Flatwound String Reviews

There are so many flatwound string brands and options available now that it can be a little overwhelming to make an informed choice. In general, all flatwounds will give you a warmer, mellower tone than roundwounds will, but there are differences with each brand. I wanted to do one of these flatwound string reviews, first of all, because I’m such a huge fan of them. But I’m also hoping just a bit to nudge some other bass players who’ve never tried them into stepping into the flatwound world.

Although the basic design for flats is largely the same across brands and models, there are several small differences in the construction of the string that can have a large impact on the tone and feel of each flatwound string set.

While roundwound strings are still, by far, the most popular bass strings available, flatwounds have seen a huge resurgence in popularity within the last ten years. As a consequence, there are now many more choices for flats than ever before.

I’ve listed some of the top flatwound brands available today and reviewed their overall tone and feel. I would have listed more, and there are many more, but I haven’t played them yet. One important thing to mention is that different string gauges will give you different tones. I tried to sample the most average gauges (.045-.105 in most cases).

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D’Addario Chromes

Carbon steel hex core with polished stainless steel wrap.

Chromes to me have a slightly grippy feel and are a little oily at first. The oily feel goes away with time, and the strings have less tension than most other flats, although still more than any other roundwound string. My first impression with Chromes is that they have a distinctive upper-mid range bark with nice, full lows and an overall well-balanced tone across the strings, although the D and G strings sound a little louder than the A and E.

Chromes are quite bright and clanky at first, almost like half-rounds. But after a few months, they will settle in and start to thump more as any good flat should. I did notice that after several months of regular playing, the E string seemed to deaden a little more than the other strings. Overall, very good strings for a decent value. To me, Chromes sound best on a Jazz Bass.

D'Addario XL Chromes Flat Wound Bass Guitar Strings - ECB81 - Long Scale - Regular Light, 45-100
  • MELLOW TONE - XL Chromes are a flat wound electric bass string, which provide a mellower tone than round wound strings.
  • SMOOTH, DARK TONES - Chromes stainless steel flattened ribbon wrap wire is precisely polished for unparalleled smoothness and a dark, yet warm tone.
  • HEX-CORE - Like all D’Addario bass strings, XL Chromes are made with our proprietary Hex-Core, ensuring perfect intonation, consistent feel, and reliable durability.
  • EARN REWARD POINTS - Chromes sets have a code on the recyclable VCI bag, which you can register to earn Players Circle points.
  • MADE IN THE USA – D’Addario bass guitar strings are made in the USA—drawn to our exacting specifications at our New York production facility.

Fender 9050

High carbon steel hex core with stainless steel wrap.

Fender changed their flatwound line a bit ago. The old sets had a very distinct thumpy tone and smooth feel but the new 9050 flats sound and feel very similar to Chromes. The Fenders are quite bright and lively when new and stay that way for a while. They have a slightly grippy feel, but still much smoother than any roundwound. Once they break in, they have some good low-end thump. They have good balance and much less tension than the old Fender flats, which could feel a bit like telephone cables.

The E string, in particular, has really good definition, which is especially important with flatwounds. The lows are full with good grind, the mids are pretty strong, and the highs sound nice and crisp. Overall, they’re very good strings for a great value. I like the way they sound on a Jazz Bass.

Fender 9050 Bass Strings, Stainless Steel Flatwound, 9050M .055-.105
  • Flatwound stainless steel bass strings are great for reggae, jazz, country, and R&B
  • Perfect for a fretless bass or when you’re looking for a warm tone with little finger noise
  • Mellow flatwound tone for 34” scale instruments
  • Ball-end design with classic Fender colors help make string changes a breeze and silk wraps at the tuner post help to protect the windings
  • Made in the U.S.A.

La Bella Deep Talkin’ Bass

Carbon steel hex core with stainless steel underlay.

Probably the most coveted flatwound string brand during the 1960s and 70’s. La Bella is famous for its deep tone and solid fundamental, and these strings deliver the goods. Nicely balanced with a slightly scooped mid-tone and plenty of vintage thud. The highs are buttery smooth and sweet sounding.

