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View Full Version : Does anyone like the stock Kamaka Strings?



Astein2006
12-11-2015, 06:06 AM
I'm trying to figure out why Kamaka puts the strings they do on all their ukuleles. It seems that almost everyone replaces them as soon as they receive their Uke. Is it a contractual obligation thing with D'Addario? Is it a sound thing that they prefer? They are THE highly regarded Uke maker in Hawaii. I'm sure they know by now that most change out their stock strings. I am getting a soprano soon and I am debating leaving the stock strings on if anyone can give me good reason.

janeray1940
12-11-2015, 06:21 AM
As you may recall, I've weighed in on this one in another thread - I don't care for them at all. My reasons are a combination of the way they feel (weird plasticky feeling that I find "sticky" - off topic but I get the same feeling from Oasis fluoros which are an entirely different material) and the way they sound (to my ear, they lack clarity and sustain, and as an instrumental-only and mostly classical player this is important to me).

I know there are a few fans on this forum though - looking forward to hearing what they have to say. The few people I've known in real life who liked the stock strings were mostly Hawaiian strummers, so I'd guess the strings are particularly well-suited to that purpose.

kkimura
12-11-2015, 11:04 AM
I like the way the stock Kamaka strings sound on my Kamaka tenor. But, I am a strummer from Hawaii. And since this stuff all started in Hawaii maybe it's fitting that they sound the way they do. (ymmv)

Shaka ;)

Astein2006
12-11-2015, 11:10 AM
I like the way the stock Kamaka strings sound on my Kamaka tenor. But, I am a strummer from Hawaii. And since this stuff all started in Hawaii maybe it's fitting that they sound the way they do. (ymmv)

Shaka ;)
I've always been a rhythm guitarist so I'm a strummer by nature. I plan on learning some finger picking but I'll mainly be strumming so maybe I should stick with the stock strings for that reason.

WCBarnes
12-11-2015, 12:49 PM
If it were me, I would plan on leaving the stock on it for a few weeks to see what you think of them. Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to strings. Additionally, strings sound differently on each instrument. So you can't make an informed decision until you have tried these particular strings on this particular instrument. The luthier of my last custom put Kamaka strings on it because he thought they sounded the best. A couple weeks later I still didn't love them so I tried some Southcoast strings and like it better. To each their own. Enjoy your new Kamaka!

PhilUSAFRet
12-11-2015, 01:01 PM
Not surprising that Kamaka "stock" strings would be those that are popular with many Hawaiians.

fretie
12-11-2015, 01:17 PM
Kinda makes me want to try some stock strings on my Kamaka!

I bought both the Kamakas that I've owned second hand so never had one arrive with the stock strings. But now that my new-to-me pineapple is buzzing with M600's and I do love the Hawaiian 'sound', I think I may just give the stock strings a try.

the flat tire
12-11-2015, 01:54 PM
Remember each instrument is different also.
I went through a bunch of tenors and the stock strings all sounded well, different and not so good. The tenor I eventually got sounded okay enough that I left the strings on for a few weeks.
I'll also say this: taking the stock strings off started a never ending quest for a sound I'm not so sure is there. I'm currently somewhere around my eighth or ninth set of strings and am slowly working my way back to D'addarios and I may even try the stock string set again!

I wouldn't be afraid to invest a hunski or so in strings to see which set sounded the best. Again compare the cost of strings to the cost of your instrument.
Changing strings is fun! Sort of.

peanuts56
12-11-2015, 04:15 PM
I have a Kamaka Tenor and kept the stock strings until they needed changing. I didn't dislike them but opted to go with Freemont Black Line when it was time to change them.

Astein2006
12-11-2015, 04:30 PM
Kinda makes me want to try some stock strings on my Kamaka!

I bought both the Kamakas that I've owned second hand so never had one arrive with the stock strings. But now that my new-to-me pineapple is buzzing with M600's and I do love the Hawaiian 'sound', I think I may just give the stock strings a try.
I was told by Kamaka that their nut and saddles are designed with their string set. They have gotten a lot of complaints with people complaining of buzzing after they changed out the stock strings. I personally like warm round tones and plan on keeping the stock strings for awhile unless I'm disgusted by them. But If it's the Hawaiian sound I want then this set is tailor made from what Kamaka told me.

janeray1940
12-11-2015, 05:18 PM
I was told by Kamaka that their nut and saddles are designed with their string set. They have gotten a lot of complaints with people complaining of buzzing after they changed out the stock strings. I personally like warm round tones and plan on keeping the stock strings for awhile unless I'm disgusted by them. But If it's the Hawaiian sound I want then this set is tailor made from what Kamaka told me.

