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View Full Version : Replacement strings for Kamaka soprano



Astein2006
12-02-2015, 10:03 AM
I will soon be ordering a Kamaka soprano and wanted to know what strings I should have it set up with and why. Im sure this subject has been beat to death but i wanted to limit the responses to only those who have had Kamaka sopranos. Thanks all!

wayfarer75
12-02-2015, 10:36 AM
I have Living Waters on my pineapple and I love them. Volume, punch, sustain, it has it all. Very classic sound. Next best I think were Aquila Lavas, but they were a bit muddier.

janeray1940
12-02-2015, 10:58 AM
I've played Kamaka sopranos for years and have been loyal to Martin M600 fluorocarbons the whole time.

FWIW - I'm not a fan of the black strings that Kamakas ship with at all.

good_uke_boy
12-02-2015, 11:01 AM
+1 for Living Water strings on a Kamaka soprano. LW's transformed my Kamaka soprano from okay to sweet.

Astein2006
12-02-2015, 11:12 AM
I've played Kamaka sopranos for years and have been loyal to Martin M600 fluorocarbons the whole time.

FWIW - I'm not a fan of the black strings that Kamakas ship with at all.
How did the Martins change/help the sound?

janeray1940
12-02-2015, 11:20 AM
How did the Martins change/help the sound?

To my ear, the factory strings are really dull and have very little sustain compared to the Martins. The Martins have a louder, bell-like tone that I think people tend to describe as "bright," and they sustain longer (well, longer for a soprano anyway - which isn't super long :) !).

Add to that the fact that they are inexpensive and easily obtainable (locally, for me, or via eBay or Amazon) and I've never seen any reason to use anything else. I've tried a few others - D'Addario Nyltech, Aquila Nylgut, Aquila Red, and Oasis (both warm and bright) are a few I remember. To me, none have topped the Martins.

mangorockfish
12-02-2015, 11:35 AM
+1 for Living Water strings on a Kamaka soprano. LW's transformed my Kama soprano from okay to sweet.
I'm going to try them on mine as it is just "ok" sounding to me.

Astein2006
12-02-2015, 11:35 AM
Did you have any intonation or C string buzzing problems by going with the thinner Martins?
To my ear, the factory strings are really dull and have very little sustain compared to the Martins. The Martins have a louder, bell-like tone that I think people tend to describe as "bright," and they sustain longer (well, longer for a soprano anyway - which isn't super long :) !).

Add to that the fact that they are inexpensive and easily obtainable (locally, for me, or via eBay or Amazon) and I've never seen any reason to use anything else. I've tried a few others - D'Addario Nyltech, Aquila Nylgut, Aquila Red, and Oasis (both warm and bright) are a few I remember. To me, none have topped the Martins.

janeray1940
12-02-2015, 11:56 AM
Did you have any intonation or C string buzzing problems by going with the thinner Martins?

Great question. I've only had those problems when the strings start getting old. I play two ukes, couple hours every day, and at that rate the strings start to wear out in about 3 months or so. Haven't had issues with the C string, but when my strings start getting old, the A string is the first to go - it's in tune when played open but pretty consistently starts going sharp when played up the neck. So - it lets me know it's time for a change.

Another plus for the Martins: they settle in almost right away, unlike other brands I've tried, so putting on new strings is no big deal.

Astein2006
12-02-2015, 12:16 PM
Great question. I've only had those problems when the strings start getting old. I play two ukes, couple hours every day, and at that rate the strings start to wear out in about 3 months or so. Haven't had issues with the C string, but when my strings start getting old, the A string is the first to go - it's in tune when played open but pretty consistently starts going sharp when played up the neck. So - it lets me know it's time for a change.

Another plus for the Martins: they settle in almost right away, unlike other brands I've tried, so putting on new strings is no big deal.

