View Full Version : Favorite Strings for Mahogany Ukes

06-23-2015, 05:45 AM
Opine away... That's what this thread is for!

I've searched and can't find exactly what I'm looking for: recommendations for strings that get the best and most sound out of a mahogany concert and mahogany tenor uke. They're Mainlands, for reference. I prefer low G, but other opinions are welcome!

I don't have the tenor yet. The concert is currently strung with Oasis Warms, with a La Bella polished wound low G. I prefer unwound strings, but use others as well.

So tell me please, what are your favorite strings to make your mahogany uke sing?

Thank you! :)

Inksplosive AL
06-23-2015, 06:53 AM
This is like asking about which brand tire or oil to use on a motorcycle or car forum, at least with oil I can point you to a lab for testing. Since working with people and their sight as a professional tattoo artist I quickly learned not everyone sees the same. It wasn't too far of a mental jump to realize this difference extends to all the senses.

Now hearing as well as your sense of touch are all being brought to the equation as well as prediction. What other strings have you tried on the concert? I happen to have fallen in love with Aquila reds myself on my KA-SEM.

Good Luck

06-23-2015, 06:58 AM
I like Martin's M600 strings on my mahogany soprano, but I haven't tried a whole lot of strings on it (Nylguts, some no-name fluorocarbon, and Worth clears). I plan on trying Worth browns on it in a while, depending on how I like them on the inbound tenor. But like IAL wrote, it's totally a matter of preference and very subjective.

06-23-2015, 07:10 AM
Yes, I know what I'm asking... I.e. the subjective can of worms I've opened up here. But I also asked for opinions. So subjectivity aside, you like what you like, and I want to know what that is. I don't have access to many types of strings locally, so whatever I want to try must be ordered. I thought if I had a list, I could at least have an order large enough to qualify for free shipping somewhere. :D

Thanks for the responses so far!

06-23-2015, 07:17 AM
Mahogany ukes don't all sound the same, even from the same brand. Different ukes have different voices.

I can tell you what I've liked so far. Right now I have Oasis brights on a mahogany concert, and think they are great. I also love Living Waters on my koa concert and plan to try those on the hog too, and maybe some Worth Browns. I like the Fremont Soloist low G string. I tried Koolau Mahanas (too stiff), regular Aquilas (too brash) and Kamakas (too floppy and dull), and didn't like them much. Aquila Lava strings give a nice punchy sound.

06-23-2015, 07:50 AM
I had a Gretsch G9121 tenor solid 1/4 sawn mahagony top that came with Aquila nylgut, then changed to Worth CT and I felt it sounded better, bright, more projection and sustain.

06-23-2015, 12:23 PM
Fremont Blacklines really transformed my Son's Mainland mahogany super concert pineapple. Drastic improvement over other's he's tried.

chuck in ny
06-23-2015, 01:15 PM
worth browns are a good place to start with a mahogany tenor.

06-23-2015, 01:22 PM
I like PhD (fluorocarbon) strings and the new D'Addario fluorocarbon EJ99T on my Pono Mahogany. The Phd were a tad warmer and sweeter than the EJ99T's bright and bell like tone. Not sure which I prefer just yet, maybe swap them out one more time before I decide.

06-23-2015, 03:21 PM
I have Aquila Reds on a mahogany soprano and love them. They have a nice tactile aspect and sound perfect.

06-23-2015, 03:26 PM
Same recommendation I'd make for almost any uke: fluorocarbon strings, like Worth, Oasis, Fremont or Martin. Given the natural warmth and more muted highs of mahogany, you might prefer bright strings to warm ones. For the 4th string I like Fremont Soloists.

I agree with everything written here.

I experiment with strings a lot and I usually pick a string that is the opposite in nature to the wood. This sounds counter intuitive but follow along. "IF" a mahogany tenor sounds too warm and muddy I will use Worth clear, Oasis brights, South Coast mediums or Martin M630, these are all on the bright side. "IF" a spruce top tenor is too bright sounding I use Oasis warms, Living Waters, Freemont Blacklines, these are all on the warm side. I like all the florocarbon strings listed, just depends what you are looking to achieve.

That is my opinion as you asked for it, hopefully it helps some.

06-23-2015, 03:40 PM
If you like a mellow sound, I've had good luck with Worth Browns.

06-23-2015, 04:16 PM
For a lightweight mahogany ukulele, Fremont Blacklines (hard or medium, I can;t detect a difference).

