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Painy

Do I dare try flats? Guidance needed.

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Now I've always aimed for the brightest, zingiest , new roundwound sound possible but then I'd never been a Precision fan until very recently. My P has now become my number 1 gigging bass though and I'm loving the deep round lows and mid-range growl. However, it doesn't really produce the zing I've always aimed for and yet I'm still loving the tone anyway.
So now I'm wondering if I can make do without that bright new rounds sound and take advantage of the longevity and smooth feel of flats but I'm still a bit worried I'll miss some of the harmonics and overtones. Add the fact I only play five string basses and the additional cost that adds to a set and it feels like a bit of a gamble.
Should I go for it and what strings to try if I do (first thoughts were D'Addario Chromes to retain as much brightness as possible and also EB Cobalts have been mentioned on here recently)?

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Try it. If you can't get the sound you need, flog them on here :) - relatively cheap way to test the water.

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Fender flats are inexpensive and give quite a bright sound IMHO. They really suit a P bass which is why I've got them on my Squier VM P bass (and I've a set of Fender flats on my Cort B4FL fretless).

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People always buy used flats on here so it is surprising just how often this question pops up. The Fender ones (mentioned already) are both inexpensive and good.

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Hi!

Furst things first, flats have a usable life that far exceeds that of rounds, so try ignore the initial cost.

I really like chromes, which you mentioned already. They take a little while (a few days) to really settle in but they stay pretty bright. Check out michael league (snarky puppy) playing on one of his precision basses for an idea of the tone. He gets a pretty bright sound out of them. I had the 5 string set, they worked well.

The other option for me would be the thomastik infeld flats. Much darker sounding but they play harmonics really well. They sound and feel great to me. Check out Pino Palladino with John Mayer trio for a sound idea. They are low tension, which can feel a bit odd at first if you're used to higher tension strings, but they respond very musically and I'm still on my first set after 5 years, so they last. I wouldn't even consider another string on my 4 string p bass, they sound great.

It's all personal preference though, and different strings will interact with different basses in different ways. You can read up as much as you like a try and predict what will happen, but it will only be a prediction. Good luck!

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Chromes are quite high tension though. You may find yourself so in love with the syrupy warm tones coming from your bass that you will even roll the tone down a bit and wonder why you wanted bright sounding flats in the first place!

I have TIs on my P, and have a set of GHS ready to try at some point.

If you do go for TIs, I think I have a spare low B somewhere...

Edited by dannybuoy

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I use Thomastik, brilliant strings. Very flexible and reasonably bright sounding. I just wish they did a lighter gauge B string in their 5 and 6 string sets.

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[quote name='dannybuoy' timestamp='1471730340' post='3115473']
Chromes are quite high tension though. You may find yourself so in love with the syrupy warm tones coming from your bass that you will even roll the tone down a bit and wonder why you wanted bright sounding flats in the first place!
[/quote]

I found the same re Chromes, but the OP might need a truss-rod tweak anyway. I played Roto rounds for decades then tried a number of different flats, settling on La Bellas, which I've used for a while now. I won't be going back to rounds any time soon. Advantages are silky smooth feel, no fret or string noise, far less fret wear over time and 'that' sound. I've come to the conclusion that in a band situation, having lots of harmonic content and overtones from a bass can sometimes confuse the issue. The great fundamental tone you get with flats sounds perfect on a P and will cut through any mix.

La Bellas aren't cheap, but then my current set have been on for months and I suspect that will turn into years as they just seem to get better and better. So the initial cost is irrelevant - on a per-year basis they cost very little compared to rounds.

Edited by discreet

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Thanks all. My original thought of the Chromes do sound appealing as I generally prefer higher tension strings anyway. I did figure a truss rod tweek would be fairly likely anyway but that could equally happen changing between different brands of rounds anyway.

Might be worth a look in the market place for used strings too from the sound of it - even if I pick up a 4 string set and have to buy the single low B new (unless they're TIs - in which case I'll just PM dannybuoy ;)).

Edited by Painy

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I've used fender and eb cobalts and both are good in different ways. Fenders are kinda the standard exactly what you expect sound and feel to my ears anyway. Cobalts are much brighter like worn in rounds, also much higher tension. Like it shocked me how high!

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Used SS rounds and jazz basses forever, I was fond on this choice....intil 3 weeks ago I mounted a light set of GHS precision flats on my Jazz bass....what a revealing surprise. The jazz looses almost nothing of his personality and the sounds get enhanced in a way I love. It maintained the burpy bridge pickup tone that I use rarely, it developed a super burpy growly both pickup tone that now sits with authority in the mix, and it created a super pumped up P like tone with the neck PU, that's now woodier, chunckier, with great attack. All these tones, albeit very similar to what I obtained with rounds, sit now so better in a live mix that I revisited my EQ towards a flatter setting, in particular there is less need for a mid boost.
I'm so pleased of the neck PU result that I'm toying with the idea of purchasing a Maruszczyk Jake with vintage specs that obviously would have these GHS flats on it. I'm a convert.

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I went through Rotosound (too tight), Thomastik (too loose) and D'addario (too tight) before setting on La Bellas. I've also played basses with Fenders on and they were pretty good. I think there is a lot of variation in tension and for me it was the La Bellas that nailed it.
You just need to find the ones that suit you. See if you can pick a second hand set up in the marketplace or take a punt on some Fenders.

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I love the sound and feel of flats on a P bass. For me though, they don't work with the band that I currently play with and I find that zingy rounds are a much better fit.

My fretless which only gets played at home, is wearing a set of status half wounds, as recommended by discreet. I am very impressed, not only with discreet but also the strings :lol: . Super comfortable to play, with a warm, bright non muddy sound.

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I tried them and the fender 7250 are cheap on Amazon - worth a shot and perfectly acceptable
I didn't make any setup changes

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I put GHS flats on my PJ5without knowing anything about them. They've been on for almost 4 years and I'd recommend them to anyone.

The black tape La Bella's on my briefly owned Rob Allen were very good as well.


Edit:
PS The only thing I'd say is embrace the change. Flats are not rounds and will never sound close so don't try to keep your bright sound. Modify your expectations and leave the twang behind.

Edited by chris_b

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I need new zingy rounds for my current band, but in the past have preferred old worn in rounds. I`ve tried flats and the ones I liked best were TIs, but the tension was far too loose for me. If I "went flat" again I`d try the EB Cobalts as did try them on a Stingray at the London Bass Guitar Show. Was pretty impressed - nice lots of zing which I`m sure can be dialled out if needed.

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I pretty much stick with DR coated strings now - they don't have the metalic "zing" of standard round wounds but retain their clarity and have a nice percussive punch without being boomy.

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You may miss the clank and overtones of roundwouds if you're used to them, but on the otherhand flats will give you the warmth thump and thud of the note.
That's how I hear it anyway.

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There has been discussion on this forum about the different tensions between round wounds and flats which you probably notice if you switch. I suggest you try low tension flats, I like La Bella but others here rave about TIs but they are expensive.

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[quote name='CamdenRob' timestamp='1471802117' post='3116005']
I wouldn't risk it to be honest.... it's just too dangerous... :mellow:
[/quote]

:D

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I personally preferred Fender flats over Chromes. But when it comes to a 5 string set, Chromes win hands down. The Fender B was too flubby and didn't sit well at all with the rest of the set, the Chromes on the other hand were perfect.

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