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Servant of Christ
09-06-2014, 04:04 PM
I am a senior in my school and have to do a science project because I'm stuck in 9th grade science :wallbash: I want to do it on something I like, sooooo... UKULELE!!

I want to test a few different string materials and record the following: how long does it take to break them in and hold their tune, how well do they stand up against the weather, how loud they are, how consistent they are throughout their use and breaking in, et cetera.

For string materials I considered nylon, gut, nylgut, titanium, and steel. I think I'll use my Dolphin for the experiment. I'm one of those stubborn purists that thinks the ukulele shouldn't be "guitarized" but for the sake of science I will tolerate the steel strings; who knows, I might get converted.

How would you conduct this experiment? What characteristics would you test? What are your thoughts? And is there ANYBODY out there that still sells the genuine pure gut?!?!

MutinousDoug
09-06-2014, 04:40 PM
For your experiment I would suggest you buy a single spool of string for each string material. Build a jig or fixture to hold a specific length of string in a similar manner to your Dolphin uke until it breaks or holds it's tune. Then build another fixture to hold one or more outdoors to measure how they hold up in the weather. A sample of one stirng is not very statistically significant so I would suggest a fixture capacity of at least 10 samples. Take measurements of the volume, tone, temperature, humidity and sunlight exposure to gauge how well they stand up. Attach to your existing fixtures a microphone device and recorder to record the noise and volume (music?) produced by your experiment. Collate the time, temperature, humidity, hours and quality of sunlight exposure each is exposed to and the change in volume and tone over that period.
Record any changes to your fixtures, equipment and strings over the period of the experiment and be prepared to repeat your tests until there is no equipment induced noise.
Then get back to us.:o

VegasGeorge
09-06-2014, 04:51 PM
Players claim that different strings sound different on the same instrument. So, it would be interesting to scientifically analyze the different tone qualities of the different popular brands of strings. That would require setting up a standard test frame equivalent to the space between the nut and saddle of a Ukulele, then putting each string under various tensions to produce a standard range of pitches, and take readings of the overtones being produced at each pitch by each string. You might have to account for different tensions required by various strings to achieve the same pitch, and relate that to the difference in the overtones being produced. Just a thought. Good luck with your project whatever it turns out to be!

Jim Hanks
09-06-2014, 04:56 PM
Aquilla supposedly make a genuine gut set still http://www.bytowninstruments.com/products/aquila-genuine-gut-strings
But says "special order" and by expensive.

Whatever you do, don't put steel strings on a uke not designed for them. You are very likely to damage or destroy the instrument due to the much higher tension. That would go for titanium as well assuming you aren't talking about D'Addario Titanium brand which I think are just nylon.

igorthebarbarian
09-06-2014, 07:49 PM
I think you might have a hard time with any of the timing ones - how long does it take to settle in could be a subjective measure of time.... same for how they do with the weather for a long-term.
I think you should focus on anything you can measure/calculate/put in a spreadsheet (I love spreadsheets)....
Things like width/thickness of the actual strings (and maybe the variance between the strings/ are they uniform in terms of width based on the material)...
Does the material determine things like frequencies
Does the material determine how long the string will resonate.
Then set out your theory/hypothesis of "skinnier strings will resonate longer" and then (presumably) prove it or disprove it.

For measuring how long they last, I have no idea how you would quicken up that process. Expose them to heat? Water?
Stretch them x-inches and see how far it takes to break one (actually you could measure that!) That would be some sort of resilience/stretchiness factor, and I'm sure that would vary by material type. But you'd need some device rigged up like Mutinous Doug suggested, so you're not snapping strings on your own uke.

Cool project/goal. Let us know how you proceed.

Ukejenny
09-07-2014, 06:07 AM
I think you might have a hard time with any of the timing ones - how long does it take to settle in could be a subjective measure of time.... same for how they do with the weather for a long-term.
I think you should focus on anything you can measure/calculate/put in a spreadsheet (I love spreadsheets)....
Things like width/thickness of the actual strings (and maybe the variance between the strings/ are they uniform in terms of width based on the material)...
Does the material determine things like frequencies
Does the material determine how long the string will resonate.
Then set out your theory/hypothesis of "skinnier strings will resonate longer" and then (presumably) prove it or disprove it.

For measuring how long they last, I have no idea how you would quicken up that process. Expose them to heat? Water?
Stretch them x-inches and see how far it takes to break one (actually you could measure that!) That would be some sort of resilience/stretchiness factor, and I'm sure that would vary by material type. But you'd need some device rigged up like Mutinous Doug suggested, so you're not snapping strings on your own uke.

Cool project/goal. Let us know how you proceed.

These are great ideas. Also, filming sound samples of each set of strings on the same uke, so you can hear the differences.

YorkSteve
09-07-2014, 06:30 AM
It would certainly be interesting to put several sets of strings on the same ukulele (a real one, not a simulated rig) and analyse the tones they produce. Especially a few of the many flourocarbon brands out there. Are they really different, or are they all from the same fishing line manufacturer? :)

FourSilverMoonbeams
09-07-2014, 06:59 AM
For gut strings try a supplier of strings for early instruments such as lutes. Try Gamut music - www.gamutmusic.com/strings/

Jon Moody
09-08-2014, 02:05 AM
Whatever you do, don't put steel strings on a uke not designed for them. You are very likely to damage or destroy the instrument due to the much higher tension. That would go for titanium as well assuming you aren't talking about D'Addario Titanium brand which I think are just nylon.

You can easily put a set of steel strings on a regular ukulele, but you're right, extreme care must be paid when looking at the tension of the steel strings. But, it can be done.

And yes, the Titanium strings D'Addario sells (which are the same we use in our classical guitar sets) are nylon with a titanium additive to give you some stiffness (in terms of flexibility), but still retain the tension that is closer to nylon.