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I recently purchased a 198o's Ibanez Artstar AC100 but the strings on it are for slide, not jazz. I'd like to put flatwounds, but there is a huge range of them, and I have no experience with them.

What flats have you used for jazz? I'm looking for a Wes Montgomery sound, smooth, mellow. (I'm playing through a Fender Champ 12 tube amp, it's like a warm hug...)

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  • Strings can be rather personal things, the gauge alone being a well debated subject! Just because someone says xyz are great doesn't mean they'll suit you, your guitar, or your playing, Best go the experimental stages of trying out some. If you did fit xyzs and found they didn't work for you, how much worse off would you be? – Tim Jan 1 '20 at 14:51
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I've tried many types of flatwound strings and I have 3 suggestions depending upon your situation.

If you're just experimenting with flats, then D'Addario Chromes are a good choice. They sound good and feel good and they're not too expensive. The only downside to them is that the nickel plating wears off and the tone changes quite a bit, becoming very dull sounding.

If you mostly play on roundwound strings, then La Bella Tapewound is a good choice. They sound like flats, but they feel more springy like roundwounds.

Otherwise, go with Thomastik Infeld. These are wrapped in pure nickel, so there's no plating to wear off. They are 2-3 times more expensive than most other brands of guitar strings, but they last 10+ times as long. They mellow somewhat after a few weeks or months, but never become dull IME even after many years. For a super-mellow jazz tone, get the George Benson signature set.

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    +1 Great to read about your experiences - the Thomastik set was the first flatwounds I ever tried, and after 30+ years of playing guitar I was like, if these strings feel this good ... whatever other jazz strings there might be, it's not worth trying, it's probably worse than this. Schools should have this stuff available for kids to try out! Of course, for other styles, you want other sorts of instruments and strings. – piiperi Reinstate Monica Feb 1 '20 at 0:39
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I'm using a Thomastik JS111 set in a 335 clone guitar. Love them, but they're also the only flatwounds I ever tried. Anyway, the strings are so nice I don't even want to try anything else. Disclaimer: I'm not a jazz guitarist, or guitarist, by any means. It's just a hobby thing I like to do.

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The brand probably won't matter as much as the flat winding itself. I used to use GHS gauge 13 flat wounds. Quite frankly I don't care so much for the traditional "Jazz Sound" that I stuck with it. It is very difficult to bend flat wounds and the G-string is usually wound in these sets. Makes playing Blues and rock impossible. IMO one can achieve the sound you want with amp settings. The real issue will be the "feel". I switched back to gauge 11 round wounds and never looked back. One guitar, a 335, and I play everything from Wes to Megadeath on the same set up.

There is a compromise with something called ground-wounds, or half-wounds. They are round wound strings that have been "flattened" out. There is a George Benson signature series of this style of string. It ain't bad as far as I can remember but switching from flat to the in-between set just solidified my decision to go back to rounds.

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