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Silj

Strings for 1960s bass

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Hi there, can anyone help me find the right strings? I have a 1960s vintage bass (from that factory in Japan) that I have really come to like. It has a mellow woody boomy sort of sound, quite acoustic/natural in some registers, and the strings are old. I need to avoid metallic sounding, poppy, twangy strings - I want the sound to stay the same and I don't know where to start! All advice gratefully appreciated especially from anyone who has a similar bass. 

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You will probably be after flatwound strings...

can you post a pic of the bass, and a close up of the strings?

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Posted (edited)

Thanks - hope these are clear enough. There is no longer a brand logo on the bass, but I know it is by Audition as there is one on Ebay at the moment with its brand logo intact. Not highly valuable, but I really like the sound. It's a shorty by the way.

20210318_230336.jpg

20210318_230409.jpg

Edited by Silj

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Yes I've heard that and I think it's very likely this one came from a Woolies originally!

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Why are you wanting to change the strings?

The ones on your bass look like flatwounds. Flatwounds only get better with age and can easily last 10-15 years of fairly heavy playing.

You don't need to replace them, unless a string is broken!

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It's the E string. It sounds really muddy, so much so that my tuner doesn't recognise it. I'll be deeply happy to keep the others if I can find a good enough match. 

Thank you for your advice 🙂

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Posted (edited)

Some flatwound chat here... i recently bought 2 sets of the Adagio's to try flats...

 

 

Edited by PaulThePlug
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It can work out quite expensive sometimes to buy single flatwound strings, and fender have green silks but they don’t sell singles , the Adagio flats Paul mentions above are great value at about £13 

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10 hours ago, Reggaebass said:

It can work out quite expensive sometimes to buy single flatwound strings, and fender have green silks but they don’t sell singles , the Adagio flats Paul mentions above are great value at about £13 

The OPs bass is a short scale with tiny tuners. Standard long scale flats won't fit!

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13 minutes ago, hooky_lowdown said:

The OPs bass is a short scale with tiny tuners. Standard long scale flats won't fit!

Ah didn’t know it was short scale 👍

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3 hours ago, hooky_lowdown said:

The OPs bass is a short scale with tiny tuners. Standard long scale flats won't fit!

Short scale yes, but the tuners, while looking rather small, seem to be taking the full width of a standard E. 

@Silj, there's some good info here about short scale strings from Scott Whitley, although obviously only one man's opinion. 

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8 minutes ago, Maude said:

Short scale yes, but the tuners, while looking rather small, seem to be taking the full width of a standard E. 

@Silj, there's some good info here about short scale strings from Scott Whitley, although obviously only one man's opinion. 

My post was referring to the full scale flats discussed above. Try and fit full scale flats through those tuners, I guess they wouldn't.

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2 minutes ago, hooky_lowdown said:

My post was referring to the full scale flats discussed above. Try and fit full scale flats through those tuners, I guess they wouldn't.

You're probably right. It's just that in the OP's picture the part of the E string before it starts to taper is through the tuner slot, which made me think they're a long, or medium, scale set of strings. 

But yes, I'd go for a proper short scale set to get the tapered part in the tuner. 

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Are those really flat-wound strings or just ancient round-wounds?

IIRC Rotosound short-scale round-wounds had that colour silks.

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Guys thank you for all the replies - really impressed by this community. I only joined a few days ago. 

I picked the bass up from my Dad's attic last summer. He is nearly 90 and hasn't played it for ages, so the strings can be ancient. They look more round than flat to me, but the sound is really mellow and warm. Perhaps age does that. Everything I've learnt so far tells me I need flats to recreate that sound so I am really pleased to have all the above info. Will let you know which ones I decide on.

Much appreciation

Silj

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Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, Silj said:

Guys thank you for all the replies - really impressed by this community. I only joined a few days ago. 

I picked the bass up from my Dad's attic last summer. He is nearly 90 and hasn't played it for ages, so the strings can be ancient. They look more round than flat to me, but the sound is really mellow and warm. Perhaps age does that. Everything I've learnt so far tells me I need flats to recreate that sound so I am really pleased to have all the above info. Will let you know which ones I decide on.

