Finally got flats on the P-bass.

jpfampsjpfamps Frets: 1420

Something I've been meaning to do for a while now, but I've finally gone to flats on the P-bass.

After much havering, I've gone with DR Legends, 45 -105.

Got 2 x 45 mins sets this evening, so hopefully we'll not have too many blisters!


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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 15729
    They will feel like they are oddly bright for flats until they are played in a little bit. 

    I notice it even more with Chromes, which can be really bright for the first week or so, and then settle down and eventually get a really pleasing flat thump which seems to remain more consistent than others. 
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  • jpfampsjpfamps Frets: 1420
    They will feel like they are oddly bright for flats until they are played in a little bit. 

    I notice it even more with Chromes, which can be really bright for the first week or so, and then settle down and eventually get a really pleasing flat thump which seems to remain more consistent than others. 

    They do seem quite bright at the moment.

    What do you normally use?
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 15729
    jpfamps said:
    They will feel like they are oddly bright for flats until they are played in a little bit. 

    I notice it even more with Chromes, which can be really bright for the first week or so, and then settle down and eventually get a really pleasing flat thump which seems to remain more consistent than others. 

    They do seem quite bright at the moment.

    What do you normally use?
    Chromes - they have been the most consistent from set to set, and although bright at first they dull down to a nice flat tone with a little zing but not too much.

    I used Thomastik's before but they go really dull and you have to get on with the slightly rubber band quality to really appreciate them. Chromes are a higher tension and seem to offer a bit more fight back. I find Thomastiks just too floppy for pick work - fine for fingers but all over the shop with a pick. 

    Have tried La Bella Low Tension flats as well - better than the Thomastiks but still pretty floppy - they seem a bit less consistent over brightness as well, but are def worth a try. 

    I hear good things about the Fender flats too but not tried them yet. 

    Of course, the great thing about bass strings is you can try a few sets without having to wait for the old set to wear out. You could get another set of flats and whip the DR's off - if you don't like the new ones then whip them off again and put the DR's back on. I've got some sets that have been on and off basses probably a dozen times. The silk wraps get a bit 'fuzzy' but otherwise they will be fine for any number of swaps. Flats should theoretically last quite a few years. 
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  • jpfampsjpfamps Frets: 1420
    edited June 21

    My main concern was that I was under the impression that the truss rod was fully tightened  (mistaken as it happens) so I didn't want strings which would cause a big increase in tension.

    I was advised against Rotosound flats, and when I've played basses with Thomastik flats the tension has been too low for my liking, although I almost exclusively play finger style. I can't imagine playing them with a pick!

    I friend of mine uses La Bellas, but also recommended DRs, and what swung it was that I can get DRs at trade price (!).

    I might look into the Fenders in the future.

    Anyhow, on further inspection the truss rod is working fine and the bass now plays really well with the DRs which seem to be slightly higher tension than the very old rounds that were on the instrument.
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 15729
    jpfamps said:

    My main concern was that I was under the impression that the truss rod was fully tightened  (mistaken as it happens) so I didn't want strings which would cause a big increase in tension.

    I was advised against Rotosound flats, and when I've played basses with Thomastik flats the tension has been too low for my liking, although I almost exclusively play finger style. I can't imagine playing them with a pick!

    I friend of mine uses La Bellas, but also recommended DRs, and what swung it was that I can get DRs at trade price (!).

    I might look into the Fenders in the future.

    Anyhow, on further inspection the truss rod is working fine and the bass now plays really well with the DRs which seem to be slightly higher tension than the very rounds that were on the instrument.
    I think bass strings are very much a personal choice thing, and if you find some that work and feel good then it's worth while sticking with them. 

