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I've never gotten a chance to play a bass that has flatwound strings, but I've heard from people who have. They usually say that it completely changes the sound, but that they feel amazing for your fingers. I've been thinking about getting flatwounds, but I'm worried that it will take the emphasis out of my slap technique. What I mean is that slapping has a few distinct tones, but I'm concerned that that won't happen for me if I change the strings to flatwounds. I've also never heard anyone slap on flatwounds. Two things:

  1. Can you find a video/example of someone slapping on flatwounds?
  2. In your experience, is the sound of slap bass changed in a negative way when played on flatwounds?
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I found this on YouTube:

Flatwound strings do feel and sound great and I love them but they are warmer and darker than round sound strings so yes, it will change the tone in a negative way. You won’t get that same bright and biting tone you’re used to, especially as they start to break in and age.

One possible compromise is half rounds by D’Addario, they make a round wound string and grind down the outer surface till it’s smooth.

Flats are great if you want to put them on a specific instrument to get that warm dark tone but roundwounds are a better choice for versatility and a variety of styles on one instrument.

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    I totally agree, great answer. I would also add that certain types of flatwounds can also be quite stiff when you first put them on your bass and it can take a fair bit of playing to break them in so they become more forgiving. Also if you aren't used to playing on flatwounds, they can be a little harder on the fingers for some reason, probably to do with the stiffness. I do know, however, you can get some flexible flats, I think La Bella make them, they might be a little more forgiving, however, I have never used them, – meganoob May 22 at 1:12
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    @meganoob you’re right about the stiffness, some flats feel very stiff compared to roundwounds. I usually get the lightest gauge possible and even lower the action a bit to compensate. I think it’s for one or both of these reasons; 1. since the winding is flat instead of round the string will have slightly more mass (there are no gaps in the windings) 2. Because there are no gaps in the winding the string may be slightly less flexible. – John Belzaguy May 22 at 1:23
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    I used to use Dean Markley half-rounds for a while - similar kind of construction as the D'Addarios mentioned above. They did sound & feel more like regular round-wound, but much easier on the fingers. – Tetsujin May 22 at 7:06
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    @Tetsujin I’ve had good luck with them as well although I don’t use them a lot, instead I keep a 70’s Fender P and an old Gibson EB-3 with flats for classic stuff. Half rounds are the best solution if you want something that bridges the gap between the two. – John Belzaguy May 22 at 15:53
  • @JohnBelzaguy - Yup, I used to use them an a Ricki 4001. No point having a Ricki if you're going to sound like Paul McCartney… ermm… maybe that came out wrong… ;))P – Tetsujin May 22 at 15:55

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