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How many of you have ever tried flatwounds on one of your guitars?

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  • How many of you have ever tried flatwounds on one of your guitars?

    We tend to think of flatwounds as something bass players still occasionally use, but they don't seem to be used very much anymore for guitar. Who here has ever played a guitar with flatwounds?

    Here's a very basic article on flats vs roundwound strings I recently wrote. I'm posting it here instead of in the Bass Forum because I suspect fewer guitarists are unfamiliar with how flatwounds feel and sound compared to the bassists.


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  • #2
    Following the advice of several folks on this forum (and one of my jazz buddies) I put a set of Thomastick-Infeld's on my new archtop. Went up a gauge to 11's. Love 'em (but then remember that I'm pretty new to electrics and totally new to jazz boxes).

    Plus they have those cool red wraps at the ends


    • #3
      I've tried flats on a couple guitars and interesting thing, they crunch real good. For anything else I prefer regular wound.
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      • #4
        I used to string my Ibanez 2467 with flats and they were perfect for the jazz sound I was after. For everything else I strongly prefer round wound Elixirs.
        Last edited by Grant Harding; 02-27-2017, 11:37 AM.


        • #5
          I have a mixed set on one of my guitars, actually the one I use for home practice most of the time. The E, A, & D are flat wound, the G, B & E are plain. It was an experiment, but I keep doing it, going on 5 years now. I have used them on my custom hollowbody, but eventually went back to round wound mainly because I needed more 'twang', but I am considering going back to flats on that one as I am doing less rockabilly and more jazz/old style R&B in one of my bands.
          They take a lot of getting used to, there is no 'ring' in the tone, but there is a different 'expressiveness', hard to explain. There is definitely more bass 'thud' for fingerstyle.
          Last edited by daddymack; 02-27-2017, 11:38 AM.
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          • #6
            Excellent article Phil! Well balanced and matches my experience well. I didn't know about the better tracking with midi but it makes sense.


            • Phil O'Keefe
              Phil O'Keefe commented
              Editing a comment
              Thanks for checking it out Grant, and for your kind words.

          • #7
            I have D'Addario Chromes ( the purple ones that begin with an 11) set up on one of my Godin 5th Aves.

            Gives this hollowbody jazzbox a cool warm plunky jazz tone.

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            • #8
              I have a Gibson ES-295 Reissue from the early '90s. Its basically a 175 with P100 pickups and an all gold finish. It came with a Bigsby and strung with 10-46 (plain 3rd) round wound strings. It was great for rockabilly and blues but the floating bridge combined with the Bigsby and the light gauge strings made the guitar unstable. Heavy use of the Bigsby, and I would always over do it, resulted in the bridge sliding around on the top of the guitar.

              I replaced the Bigsby with a 335 trapeze tailpiece and put a set of flatwound 12-50 (wound 3rd) and turned the guitar into a jazz box.

              I really like it. The wound third (.024) makes bending strings different - more like an acoustic guitar - but the smoother warmer tone and the ability to slide around more smoothly and without squeaks makes it really nice for the Wes Montgomery stuff I try to play.

              In the article you (Phil) mention that flat wounds tend to emphasize the fundamental with less harmonic content which contributes to the warmer tone and you added the bit about better tracking for guitar synths. I'm currently looking at a Godin guitar with synth access. If I decide to buy it, I'll try a set of flat wounds and report any differences.

              A bit off topic but I have an old Roland GR09 guitar synth that I take MIDI out of and run software synths with. It can be setup so that each string puts out MIDI information on it's own MIDI channel. It's quite a trip to have all eight channels of Omnisphere being triggered with different sounds or combination sounds assigned to the individual strings.

              I currently use a Roland GK pickup attached to a guitar but I find it a bit awkward and bulky and it doesn't track nearly as well as the Godin which has sensors right in the bridge saddles.
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              • #9
                I've tried Flats on a guitar that I lent to my brother for recording ( he put them on ) . They tend to sound dead compared to round wound.


                • Phil O'Keefe
                  Phil O'Keefe commented
                  Editing a comment
                  That's certainly one way to look at it / describe the greater emphasis on the fundamental and reduced overtones of flatwounds.

              • #10
                I currently have D'Addario Chrome 10's on a 335 clone. I love the feel of flatwounds but not everyone agrees. My friend tells me it's too hard to stop when he slides his hand. There's less string squeak and a good jazz tone. I plan to use Thomastik Infelds next string change .


                • daddymack
                  daddymack commented
                  Editing a comment
                  'it's too hard to stop when he slides his hand. '
                  sorry, but that sounds like a totally separate issue...

              • #11
                My friend who owned the local shop sold me some flatwound for my Les Paul because he never had Elixer Polywebs in.

                He said they lasted longer (Kinda), that since Polywebs sound like dead strings (they don't) I might like flatwounds too (I didn't).

                That's when I finally switched to Ernie Ball.


                • #12
                  On my Samick JZ3, Thomastick-Infeld's Flats 11-52, 81 Paul Custon, D'Addario Chromes 10-48 (?), my Ibanez AS73 and 2390, 11-52's, Used a set of 12-56 on my Epiphone Genesis for years, before going back to 10's. But if you kinda like flats, try the half rounds from D'addario.
                  Last edited by badpenguin; 02-27-2017, 03:12 PM.
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                  • #13
                    Not the same thing but I tried D'Addario Flat Tops, semi flat wounds, on my main acoustic. Didn't particularly like them. I do like flats on my bass though.
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                    • GAS Man
                      GAS Man commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Closest I came was similar. Put some Eric Johnson strings on a Squier Tele. The stock strings sounded too tinny, the E.J. semi-flats sounded too dull. I'll circle back to the "article" Phil, thanks, but one sound quality I've always loved about electric guitars is the vibe. The more the better for me. Plus I don't know diddly squat about jazz style playing.

                  • #14
                    I had flatwounds on my Ibanez Artcore for a little while. While I liked the fact that they weren't squeaky, I never bonded with them mainly because I found they weren't very bendy...


                    • #15
                      I had D'Addario Chromes on my Hohner hollowbody for awhile while I was trying to learn jazz chords on it. I really liked the feel of the Chromes, but I got bored with learning jazz and eventually went back to using NPS roundwound strings and playing power chords with distortion.