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Thread: C string sounds dead on many of the tenor ukes I have listened to.

  1. #1
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    Default C string sounds dead on many of the tenor ukes I have listened to.

    Can anyone explain to me why the C string on so many ukuleles sounds dead or distorted at times? I am posting a link of a great player playing on a great ukulele because at first I thought maybe it was just a player or a low end ukulele, but I have heard this on a majority of Ukuleles I have heard sampled online.

    http://www.theukulelesite.com/kanile...t-s-14296.html

    I have a few ukes that have this problem, but not all of them. I thought maybe I was attacking the string too aggressively, but if I single the string out and just play single notes up the neck it sounds dead.

    Thanks in advance for any input/explainations

  2. #2
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    The c string is the heaviest thickest gauge string, and can run into issues having a very muted, thud like attack. It's exaggerated when you play it up the neck. It's one of the reasons some players like a wound 3rd string. It's more likely to happen with a thick nylon string, but higher density flourocarbon can more often perform better in this sense.
    Koaloha Tenor 2016
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  3. #3
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    Thanks Ryan! The explanation is logical, I guess I am just surprised that it is so common and hasn't been addressed. I don't think I am exaggerating if I say a majority of the sound samples I hear online when researching ukes have this thuddy (is that a word) sound. To me it is unacceptable in >$1000.00 instruments.

  4. #4
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    Exactly what recstar24 said. I read somewhere that in the dark days before nylgut and fluorocarbon it was quite common to use a wound C (even with a re-entrant set up). I'm not sure how factually correct this is. I came across this info after discovering that D'Addario offer a single aluminium wound string that appears to be intended to use as a 3rd with nylons.

    Personally, I find that even a relatively 'skinny' fluorocarbon C can sound thuddy. And I prefer to use a wound string.

  5. #5
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    I don't know; that sounds pretty well balanced to me. Is there a particular time you find it most apparent?

    I find the C string on my ukes more sensitive to the tonal shift that occurs when picked/strummed in the 12th to 14th fret area, where it becomes guttural (for want of a better description). But I don't hear deadness. Could be my ears though.

  6. #6
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    Your ear is very good. I can not hear any problem on the sample video. Ohta-san uses 3 same strings on 1st, 2nd and 3rd in order to avoid such problem.
    Kamaka HF-1 100

  7. #7
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    Ryan nailed it and I have noticed this tendency as well. All of my tenors and baritones are strung linear with wound 3rd & 4th strings which eliminates this issue. I have used a wound 3rd string with great success when stringing reentrant.

    I have used D'Addario NYL026W or the Thomastik CF27 for the #3 spot. The former is. 026" and the latter is. 027" in diameter, both are well suited for tenor length scale. You can go down to NYL024W for concert which is. 024" diameter. These diameters work well with florocarbon sets. As jollyboy illustrated above you can go thicker if matching up existing nylon strings.
    Last edited by DownUpDave; 10-16-2016 at 12:40 AM.
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  8. #8
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    Hey Kev,
    I have the same complaint about non-wound C uke strings. Most strumming players don't even notice it, and one is most likely to hear it come out in finger-picking and, as stated by Ryan, it can be more pronounced up the neck.

    Actually, my Pono MGT was originally strung with the Mahana wound C set but I didn't appreciate it at the time and took it off.
    After going through a ton of string sets I found that most all non-wound C's did come off sounding "thuddy", regardless of the instrument.
    That was before I started playing with classical guitar strings.

    As you know, I also use the Thomastik Infeld CF27 with great results. I was skeptical about dishing out $6usd for one string... but it was worth it.
    -J =)

  9. #9
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    I think Recstar is right. The largest diameter string will always diminish in volume faster than the rest. With the short ukulele scale, it's more noticeable than on say a guitar or upright bass. In addition, I believe being near the center of the bridge has something to do with what you experience (yes, just my opinion with no real scientific evidence). I think this because it seems to me that the more carefully made ukuleles have this problem engineered out to some extent. Also, with the "dead" sounding string #3, you will almost always have the same issue to a lesser degree with #2. (Admittedly, the string diameter explanation works for this factor, too.)
    Last edited by stevepetergal; 09-20-2017 at 03:25 PM.
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  10. #10
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    After a recent post about dead notes on Opio Tenors, I pulled out my Opio and all of my other tenors. All are fluorocarbon or Aquila strings. Every one had a less "lively" note on the third string, all at C#/Db.

    Then Andrew at HMS verified the Opio "issue" which seems to be inherent on all of my tenor ukuleles (Kala, Outdoor Ukulele, and Lanikai). At this point, my hypothesis is that there is a less lively place on every Tenor scale instrument in that general area. More reading has informed me that there are less lively places on every instrument, but right now that C String is getting the attention.

    A wound string might help the issue...I am not going to do that.
    Playing ukulele since January 2016.

    Have you participated in the thread, "How the Ukulele Found You?" If not, please consider adding your story--they are just fun to read.

    http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/...lele-found-you

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