Do you play flatwounds?

nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 616Member
I've just put a set of flatwounds on a semi-acoustic and I just LOVE em! The guitar now has THAT jazz tone, the one I've wanted. I'm in heaven!

The trouble is, it seems to me like they fatigue quicker than round wounds. I took the strings off to mess with the pickups, and snapped the ends off when I tried to straighten them. The third string (024 wound) came apart - as I tuned up, it kept slipping and eventually the string broke, as if I had pulled it apart.

Is it common for flatwound to fatigue like that? I tend to tinker with my guitars quite a bit, and the thought of loosening strings and tightening them at the risk of breaking them is a bit scary. Expensive scary.

The strings I'm using are Curt Mangan 11-51. I think I'll switch to Rotosounds, though.

Richard, what's your experience with flatwounds?

Comments

  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 616Member
    Oh alright, here's a pic. I had just finished making some cocobolo pickup rings and new nut for it. I really dislike making nuts!

    no3, with Cocobolo pickup rings
  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,226Member
    I am using silk inlay flatwounds on one of my 4 steel string acoustics. Well the 3rd, 4th and 5th strings in the set are flatwounds (Bass 6th string is Roundwound). Thomastik-Infeld Plectrum strings. I haven't noticed them causing any problems more than any other sort of string - just as well given the cost of Thomastik-Infelds, but the sound is so wonderful it's worth it. Round core strings too, so they more balanced with a warm sound - seems that the more modern the string design the brighter and brasher and louder the sound is - rather like pick up design on electric guitars.
  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 2,813Member
    I didn't know you could get flat wounds in non bass strings.
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 616Member
    Mark P said:

    I am using silk inlay flatwounds on one of my 4 steel string acoustics. Well the 3rd, 4th and 5th strings in the set are flatwounds (Bass 6th string is Roundwound). Thomastik-Infeld Plectrum strings. I haven't noticed them causing any problems more than any other sort of string - just as well given the cost of Thomastik-Infelds, but the sound is so wonderful it's worth it. Round core strings too, so they more balanced with a warm sound - seems that the more modern the string design the brighter and brasher and louder the sound is - rather like pick up design on electric guitars.

    Silk inlay, eh? Sound very nice. And expensive! But then Thomastik-Infelds always are. I'll have to try them out some time.

    I didn't know you could get flat wounds in non bass strings.

    If you like a mellow, jazz sound they are definitely worth trying. It's a good excuse to get another guitar just for flats. They take a bit of getting used to because they lack a lot of brightness that you'd want otherwise, but for the sound they make there is nothing else like them. The smoothness is a nice feature too. No squeakiness at all. I don't think I would use them unless I was going for a jazz tone, but I might change my mind about that once I've played them more.
  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,226Member
    It was partly because the AC111 set are low tension for that string gauge and it helps to stop damage to my finger joints, especially with the guitar having a full scale length. They've got a great smooth mellow sound that really suit my all mahogany Tanglewood. I had to have a few goes at finding strings that would suit both that guitar and my fingers.
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 616Member
    Lower tension. Good selling point.
    I've never played them on an acoustic either. Perhaps I need another acoustic!
    Oh someone help me....
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,792Member
    My tip would be try D'Addario Chromes - commonly acknowledged as one of the best flatwound types, with a bit more life about them than some brands. And yes, the thinner gauge flatwound strings can be a bit easily damaged and fragile. And to answer the thread title question, no I don't currently, even though I have in the past. It's just me, but I prefer the definition and edge of roundwounds, even for jazz. On my Ibby JP20 archtop I've found I like D'Addario Half Rounds, which make a nice compromise between rounds and flats.
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 616Member
    edited May 22
    So it's not just me then, or a dodgy set of strings? Good to know. I'll be more careful. Aren't you supposed to bend the end over or something?

    Chromes sound like a good plan. Thanks G! Half rounds sound like they'd worth a punt too.
  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,226Member

    Lower tension. Good selling point.
    I've never played them on an acoustic either. Perhaps I need another acoustic!
    Oh someone help me....

