Why are round wound strings standard?

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

  1. Yuro

    Yuro TDPRI Member

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    I played flat-wounds for my first 5 years. Then discovered super slinkys from a band member. I went with 9's for a while...easier on my fingers with cheap guitars.

    Went acoustic for 20 years and played D'Addario (D'Merle?) lights on a 1969 Brazilian rosewood D-28 that I sacrificed food money for in college...a great investment!...and changed them weekly. (Hulk Smash!) I loved them the 2nd day. 1st day? Too bright. After the second day, they'd go gradually downhill and usually time to change by the next week...or two. I played A LOT in those days...and only had one guitar, but it was really a good one...still have it.

    Now, I have 15 or so electrics and about as many tube combos. They all have D'Addario 10s. I bought a bulk pack of 50 sets. Other brands are fine too...no difference.

    I don't like 9s...Too floppy... and 11's don't seem to have the right amount of zing...or something. I even tried 10.5's. They didn't have the magic either...felt OK but sounded wrong to me. I just like 10s! Sometimes, I think something a little bigger would work for me, but the ones I've tried just don't have the sound. I'm so used to .010's now, my fingers know just what to do.

    ...Oh, and unlike many players I've talked to, new strings don't sound or work better for me on electric.
     
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  2. Stratman 2252

    Stratman 2252 TDPRI Member

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    I would try Half Rounds ion your bass. Better comfort than Round wound, NO squeak but they can still pop and growl
    and get funky. Hard to do with flats. My Hofner Classic Bass of course has flats on it for the deep string bass sound that is the hallmark of Hofner
     
  3. dogrocketp

    dogrocketp TDPRI Member

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    I got my first jazz box in 1969, and it was strung with roundwounds (Gibson L-7C). Wes was using roundwounds, but he played with his thumb. That’s how he got the tone. I say go D’Addario Half Round. Easy to get Westone with your tone control, and enough bark to play big band. If you play 20’s music, absolutely nothing beats DR Zebra Wounds.
     
  4. hardysibling

    hardysibling TDPRI Member

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    This is a fascinating bit of history. Thanks for sharing EsquireOK.
     
  5. NoTeleBob

    NoTeleBob TDPRI Member

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    Back in the day I always thought of rounds as the sound of Jimi and flat as the sound of Eric (the "woman sound"). Of course, it's also Strat vs. LP/SG, so there's that :-0. Or maybe "bridge pickup" vs. "neck pickup" sound.

    I always thought rounds needed a break in period. That is, they are way too bright for me right after putting them on. After a day or so of playing, the edge mellows off, and they sound sweet without being brassy. Kind of like new tires breaking in - the first miles aren't the real feel. But, I know some guys that love that "just put 'em on" round brassiness.

    Here's a nice video of round vs. flat, edited back to back, so you can hear the difference on the same guitar, diff songs bits/styles:
     
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  6. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    I don't need convincing that there is a difference, but note he is also comparing 12 gauge flatwounds to 9 gauge roundwounds. Plus, I imagine (given the appearance of the tool box -- to snip the strings?) the roundwounds are fresh on the guitar. No mention of how long the flatwounds were on.
     
  7. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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  8. Minggo

    Minggo TDPRI Member

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    I put flat wounds 4 thru 6th string on my Jazzmaster and Gretsch 6120. Makes surf music more surfy and Ventures more Venture. no squeeks. My Bandmaster and Showman love 'em. All my other guits get round wound for the twang thang. Flats are somewhat more expensive but what the heck...
     
  9. markxus25

    markxus25 TDPRI Member

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    I have flatwounds on all of my basses and none of my regular guitars. I have a Gibson lap steel circa 1948-50 that I strung with heavy guage flats. The treble stays high but the bass sounds bluesy with a nice growly breakup.

    And yes roundwounds will cut grooves in an unfretted bass fingerboard. I bought a J bass on eBay that must have come from a pro player or studio as it had signs of heavy use. It had four heavy grooves th length of th fretboard. Luckily I found a bass shop in Long Beach that did a fantastic job of grinding it while keeping th radius. A fantastic player to this day.
     
  10. GGardner

    GGardner Friend of Leo's

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    I love listening to this gentleman speak. What a relaxing voice.
     
  11. Maguchi

    Maguchi TDPRI Member

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    Square strings are rough on the fingers too!
     
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  12. Maguchi

    Maguchi TDPRI Member

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    Also GHS Brite Flats. They start out as a round wound then are ground down to a flat string. I've used them and like them.
     
