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Tenore76
11-30-2015, 03:04 AM
Believe it or not, this isn't a rant thread!

I'm in the process of preparing a presentation for a group of music educators on incorporating ukulele into their classroom teaching. Part of the presentation is on what type of instruments to purchase, strings, etc, and I want to give a demonstration on the difference among them.

There seems to be a type of black string that is put on nearly every type of cheap ukulele that always seems to sound horrible, when compared to a decent set of strings, whether they be Aquilas, Martins, etc.

My question is - what are those? Can you buy them by themselves? I don't have any instruments that have them, but I'd like to get a hold of some to show the difference. Are they usually nylon, or something else?

Thanks in advance for your help!

Jon Moody
11-30-2015, 03:07 AM
Traditional black nylon strings are, by far, the most common set of strings (and the ones you're referring to, although I think Aquila has more OEM strings out there at present). You can buy them from almost anywhere, from any string company, and there is no difference between them.

Rllink
11-30-2015, 03:38 AM
I'll bet these are pretty bad. http://www.ebay.com/itm/Set-of-4-Strings-Nylon-Replacement-Part-for-Ukulele-New-Black-White-D2JW-/201458745309?var=&hash=item2ee7e07fdd:m:mjsj2KWUpnYUEu3RmuKm4QQ

mikelz777
11-30-2015, 03:48 AM
Those strings look like something you'd put on a weed trimmer.

DownUpDave
11-30-2015, 04:13 AM
I'll bet these are pretty bad. http://www.ebay.com/itm/Set-of-4-Strings-Nylon-Replacement-Part-for-Ukulele-New-Black-White-D2JW-/201458745309?var=&hash=item2ee7e07fdd:m:mjsj2KWUpnYUEu3RmuKm4QQ

Rolli, that is brilliant

You sir win the internet award for pick of the day.

Done.....over....contest closed

Rllink
11-30-2015, 04:25 AM
What is really interesting is that 31 sets have been sold. And that is just from that supplier. It looks like you can get them in the US, although you will pay a lot more for them, same packaging though. http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-Ukulele-String-Set-Nylon-Black-Spock-SU03-/111359713530?hash=item19ed8e60fa:g:xSYAAMXQ3kNTfE7 t 52 sets sold.

I wonder though, how they compare to these?
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Set-of-4x-Ukulele-Guitar-White-Nylon-String-Replacement-Part-Instrument-New-/161814011554?var=&hash=item25acdddea2:m:mrNONJayT1Bfu_C8s-I2YLg

janeray1940
11-30-2015, 04:48 AM
Agree that those common black nylon strings are just about the worst - I'm not entirely certain but the first time I encountered a brand name associated with them, I was told they were GHS (http://www.amazon.com/Hawaiian-Ukulele-Black-Nylon-Strings/dp/B000XZZFIO). They were truly awful and did not intonate well at all. But that was before eBay was flooded with fake Aquilas and the like from Asia, so - I suspect the fakes in the links above are even worse!

Pueo
11-30-2015, 11:54 AM
The "horrible" black OEM strings I have found to be usually GHS as well.
Craig Chee and Sarah Maisel have a sponsorship deal with GHS, and I do not think they would endorse a bad product, so I do not wish to bash GHS as a company. I have some GHS strings on my guitar (gasp!) and I think those strings are just fine. Just the basic black GHS ukulele strings I have found to be not to my liking.

In contrast, the black Hilo strings that are usually like $4 a set I find to be just fine, and I use those on a few of my ukuleles.

I also do not really like Aquila strings usually, though recently I have purchased two sets of Aquila strings and I find them better than those I got a few years ago. I bought them (reluctantly) because they were out of that size of string at the store for the brand I wanted that day. So far, it's ok though!

So to answer your question, yes, I do believe they are nylon. I think that you may have some luck demonstrating the difference between OEM junk strings and nicer strings, but each individual ukulele will also respond to the same strings differently. It is difficult to find an across the board "good" and "bad" string.

I agree with Bill1 - perhaps just get them all set up the same way and then the next level of class can bring up different strings as individuals start chasing their own sound preference.

Tenore76
11-30-2015, 01:30 PM
Bill -

You're absolutely right, and that is in fact part of the presentation - a cost comparison using fishing line versus purchasing even the cheapest of strings. (Always knew it would be a big difference, but actually crunching the numbers was pretty eye-opening!)

Part of the point of this presentation is the little details like strings, and a big detail about not treating the ukulele as a toy or a novelty, but a serious instrument. Part of treating it as a serious instrument is not letting something like those nasty black strings affect what a student is going to expect their instrument to sound like. One of the reasons I was asking about those strings is to show the difference between the fishing line and those black nylon.

The presentation is covering a whole wide range of what someone starting a program might want to know - method books, recommendations on classroom instruments, and "strings & things." I appreciate your perspective on it, though - you're thinking along the same lines I am, I think!

uketanzon
12-01-2015, 08:48 AM
Agree that those common black nylon strings are just about the worst - I'm not entirely certain but the first time I encountered a brand name associated with them, I was told they were GHS (http://www.amazon.com/Hawaiian-Ukulele-Black-Nylon-Strings/dp/B000XZZFIO). They were truly awful and did not intonate well at all. But that was before eBay was flooded with fake Aquilas and the like from Asia, so - I suspect the fakes in the links above are even worse!


GHS are the worst strings I have ever used. I think dental floss would sound better.

Second is Hilo. They were pretty bad.

I must have spent 200.oo in my string testing....

Living waters, Aquila, Worth, GHS, pro arts, Kala, southcoast, Guadalupe, Fremont, Martin, ko'olau, kamaka , so on and son on..I think the only strings I did not try is Loprinzi.

The winners were
Southcoast, worth, living waters, and
ko'oalu are what I use.

kissing
12-01-2015, 03:29 PM
Honestly speaking, the cheap black nylon strings (eg: GHS) arent that bad. They were given a bad name because they came as the stock strings on many cheap ukes.

Most strings arent inherently bad - they're either old and worn on a uke that has sat on the shop shelf for years or mismatched with the instrument.

The worst strings I have tried are probably overly thick clear nylon strings that came on some old Mahalo ukes. I also remember seeing some really bad pink plastic strings on their glittery ukes. These, i would not consider proper instrument grade strings. Other than that, most instrument grade strings do a fine job.

Some people seem to dislike traditional nylon strings because they dont sound as loud or crispy as fluorocarbon or nylgut - but its all preference. My favourite strings are D'addario Pro Arte clear nylons. I prefer them over fluorocarbon and nylgut when I want a mellower, classical guitar-like tone