What’s the difference between roundwound and flatwound strings?

Most bass players will be using roundwound strings, probably without even realising it – roundwound strings come fitted on almost all bass guitars as standard. But your bass string horizons don’t have to end there! You may find trying out flatwound strings a fun experiment (and may even find they’re something that you love), but what’s the difference between the two?

Roundwound strings are standard issue for most electric bass guitars, built from a steel core string wrapped with round wire. They have an inherently bright and metallic tone when fresh which dulls to a warmer tone over time, and we all know bassists love to leave their strings on for as long as humanly possible! Fun fact – roundwound strings were created by Rotosound in the ’60s!

Flatwound strings have a very different feel, are much smoother on the fingers and are more gentle on the fretboard (particularly good for fretless basses). In terms of tone, they also squeak less and have a warmer, more natural tone. When electric bass guitars were first commercially available, flatwound strings were the only available option for years, and still continued to dominate the market for many years after roundwound strings had been introduced!