Opinions on Flatwounds?

Discussion in 'Amps & Cabs' started by Layne Matz, Jul 13, 2019.

  1. Layne Matz

    Layne Matz Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2018
    Messages:
    858
    Likes Received:
    387
    Little over a month ago I bought a set of daddario .13-56 chrome flatwounds, I put them on my DIY archtop style acoustic which Ive modified heavily. These are the strings I needed all along, with out a doubt. Majority of the tones I've been seeking for years (apart from slide guitar) were not easily made with regular roundwound guitar strings.

    Never before was I able to slide so easily or create such impeccable jazz tones without these strings. I havent tried lighter gauge flatwounds yet, might put some .11 flats on my SG next string change. Been using my 'archtop' and esquire primarily for thr last couple months. I am utterly shocked that I overlooked these until just over a month ago.

    Im curious what you think about them.
     
    fos1 and Biddlin like this.
  2. donepearce

    donepearce Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2012
    Messages:
    4,116
    Likes Received:
    3,636
    Location:
    London, the knitting machine is done
    I think you said it all when you said jazz. That is where flatwounds shine. They really don't suit rock and blues - not enough overtones for those genres. So while I wouldn't use them, I understand why you would.
     
    Layne Matz likes this.
  3. rotorhead

    rotorhead Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2017
    Messages:
    771
    Likes Received:
    551
    Location:
    Jacksonville FL
    I have no use for them on guitars, but I use them on bass. I hate a twangy bass and flats help out a lot with giving me a much more mellow low end.
     
  4. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2012
    Messages:
    11,545
    Likes Received:
    9,727
    Location:
    -
    I have my Les Paul Custom strung with those very strings and as don says, they're kind of a one trick pony but that's the trick a couple of the singers I work for like.
     
    Layne Matz likes this.
  5. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2017
    Messages:
    2,962
    Likes Received:
    3,796
    I like flatbread.
     
  6. Bad Penguin

    Bad Penguin Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2018
    Messages:
    377
    Likes Received:
    307
    Hate roundworm.
     
    koaguilds likes this.
  7. koaguilds

    koaguilds Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2012
    Messages:
    1,056
    Likes Received:
    1,124
    Location:
    RVA
    Can't stanz em!

    I do like the in betweens like GHS Nickel Rockers(rollerwound) and GHS Brite Flats(ground wound)

    I put Brite Flats on a semi hollow and it was sweet. Might be cool on an SG.
     
    Layne Matz likes this.
  8. Layne Matz

    Layne Matz Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2018
    Messages:
    858
    Likes Received:
    387
    I agree that they are not well suited for much outside of jazz and lapsteel but since i only have the one 'acoustic/archtop' they are being used for everything. Main issue is the low e not having the snap that it usually would, and the wound g. I have to say i really think that using these is helping my technique over all, in several ways but primarily by not allowing much bending beyond the high strings and enabling such smooth finger travel. I finger pick exclusively and these strings are the softest I've ever felt.
     
    Biddlin likes this.
  9. Sweetums

    Sweetums Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2015
    Messages:
    140
    Likes Received:
    98
    D'Addario's Half Rounds are a good compromise between flatwounds and roundwounds for me.
    They are super smooth with no "string squeak" but don't sound too mellow or too dull like a lot of flatwounds.
     
    fos1, koaguilds and Layne Matz like this.
  10. Johnny Bagadonuts

    Johnny Bagadonuts New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2017
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    15
    FWIW, Pyramid Flatwounds + Strat + 1960 Vox AC15 = Nowhere Man.:thumb:
     
  11. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2009
    Messages:
    7,904
    Likes Received:
    7,922
    Location:
    Tucson AZ
    We used to call those "dollar slicks" back in the Stone Age
    before guitar strings had so many alternatives.

    I tried them on an early electric guitar I owned when I was like 16.
    They were smooth sounding, and I thought they were cool.

    Over many years, I became used to the tone and overtones of
    round wound strings, and never looked back.
    I played mostly acoustic and bass for decades.
    For bass, I tried many different types, including flat wound and tape wound strings
    for a jazzier tone, but didn't really care for it once I discovered
    Rotosound Roundwound strings, favored my one of my all time idols
    John Entwhistle.

    For me, that was it, and I went with Rotosound for a long time.
    Then I discovered Elixir strings, and became a fan of those.
    I still am, although I usually buy D'Addario round wounds when they
    go onside.

    BUT... to answer your question: I like flat wound bass strings for my fretless bass.
    not for guitar, I'm still a fan of round wounds there... But the fretless bass sounds
    great with flat wounds for a really slithery tone. Recently I've been using "ground
    wound" strings on the fretless, and I get more overtones and a crisper high end
    with those.

    For a Jazz tone, you want to emphasize the midrange anyway IMHO... so flats
    ought to be great.
    05d Warmoth Fretless Neck 3.jpg
    For the tone I hear in my head, I like the ground wound strings. They don't chew
    up my lovely rosewood fingerboard the way round wound strings might do.
     
    rotorhead, fos1 and Layne Matz like this.
  12. Layne Matz

    Layne Matz Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2018
    Messages:
    858
    Likes Received:
    387
    Dollar slicks? Shop near me sells flatwounds for 30USD/set. I got them on sale for 14, will have to find them online in the future. I've already decided to try them on my '97 Epi SG bass too next time i change the strings.

    That neck looks awfully wide... It occured to me that if my bass' neck was wider I'd add a string or two. What are your opinions on adding more strings? Also, as a long time bassist, have you tried double bass much?

    I always felt that it was harder to get an organic acoustic like tone out of an electeic bass becuase I was going for that jazz bass sound anyways, so I prefer double bass but i do not own one.
     
