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cpmusic
06-15-2016, 12:53 PM
I've had my Pono MGT for about a year, and although I've been reluctant to admit it, it hasn't thrilled me. It just seemed to be kind of quiet and restrained. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't very interesting.

I replaced the stock Ko'olau tenor strings with Aquila tenors, but they didn't make much difference. A short time later I bought an Oscar Schmidt tenor in the Marketplace which has a lovely tone, and I noticed that its clear strings were thinner than the tenors I'd been using on the Pono, so I looked around for thinner tenor sets.

One of the sets I bought was Martin M620 (clear tenor), and they really woke up the Pono, like flipping a switch. The tone is clear and woody, and the uke has plenty of volume now. It's what I've come to expect from a good uke, and now the Pono is getting most of my attention.

I also have some Worth clear tenors which appear to be similar to the Martins in gauge, but the Martins are so pleasing that it'll be a while before I try them.

JackLuis
06-15-2016, 01:22 PM
I've tried a bunch of strings, and found I don't care for Aquila much, they seem brash to me. The fluorocarbons seem more pleasing to me. Like you I changed out my Aquila's that came on my tenor and wow! It came out much fuller and throatier with fluorocarbons. My soprano is a lot louder with D'Addarios Carbons than the Aquila Nylguts and chimes better. I also like the Fremont Black Lines. I tried some Worth Browns as they were supposed to be 'warmer'. I like them but all the fluorocarbons seem pretty alike. I haven't tried other nylon strings which some have recommended, I'm afraid I might like them and it's SAS all over again!

padlin
06-15-2016, 01:25 PM
Good to know, I've noticed the same on my MT. Put on some Worth Browns which helped the tone but still pretty quiet.

Mivo
06-15-2016, 01:43 PM
I didn't notice as strong a difference between strings made of the same material, namely fluorocarbon, but different materials seem to have a huge impact. I just went through this with my baritone, and it too opened my eyes to the importance of finding strings that work well for the specific instrument.

I originally shied away from string experiments in part because changing strings was initially a scary thing, but eventually experience made it a much more trivial aspect.

cpmusic
06-15-2016, 02:01 PM
I didn't notice as strong a difference between strings made of the same material, namely fluorocarbon, but different materials seem to have a huge impact.

In my experience, gauge makes a difference, as well. I'm pretty sure the stock strings on the Pono were clear fluorocarbon, but Martins are much thinner, and that seems to have made a big difference.

M3Ukulele
06-15-2016, 02:23 PM
I found the same very early with my Pono AT. As soon as I put fluorocarbons on it, it sang. Pono's love FC strings of any kinds. I've tried many and they all work and sound GREAT. I'd like to try the mango deluxe version of ukulele that you have but they don't come up much at HMS. I play at MGT in Vancouver guitar store and it sounded like you described........it was the strings for sure. Pono AT, MT, MGT are great, great ukuleles and VALUE for the money. Very well made and the matt finish brings out a really nice tone !

stevejfc
06-15-2016, 03:39 PM
Mixing string sets can also make a difference. My favorite low G combo is a Fremont low G soloist with PHD 1-3. For re-entrant a Living Waters high G with Oasis Brights 1-3. Sometimes, adding a wound C can also change the character/sound.

DownUpDave
06-17-2016, 02:44 AM
This should almost be a sticky.

More ukes have been sold off due to "not having the right sound" before adequate string experimentation took place. The right strings can literally transform an instrument as you have found out.

Glad it worked out for you and you're happy.

Soundbored
06-17-2016, 04:14 AM
I have D'Addario Nyltech on both my daughters' mid-range sopranos, Kala and Anuenue, and they sound great. But on my Kiwaya they were lifeless. After some experiments, I ended up going with D'Addario EJ99sc fluorocarbons, and it finally had the feel and tone I wanted. Totally satisfied now.

bearbike137
06-17-2016, 05:00 AM
You are absolutely correct. It is quite amazing how much different each brand of strings sound on a uke. Not only is tone unique to each brand, but also intonation.

String "rolling" is a given whenever I buy a new uke. I try many brands (all flourocarbon) - mixing strings from different sets, etc, until I find a combination that is magic.

By the way - you mention the Martin M620 strings: those strings are very underrated. I have been pleasantly surprised by how good they sound and feel. They are a regular part of my string rotation - often being the best string for the 1st and 2nd strings on my tenors. And they are inexpensive!!

Trader Todd
06-17-2016, 05:27 AM
I felt the same way about my Pono PC, liked it but was never thrilled with it. Half a dozen string changes later, I love it. Still searching for the perfect pair. I hate changing strings, but worth the time searching...

cpmusic
06-17-2016, 08:08 AM
By the way - you mention the Martin M620 strings: those strings are very underrated. I have been pleasantly surprised by how good they sound and feel. They are a regular part of my string rotation - often being the best string for the 1st and 2nd strings on my tenors. And they are inexpensive!!

When I first started playing uke I dismissed Martin strings because their gauges are so thin compared to most other brands. That just seemed odd. But I bought a set of M600 for the first uke I painted because they don't distract visually and are inexpensive, and I was very impressed by how nice a painted Makala sounded with them. I don't know why it took me so long to try their tenor set on my Pono, but I'm glad I did.

bearbike137
06-17-2016, 08:13 AM
When I first started playing uke I dismissed Martin strings because their gauges are so thin compared to most other brands. That just seemed odd. But I bought a set of M600 for the first uke I painted because they don't distract visually and are inexpensive, and I was very impressed by how nice a painted Makala sounded with them. I don't know why it took me so long to try their tenor set on my Pono, but I'm glad I did.

Hmm, I didn't notice them being thinner - at least not the 1st and 2nd strings. However, I agree that they sound great!

jollyboy
06-17-2016, 08:16 AM
By the way - you mention the Martin M620 strings: those strings are very underrated.