I think you're right about that. It took 6 years to develop an issue, but after my most recent string change, I noticed the C string on my Kamaka concert started buzzing at the nut and first couple of frets. It took my luthier no more than five minutes to fill the slot with cyanoacrylate and re-cut the slot - and now, no buzz! Equally importantly, no ill effects - intonation remains great and playability is unchanged, so it was really no big deal.

And it does make sense to give the stock strings a try before changing them out. As others have noted, each uke is different. When I first got my Kamaka pineapple soprano, I liked the sound of them just fine, but hated the feel. I didn't care for the stock string sound on any of the other Kamakas I've owned over the years (including two HF2s, an HF1, an HF-1L, and an Ohta-San) but on that pineapple they weren't bad at all.

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
12-11-2015, 07:36 PM
I love black nylon strings on my Kamaka soprano. Kamaka strings and GHS strings both sound and feel great to me. I tried out plenty of other string sets (fluorocarbon, Nylgut, etc.) and came back to the mellow sound and stylish coolness of black nylon strings. Perfect for me.

mm stan
12-11-2015, 07:40 PM
Does it matter what we like? Its your preference that counts. If you prefer the vintage hawaiian sound
Kamaka intended for, at least try them for a few weeks. Some do like them, for the warm tone
However many others prefer a brighter tone, volume, and clarity of the newer strings.
Whenever changing string guages, check you nut grooves if they are too wide of a gap or too snug.

Astein2006
12-11-2015, 08:41 PM
Does it matter what we like? Its your preference that counts. If you prefer the vintage hawaiian sound
Kamaka intended for, at least try them for a few weeks. Some do like them, for the warm tone
However many others prefer a brighter tone, volume, and clarity of the newer strings.
Whenever changing string guages, check you nut grooves if they are too wide of a gap or too snug.
thats true. It only matters what i like but i was just curious because i heard so much about how people hated the stock strings that i wanted to hear from the few that did like them and why. More of a curiosity factor than anything else. you make good points though. thanks

mm stan
12-12-2015, 12:37 AM
Five years ago i bought 5 sets of kamaka strings, i still have 3 new yet...
Way back, hilo and ghs were the other choices you had... :)

strumsilly
12-12-2015, 03:23 AM
Just played a Kamaka concert in a music store. It was the nicest sounding uke in the store. it was new with the stock strings. just sayin.

Doc_J
12-12-2015, 04:31 AM
Five years ago i bought 5 sets of kamaka strings, i still have 3 new yet...
Way back, hilo and ghs were the other choices you had... :)

Good point Stan. String choices have really grown ( and improved ) over the last 5-10 years.

But the black nylon strings are classics.

Reno Dave
12-12-2015, 04:33 AM
I have a Kamaka Tenor and use the Kamaka Strings as well. The strings are "warm sounding" which I like. I tried re-stringing the tenor with Freemont Blacklines and Worth Clears but as mentioned in the above threads the nut slots are wider to accommodate the thicker Kamaka strings. Once the Freemonts and Worth's were tuned up I experienced buzzing at the nut because the strings were much narrower.

As an alternative to Factory Kamaka Strings, I have used D'Addario J-71 Clear Nylon strings which are very similar to Kamaka Strings with no problems. If dead set on using narrower gauged strings the nut will have to be altered or replaced with thinner nut slots.

valde002
02-28-2017, 07:00 PM
I have a Kamaka Tenor and use the Kamaka Strings as well. The strings are "warm sounding" which I like. I tried re-stringing the tenor with Freemont Blacklines and Worth Clears but as mentioned in the above threads the nut slots are wider to accommodate the thicker Kamaka strings. Once the Freemonts and Worth's were tuned up I experienced buzzing at the nut because the strings were much narrower.

As an alternative to Factory Kamaka Strings, I have used D'Addario J-71 Clear Nylon strings which are very similar to Kamaka Strings with no problems. If dead set on using narrower gauged strings the nut will have to be altered or replaced with thinner nut slots.

I tried to restring my HF2 with Worth low G. But the A string kept slipping despite how many knots I tie. Im afraid that it is breaking the bridge slot. Are there any tricks to getting these smaller strings in these, or will I just have to suck it up and go back to the stock strings?

janeray1940
02-28-2017, 07:12 PM
I tried to restring my HF2 with Worth low G. But the A string kept slipping despite how many knots I tie. Im afraid that it is breaking the bridge slot. Are there any tricks to getting these smaller strings in these, or will I just have to suck it up and go back to the stock strings?

