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Williams4S

Fat Flats, Low Tension

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Last weekend, I went to a studio to do some recording. I had brought along my slap-happy jazz and StingRay. Both were strung with rounds, but I ended up doing the session on the studio owner's 64 Jazz reissue (Lake Placid Blue with matching headstock, for those who care ;)) and it blew my nuts off. 

The sound was incredible and I now want a jazz with flats. My only complaint was that the Blue Jazz with flats was a proper workout to play over the day - the action was fairly high to get 'that' sound in conjunction with the Labella Deep Talkin' flats and a nearly completely rolled off tone knob. I was wondering if it's possible to get most of that sound but at a slightly lower tension.

I've ordered myself some Tonerider pickups for my 12 year old MiM Jazz and now I need some flats. Any recommendations? I liked the Labellas but they were pretty tight. I've had P's with flats and loved them, but I adored the sound when playing hard over the bridge pickup on the jazz bass. Deep, fat, mid-heavy with no horrible clank. Just pure groove! 

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Low tension Labella's?

But if you change tension, you'll change the sound, and although the Toneriders are the right pickup for a solid vintage tone, a lower tension won't sound the same as the studio jazz you played.

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I'd also recommend Low Tension Labellas. I bought a 5-set at Bass Direct at the LBGS to put on my Warwick Fortress with old-style one-piece bridge, as I was fed up with having to mangle the D'Addario Chromes low B and E in order to make them fit in. To my ears the low tension Labellas sound rather like the normal tension Labellas, to be honest, as well as very different from the zingy D'Addario Chromes (which would emphatically NOT be the sound you're looking for).

While I still prefer the tone of the Chromes, I am thoroughly impressed with the feel and clarity of sound of the low tension Labellas. They will definitely stay on my Fortress.

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Cheers both for the recommendation. The other thing I’ve just thought of is to go regular Labella but bring the action down a little bit. The blue jazz had medium-high action which made for a great tone, but made you work for it. 

Are the low tension flats drastically less tension than the regular flats? I could just suck it up and grow some extra skin on the old sausages I suppose... 😉

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You can try lowering the action but, depending on your playing style and other factors such as saddle and pickup height, you may end up with buzzes and/or distortion. Easily fixed by taking the time to set up, obviously.

As for the tension, I know that I find the normal Labellas (which are on most of @Happy Jack's basses) too stiff for my liking, but I love the low tension Labellas, even as a player of D'Addario Chromes and Thomastiks (both notoriously 'soft'). I do realise this may or may not help you; apologies if it doesn't.

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La Bella Low tension are the dogs doo-dahs! Used normal 760FL and then tried these, amazing and now on all my P basses

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I’ve got the la bella low tension flats on my sandberg TT , I find the sound and the feel is absolutely spot on. 

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2 minutes ago, Reggaebass said:

I’ve got the la bella low tension flats on my sandberg TT , I find the sound and the feel is absolutely spot on. 

Any chance of a sound demo (in passive) please? I've fitted my first set to a P to try and really like them (they're Fenders though, bit cheaper) so am very tempted to put them on my TT too... 

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You mean you have fitted Fender flats to your bass? If they're your first ever flats, be aware that they are the stiffest set of flats I've ever had the misfortune to try on (and almost immediately whip off) a bass of mine. While their tension may be all right for your hands, their tone/sound will almost certainly be different from the very high quality (and rather more expensive) Labellas.

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String tension, action and tone are a trade-off; higher action and tension are generally more tiring to play but can produce a more pleasing tone. I gave up trying to play complex parts well years ago, these days I'm happy to play simple parts that sound good, and accept that high action is par for the course. YMMV  

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@Silvia Bluejay aye.

Tbh, I don't mind the tension too much, they are medium tension though so may have been different to yours?

I really just wanted to see how I felt about the difference from rw's and I quite like them, hense now thinking about them on my Sandberg. 

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15 minutes ago, DoubleOhStephan said:

Any chance of a sound demo (in passive) please? I've fitted my first set to a P to try and really like them (they're Fenders though, bit cheaper) so am very tempted to put them on my TT too... 

Hi Double O,    I don’t really have the kit to record at home and the phone wouldn’t do them justice, but as silvia bluejay says,  they are very different to the fender flats , they are a lower tension , but not floppy at all ,and they have a warmer tone , for me they just felt right  , I would recommend them for the sandberg, they are the right gauge for the nut too 🙂.   

