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 ECB81 Chromes Bass Guitar Strings, Light, 45-100, Long Scale
  • D'Addario's best selling flatwound bass guitar set
  • Ribbon wound and polished for ultra-smooth feel and warm, mellow tone
  • Fits long scale basses with a string scale length of up to 36 1/4 inches
  • Made in the U.S.A. for the highest quality and performance
  • String Gauges: Wound .045, .065, .080, .100

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 Stainless Flatwound Bass Strings, 55-105
  • Fender stainless steel flatwound 9050’s are anexcellent choice for jazz, country, r & b and reggae.
  • The first electric basses were made byFender, andthose basses came with flatwound strings.
  • Today, manyplayers use stainless steel flatwound 9050’s to add adifferent character to their tonal palette.
  • from smoky jazzclubs to r&b venues, from reggae parties to countrymusic halls, 9050’s have you covered.
  • by the way, the stainless steel construction also givesyou longer life, and the flatwound construction reducesfinger noise.

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 Original 1954 Flat Wound Stainless Steel 52-110, Perfectly Balanced Sets, Heavy Tension - Perfect for Professional Bass Players
  • MOST POPULAR – The 0760M set was used on virtually every Motown gold record in the 1960s. Donald “Duck” Dunn used the same strings on countless recordings with Otis Redding and Booker T. & the MG’s. They’re the fullest and deepest sounding bass strings ever made.
  • PACKAGED WITH MAP TECHNOLOGY – MAP (Modified Atmosphere Packaging) This technology prevents tarnishing and ensure the freshness of your guitar strings that produces greater aural transparency and sound projection.
  • STANDARD LONG SCALE SET – The 1st (G), 2nd (D), 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. NOT SUITABLE for basses that require strings to be strung THROUGH the body.
  • STRING GAUGES – .052, .073, .095, .110
  • MADE IN THE USA – La Bella leverages centuries of string-making experience and advanced computer-controlled winding technology to bring you the most durable, consistent and long-lasting guitar strings. Made in the USA for the highest quality and performance.

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

Thomastik

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)
  • Used by Students and Professionals around the world
  • Long Scale 34"
  • Genuine Thomastik-Infeld Product

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.

Sale
GHS Strings M3050 4-String Precision Flatwound, Stainless Steel Flat Wound Bass Strings, Long Scale Plus (.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.

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 2021-10-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

1 thought on “Flatwound String Reviews”

  1. THANKS FOR ALL OF THE ABOVE INFORMATION. I JUST PUT MY FIRST SET OF FLATWOUND STINGS 0N MY FIRST P-BASS. A FENDER BUTTERCREAM PLAYER SERIES,WITH SOME LABELLA’S 760FS 45-105 STANDARDS. I LIKE THEM AS THEY ARE, BUT OF COURSE I’M WAITING FOR THE BREAK IN TIME TO HEAR THAT OLD SCHOOL SOUND THAT I BROUGHT THEM FOR. HOPING TO GET SOME GOOD FUNK SOUND OUT OF THEM ALSO.

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