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View Full Version : Classical Guitar strings on a uke.



eschelar
06-03-2009, 05:33 AM
OK, so I've been fiddling with my low G tenor and I would like to try going all nylon.

I dabble with minor repairs at my local guitar club, so I got my hands on some classical guitar strings for rather cheap.

They were available in high tension and lower tension and I picked the lower tension to try (Augustine Reds) (classified as a medium tension).

I gave it a try and found that the #3 is a bit too loose and therefore becomes rather sloppy when tuned down to G (the intonation goes a bit wonky). It's not bad at C, but I'm not all that impressed with these for the uke when comparing back to back with the E and A using Aquilas.

I'm wondering if it will make a difference to switch to a higher tension string or should I just save my money and buy a set of Worth's from Ebay...

Any thoughts?

It's not the end of the world if I have to grab a set of blues, it's only like 6 bucks, but it does seem a bit wasteful (these can only be purchased in complete sets). There are a few guitars at the guitar club that could use the extra strings, but it still seems a bit wasteful to purchase a whole pack and use just one string...

Kanaka916
06-03-2009, 05:55 AM
Some of the members use D'Addario, Savarez, LaBella & Guadalupe string sets. You can buy individually at Just Strings (http://www.juststrings.com/pro-artedaddarioguitarsinglestrings.html) or Strings by Mail (http://stringsbymail.com/).

eschelar
06-03-2009, 06:10 AM
thanks. It's a start.

I might mention that I live in Taiwan right now, so shipping even one string is probably going to be pretty close to the cost of an entire set of strings from my local store.

I'm still curious about the idea of high tension vs low tension.

ukulelebadass
06-03-2009, 06:32 AM
I've talked about this before once or twice, just yesterday I mentioned in a post a woman who only uses classical guitar strings on her uke. She uses the augustines that come in the blue package, I'm not sure which tension those are. So it can be done. I've tried it and I don't particularly care for the feel of them. My main worry about using strings of too high a tension is that I'd pop my instrument somehow.

I usually have to get my uke strings shipped as well (granted, not internationally) and I tend to buy several packages at once to save on the shipping.

deach
06-03-2009, 06:34 AM
I use high/hard tension guitar strings on my tenors but I also tune them down 1/2 to a whole step.

eschelar
06-03-2009, 07:11 AM
I've talked about this before once or twice, just yesterday I mentioned in a post a woman who only uses classical guitar strings on her uke. She uses the augustines that come in the blue package, I'm not sure which tension those are. So it can be done. I've tried it and I don't particularly care for the feel of them. My main worry about using strings of too high a tension is that I'd pop my instrument somehow.

I usually have to get my uke strings shipped as well (granted, not internationally) and I tend to buy several packages at once to save on the shipping.

Good to know.

I will pick up a set of the blue augustines and check it out. The blue is supposed to be high tension.

I am not planning on using them for all 4 strings. Just the low G. I don't think the tension is an issue since the #3 for G is going to be similar to using a #3 for a #4. That's tuned down 5 semitones.

For the C, I'm fine with the red (medium tension) and I'll eventually be picking up a stack of all nylon Aquilas from MGM in cooperation with my local music store. I already use all nylon on my High G, but the Aquila packs I got both had wound strings, so I put both wound on my Spruce top low G.

I found that the two wound and two nylon was a better mix than just one wound in the set. It also allowed me to switch out to all nylon on my High G.

FWIW, the Augustine wound #4 sounds nice. Nicer than the Aquila wound strings.

I'd consider using another Augustine on my 8 string for the wound low G.

Unfortunately, the loose wound end (for tying) is unnecessarily long and irritating on a uke. I'd rather not cut it off for now because it's just a temporary home.

EDIT for more detail: Careful comparison after the strings have stabilized for a day or two shows the red Augustine #3 (C) to be a bit less crisp and less crisp sounding than the Aquilas for uke. I don't think I'd use the red Augustine again.

The Red Augustine #4 (wound) is quite different. It has a rich mellow sound that reminds me of a classical guitar. The sustain and volume is very good from that string compared with the previous Aquila. It's noticeable cleaner. In fact, it's almost strong enough that its use is questionable as it can easily dominate - especially with the sustain. Technique can be altered to compensate. I think it will do nicely on the 8 string where the other strings can much more easily hold their own for comparative volume.

I'm going to pick up a set of blues today.

eschelar
06-05-2009, 07:39 AM
Well, I got the Blues today.

It's still a bit on the soft side, but it is MUCH closer to what it should be.

