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TrevorR

Adventures in Flatland... (Formerly: Another "so I'm thinking about flats but..." thread...)

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So I was playing Rumblefish's wenge MK 1 Wal bass at they SE Bass Bash and he suggested trying flats on my MK 1. My strings are about ready for a change so I thought I would give them a try. Two questions though... Any thoughts on some decent, middle of the road flats I should try - in the £20s region. With the best will, this is an experiment and I'm not going to fork out £50 for La Bella or TIs. Currently I'm playing Picato 45-105 stainless steel and for years played the same gauge of Elites Stainless Steel.

So what are a decent set of flats to try in the £20-£30 range? Should I just go Picato or Elites or is there a better option?

Also, I'm confused with the whole tension difference thing lots of folks talk about with flats. Should I just be going 45-105 or a different set as a straightish swap? Grateful for advice. Ta.

Edited by TrevorR

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Yeesssss.... thing is though you won't ever know how good La Bella are if you don't try them. However, if you want to give flats a go and are determined to be cheap about it, you could try some Fender 50-100 9050ML and see what you think. They're good strings.

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Try these

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Olympia-Flat-Wound-Electric-Bass-Guitar-Strings-45-100-/331630926569?hash=item4d36be5ae9:g:XcEAAOxy0NtTFHoh

I am not a lover of flats of any brand but I tried these out and they felt and sounded just as good as anything else I tried

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Status Hot Wires = excellent VFM & compare well with the best IMO - http://www.status-graphite.com/status/frames/index_home.html

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If you are used to 45-105 gauge rounds, I would suggest 40-100 flats maybe 45-100 and that should be a similar feel; rounds and flats are the same tension. It's the construction of flats that makes them feel stiff i.e. 'more tension'.

If you want an old skool thumpy dead sound, LaBella or GHS Precision flats which I think have the edge over LB's.

If you want more of a brighter, livelier flat then Chromes or Fender 9050s.

Also, Pressurewounds are strings with a 'normal' roundwound tension, smoother feel and flatish sort of sound. They might be what you're after if you find flats too hard to bend/play etc.

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IMHO Fender are good straight out of the packet as are Status half-rounds, If you get Status flats give them a chance to play in as they are also excellent.

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Trevor I've got a set of brand new La Bella flats cut to fit my mk1 if you want them for nothing? I bought them as they have always been my default fretless strings, but when I put them on I didn't like them as much as the nickles so I switched them back.

I'll pop them in the post if you pm me your address, I've no use for them and they might as well get some use :)

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[quote name='CamdenRob' timestamp='1447609507' post='2908892']
I've got a set of brand new La Bella flats cut to fit my mk1 if you want them for nothing?
[/quote]

Hmm... that's a bit steep. ;)

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Apologies, for the thread resurrection but... finally found a chance to restring my Wal with the La Bellas that CamdenRob sent me. Various family stuff has meant that the basses haven't come out of their cases since mid November but now that we're back on more of an even keel I'll be playing again at church on Sunday morning. Fascinated to see how they sound and feel compared the the rounds I've played since I started playing bass so many moons ago...

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Well that was different... Not bad different, just different. In fact, I rather liked it. Hmmmmm... So, I put on CamdenRob's La Bella Flats on the Mk 1 and tried them out in the service at church this morning. The set up was the same as usual... DI into the PA via a VT Bass DI pedal and monitored through UE in ears. What a difference to my previous round wound strings.

I've always thought that the thing I love about the bass sound was the zinginess of the strings, the growl from selectively swooping up and down the frets and the lower middly punch you can get from rounds. Most of that was missing from the flats, of course, or significantly lessened. So that's a downer, you might think. On the contrary. What replaced them was a stronger, more definite fundamental tone with a deep, rounded sound around it. And that tone was so great that, actually, I really didn't miss the characteristics that were missing. In fact, the whole bass sounded more together, more focused and stronger across the strings and across the neck. That I like! Lots.

I had worried that the loss of zing would make the bass more indistinct and difficult to hear in the mix - though the in ears naturally solve a lot of those problems, they're so lovely and transparent. Nope, the bass was still really transparent and present in the mix, even with the reduced top end zing.

It also gave a much stronger performance on the bridge pickup than the round wounds had. That I really like! Previously the bridge pickup has seemed to be lacking a bit in "body" compared to the neck pickup or a pickup blend. Not bad, not overly trebly but rather just a bit light or insubstantial. With the flats it was somehow gutlsier than before and more rewarding to play solo'd. That I really really like!

So, as Rumblefish had suggested way back in September, a bit of a revelation.

