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GreeneKing

La Bella flats - E string issue?

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A few months back I had a play of a mates Lakland Skyline 44-94 that has flats strung on it. TI if I remember right. Now I haven’t used flats for years and I loved it over my Sunbeams on an identical bass.

TI’s are pricey and looking around I thought that La Bella Deep Talkin’ would be a good option with slightly greater tension.

I bought and fitted the La Bella’s and all was good, sort of.... The E string sounded a little dull. It holds tune and the intonation is good but the E has a different timbre to the other strings.

I thought this was a characteristic and I’ve been using the Lakland with the ‘band’. My lovely Jazz succumbed too and I fitted a set of Dunlop’s to it, 45 to 105. They are brighter, feel lovely and the E string isn’t noticeably ‘thuddy’. 

I now prefer the Dunlops but the Lakland in P mode works better for some of the stuff we play. We were doing a new song last week and, having addressed the sound levels the E string sounded almost out of tune. It wasn’t.

Is this a characteristic of the La Bellas? I know that Piramid strings can have this issue.

Im probably going to fit Dunlop’s to the Lakland and might sell the La Bellas but not if they’re defective.

Cheers

Peter

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16 minutes ago, GreeneKing said:

Is this a characteristic of the La Bellas? I know that Piramid strings can have this issue.

I recognise the unique sound of the E string of the Pyramid brand. I have another bass with La Bella Deep Talkin' flats on it and, while it does sound dull, it is certainly not like the Pyramid. I guess what I'm saying is that what you hear is pretty normal for these two brands of string. Others will no doubt chime in.

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I have LaBella flats on several basses, FLs rather than Deep Talkin' but I imagine fairly similar overall.

The E on a LaBella set does tend to be a bit more 'thuddy' than the A, but I'm not sure to the degree that I think you're describing. "Out of tune", I think not.

Have you tried slackening the tension and giving the ball-end a chance to rotate, just in case it got slightly twisted during installation?

 

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I'd say if you like the sound of the bass with TI flats then use those.  Other strings don't sound or feel like them as far as I can tell.  I stick them on all my basses now, love them. :)  It's a bit like saying 'I tried a Precision bass, really liked it, so bought a Jazz'.

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I've got a five string set on my Shuker fretless and would never describe the E as dull.

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Sometimes you get a set of strings which have a dud string, it's mostly the E string (which sounds duller or less life than the other strings). I've had it with rounds as well as flats.

You might be able to give the E string some life by snapping it against the fretboard, lift the string up and let it snap against the fretboard - being flats it won't damage the frets or fretboard, but may loosen some residue or something causing the string to sound dull.

 

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I hasten to add that I've used TI's in the fairly distant past. I do like to try something different to so the P bass analogy doesn't really work. If I tried a P bass and liked it I wouldn't only ever use P basses thereon in. I like strings to have greater tension. I've given the flats a real check over and they remain the same. As Bluemoon said, not as pronounced as Pyramid but in the same vein. A distinct difference A to E.  I have used Pyramids that were so bad with the E that I thought they were defective and I've read similar comments about them.

I've a lot of experience setting up basses over the years and changing strings so I'm sure they are correctly fitted and not twisted etc.

The guys I play with aren't that experienced. The lead guitarist tends to be very loud to the extent that the drummer doesn't really dictate the tempo but has to follow. He plays too fast too. We managed to get him to drop his volume and balance it all out and then the E became noticeable on one track only. When I played open G, D, A and then E the E stood out like a 'dog's Richard' even though the bass was perfectly in tune. Not bad enough to be defective just like an unbalanced set of strings.

I like the Dunlops. They give the flats tone in a slightly brighter way that I think makes a viable flats/roundwound compromise. I'll try them on the Lakland and report back.

Edited by GreeneKing

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59 minutes ago, GreeneKing said:

I like the Dunlops. They give the flats tone in a slightly brighter way that I think makes a viable flats/roundwound compromise.

You may want to try Ernie Ball Cobalt strings or D'Addario Chrome's. Both are brighter sounding flats and sound great.

There are two types of flatwounds available today, old school flats (which are the typical thumpy, dull sounding flats), and hybrid flats (which have the thump, but are brighter sounding and more articulate).