I use Martin fluorocarbons, which IIRC are even thinner than Worths. I just tie a big ol' messy knot with lots of loops at the end of each string - for me, that works out to 8 loops for the A string, 6 for the E, 1 for the C, and 8 for the high G or 1 for the wound Fremont low. It's not always pretty, but it works. And it beats the heck out of those awful black strings :)

valde002
02-28-2017, 07:23 PM
I use Martin fluorocarbons, which IIRC are even thinner than Worths. I just tie a big ol' messy knot with lots of loops at the end of each string - for me, that works out to 8 loops for the A string, 6 for the E, 1 for the C, and 8 for the high G or 1 for the wound Fremont low. It's not always pretty, but it works. And it beats the heck out of those awful black strings :)

Thanks, I'll keep trying. I was up to 3 knots with the A and thought I'd ask here first. Not sure if there was a bead trick or something. The other strings only used 1 luckily. If the A string keeps slipping through, is there any way that the slot could get damaged? It looks like there was some wood splinting, or it could also just be my imagination.

janeray1940
02-28-2017, 07:30 PM
Thanks, I'll keep trying. I was up to 3 knots with the A and thought I'd ask here first. Not sure if there was a bead trick or something. The other strings only used 1 luckily. If the A string keeps slipping through, is there any way that the slot could get damaged? It looks like there was some wood splinting, or it could also just be my imagination.

Not sure if there's potential for damage other than getting snapped in the face by a wayward string (yep, it's happened!) - I've been stringing my HF-2 that way for 8+ years now and no issues. But you can use beads - those tiny little craft beads (example here (https://www.amazon.com/Seed-Beads-Colorful-Glass-SeedBeadExplosion/dp/B0012SG11Q)) work great. I did that for a while but got tired of the battle between my middle-aged eyes and that tiny bead, for me it's much easier to tie a big knot.

jfalconc
03-01-2017, 05:49 AM
Didn't like the stock strings on my Kamaka HF-2 100th anniversary edition and changed to Orcas Fluorocarbon strings. Now I really love the way it sounds!!!

AustinHing
05-06-2019, 09:54 PM
Pulling up an old thread but I just wish to know if anybody used Kamaka strings on a Martin.

I have a very good experience of playing the Kamaka HF-2 concert with the original strings. But I’m not buying a HF-2 for sure, so my best deal is to install the Kamaka strings on my Martin C1K concert. Appreciate for any input.

Jerryc41
05-07-2019, 12:45 AM
I'm trying to figure out why Kamaka puts the strings they do on all their ukuleles. It seems that almost everyone replaces them as soon as they receive their Uke. Is it a contractual obligation thing with D'Addario? Is it a sound thing that they prefer? They are THE highly regarded Uke maker in Hawaii. I'm sure they know by now that most change out their stock strings. I am getting a soprano soon and I am debating leaving the stock strings on if anyone can give me good reason.

They're fine with me. I'm not one for changing strings just to experiment. At a uke fest over the weekend, I talked to a man who said he changes strings all the time, and he likes fluorocarbon. To each his own.

kissing
05-07-2019, 04:13 AM
This is an old topic that seems to have resurfaced, but I'm fairly confident that I heard that Kamaka stock strings are actually D'addario black nylons.

You can find them by searching "D'addario Black Nylon Ukulele strings" on eBay, or just buy the D'addario black nylon classical guitar strings and use those (the DGBE strings correlate to GCEA on ukuleles for low-G tuning. Or use the 1st E string twice for both the G and the A string on ukulele).

bynapkinart
05-07-2019, 04:47 AM
If you enjoyed your experience, go for it! I'm firmly in the "dislike" camp as well but that's mainly a feel and sustain thing...I took the Kamaka strings off my tenor and replaced them with clear worths and very much prefer the feel. I'm not as into the tone as I usually am with this set however, so I've ordered a low g set of worth browns to see how those feel -- I don't generally change out strings all the time but I need to find that set that really vibes with the uke before I can settle in for a year or so.

But if you generally know you like a set of strings, and you like they way you play with those strings, you'll probably end up getting more out of your playing with those strings on any uke.

janeray1940
05-07-2019, 05:14 AM
Maybe Kamaka expect their ukes to be used by players who actually work as musicians and who regularly use amplifiers?


I've always heard it was because the black nylons are considered a more traditional "Hawaiian" tone? I don't keep up with all things Jake, but last I heard he played a custom Kamaka with those purple D'Addario strings and not the stock black nylons.

QUOTE=bynapkinart;2149524]I'm firmly in the "dislike" camp as well but that's mainly a feel and sustain thing...[/QUOTE]

Same here - I dislike the feel of the black nylon strings and find they have little sustain playing up the neck. As a soprano/concert player who plays fingerstyle and is up the neck regularly, I need all the sustain I can get. Sure, there are those who will say this is a "technique" issue and that would be fine if I had endless hours to practice, but I have a full-time life outside of the ukulele so I'm all for quick fixes, shortcuts, and whatever it takes to make my playing more enjoyable in the moment.

Joyful Uke
05-07-2019, 06:26 AM
Same here - I dislike the feel of the black nylon strings and find they have little sustain playing up the neck. As a soprano/concert player who plays fingerstyle and is up the neck regularly, I need all the sustain I can get. Sure, there are those who will say this is a "technique" issue and that would be fine if I had endless hours to practice, but I have a full-time life outside of the ukulele so I'm all for quick fixes, shortcuts, and whatever it takes to make my playing more enjoyable in the moment.

