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flatwounds or roundwound on a Jazz Bass for recording

Postby Guitarking » Thu Feb 27, 2020 8:21 am

I have a Highway One Jazz Bass.
Time for new strings.

What's 'best' for recording?
-Flatwounds or roundwounds?
-Is it true that putting roundwounds on it and backing of the tone control gives the sound of flatwounds?
-Which flatwounds to choose? Is it wise to go for ones that have clear fundamentals?
-Does one need the overtones over the roundwounds for recording (are they more versatile?)

I play mainly singer-songwriter music with sometimes some (light) rock.

Wasn't sure whether to post this here on in the recording forum.

Thanks!
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Re: flatwounds or roundwound on a Jazz Bass for recording

Postby BigRedX » Thu Feb 27, 2020 10:30 am

There is no "best" just personal preference.

Flat wound bass strings are mostly associated with "old-school" 50s 60s and early 70s bass sounds, so if that's what you are after and have an appropriate all-valve amp to play through then flat wounds are a good choice.

However for a more "up-front" bass sound you can't beat round wound strings. If the bass lines are more than just a bottom end thump, you'll probably want round wound strings.

IME rolling off the treble with round wound strings will get you close in general to the flat wound tone, but it won't replicate the initial thump or the tendency for the notes the sustain at lower overall volume.

Also be aware that flat wound strings come in a much wider range of tensions/compliances compared to round wound, from Rotosounds which are very stiff to TI Flats which are much more elastic than the skinniest of round wounds.

On the whole more information is needed for the kind on music you are playing and sorts of bass sounds you are after.
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Re: flatwounds or roundwound on a Jazz Bass for recording

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Feb 27, 2020 11:34 am

BigRedX wrote:There is no "best" just personal preference.

Yes definitely

Also be aware that flat wound strings come in a much wider range of tensions/compliances compared to round wound, from Rotosounds which are very stiff to TI Flats which are much more elastic than the skinniest of round wounds.

Interesting, I hadn't thought why flat wounds are not as bright as round wounds but would have assumed it was because of them being mechanically stiffer. Are the TI Flats more elastic because they are more flexible or because they are lower tension?
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Re: flatwounds or roundwound on a Jazz Bass for recording

Postby BigRedX » Thu Feb 27, 2020 1:04 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:Interesting, I hadn't thought why flat wounds are not as bright as round wounds but would have assumed it was because of them being mechanically stiffer. Are the TI Flats more elastic because they are more flexible or because they are lower tension?

AFAIK it's down to the construction that makes the string more compliant rather than increasing the gauge so that they are lower tension when tuned to pitch.

TI Flats I have used have been a lot more flexible than other flat wounds and most round wounds of a similar gauge.
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Re: flatwounds or roundwound on a Jazz Bass for recording

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Feb 27, 2020 1:26 pm

The pitch is entirely dependant on the tension, the mass of the string and the scale length. So on a give scale length and pitch thinner/lower mass strings will need less tension to achieve the required pitch. If the string mass is the same the tension will be the same.

I'm not sure what effect flexibility will have, it may make the string feel softer to play but it definitely won't change the tension needed to get to a given pitch.

Assuming a fixed diameter I'd guess that tighter windings will make a string less flexible and the ratio of core to windings may affect stiffness too, flat wounds have a little more mass for a given diameter and should, in theory be stiffer. They will need a higher tension to get the same pitch due to their greater mass.
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Re: flatwounds or roundwound on a Jazz Bass for recording

Postby MOF » Thu Feb 27, 2020 1:47 pm

You could try Ground wound strings https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/ground-wound/
Less fret noise, easier on the fingers and fret board but still able to produce the sound you want.
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Re: flatwounds or roundwound on a Jazz Bass for recording

Postby blinddrew » Thu Feb 27, 2020 6:04 pm

Pick whichever you perform best with. :)
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Re: flatwounds or roundwound on a Jazz Bass for recording

Postby Wonks » Thu Feb 27, 2020 6:12 pm

blinddrew wrote:Pick whichever you perform best with. :)
Or finger...
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Re: flatwounds or roundwound on a Jazz Bass for recording

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Feb 27, 2020 6:17 pm

<facepalm>

blinddrew wrote:Pick whichever you perform best with. :)

It's cheap enough to try several different types of guitar strings, bass @ £40 a set not so much.......
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Re: flatwounds or roundwound on a Jazz Bass for recording

Postby blinddrew » Thu Feb 27, 2020 7:01 pm

Sorry, more context would have been useful. I meant that when you get that recording out there, some people might remember and remark on the amazing bass playing. No-one is going to say, "that would have sounded better with flatwounds/roundwounds".
Well, almost no-one... ;)
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Re: flatwounds or roundwound on a Jazz Bass for recording

Postby ManFromGlass » Thu Feb 27, 2020 7:08 pm

I tried the black (nylon?) ones which supposedly gave a Motown-like sound on my Jazz Bass. The nut had to be enlarged to accommodate them. In the end I didn’t like the sound, where I love the sound of round wounds on my ancient cheapo bass. I found the old trick of putting a small piece of foam rubber close to the bridge under the strings gave me the muted sound I thought the black strings would give me.
I’m tempted to put roundwounds on the Jazz but as someone else mentioned, it’s about the sound you want and I haven’t decided what the jazz bass should be.
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Re: flatwounds or roundwound on a Jazz Bass for recording

Postby BigRedX » Thu Feb 27, 2020 7:15 pm

blinddrew wrote:Sorry, more context would have been useful. I meant that when you get that recording out there, some people might remember and remark on the amazing bass playing. No-one is going to say, "that would have sounded better with flatwounds/roundwounds".
Well, almost no-one... ;)

Exactly. To get the best advice we're going to need a bit more information about the type of music being recorded rather than just "singer-songwriter music with sometimes some (light) rock".

In very general terms Roundwounds tend to be a bit more versatile plus they can be a lot cheaper - a set of Warwick Red Label strings is less than £10 - whereas flat wounds these days are a more niche market and priced accordingly - Rotosound flat wounds are £36 and TI Flats are £55...
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Re: flatwounds or roundwound on a Jazz Bass for recording

Postby DC-Choppah » Fri Feb 28, 2020 2:03 am

Flat wounds have much lower finger noise - or at least a different kind of characteristic finger noise.

Flat wounds don't squeak. Round wounds squeak.

but

Flat wounds are dull and uninteresting.

Best thing IMHO is round wounds but get the performer to try and not make finger squeak sounds. Or edit them out in the DAW!
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