Monday, January 2, 2012

Ernie Ball 2806 Group III Flat Wound Bass String Review


I had never considered using flatwound bass strings on a fretted bass until a few years ago, but a number of my friends raved about them so I had to give them a go. Unfortunately I started with Thomastik-Infeld Jazz Bass strings that cost a fortune and had the tension of old rubber bands.

I was disappointed with the feel of the TI strings, and passed them on to a buddy of mine. Through some friends I was clued in to tin-plated Ernie Ball Group III Flats, which are a lot more comfortable for me. With string gauges of .045-.065-.080 and 0.100 they have tension that is similar to the Hybrid Slinky roundwounds or D’Addario XL nickels I usually use.

I have tried them on active Sadowskys and Musicmans, as well as passive Fenders and Arias. All of these were fretted basses, and I was impressed with the results. Like all flats, they are brighter when new, but have maintained a great midrange growl even as they have aged. And though they have a solid thump, they have not gotten muddy or dull.

Plus they are a good value, particularly when you factor in how long they last. The Ernie Ball Group III flats have a list price of $60, and a street price of $29.99. Plus you will not need to do a complete set-up when you switch over to these flats either, as they have a tension that will probably be similar to whatever you are using now.

This being said, I embrace diversity and Group IIIs are not the only flats that I use. D’Addario Chromes are virtually identical to the Ernie Ball strings, so I use them if they are around, and I have a P Bass set-up with the imposing LaBella Jamerson flats too. They are all great strings, and you will not go wrong with any of them. Just remember that flats are not just for fretless basses any more.


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