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  1. #1

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    A friend of mine wrote me that he "read somewhere" that flatwound strings were not available in the 60s. Really? Then Charlie Christian, Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell and Grant Green would have used roundwounds on their classic 50s and 60s recordings. And didn't string instruments like cellos and violins always used flatwound strings.
    I tried a research but to no avail – I can't find online ressources about the history of string winding methods.
    Anybody can help?

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    labella invented the flatwound guitar string in 1940!!!


    before pickups, guitars used acoustic rounds made of steel, nickel, monel etc and/or bronze 80/20...but along came the cc pup and amplifiers... and players quickly wanted a smoother easier to flex string...let the electric do some of the finger work!!

    the first cc pickup was made for a wound b string...it was the 2nd edition of the cc that had a notched b in the blade for a plain b!!!..all these things came together around 1940

    the first flats were polished or smoothed rounds..but flat ribbon wrap technology soon became the norm

    flats were heavily used in the 50's and 60's...and came standard on most guitar brands...

    it was a big deal for mosrite and danelecto to issue new guitars with rounds in the late 50's!!!

    so flats have been around for near 80 years!!


    cheers
    Last edited by neatomic; 05-22-2020 at 05:06 PM.

  4. #3

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    I agree with Neatomic. Flatwounds was a part of the sound of the jazz gutarists of the 1950s (Tal Farlow, Jim Hall, Wes Montgomery, early Howard Roberts etc.). Early Beatles records was done with flatwounds (reportedly Rotosound which was a big brand in UK back then) on the guitars. Myself, I have used flatwounds since 1965 and at that time there was several brands available on the market. I remember using strings branded Framus "Billy Lorento" (aka Bill Lawrence before he relocated to US and became pickup designer), Gretsch, Gibson, later D'Addario and in the last decade also Thomastik.

    Maybe the OPs friend thinks of the use of "slinky" strings for easier note bending. Ernie Ball marketed his first "slinky" string set around the mid 1960s but at least here in Denmark, at the end of the 1960s, it was still common to get the same result by using a "normal" string set but with the A string in place of the low E string, D string in place of the A string and so on. For the high E string a thin banjo string was used and the sets low E string was tossed.

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  5. #4

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    I'm pretty certain that Charlie Christian never used roundwounds on his 50s recordings.

  6. #5

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    Forget all the above. Here's the truth. When guitarists started playing jazz they were expected to play in flat keys. Obviously they needed new strings for this, so flat strings were born. Flat keys need flat strings. It's that simple!

  7. #6

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    Amen

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop View Post
    Forget all the above. Here's the truth. When guitarists started playing jazz they were expected to play in flat keys. Obviously they needed new strings for this, so flat strings were born. Flat keys need flat strings. It's that simple!
    Mystery solved - thread closed...

  9. #8

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  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop View Post
    Forget all the above. Here's the truth. When guitarists started playing jazz they were expected to play in flat keys. Obviously they needed new strings for this, so flat strings were born. Flat keys need flat strings. It's that simple!
    " And due to the venues from which this music was born, the common upper-register note patterns used extensively by these players were referred to as ' Barre chords'.......

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by rahsaan View Post
    I'm pretty certain that Charlie Christian never used roundwounds on his 50s recordings.
    I'm also positive that he didn't use roundwounds (or flatwounds) in the 50's, because he died in 1942!

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop View Post
    Forget all the above. Here's the truth. When guitarists started playing jazz they were expected to play in flat keys. Obviously they needed new strings for this, so flat strings were born. Flat keys need flat strings. It's that simple!
    What Came First: Flatwound or Roundwound Strings?

    I stand corrected.
    Last edited by oldane; 05-23-2020 at 05:09 PM.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by guavajelly View Post
    A friend of mine wrote me that he "read somewhere" that flatwound strings were not available in the 60s. Really? Then Charlie Christian, Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell and Grant Green would have used roundwounds on their classic 50s and 60s recordings. And didn't string instruments like cellos and violins always used flatwound strings.
    I tried a research but to no avail – I can't find online ressources about the history of string winding methods.
    Anybody can help?
    When I took up guitar at the age of 10 (1966) I thought flat wounds were all you could get. Monopole? Cathedral?

  14. #13

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    I do know that many would sand there rounds down some to make what today is called half rounds. I am guessing it was because they could not get flat wound strings back then. Any one hear of this also.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by JaxJaxon View Post
    I do know that many would sand there rounds down some to make what today is called half rounds. I am guessing it was because they could not get flat wound strings back then. Any one hear of this also.
    Yes. Also the use of rubbing a candle along the wound strings to reduce squeakage; as well as playing melodies on one string to get all the notes to have the same timbre.

  16. #15

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    This topic came up last year. I wrote this at the time:


    It seems Dur-A-Glo flatwound strings were advertised in the 1940 Montogomery Ward Catalogue, on page 555; I have seen only a record, not the advertisement itself.

    The 1942 Catalogue includes an endorsement from a band leader: 'Herbie Kay says, "More umph needed? Then use Dur-a-Glo strings. They're actually alive!" New Type Flat Winding with very hard metal on steel core means less polishing, hence more resiliency, more sustained tone and 2 to 3 times longer wear. Easy on frets and fingers (page 716). I think they had plain B and top E strings, but I am not sure.

    Thus, flatwound strings were available in the last two years of Charlie Christian's life. Whether he used them is another matter.

  17. #16

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    Wow, no one has linked to forum member Johnathan Stout's article yet???

    Guitar String Composition and Swing Guitar — Jonathan Stout and his Campus Five featuring Hilary Alexander

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by guavajelly View Post
    A friend of mine wrote me that he "read somewhere" that flatwound strings were not available in the 60s. Really? Then Charlie Christian, Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell and Grant Green would have used roundwounds on their classic 50s and 60s recordings. And didn't string instruments like cellos and violins always used flatwound strings.
    I tried a research but to no avail – I can't find online ressources about the history of string winding methods.
    Anybody can help?
    Good article, will answer you question
    Guitar String Composition and Swing Guitar — Jonathan Stout and his Campus Five featuring Hilary Alexander

  19. #18

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    Oh snap

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by rahsaan View Post
    I'm pretty certain that Charlie Christian never used roundwounds on his 50s recordings.
    This statement is indeed technically correct

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by ruger9 View Post
    Wow, no one has linked to forum member Johnathan Stout's article yet???

    Guitar String Composition and Swing Guitar — Jonathan Stout and his Campus Five featuring Hilary Alexander

    Post #8?

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by TOMMO View Post
    Post #8?
    HAHAHA IDK how I missed it

  23. #22

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    To not further confuse the OP, rounds came first, flats came into play in the 40's and 50's.

    Not all players adopted flats right away. You can clearly hear string squeak on early Jimmy Raney records, for example.