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

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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 :-).

D’Addario XL (and EXL) Strings – Time Proven Favorites – Great strings for many venues

TheGuitarReview.com is completely free for personal use, and it would help a LOT if you could help a little bit (you can change the suggested amount in the next screen) to assist me to run the site and the occasional set of strings!

I originally wrote this review on April 26, 2009 – I still use these on 2 humbucker instruments… always great quality…

This is an opinion review, not a religious or fan-boy review… This is an experienced view of a high-quality brand and string… I play MANY brands of strings, including D’Addario XLs – I believe my review presentation is objective…

As a musician, a guitar nut, and a recording artist, I’m always exploring different things to get different sounds. I’m always trying out strings, picks, pickups, electronics, and much more… always looking to see what something sounds like or feels like.

Strings are a fundamental of music with stringed instruments. Just as a stylus is important to the audio output quality of a fine phonograph, strings affect the sound quality of an instrument. Also, the feel of strings is important to the way the musician interacts with their instrument. There are many, many things about strings that are very personal in nature…

So, what do we feel about our strings? It seems as though every musician with whom I speak has a completely different view of their strings. It’s truly amazing. Musicians, from pro to novice, all express divergent views on their strings.

Some folks are so fanatic about their strings that they will spend long periods of time going through identical sets of strings to get just the perfect string or set or pairs or sets of strings. Yet there are others who have the attitude of “it doesn’t matter to me, just make sure they’re nickel-plated 10s” or “I guess I should change my strings – they’re a year old now.”

And yet others are somewhere in between. What’s right? The right answer is, if the strings do what you want, then they’re the right ones.

So, enough about the philosophy of strings… let’s talk about a particular brand and type… I’ll write more reviews about other brands and types down the road a bit. Today, I’m going to ramble about D’Addario XL strings.

There are lots of kinds of excellent D’Addario strings. Read more about them and browse them at zZounds. I like zZounds – they’ve been great for me as a customer.

Briefly: I don’t beat my strings, nor do I pick/pluck extremely hard or firmly. But, on the other hand, I don’t have the light touch, either. Suffice it to say that I am somewhere in the middle when it comes to being hard on my strings. Also, I do like fresh strings – both from a cleanliness point of view and from a sound point of view. I change my strings when they feel icky or they begin to “darken” my instrument’s sound. I don’t like blackened rough strings or strings that are smelly and dull-sounding… with that in mind, let’s do some exploration…


Quality:
First of all, I love these. They’re super-consistent quality. I’ve opened, installed, and played hundreds of sets of D’Addario XL guitar and bass strings – and I’ve NEVER had one with a bend, a “funny place”, or with a largely unreliable sound.

D’Addario strings, in general, are extremely consistent and extremely reliable. I’ve never had one break. I’ve never had one “go dull” on me before the rest of the set. I’ve never had one feel strange when I’m playing. The quality is good and consistent.

Sound:
Here’s one of the main things about strings… how do they sound? Not all strings are the same manufacture, not all strings sound the same, and not all strings are musical in the same way.

D’Addario XLs sound generally bright, whether you’re playing nickel-plate, pure nickel, or acoustic brass/bronze strings. They have a nice growl to them that sounds like freshly wound metal – very nice. I’ve played strings from other manufacturers – strings bearing virtually the exact same specs as the XLs I’ve played. In general, the D’Addarios growl a little more, sing a little more, and produce a mellow tone when played easy on clean.

Value:
D’Addario XLs are generally priced within a half-dollar of all of its competitors. I don’t feel that D’Addario XLs are expensive or cheap – they seem priced just right… I feel as though they are the “workhorse” type of string – a brand and type musicians can count on.

They’re a great value and will please a large percentage of the string-instrument-playing population…

Long Lasting:
D’Addario XLs last a fairly long time. There are other brands and types I’ve used that stay close to “fresh” feel and sound longer than the XLs I play, but not many. I have also played brands (brands that I DO like, mind you) that don’t last nearly as long.

In general, D’Addario XLs seem to last well past average, and are consistently in the top range of long-lasting uncoated strings.

Closing opinion:
I love D’Addarios. I install them on customer’s guitars very frequently. I have a couple of guitars that get nothing but D’Addario XLs (generally 10s). I REALLY like the phosphor-bronze sets I use on my Ibanez acoustic.

I love the quality and the general sound of them. I like the multi-pack options to save some coin, and I like the way they feel even up to the time when they start to get grimy.

They’re great strings. Give them a try.