If you’re looking for a more modern zingy flat then this is probably not the string for you. La Bella flats will give you some nice top end right out of the package, but that will eventually fade to a beautiful warm thud after just a few weeks.

These strings are not cheap, but if you like them as much as I do you won’t have to change them for years, possibly even decades, and they will only sound better over time. The great James Jamerson used La Bellas and only changed them if a string broke. Without a doubt my favorite flatwound string. They sound especially good on a P-Bass.

These were actually the strings that pushed me over the edge with flatwounds. You can read a bit about that story in my flatwound odyssey.

La Bella 0760M Deep Talkin' Bass Guitar Strings
  • EXCELLENT QUALITY AND PERFORMANCE: This Deep Talkin' bass strings set was used on virtually every Motown gold record in the 1960s. La Bella Bass Guitar Strings are the choice of professional bass players worldwide. They are available in both steel and stainless steel, and in a variety of gauges. La Bella Stainless Steel Flat Wound Bass Strings deliver a warm, deep, vintage tone with a thick core and flat winding.
  • ELECTRIC BASS GUITAR STRINGS: La Bella 0760M Bass Guitar Strings are designed to produce a deep, vintage tone. The strings are made of stainless steel and are flat wound. They are not suitable for basses with bridges that require strings to pass through the body of the instrument. La Bella bass guitar strings are made with the finest materials and are not suitable for basses with bridges that require strings to pass through the body of the instrument.
  • EASY TO INSTALL: Replace your strings in minutes with La Bella guitar strings. They're labeled for quick and fool-proof installation.
  • STRING GAUGES: .052, .073, .095, .110. All standard bass sets are LONG scale lengths. The 1st (G), 2nd (D), and 3rd (A) strings are 38” from ball-end to silk/taper. The 4th (E) string is 36 ¾” from ball-end to silk/taper. Only the silk portion of the string should wrap around the tuning post or else the string will break.
  • MADE IN THE USA: La Bella guitar strings are made in the USA with American wire. Our strings are packaged using MAP Technology (Modified Atmosphere Packaging). This process controls the amount of oxygen and moisture in the packaging, which helps keep your strings fresh.

Rotosound 77 Jazz Bass

Steel hex core with monel outer wrap.

These were the first flatwounds I ever tried, and I never really warmed up to them. They have a slightly rough texture for flats and are too bass shy for my liking. They do offer a very clear and crisp top end with lots of mid-range complexity.

If you’re after a very unique and trebly flatwound sound then Rotosound 77’s could be your thing. One thing I did notice is that after a while the top end dies out, but the bass never really kicks in, leaving a somewhat prominent mid-only tone. This could work for some bass players who need a flatwound to cut through a mix. May need to change these more often than most flats. Some bassists don’t even consider these true flatwounds but more of a hybrid string.

Rotosound RS77EL Monel Flatwound Extra Long Bass Guitar Strings (45 65 85 105)
  • Product Type :Instrument Parts And Accessories
  • Package Dimensions :16.2 Cm L X16.0 Cm W X2.8 Cm H
  • Country Of Origin :Wales
  • Package Weight :1.0Lbs


High carbon steel core with a silk inlay and nickel wrap.

Many bassists have questioned whether these are really true flatwounds, but several swear by these very unique strings. Very well balanced tone with low tension, Thomastik flats feel more like roundwounds and sound like nothing else out there. Not much thud on the E string but plenty of deep mid-range throughout with a nice crisp top end punch.

These strings are the most expensive of the lot, and I would recommend trying them somewhere if you can before committing to buy. Personally, they’re a little too floppy feeling for my taste and lack some of that classic low-end girth, but I know several bassists that love them.

Thomastik-Infeld Accordion Accessory (JF344)
  • Smooth, warm, and balanced
  • Jazz Bass Strings from Thomastik-Infeld offer you extended durability and high output
  • A highly flexible steel core gives these bass strings a balanced feeling and special character
  • The overall sound characteristics can be described as very close to the double bass
  • Nickel flatwound with a round core

GHS Precision

Steel hex core with stainless steel wrap.

