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Thomastik-Infeld Swing Flatwounds


zigzag

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I dig jazz/fusion music, so it makes sense that I prefer a warmer, cleaner, woodier, traditional jazzbox sound from my guitar. I've always heard that there are several ways to get that sound, regardless of whether you play a Strat or an ES-175. The most effective change is to switch to a wooden bridge, but in doing that you severely reduce the potential versatility of your guitar. The second is to lower your pickups to capture the vibrations of the wood in your guitar and reduce the effect of the string vibration alone. This is great advice. Next is to accentuate the lows and mids on your amp and guitar to warm up the sound and play from your neck pickup. This definitely helps; many hollow bodied jazzboxes don't even have bridge pickups. The last is to use thick gauged, flatwound strings (minimum 12s). Having done all of these things on my ES-335, except switching to a wooden bridge, I have been able to get a great traditional jazz sound out of it. (I also must mention that I have recently purchased an Ibanez Artcore AFJ91- an excellent jazzbox for the price!)

 

I've played almost every string available on all my guitars in either 10 or 11 gauges. The strings I typically used on my hollow and semi-hollow guitars are D'Addario XL-115W strings- nickel wound 11s with a wound third. I've been using wound thirds on those guitars for a while. I don't like the twanginess I get on unwound thirds since I've always preferred a warmer tone. More recently, I have tried flatwounds just to try them out, but also because flatwounds don't squeak when you run your fingers horizontally on the strings (this was starting to drive me crazy, and it is worse on new string sets). First, I looked at D'Addario Chromes because people like them, I like D'Addario strings, they are relatively inexpensive, and they last a long time- and they are supposed to be warmer. I didn't like them much.

 

Next, I dropped $25 on a set of Thomastik-Infeld Jazz Swing Flatwound 11s on my ES-335. Compared to the XL-115W (11s) I was using, the T-I flatwound 11s have very close to the same overall string tension, don't squeak, they are silky smooth, they stay in tune, they're slightly warmer, the sustain is about the same, they (obviously) are not twangy, but where they really shine is that through a tube amp, they have an incredible punch on the A and D strings and a very complex textural quality that I haven't heard from any other string. Since making the change on the 335, I've put T-I Swing 10s on my Carvin SH550 (semi-hollow) and 12s on my AFJ91. They have the same qualities on all those guitars. Plus, I've had the T-Is on my 335 for over six months, and it appears that they may go another six months. (I was changing the XL-115s every two or three months.)

 

I have not noticed any of the negatives with these T-Is that many report from flatwounds. I have been trying different strings on most of my guitars over the years, but I don't plan to ever make changes to those guitars now.

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Thanks very much for that post. I have been thinking about flatwounds for some time and Thomastik as a brand. I need to do something re my Yamaha AE12 as I hardly play it these days partly because - mainly because - it is fitted with roundwounds and for some reason (I can't fathom why) they hurt me on that particular guitar.

 

And besides, I am sure the flatwounds would give a better tone overall.

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Thought-provoking post, as ever, Z-Z.

 

I've had a long and, in the main, entertaining time in the past flirting with various flavours of flat-wound; half-round and/or ground-wound strings but the T-I's seem to address all the 'failures' I encountered with the other styles.

I'll have to try them out; but as I don't mind the 'twanginess on the unwound thirds' (much to the horror of the G-J community) I will have to see if I can get a set to suit.

 

Thanks for the heads-up!

 

[thumbup]

 

P.

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I use these, have a set on my archtop, using .11s at the moment (and got a spare set to put on one of my other semis) but probably will go to .12 as the top feels light. Great acoustic sound too on an f-hole guitar.

Very good strings indeed, a little more than D'Addario Chromes but worth it IMO.

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Well...

 

I know I'll take static for this, but I use 9-42s Ellixir polyweb rounds on my archtops, although on my least favorite I'm experimenting with an equivalent set of flats.

 

That guitar is an inexpensive Gretsch box, wooden bridge but long-scale.

 

I'm convinced that a lot of tone issues have a lot to do with technique, although others will disagree regardless. I think that if you play with a flatpick especially, you'll have issues sounding like a jazz box with most strings. If you're really gentle and mess just a little with the pup configuration on multiple pup guitars along with some messing with your amp, you can get that kinda sound outa a board guitar. My 8-38 strings on my old '70s Guild SG clone for example can do jazz quite nicely.

 

m

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If you're really gentle and mess just a little with the pup configuration on multiple pup guitars along with some messing with your amp, you can get that kinda sound outa a board guitar.

 

I can only speak for myself, of course, milod - and with the utmost respect - but I was talking about my f-hole arch-top acoustic.

 

P.

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You'll get no argument from me, m. Granted Wes Montgomery played with his fingers, in particular, his thumb. And he PLAYED his own version of jazz. But he also played a hollow bodied guitar with thick, flatwound strings, played clean through a neck pickup. Doing all those things won't make me sound like Wes Montgomery, but I'll come closer to getting his "sound" (not his tone). I'll never sound like Wes, even if I play like Wes, on a Strat through the bridge pickup with 8 gauge roundwound strings using a fuzz box, even using my thumb.