  13. cap47

    cap47 Tele-Holic

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    A long time ago I tried Flatwounds and what I found was that they made my fingers sorer than using round wounds. There is actually more surface area on round wound strings to disperse the pressure that it takes to press them to the fingerboard as your soft tissue forms to the radius of each arc of the winds, as for the unwounds they are small and the pressure needed to fret them is much less!
    LOL: Prof. Peck
     
  14. guspac88

    guspac88 Tele-Meister

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    Every time I put flats on my bass, I try to convince myself I like them. I also then stop playing bass until I put rounds back on.. Many people have proven they can work, they just don't for me.
     
  15. Maguchi

    Maguchi TDPRI Member

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    I think I bend mostly on the 3 unwound strings, maybe occasionally on the D string, but not that much. So bending is not something I consider when choosing between flat wounds and round wounds. If the 3rd string on a set of strings is wound, I will change it out for an unwound 17 or 18.
     
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  16. fiddleelfie

    fiddleelfie TDPRI Member

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    I've only put roundwound strings one one guitar, which was an old Gibson ES125, or 150, big box anyway. What I immediately noticed is how sliding works better with flatwounds. There was a time, (before my time!) when flatwounds were about all you could get, as has been pointed out, they were often a much heavier gauge, too, and surf guitar players got a "thud" out of them, I'm just finishing a book called Surf Beat by Kent Crowley and he mentions how the transition to round wound, as well as lighter gauges, changed the sound of surf music. Since I grew up in the Roundwound era and that's what I'm used to, I want them on most guitars, but I only want flatwounds on a bass, so that it sounds like a bass without all that fret noise. Never got into that metal-against-metal sound the funkers get. The funny thing is, peoples' tastes are largely a product of their generation and what it is used to. I would encourage people to put one set of flatwounds on a guitar sometime, probably on a semihollow guitar, and see what happens. There will be certain sounds that go away, and certain sounds that come out to play! And, I think someone pointed it out, but you have tone controls on both your amp and your guitar, what are they there for?
     
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  17. Ben Bishop

    Ben Bishop Tele-Meister

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    Flats on my guitar with a Bigsby. Gives me vibrato like a singer. There's a duller attack with the more integrated mass, in my opinion. Rounds when I want/need to bend, when I want the snap of the attack. A jazz guitar like a Les Paul needs tubes on the edge of instability and skinny strings that start fast and fade quickly to get the attack that rockers want. I find the Tele bridge, with its unique attack outside my idea of jazz tone, although maybe with the treble rolled off and played with a Wes-style thumb. And another time we'll talk about string-to-string transition, when we have a few more classically trained orchestral string players here. I consider skinny top, fat bottom sets as silly.
     
  18. Bergy

    Bergy Tele-Holic

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    I hadn't heard that Fenders used to come with 12 gauge flats...fascinating! Its been a long time since I've tried that string on a Fender, I'm gonna hafta give it another shot.

    I've never really enjoyed playing on flatwounds unless I was playing jazz. I bend strings quite a bit and flats/wound 3rd put a damper on that. Never even considered putting flats on an acoustic. While that isn't typically the tone I think of when I imagine a great acoustic guitar sound, it is interesting enough I'm tempted to try it out.

    When playing jazz, I love me some flats. As far as the jazz forum cats preferences being 60/40 for flatwounds...FWIW, I suspect if you asked the guys that were playing bebop specifically, that number would be higher. They tend to be the traditionalists and flats have traditionally been the string of choice.
     
  19. BlueGillGreg

    BlueGillGreg TDPRI Member

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    I put flat-wounds on my Joe Beck full hollow archtop electric as soon as I got it, and they feel and sound great. I always use that guitar through an old Polytone amp when I'm the only instrumentalist accompanying large groups of singers. I use the neck pickup, turn up the bass, and it gives a great bottom below all those children and women. The soft attack on the chords and melody don't step all over the voices, either.

    Tone controls on guitars and amps are useful, but starting with an unwanted tone and modifying it can be trickier than just starting out with the desired tone and making it louder. This is especially true going from group to group and venue to venue.

    That said, in other situations I still play my semi-hollow ES-135 with round-wounds a lot more than I play the Beck with the flats. It's just more versatile.
     
  20. ToneM1

    ToneM1 TDPRI Member

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    Maybe you guys should try the German made "Pyramid Gold" Flatwounds! They have a core wire of silver plated German Steel (very flexabile and warm/smooth sounding) then a wrap of pure Nickle round wire followed by a wrap of pure nickle flat wire. They're very twangy/lively and can last a couple of years. They've been making strings for 170 years and make strings for around 150 different instruments. The guitar strings use a small round core wire and a large wrap! Most strings made in the States are just the opposite, Large core wire, small wrap. The wrap wire is the most expensive part of any set of strings. Companies like D'Addario use a large core wire of really low grade steel that's Tin Plated and is very stiff and harsh sounding. The wrap wires are very small and made to wear quicker. A set of Pyramid Nickle Classics or Monel Classics will last you 5-6 times longer than E.B.'s or Daddario.
     
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