger meat on the string, and listen to the phrasing of string bass players. A fretless helps.

    Meanwhile - I am very anxious to try one of the new Ibanez basses designed just for this purpose with an acoustic pickup at the bridge. My next $700 - - -
    Ibanez SRH500F Fretless - Natural Browned Burst Flat
    birdman14 and 40Hz like this.
  18. Versatek6

    Versatek6 Fretless is like Trombone Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2008
    Twin Cities, MN
    Therse were suggested tome for ABG also. Playing up on the neck, and using some foam or cloth muting at the bridge helped the faux URB tone.
  19. hondo4life


    Feb 29, 2016
    I love that Ibanez
    But I don't like the thin Ibanez necks
    cazclocker likes this.
  20. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    I always got closest to an upright-ish kinda sorta "well not really - but close enough" sound with flats rather than tapewounds. The GHS Precision Flats work very well for that despite my generally liking LaBella a little better when it comes to flatwounds. Tapes always sounded too muffled to me. Because a well made upright, despite all the thwump on the bottom, also will have some nice melodic overtones on the mids and top. Most tapewounds I've tried won't give you that although the LaBella White Nylon Copper set can do it very nicely as long as you fiddle with your EQ setting as bit so they're not too midrangey.

    But that's me and what I'm hearing, so YMMV. :thumbsup:
    cazclocker, VerryBerry and ColdEye like this.