 

The point of my original post was to say how much I like T-I strings and how I arrived at trying them. On the same guitar, T-I flatwound 12s will sound very much different than 9 gauge Elixers or cobalts.

 

Let me say, also, that as you have said m, any guitar can be used to play jazz. What is jazz anyway?

 

AND, btw, I believe the lowest gauge of flatwounds available are 10s.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnyx35fX4Xs

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Yup...

 

Me too.

 

I still think the difference is largely technique. Now if you wanna be loud, that's a different thing.

 

As I've noted, Mother Maybelle had the heaviest strings I've ever seen on a guitar on her old Gibbie archtop - but she was capoed up and banging away on it with a style not dissimilar to how she played autoharp and it wasn't a matter of seeking maximum "tone" much more than on the autoharp.

 

Believe me, that's not criticism of any style of playing. Each has its strengths. And weaknesses.

 

m

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Let me say, also, that as you have said m, any guitar can be used to play jazz. What is jazz anyway?

 

A mistake played twice to seem intended? Yes? YES??!!! WHAT DO I WIN???***

 

rct

 

***Surely you jazzbos know jaz, or, Sheets Of Sound. You must. You have to! Used to torment that guy in the newsgroups, long ago.

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I agree, It was cool to see this post.

 

I have considered them in the past, but was pushed off due to the price. I use D'Addario 11s on my jazz boxes too.

 

I may try these out on my next change.

 

KB took the words from my mouth !!

 

i've been running D'ad's F/W 11s on my Guild and DeArmond jazzers (both wooden bridges) w/no complaints...but it's always good to try something different.

 

been thinking about swapping my Sheratons over lately.

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RE string gauge.

 

I have gotten lighter flats. 9-42 are available. There is o one set I'm trying on my guitar now.

 

Another option is buying strings at gauges you want on a guitar. I've done that with Elixir Polyweb acoustic strings to get a 9-42 set that isn't sold by Elixir as a set.

 

m

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Another option is buying strings at gauges you want on a guitar.

 

Yeah, I've seen that done. My problem is that I use about three different sets and gauges for (now) six different electrics. However, I do use only one guitar, now, for 75% of everything I do, and I am in the process of downsizing to three or four electrics.

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I keep toying with going back to "flat wounds" on my Ric 12-strings.

They USED to (in the '60's) come, with them, as stock strings, from

the factory. But, as they're were hard to find, for years, I got out

of the habit, of using them. And, I don't think Ric supplies them,

anymore, as stock stings (unless they've gone back to that, recently)?

But, I always liked the tone, of the Ric 12-strings, with flatwounds.

So, I may (still) try some, in the very near future. I think Thomastik,

and Pyramid, both have electric 12-string flat wound sets. Or, I make

up one, too...string by string, if nothing else. [thumbup]

 

CB

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I know this thread is about Thomastik-Infeld flatwounds, but I have a comment about flatwounds in general. I just put a set of D'Addario Chrome 11-50's on my Gibson Kalamazoo. Big difference. The guitar is naturally bright, I found the chromes warmed it up nicely. The Kalamazoo ships with 9's I think and the sustain and thump from these heavier gauge flatwounds is incredible.

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I think a lot of what makes a string "work" for a given electric player especially is a combination of the player and his overall technique, his amp, and his guitar/amp settings. Yes, the guitar itself as well. For those looking for a "jazz" sound, some believe a wooden bridge is quite important and yet... one might note that the es175 typically has had a TOM bridge.

 

I'm always going to be convinced that one's technique has - at least "can have" - far more to do with "tone" than most of us care to admit. The perfect example can be found with nearly any good classical guitarist's playing.

 

Strings? I think they work best when they're a good fit for a guitarist at a period of his playing life when they seem to help his playing in whatever it is he/she is trying to do musically.

 

I don't think anything is a magic trick that can make us play two levels above our own ability, but I do think a guitar that fits our physical geometry given the technique we're working toward, and strings that fit our technique and are capable of a tone that pleases us, will help to take us to the top of our own skills an challenge us to more...

 

m

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Surf...

 

They do play quite differently. I think if absolutely nothing else every picker with multiple electrics should give a shot at a set that's more or less the gauge he or she is familiar with just to try the feel. At that point one may choose to mess with other gauges.

 

I used a light set in the olden days on a Rick and then left them for a while... got into some tapewounds in the mid 70s... then back to rounds until last spring when I ordered a batch of sets to mess with.

 

Folks argue over the difference in feel of Elixirs and other sorts of "coated" strings - and either flats or tapewounds will give yet a far different sort of feel for playing.

 

In fact, nobody's talked about tapewounds and they may be an option for those who want a nice mellow sound too.

 

m

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My style is well suited to flatwounds. My amp is a 40 watt Traynor that has been modified with a 100 watt speaker for extended clean headroom, most of my guitars are semihollows, and my playing style is to pick notes out of chords or play single note leads. I've thought about using flatwounds before, but someone, (teacher, guitar playing friends, even music store employees), always talked me out of them because of how dark they can sound. The Kalamazoo was so bright to start and this thread and another on the midtown Kalamazoo just convinced me to give it a go. So far I'm glad I tried them.

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