    I've tried a few different types as I wanted to see what was out there, but I usually come back to Chromes as best for me. I'll have to try the DRs at some point
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 3330
    Bridgehouse said:
    I hear good things about the Fender flats too but not tried them yet. 
    I have. I like them. I have a set on my Fender AVRI '63 P Bass. (For reasons known only to themselves, Fender ships these with roundwound strings.) 

    the great thing about bass strings is you can try a few sets without having to wait for the old set to wear out. You could get another set of flats and whip the DR's off - if you don't like the new ones then whip them off again and put the DR's back on. I've got some sets that have been on and off basses probably a dozen times. 
    Been there. Done this. :)

    Bridgehouse said:
    Flats should theoretically last quite a few years. 
    My Squier Silver Series P Bass had very little fret wire left when I acquired it. (Hello, H7!) In an attempt to extend their remaining life, I switched from roundwound to flatwound strings. Voilà. Instant thud à la James Jamerson, early John McVie, Roger Waters, Tommy Shannon et al. Those strings have been on that bass ever since. 
    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 15729
    Bridgehouse said:
    I hear good things about the Fender flats too but not tried them yet. 
    I have. I like them. I have a set on my Fender AVRI '63 P Bass. (For reasons known only to themselves, Fender ships these with roundwound strings.) 


    Probably denying their heritage, and c'mon, no bass players actually play with those crummy flat wound efforts anymore, do they? :)



    the great thing about bass strings is you can try a few sets without having to wait for the old set to wear out. You could get another set of flats and whip the DR's off - if you don't like the new ones then whip them off again and put the DR's back on. I've got some sets that have been on and off basses probably a dozen times. 
    Been there. Done this. :)


    It's a bass players right of passage to swap strings over and over again. Here's a pic of the door in my man-cave...



    That's just the round wound collection (well, part of it) - there's a similar one for flat wounds as well

    Flats should theoretically last quite a few years. 
    My Squier Silver Series P Bass had very little fret wire left when I acquired it. (Hello, H7!) In an attempt to extend their remaining life, I switched from roundwound to flatwound strings. Voilà. Instant thud à la James Jamerson, early John McVie, Roger Waters, Tommy Shannon et al. Those strings have been on that bass ever since. 

    There's always been flats on my 64 P - I reckon since new, as the frets have pretty much no wear at all, and I know for a fact it was gigged nightly at one point in it's life. Neck and body wear certainly points to it. The rollover on the board edges smacks of years and years of action. It is interesting to see the various stages of 'thump' as flats get older. I can see a point in the future where I decide the dullness is just too much and put a new set on, but I now find if I put new chromes on a bass I end up fishing the packet out of the bin when first played to make sure it definitely said "flat wound" on the packet..
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  • jpfampsjpfamps Frets: 1420

    I've several gigs in the next few weeks so I'll report back.

    The DRs are a nice tension.
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  • FreebirdFreebird Frets: 970
    edited June 21
    Bridgehead said:
    Chromes - they have been the most consistent from set to set, and although bright at first they dull down to a nice flat tone with a little zing but not too much.

    I used Thomastik's before but they go really dull and you have to get on with the slightly rubber band quality to really appreciate them. Chromes are a higher tension and seem to offer a bit more fight back. I find Thomastiks just too floppy for pick work - fine for fingers but all over the shop with a pick. 

    Have tried La Bella Low Tension flats as well - better than the Thomastiks but still pretty floppy - they seem a bit less consistent over brightness as well, but are def worth a try. 

    I hear good things about the Fender flats too but not tried them yet. 

    Of course, the great thing about bass strings is you can try a few sets without having to wait for the old set to wear out. You could get another set of flats and whip the DR's off - if you don't like the new ones then whip them off again and put the DR's back on. I've got some sets that have been on and off basses probably a dozen times. The silk wraps get a bit 'fuzzy' but otherwise they will be fine for any number of swaps. Flats should theoretically last quite a few? years.
    Do you ever adjust the trussrod when changing between different brands of flats? I'm using TI flats. The bass was setup by Andy Warnock and has had the frets stoned, etc.. It plays ok with a pick.
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 15729
    Freebird said:
    Bridgehead said:
    Chromes - they have been the most consistent from set to set, and although bright at first they dull down to a nice flat tone with a little zing but not too much.

