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Flatwound vs. Tapewound Bass Strings (ALL Differences + Which is BEST)

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It is a fact that the winding of bass strings plays an important role in the resultant tone of the bass guitar.

Although it can get controversial saying which “sounds better,” the truth, however, remains that different wounds sound differently. 

It is often said that flat-wound strings do not really shine brightly in high frequencies.

Their wounding gives them more emphasis on mid and low frequencies. Regardless, this does not make them inferior to other woundings, it just makes them different. 

For example, bass players who play styles like rock, pop, and punk often choose round wounds because it enhances the presence of the bass guitar in a busy mix. 

For less-busy styles like reggae, jazz, and R&B, it makes more sense to go for the smoother, darker, and warmer sound of round-wound strings. These strings appeal differently to different bass players and there are no standards when choosing. 

In this article, we will discuss flatwound and tapewound strings side by side. If you have ever wondered what the differences and similarities could be between these two, then this article will tell you all you need to know. 

The main difference between flatwound and roundwound strings is that flatwound emphasizes the mid and low frequencies a lot more. Thus, they have a darker and warmer sound that fits certain styles and genres. 

Tapewound strings are very similar to flatwound strings, but they design these strings with a length of nylon tape wrapped around their outer wrap, unlike flatwound, which uses a ribbon of steel wrapped around the inner core.

About Flatwound Bass Strings

Flatwound strings date back to the nineteenth century when they were designed to replace gut strings. Gut strings were the standard in the early days of stringed instruments, but they were expensive and required regular repair due to their fragility.  

D’Addario began creating flatwound strings in 1874 by wrapping a flat wire over a spherical core. This method produced a smooth and flat surface, making the strings more durable and simpler to play. 

Flatwound strings were first employed on bowed string instruments like violins and cellos. Over time, flatwound strings gained popularity and were modified for usage on many instruments such as guitars and basses. 

Due to their warm and mellow tone, flatwound strings rose to prominence in jazz and blues music during the 1950s and 1960s. Some popular bass string flatwound brands manufactured to date include:

More people are using flatwound bass strings now than in previous years. Their music is reminiscent of classic rock, R&B music, and funk records that influenced how bass players are used today. 

A growing number of players are turning to the flatwound sound for fresh ideas influenced by a vintage aesthetic. Flatwound also embodies this sensibility. They offer a distinct, strong fundamental as well as exceptional tonal diversity. 

By turning down the tone knob on your bass, you can switch from a contemporary snappy, and clear sound to the renowned mellow thump flatwound they are known for. Each set is specifically created to have less strain and consistent tone and output from string to string.

Many famous players have used and continue using this famous bass string, such as Carol Kaye, Rodger Waters in his Pink Floyd, and Jaco Pastorius.

About Tapewound Bass Strings

In the 1950s, tapewound bass strings debuted as an alternative to the then-standard gut strings. The core wire used to create these early tapewound strings was wrapped in a flat strip of nylon tape.

The wire was then covered in a layer of black enamel to give it a more conventional appearance. For musical styles like jazz, blues, and R&B, tapewound bass strings have a warm, smooth sound. 

The strings have a distinctive feel from the nylon tape wrapping, which also lessens finger noise, making them a preferred option for studio players. 

Tapewound bass strings function similarly to other types of bass strings in terms of mechanics—with the tape layer adding an extra layer of protection and distinctive sound quality. 

Additionally, the tape reduces finger squeaks and gives some players a more comfortable playing experience by making the strings less prone to squeaks. 

Because of their warm, smooth tone, tapewound strings are commonly described as “mellow” strings. Some players prefer tapewound strings for fretless basses because the tape covering can help protect the fingerboard.

Due to their softer feel and lower tension, tapewound strings are commonly used on short-scale basses such as the Fender Mustang or Gibson SG bass.

Steel, nylon, silk, and other materials make contemporary tapewound bass strings. The nylon tape wrapping can be found in various hues, including black and brown, to resemble traditional gut strings. 

Additionally, some producers provide flatwound strings with a comparable feel but lack the nylon tape coating.

