Flatwounds that don’t suck?

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wproffitt
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Flatwounds that don’t suck?

Post by wproffitt » Wed Jan 13, 2021 6:40 pm

Hello All!
Years ago, out of curiosity, I bought a set of D’Addario flats in my preferred gauge of .11 for my JM. As a round wound kind of person, I just couldn’t get on with them. They were hard to bend, sounded dull, and kind of hurt my fingers if I pressed down too hard. That last problem could be my fault, but still, I wasn’t into the experience, so I pulled them off the guitar.
Just before Covid got bad here, I bought a cool old Yamaha bass. It came with round wounds, but I thought I’d give flats a try for that Carol Kaye kind of sound. I got Ernie Ball Cobalt Flats and love them! They have a slinky feel, are a touch brighter than normal flats, but have mellowed nicely to a tone a quite like, and don’t hurt my fingers.
Here’s the question: is there an equivalent of this kind of string for guitars? More pliable than normal flats, with a bit more top end? I welcome your thoughts and suggestions.

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Re: Flatwounds that don’t suck?

Post by MigJim » Thu Jan 14, 2021 1:21 am

I've just put D'addario half-rounds on my jag. Really enjoying them so far, they definitely feel and sound closer to the flatwound side than the round wound, but seem to be a tad brighter and twangier than full-on flat wounds.

I've also got GHS Brite Flats (i think they're called that) on my Epiphone Broadway. Again, somewhere between flats and rounds, but definitely in the flatwound spectrum. Not got much twang on the low strings at all

I think my next set to try is gonna be the GHS Nickel Rockers. Apparently they are roundwound strings that are slightly flattened. I reckon they'll be the perfect compromise.

My main reason for not using rounds is that I HATE that string squeek, it's like nails on a chalkboard for me, so hopefully the Nickel Rockers will do the trick.

I'd be intrigued to see what you pick and what you think of them on a JM!

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Re: Flatwounds that don’t suck?

Post by JVG » Thu Jan 14, 2021 1:29 am

I’ve tried a number of brands of flatwounds, and have found Daddario to be about the brightest. I don’t know of any manufacturers using a cobalt alloy as per your Ernie Ball bass flatwounds.

Most brands use a stainless steel wrap (eg Daddario, GHS, Curt , La Bella, DR), while a few use nickel (eg Thomastik, Pyramid).

It definitely takes time to adjust to the flatwound feel and sound if you’re accustomed to roundwounds.

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Re: Flatwounds that don’t suck?

Post by DeathJag » Thu Jan 14, 2021 7:04 am

I thought everyone loved LaBella flats? I’m “flatwound-curious” but never tried em.

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Re: Flatwounds that don’t suck?

Post by rumfoord » Thu Jan 14, 2021 7:28 am

It sounds like you might really like tapewound strings. I'm more familiar with flats and tapes on bass, but I've tried Chromes in 10s and 11s, and LaBella jazz tapes in 10 and 14s. I totally recommend jazz tapes in 14s if you play 11s on a JM—only if you're up for widening the nut slots unfortunately. To me, they feel about like 10.5 or 11s. So that might be perfect in terms of tension, and they are brighter than flatwound strings. I haven't tried brite flats on guitar, but I have on bass and I'd second that recommendation too.

Tapewound strings are wound with flat nylon tape over a roundwound string (usually, but there are some bass strings that are supposedly flatwound underneath). This makes them brighter because of the actually smaller gauges of string, lower tension for the same reason, but also darker / different-sounding because of the different way the smooth nylon interacts with your plectrum/fingers.

IME, jazz tapes 10s are ridiculous and impossible. I've never played 7s, but it's like how I imagine them. They were barely playable for me tuned all the way up to G-standard. I'd bought the 14s hoping to tune down to C or C#, but that didn't work either. But 14s in E-standard worked perfectly on my p90 semi-hollow (tom/stop-tail). They're so unique that it's unlikely that they'll be the only kind of string you'll want to play. But they were the perfect thing for this one guitar of mine anyway.


oh ps: do NOT cut the silk when you put them on or the tape will completely unwind from the string! This means they fit better on a guitar with more length behind the bridge. LaBella says to not put them on a strat or lp, but I have them on a 335 copy with just a lot of string on the post (and it works, I love them).

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Re: Flatwounds that don’t suck?

Post by wproffitt » Fri Jan 15, 2021 6:45 pm

DeathJag wrote:
Thu Jan 14, 2021 7:04 am
I thought everyone loved LaBella flats? I’m “flatwound-curious” but never tried em.
That’s what I keep hearing about! Which ones, though?

Rumfoord,
That’s an interesting suggestion about the tapewound strings. I’d thought about them for bass, but once I got those cobalt flats on, I knew I’d found “my string”. For guitar, it’s intriguing, though. The guitar I’d be putting them on has a zero fret, so 14s wouldn’t be a problem.

