Flatwound Strings

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Flatwound Strings

Postby (Folkie) » Sat Jan 15, 2011 11:50 am

I just posted a thread celebrating the arrival of my new Rick 360/12, but in my intro I forgot to mention something that made a huge difference to me in the sound of the guitar. This is the first 12-string on which I've used flatwound strings. I resisted using flatwounds on my 330/12 because I'd been very happy with D'Addario nickel wounds over the years, because flatwounds are more expensive, and because I didn't understand the sonic principles of flatwound strings on a 12. Todd Bradshaw responded to a thread I posted about a month ago and explained to me the way flatwounds work on 12-string. He said they dull the low courses on a Rickenbacker and thus accentuate the chime of the octave strings. This made sense to me, and so, as an experiment, I had Chris Clayton string my new 360/12 with Thomastik Infeld flatwounds. I had recently played a new 360/12 at Sam Ash, which was factory strung with Rick compressed roundwounds, and the guitar sounded dull to me. Imagine my surprise when I picked up my new 360/12 and those octave strings chimed out just as they do on those original Byrds recordings! Part of the effect seems to come from playing with a very thin pick (another thing Todd recommended). With the new guitar I've been using Dunlop .50 mm picks. Another part comes from playing the guitar through a Janglebox. And I guess part of it comes from using scatterwound pickups. But the flatwound strings are a HUGE tone factor, more so than I could ever have imagined. Unfortunately the TI flats run at about $35 a set! But Todd tells me they last longer than roundwound or compressed roundwound strings anyway. Thank you Todd Bradshaw for turning me on to yet another Rickenbacker tone secret!

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Re: Flatwound Strings

Postby (jps) » Sat Jan 15, 2011 1:52 pm

I love the sound of my 330 with Chromes on it. :D
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Re: Flatwound Strings

Postby (JackAlan) » Sat Jan 15, 2011 2:02 pm

I don't have a Ric yet, but looking hard, and I just love the Pyramid Gold Flat wound 11's I put on my new Gibson 1962 Reissue J-160E. They sound great, & play even better than great. Found them for $20 w/frt paid at Stings and Beyond on the web. Will be getting them for my Casino too.

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Re: Flatwound Strings

Postby (teb) » Sat Jan 15, 2011 6:29 pm

Glad I could help. With that combination it's pretty hard to go wrong. Now it's a matter of fine-tuning the sound to fit the song. I generally run my guitar pots all full blast, with both the neck and bridge pickups and the fifth knob about in the middle. I set my amp's tone controls up a bit over half-way - not too extreme. If it's a rocky tune and I want a really aggressive sound, I'll run the Janglebox full blast on both knobs and maybe even boost the gain on the amp to add just a little dirt. For more melodic stuff I back the gain down to something very clean and run the knobs on the Janglebox at about 2/3. I almost never see any reason to run just the bridge pickup alone, but the neck pickup alone (gain on clean and JB at 2/3) is a very interesting sound for mellower songs - especially if you do your picking over the end of the fingerboard, rather than back near the bridge. Other than as a mixer, a lot of folks don't seem to have much use for the neck pickup, but in situations where you want a bit more of a clean, hollow-body sound, the combination of the J-Box and solo neck pickup is awfully nice and rich without being too aggressive.
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Re: Flatwound Strings

Postby (Kees) » Sun Jan 16, 2011 7:23 am

I have also had Pyramid flatwounds on a 360V64/12 and I hated them. Only a muffled sort of 'thumb, thumb' coming out of the wound strings. I immediately switched back to the compressed round wounds from Rick and will stick to those. I subsequently sold two remaining packs of new Pyramids to the lead singer from a nice band here in The Netherlands (The Madd); but, he later responded to me that he was very dissapointed with the strings (like I was; however, I had warned him before the purchase!).

I'm sure others can produce wonderful sounds with their flatwounds, but clearly I didn't. In my opinion, the wound strings need to ring too, and that's what the flats just did not do in my hands (and they were as stiff as a flagpole).

Best wishes,
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Re: Flatwound Strings

Postby (teb) » Sun Jan 16, 2011 5:05 pm

I tried the Pyramids and also hated them (too darned stiff and for no good reason, along with no desire to put that much tension on the neck). The TIs give me the sound without the excessive tension. Everybody has their own idea of what proper jangle should sound like and you can get a pretty nice version with the Rickenbacker compressed rounds. To me ear, it's a bit more twangy than with flats, so I generally stick with the TIs. The big picture though, is always going to be a combination of the strings, the compressor, the pick or picking style and the amp used.