The reason I chose the Kamaka is because i wanted a top quality simple designed soprano. I had a Kiwaya soprano before and although I loved the tone and look the c string buzzed so I sent it back. Now I'm on to the Kamaka soprano. Any light you can shed on their soprano that would prepare me for when I get it? Tone, action, intonation etc etc.?

janeray1940
12-02-2015, 12:35 PM
The reason I chose the Kamaka is because i wanted a top quality simple designed soprano. I had a Kiwaya soprano before and although I loved the tone and look the c string buzzed so I sent it back. Now I'm on to the Kamaka soprano. Any light you can shed on their soprano that would prepare me for when I get it? Tone, action, intonation etc etc.?

Will you be able to try it before buying? I've never encountered one that was just plain bad, but I have been able to choose between several models when buying and have found that like most ukes, no two are identical. That being said - after owning 6 or 7 Kamakas (both sopranos and concerts) over the years, only one of them had intonation issues. It was one that I had bought sight unseen, second-hand, so who knows what the history was. It was fine for strumming first-position chords, but further up the neck the intonation was really off (on the C string, IIRC).

Aside from that - every other Kamaka I've owned has sounded and played great, straight out of the box or off the wall, pretty consistently. I've never had to have my luthier modify anything.

mm stan
12-02-2015, 12:41 PM
Martins generally provide a much warmer tone while the oasis are brighter. Depends what your preferences are
And your specific uke. You need to try them for yourself to really know which you prefer
What others perceptions are may differ from yours or your particular uke may respond different
Slight build variations in all ukes may vary the tone and voiceing of your uke
Strings are relatively cheap way to upgrade and fine tune to your preferences, happy strummings

fretie
12-02-2015, 12:45 PM
I'm interested to hear of string buzz with the Martins. When I recently bought my Kamaka soprano pineapple in the UU marketplace the seller kindly put a fresh set of Martins on for me. Previous to this I had always strung Kamaka sopranos with Worth clears. When I got the new-to-me K pineapple I immediately noticed a string buzz on the open E string.

I hadn't had string buzz before on a Kamaka so this surprised me.

I wasn't sure whether to just swap the strings out...back to tried and true Worths, though I do like the sound of the Martins...or to take the uke to a luthier to see what the buzz is about.

Anyways, not to hijack your thread but this is the first time I've read about buzz possibly relating to the thin Martins on a Kamaka soprano.

janeray1940
12-02-2015, 12:53 PM
I'm interested to hear of string buzz with the Martins. When I recently bought my Kamaka soprano pineapple in the UU marketplace the seller kindly put a fresh set of Martins on for me. Previous to this I had always strung Kamaka sopranos with Worth clears. When I got the new-to-me K pineapple I immediately noticed a string buzz on the open E string.

I hadn't had string buzz before on a Kamaka so this surprised me.


One possibility - you might just have a bum string. I've had that happen a couple of times in the 6+ years I've been using them on my Kamakas.

mm stan
12-02-2015, 12:54 PM
Martin strings may be thicker than worths, depending which one your get.
Your can try to shim the saddle with a thin sliver of a credit card under the saddle to check if the buzzing goes away
It hard to diagnose with having the uke in my hands, relying on your accessment may not be always accurate at time
Otherwise you can replace the same guage strings as before if its easier for you. Whenever changing strings its
A good rule to use the same guage for beginners, or have it check for a set up with your new strings
Does the buzz happen open or fretted. Is where i ususally start.
Good luck and happy strummings

wayfarer75
12-02-2015, 01:02 PM
I've tried Worth BMs, Martins, Oasis, and the aforementioned LWs and Lavas. They were all thinner than the stock strings but I have not had any problems with intonation or buzzing with any string set.

fretie
12-02-2015, 01:29 PM
Yeah, makes sense to swap out the strings first and see what happen before handing my precious uke over to a luthier for a more drastic fix. It just surpised me because I don't exoect to see 'Kamaka' and open string 'buzz' in the same sentence!

