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Favourite Fretless Strings?


stewblack

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Well, it depends on the bass. My two Jazz basses have Rotosound 66 Swing Bass rounds on them. Lots of clarity and definition and nice mwah. My Precision that has a maple fretless neck has Rotosound 77 Jazz Flats on it. Really warm, smooth, rounded sound and actually has a lot of mwah on the higher notes. I really like both strings but they give very different results and I wouldn't swap them around. Possibly leaning towards the flats but I tend to play the Jazz more.

My Stingray I've just put a set of Ernie Ball Slinky Flats on but not had a proper try as the bass then went to the luther for some setup work. However, the quick go I did have sounded very promising. 

 

 

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Ive recently aquired a mid 80's Yamaha BB350F fretless and put some Ernie Ball cobalt flats on it. They have that lovely smooth feel and a very bright top end,almost like a set of nickel rounds. It sounds lovely and clear, and gives me a bit more presence and (Forgive the Cliche) plenty of Mwahh 😁

They are kinder to the fingerboard, I still may put some actual nickel rounds on at some point.

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1 hour ago, Velarian said:

I have TI flats on an Ibanez and on my Jazz and Precision I have Dunlop Super Bright Nickel round wounds 45-105 as a direct result of hearing this:

 

 

 

That does sound lovely. I wouldn't say he sounds like Jaco but it sounds gorgeous.

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I have always loved La Bella nylons on my fretless basses, the tension is lovley and they can sustain for days with the right set up.  Black ones are good if you like a darker tone, whereas the white ones have a brighter top end.

 

However, I recently tried a set of the new Galli Synthesis flats, whch have a synthetic core, and they are just incredible.  My new favourite fretless string without a doubt.

 

If I was still using rounds on a fretless I always had good experiences with DR Sunbeams and Elixirs.

 

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I use the same strings on my fretless as I do on my fretted, usually steel roundwounds. I've used Elites a lot, but I've got D'addario on there at the moment. I think LaBellas will be going on next time though. 

Flats can sound great but I prefer the tone of rounds on a fretless, and coated strings can get in the bin.

 

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17 minutes ago, Skybone said:

Surprised at folk using rounds for fretless, would have thought the de-rigeur choice would have been flats.

 

Why?

 

If you are after that Mick Karn/Pino Paladino fretless sound you have to have rounds. Flats won't do, no matter how much you alter your plucking technique and EQ.

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12 minutes ago, Rich said:

When you say coated, do you mean the nylon covered ones? If so, I agree.

Coated like Elixir. 

 

I quite like nylon tapewounds. I've got them on my short scale Bullet, and they're ace.

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After years of string rolling on various fretless basses I’ve come to settle on DR Sunbeams and Ken Smith Compressors/GHS Compression Wound as my favorite strings for fretless. On basses with rosewood boards that are especially prone to marking I’ll often use the compression wound strings, which have a very nice feel and sound very similar to regular nickel rounds. On harder fingerboards I tend to use the Sunbeams for their big, warm tone and flexibility. 
 

There are plenty of exceptions, though: I like brighter strings on my G&L L2000 so I string that with D’Addario XLs and I’ve had a set of Ernie Ball flats on my ’78 fretless P-bass for at least a decade. My custom 5-string fretless, which has an ebony board, is currently wearing R. Cocco nickel rounds but I’ve used lots of different strings on that bass; always nickel roundwound.  I’m not completely dogmatic about rosewood boards, either; sometimes they’ll get strung with roundwounds if I’m feeling especially reckless. 

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58 minutes ago, Skybone said:

Surprised at folk using rounds for fretless, would have thought the de-rigeur choice would have been flats.

 

 

A lot of people associate a Jaco-like tone with fretless by default. He used rounds on a coated board that was very, very hard and that kind of articulation is much easier to achieve with rounds. It’s not the only road, of course; Rick Danko of The Band had a wonderful fretless tone using flats on an old Ampeg scroll bass but that’s not the sound most players gravitate to fretless for. 

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3 hours ago, BigRedX said:

 

Why?

 

If you are after that Mick Karn/Pino Paladino fretless sound you have to have rounds. Flats won't do, no matter how much you alter your plucking technique and EQ.

 

TBH, I have no idea. I suppose it comes from thinking that rounds might damage the fret board (or lack-of-fret board in this case). With flats, there would be nothing to damage the 'board. And always assuming that the typical fretless "mwah" sound was flats. 🤷‍♂️

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8 hours ago, stewblack said:

Wonderful variety of answers here. I have fretless GAS after playing a beautiful example of @Jabba_the_gut's workmanship at the SWBB recently.

Although I strongly suspect I'm actually gassing for that specific instrument. It was gorgeous.


Jabba uses La Bella flatwounds. I’m assuming you are talking about @wrinkleygit’s gorgeous bass which, I think, has La Bellas on too (I’m sure he’ll be along to put me right if not). Certainly the bass I’ve just purchased from Jez has La Bellas as did both my Rob Allen basses, I think they are by far the best strings for basses such as Jez and Rob Allen build.

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20 minutes ago, Frank Blank said:


Jabba uses La Bella flatwounds. I’m assuming you are talking about @wrinkleygit’s gorgeous bass which, I think, has La Bellas on too (I’m sure he’ll be along to put me right if not). Certainly the bass I’ve just purchased from Jez has La Bellas as did both my Rob Allen basses, I think they are by far the best strings for basses such as Jez and Rob Allen build.

Your intuition serves you well.

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30 minutes ago, Frank Blank said:


Jabba uses La Bella flatwounds. I’m assuming you are talking about @wrinkleygit’s gorgeous bass which, I think, has La Bellas on too (I’m sure he’ll be along to put me right if not). Certainly the bass I’ve just purchased from Jez has La Bellas as did both my Rob Allen basses, I think they are by far the best strings for basses such as Jez and Rob Allen build.

I played that bass for about 30 seconds. It was so lovely I had to hand it straight back as if I'd held onto it any longer I think I might have done a runner with it. Never have I clicked with an instrument so instantly. I think I should try out the La Bellas...

I'm a big fan of really light gauge roundwounds on a fretless. Rotosound Funkmaster go well on a 4-string. Lots of bwwwaannnnggg.

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12 minutes ago, BreadBin said:

I played that bass for about 30 seconds. It was so lovely I had to hand it straight back as if I'd held onto it any longer I think I might have done a runner with it. Never have I clicked with an instrument so instantly. I think I should try out the La Bellas...

I'm a big fan of really light gauge roundwounds on a fretless. Rotosound Funkmaster go well on a 4-string. Lots of bwwwaannnnggg.


As you know it was that bass that turned me from the Rob Allen, something I never thought would happen.

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