Tapewound bass strings have been utilized by famous bassists such as James Jamerson, Carol Kaye, and Paul McCartney.

Unique Details about Flatwound Bass Strings

Flatwound bass strings are a type of bass guitar string with a distinct tone, feel, and longevity compared to other bass strings. Some interesting facts include the following:


Flatwound bass strings produce a warm, smooth tone that is great for jazz, blues, and other genres that require a more subdued sound. 

The flat wrapping material is commonly composed of stainless steel or nickel, producing the tone of flatwound strings.


Flatwound strings are typically constructed from a core wire wrapped in a flat ribbon of steel or nickel. The core wire can be formed from various materials, including steel, nickel, and synthetic materials. 

Wrapping material thickness and composition can also vary, influencing the overall tone and feel of the strings.


Creating flatwound strings involves using a specialized machine that securely winds the flat ribbon of steel or nickel around the core wire. 

Winding is a precise process that necessitates a high level of ability and technology. Flatwound strings can also be coated with a protective covering to increase their resilience and longevity.

Music style

Flatwound strings are frequently linked with jazz, blues, and other genres that call for a more subdued sound. 

They are especially popular with studio bassists because they produce less finger noise and a more “polished sound.” 

Flatwound strings, however, can be utilized in any music, depending on the player’s preferences and style.


Flatwound strings are renowned for their lifespan and robustness, and they are less prone to wear and tear—thanks to their smooth surface and tonal qualities that last longer. 

Additionally, a layer of protective substance can be applied on flatwound strings to increase their resilience and lifespan. They need to be brighter and more sensitive, which can disadvantage some players.

Unique details about Tapewound Bass Strings


Tape wound strings give a pleasant, mellow tone. Since tapewound strings are less damaging to the fingerboard than other tape strings, fretless basses frequently employ them.


Nylon tape is wrapped around the outside wire wrap while making tapewound bass guitar strings. Strings wounded with tape have a warm, mellow tone. 

Since tapewound strings are less damaging to the fingerboard than standard roundwound strings, fretless basses frequently employ them.


Tape Wound bass guitar strings are made by wrapping nylon tape around the outside wire wrap. Tape wound strings give a mellow and pleasant tone. 

Tape-wound strings are commonly used on fretless basses because they generate less fingerboard wear and tear than a regular roundwound string.

Music style 

Tapewound bass strings are often utilized in jazz, blues, soul, and R&B music, and they’re also in certain rock, funk, and reggae songs.

Tapewound bass strings are well-suited for styles that require a more laid-back and relaxed vibe due to their smooth and mellow tone. They are frequently employed for melodic and groove-oriented basslines rather than aggressive and percussive ones.


Because of their distinctive design, tapewound bass strings are renowned for their lifespan and sturdiness. A flat ribbon of wire is used to make the outside winding of a tapewound string, and it is wrapped around the core to create a smooth surface that lessens friction and fret wear.

Tapewound bass strings often last longer and are less likely to break. This is due to its smoother surface, which makes it less probable for dirt and grime to collect and cause early wear and tear.

Flatwound vs. Tapewound: Tone

Flatwound strings have a warm tone and are excellent for playing R&B, Funk, and rock music. Conversely, tapewound strings have a mellow, warmer sound fit for blues and jazz music.

Flatwound vs. Tapewound: Materials Used

Materials used to build flatwound strings are nickel and stainless steel, wrapped with a flat wire ribbon. Tapewound strings are made of silk, nylon, and synthetic fibres.

Flatwound vs. Tapewound: Feel

Flatwound strings typically provide a polished, easy-on-the-fingers feel that lessens string noise. Additionally, they are easier to play than tapewound strings since they have a reduced profile.

Some players prefer flatwound strings. On the other hand, tapewound strings have a larger, flatter surface that can feel more grippy than flatwound strings. However, compared to roundwound or flatwound strings, they may also feel stiffer and less flexible.

Flatwound vs. Tapewound: Durability

Flatwound and tapewound strings are both durable. However, they can easily spoil if exposed to dirt or other contaminants.

