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Which flats are the most 'versatile'?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by sbpark, Jan 31, 2013.

  1. sbpark

    sbpark Supporting Member

    May 26, 2010
    I've read quite a few threads on here and done a few searches. I've beed a diehard D'Addario guy pretty much ever since I picked up a guitar about 20 years ago, but recently converted over to GHS strings for my banjo. I've read quite a few threads on here and done a few searches regarding flats, and am thinking about either the GHS Brite Flats or Pressurewound Flats.

    I really love the way flats sound, but I also play other styles of music that probably aren't optimal for flats. The sound I am going for most of the time is a more old-school, thumpy, more muted sound that flats would obviously provide (old school country, motown, bluesy type stuff, and even the 'rock' bassists I like (Carlos Dengler from Interpol, John Stiratt from Wilco, Colin Greenwood from Radiohead) have a more subdued, mellow round sound that flats wold most likely provide. But when I get together and jam with my friends its heavier, harder, indie-rock type stuff. I prefer to play with my fingers, but mix it up when I play with friends.

    So my question is this, is there a flatwound string that has that nice, round, thumpy tone, but could POSSIBLY be a little brighter with a touch more bite so that it cuts through a little bit? Obviously playing with a pick will change the tone and brighten it up, as will how close or far from the bridge I'm picking, as does my tone controls on my amp & bass (I'm well aware of all these variables!) I only have one bass (1976 Precision), so stringing one with flats and one with rounds isn't an option at this point.

    I'm just looking for suggestions for something that's middle of the road I guess, or a compromise between the two tones/sounds I'm going for. Traditionally, whenever you look for a compromise of two different things, you get some characteristics of both, but if never really is great for one or the other, but I am hoping for the best.

    Thanks in advance for advice and recommendations!
  2. Plucky The Bassist

    Plucky The Bassist Bassist for Michael "Epic Mic" Rowe

    Jul 30, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Ever used Chromes? They are quite the flatwound, and good for people who don't want to go "all-in" on the uber dull flat sound. The tone knob on my Squier CV P does everything I need with those strings, roll off for GOOD thump and I still have good fundamental and some bite with the tone dimed. With the tone turned up, I can get a Strokes kind of tone, especially when picking. Where you play on the strings is important as well...can't say enough about these strings lol
  3. StevieMac

    StevieMac Supporting Member

    Mar 17, 2005
    Vancouver, BC
    D'Addario Chromes are quite bright as far as flats go. A little foam under the strings near the bridge adds additional thump and less sustain when needed.
  4. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    I love Brite-Flats on my Franken-Hoppus. They thump pretty darned good, but they have some spank to them too when you dig in!
  5. Liv3rman


    Dec 28, 2012
    I use D'Addario chromes and Roto 77 flats. Both are great.
  6. StevieMac

    StevieMac Supporting Member

    Mar 17, 2005
    Vancouver, BC
    Flatwound stings comparison
  7. sbpark

    sbpark Supporting Member

    May 26, 2010
    Thanks for the replies so far! Looks like I am on the right track here with what I was looking for. I have also researched the D'Addario Chromes, but in the reading I've done Some have commented that the GHS strings seem to have a little more tension/stiffer feel, which is something that I am also looking to compare (similar string gauges of course) between the GHS and D'Addario's.
  8. zfunkman


    Dec 18, 2012
    I use Thomastik Jazz Flats. They're pricey but worth it. Very versitle and last a long time. I play funk and jazz and these strings even sound good when slapping.
  9. T_Bone_TL


    Jan 10, 2013
    NW Mass/SW VT
    Have you tried (or considered) tapewounds? I've got barely any experience with others, but D'Addario claims they land between rounds and flats (which makes some sense, as they are roundwounds with nylon making the flat surface over, but pickups don't care about nylon.)

    I love the things, but I can't really say if they will or won't give the tone you want, since I'm not you. Personally I think the D'Add black strings look fine, but for nearly twice the price you can now get clear ("white") ones from Labella, per another thread here, which seems to suit some people better.
  10. kai_ski


    Apr 14, 2007
    Wenatchee, WA
    Once again: Sadowsky Black Label Flats. Get the light gauge, they will play like standard rounds, but feel and respond like most flats. They have a great, full-range frequency response which sounds great on everything I've tried them on. When they are new, they're slap-able. With a pick they really come alive.

    Other flats I tried before getting the Sadowsky's include, Labella, TI, DR, Chromes, Carvin, Fender and Labella tapes. They were all missing that high-range response that the Sadowskys provide. I understand that if you aren't concerned with high end response, then you won't mind the others. I think there's something to be said about a well-balanced string.
  11. Gorn

    Gorn Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    They're fantastic. Brighter than regular tapewounds, and the smoothness is uncanny. In my opinion, they're very versitile. Plenty of high end and growl with the tone turned up. I don't slap (because I suck and gave up), but I bet you could if you know what you're doing.
    These aren't the labellas, but this guy manages to get a pretty cool slap tone on tapewounds @2:07
  12. sbpark

    sbpark Supporting Member

    May 26, 2010
    I really love the sound of this bass with the GHS flats...obviously there's more that goes into it though besides the strings...the instrument, amp or DI, EQ, fingers, etc. But just as an example, this is a sound I am really enjoying:

  13. boynamedsuse

    boynamedsuse Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2010
    If you want something that will be "comfortable" in both flats and rounds territory, GHS pressurewounds work nicely. Use the tone knob to push them one way or the other. They are also inexpensive (not much more than $20 for a 4-string set) and have pretty good life. I used the last set I had for a year before they became too dull.
  14. .
    +1 for D'Addario Chromes
  15. chuck norriss

    chuck norriss Banned

    Jan 20, 2011
    LaBella DTB is a very nice flatwound string.
  16. lmfreeman9

    lmfreeman9 Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2007
    I'm using D'Addario half rounds for Rock
    also like Ken Smith Slick rounds and Compressors which are more like rounds.
  17. cm3ohana

    cm3ohana Supporting Member

    Aug 1, 2005
    +1 Sadowsky Black Label Flats
  18. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany

    TIs are my favorite strings... So versatile, very strong and complex midrange and they can sound anything from mellow to grindy (think in your face stoner type sounds like Weedeater) These strings make the commonly used phrase 'it's all in the fingers' come true. Also sound fantastic with a pick. a perfect match for a fender p!

    I also quite like la bella dtb but I find them to be much more limited in their use. They sound better to me for old school funk and blues though, but the lack of clarity in them leaves me aching for the TIs again since I need a broad palette for the cover band...
  19. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

    TI's till I die. Not another string out there, round or flat, that can match their versatility.

  20. sbpark

    sbpark Supporting Member

    May 26, 2010
    I picked up a set of D;Addario Chromes yesterday. Primarily because they were really all that was available locally. They sound great on my '76 P-bass. So far they are pretty much what I was looking for. Thanks for the suggestions everyone!