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I recently discovered that the nylon-coated Tape Flatwound strings, which have long been available for Bass, are available now in guitar sets (with plain b and e). How do these compare in tone, scrape noises, and flexibility with traditional Jazz-style chrome- or nickel- wrapped flats?

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I just replaced my aged Thomastik-Infeld George Benson 14s with LaBella Black Nylon Tape Wound 14s, and they are unlike any other strings I've ever tried. Surprisingly low tension (easy bending, easy intonation misses) gives them a feel almost like classical strings (it is nylon after all).

Not sure how they'll age yet, but they begin much brighter than nickel flats, about as bright as chromes at the beginning.

Zero fret-noise. Not even that higher-pitched stuff that new flats will do. But they do have a light texture to the touch; they're not too slippery to get a grip on.

Compared to those old strings, it's like suddenly remembering to clean your eyeglasses, the whole world is a little more crisp and clean. :)

Some further thoughts. They don't have the same power that the nickel flats do. They seem to have a flatter dynamic response. With nickel, you can play very softly so that only you can hear it in a room full of people, then there's a middle dynamic range but you have put some force into it to get the string going (like priming a gong, maybe), then you have several varieties of forte and fortissimo depending on how much harder you hit it.

The Tape-wound strings on the other hand, appear to be a thinner almost flatwound core string (perhaps groundwound, or something similar) -- this is where the "texture" described above comes from. Then it's like the whole thing is slipped into a shrink-wrap tube of nylon which then squeezes and smoothes them flat.

So they have a lot less mass. Less "inertial capacity" perhaps. So they're probably never going to have that sweet sweet tone that the nickel acquires. But they project. They're a lot more "bouncy", or jangly. So they require less force both to press and to strike. So don't look at that 67 at the bottom and think, "My god! That's just ridiculous to have an E string that huge!" It's because the metal string inside is really only a 50-something, the rest is a really thick nylon coating.

In short, more sturm, less drang.

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I found this video with someone using these strings, they do sound very interesting. –  Matthew Read Jan 28 '13 at 15:51
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When you wrote tape-wound BASS strings, I thought you meant BASS GUITAR .However... the nylon coated tape-wounds on my fretless bass are great, but 40/50 years ago I used tape-wounds on electric guitars and found they lost their brilliance quickly. Maybe covering them stops the sweat etc. from dulling them.

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I expect them to flatten at the frets over time, but yeah, since they're sheathed rather than wrapped per se, the metal should be pretty impervious to corrosion, and there's no tape edges to peel up. –  luser droog Mar 21 '13 at 23:39
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