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 Post subject: Which Flats? 4003
 Post Posted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 3:32 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 30, 2010 12:33 am
Posts: 16
Location: Burlington, VT
Hi,
I posted this question in my initial "Hello" thread.
Maybe the wrong place for it, so I'll start it as a new thread if that's okay with the moderators.

Here's my first question, it's similar to one I posted on TalkBass. But I want to hear the reflections from Ric specialists.

The factory is shipping my new 4003 with rounds. I swear to you that before I play one note plugged in, I will strip the strings off and swap the stock bridge saddle adjustment screws for Allen head hex screws, and put on a set of flats.

The question is:
Which Flats?

I stick to Labella DTB 760FS for my p/j style basses. Them and TI's for fretless.
Music style is mostly Electric Blues (think Albert King, Robert Jr. Lockwood, a little B. B. King) in a four-piece: rhythm, lead guitars, drums, bass. The guitars are LP on rhythm and archtop on lead. We're not loud, but we keep it up-tempo. My preference leans towards a bass sound that's like Michael Rhodes' description. A definite pulse, a physical presence, but not out front. But the part you hear has to be "musical."

To my ear, nothing says "bass" like the thump in the attack, and a certain musical richness from worn-in DTB flats.
But the Ric is a whole other beast. This is where I turn to my learned comrades on this forum. Please to speak from your experience.
Oh, and if you want to tell me to stick with rounds: don't.
Oh, and what about the built-in mutes?


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 Post subject: Re: Which Flats? 4003
 Post Posted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 6:45 am 
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Joined: Sun Feb 05, 2006 2:00 pm
Posts: 302
Location: el cajon,cal
My vote for ANY RIC bass would be TIJazz flats. That is a sound that's hard to beat! Anyone else?


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 Post subject: Re: Which Flats? 4003
 Post Posted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 8:20 am 
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Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2007 12:33 am
Posts: 3403
Location: Denver
My favorite flats are a relatively new design, the new formula Fender 9050s. I can post some recordings of them soon.


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 Post subject: Re: Which Flats? 4003
 Post Posted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 8:32 am 
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Joined: Fri Mar 17, 2006 2:00 pm
Posts: 235
Location: Hickory,NC
My favorites were GHS flats, and D'Addario Chromes. Rotosound 77's were also very good when you got a completely fresh set. I play mostly with a pick, and all three gave me good crisp definition, with good bottom end in the mix.

Experiment with several different brands if you can and use what works for you.


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 Post subject: Re: Which Flats? 4003
 Post Posted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:01 am 
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Joined: Mon Aug 08, 2005 1:00 pm
Posts: 64
Location: West Covina, CA (Los Angeles)
all of those are good in their own right and have a very distinct tone.

If you want a really bright tone, I'd go for LaBella's, D'addarios or Rotos. also, on a side note, all three of those are high tensioned strings..especially the LaBella's and Roto's. But, since it's going to be a brand new bass, it should be able to take the higher tension with no problem. (La Bella's aren't my cup of tea..I tried them on my Hof for a while and didn't like the tone that I got nor did I like Paul's tone when he was using them, too)

If you are looking for a slightly more mellow sound, I'd go for the TI's without blinking (or in my case, winking). The TI's are great all around, you still get the vintage warm sound PLUS you still can hear note definition quite well.


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 Post subject: Re: Which Flats? 4003
 Post Posted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:11 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 08, 2006 6:07 am
Posts: 3829
The two best sets to consider are either the TI pure nickel flats, which are the closest to the original Rickenbacker strings made by maxima in the '60's, or the new Fender flats which have great tone and flexibility. We're all waiting for the new 9050CL set to come out, hopefully by Christmas, with 45-60-80-105. To my fingers, the new 9050L set, which has a 100 on the E, is a tad floppy.


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 Post subject: Re: Which Flats? 4003
 Post Posted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:47 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 30, 2010 12:33 am
Posts: 16
Location: Burlington, VT
Hey, thanks so far people. All good information. Especially, thanks for providing some description about tone, tension, etc. Much more helpful than just "I like...."

One more thing, I really like high tension strings. There's something about having the bass pull back that helps my playing.

Thanks again.


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 Post subject: Re: Which Flats? 4003
 Post Posted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 8:02 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 06, 2010 2:47 am
Posts: 13
Location: Viginia
Quote:
I really like high tension strings. There's something about having the bass pull back that helps my playing.


Well, I was about to suggest the TI Jazz Flats, as I think they would REALLY complement the tonal characteristics of the Ric, but then I saw the line quoted above.

The TIs are exceedingly low tension, so unless you want to try something new, forget those. I have ‘em on my Jazz bass and LOVE them, but it took some time to get used to the feel.

So, since you like high tension I would go with Rotosound RS77s. VERY stiff strings; and I think they sound great. Some say they are “bright”; but I would call them “meaty” or “aggressive”. But, they can do mellow too (think Ramble On from Led Zep – that’s a Jazz with RS77s).


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 Post subject: Re: Which Flats? 4003
 Post Posted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 9:08 pm 
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Joined: Sun Oct 08, 2006 6:07 am
Posts: 3829
Here is a comparison I pulled from the D'addario catalog:

Comparative Tension (in pounds)
Gauge
45 60 80 105 Total % up
Stainless Round
41.9 43.7 40.5 37.3 163.4
Nickel Plated Round
42.8 42.9 42.0 40.3 168.0 2.8%
Flat
45.7 45.2 43.7 41.5 176.1 7.8%
Ground Nickel Round
45.2 45.5 43.0 41.7 175.4 7.3%

Take this with caution: every maker makes their strings a little different, so there will be differences, although probably small, from maker to maker for the same type of string.

RIC scale is 33 1/4, not 34, so the overall tensions will be a tad less.

The lesson to be learned: with the gaps in round verses flat windings, there is less mass for a given diameter, and so less tension. So generally, all else being equal, a flat of a given diameter will have more mass, and therefore more tension, than a round of the same overall diameter.

There are multiple wound strings, like some DR's that "squeeze" the windings together, so with more mass, they will have more tension for the given diameter than conventional rounds, but probably less than flats.

Likewise, a compressed wound string is just that: compressed. So there is less space between the windings and they will also have more mass for a given diameter. However, most compressed wounds I know about are available in a slightly lesser diameter, so a 44 compressed probably has about the same tension as a 45 conventional wound, etc.

Your Mileage WILL Vary. The whole point of the chart is to demonstrate why flats have more tension for a given gauge.

Because of this, note that the original Maxima pure nickel flats of the '60's were of, I believe, 45,55,75,100 or thereabouts: even lesser diameter, therefore even less tension. Just listen to the bass line on something like Macca's Silly Love Songs, and you can hear the floppiness as he digs in.

So we'll see. I'll try the new Fender 9050L's for awhile, change the E string to 105 when I can as the expected 9050CL set, and if they go well, great. If not: back to Rotosound Swingbass 45-60-80-105.

If you like stiff strings, try a standard flats set first, like the standard LaBella "Deep Talkin' Flats" set, and see what you think of that before going off the deep end (pun intended) with heavy strings.


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