I'm a concert fingerstyle player, and agree that the Kamaka strings don't work for me. I don't think it's all about technique, but maybe just a preference in sound, and different styles of playing. I don't play Hawaiian style music, so maybe that's part of the reason that they don't appeal to me? Whatever the reason, I'm glad that we've got lots of choices.

As was mentioned, Jake doesn't use them either, right? Now, if only I could sound like Jake, whatever strings I use.

But, ukulele is just a hobby for me, and other things need to take priority. So, like janeray1940, I'll take advantage of anything that make my playing more enjoyable for me.

AustinHing
05-07-2019, 06:28 AM
Thanks for all the inputs! I guess I’m in the other camp but I like my fluorocarbon too. Just that some ukes seems to feel and sound better with nylon imo. For my case, that Kamaka hf-2 seems perfect with the stock strings. So I have got myself this.

http://i.imgur.com/FiE8Qsa.jpg

The real Kamaka black strings. With a Low G too cos I thought why not. I can have a pretend Kamaka Ohta San uke if it works out fine. And here you go.
http://i.imgur.com/xjoypPN.jpg

The verdict, you have to take my words for it since there’s no audio comparisons, is a great sounding ukulele. It’s just as loud as before. C1K owners should know how loud it can be with the Martin strings.

Replacing that bright sparkling tone is a warmer and much sweeter note. Sustain is sufficient for me and the Low G helps a lot. They are thicker definitely as we all know and some may not like that feeling. But I think I’m doing okay with the thickness too. And I’m like doing 90% of the time on chord melody finger picking.

Also, interestingly the strings fitted nicely on the nut and no buzz.

I’m letting the Kamaka strings stay on for a while and see if it gets better. And this pretend Kamaka kind of stopped my UAS with the Ohta San uke.

merlin666
05-07-2019, 08:23 AM
I asked this very question at the factory tour last year. And I think it was Fred Kamaka Jr. who answered that they use these strings because they get a lot of feedback from the professional players who like their sound, but also the feel of stiffness that helps them with their precise playing.

As I am not a professional player I have Aquilas on my Lili'u mainly because I don't like wound strings.

pix.fairydust
05-07-2019, 09:43 AM
I've tried to like the original strings but just couldn't get on with them... I changed to living water and instant love!

AustinHing
05-07-2019, 02:26 PM
I had an experience with the stock strings on a Kamaka Deluxe concert, that one with a slotted head and didn’t like the strings at all. Dull tone and zero sustain.

But on the Kamaka hf-2 it just seems to work, and there were other folks in the music store as well and they tried that Kamaka and they too, were amazed at the sound of the Kamaka strings. Before that, they were like, “nah, it will 100% sound better with worth string”.

So back to my Martin with Kamaka. it seems that Kamaka strings worked out on my Martin after all, at least to my ears. I guess I really have no strong preference on strings cos I tried many brands and different types of strings and I seems to like them all, well most of them. Well, if you are like me, give it a shot, try it out for yourself. Jmho.

AustinHing
05-07-2019, 06:54 PM
D'Addario has a whole page for Jake Shimabukuro. It says he uses EJ65T Pro-Arté Custom Extruded Ukulele, Tenor ukulele strings. Nylon strings. I think I recall a page on a blog from a year or so ago claiming that the Kamaka strings are Pro-Arte strings dyed black, if this is correct and if Jake is actually using Pro-Arte strings, it is likely that Jake may actually be using a customised form of the strings packaged in Kamaka labelling?
Finding the strings you like to use is a quest for each ukulele. You can keep changing strings until you find the set you like. It is stupid to become a fan for a single set of strings for all of your ukuleles, it just does not work. However, I do recommend that you get your moneys worth out of you strings and you listen to them for a month or so before you change them for another set. The more you play the faster you wear out the strings, so when you are on a quest to find the right strings, play your uke as much as possible and really check out the strings while you wear them out.

Agree with you on the idea of no 1 set of strings for all ukuleles. I like Martin M600 on a Martin but dislike them on non Martin ukes. I have no loyalty to brands at all.

I intend to keep this Kamaka strings on for quite a while. They are growing on me for sure. And I have a bunch of Low G songs to work on. 1 advantage I can definitely see is that nylon strings are more tolerable of my playing. A missed step on fluorocarbon note can be quite noticeable as it cut across quite sharply. The Nylon string produce a rounder note and can go unnoticed.

Good to know that the D’addario can be a direct replacement for the Kamaka strings if one is looking for them. I’m lucky that my local music store has a full range of Kamaka strings. Given their poor reputation, i doubt music stores will stock up on them.