    I used Thomastik's before but they go really dull and you have to get on with the slightly rubber band quality to really appreciate them. Chromes are a higher tension and seem to offer a bit more fight back. I find Thomastiks just too floppy for pick work - fine for fingers but all over the shop with a pick. 

    Have tried La Bella Low Tension flats as well - better than the Thomastiks but still pretty floppy - they seem a bit less consistent over brightness as well, but are def worth a try. 

    I hear good things about the Fender flats too but not tried them yet. 

    Of course, the great thing about bass strings is you can try a few sets without having to wait for the old set to wear out. You could get another set of flats and whip the DR's off - if you don't like the new ones then whip them off again and put the DR's back on. I've got some sets that have been on and off basses probably a dozen times. The silk wraps get a bit 'fuzzy' but otherwise they will be fine for any number of swaps. Flats should theoretically last quite a few? years.
    Do you ever adjust the trussrod when changing between different brands of flats? I'm using TI flats and I play with a pick. The bass was setup by Andy Warnock and has had the frets stoned, etc.. It plays ok signs pick.
    Yes, and no..

    That's not as vague as it sounds :)

    I sometimes swap out different ages of the same string, and the tension doesn't differ over time/use, so no need for a tweak.

    However, if it's a completely different type of string then I do tend to give the truss a tweak. I usually string up and leave it overnight, re-tune, measure relief, give the truss a tweak, and then leave again to settle. Sounds like a faff but I can't really do a fair comparison if the setup is off. 

    Most flats I try are pretty much the same tension tbh tho - it's only the Thomastiks and the La Bella Low Tensions that really seem to be any different. 
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 3330
    edited June 21
    Bridgehouse said:
    Here's a pic of the door in my man-cave.



    That's just the round wound collection (well, part of it) - there's a similar one for flat wounds as well
    Reminds me of the flat that my brother shared with his University friends. His spent bass strings were trained up the living room wall, acting as a television aerial.
    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 15729
    Bridgehouse said:
    Here's a pic of the door in my man-cave.



    That's just the round wound collection (well, part of it) - there's a similar one for flat wounds as well
    Reminds me of the flat that my brother shared with his University friends. His spent bass strings were trained up the living room wall, acting as a television aerial.
    They are on the back of a door which is usually open so don’t get seen very much. Looking at that pic, the door needs a repaint...
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  • valevale Frets: 1036
    edited June 21
    how are the DRs & Chromes for general squeak & squeal? do they have that brittle thing where the finger-noise can get really intrusive if you roll up the tone? bass squeak really bugs me.
    i imagine the average p-bass bridge pickup to be the worst option for exaggerating that.

    i'm interested in the idea of flats that don't go rubberband boingy tho (re future violin bass), because i play pick not finger style. just not sure how much resilience ('fight back' as you call it) you can put back in before things get squeaky. la bella's etc not cheap to experiment with.

    keep us posted on your experiences (& enjoy your 45min each way evening sessions).
    hofner hussie & hayman harpie. what she said...
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 15729
    vale said:
    how are the DRs & Chromes for general squeak & squeal? do they have that brittle thing where the finger-noise can get really intrusive if you roll up the tone?
    i imagine the average p-bass bridge pickup to be the worst option for exaggerating that.

    i'm interested in the idea of flats that don't go rubberband boingy tho (re future violin bass), because i play pick not finger style. just not sure how much resilience ('fight back' as you call it) you can put back in before things get squeaky. la bella's etc not cheap to experiment with.

    keep us posted on your experiences (& enjoy your 45min each way evening sessions).
    Chromes don’t have much squeak or noise at all tbh. After a week or so they wear in and are pretty much silent as you slide around. 

    I think a Jazz bridge pickup would have more effect than a P bass pickup which is very much a “middle” pickup and doesn’t seem to accentuate the squeak at all. Course, it depends on your tone pot..