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Thank you. I tried the Ernie Balls a few years back and I've used Chromes in the past too. Neither 'grabbed me' at the time but I think we might change as the years pass. I can do old school but it's the A to E thing that my ear dislikes. 

My Jazz is pretty awesome. Funny that after a vast number of high end basses a MIM Jazz should be so good. Hopefully the Lakland will keep its presence with the Dunlops or I may have to keep looking. My 88 Thumb still has round wounds and they stay!

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49 minutes ago, GreeneKing said:

Thank you. I tried the Ernie Balls a few years back

The EB Cobalt's are fairly new. These are nothing like the standard EB flats.

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10 hours ago, hooky_lowdown said:

The EB Cobalt's are fairly new. These are nothing like the standard EB flats.

Hmmm, I remember the name. Do they make Cobalt rounds too? Maybe that was it?

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17 hours ago, Happy Jack said:

 

Have you tried slackening the tension and giving the ball-end a chance to rotate, just in case it got slightly twisted during installation?

 

This is a really common issue with flats, especially La Bellas. 

I’ve sorted lots of issues with a random dull sounding flat that turned out to be a little twist whilst fitting. 

The guy who ran La Bella’s sales operation for years taught me how to do this and said he was the only person who could fix dead strings ‘on the phone’ back in the 60’s when people used to call up complaining 😂

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I think it is a characteristic of flats and string size, 85 to 105 the larger E just doesn't behave the same as the next string up and being a flat doesn't have the harmonics a round wound has from the wrap vibrating over the pole pieces. I have La Bellas on my P and the A string sounds amazing the E is good but is shown up by the other string.

have you tried La Bellas clear wrapped nylon coated strings, I have these on my Status Electro they feel smooth but as they are rounds inside they still have some harmonic bite and tone

Edited by deepbass5
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9 hours ago, deepbass5 said:

I think it is a characteristic of flats and string size, 85 to 105 the larger E just doesn't behave the same as the next string up and being a flat doesn't have the harmonics a round wound has from the wrap vibrating over the pole pieces. I have La Bellas on my P and the A string sounds amazing the E is good but is shown up by the other string.

have you tried La Bellas clear wrapped nylon coated strings, I have these on my Status Electro they feel smooth but as they are rounds inside they still have some harmonic bite and tone

An interesting point  that makes sense. Although the Dunlops dont have this characteristic. Thank you.

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Posted (edited)

I got another set of Dunlop flats (45-105) after some trepidation. I was worried that they would adversely affect the tone of the Lakland and would therefore be a waste of money. Now they've settled in I can update. I'm really pleased and it was the right thing to do. Great tone, just a little more sparkle in a flats way. Completely even response across the strings with no hint of a 'thud' on the E string. Original tone is still there in spades. I guess that they aren't 'old school' but for me they are the perfect compromise.

If anyone wants a set of low usage La Bella Deep Talkin' strings, same gauge methinks....

Peter 

Edited by GreeneKing

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Posted (edited)

It's never been a problem with me, but as it's a pretty substantial string I always make sure the string isn't 'locked' in the bridge when I'm tuning it up to pitch, i.e. make sure it can freely rotate right up until the last minute. I've had it a couple of times before where the string has twisted, and it's basically sounded dead.

FWIW, I find GHS Precision Flats to be a slightly cheaper alternative to the La Bella FL's.

Edited by wateroftyne

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I find La Bellas to sound uneven out of the packet and then start to sound similar after a few weeks.  It’s always the E that is different too start with.

 

I went back to Thomastiks anyway.  

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Thanks Guys

I did check the string wasn't twisted at the bridge too. I'd had them on for a few months of practice at home and at volume with the guys I jam with. I'll keep them handy and may well use them again if that's the tone I'm looking for. They may settle in a bit more.

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I've had La Bella flat wounds (.039 - .096) on my bass for about six months and the E string does lack a bit of sparkle with the A string not far behind.  I've just changed to Dunlop Stainless Steel flat wounds with a slightly heavier gauge (.045 - .105) and I cannot believe the difference!

The Dunlops are much brighter, to the point where I have had to roll off some treble, and feel really good under the fingers.  Even without the bass plugged in they project really well.  I think I've just found my "go to" flat wounds.

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