For a heavyweight mahogany ukulele, one where I need to get the utmost from a heavier bracing or soundboard, traditional (white) Aquilas.

I do not prefer many other strings for mahogany, including Worth, KoOLau, Martin, or Southcoast. YMMV

06-23-2015, 04:18 PM
My mahogany tenor came with Worth Clears. They sound nice and mellow to me. I would like to try some Living Water strings on it with low Unwound low G. I am considering having high G and low G instruments eventually.

06-23-2015, 04:31 PM
I don’t own, nor have every played a Mainland, but I can tell you about some of my current favorites...

On my laminate mahogany Kala KA-T I really liked the Aquila REDS, but right now I have a Living Water re-entrant set installed, and there's something almost magical about the way that this instrument responds to these strings. I also had the Oasis 'bright' re-entrant set on them, and while very close, they did not have as much sparkle in the bell-like tone of this same Kala.

On my tenor Fluke with a solid Koa top, I currently have Martin M620 strings, re-entrant, but tuned DOWN to E-A-C#-F# and at this tuning, the instrument has nearly infinite sustain and both a sweet and bell-like tone.

On my tenor Hibiscus Flea, with the solid Birch top I currently have Worth Browns Tenor (BT) set installed, and on this instrument, these are the best sounding strings to my ear with both a dulcet, yet warm tone, with a bit of sparkle.

One my tenor Walnut Flea, with the birch rosette, I currently have the standard Aquila Nylgut re-entrant set, and on this instrument it has that simple midrange punch, that sounds/feels like a sucker punch to the gut, much in the same kind of sound of a banjolele, and this helps for cutting thru and getting heard in a group setting.

For a low G, you will probably not get the best sound or tension with an unwound string. I have literally tried them all and find them too floppy for my taste. I used to use the Fremont Soloist wound low-G which sold as a single string, until fellow UU brother OldePhart (John) intriduced me to the Thomastik-Infeld CHROME FLATWOUND classical strings, which are the smoothest surface of any of the dozen similar strings I have tried, for a low-G, I have used as my go-to, either the CF27 or CF30 string, which are the 'D' and 'G' strings for classical guitar, and depending upon the tension you want, and the acoustic response of the specific instrument, either will work very well, and typically be thinner than all unwound low-G strings you will find which are typically 0.0358" no matter what brand. the Thomastik strings are 0.027" and 0.030" respectively and as such you will probably NOT have to enlarge the nut slot for your G string to use them, as I have not, on any instrument so far where I have used them as a Low-G.

Also, for a while I was experimenting with a wound-C string, and the CF27 worked well there too, albeit at a higher tension than the remaining 3 (unwound) strings.

All of the above comes from testing more than 40 different string sets, from over 12 different string makers.

If you use my referral link in my signature, I get points to buy more strings for myself and you get a discount off your first order.

Strings and Beyond does not carry the Thomastik-Infeld single strings, nor any Fremont, so you'll have to go to Strings By Mail or Just Strings for those (and I'm sure other vendors might carry them too, like HMS and Elderly).

Can of worms indeed, but BEWARE FOR you know you have a serious problem when you need to buy more ukes, even duplicates of an existing uke because you like more than one string set on them, and for DIFFERENT reasons and DIFFERENT sound (OR DIFFERENT TUNINGS), when the String Changing Obsession (SCO) is actually a driving force behind UAS...has not happened to me yet, but I can see things progressing to that point for someone who becomes lost to the obsession. :)

[yes I am also mindful that many ukes of the same exact brand and model CAN and usually will sound very different from each other, since 'all things being equal' is rarely achievable in this case since wood is imperfect and varied by nature due to being organic, at the very least.]

Hope this info helps. :)

Pukin' Ukin'
09-06-2015, 04:16 PM
So I am seeking expert advice from you leaned ukers.

Bought a mainland all mahogany concert sized pineapple with a tenor neck. Love it. Then I bought a mainland cedar topped rosewood body tenor and it is SO much more lively than the pineapple. Both ukes are all solid wood.

When I play my cedar and then go back to the mahogany pineapple the pineapple sounds like a cigar box uke. Both play great. I've tried different strings but does anyone know of a way I can get the most out of that mahogany pineapple? Like if it is SUPPOSED to be a more mellow uke than should I put mellower strings on it rather than what Ive done with putting very bright strings on it? Im wondering if I should embrace the mellowness rather than try to brighten it up.

Sorry for the use of the word "mellow" but I can't describe it better.

THANK YOU so much for any advice!