D’Addario Chromes Flatwound Guitar Strings Review – Still using these to this day! My favorite flatwounds

I first wrote this post on May 15, 2009… I still use D’Addario chromes on my hollow-body electric, fretless guitar, and fretless bass. They last a LONG time and sound great! Read on…

Review in brief: D’Addario Chromes Flatwound Guitar Strings

I’ve just recently written about D’Addario XL strings in my reviews. I got some new strings in today to replace some worn-out wires on my Ibanez AF75D hollowbody electric (yes, I still have/love the great Orange Punkin AF75D… forever a fan).

I think strings are a very personal thing, and as I’ve said before, this is not a fanboy point of view. This is a real, objective writing about some really wonderful strings. At some point, I’ll cover other flatwounds… I can’t always change strings every day to write tons of reviews – so I review the things I play and count on just as much as I write about what I like or don’t like.

I use flatwounds on one fretted bass (an Epiphone EB-3 – YOW), my fretless bass, and on two Artcore hollowbodies. Flatwounds have a decidedly warm and smooth feeling to them. Although one can play them through a triple-Marshall-stack on full gain… the best use of them (for me, anyway) is to get that wonderful “mwah” warmth in my tunes.

I do have occasion to use flatwounds elsewhere – combined with good tubes and my trusty Analog Man SD-1 (Silver Mod). They really throw something different into the listener’s ears! If you have a couple of different guitars at your disposal, you owe it to yourself to try some flatwounds.

On my Fender Jazz Fretless, I love and use nothing but Fender Flatwound bass strings. On one of my Artcores (Punkin), I only use D’Addario Chromes. Why? Fender and others make GREAT flatwounds, too… but I have a method and reason for my madness.

With my D’Addario XL Chromes Jazz Light (.011-.050) and D’Addario XL Chromes Extra Light Gauge (.010-.048), I get a SMOOTH third string. In most thicker flatwound sets for six-string guitars, the third string (generally a G string {no puns here}) is a wrapped string and not a plain string.

With Fender flatwounds, the third is a little course in texture, so you end up with an odd experience: 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 feel smooth and silky. 3 grabs at your fingers. It’s a disconcerting experience for me (personally) when I’m playing. I like all 6 strings (and 4/5 on my bass strings) to feel like slippery smooth wonders. NOTE: I do like the Fender flatwounds on my Bigsby-mounted Artcore AFS75T – the not-so-smooth G string has a nice growly sound to it for rockin’ a little harder than my jazzier D’Addarios.

Remember, in my opinion, that strings and picks are integral to both the sound AND experience of playing guitars and basses… So, I go with Chromes on my feel-good Artcore AF75D.

So, where’s the review? Right here:

Quality Every single D’Addario XL Chromes string I’ve ever installed and used has been ultra-consistent and very resistant to breaking. Each string has a profoundly comfortable consistency in wrapping and polishing.

Every single time I install a new set, they feel just like the last set did when it was new. Every single time. Interestingly, with flatwounds (irrespective of brand), it seems my flats last much longer than my roundwound strings… it is as though they don’t trap as much “stuff” in them to corrode them…

In the past 5 years of playing flatwounds, I’ve not had even one D’Addario Chrome string break.

Sound Wow. Always. If you’ve fallen down on your sound and can’t get up, it’s worth the $8-$10 to try a set of Chromes! Each new set is like Christmas (or pick your holiday as your heart desires). I cannot wait to play them once they’re on! Often as not, a new set of Chromes causes me to be inspired and record a new piece or start a new piece. It’s wonderful.

Take a look at info and pricing for lots of kinds of D’Addario strings here at zZounds.com

The sound is decidedly warm and comfy, and definitely jazz-like. It can smooth out even high-gain or distortion tunes, too.

One thing, though: they’re not as brassy and bright as roundwounds, so flatwounds (in general) don’t PUNCH through the tune’s sound as much as everyday roundwounds. You might have to tweak your EQ a little and maybe turn up the volume and/or gain…

Value Flatwounds, of every brand and type, are more expensive than comparable brand and size roundwounds. Most are wound, then polished in one or more extra steps. Some are ribbon-wound. Expect to pay a little more for a set.

But, my flatwounds (particularly my D’Addario Chromes) last as long as coated strings – without having to use coated strings. On average, my Chromes last three times longer than my roundwounds.

The packaging for chromes uses fewer materials, paper, and plastic… that usually means that they’re a little “greener” than some of the other brands and types of strings I use. I like that part…

Conclusion D’Addario Chromes flatwounds are great strings. Try some. You might just get hooked! (BTW, some metal guitarists use flatwounds!)

Wishes None, really. I like them just as they are. I guess the only thing that would be bonus is if I could get them in colors :-).

5 Replies to “D’Addario Chromes Flatwound Guitar Strings Review – Still using these to this day! My favorite flatwounds”

  1. I use flat wound XL chromes on my Fender Tele and have a warm sound including tripple life time as others.
    Plus my guitar frets have no damage or scratches by sliding the strings up and down.
    I wish that dadario also think to offer strings starting from .090 for softer play.

    1. Hi Mike!

      I totally agree with all of that. The flatwound gives you that “mwah” sound on certain picked or plucked notes, plus it is, indeed, warm and round. It’s great for smoother sounds. It also makes the output a little less aggressive and loud…

      I do like the way they last. My flatwounds last many times longer than my roundwounds.

      It would be nice to have a lighter gauge. You’re right about that one!

  2. I’ve been using D’Addario Chrome flatwounds on my ’66 Tele for years now — it’s my secret weapon! I take a medium (.013-.056) set, add a .010 to the top and take off the bottom string — makes a great rock and roll set, with a nice thump for the bass strings, and it lasts forever. Sometimes I switch in a .018 for the plain G — it seems to intonate just a bit better than the .017, and has a little more bite for bending strings. It’s what a lot of the rockabilly players were doing back in the ’50s, before the string companies made light strings for rockers, and it still works today. I wish somebody would package a set like this, so I wouldn’t have to throw away all those .56 bass strings, but that’s really the only downside I’ve found.

  3. Thanks for sharing this article. I remember my brother using those strings too with his guitar. He just loves plaing the guitar so much and i am just fascinated with his hobby.

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