I may buy both and see which I like best! ;D

P.S.- If I go for the TI flats, will 11s be the right gauge if I’m used to 11s for round-wounds?
Last edited by wproffitt on Fri Jan 15, 2021 8:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Flatwounds that don’t suck?

Post by DeathJag » Fri Jan 15, 2021 8:31 pm

wproffitt wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 6:45 pm
DeathJag wrote:
Thu Jan 14, 2021 7:04 am
I thought everyone loved LaBella flats? I’m “flatwound-curious” but never tried em.
That’s what I keep hearing about! Which ones, though?
Tons of surf dudes play flats, so I say ask around SG101! (Or search around ha!)

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Re: Flatwounds that don’t suck?

Post by Singlebladepickup » Fri Jan 15, 2021 10:09 pm

I'll only but flatwound guitar strings, but I've never used them with bass - I need to.

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Re: Flatwounds that don’t suck?

Post by HarlowTheFish » Fri Jan 15, 2021 11:11 pm

wproffitt wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 6:45 pm
P.S.- If I go for the TI flats, will 11s be the right gauge if I’m used to 11s for round-wounds?
My $0.02, get flats one gauge down from where you'd want rounds, at least on the wound strings. They're a good bit stiffer, and they pull a bit more tension, so generally one size down works pretty well as a ballpark estimate (though that changes based on brand/material). I normally like 115 or 120 rounds on bass, but only 110 flats, for example. On guitar I'm too picky about tension for just about any off-the-shelf set other than the D'A balanced tension ones, and there are few options for flats that cost less than two packs of rounds.

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Re: Flatwounds that don’t suck?

Post by JVG » Sat Jan 16, 2021 2:35 am


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Re: Flatwounds that don’t suck?

Post by wproffitt » Sat Jan 16, 2021 10:55 am

JVG wrote:
Sat Jan 16, 2021 2:35 am
Flatwound string options:

https://www.offsetguitars.com/forums/v ... 7&t=114012
Thanks so much for reminding me of that thread. I ended up going with the TI Jazz Swing set in 11s. I know Harlow mentioned that going down a size was a good idea, but the reviews I read for the TIs all said that they were the equivalent of 10s in a round wound. Hopefully they won’t be too floppy!

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Re: Flatwounds that don’t suck?

Post by jakeisjake » Sat Jan 16, 2021 12:44 pm

I like flats, but my kids (who also play guitar) don't like them at all. I have flats on one guitar...and I put half rounds on a few others. They don't seem to mind and they have a flatish kind of sound.
If I was a byrd, I'd be mighty sore every time they shut the door and I don't think I'd sing...

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Re: Flatwounds that don’t suck?

Post by papa_hotel_delta » Sat Jan 16, 2021 1:47 pm

I've gone back and forth on my archtops and even tried flats for a spell on one of my telecasters. I've pretty much decided that its an "acquired taste" for solid bodies, some guys like Lerch play jazz on a tele but I think he usually strings round wounds. It seems to me that its mostly about attenuating "zing" out of the wound E, A, D. I think that in the classic unamplified era (pre WWII) round wound was all that was available. Thomastiks are the liveliest flats I've ever used, filthy expensive suckers.

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Re: Flatwounds that don’t suck?

Post by rumfoord » Wed Jan 20, 2021 7:30 am

Hope the TIs work out, OP!
(forgot to echo it before, but I'm with you: I also LOVE cobalt flats!)

papa_hotel_delta wrote:
Sat Jan 16, 2021 1:47 pm
its mostly about attenuating "zing" out of the wound E, A, D.
Yeah, I've found that this is sort of the opposite of what I want, in a way. On bass especially (but guitar too), I think I prefer more zing of a roundwound string on the lower strings and less on the high strings. With guitar strings, you can't get away from having plain strings for the high E and B. Although I haven't tried many brands on guitar, and I bet there's at least one brand that I'd be into.

With bass strings, I've gotten into ordering single strings so I can get progressively flatter-sounding strings. I'm getting pretty picky and weird in middle age. I also find that I prefer similar tension—or even higher tension—on the lower bass strings. And a lot of bass string sets are calibrated in the opposite way. For instance, I'm about to get some new strings and I'm planning to order a GHS pressurewound (the winding is elliptical instead of round or flat) for the E string in more of a medium tension, brite flats (the winding is round, and then ground down to be flatter) for the A and D strings, and a low-ish tension GHS flatwound for the G string.

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Re: Flatwounds that don’t suck?

Post by wproffitt » Sun Jan 24, 2021 5:44 pm

The TI Jazz Swing flats showed up today. I’m loving them on my hollowbody! They have plenty of zing, I can bend on them, and the silk wraps and bronze plain strings are oh, so classy! I think I’ve found a new go-to!

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