Recently tried Veillette and Rob Allen basses, both incredible instruments. Unfortunately, they're also incredibly expensive. Part of what I loved was the feel of the tapewound strings. What would happen if I changed my steel roundwounds on an American Lakland bass to tapewound strings? In other words, what kind of sound could I expect vs. the two basses I tried?
I see a lot of instrumentalists confuse tapewounds and flatwounds from roundwounds and other material strings.
Flatwounds are regular roundwounds that are ground-down, in fact, you usually have to wipe off the excess machining from them before installing or else your fingers will blacken.
Tapewounds are correctly described above.
Tapewounds will inherently seem a little "softer" or have less attack since they are wrapped in a material that doesn't fundamentally ring true to the original string. Flatwounds give you a very similar feel to tapewounds (which feel great for jazz guitar too, BTW) but have a bit more metallic sound to them, and will sustain a bit longer as well, since there is no softer nylon material to deaden vibration.
All bass strings are expensive, especially ones that require extra work aside form the winding. A good wipe down every once in a while, and after a serious session will extend the life of them as gunk tends to get into the crevasses of the metal windings and corrode.
But here's some pricing examples of the two:
Tapewounds are indeed more labor intensive, but you may be able to find a more affordable set of flat-wounds which are more comfortable on your fingers and slightly less work to produce, therefore cheaper.
Tapewound strings are similar in construction to other wound bass strings; the difference is that they have a length (or 'tape') of nylon wrapped around a metal core. This makes them feel less tough on fingers, and the tone they produce does not quickly degrade in time, as standard round/flatwound strings will.
The Sound they produce is different as well. They deliver a warmer, rounder, softer and smoother tone (because they will produce less string noise). Another word you will hear a lot when describing tapewound strings is 'thump.' For this reason, they are said to produce the closest sound to an upright bass that can be produced on an electric bass.
I have never come into contact with either of these basses, but from a spot of research I understand that they both have a 'semi-hollow' body design and construction. I would presume that this would add a fair amount to the sound, but the strings would also contribute a lot as well.
Replacing your current strings with tapewounds is likely to have a noticeable effect on the sound, but the body construction and the tonewoods that are used are also likely to be a major contributing feature to the bass's tone and sound.
Hope this helps.