Flatwound vs. Tapewound: Technology Behind

Since the invention of the electric bass, flatwound strings have been used to provide more even tones and minimize finger noise. The winding procedure has been improved throughout time to provide a surface that is smoother and more consistent.

As a recent innovation, tapewound strings use a different winding method to provide their distinct tone and feel. They may be more difficult to locate in music stores because they are less common than flatwound strings.

Flatwound Vs. Tapewound: Styles of Music

Flatwound sound is often used in R&B, rock, and funk music. However, tapewounds are excellent for blues and more traditional styles due to their mellow and warm sound.

Other types of Bass String Windings

There are four different winding types for bass strings: flatwound, tapewound, roundwound, and half-round. Having discussed the flatwound and tapewound, we are going to discuss the roundwound and the half-round wound.


Roundwounds are the most commonly used winding kind nowadays. The strings, usually covered in stainless steel or nickel, are known for their piano-like brilliance and sizzle. 

They’re also the roughest on your fingers and fretboard, but if you like punk or funk, they give a signature vibe that’s difficult to surpass. Roundwound threads are standard on Yamaha basses.

Half rounds 

Half rounds wounds are roundwounds polished to a slightly flattened surface, resulting in reduced string noise while extending your frets’ life. Half rounds don’t sound as bright as roundwounds, but they sound brighter than flatwounds and tapewounds.

Pros and Cons of Using Flatwound Strings



These strings have a warm, rounded tone that appeals to a more muted kind of sound, such as jazz, blues, or folk music. They are also appropriate for musicians who like a less bright or crisp tone.

Slick feel

The smooth texture of these strings allows your fingers to slide more easily around the fretboard, allowing for faster and more fluid playing.


These strings are frequently produced with materials more resistant to corrosion and wear, which can greatly increase their lifespan.

Less finger noise

Because these strings have a flat surface, there is less friction and hence less finger noise when playing.

Less fret wear

These strings can eventually cause less damage to your frets because of their smoother surface and decreased friction.



Higher-quality materials are frequently used to create strings with mellower and smoother sounds, which might increase their cost compared to simpler strings.


It can be challenging to locate these strings because not all music stores or guitar shops carry them.

Less sustain

These strings may have a shorter sustain due to their mellower tone, which may only be suitable for some musical or playing styles.

These strings are normally only available in medium and heavy gauge sets, making them less suitable for players who prefer lighter strings or have less finger strength.


These strings may not be ideal for some music or playing techniques requiring a brighter or more cutting sound due to their warm and rounded tone.

Pros and Cons of Using Tapewound Strings



These bass strings offer a high level of adaptability, which means they may be utilized to play a wide range of musical styles.


While it may not be the most significant consideration for bass strings, certain bassists may appreciate that they are visually appealing.

Zero finger noise

These bass strings’ ability to produce very little finger noise, which enables the creation of a very mellow sound, is one of their main advantages. This option is fantastic for bassists who wish to produce a mellow and delicate tone.

Easy to install

Bass strings that are simple to install are simple to install and offer a smooth feel that makes them enjoyable to play


Since they are made of thin material, more nut filing is needed when installing them. Bassists who want to avoid the inconvenience of having to file down their nut to accept thicker strings would greatly benefit from this.


Tapewound is cheaper than other bass strings, making them an excellent choice for people looking for a pocket-friendly string.



They are hard to maintain since they collect more dirt than other string types. They also wear out fast.


Has a limited tonal range compared to other strings. Tapewound sound cannot be ideal for metal and rock music.


The nineteenth century saw the development of flatwound strings, which have a smooth, flat surface and provide a pleasant, mellow tone that favours mid and low frequencies. 

A length of nylon tape is wrapped around the outer wrap of these 1950s-era strings, which are comparable to flatwound strings but produce a warmer, smoother tone and have less finger noise.

Additionally, the tape layer provides additional protection and makes certain players’ playing more comfortable. Famous bassists like James Jamerson, Carol Kaye, and Paul McCartney have used both strings.

Having intensely scrutinized their different characteristics, pros, and cons, this article will help you choose the perfect bass string between the flatwound and the tapewound.