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Flats - why do many rave about them


BassAdder27

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Just now, wateroftyne said:


IME for the last 20 years or so, whenever there’s been a discussion about flats,

someone has always piped up to say they’re a fad 😄

 

I remember one particular evening, down the Dog and Duck with my old mate Jimbo Jamerson. He had his usual pint of mild on the go with a pack of Players Navy Cut and he was harping on about the virtues of these new fangled "flat wound" strings he'd put on his beat up old Bass. 

 

Anyway, me and the lads had a good old laugh about it and told him to get real and get some proper Rotosounds on there and that they'd never catch on. 

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4 hours ago, FinnDave said:

It's a fashion thing. I quite like the sound of flats on some basses, but I hate the feel of them, too slippery and smooth. I like to feel the rough round wounds, gives me something to grip.

 

Funny how different we all are, I love the feel of flats, but just hate the sound of them.

 

These days I just keep switching between rounds and tapes and I just keep going back and forth. There is something I like about both, so can't just stick to one :) I really need a 2nd bass I guess.

 

@BassAdder27 there are a lot of great string comparison videos on youtube, listen to a lot of them as there's a huge difference between the various tension/brand flats too, and maybe you'll hear something you really want to try.

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They’re a fad, never last…blah blah emperors new clothes … rounds were good enough for my great granddad whilst he was holding out against the boers at mafeking… they’re in Shakespeare- he used them on his lute… probably … etc

Edited by Geek99
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5 hours ago, BassAdder27 said:

As a roundwounds user on my PBass using a pick for rock seems to work.

 

There are many say Flatwounds are the way forward … why is that ?

 

They sound dull I’m told ( I can achieve that turning down my tone pot ) and they are very costly in comparison 

 

Are there really any advantages to swop and what are they as I’m open to try 

Have a listen to this, this is flats, flats come in different levels of brightness, not always dull and thumpy

[YouTube]

 

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Flatwounds aren't going to be as bright as roundwounds but they don't have to be dull.

My latest obsession is the Galli Synthesis flatwounds which I've put on my jazz (I've done a thread on them here). They have a synthetic core, and feel and sound great.

If you want to have a listen I posted some clips over in the effects review section; the Seamoon funk machine dub clip gives you a good idea, as does the one I just posted of the Aguilar grape phaser.

Not cheap but strings are an essential part of your sound, so if you like them, a good investment. 

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8 hours ago, wateroftyne said:


IME for the last 20 years or so, whenever there’s been a discussion about flats,

someone has always piped up to say they’re a fad 😄

There you go then, I'm just playing my part in a long lasting tradition. It'll be your turn soon!

I started playing bass in my teens, getting on for 50 years now. I think the first bass I played (some kind of semi-acoustic) had flats or tape wounds, but everything after that came with rounds on, I honestly can't remember anyone mentioning flats or seeing them for sale in music shops. I only became aware of them with the rise of the internet and a wider range of opinions becoming available. I tried flats on a Precision about 15 years ago, but found them wooly sounding compared to the rounds I'd been using, and disliked the feel of them. I've usually kept one bass strung with flats 'in case I need it', but in practice, that bass remains unused for a year or two until I decide to bring it out of retirement and restring with rounds.

Truth is that pre-internet, I don't think I knew any other bass players, certainly not to chat about strings with. The internet has opened us all up to to a wider range of opinions, some useful, others less so, but it is very difficult to tell one from the other.

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6 hours ago, FinnDave said:

Truth is that pre-internet, I don't think I knew any other bass players, certainly not to chat about strings with. The internet has opened us all up to to a wider range of opinions, some useful, others less so, but it is very difficult to tell one from the other.

 

This.

 

I didn't know another bass player for most of my life. I know a few now, thanks to the internet.

 

I started with flats on my Framus. On the next bass I moved to rounds because of the dynamic range and stayed with rounds for over 40 years. Nearly 10 years ago, I put flats on my Lull. I love that sound, but my Jazz with rounds has been my #1 bass for many years. It's all because of that extended dynamic range.

