Opinions on Flatwounds?

Layne Matz

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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.
 

Biddlin

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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.
 

TDA1966

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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

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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.
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.
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.
 

Sweetums

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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.
 

Col Mustard

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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.
 

Layne Matz

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rosewood fingerboard
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.
 

Col Mustard

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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

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Col. Mustard - That partial photo of the rosewood fingerboard is beautiful! Full photo please.

Thank you,
v/r
Jeff
 

Layne Matz

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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.
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...

 

Bad Penguin

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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.
 

Utrecht74

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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?
 

Crazy_8

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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.
 

Bad Penguin

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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?

Very simple: Lift your fingers a bit more then you do now.
 


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