Feel of Flatwound strings compared to Roundwound

Pinelake

Member
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670
I've used rounds all my life. Reading about flatwound has me wondering if they would be something to try. I play blues and jazz, rhythm and lead. I do like bends and use a slide. Are flatwounds more of a rhythm string or are they good across the board?

Thanks
 

JeffOlson

Member
Messages
2,909
Flat-wound strings are good across the board, but their tone and feel are different. I imagine most hard rockers would shy away from them. However, I use them for hard rock as well as mellow finger-style jazzy stuff, blues, country, folk rock, you name it--even classical.

Remember, the plain strings are essentially the same, regardless of who makes them and regardless of what set they come in, so we are only talking about the wrapped strings. Also, you can always substitute a plain G for the wound G that comes with a set of flat-wounds.

I use Thomastik-Infeld Jazz Swings on my two Teles. My hollow-body Tele gets a standard set of 12-50, with a wound G. My CS Tele gets a set of 11-47, but with a plain G to facilitate bending. The reason? I never attempt anything other than mellower music on the hollow-body, whereas the CS Tele does everything. (I do have a guitar dedicated only to very hard rock, a Brian Moore MC/1; I never play anything else on that guitar, so it is strung with 10-48 TI round-wound Blues Sliders.)

In my opinion, strings are always a bit of a compromise unless you have multiple guitars that you can use for special kinds of music or certain techniques. My compromise is to use heavier gauge flat-wounds on my two Teles. Frankly, I love these strings! They sound huge and feel amazingly smooth and silky. I have no issues fretting, bending, and vibrato-ing (?) the flat-wound strings. After using them for a couple of years, I really dislike using round-wound strings!
 

Pinelake

Member
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670
Thomastik-Infeld Jazz Swings ...

Thanks for your reply Jeff. I had been looking at this make of strings. Do you find that a flatwound10 is stiffer in feel than a 10 roundwound? Thought I had heard that.

Again, thanks for the detail.
 

filtersweep

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4,562
If you are using 10s it sort of defeats the purpose.

Flats are great for sliding chords. Also the G is generally wound.
 

JeffOlson

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2,909
Pinelake said:
Thomastik-Infeld Jazz Swings ...

Thanks for your reply Jeff. I had been looking at this make of strings. Do you find that a flatwound10 is stiffer in feel than a 10 roundwound? Thought I had heard that.

Again, thanks for the detail.
No, I find TI flat-wounds to be easier to fret and bend than comparably gauged round-wound strings. (The plain strings in a TI set have the same tension and feel as all other plain strings I have played.)

Also, if you set up your guitar properly, with a flat neck and low action, you can fret heavier gauged strings just as easily, without fret buzz, as lighter gauged strings. (They just don't bend as easily.)

Remember, we are talking about the wound strings in a set of flat-wounds, not the plain strings in that set. Also most (all?) sets of flat-wound strings come with a wound G. You can purchase single, unwound G strings at juststrings.com.
 

erksin

Member
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23,158
If you are using 10s it sort of defeats the purpose.
How so?

I've just bought a set of D'Addario Chromes to try on my Hallmark Mosrite copy, looking forward to hearing the difference. It's been a long time since I've had flats on a guitar that wasn't a Tele.
 

dshobe

Rocky Mountain Way
Silver Supporting Member
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4,383
Flatwounds are great. I use them on my strat and tele. I have the ghs rock set which is a lighter gauge set, 9-42 IIRC. Love the way they feel. Bends are just as easy on all the strings as a roundwound set and they last forever. This set comes with a plain g. Sound better to my ears with slide vs. roundwound.
 

filtersweep

Member
Messages
4,562
If I recall, a 10 is considered extra light in the Thomastik. I operate on the assumption that the lightest gauge available is freaky light for the capturing fringe users ;) (no matter what the brand). The GB strings start with a whopping 14 or something like that. I'm no expert, and I haven't fooled around too much with gauge, but I have found that running 11s are as light as I can go without my top end getting too thin. But I also have a very low output floating pickup. Your mileage may differ significantly on a more standard-built solid-body. But it seems most people run 11s or 12s-- at a minimum.

