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Which rounds sound the most like flats?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by 4StringDave, Feb 27, 2020.

  1. Hi

    Further to my previous thread in which I asked if I needed to "man up" to play flats, I have been playing with them for a couple of months now, including several gigs. Overall, I think the sound of the flats (Fender 9050L) is perfect - good low mids and smooth highs, but I still can't get on with the feel, especially if my hands are just a tiny wee bit moist, when the strings become very grabby. It's not the tension of lack of flexibility that's the problem, it's the flat surface causing friction.

    The question therefore is - is there a brand of rounds which will give me a more flat-like sound while keeping the rounds feel? I'm happy for them to be new or dead, although I suspect the latter will be closer to the mark......

    Many thanks for taking the time to offer your opinion!
    Element Zero likes this.
  2. Try GHS Balanced Nickels. May still need to break em in or "kill" them, but they are one of the most mellow rounds I've played.

    I usually prefer Bright Stainless Steel strings so I can't help with deadening strings, although I hear skin cream/lotion works. :)
  3. trothwell


    Apr 9, 2008
    Agree with @Pizza1988 ... I was previously using Labella quarter rounds for that elusive space in between flats and rounds, but those have been discontinued, and now GHS Balanced Nickels have been introduced. The Balanced Nickels work even better. They are simply round wound (not pressurewound, or groundwound, or anything like that), but they occupy a sonic space closer to flatwound strings. Very nice indeed!
    TC.65 and Pizza1988 like this.
  4. thabassmon


    Sep 26, 2013
    New Zealand
    The grippy sensation goes. Currently one of my basses has GHS precision flats, I was not liking the strings very much at all, the grippy sensation was annoying. But after a little time playing them that grippiness has gone.
    Just give it a bit more time. But you gotta to play it, not just wait it out.
    lermgalieu likes this.
  5. It's the punch that flats provide which I like, rather than them just being mellow. It's difficult to describe sound.....

    The Fenders have been on for a couple of months. I thought they had improved, but today at rehearsal they were grabby again. I don't know if it's the change in atmosphere here in France from winter to spring..
  6. The OP is not talking about the initial stickiness during the break-in period; rather about the flats' tendency to feel sticky in high humidity or under sweaty hands.
    David Jayne and 4StringDave like this.
  7. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    The grabby fades. Run your plucking fingers and fretboard fingers across your nose and upper cheeks. Your skin oil will help. Don't clean them too much. Let the funk build up.

    I all my years of trying different strings, no rounds sound like flats. Pretty much any of them will get in the ballpark when they're months old and dead. But that mid punch you like is gone.
  8. Spot on

    I've just pulled the bass out again now that I'm back home, and the strings feel super smooth. It was definitely something to do with the atmosphere/hands....
  9. thabassmon


    Sep 26, 2013
    New Zealand
  10. e-flat

    e-flat Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2009
    Washington State
    The high end is the obvious point of most flats vs. rounds discussions.
    To me, though, most rounds have an openness in the midrange that sets them apart from flats, too.
    By using a roundwound with thicker lows and low mids, you might be able to approximate the "thump" of a classic flat.
    The GHS Balanced Nickels suggested previously are some of my favorite strings, but I'd suggest a hex core roundwound with thick low mids...
    DR Nickel Lo Riders and GHS Boomers come to mind. Then play them until dead (or Eucerin for the fast-track) and roll the Tone knob off to taste.
    Basspaolo, pbass2 and 4StringDave like this.
  11. What about Fender 7150 Pure Nickel Rounds?
  12. I've heard before that Boomers have decent low mids. How do they compare to D'Addario XLs (my reference as these were the last rounds on the bass)?
  13. I've tried both. The XL Nickels are brighter with a little more going on in the hi-mids, while the Boomers are all about the low-mid punch and grind.
    4StringDave likes this.
  14. Sounds like Boomers might be worth a try
  15. Some people complain the Boomers "die too fast", meaning they lose their initial zing very quickly. Maybe that's a good thing for you.
    4StringDave likes this.
  16. The last set of rounds I had on for over a year. XLs. They sounded ok, but just lacked something that the flats seem to give
  17. The XL Nickels, to my ears, are a bit too "tinny". When I got my new Yamaha 5-string, that's what came on it, and I couldn't take them off fast enough. Now I'm very happy with GHS Pressurewounds on that bass.
  18. shoulderpet


    Sep 24, 2015
    Fender 7150, they start off very much like most rounds but once they break in they come as close to flats as any rounds can
  19. e-flat

    e-flat Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2009
    Washington State
    I think the 7150s fit the bill too, but my experience with them is limited to a set of 45-100s on my Jazz Bass. They are aging nicely, are incredibly warm sounding, but I don't hear as much thickness in the low mids as Nickel Lo Riders or Boomers. Terrific strings on my Jazz Bass, though. In fact, they're the "string to beat" right now :thumbsup:
    I'll bet the Fender 7150 .105 set would be THICK sounding, though. Hmmm.... might have to try those!
    4StringDave and michael_t like this.
  20. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    The GHS Balanced Pure Nickels have a nice round tone.
    Tom Baker, TC.65 and e-flat like this.

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