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Why are round wound strings standard?

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

  1. JSL udon

    JSL udon TDPRI Member

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    I love their half rounds. I used them for years as a player. Now I use them on the solids I assemble.
     
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  2. BillH5256

    BillH5256 TDPRI Member

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    My knowledge of jazz playing is limited, but I know what I like hearing. Kenny Burrell, Wes, Pass, Martino(?) Jim Hall and many others...the sound those guys had was dripping with coolness, and I'm pretty sure they all played flats. It just seems right for what they were doing. Alternately, Angus playing "Long Way to the Top" on a flatwound-loaded SG wouldn't have the same impact...
     
  3. gregulator450

    gregulator450 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Could we also ask how the major manufacturers came to their gauges in the standard string sets, rather than making a more balanced tension set? Just curious, and I have yet to find an answer, even as I went down a string gauge rabbit hole a few years ago.
     
  4. JazzFusionGuy

    JazzFusionGuy TDPRI Member

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    Flatwound are a must on fretless bass. Otherwise the fretboard gets chewed up.
     
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  5. niteman131

    niteman131 TDPRI Member

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  6. niteman131

    niteman131 TDPRI Member

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    +1 on ToneM1's comments regarding Pyramid Flatwounds !

    I use round wounds on almost all of my guitars, but I have Pyramid Flatwounds on my John Lennon Signature J160-E, and I think they capture the sound of early Beatles acoustic guitar tracks (no squeaks when sliding up and down the neck, and from what I have read, The Beatles used Pyramid Flats in the early days). When using the pickup on the J160-E, the tones are also very similar to those on early Beatles records ("I Feel Fine" is one that comes to mind). Aside from capturing the early Beatles tones, the Pyramid flats are great for jazzy tones as well. I also put Pyramid flats on my Rick 350-12, and I think they sound great there as well.

    I don't really bend strings on these guitars, so that's not an issue, and I find that you can actually boost the treble without the tones getting overly bright (the unwound strings get brighter, while the wound strings are relatively somewhat subdued).

    Anyway, I'm glad ToneM1 gave the Pyramid Flatwounds some love...they are a bit on the pricey side, but they do last a very long time, and are probably among the best sounding Flatwounds out there.
     
  7. vintageampz

    vintageampz Tele-Meister

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    Hate to tell you and everyone on this thread that thinks "flats" are dead in JAZZ, that they are STILL THE STANDARD for professional Jazz guitarists and bass player.

    Personal friends of mine in Jazz like Larry Carlton, Kenny Burrel, Larry Coryell, Al De Meola, Eddie Durham, Tal Farlow, John McLaughlin, Ken Navarro and a long long long list still use flats. I don't know many that don't except "newb's" that don't know better. My 62 P-Bass set up for strickly Jazz and Jazz Fusion gigs always has Flats on it. The nature of Jazz music dictates flats, no rounds finger noise allowed! Also my 68 ES-175DN always has Flats on it. Oh, I've only been playing and recording (studio musician) Jazz and Jazz Fusion for 45 years. (Rock, Blues, Metal, and Country Rock too)

    Fender Precision Bass Olympic White faded.jpg 1968 Gibson ES-175DN rare nat.jpg
     
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  8. cyclopean

    cyclopean Poster Extraordinaire

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    probably because it would put off people who were unfamiliar with them. it's the same reason that short scale guitars are strungs with strings that are way too light.

    my guess about flats not being standard? round wounds cut better, and everyone wants to be heard.

    i've had both flats and rounds on my jag, and the flats were nice for surf but i think anything more aggressive than that would sound like mud. and that's on an awfully bright guitar.
     
  9. Jay Jernigan

    Jay Jernigan Tele-Afflicted

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    Not my main suit of clothes, but playing jazz stylings on a hollow body electric guitar seems to require flatwound strings. Put rounds on it and it becomes a blues box. I mean, you can make a Tele with EB 10s work for an odd tune or two, but there is something that is simply RIGHT about the flats on a hollow.
    Plus: no squeak.
     
  10. Lapk

    Lapk NEW MEMBER!

