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FDP Forum / Fender Bass Guitars and Bass Amps / Srtings on Leo's first



Sep 2nd, 2019 05:12 PM   Edit   Profile  

Here's an hisrory question.

What was behind the decision to put flats on the first Fender basses? Was it just what happened to be available at the time? Maybe to emulate the upright sound Leo heard in country music at the time, or maybe a concern with fret wear?

I've checked the few books I have but the strings are not mentioned.


Contributing Member

Wichita, Kansas

Drums = pulse, Bass = heartbeat
Sep 2nd, 2019 08:44 PM   Edit   Profile  

IIRC, I don't think roundwound strings were even around back then. Even electric guitars wore flats.

Contributing Member

North Florida

A Friend of Bill W.
Sep 3rd, 2019 09:52 AM   Edit   Profile  

I found this:

In the 1930s, musician and inventor Paul Tutmarc of Seattle, Washington, developed the first electric bass guitar in its modern form, a fretted instrument designed to be played horizontally. The 1935 sales catalog for Tutmarc's electronic musical instrument company, Audiovox, featured his "Model 736 Bass Fiddle", a four-stringed, solid-bodied, fretted electric bass guitar with a 30 1⁄2-inch (775-millimetre) scale length, and a single pick up

Steel string technology came with the advent of the electric guitar, the science of the magnetic pick up was well understood. I would hazard a guess that Leo contracted one of these existing string makers to provide what he needed. At around this same era or shortly after Leo was branding strings, wether he was making them himself or contracting them I don’t know.

Contributing Member


an acquired taste some may never acquire
Sep 3rd, 2019 01:03 PM   Edit   Profile  


...here is one:

Te 52

Laws of Physics

strictly enforced
Sep 3rd, 2019 01:26 PM   Edit   Profile  

I don't know for a fact that the first Precision basses came with flats.

But steel strings for upright basses were replacing gut strings right around the time the Precision was introduced. And upright basses pretty much require flats if they're going to be played with a bow.

So it seems plausible that Leo might have contacted a string company making flatwound steel strings for upright basses, explained what he wanted, and gone on from there.

Contributing Member


The Plankster of Love
Sep 3rd, 2019 07:05 PM   Edit   Profile  

I believe that there's been mention of the earliest prototypes having gut strings with a steel core for magnetic pickup. Somebody here must know??

Also, early Fender strings - guitar and bass - were supplied by the V.C. Squier Co (which later got out of strings and into making guitars...)



Sep 4th, 2019 06:23 AM   Edit   Profile  

roundwounds not available till late 60's

Contributing Member


a tractor
Sep 22nd, 2019 11:13 PM   Edit   Profile  

Correct--for guitar and bass.

But round-wounds were available for banjos, and many of the hottest guitar players in the mid-late 50s (Jimmy Bryant, Chet Atkins, Steve Cropper, James Burton, etc.,) figured out how to make up their own string sets by combining guitar and banjo strings.



Sep 24th, 2019 06:24 PM   Edit   Profile  

I remember rounds on guitars in late 60’s but I remember my thoughts when I heard in 1974 they were coming out.



Sep 24th, 2019 06:24 PM   Edit   Profile  

I remember rounds on guitars in late 60’s but I remember my thoughts when I heard in 1974 they were coming out.

Danny Nader


You Should Have Been There!
Sep 29th, 2019 10:14 PM   Edit   Profile  

Fender bought the V.C. Squier company and continued to manufacture strings. Eventually they subbed this out to other manufacturers and ceased making their own strings. The name eventually was repurposed for more moderately priced fender Instruments.

D'Addario currently makes Fender strings.


uncle stack-knob
Contributing Member

united kingdom

Sep 30th, 2019 10:24 AM   Edit   Profile  

Discussed on here some years back,when the "vintage following" was strong......
I believe you might discover that Leo Fender initially,on his very first incarnations of the "plank" used a gut string with a metal flat tapewound type of wrap just covering the pickup sensing length of the string in order to get a response.When he had figured the GUAGE of strings
he might need then he had the strings manufactured.
Flatwounds were standard on Fender guitars then.
In the 1969 parts and service manual they show rounds as an available accessory and with flats as standard.
Typically a Stratocaster was delivered with flats in guage 12-52.




Oct 12th, 2019 05:45 PM   Edit   Profile  

That Tutmarc Randy is playing belongs to me now and has the original strings on it....round wounds, but the brass ferrules on the strings are the same size as on a guitar not larger like todays bass strings.
also the sizes are .0675, .0575,.045,.035

Audiovoxb through Audiovox amp

FDP Forum / Fender Bass Guitars and Bass Amps / Srtings on Leo's first

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