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View Full Version : Aquila REDS on plastic fretboard? bad idea?



Booli
01-03-2016, 12:07 PM
Hi Folks,

Happy New Year! :)

I was interested to get the opinion of the masses here and to assess the common wisdom with regards to using the Aquila REDS strings on a uke with a plastic fretboard...

Specifically Fluke and Flea ukes from The Magic Fluke Company, which are what I have in this case with a plastic freboard.

I've seen that some folks here in the forum are using these strings on these instruments.

I'd like to do the same, however my concern is that it might accelerate the wearing down of the molded-in plastic 'frets' as opposed to using fluro/nylon/nylgut strings.

From what I've read from the Aquila web site, and what Mimmo has posted here on the forum is that the Aquila REDS are composed of Nylgut that is impregnated with copper powder, which gives them greater density and allows them to be thinner than plain Nylgut strings.

The copper powder also gives them their color.

With use of them on wooden fretboards with metal frets, I've noticed that the strings have a sort of parchment-paper texture, which gets smoothed down after about 100 hrs of play time, but when first installed, the strings are not smooth like fluoro/nylon/nylgut strings.

So my concern is if the initial rough texture of the strings is going to chew into the plastic frets on a Fluke or Flea faster than the fluro/nylon/nylgut strings would.

I'd never put wound strings on a plastic-fretboard uke, unless I wanted to very SLOWLY make it into a fretless uke.

It seems most long-time Fluke/Flea owners have reported that it takes about 3-5 yrs of daily play to show significant wear on the plastic fretboard (using fluoro/nylon nylgut strings), and those that have, have sent the uke back to The Magic Fluke Company to have the fretboard replaced (at the uke-owners expense?).

So, will Aquila REDS be a problem as per above, or am I being overly cautious?

I know we cannot 'see' the copper like on a wound string, but it seems maybe we can 'feel' it in the texture of the REDS strings.

Has anybody spoken to Dale or Phyllis Webb from The Magic Fluke Company to get an official opinion specifically on the Aquila REDS?

Please share your opinions and/or experience(s).

Thanks for your time,

-Booli

soupking
01-03-2016, 12:28 PM
My understanding is that the Magic Fluke Co. will replace the plastic fretboard to plastic free of charge. I believe it used to mention this somewhere on the website at some point, although I've recently purchased a couple new ones of late and can no longer find that specifically stated anywhere. If switching to the hardwood fretboard, the normal upcharge applies. Obviously, shipping is on the owner. I've also read some notable luthiers state that, even with traditional fretwire, non-wound strings have dug into said fretwire more than wound strings. Having said all of that, I've never used wound strings on any Fleas or Flukes with plastic fretboards, but I have noticed grooves worn into the frets in much less than three years- less than *a* year, actually. However, I sold them off before knowing if they actually affected playability in any way-- which they didn't at the time.

KoaDependent
01-03-2016, 12:45 PM
I've also read some notable luthiers state that, even with traditional fretwire, non-wound strings have dug into said fretwire more than wound strings.

Really? That seems counter-intuitive. Is the tension that much lower on wound strings?

I had a wound Low G bite into the plastic saddle on a Risa Stick a little bit, so I stopped using it. I tried an Aquila Low G red on it but it kept breaking due to the way it rubbed over the metal spindle that holds the tension between the tuner and the saddle.

Tootler
01-03-2016, 01:00 PM
My Flea is beginning to show some wear after about 3 years but it still plays fine. I changed from Nylgut to fluorocarbon early on so it's been strung with fluorocarbon strings most of the time I've had it.

I've just ordered a Worth low G for my Risa stick as I felt that was probably the best way to go and it's currently strung with a Living Water high G set

hendulele
01-03-2016, 02:16 PM
My understanding is that the Magic Fluke Co. will replace the plastic fretboard to plastic free of charge. I believe it used to mention this somewhere on the website at some point, although I've recently purchased a couple new ones of late and can no longer find that specifically stated anywhere. If switching to the hardwood fretboard, the normal upcharge applies. Obviously, shipping is on the owner. I've also read some notable luthiers state that, even with traditional fretwire, non-wound strings have dug into said fretwire more than wound strings. Having said all of that, I've never used wound strings on any Fleas or Flukes with plastic fretboards, but I have noticed grooves worn into the frets in much less than three years- less than *a* year, actually. However, I sold them off before knowing if they actually affected playability in any way-- which they didn't at the time.

I switched from nylguts to fluorocarbons on my Flea and Fluke and had the same issue with both -- the thinner carbon strings tended to move about in the zero fret/nut and make a clicking noise. When I notified Dale at MFC about this, he sent me a set of string spacers (sleeves) and they took care of the problem. I also had a problem with the bridge on the Fluke (bought used, modified by the original owner), sent it to MFC, and they replaced the bridge for $18, which is what they charge for repairs. Customer service there is wonderful. If you need to replace the fretboard, you may have to pay the $18, and the cost of shipping to Massachusetts, but I'd guess no more.