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Just now, Reggaebass said:

Hi Double O,    I don’t really have the kit to record at home and the phone wouldn’t do them justice, but as silvia bluejay says,  they are very different to the fender flats , they are a lower tension , but not floppy at all ,and they have a warmer tone , for me they just felt right  , I would recommend them for the sandberg, they are the right gauge for the nut too 🙂.   

No worries fella, I'm sure there's something on YouTube I can listen too. 

I do like the sound of them though, are you using 100s or 105s?

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Just now, DoubleOhStephan said:

No worries fella, I'm sure there's something on YouTube I can listen too. 

I do like the sound of them though, are you using 100s or 105s?

100s , if you’re near me you’re welcome to try mine 🙂

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1 minute ago, Reggaebass said:

100s , if you’re near me you’re welcome to try mine 🙂

Very kind!! Lemme look at pricing before I make my mind up, I'm on a saving spree atm 😒

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3 minutes ago, DoubleOhStephan said:

No worries fella, I'm sure there's something on YouTube I can listen too. 

I do like the sound of them though, are you using 100s or 105s?

There’s a bit of info in the sandberg thread , which has the string lengths as well 👍

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51 minutes ago, Silvia Bluejay said:

You mean you have fitted Fender flats to your bass? If they're your first ever flats, be aware that they are the stiffest set of flats I've ever had the misfortune to try on (and almost immediately whip off) a bass of mine. While their tension may be all right for your hands, their tone/sound will almost certainly be different from the very high quality (and rather more expensive) Labellas.

Have you tried these in comparison to TIs, Sylvia? I was almost set on another set of TIs but these low tension La Bellas are rather interesting.

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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, Lozz196 said:

Have you tried these in comparison to TIs, Sylvia? I was almost set on another set of TIs but these low tension La Bellas are rather interesting.

TIs have been the lowest tension flats I've tried, and I love them. I've got them on my Hofner violin and they sound great. A few years ago I also bought a 5-string set with the intention of putting them on - I think - that same Fortress 5 that now has the Labellas. However, the low B did not fit in the hole in the one-piece bridge, not even if I had tried to mangle it, so I had to get a set of Chromes (Labellas low tension didn't exist at the time). I installed the Thomastiks on one of my 4-string Corvettes and kept them there for a long time. I must still have the low B somewhere, unused!

Having said all that, the TIs do have the tendency to be floppy, especially the B and E, so in my experience they are slightly more limited in their use than the Labellas or Chromes.

In terms of tone, they have their own recognisable sound, so it's a matter of taste whether or not they suit the music you play. :)

Edited by Silvia Bluejay
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34 minutes ago, Reggaebass said:

There’s a bit of info in the sandberg thread , which has the string lengths as well 👍

Got it, LTF4As it is. 

Thanks mate 👊🏻

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Posted (edited)

After reading everyone’s advice and seeing the love for the low tension Labellas...

I’ve bought regular ones, albeit in the 43 gauge. 

🤷🏼‍♂️

Potential wrong choice incoming! 

Edited by Williams4S
Soellibg

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Posted (edited)
18 minutes ago, Williams4S said:

After reading everyone’s advice and seeing the love for the low tension Labellas...

I’ve bought regular ones, albeit in the 43 gauge. 

🤷🏼‍♂️

Potential wrong choice incoming! 

If it’s the 760FL  (43/60/82/104) I’ve got those on 3 of my jazzes, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed 🙂

Edited by Reggaebass

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I have TI flats on my 3 jazz basses,with tone rolled off,could not gel with the La Bella sound wise, but really liked the Pyramid strings if I wanted a higher tension

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2 hours ago, onehandclapping said:

but really liked the Pyramid strings

Is that the pyramid gold, what guage do you use, I’ve never tried these 🙂

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After 4 gigs and 4 rehearsals, I’m very, very pleased with the Labella 760s. They are a very similar tension to my preferred 45-105 rounds but sound helluva lot better - fuller lower end, more punchy mids, less clank. Sounds great in a mix and I’m sold on flats on a jazz. Very happy. They also sound great slapped! The Tonerider pickups are well worth a mention as they are extraordinary for the money. 
 

They’re not quite as meaty as the medium set on the studio bass, but they are 85% of the beef and tone but much easier to play. They feel beautiful on your fingers as well. Great purchase and highly recommended. 

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19 hours ago, Reggaebass said:

Is that the pyramid gold, what guage do you use, I’ve never tried these 🙂

Yes,Pyramid gold ,40-105 From memory,just a little bit more tension.

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