  13. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2009
    Messages:
    7,904
    Likes Received:
    7,922
    Location:
    Tucson AZ
    well, it was a long time ago, in a galaxy far away.
    And I was talking about guitar strings, not bass strings.
    Gasoline sold for 29 cents a gallon, I could get a burger and fries
    for 69 cents, the minimum wage was $1.25 an hour, my dad's
    Chevrolet station wagon cost him $3000, a semester's tuition
    at University of Michigan my first year was $174.00

    So a dollar for a guitar string seemed like a lot. The value of things
    hasn't changed, but the dollars were bigger then.

    Here's a current Musician's Friend page:
    https://www.musiciansfriend.com/sea...irect=true&sB=r&Ntt=flat+wound+guitar+strings

    Those flats are pretty expensive. But if they give you the sound you want,
    and you can afford the prices, then Bob's yer uncle.

    As a bassist, I've always been fascinated by the five string where you can get
    that low B if you need it. But lucky me, I've never needed it. I'm very happy
    with four. And I play it well, my bass and I seem like extensions of each other.
    So I think the five string is cool, but too heavy, too expensive, to cumbersome
    and not necessary for any music I play. Other guys play the five string or
    the six even, but they play sitting down. So they have the stage presence of
    a small refrigerator, or maybe an end table. I like to move around.

    When I made the jump to fretless bass, I was actually trying to get the
    mmmmwhaahh sound I could hear on the acoustic bass. I had played the
    fretted bass long enough to have found great tones, but that glissando sound
    from the smooth strings and the smooth ebony fingerboard of the acoustic
    bass was not in my repertoire.

    The fretless bass has a tone all its own. It does NOT sound like an acoustic
    bass (when I play it), but maybe it could in the hands of a real jazz player
    who knew how to EQ it for the tone he needs. But I'm very happy with the
    tones I can get from the fretless neck and the Fender Jazz Bass pickups.
    van packed 2018@100.jpg
    I also have been fascinated by the acoustic bass, but never understood the
    logistics. I've been on the road for decades with my electric bass and a
    fairly small amp (by electric bass standards), and I found I can travel well
    in a minivan with it, and haul it up slippery steps into dodgy venues without
    breaking my shins. I don't know if I could do the same with a doghouse bass.

    The electric bass was becoming popular when I was about 12 years old.
    I heard it right away, having been a music fan as a schoolboy. I didn't even
    know what it was then, but I liked it. A lot of fifties rock an roll was played
    with the doghouse bass, but by about 1960 I could hear something else.
    A few years later, we began to hear black artists played on the same pop
    radio stations as white artists, and the R&B producers mostly used the electric
    bass. That sound got into my blood... Motown means "Motor Town" which
    means Detroit, Michigan, where the powerful radio stations were.

    DJs played both black and white artists at teen dances when I was
    getting to be a punk rocker (before it was a thing). Dancing to the Motown
    Bass lines with the girls with the big big hair got into my blood too.
    So I'm an electric bass player. I respect the acoustic bass, but it seems
    like working too hard, for not enough sound and presence. My Fender Jazz
    bass would sustain forever, seemingly. Acoustic bassists would need a bow.

    I do love the sound of the acoustic bass, and my daughter plays one,
    and when the arrangement calls for that sound, there's no substitute.
    But I'm a Fender Bass guy. That Warmoth Fretless Jazz bass I built has
    the exact same size neck as any other Fender Jazz Bass. But the lines on
    the rosewood board are maple inlays, not frets. And I can get a great
    glissando with it.
     
    fos1 and Layne Matz like this.
  14. fos1

    fos1 Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2018
    Messages:
    117
    Likes Received:
    72
    Col. Mustard - That partial photo of the rosewood fingerboard is beautiful! Full photo please.

    Thank you,
    v/r
    Jeff
     
  15. Layne Matz

    Layne Matz Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2018
    Messages:
    858
    Likes Received:
    387
    Very insightful Colonel, its always nice to hear about perspectives of eras I didnt live in and get a better sense of the times. I agree with practically all of what you said except...

     
    fos1 likes this.
  16. Rick330man

    Rick330man New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2019
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    6
    Flatwounds = Rickenbacker guitars. Just my take.
     
  17. Bad Penguin

    Bad Penguin Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2018
    Messages:
    377
    Likes Received:
    307
    On my jazz boxes, I use flatwounds. (D'Angelico single pickup hollow, and Eastman El Rey 3.) on a couple of semi's, Halfwounds by D'Addario. (98 Epiphone Sheraton II, 97 Epiphone Casino, and 15 Peerless Retromatic P2) Everything else, roundwounds.
     
    Layne Matz likes this.
  18. Utrecht74

    Utrecht74 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2013
    Messages:
    55
    Likes Received:
    40
    Location:
    Utrecht,Netherlands
    I started using flatwounds cos i cant control the squek when moving up and down the neck playing bar chords. I`d prefer the tone of roundwounds though.Any tips on how to beat the squeak?
     
    Layne Matz likes this.
  19. Crazy_8

    Crazy_8 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2014
    Messages:
    787
    Likes Received:
    580
    Location:
    Chicago
    I haven't used flatwounds since the mid-late 60's, used to favor them. I was studying jazz at the time and playing a archtop Gretsch and that's what got me the sound I was looking for at the time.
     
    Layne Matz likes this.
  20. Bad Penguin

    Bad Penguin Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2018
    Messages:
    377
    Likes Received:
    307
    Very simple: Lift your fingers a bit more then you do now.
     
    Utrecht74 likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice