Why are round wound strings standard?

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by grim83, May 15, 2020.

  1. grim83

    grim83 Tele-Holic

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    If this isnt the right place i appologize.

    Anywho, I recently purchased my first jazz box and decided to go all in by putting on a set of heavier flat wound strings. I normally use ernie ball 9s and 10s on my electrics so i went with D'darrio chrome 11s. Honestly these feel better than round wounds and feel easier to play than a comparable round wound string. So my question is why are round wounds the standard string option?

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  2. Fretting out

    Fretting out Friend of Leo's

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    They may feel silky smooth but they steal the soul of music! (Flats that is)

    I’ve never cared for flats they always sound dull and lifeless, rounds have a nice pop and brightness about them that I think most people prefer (other than jazzers)

    If you just put them on and they are still sparkly give them a day and they will be deader than a door nail, has happened with every set of chromes I’ve bought, maybe that’s how they are supposed to sound?
     
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  3. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    When I was young, in the late 60s and early 70s, flatwounds were the standard for electric guitar.
    The resisted finger squeaks, lasted (almost) forever, and stayed in tune comparatively well.
    Conversely, they sounded dull, warm and perhaps, lifeless.
    When rock guitarists became the rage, and string bending was a huge part of it, Ernie Ball’s Slinkys came to the rescue.
    Voila, every young guitar player used to em’, me included.
    Now I use both round and flatwound strings.
    I use flats on my gold top Les Paul, my EJ Strat, and my #1 bass.
    They (still) stay in tune better (for me), and I play jazzier, lounge-ier stuff on em’.
    My B bender Teles all have roundwound strings, as does my (#1) Chet, Larrivee RS4, PRS 594 Singlecut and my (#2) P bass.
    I use the strings/guitars that best suit the purpose of the music I play.
    There’s no right or wrong, and (of course) both work beautifully.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2020
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  4. Lobomov

    Lobomov Friend of Leo's

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    Yeah, you're into sparkly and shimmering .. Flats are all about the thump .. Chromes go boom in a way that regular d'addario's can't.


    But one of the things about guitars and what you like (strings, pedals, pups) is that many see it in isolation. I find that the mix of the band has much more to say with regards to my string or pup choice.


    What cymbals the drummer uses is something that really determines what guitar I bring
     
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  5. Jakedog

    Jakedog Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Round strings are standard because square ones tear up frets like crazy.
     
  6. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Poster Extraordinaire

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    I have a new Gretsch Electromatic and I will put some flatwounds on very soon. I also use flats on my bass.
    Everything else has roundwounds.
     
  7. Mr. St. Paul

    Mr. St. Paul Tele-Meister

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    I wouldn't call flatwounds "dull and lifeless"...they're definitely mellower than roundwounds.

    Roundwounds, IMO, have a raspier sound due the windings on the wound strings. They give a little more grit to the tone that is ideal for rock and blues.

    D'Addario Chromes are great, you might want to try their Half Rounds. Roundwound strings that are smoothed down to approximate a flatwound feel. I have a set on my jazz box right now and really like them.
     
  8. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Could the question actually be: why aren't flatwounds the standard on *jazz boxes*? Maybe, if they were strung up at the music store, the store didn't know better. On the other hand, on the jazz guitar forum, preferences on round-vs-flat are more even than I would have thought.
     
  9. grim83

    grim83 Tele-Holic

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    No, im close to 30 and have been playing close to a decade so all ive ever known were round wound strings. This is my first attempt at using a flat wound string and I am liking them so far. Obviously there are different tools for different jobs, I was just curious why you never really see flats outside of "old timey" music and jazz.

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  10. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    I see!

    Do you find flatwounds stiffer and harder to bend? That's seems to be the consensus. Playing jazz, I'm more of a slider and occasional half-step bender, so it's not an issue for me. I also use 13 or 14 gauge, so bending is more of a theoretical possibility without resorting to pliers. :lol:

    There is the whole "sounds dull" feeling, but one person's dull is another's mellow, or not overly twangy.

    Also, as far as genres go, I think a fair number of surf guys guys use flats.
     
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  11. Telecentric

    Telecentric Tele-Holic

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    I use flatwound 12's for slide. Seems to kill a bit of the 'zing' inherent in slide playing, plus they feel good. They also tend to have wound 3rd strings, which are a ***** if you like to bend. Everything else gets rounds.
     
  12. grim83

    grim83 Tele-Holic

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    I havent really attempted to bend with them yet. I put them on after work, ran through a chord melody arraingement and then got busy with other stuff. I didnt find the extremely mellow issue if anything i felt i could twang with them even more than the (very) dead strings that were on it from the store. Maybe they will be harder to bend but i know they feel almost lighter than the 9s the store had on them as far as straight up fretting is concerned. Like there was less tension. Think ill go up to 12s on the next change and use a set of 10s or 11s on one of my teles for a bit of a change.

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  13. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't flats more costly to make? That nukes it right there, if so.

    I dislike flats, I try them every couple of years. I have a set of TIs (the best and brightest sounding flats, IMHO) sitting in my parts box, if I forget how much they suck and want to try them again. ;)
     
  14. jhundt

    jhundt Doctor of Teleocity

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    I would like to point out that most amps have more than enough treble built in to them to make up for the perceived loss-of-treble when playing flats. If you just put flats on and don't change your amp settings - you are a doofus! And if you have a presence knob - that one will make the real difference.

    the top three (or two, if you are using a wound third) are no different than in any normal round-wound set. So if you are a "lead-guitar"'player, you probably wont notice a difference. If you are a chord player, you will. Especially if you turn up the Presence.
     
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  15. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Ugh, flatwounds. I hate 'em. Toneless, dull. Kind of a woody "thud" sound. But ok for Wes Montgomery stuff.
     
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  16. grim83

    grim83 Tele-Holic

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    Main amp ive been playing through recently has one knob...volume lol.
    Wes is just fine with me

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  17. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    But they can't replicate the bouncy springy slap sound of a round wound when digging in. I'm a sucker for that. Also, by that same token, guitars have tone knobs to roll down and cut out all that 'needless' top end to replicate the dull thud of a worn out string, aka flat wound. :)
     
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  18. jhundt

    jhundt Doctor of Teleocity

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    yeah, I get that too. If you don't like them, they won't work. It's just a matter of taste and feel. I encourage others to try them, because it's worth the cost of a set of strings to try something new. But every player reacts in his own way, and that's cool too.
     
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  19. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    We're all individuals and we're all different.

     
  20. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    It's all in jest, whatever works, works. Believe me, I keep trying them, but I guess I bend a lot more than I realize and I like that round wound 'sizzle'. I change my acoustic string often just for that extra 'something' in rounds.
     
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