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I’ve nearly always used flats, years ago I did try rounds , it wasn’t so much the sound I didn’t like, it was the rough feel I didn’t like, a few basses I bought lately had rounds and I gave them another try but I took them off after about 5 minutes, they were amazing for slap but just not for me 🙂

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I was always roundwounds until a few years ago. I had never really tried them as I thought they were old fashioned, dull etc. But over the past few years my opinions have broadened and have been listening to more varied players, specifically Michael league and Joe dart and it peaked my curiosity. Also a big thing that put me down this avenue was that I hate changing strings. Normal roundwounds aren't cheap either and I don't like the sound of brand new rounds so I would put off replacing strings for months till they were just horrible. I too was very hesitant to invest in flats but I found a great compromise, as has already been suggested, were Ernie Ball cobalt flats. Out the pack they soundore or less what I want, a worn in roundwound, still plenty of bite and top end but no harsh zingy-ness. More importantly they stay there. My current set are over a year old and I'm only just thinking about changing....maybe. if your gonna take the plunge I would strongly recommend those. Also flats feel amazing, that's always fun 😂

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2 hours ago, Reggaebass said:

I’ve nearly always used flats, years ago I did try rounds , it wasn’t so much the sound I didn’t like, it was the rough feel I didn’t like, a few basses I bought lately had rounds and I gave them another try but I took them off after about 5 minutes, they were amazing for slap but just not for me 🙂

Strange how differently we can experience things - I can't on with the feel of flats, I like the grip of rounds. Flats feel strange and dead to my fingers. I guess we're lucky to have so much choice so we can find strings to suit us all.

Edited by FinnDave
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I have Ti flats on my P, and Dunlop flats on my medium scale Ibby 5 string Mezzo. I have rounds on my Sandberg and on my 4 string Ibby Mezzo.

I haven't decided about my Ibby EHB multiscale yet. I've tried both and I like both on it.

 

I am not a fan of heavy and stiff old flats like the La Bella ones or Chromes. I don't like to fight the instrument.

 

I find that different basses, even with the same scale length, often need different strings that suit them best. I have tried rounds on my P and flats on my Sandberg etc but they don't seem to suit quite as well, although the Sandberg nearly got stuck with EB Group 4 flats - they were very nice on that bass.

 

There's a lot of nonsense about flats on a P being "the" classic sound. I'd say it is just a very common sound, but that rounds with a P (the right P) gives just as much of a classic sound. Different genres need different approaches for the most part.

 

I like the feel of flats for most things. I like the lack of string noise when moving around the  neck, but I'd I'm having a Sheehan moment then I prefer the grip that a round gives me.

 

I think what I'm trying to say is - you need at least 2 of every bass so you can have flats and rounds. And maybe tapes. And coated. And Half / Pressurewounds.

 

So at least 5 of every bass.

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12 minutes ago, Stub Mandrel said:

In string terms, flats are like selecting inferior tonewoods in order to get the sound you like.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

🙂

 

You naughty boy trying to revive the Tonewood wars. Just to help I will add some accelerant. The species of wood is not important.

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Of course we are ignoring something important here.

 

If all bass bridges were slot loading rather than the string through the hole idea swapping used strings would be far easier. No more trying to feed the already wound silk end through the bridge - just lift it off.

 

Then swapping between already cut / wound strings takes only a few minutes. I love the bridge on my Sandberg for that. It's just so easy.

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Now on a serious note, I hate the zingy sound of new rounds and love the smoothness of flats. I don't like extra tension from some flats and found Fender flats in particular to go dead on the E string very quickly. Sadly even with D'Addario making Fender Strings, the flats are still not good. 

 

I hate string noise and have a set of Rotosound Nexus about to go on my Aerodyne. I don't know whether the coating will help with the finger noise. I suppose I should try the EB Chromes and some TI Flats at some point but that is close on £100 and almost two cups of Costa Coffee ( OK yes with a panini)

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21 minutes ago, Stub Mandrel said:

In string terms, flats are like selecting inferior tonewoods in order to get the sound you like.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

🙂

 

Are you actually saying flats inferior to roundwounds or did I miss the satirical element?! 

Oh, and the large number of spaces between text and emoji??

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5 minutes ago, fretmeister said:

Of course we are ignoring something important here.

 

If all bass bridges were slot loading rather than the string through the hole idea swapping used strings would be far easier. No more trying to feed the already wound silk end through the bridge - just lift it off.

 

Then swapping between already cut / wound strings takes only a few minutes. I love the bridge on my Sandberg for that. It's just so easy.

Damn you. I was only going to change the machine heads on my new bass but now I must look at a new bridge too.

 

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5 minutes ago, Chienmortbb said:

Fender flats in particular to go dead on the E string very quickly. Sadly even with D'Addario making Fender Strings, the flats are still not good. 

When I was on my string quest quite a few years back, they were my least favourite strings , quite high tension and they had a metallic sound, I played them solid for about 3 months and they never altered, I gave them away in the end 

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18 minutes ago, fretmeister said:

Of course we are ignoring something important here.

 

If all bass bridges were slot loading rather than the string through the hole idea swapping used strings would be far easier. No more trying to feed the already wound silk end through the bridge - just lift it off.

 

Then swapping between already cut / wound strings takes only a few minutes. I love the bridge on my Sandberg for that. It's just so easy.

 

Or go headless double-ball end, and leave old-fashioned dead spotted designs behind.

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