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I bought a used Peavey Foundation bass guitar a long time ago, and I really liked the original strings. The sound was very warm and mellow, a lot like an upright acoustic bass. At one point I experimented with other strings because the original set was wearing out. I tried D'Addario XL Semi-Flatwound Half Rounds medium gauge ENR72, which sounded a little too clangy to my ear, and D'Addario XL nylon tapewound medium gauge ETB92, which sounded even more clangy. I experimented with a piece of foam under the strings near the bridge with one of the replacement sets, but I didn't get the sound I liked, it was too dull rather than warm, and of course the sustain suffered.

The original mystery set is also medium gauge, but round wound, which is actually supposed to sound brighter, at least when the strings are new. Finally, the E string snapped at the bridge, so now I have to use something else. An interesting thing about this bass is that the two pickups are connected in counterphase, I'm not sure whether it's by accident or by intent, or how common this is, but I actually like the sound.

Here is an example of what it sounded like:

Could anyone suggest similar-sounding strings to try?

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    I'm actually thinking you might just need to play a set of roundwounds until they get old and mellow out. Lots of famous players prefer old roundwounds over new. If they get too dirty, you can boil them in water and then dry them off and put them back on. – Todd Wilcox Mar 16 '15 at 12:20
  • I wonder if there is a way to reword your question so that it is less likely to be closed. I am thinking that it is too open to opinion, but perhaps there is a way to avoid that and still get your question answered. – amalgamate Mar 16 '15 at 18:50
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I'm turning my comment into an answer: Old roundwounds are most likely the sound you are looking for. Have fun aging them!

  • Thanks! Maybe I'll switch to roundwounds and let them age, using flatwounds for the time being. Not the same sound, but I like it, too. I once had a bass with flatwounds, they are not so bad :) – biggvsdiccvs Mar 17 '15 at 22:31
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Although I'm not sure I can identify the mystery set, I have found Fender's stainless-steel flatwounds to have the greatest "mwah" factor. These particular strings (either their medium or light flatwound stainless) are the only kind I like on my fretless Jazz.

In addition, one thing you can do to enhance the warmth is to use a dampener either just above or directly on the string nut. This can dampen the higher harmonics of the string a good bit. (If just below or on the nut, using a dampener will absolutely shorten an open string's sustain.)

I've been using GruvGear FretWraps (large size on my basses) to remove some of the grind and fizz of my single coil basses in my recordings.

Cheers!

Jim

  • Thanks! For the time being, I settled on D'Addario medium flatwounds (but will keep an eye our for Fender). Courious about the dampener above the nut, will try. Wouldn't have thought it would make a difference, and whatever effect it has most likely depends on the nut material. – biggvsdiccvs Mar 17 '15 at 22:19
  • Tried damping the strings above the nut with no audible result. – biggvsdiccvs Mar 19 '15 at 1:44
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    Surely a dampener on the nut will only affect open strings. At the bridge end would make some appreciable difference. – Tim Mar 21 '15 at 17:28

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