EVEN THOUGH BASS PLAYERS TEND TO BE MORE PROGRESsive
than our thin-stringed brethren when it comes to gear tech, there are plenty
of us who are precious about the gear we hear on classic rock and R&B records.
Whether it’s to cop Paul McCartney’s semi-hollow woof or James Jamerson’s
P-Bass thump, tapewound strings have long been a go-to for electric bass players
longing for a more woody, upright-like tone. Lucky for those of us with a
hankering for that thick, meaty tone, a growing number of manufacturers now
offer nylon, or “tapewound” strings. This month, we look at two
options, the trad-style GHS 3060 set, and the new La Bella 750T
set. For testing purposes, we strung each set on nearly identical
Fender Precision Basses.
||LA BELLA 750T
Though they are gauged thicker than most conventional roundwounds,
the .050–.105 GHS 3060 strings have a surprisingly
supple, flexible feel. All string sets take on a different character
depending on your playing style, but the 3060s felt especially
responsive; digging in with a heavy right-hand attack gave that fingerboard
clack so characteristic of slapstyle upright bass playing,
while easing back with a lighter plucking approach brought out
the big bottom that make flats so appealing. Compared to other
tapewound strings I’ve played, the 3060s felt particularly pliable.
Deep, bluesy, Geezer-like bends felt unforced, and more delicate,
palm-muted styles felt downright eff ortless.
Aiming for that trad-approved flat feel with a bit more bite,
longtime tapewound champs La Bella have introduced the 750T
string set, which sports a stainless steel core with a transparent
(read: “white”) nylon wrap. The 750T set feels much like
any other tapewound string at first flick, but it has a noticeably
brighter character. Tension on the La Bella set felt higher than
the GHS, but not to the degree that it made playing measurably
more difficult. Owing to the string’s nylon coating (and lack of
outer metal wrap), the 750Ts are virtually noise-less when sliding
up and down the neck.
Like straps, picks, and so much other electric bass accouterment,
strings are such that they’re near impossible to truly compare.
To be sure, the GHS and La Bella sets offer two different takes
on tapewounds. For those looking for pliability and trad-style tapewound
vibe, the GHS 3060s are a good bet. For those seeking a
fresh take on tapewounds, the tighter, brighter La Bella 750Ts are
a refreshing take on the tapewound. The beauty of strings is that
they’re affordable enough that you can experiment without blowing
your bass budget. If you’re looking for old school tone, these
are two worthy avenues. Now go see for yourself!
GHS 3060 TAPEWOUND BLACK NYLON STRINGS
Pros All the booty, half the effort.
Bottom Line Nothing quite cops the clack of a gut-strung
doghouse slapped spitless, but GHS Tapewounds can get
LA BELLA 750T WHITE NYLON
Pros Trad-style tapewound bottom with a bite.
Bottom Line Like a healthy dose of “white lightning,” La
Bella’s 750T add some zing to the tapewound thing.
Construction Stainless steel core with black nylon wrap
Gauges .050, .070, .090, .105
LA BELLA 750T
Construction Stainless steel core with transparent nylon wrap
Gauges .050, .065, .085, .105