Having the string too loose allows too much tonal variation and throws off the intonation according to the fretboard spacing. This is also a result of imperfect pressure on the string, but with a very loose string, it just gets a bit ridiculous.

The Blue high tension string (nylon #3) is almost exactly matched for tension against the other strings when tuned to low G. Stopping randomly in a quick strum pattern, I find that the accuracy of the notes is pretty good on the blue. Less so on the Red - even tightened up to C.

There is still a noticeable difference between the Augustines and the Aquilas for tone. You can definitely hear that they are made from softer stuff.

Both the blue and the red Augustine have a very soft, almost muffled sound compared to a sound that makes me think of porcelain with both Aquilas. This can actually be a benefit since the increased volume of the low G is mitigated somewhat to provide a more balanced sound.

The Nylon #3 Blue has significantly less sustain than the wound #4 Red. Again, this is actually beneficial because it brings the sound a bit closer together and the added bass strength doesn't dominate as much.

I'll probably continue with this combination for a few more months. It's not bad. I'm sure I will like it better when I switch that C string out for another aquila.

It was an interesting comparison for me.

I hope there was some benefit to someone else.

ukulelebadass
06-05-2009, 07:48 AM
Awesome, glad I could help!

eschelar
06-05-2009, 07:57 AM
indeed you did. thanks.

ps. deach, what brand do you use. I didn't see it listed.

also, now I'm starting to wonder what it would sound like to play a classical guitar with a full set of Aquilas... I bet it's great for tremolos. or maybe even adding the bass strings as Augstines... Mmmmm. Mellow and crisp.

Oh and if anyone's wondering, yeah, I think it does sound better with all nylon both with high G and low G. Especially with Low G, it helps set the sound apart from guitar just a tiny extra step which can avoid that whole 'baby guitar' or 'bastard guitar' thing with the high C puritans. :)

deach
06-05-2009, 08:25 AM
I use Savarez Alliance and D'addario T2's

danged
06-05-2009, 08:50 PM
I've recently installed Guitar strings, D'addario NYL028W (low G) and Savarez Classical guitar strings, 543R (C), 542R(E) and 541R(A), used by many Hawaiian musicians, and they sound great on my Pono PKT2E. You can get them from Just Strings.com

Kekani
06-05-2009, 10:47 PM
D'Addario Pro Arte `Ukulele Strings are actually their Pro Arte Classicals, repackaged. There was a recent thread where someone ordered the J71(?) and thought something was wrong - D'Addario (as stated) uses the same packets for their individual strings on the inside, but just has a "new" outer packing for marketing the `ukulele strings. They finally got around to it (per Jake, of course) after about 4 years or so. Their "normal" `ukulele strings are not too good.
The 46 series high tension is packaged for Tenors, and the 45 series normal tension is packaged for Concerts - I use both series on Tenors. Of course I have two (IMO) better series than the J46 in the J50 and T series.

Savarez has got to be my favorite (I switch back and forth between these and my "new" D'Addario setup), both red and blue card Alliance strings.

I was always hesitant about using guitar strings on an `ukulele, but when I thought about it, where does most of the research go, guitar or `ukulele. I've got to believe the quality control is going to be in their mainstream products, period. Guess D'Addario believes that as well, because they didn't reinvent the wheel for their Pro Arte `Ukulele sets. I gave feedback to Savarez about doing the same, but it seems they may go in another direction, or not at all (in packaging `ukulele strings from their Alliance series). Their prototype strings for `ukulele that MGM and I tried out, personally, didn't work. I think they need to just repackage the Alliance 540R and 540J series, and be done with it.

Aaron

danged
06-06-2009, 12:57 PM
Here are the actual strings being used by Brian Tolentino: D'addario (low G) NLY028W .71mm, Savarez Classical Guitar 543R (C) .89mm, 542R (E) .91mm, 541R (A) .71mm. I 've been playing these for the past month and love them on my PKT2E. They sell these individually at Just Strings.com

uluapoundr
06-22-2009, 12:44 AM
Brian Tolentino use to play ukuleles by Kawika. Kawika sold his ukes with Savarez Alliance Strings. Those of you who have been around the uke scene long enough know how well Kawika's ukes sold and although the alliance strings may not be perfect strings, at that time they were far superior in my opinion again, to what was on the market.

Like Aaron said, read up on the guitar scene, they've been debating this stuff for years before us. So what nylon strings the classical guitar guys use and why, this should give you some insight on string quality.

Of course it won't turn a $20 uke into a $2000 custom, that would be like putting pirelli tires on a Hyundai (no offense Hyundai). Sticking to the tire analogies Aaron.