On my Fender Precision bass, I’ve been using Thomastik Infeld JF344 strings (a.k.a., TI Flats) for over two years. People who try these strings seem typically divided into those that adore them and those that hate them, with little middle ground. Coming from a predominantly roundwound string background, I thought they had a wonderful sound and feel.
And I still do. However, in reading online discussions about other flatwound strings, I started to notice that the flexibility of the TI Flats was perhaps more excessive than I would prefer, and the tone was perhaps a little too midrange aggressive, lacking the rich low / low-mid sound of more traditional flatwound strings.
The classic flatwound electric bass string has for decades been made by LaBella, but user reviews suggested that LaBella flatwound strings, even in the lighter gauges, might be overly stiff. (I had tried some Fender 9050M medium gauge strings in the past, and found them much too tense on the bass neck, and much too stiff on the fingers.)
What might be ideal for me, if not the TI Flats, would be a flatwound string that was just a little bit more tense and a little bit less flexible, with more emphasis on the low / low-mid sonic range than the high-mids.
Scouring user reviews, the most likely candidate appeared to be DR Legend flatwound strings, but the reviews were comically mixed. “Pretty flexible, not too tense!” wrote one user, only to be countered with “Too stiff, just as tense as LaBella strings!” by another user. Even the people who liked them seemed non-committal about it. Very few people appeared to be big fans of the DR Legend strings, but I wasn’t finding any other option that had as much potential for offering the desired sound and feel.
So I finally just ordered a set. How did they sound? Here are two sample clips I made, starting with the TI Flats:
And now the DR Legends:
Both sound good. The DR strings do have more of the sound I personally was after.
How do they feel? As desired, the DR strings are more stiff, less flexible than the TI Flats, without being overly stiff. I would estimate that they are about half-way in between the TI Flats and the Fender 9050Ms in flexibility feel, roughly similar to a typical roundwound string. I can imagine a hypothetical string half-way in between the DRs and the TI Flats in flexibility being even more ideal, but I find the DRs to meet my expectations. They are also extremely smooth to the touch.
Overall, I like the DRs, and plan to continue using them over the TI Flats. I share my thoughts and sound clips here for the benefit of anyone else doing similar string research. Happy bass playing!