Much appreciation

Silj

As I suspected they are probably ancient Rotosound round-wounds. Yes, age will give them a much more mellow sound. Unfortunately as you have discovered it does also make them harder and harder to tune (and intonate). Another thing I discovered with Rotosounds is that before a certain point (some time in the late 90s) they were incapable of making a short-scale E string that would produce a decent note. Your strings most likely date from that period.

The solution is going to be a tricky one. You could carry on with the current strings (avoiding using the E string like I used to) until one of them breaks; or you could start investigating modern alternatives. String construction and choice has come a long way since that was was last re-strung. I would look for some short-scale flat-wounds that have the same tension as a standard set of Rotosound round wounds - hopefully someone will be along to recommend something suitable, as I'm not really into flat-wounds. What I would say is don't get Rotosounds as they are extremely high tension. 

The other thing to consider is that the the tuning/note definition problems may simply be a character of the bass and not matter what string you use, it won't really be usable. After-all no-one ever wanted one of these "Woolies Specials". These basses are what we bought back in 70s because we simply couldn't afford anything better.

Edited by BigRedX
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3 hours ago, Maude said:

Short scale yes, but the tuners, while looking rather small, seem to be taking the full width of a standard E. 

@Silj, there's some good info here about short scale strings from Scott Whitley, although obviously only one man's opinion. 

That was really helpful - his description of Rotosound strings speaks exactly to my problems: E string sounds awful, really out of tune at the 5th fret, pitch wanders upwards especially on open strings.  Thanks Maude 🙂

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39 minutes ago, BigRedX said:

As I suspected they are probably ancient Rotosound round-wounds. Yes, age will give them a much more mellow sound. Unfortunately as you have discovered it does also make them harder and harder to tune (and intonate). Another thing I discovered with Rotosounds is that before a certain point (some time in the late 90s) they were incapable of making a short-scale E string that would produce a decent note. Your strings most likely date from that period.

The solution is going to be a tricky one. You could carry on with the current strings (avoiding using the E string like I used to) until one of them breaks; or you could start investigating modern alternatives. String construction and choice has come a long way since that was was last re-strung. I would look for some short-scale flat-wounds that have the same tension as a standard set of Rotosound round wounds - hopefully someone will be along to recommend something suitable, as I'm not really into flat-wounds. What I would say is don't get Rotosounds as they are extremely high tension. 

The other thing to consider is that the the tuning/note definition problems may simply be a character of the bass and not matter what string you use, it won't really be usable. After-all no-one ever wanted one of these "Woolies Specials". These basses are what we bought back in 70s because we simply couldn't afford anything better.

Well yes, you're right, it's a MIJ from Woolies. I know there are going to be limits to how good I can get the tuning and there are a few notes that are never going to sound right - but I don't know where else to find this sound. Other basses will be better for loads of things but this one is just great for Bach and Beatles and I want to make the best of it so thank you for the advice BigRedX, it is all very helpful.

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7 minutes ago, Reggaebass said:

What’s the length from the bridge to the nut silj 🙂

Hi Rb, it's 30.75 inches for the E string

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2 minutes ago, Silj said:

Hi Rb, it's 30.75 inches for the E string

I found a set of old rounds in my drawer but they are 37in to the start of the silk, I don’t have anything that short or you could have had them 

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1 minute ago, Reggaebass said:

I found a set of old rounds in my drawer but they are 37in to the start of the silk, I don’t have anything that short or you could have had them 

That's kind of you Reggaebass - thanks for the thought 🙂

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6 minutes ago, Silj said:

That's kind of you Reggaebass - thanks for the thought 🙂

👍,   You could, if you want, put an ad in the wanted section for a set of short scale flats, someone might have some and lots of people look there 🙂

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1 minute ago, Reggaebass said:

👍,   You could, if you want, put an ad in the wanted section for a set of short scale flats, someone might have some and lots of people look there 🙂

Oh cool 👍I will go and find the Wanted section. This is a good website...

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