Flats have long been the domain of soul and R&B players wanting that vintage thud or double players assimilating to electric. Yes they have a dark, round under current but are often suitable for that type of sound only. Bucking that trend and adding some modern feel and sound to the mix, Ernie Ball have shaken up the flat world with their new slinky cobalt electric bass strings.
Slinky’s are some of the most popular strings on the market and with a wide selection of gauges it’s easy to see why. With this new flatwound 5 string set coming as a ‘regular’ slinky pack you’re getting 45 – 130 but for 4 string players you can run the gamut from 40 on the G through to 110 on your E string if you wish. Ernie Ball mention that these new flats combine the smooth feel of traditional flats with the ‘modern power of cobalt’ and it’s this balance of a cobalt under wrap and a super bright cobalt ribbon on top that works to achieve both the feel and tone. Right across the EQ spectrum they’re designed to add some gusto reworking the traditional idea of flats.
Coming on a Stingray 5 I was keen to check out the feel and tone of the new cobalt slinky’s and what better bass to put them through their paces on than an instrument known for its punchy and often bright tone – quite a mixture of flavours indeed! Smooth under your fingers, I liked the general feel, quick and slick but not too slippery. Fingerstyle lines felt great with much more clarity and response than you’d expect from a set of flats. Digging into some slap you can then get edgy and bright with the low B chugging along nicely. They really do make you think you’re playing flatwounds and initially I found myself playing differently, anticipating a different tone.
Ever wanted to try flats but don’t want the full Jamerson sound? These could be the answer. The tension feels tight but not super tough so strict roundwound players might be more comfy giving these cobalt numbers a crack. Yes the feel is definitely flat wound but the response and tone is more in the round camp, meaning you can get that snap when you dig in.