Very smooth feel with medium-high tension. Initially, they have a slightly clanky tone, but once they settle in and get played for a bit they mellow out nicely and start to give you that tasty vintage woody thump with plenty of bottom end. These strings will only get better with age.

GHS Precisions are well balanced and have good solid mids that cut but are not too overbearing. The highs are sweet and mellow: very nice vintage sounding flatwounds for an excellent value. To my ears, they sound similar to La Bellas. Sound especially good (of course) on a Precision Bass.

GHS Strings M3050 4-String Bass Precision Flats, Stainless Steel Flatwound Bass Strings, 38" Winding, Medium (.045-.105)
  • Model: M3050
  • Flatwound Stainless Steel on a Hex Core
  • Unique cross-winding process offers a deep percussive tone.
  • Polished Stainless Steel Flat Wire Wrap
  • Medium Gauge: 045-065-085-105

Ernie Ball 2804

High carbon steel hex core with steel wrap.

These strings remind me of D’Addario Chromes and are quite lively right off the bat. After some weeks of playing, they settle in and start to thump a bit more. Not quite as deep and warm as La Bella flats, but they definitely have some of that vintage tone going on.

Ernie Ball flats feel nice and smooth and are quite well balanced. To my ears, they have a strong low-mid presence with some decent bottom. I did notice some stickiness at first, but a quick wipe with a paper towel took care of that. Good quality strings for a pretty good value. Sound good on a P-Bass or Jazz Bass.

Group 2 Stainless Steel Flatwound Electric Bass Strings 50-105 Gauge
  • Ernie Ball Custom Gauge Flatwounds deliver solid low-end with reduced finger noise
  • Flattened stainless steel wrap wire on a hex-shaped tin-plated steel core
  • Super smooth feel with warm, rounded tone
  • Ernie Ball bass strings are played worldwide by aspiring artists and legends alike
  • Gauges: 50, 70, 85, 105

DR Hi-Beam Flatwounds

High carbon round core with polished stainless steel wrap

Fairly bright sounding flats with some complex mids. The lows are moderate with some decent low-end thump, and the highs are really crisp. Not an old-school tone, but they have some nice creamy mid-range that sounds similar to Thomastik flats. The strings are well balanced in feel and tone. The tension is pretty low for flats, and the feel is fairly smooth.

These are good quality, modern-sounding flats for excellent value. My only complaint is that the E string is not deep enough for my tastes.

DR Strings Flatwound Stainless Steel Round Core Bass 45-105 Strings
  • Gauges 45, 65, 85, 105
  • Not long scale strings
  • Hi-Beams require much more time, care, and extra steps to make than other bass strings
  • The extra effort DR expends making Hi-Beams results in a bass string that is highly flexible, musically warm and renowned for durability, unusually long life, consistency, and string-to-string balance
  • They don't eat your frets

Pyramid Gold Flatwounds

Steel hex core with polished chrome nickel wrap

Very warm and mellow sounding flatwounds. The tone is classic old Motown with plenty of bottom, smooth mids, and subdued highs. The balance between strings is excellent, and the feel is silky smooth. The tension is medium-high but not much more than most flats.

Excellent strings for anyone looking for that old school ’60s style tone. Probably would sound perfect on a Hofner style “Beatles” bass, but they also sound really good on a Fender P-Bass. The only drawback with these strings is that they are very expensive.

Pyramid Gold Flatwound Long Scale Bass Guitar Strings 40-105
  • String length from ball end to winding: 856 mm
  • Pyramid Gold 4-String Chrome Flatwound Nickel Long Scale 40-105 Bass Strings
  • Pyramid Gold Pure Nickel Flat Wound Bass Strings, the ultimate musical strings. The Flat Wounds are the best of the best - without peer. The flat wounds product the original bass sound of the late 50's to mid 60's. With the flat wounds you have lower action than possible with round wound strings and also you get no finger noise.

Last update on 2024-03-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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