Will a normally cut nut accept a wound G?

I use the Chrome's myself because they are half the Thomastik price and much easier to find.

How so?

I've just bought a set of D'Addario Chromes to try on my Hallmark Mosrite copy, looking forward to hearing the difference. It's been a long time since I've had flats on a guitar that wasn't a Tele.
 

erksin

Member
Messages
23,158
If I recall, a 10 is considered extra light in the Thomastik. I operate on the assumption that the lightest gauge available is freaky light for the capturing fringe users ;) (no matter what the brand). The GB strings start with a whopping 14 or something like that. I'm no expert, and I haven't fooled around too much with gauge, but I have found that running 11s are as light as I can go without my top end getting too thin. But I also have a very low output floating pickup. Your mileage may differ significantly on a more standard-built solid-body. But it seems most people run 11s or 12s-- at a minimum.

Will a normally cut nut accept a wound G?

I use the Chrome's myself because they are half the Thomastik price and much easier to find.
Thanks - your comment makes much more sense to me now given your set up. You're also probably concerned about driving the top of your guitar, right? On a solidbody that's not really a concern.
 

rockinrobby

Senior member Professional musician ...
Gold Supporting Member
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3,440
I use Flats on my Gretsch 6120 and on my Jazzmaster.. 12 gauge set however, I substitute the wound G for a plain 20 instead of the wound 24 just because I bend my G string alot and it's crazy hard on your finger to bend a wound 24 a full step + Errrrrrr!! I'm using D'Addario XL chromes 12- 52
 

monkmiles

Supporting Member
Messages
5,036
I love the feel of flatwounds. But I only use them for jazz. I have D'Addario flatwound 12s on my archtop. I use roundwounds for rock stuff.
 

wailsound

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Messages
189
I use 10 and 12's Thomastik-Infeld on my Rickenbacker 330 and Jazzmaster. I love them.
Yes , they cost a little more but i find they last longer and they feel a whole lot better to play.
 

Pinelake

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670
I play an '86 Strat and a '77 Les Paul. Will flats require the nut to be modified or take them as they are?
 

wailsound

Member
Messages
189
They should be fine to use as they are, the only reason to adjust the nut would be if you changed string gauge.
 

JeffOlson

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Messages
2,909
My CS Tele came with a bone nut and round-wound 10-46 Fender strings. The nut required no adjustments to accept 11-47 or 12-50 flat-wounds. All I did was tighten the truss rod a quarter of a turn and lower the saddle heights a bit. Even a wound G fits just fine.
 

dewey decibel

Member
Messages
10,296
Wounds are definitely a more versatile string, but I do like flats a lot. Flats are deader and more percussive, but they can still jangle. The Thomasticks and LaBellas are the only flats I've liked, can't stand Chromes. Never tried Pyramids.
 

BenTimages

Member
Messages
225
I generally use the lightest gauge set of flatwounds (11-48) I can find for slide, but don't bother trying to bend them much (preferring to use a slide instead!)

Just got a set of DR Legends today - hexagonal core flats, and will be interested to see if they're as good as the D'Addarios of the same gauge, but with a tighter fitting of winding. Not sure if that'll have as much effect as the hexagonal/round core difference.

For lead guitar,I also use the lightest gauge (8-38) roundwounds, which bend really easily, but the action's too low to use for slide.

The difference between flatwounds and roundwounds in the squeak department is diminished with lighter gauges, although the cost is a small loss of sustain and some tone (nothing a good range of pedals can't cure!)
 

Footbutt

Member
Messages
2,157
i just put on a pair of D'Addario Chromes (Jazz Light) on my Jaguar for the first time. wow, they feel totally different! Smooth and easy playing.
i've never used flatwounds, but it was recommended to me specifically for my Jaguar, so i'll have to test them out with my amp as soon as i get home!
(i put them on late last night)
 




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