    There is NO help!!!! :wink:

    It's the lower tension, but not a thinner gauge that are the winning strings for me. I don't like the feel when strings get too thin and it often seems to be at the loss of tone.

    On the Thomastik-Infeld it's .011-.050 which is quite a thin gauge but the natural warmer sound of the type of string helps to make it OK. At 125 lbs (individual strings 18 to 22 lbs) it would compare with say more typical D'Addario Phosphor Bronze .011-.052 at 148 lbs (individual strings vary more widely between 20-30 lbs).

    My normal acoustic strings aren't flatwounds or silk laid, which my wallet is pleased about. Newtone Heritage strings are my usual - round cores, wrapped by hand in phosphor bronze - a set of .012-.051 comes in at 131 lbs total tension. Compares to about 160 lbs for typical .012-.052 D'Addario phosphor bronze. A huge difference in feel, and the Heritage strings are much better balances with each one around 21-22 lbs, instead of the usual variation in a set between around 23 lbs and 36 lbs. I cannot emphasise just how much better a set of strings feels for me to play fingerstyle when the tensions of individual strings are evenly balanced.

    While I like the warm sound of the flatwounds on that one all mahogany guitar, I usually look, like Graham, for a more well defined sound on a string with my other guitars and the Newtone Heritage fit that bill - they make playing with typical coated phosphor bronze strings sound a bit like there's cotton wool in my ears. But it's a personal taste thing - some people hate their sound and love the thuddy bass type of sound.
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 616Member
    Incorrigible...!!

    I never thought of checking the tension a set of strings, because I didn't realise it differed between brands. 30lbs sounds like it would be quite a lot.

    So this is all on acoustics then? Are the tension figures likely to be similar for electric strings?
  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,226Member
    There is not a lot of information on string tensions with a lot of brands. D'Addario do have a guide on their site for their strings.

    - for Electric - daddario.com/DADProductsElectric.Page?ActiveID=1903
    Click on a type of string and you'll find on the next page a button marked "Family Tension Chart". It gives tensions for various sets of those type of strings.

    - for Acoustic - daddario.com/DADProductsAcoustic.Page?ActiveID=1904

    But most manufacturers only seem to quote figures if they have strings that are a bit different to the usual.

    You'll see how much less tension there is on electrics strings of course.
  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,226Member
    PS - It's very easy to become obsessed with string tension when your fingers have gone arthritic in the joints!!
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 616Member
    Great info, thanks Mark. Oh I understand... I suffer from tendonitis and other things, so I have to baby my poor hands. Being clumsy and regularly slicing them up doesn't help either. Last week I cut open my hand on a plate that snapped while washing it up. Then I cut my other hand putting together Ikea furniture. Thankfully, it didn't stop me playing!

    I know, no string will help with my clumsiness...
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 616Member
    Being uk made I'm a bit partial to Rotosound, so I'm glad they get a recommendation. ThaNks sWaylon.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,792Member
    I did once try a set of those Rotosound flats - wound with monel alloy, which is interesting. A very smooth finish, and nice to play - I guess I would say a bit mellower than D'Addario Chromes, too much so for my taste, but might well be someones cup of tea. Over on the jazzguitar.be forum, they seem to thing Thomastiks are the best flatwounds - expensive though!
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 616Member
    Good to know, Graham :)
    Hmm, this guitar is not exactly bright, so more mellowness might make it really muddy. It's probably the combination of alder and walnut, although I wouldn't have thought alder would be bright.
    Yes, I bet they like Thomastiks. I've had their violin strings, but then all violin strings are expensive. Perhaps they're making up for the fact that there are only four of them. No probably not.
    It seems Thomann have the JS111 for £11.74, which isn't bad for flatwounds.
    Oh confusion...
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 616Member
    waylon said:
    What kind of guitar are you playing these on, Waylon?
Sign In or Register to comment.