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Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by lowdownwalt, Jun 30, 2008.
Help in choosing the right strings to maintain the Vintage Fender Jazz bass tone
Thanks in advance
Mm.... what kind of vintage Jazz tone? There are a few I can think of, ranging from smooth flatwound to distorted.
im thinking either flats or warm nickels
Right now I installed D'addario Nickel EXL165 BRIGHT round wound.
Nice crisp Fender J bass sound.
I've got TI jazz flats on my 60J and TI Jazz rounds on my 66J. Both sound great. Before the TIs I had John Pearse nickelwounds on both, and they sounded great with those too.
In the old days, I believe Fenders came with either LaBella flats or Fender flats when they started making their own strings. At any rate, I see LaBellas and Fenders as interchangeable. So that, to me, typifies old school Fender sound, and they're my choice for flats as well. But they're certainly not the only strings that can give it to you.
Fender shipped all the 4-string basses with 850s (nickle flats) until about 1983. Then they shipped Studio Bass flats on the Vintage Series basses, and Studio Bass Rounds on all the others. However, nothing they make now is very close to either the 850s or the different Studio Bass strings sets.
Which vintage do you want? The classic recorded Jazz bass sound of Jerry Jemmott and Joe Osborne is LaBella flats. Jerry switched to roundwounds later. Larry Graham used flats on his Jazz bass for a long time so some of the early Sly & The Family Stone stuff is slapped flats.
Or do you mean classic like the '70s? Dave Hope (Kansas), Lee Sklar, Geddy Lee, Will Lee, Neil Jason, etc? All were using different kinds of rounds.
Point is there is NO "vintage" Jazz bass sound that's predicated on the strings once you get to whether you're after a flatwound or a roundwound sound. There's lots of great strings out there in both flavors, and only you can determine what works for you.
I can tell you my favorite flats are GHS Precision Flats (well, actually I'm using a set of Lakland Joe Osborne, but they're GHS Precision flats with a 103 E instead of a 105) because they feel great, sound wondeful. They have a definite note in them, something lacking in the classic LaBella flats I find, but they retain the essential sound of a good flatwound string (unlike the TI's which sound great, but it's not a flatwound sound).
So, try all the usual suspects....
I have a set of these Laklands on my 62RI Jazz Bass and I've been very happy with them. My set is medium gauge so the E is a 106. These strings play and sound great on the Jazz. Not a big slapper but I can get nice growl with pickup adjustments. I did have one issue, however. I recent had a fret crown and polish done on the bass (it's actually an 82 or 83 Fullerton so has a few miles on it!) When the luthier did the set up, he said the G string was defective since it was oscillating and causing buzzing problems. I've contacted Lakland and they are sending out a replacement string.
BTW, I have these on my Jazz and TI FLats on my PBass. I like em both but the Lakland/GHS strings have a little more tension than the TI's which I like, especially on the Jazz.
If you are torn between flats and rounds, may I suggest Ken Smith Slicks? A 'ground wound' that is very chameleon like. These feel like flats, but if you snap them you'll hear a hint of round bite.
I've got these in Heavy gauge on a 77 and I've got a great rubbery bottom going on. I've got the steel but they come in nickel I think. So far they've lasted me a year and counting.
For 30+ years I used nothing but RS66 Roto rounds on my '69 Jbass.
Just a couple of years ago I saw the light and changed my ways.
TI Flats from here on out!