    Thing is with flats, the sound you are after with a violin bass is driven by that whole 60s rubber band thing - and in many ways the Thomastiks would be ideal for it - roll the tone off and enjoy boingy thud 60s heaven. 

    Having said that, flats don’t work like rounds - more tension doesn’t have to mean more squeak..

    You know what? You should consider tape wounds...
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  • JezWyndJezWynd Frets: 2424
    I just  switched from Thomastik flats to La Bellas - much improved feel and sound. They do have a bit more tension, enough that I had to tweak the truss rods but well worth the effort.  I've always loved La Bellas since I used them on a violin bass, such a nice feel under the fingers.
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 15729
    JezWynd said:
    I just  switched from Thomastik flats to La Bellas - much improved feel and sound. They do have a bit more tension, enough that I had to tweak the truss rods but well worth the effort.  I've always loved La Bellas since I used them on a violin bass, such a nice feel under the fingers.
    I’ve not tried La Bellas in any of mine, but on borrowed basses I’d say you are right - nicer feel than thomastiks. Closer to Chromes in tension and they are silky. Some don’t like that, some do. It depends on how much you like to wrestle with your bass and get feedback during playing. 

    I borrowed a bass once that felt like it had rusty ships cables on it - it was awful, but the owner made it sound awesome..
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  • valevale Frets: 1036
    edited June 21
    JezWynd said:
    I just  switched from Thomastik flats to La Bellas - much improved feel and sound. They do have a bit more tension, enough that I had to tweak the truss rods but well worth the effort.  I've always loved La Bellas since I used them on a violin bass, such a nice feel under the fingers.
    I’ve not tried La Bellas in any of mine, but on borrowed basses I’d say you are right - nicer feel than thomastiks. Closer to Chromes in tension and they are silky. Some don’t like that, some do. It depends on how much you like to wrestle with your bass and get feedback during playing. 

    I borrowed a bass once that felt like it had rusty ships cables on it - it was awful, but the owner made it sound awesome..
    re "It depends on how much you like to wrestle with your bass and get feedback during playing."
    i love to wrestle with my bass and get feedback during playing. which strings are they?

    re tapewounds, the very first 'not toy' bass i had (a Univox bass like Kurt Cobain's early era Univox guitar) came to me with tapewounds & i never replaced them because i liked them so much.
    easy on soft beginner's hands, zero squeaking & scraping, v forgiving re rattle & fuzzy-fretted notes (beginner's style). admittedly they seemed quite rubbery compared to normals, but i felt the benefits outweighed that.

    i also remember being madly self-conscious of them (ashamed i suppose) because literally no one else i knew had them. they seemed very 1970s & old fashioned (this was early 1990s) & as it was a cheaply bought bass (though a decent little player) i thought the plasticky strings were a dead giveaway gear-pauper marker for me. crushing teenage poverty anxiety!

    but i don't really care now, so maybe i will revisit them. i'm thinking of starting with regular wounds & then working towards the fancy stuff if i can't get what i want from them with experimentation.

    jpfamps said:

    I've several gigs in the next few weeks so I'll report back.

    The DRs are a nice tension.
    do report back. i'm def curious to know how they wear in. & hope session tonight went well..
    hofner hussie & hayman harpie. what she said...
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 15729
    @vale I like my basses to put up a bit of a fight so if I were you I’d get some Chromes. If you don’t like them you can sell them on Basschat for 3/4 the price and you can just admit you’re a tapewound girl and get on with life

    ;)
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 15729
    Oh, and some posh tapewounds really are posh so not pauper at all - quite the opposite...
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  • PhilKingPhilKing Frets: 261
    I use the Rotosound Monel flatwounds on my 57 Bravewood Precision.  I've used them for a few years now and really like the sound.  So do the other guys in the band.  I use roundwound on my 66 Precision to get more growl from it, but also use it for different stuff.
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  • ChiliwailerChiliwailer Frets: 52
    edited June 23
    It just doesn’t get any better than flats on a P Bass! 

