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What's the Deal with Flats?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by WallyN, Feb 27, 2013.

  1. WallyN


    Jan 11, 2013
    OK I guess you would say I am fairly new to bass. This weekend I am getting my new Classic 50's P in Honey Blonde (Cant wait!) and lately all I keep reading is how flats really bring out the tone yada yada.

    I have only used rounds, sometimes coated (DR Neons on my ESP TA-200 which I really like the feel of)

    Since I am picking up the new bass I figured I would get some new strings and want to know what exactly the flats provide?
  2. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    They basically sound more old-school. Not a lot of treble, more about bottom end thump. Think classic motown, blues, etc. They're not better than rounds, just different.
  3. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    Silky smooth texture. Extremely long life. Very little sustain or high end. Perfect for Motown, some classic rock and Jazz. Not so good for metal or modern rock. IMO.
  4. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    The classic 50's P Bass sound is of course flatwounds (since roundwounds weren't invented until the 60s). If you search on Youtube, you'll find clips of people comparing roundwound vs. flatwound strings (including on a P bass). :)

    ps if you want to hear flatwounds used for metal, check out Steve Harris of Iron Maiden.
  5. Stone Soup

    Stone Soup

    Dec 3, 2012
    My LaBella's sustain as long as any round I've ever used.
  6. Consider the lily.... I mean Tapewounds. U can still get a good twang, workable for slap even, but have a great old school thump too.
    Labella, Fender,GHS,D'addario...
  7. I want my bass to sound like a bass, not like a low-tuned guitar. Flats have stronger fundamentals with less of the upper harmonics, meaning I can occupy my own sonic space without clashing with guitars.
  8. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    All I can say is try them and see what you think.
  9. Man... I can say is I just discovered flats after 20 years of playing roundwounds and it's been fantastic, the inspiration was my new Squier CV 50's P... the rounds were great on it but I just wanted to see what all the fuss was about, and I'm blown away (started a thread about it). They just work on this bass in a way the rounds didn't. It was mainly the thump and huge bottom I was after.
    That was about six weeks ago now, and I just put a second set on another bass and a third set is on way in the mail for a third bass. The strings I have tried are GHS precision flats and Fender flats, with a set of 'Chromes' on the way... I think the GHS P's is the best place to start your journey as general concensus on TB (from my reading) is the GHS Precision flats are the most old school sound for the price...
    I really really like them a lot. As I have a few basses I had the luxury to try out these strings and still have rounds on basses for gigs etc while I checked them out, but I have been using the CV 50's P bass exclusively as my go to for gigs and rehearsals... so the flats are really working out for me, give a set a go.
  10. I agree, sustain is not something that's lost with my Chromes or DR flats.
  11. DrSpunkwater


    Sep 17, 2012
    Me, I don't get what all the flat love is about. Flats are lovely and all, but there's a reason roundwounds were invented: They're infinitely more versatile. You can get just about any sound you want out of a round. But a flat? Good luck. The brightest flat in the world doesn't stand a chance against a Rotosound 66.

    That said, I use tapewounds on my SG bass. They give it quite a deep sound. For my Fender P, I'll stick with Rotosound 66s.
  12. BJMtz


    Oct 18, 2010
    Tucson, AZ
    Is there anyone in modern rock that does use flats?
  13. I started out in the 80's playing bass, I bought the wrong set of Rotosounds at a local music store around 1987 & they were flats. I quickly realized after installing them when trying to play what I was used to there was something different going on, the sustain was short & mostly they didnt ring out the notes like I was used to. I quickly changed them back to rounds & didnt try flats again until about 2 years ago the flats discussion here on TB got the better of me. I feel rounds work for my style better as I developed my way of playing the instrument with rounds. Being that you are new to the bass, in the next couple of months buy a set or two of roundwound strings and Flats, play to songs, jam with people & you will find out which works better for you. Not to say you cant play both, you will favor one over the other.
  14. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    This is a good point, and I don't disagree.

    However, not all gigs require infinite versatility of sound. I'm primarily a "one sound" player, and you'll never see me tweaking knobs between songs.

    I have no doubt that if I strung my main bass with roundwounds, a good engineer could help me achieve my desired tone with a little bit of compression, a ton of EQ, a noise gate to cut down the finger noise, etc.

    Or, I can show up with flats, send a flat signal to the DI, and achieve "my" sound with minimal tweakage. It's a huge timesaver, really, and countless engineers have thanked me for making their job easy.

    But of course that's when I'm going for that specific rock/blues/funk/motown sound I go for 95% of the time. I also have a couple of basses strung with rounds for when I desire different sounds. (And I play acoustic bass guitar, upright, 5 string, fretless, piano, etc.) I have no emotional attachment to strings, just whatever's practical to easily achieve my musical goals.
  15. gr8bassplayer


    Feb 12, 2013
    Or you could compromise.... I love my half wounds, they have the low end smoothness of the flats, but also the edge of the rounds.
  16. Catalina_Eddy


    Feb 27, 2013
    Back in the 70's I used Roto 66's on everything. But I switched to flats. Thomastik-Infield Jazz on my 'Jazz' & Pyramids on my 'P'. Plenty of tonality, growl & bite on both. Finger noise minimized as is fret wear. fingerstyle or pick, I find flats actually more versatile.
  17. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    I find flats a waste of time and money.
  18. awamori


    Dec 10, 2009
    I use both and not partial to either of them.

    I use flats because I need a mellower and smoother tone in 3/5 band I play in because they're Jazz/Jazz Fusion type bands.

    On the other hand are my 5 strings which I hate the boominess that flats give to the Low B.
  19. A few good points but missing the most important one: In 1951 Leo Fender released the first Precision bass, it was supposed to emulate the sound of an upright and guess what kind of strings it got on it? Yes, you guess it...The first roundwound bass strings were made much later by Rotosound at the end of the 60's.
  20. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Juan Alderete, Justin Meldal-Johnsen, Andy Hess, Sean Hurley, Ben Kenney...

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