Astein2006
12-02-2015, 01:37 PM
I've tried Worth BMs, Martins, Oasis, and the aforementioned LWs and Lavas. They were all thinner than the stock strings but I have not had any problems with intonation or buzzing with any string set.

Which ones did you like best? I know oasis has warm and bright soprano sets.

Astein2006
12-02-2015, 01:38 PM
Will you be able to try it before buying? I've never encountered one that was just plain bad, but I have been able to choose between several models when buying and have found that like most ukes, no two are identical. That being said - after owning 6 or 7 Kamakas (both sopranos and concerts) over the years, only one of them had intonation issues. It was one that I had bought sight unseen, second-hand, so who knows what the history was. It was fine for strumming first-position chords, but further up the neck the intonation was really off (on the C string, IIRC).

Aside from that - every other Kamaka I've owned has sounded and played great, straight out of the box or off the wall, pretty consistently. I've never had to have my luthier modify anything.
No I am buying online from HMS.

Astein2006
12-02-2015, 01:46 PM
I've tried Worth BMs, Martins, Oasis, and the aforementioned LWs and Lavas. They were all thinner than the stock strings but I have not had any problems with intonation or buzzing with any string set.

Have you tried Fremont Blacklines med tension? Or heard about them being used on the HF-1?

janeray1940
12-02-2015, 02:20 PM
No I am buying online from HMS.

Although I don't have personal experience, I've seen a lot of glowing reviews of experiences buying from HMS, so I'm sure you'll get a good one!


Have you tried Fremont Blacklines med tension? Or heard about them being used on the HF-1?

I'd forgotten to mention Fremonts among the ones I tried! The mediums didn't seem all that different than the stock black Kamaka strings to me, but before I became a Martin convert, I *loved* the Fremont Hards on my Kamaka soprano. Back then they were a little harder to find, which is why I tried Martins in the first place - I should give them a go again.

PhilUSAFRet
12-02-2015, 02:27 PM
Oasis lights for brightest sound, mediums for a little mellower one. Was the string most recommended for a brighter sound when I got my Kamaka soprano. mm stan likes'em too.

Astein2006
12-02-2015, 02:56 PM
Oasis lights for brightest sound, mediums for a little mellower one. Was the string most recommended for a brighter sound when I got my Kamaka soprano. mm stan likes'em too.

Did you end up with either?

PhilUSAFRet
12-03-2015, 01:13 AM
Yes, I got the lights based on mm stan's recommendation. It's now my most comfortable player. Strings feel good and it has a bright, woody bark like I think it should. Very loud. It's the equal of my vintage Martin O mahogany, but has a different sound...koa, etc.,

wayfarer75
12-03-2015, 03:14 AM
Which ones did you like best? I know oasis has warm and bright soprano sets.

So far, I like the Living Waters. I see you're getting your soprano from HMS; I don't think they have those strings in stock usually. I liked the Aquila Lavas next best but like the clarity of Living Waters more. After that, I think Worth BMs are my next favorite. You might ask HMS what they would put on, too! They certainly have more experience with Kamakas than I do!


Have you tried Fremont Blacklines med tension? Or heard about them being used on the HF-1?

I just put them on my Barron River concert, and I like them on that. I haven't tried them on my Kamaka pineapple, but I know others have posted about putting them on their Kamaka sopranos and were very pleased. I think that is a good one to try out too.

Buy extra string sets, that's my advice. What I like you might not.

fretie
12-03-2015, 04:51 AM
My vote is for either Worth clears or, if they're not to thin for the specific soprano, Martin 600's.

Astein2006
12-03-2015, 08:48 AM
My vote is for either Worth clears or, if they're not to thin for the specific soprano, Martin 600's.

What do you have on your Kamaka Pineapple?

fretie
12-03-2015, 09:05 AM
What do you have on your Kamaka Pineapple?