    My two penny worth below, on strings I regularly use/used in the last few years. 

    I love Chromes too, as they retain some definition. They are my fave. D’Addario are quite similar. 

    LaBellas are great, but for my dubby fingers they are just too deep. Nice on my travel bass though. 

    LaBella low tension felt like Thomastiks to me, but again sounded to deep and thuddy. 

    Fenders are good value, but Chromes are a more quality version of the Fender IMO. 

    Thomastik are lovely on the right bass, and awful on the wrong one! I guess that’s the same with any string. Really worn in Thomastiks can be very special on the right P Bass.

    EB Cobalts are awesome for retaining brightness, they don’t sound like round wounds, but they have some bite. 

    String guage is really important too, it can change everything. I loved really heavy ones on a CS 55 Pbass, but need lighter than my usual guage on my Stingray. The ‘wrong’ gauges really affected my enjoyment of those basses. It’s part tonal, and part that different basses play better with different tensions, IME. 

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  • ChiliwailerChiliwailer Frets: 52
    PhilKing said:
      I use roundwound on my 66 Precision to get more growl from it, but also use it for different stuff.
    Just in case you fancy trying flats on it one day and haven’t tried Chromes, my 66P growls like a guard dog with them on :)
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  • PhilKingPhilKing Frets: 261
    PhilKing said:
      I use roundwound on my 66 Precision to get more growl from it, but also use it for different stuff.
    Just in case you fancy trying flats on it one day and haven’t tried Chromes, my 66P growls like a guard dog with them on :)
    I'll take a look at them.  I have pretty smooth roundwounds on a lot of my bases, but I can't get them anymore (they are Scalar strings).  I have Thomastiks on my Thunderbird, but don't play it out much as it is a big fragile beast (but sounds incredible through a B15N).
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  • ChiliwailerChiliwailer Frets: 52
    PhilKing said:
    PhilKing said:
      I use roundwound on my 66 Precision to get more growl from it, but also use it for different stuff.
    Just in case you fancy trying flats on it one day and haven’t tried Chromes, my 66P growls like a guard dog with them on :)
    I'll take a look at them.  I have pretty smooth roundwounds on a lot of my bases, but I can't get them anymore (they are Scalar strings).  I have Thomastiks on my Thunderbird, but don't play it out much as it is a big fragile beast (but sounds incredible through a B15N).
    Liking the sound of that combo very much.

    You may like the EB Cobalts too by the sounds of it, I liked them very much as an alternative to roundwounds and traditional flats. 
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  • bandmaster188bandmaster188 Frets: 270
    I've been experimenting a bit with flats. Initially tried the cheaper end with some picatos which were recommended by a friend and going from rounds, loved the feel and instant vintage sound.
    Then tried the EB cobalts which felt quite different, a slightly grippy feel initially which soon wears off and a good halfway house between rounds & flats sound wise. Went for a set of chromes next which felt great but deadened off fairly quickly. Put another set of cobalts on which are still on now. Might stick the chromes back on to see how they compare with the worn in cobalts. Still fancy a go with some labellas. How do these compare with chromes/cobalts for sound and feel?
    The Swamp City Shakers
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  • RockerRocker Frets: 2744
    Guys, when you say Chromes, what brand? A quick search on Thomann brings up a lot of flat strings, some very pricey.  Thanks.
    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. [Albert Einstein]

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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 3330
    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 15729
    Yep - ECB81’s if you have a 34” scale bass - 45-100’s
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  • jpfampsjpfamps Frets: 1420

    I've now done 5 x 45 min sets using the DRs and they have performed very well.

    Tension is very slightly higher than the (very old) rounds I had on the bass, but I quite like this. 

    As yet there is not obvious loss of high end, although I suspect these strings aren't as toppy to start with as a set of chromes.
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  • jpfampsjpfamps Frets: 1420
    Yep - ECB81’s if you have a 34” scale bass - 45-100’s
    Presumably the tension on these would be lower than the 45-105 DRs?

    Is that correct?
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