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    There are also semi-flat wound string. Round on the inside against the core, but flat to the touch on the outside. Best of both worlds.
     
  11. crackercrumb

    crackercrumb TDPRI Member

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    this was an old thread but I just put a set of D'addario Chromes on this Ibanez semi hollow I got in April and boy was I surprised.
    the last time I had flats was probably over thirty years ago. they were Fender I think and just sounded dead from the start. these things kick my AC15 in the butt. very responsive even if harder to bend. I think I see where Scofield gets some of his tone. my fingers look like I've been in a coal mine.
     
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  12. dazzaman

    dazzaman Tele-Afflicted

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    I am not sure this is quite the answer you were looking for, but flatwounds were invented by LaBella in 1940. Before then all the strings were roundwound. So I guess the technical answer to your question is 1931 when Rickenbacker made the frying pan. And wound strings are an old technology, the first advertisement for them (to be used on bowed stringed instruments) is from the mid-1660s.

    I am guessing what you are really meaning is when they started to come back following the invention of flatwounds, and I am sorry I don’t know that.

    And since others are giving their choice of strings to use, I use flatwound 12s on all my electrics (Tomastik, rather than D’Addario). I do also have an acoustic archtop, which was made in either late 1938 or 1939, and for that I use roundwounds, since it seems a bit perverse to use a string that wasn’t invented when the guitar was built, to me at least.
     
  13. teleplayr

    teleplayr Tele-Afflicted

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    Flat-wound strings were associated with Jazz players of old.
     
  14. Warren Pederson

    Warren Pederson Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I think it's something to do with the fact that they sound like like crap unless you're playing jazz. There's just no brightness.
     
  15. Sea Devil

    Sea Devil Friend of Leo's

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    It's not true that flat-wound strings were standard since the dawn of time and were only supplanted by round-wounds some time after the Summer of Love.
    Flat-wounds are a relatively recent invention. They didn't even exist until 1940 (I missed the post above that already stated this! Sorry. It took a while to put together this little manifesto.). Fender didn't start shipping its guitars with flats until the early 60s, and they supposedly only put them on Jazzmasters and Jaguars, but I've heard tales of them being put on Strats as well. It is true that .012s were the norm; it's hard to verify because the gauges typically weren't printed on the packaging, but old sets have been measured. (I think Gretsch Chet Atkins signature strings were offered in .011 and .012, and they were round-wound.) Players who wanted lighter strings did what James Burton and Eddie Cochran did: they threw away the low E string, moved the remaining strings over, and added a lighter banjo string for the high E.
    Flats were considered "premium" strings, and I wouldn't be surprised if stores restrung guitars with them to enhance their perceived value and generate more sales.
    It seems there may have been regional preferences, or maybe stylistic preferences, for one type or the other. I'm not casting any doubt on the earlier post about the persistent popularity of flats in Texas as late as the early 70s.
    The next time you listen to pre-1940 Charlie Christian, remember he had to be using round-wound strings! Sure doesn't sound like it, but that's all they had back then.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2020
  16. Sea Devil

    Sea Devil Friend of Leo's

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    I use flats on Gretsches with Filtertron or Dynasonic pickups, rounds on a Gretsch with HiLoTrons, flats on a Jazzmaster, and rounds on everything else.

    The only flats I'll use are Thomastik-Infeld. They have more high-end content and are much, much more pliable than Chromes, which felt like steel rods to me when I tried a set of .013s. I checked out the Pyramids as well, also in a heavier gauge, and I liked the sound a lot, but the low E was just too damn big in comparison to the rest of the set. I haven't given either brand a chance in a lighter gauge.

    Am I imagining it, or do Pyramids come with extra strings? Either two high Es or both a wound and unwound G? I remember something like that. I think they sent me a hat as well.
     
  17. scotartt

    scotartt TDPRI Member

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    i use flat wounds on my bass, but sometimes also little bits of damping foam and LOUD** amp for added 'thud'

    ** not so much anymore i don't have the time to deal with pissed off neighbors
     
  18. tubegeek

    tubegeek Friend of Leo's

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    THANK YOU! I thought I was the only one who noticed this, based on the replies in this thread. Flats drive the amp input harder.
     
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