But there is still more to explore. I didn't change the tone settings I was using on the VT DI at all - treble at 12 o'clock, mid at 12 and low at about 3 o'clock. The character is set at about 10:30 and the drive set low. I wonder how it would react to a little more mid and treble? Would that restore a bit more of the desirable characteristics that went with the string change? Well, I'm playing again next Sunday so there's a chance to experiment again woth the settings... Hmmm, watch this space but, as Rumblefish said I would, I think I'm sold. Now, to get a set of flats to try out on my Pro series Wal too. What to get? Maybe some GHS or some Status or Chromes?

Edited by TrevorR

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Definitely try boosting the mids a bit, or indeed a lot - the bass guitar's 'voice' actually lies somewhere in the mid range. Boosting the treble may not be so effective, as you can't boost what isn't there - depends a lot on the string, and I haven't tried La Bellas (yet).

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Welcome to the school of flats. They aren't better than rounds, just different. The feel of flats just does it for me along with that warmth. Hope you enjoy them.

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[quote name='redstriper' timestamp='1451859933' post='2944177']
You might like TIs from what you say, if you can get along with the low tension.
[/quote]

Bax seem to be still selling TIs for £31

[url="https://www.bax-shop.co.uk/electric-bass-strings/thomastik-infeld-jf344-jazz-flat-wound-long-scale"]https://www.bax-shop...ound-long-scale[/url]

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And back this thread comes from the dead, shuffling and moaning like a zombie.... Uuuungh... Urrrrrnggggh...

So now it's two full months in and the flats on my MK 1 Wal continue to equal parts impress and surprise me. After a couple of months the strings seem to be settling in really nicely. Now, I don't know if it's my imagination, but they somehow seem to be doing the opposite of what round wound strings do. With rounds you put them on and bash and hammer them as much as you can to tone down the initial new string zinginess. After a couple of weeks that has gone away, the strings have toned down and the sound mellowed a bit. However, with the flats they seem to be revealing more openness in the upper mid range on the upper strings in particular. It seems to me that the D and G strings in particular seem to be adding a little bit more upper mid back into the sound. Is that normal? Maybe my ears are just getting more and more attuned to the sound of the strings and that means I'm hearing more detail. But I don't think so. We're back in wine tasting territory here trying to describe the sound but it seems like they are giving back more "parp-iness" to the sound. You know that kinda "Percyness" on fills and stuff.

Combined with the lovely woodiness which the E and A strings have it is a killer combination.

And I'm finding I'm enjoying playing with a pick so much more. I'm not much of a pick user but there are some songs where it's what is needed. The flats have so much more solid and round a tone that it sounds like the pick sounds I've had in my head. Gone are all the elements which I used to dislike when playing with pick on rounds. The scratchiness of the plectrum on the winds and overpowering top end if you got if you strayed too close to the bridge.

Now, I'm not a great pedal user either but I do use a touch of chorus or tremolo here or there for texture and the odd bit of wah every so now and again. And they just sound so great with the flats. More subtle, yes. But all the elements which, again, bugged me about the way that the string zing interacted with the pedals are gone. The effects may be more subtle but they are also so much more classy and produced sounding.

This is all very encouraging because I'd read elsewhere on here on the various "should I try flats?" threads a few comments like "And if you just want a dull thud withi no sustain at all then try La Bella strings." Which filled me with a bit of trepidation since that it not at all what I wanted. Not at all. In fact I've found quite the opposite. The strings are no where near as trebly but they are still full of guts, punch and definition.

So it's pretty clear that so far I am a fan. In fact, when there were some La Bellas going for about £25 line a while back I snapped up another set. Last night I put them on my Pro Series Wal. It's a more old school sounding rock bass to my ears than the Mk 1 so I wonder what it is going to sound like with flats on. Absolutely massive, I am guessing. Rehearsals Thursday night so I get to try it in anger... It also has a a few tone settings that always sounded a bit too harsh and toppy to my ears. Can't wait to hear what those settings sound like with flats. Absolutely rocktastic I'm guessing, in a 1970s Johnny "Gus" Gustafson kinda way. We'll see.

I guess I'll see you in a couple of months to say how I got on, judging by previous performance!!!

Edited by TrevorR

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[quote name='TrevorR' timestamp='1456874025' post='2993213']
Gary, you said it! You know it's true! ;-)
[/quote]

:lol:


Yes, I will start the search.

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What gauge are your labellas, trevor? Thanks for the write up, much appreciated! i recently tried the FS labellas and the ension was too much. Got some FLs in the post now, hoping they'll be better. Like you I really enjoyed the feel and sound.

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The ones I just put on my Pro bass are 760FLs which are 104, 82, 60, 43. To be honest I've not really noticed differences in tension to my previous 105-45 Picato's and Elites, but maybe that's just me. I'm a pretty standard player and not trying to Wooten all over the place where subtleties in tension might make more of a difference?

Don't know what the others were, as they were an unpackaged gift, see above, but they feel much the same so I'm guessing they are...

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