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Strings for a fretless

fretless strings flat wound tape wound

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#1 OliverBlackman

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 06:10 PM

So I've got a nice fretless bass, and to protect the board I fitted it with TI flats. I had TI flats before and liked the lower tension compared to other flats. But on my P bass I have a similar aged set of Rotosound flats and they have so much more colour in tone than the TI's.

Are there any other options that would have less tension that the Rotosound's, but still wouldn't mark the board, and have plenty of tone?

I've heard of half-wounds and tape-wounds but never tried them. What's everyones experience?

#2 TheGreek

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 06:14 PM

I use Status Tapewounds on my fretless and a number of my fretted basses. Available (when they are available) in 40 and 45 gauge....

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#3 ped

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 06:38 PM

If you like the ‘roundwound’ sound on fretless, just go ahead and use them. The board can easily be repaired if and when it needs it. High tension is what puts me off flats.

#4 atsampson

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 07:14 PM

I use D'Addario ETB92s on my fretless Jazz -- very happy with them.

#5 BassBod

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 07:50 PM

Sadowsky flats or DR flats - both are much more forgiving and flexible than most flats, and have plenty of life. Black tape wounds can be nice, but they also break the earth connection at the bridge so can make your instrument a bit buzzy (not in a good way) in some venues.

My favourite for fretless is still DR Sunbeams (or Pure Blues). Nickel round wounds, but gentle on fingerboards and it takes a long time before the marks are significant, even on a rosewood board.

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 08:30 PM

Ernie Ball cobalts are my current weapons of choice on both fretted and fretless. They sound almost like nickel round wounds to me (just a little less top end).
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Posted 10 October 2017 - 10:06 PM

You'll more mwah with round wounds, more of a double bass sound with flats.

Just use whatever you like the sound of best, which in my case is compounded because I like both :).

My two favourite fretless players are Steve Lawson and Michael Manring. Steve uses flats, Michael uses rounds.

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#8 Hellzero

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 08:10 AM

To date, if you like roundwounds, the Fodera nickels are really good, way far better than the D’Addario nickels which is a standard to compare other brands. If you want to go to tapewounds, I've tried (almost, as you can't be sure) everything available on the market and the best tone will be achieved with the LaBella gold white nylon, but I love very fast attack and endless sustain on fretless... And I hate flatwounds on fretless, because they kill the sound I want to hear.
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#9 OliverBlackman

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 02:07 PM

So nickels wear less than steels? I generally use steels so I had a set on the bass when I got it, but I was shocked at how quickly the board marked. Might be worth buying some nickels and tape wounds I guess and comparing?

#10 Delberthot

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 02:32 PM

View PostOliverBlackman, on 11 October 2017 - 02:07 PM, said:

So nickels wear less than steels? I generally use steels so I had a set on the bass when I got it, but I was shocked at how quickly the board marked. Might be worth buying some nickels and tape wounds I guess and comparing?

The same goes for fretted basses - steel is a lot harder than nickel so will wear the frets down quicker than nickel.

As with all basses I've found that different strings suit different fretless basses. TIs on a Stingray and Chromes on a Precision
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#11 dannybuoy

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 05:41 PM

Try LaBella copper, gold, or white nylons. I have a set of coppers waiting to be tried out on my Godin A4 fretless, but the Chromes that come stock sound great so I've not felt the need to yet!

#12 chris_b

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 09:51 PM

Rob Allen uses La Bella Black nylon tape wounds on his fretless basses. I briefly had on of these and it felt very easy to play and sounded wonderful.
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#13 Maude

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Posted 14 October 2017 - 01:51 PM

 OliverBlackman, on 11 October 2017 - 02:07 PM, said:

So nickels wear less than steels? I generally use steels so I had a set on the bass when I got it, but I was shocked at how quickly the board marked. Might be worth buying some nickels and tape wounds I guess and comparing?

The speed of strings marking your fingerboard could be technique related.
On a fretted bass you can achieve vibrato by using the same type of motion as a string bend, if you use this motion on a fretless the board will mark quicker.
Vibrato should be achieved using the technique employed on all traditional 'fretless' string instruments and a string bend becomes a slide.
This way you are merely pressing the string into the board rather than grinding it across it.

Edited by Maude, 14 October 2017 - 01:55 PM.


#14 walbassist

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Posted 15 October 2017 - 04:13 PM

La Bella nylon flats have been my go to string on fretless for a long time, but I'm quite enjoying Newtone Platinum nickel coated round cores at the moment.
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#15 geoffbyrne

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Posted 16 October 2017 - 01:00 PM

View Postezbass, on 10 October 2017 - 08:30 PM, said:

Ernie Ball cobalts are my current weapons of choice on both fretted and fretless. They sound almost like nickel round wounds to me (just a little less top end).

^This.

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