TI twelve-string samples:
http://webpages.charter.net/tbradshaw/M ... amples.mp3
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Re: Flatwound Strings

Postby (Folkie) » Mon Jan 17, 2011 11:14 pm

Todd,

Thank you for all of your suggestions. Flatwounds may not be for everybody, but they certainly capture the right sound for me. I just made another very pleasant discovery. After years of recording with an SM57 on my amp because I thought my amp had no line out, I just discovered that I can use the SEND on the effects loop as a line out for direct recording, either mono or stereo. The mono is a dry signal, while the stereo includes the onboard reverb and chorus. I haven't tried it out yet, but I think my Ricks through the Janglebox into the preamp of my solid state Fender Princeton Chorus should give me some good tone options. I'll try to keep in mind what you said about dialing in the Janglebox differently for different types of songs. I currently have both tone controls for the regular channel on my JB2 near maxed out, the gain and JangleBoost level at about 10 o'clock, and the attack at about three o'clock (which is pretty dramatic). When I'm playing the 330/12 I have the treble knob on my amp at about 3 o'clock and the other tone knobs flat. When I'm using the 360/12 I have the treble and the bass both at three o'clock. That's interesting what you said about using the neck pickup. I haven't experimented much with that, but I'd like to. You can get so many different sounds out of a Rickenbacker. And the best thing about this forum is that people like you can share their tone secrets. You expertise is much appreciated! And thanks for those samples; nice guitar on all of them!

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Re: Flatwound Strings

Postby (iiipopes) » Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:27 am

Just make sure you match line levels. Try this: on a lot of DI boxes, there are two 1/4 inch plugs on the one side to go with the XLR on the other. These are usually in parallel with the low-Z transformer to the XLR taken off the side. Take the send into one and the return to the other, and you have a great "side tap" for processing to the board, while still being able to use your amp, whether for monitor, or to mike to get a different tone. Granted, it may need further processing to get what you want, since there is no speaker emulation at that point, but it provides a great take-off point. I've even used a similar setup in taking a Hammond spinit organ to a board that otherwise didn't have any line out -- just used adaptors on the RCA plugs at the foot pedal, which is nothing more than a fancy volume knob.
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Re: Flatwound Strings

Postby (Kees) » Tue Jan 18, 2011 12:30 pm

iiipopes wrote:Just make sure you match line levels. Try this: on a lot of DI boxes, there are two 1/4 inch plugs on the one side to go with the XLR on the other. These are usually in parallel with the low-Z transformer to the XLR taken off the side. Take the send into one and the return to the other, and you have a great "side tap" for processing to the board, while still being able to use your amp, whether for monitor, or to mike to get a different tone. Granted, it may need further processing to get what you want, since there is no speaker emulation at that point, but it provides a great take-off point. I've even used a similar setup in taking a Hammond spinit organ to a board that otherwise didn't have any line out -- just used adaptors on the RCA plugs at the foot pedal, which is nothing more than a fancy volume knob.



And I always used to think that playing an electric guitar was plugging a guitar into an amp and play... :?

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Re: Flatwound Strings

Postby (RonLovesRic12strings) » Sun Jan 23, 2011 3:11 pm

Yes, those TI flatwounds rule on my RICK 12's and my Gretsch 6119 Tennessee Rose, '62 reissue. Although pricey, the TI's last a long time.
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Re: Flatwound Strings

Postby (xpitt) » Sun Jan 23, 2011 3:31 pm

Kees wrote:I have also had Pyramid flatwounds on a 360V64/12 and I hated them. Only a muffled sort of 'thumb, thumb' coming out of the wound strings. I immediately switched back to the compressed round wounds from Rick and will stick to those. I subsequently sold two remaining packs of new Pyramids to the lead singer from a nice band here in The Netherlands (The Madd); but, he later responded to me that he was very dissapointed with the strings (like I was; however, I had warned him before the purchase!).

I'm sure others can produce wonderful sounds with their flatwounds, but clearly I didn't. In my opinion, the wound strings need to ring too, and that's what the flats just did not do in my hands (and they were as stiff as a flagpole).

Best wishes,
Kees

Hi Kees ,
it's not the Pyramid Flats that are meant when it comes to Flats, the Tomastik Infeld Flats are the choice; they are not stiff at all (10 - 42), they chime and ring and last a very long time. I was on the Pyramids before and when I switched to the TI ' s, I could not believe the difference. I also have a 360V64/12 and those strings are the way to go !
Cheers, Alex
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Re: Flatwound Strings

Postby (buchrob) » Thu Feb 03, 2011 8:59 am

Strings are what puts the rubber on the road.

When you have an exotic sports car, you don't shop the sales at some-store-brand-discount tire to find the cheapest rubber.

You want the best.

If you want the classic sound, don't begrudge the price uptick for a good set of TI's.

It's infinitessimal compared to the value of your guitar.
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Flatwound Strings

Postby (8mileshigher) » Thu Feb 03, 2011 9:49 pm

teb wrote: I'll run the Janglebox full blast on both knobs and maybe even boost the gain on the amp to add just a little dirt.


Todd --- diverging here on the Flatwound strings subject, I find it intriguing that you can run your Janglebox full blast on both knobs.

I have the original JB. My experience is that I can't push either JB knob much past the 1 o'clock or 2 o'clock postions without getting feedback, usually through the P.A. system accentuating the volume of/through the guitar amp. Happens with tube amps and solid-state amps. Have you ever experienced Janglebox feedback ? Thanks for your insights.
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