Today, I switched out the GHS Precision Flatwounds with a set of LaBella 760FL’s. What a world of difference!
A little back story: for a long time, I was on the search for the perfect flatwounds. It’s a lost cause – what I discovered is that all the different brands and variations on the different brands all have their characteristics. You got to find the right string for the right bass. That being said, I ultimately settled on the Sadowski Black Label flats.
Sadowski Black Label Flatwound Stings – My First Favorite
The Black Label Flats were made by LaBella and sounded similar to the LaBella 760FS strings, but they had a little more midrange and a little less string tension. I liked sound of the LaBella 760FS, but the tension was too much. And on my Jazz Bass, they 760FS strings didn’t sound too good – the restrained midrange of the strings sort of killed the characteristic phase-cancelled sound of the Jazz Bass.
Anyway, long story short, Sadowski stopped making the Black Label Flatwounds and replaced them with the new Blue Label strings. (Just skimming through some threads here on TB, they don’t sound all that similar).
A few years back, I went to the BassStringsOnline.com showroom (it was about 20 miles from my house). Consulting with Jason and trying out a ton of strings there, I was able to sample tons of different flatwound strings. I didn’t really want to go back to the LaBella 760FS because frankly, the tension kills me (in my middle age, I’ve develop a small cramping problem). I tried the D’Addarrio Chromes, and they were too clanky-sounding. The Thomastik-Infeld flats sounded good but the wet spaghetti noodle vibe was a real buzzkill. I ended up settling on the GHS Precision Flats – they’re pretty cheap, they have a stout midrange, the tension is about right and out of the pack, they don’t sound too bright.
I use the GHS precision flats on my test bass, so I figured I’d put them on this new bass. They were OK but I think this new bass brings out whatever weaknesses strings may have. I was getting all these weird overtones, some of the notes would “bloom” harmonically for no explicable reason and overall they sounded really uneven to me.
Enter the LaBella 760FL’s.
I’ve a pack of 760FL’s laying around my house for years. I bought them in a pinch when I was at The Amp Shop Bass Exchange in North Hollywood. I discovered that day that Sadowski had discontinued the Black Labels and they were out of the 760FS. After bringing them home, I never put the 760FL’s on a bass because I feared the high tension of the LaBella strings. So, realizing that I didn’t like the GHS Precision Flats, I replaced them with the lonely package of 760FL’s.
The 760FL’s are 104s, so they’re slightly lighter gauge than the 760FS strings. This is good because, while they are smaller, I don’t really notice the .001″ difference in size but the difference in tension is definitely noticeable. In addition, the more restrained midrange compliments the midrange monster of a pickup I designed for this bass. No weird overtones, no inexplicable harmonic bloom in random places, consistent volume from note to note.