Martin 600's

Astein2006
12-03-2015, 09:25 AM
Martin 600's

I know the stock strings on the Kamaka are thicker gauge. Did you have any issues with buzzing or intonation issues because of the thinner martins?

haole
12-03-2015, 12:49 PM
Anything is gonna sound better than the stock strings. Buy a couple sets and see what you like best!
At least as of a couple years ago, they shipped with pretty thin strings. Mine's a 2004. It was a pain trying to get some of the heavier-gauge strings into the bridge slots. The nut was more forgiving, and I've never had any issues with intonation, buzzing, or action with any of the strings I've tried on it.

fretie
12-03-2015, 03:02 PM
I know the stock strings on the Kamaka are thicker gauge. Did you have any issues with buzzing or intonation issues because of the thinner martins?

No problems with intonation but I do have a fret buzz on the E string...only when its played open.

Skinny Money McGee
12-04-2015, 02:55 AM
Martins generally provide a much warmer tone while the oasis are brighter. Depends what your preferences are
And your specific uke. You need to try them for yourself to really know which you prefer
What others perceptions are may differ from yours or your particular uke may respond different
Slight build variations in all ukes may vary the tone and voiceing of your uke
Strings are relatively cheap way to upgrade and fine tune to your preferences, happy strummings

Spot on for me, M600's on the soprano Kamaka, and Oasis on the concert Kamaka.

janeray1940
12-04-2015, 04:51 PM
So after all of that... I'm in the midst of an experiment right now. A friend just put new Aquila Nylguts on his Kamaka tenor, and they sound absolutely fantastic. That, combined with the fact that earlier this afternoon my just-changed C string started to buzz (!), led me to pick up some Nylguts myself and give them another try. Too soon to judge at this point, but will report back on whether I prefer them to the M600s.

janeray1940
12-05-2015, 01:22 PM
A little update - while they haven't fixed the C string buzz, I am *loving* the sound of the Aquila Nylguts on both my Kamaka concert and on my long neck soprano! Definitely no buzz on the soprano so in my case, I think the buzz might be caused by something other than string diameter. Funny coincidence that it would start up right alongside this thread!

Anyway - I know Aquila Nylguts seem to have fallen out of favor as new strings have come on the market, and I know some people didn't care for the "new" formula when it was introduced (personally I didn't), but I'm definitely liking them quite a lot right now. The tone is a bit richer to me than the M600s - still a lot of clarity but with a darker undertone that the Martins don't have. A really nice sound with for the Christmas carols I've been playing as of lately.

Astein2006
12-05-2015, 02:19 PM
So far, I like the Living Waters. I see you're getting your soprano from HMS; I don't think they have those strings in stock usually. I liked the Aquila Lavas next best but like the clarity of Living Waters more. After that, I think Worth BMs are my next favorite. You might ask HMS what they would put on, too! They certainly have more experience with Kamakas than I do!



I just put them on my Barron River concert, and I like them on that. I haven't tried them on my Kamaka pineapple, but I know others have posted about putting them on their Kamaka sopranos and were very pleased. I think that is a good one to try out too.

Buy extra string sets, that's my advice. What I like you might not.
I just ordered a set of Living Water strings for the Kamaka soprano. I'm looking forward to see how these sound. I know they are not widespread yet but every review I've seen is great. If they don't sound to my liking I will try the m600's.

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
12-05-2015, 02:46 PM
I love my Kamaka soprano. GHS strings work well for me. Here's an instrumental example:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFUN9m66E6w

fretie
12-05-2015, 05:11 PM
Nice playing, TOUTM!

I like the sound of those GHS. I won a couple of GHS sets recently in a FB contest. I think I will replace the thin M600's with the GHS soon.

mm stan
12-05-2015, 11:14 PM
I wish i could have the uke in my hands. How the string sitting in the nut, does it have alot of play.
Did you have this issue before the string change

mm stan
12-05-2015, 11:17 PM
I have aquilas on my kamaka tenor, nice volume and tone..