+1 - the Martin fluoros are great strings.

SallyS
06-18-2016, 04:18 AM
Agreed.
My first uke came with strings, have no clue the make back then, this was years ago - basically it was only ʻmehʻ. Hubby wanted to try Aquilas and I chose Kamaka just ʻcuz. I liked the black batter. Big difference. Newer ukes came with similar, good for me, but the set of Worth Clears has finally convinced me that I might be a uke player. Big difference and the Martin FCʻs are ready to try. I canʻt stand the Acquilaʻs that husband likes - at all.

johnson430
06-18-2016, 10:20 AM
I have had my Pono MGT over a year and a half and had many stings set on there.
My top picks for an MGT.
PHD or the D'addario J71. PHD's rank as my favorites for tension and playability. They are a higher tension string but you don't feel like the strings are biting into you because of the smaller diameter.
Lastly, for low G set-up get a fremont squeak-less with the Fremont blacklines or any string set and it will will turn your mango into a great sounding instrument, IMHO.

KanePono
06-18-2016, 11:05 AM
I like experimenting with different strings for sound, effect and feel. I changed out the original strings on my Mahogany Concert with some Aquila New Nylguts and liked the improvement in tone and clarity. But I've noticed that the Aquilas on all of my ukes have a tendency to squeak under my picking fingers. I usually wash my hands before playing and I don't have very oily skin which could impact this sensation. I recently switched to D'Addario Titanium and like them much better on the Concert. They don't squeak, They feel smooth under my fretting fingers, and they look great with a clear purple hue. The sound seems to be brighten-up a little over the Aquilas. I'll probably try something different on the Tenors.

mm stan
06-18-2016, 01:24 PM
Martins are middle guage strings, sweet yet and it gives a bit of volume and brightness
It's about guage thickness, and hardness/softness of compound too. The thicker and softer
Provides a sweeter tone on low tension strings. The thinner guage softer tone may suffer with thinner tone, provide clarity, volume and bight Ness but has better playability.
The higher tension strings provides clarity and brightness but suffer sweetness and playability .
Lower tension strings provide the string to resonate better and therefore giving a sweeter tone.
On some high tension strings you lose the resonating giving it a flatter dead tone.

Griffis
06-18-2016, 02:09 PM
Coming from playing guitar and especially bass, I tend towards liking thicker gauge strings. Any recommendations for not-so-thin all-unwound sets? Playing a Gretsch soprano currently running Nylguts and no plans on changing those at the.moment, but would like to try some thicker gauge sets for a low G concert and a linear DGBE baritone. Again, prefer non wound all the way.

Someone here recently stated flouros are typically thicker than nylon, but I may be remembering that backwards.

With guitar and bass I was often really surprised at how much different strings affected overall sound.

I discovered the same things with picks on mandolin and electric and acoustic guitars. Bass as well but I only played bass with a pick about 50% of the time.

I realize any little change will make a difference, but once I started really paying attention I was surprised how profound a difference a little thing like a pick could have.

Inksplosive AL
06-18-2016, 04:41 PM
I put Aquila reds on everything I have. All others feel weird now.

Croaky Keith
06-18-2016, 10:20 PM
I use Living Water low strings (flourocarbons) on half of my collection. :)

Tootler
06-19-2016, 12:01 AM
Someone here recently stated flouros are typically thicker than nylon, but I may be remembering that backwards.


You have it the wrong way round. I normally replace the default Nylguts with Fluorocarbon (variously Worth clears or Living Water) when a string change becomes due and the Fluorocarbon strings are definitely thinner than the Nylguts.

Nickie
06-19-2016, 02:34 PM
This is a great thread. At the risk of:deadhorse: I'll say that I was able to "save" one of my ukes by taking off the Aquilas and throwing them in the nearest trash can. I replaced them with Worth Browns, and the uke is finally enjoyable to play.
I plan to experiment with a lot more different strings in the future. I am less and less of a Nylgut fan as I gain more playing experience. I'm finding that GHS, D'Addario strings and Worth Clears are also fun to play on. Someday I wanna try a set of Living Waters.

Pier
06-20-2016, 05:09 AM
honestly, I think that Aquila strings are just "misunderstood".

the big hype began when stock instruments came with anonymous black strings of questionable quality, usually "dead" and poor of hamonic content, and switching to strings like Aquila were a breath of joy, with their bright tone full of harmonics. however, the Aquila's tone is also scooped on the mids, so a lot of "nuances" in both sound and playing don't come out.
that's why usually we read (ant think) that Aquila strings make every uke sound like Aquila strings.

I find that Aquilas are nice fingerpicked, but strumming they are too "confusing" and "plinky", due to the fact that you almost hear only bass and high frequencies.

fluorocarbons, on the other hand, have a "flat" response, that makes the ukulele chracteristics shine, and due to the fact that our ears perceive better the mid frequencies, carbon strings tend to appear powerful on the mids and with a better "projection".

they also sound less confusing while strumming, so every note of the chord is clear and audible.

it's all a matter of tastes and necessities, and even black nylon and clear nylon have their fans, right?

we usually read about nylgut and fluorocarbons, and few words about what's in the middle :D

Mivo
06-20-2016, 05:59 AM
Not all Aquila strings are the same, either. There are Nylguts, New Nylguts, and the Red Series (which are completely different). They also sell genuine gut strings. Probably more.

I'm very curious about the Red Series, which I'll try next on my baritone (already have a set, so want to use it up, but not before the current strings wear out some; strings are affordable, but the expenses add up if you go through numerous sets).

strumsilly
06-20-2016, 06:03 AM
This should almost be a sticky.

More ukes have been sold off due to "not having the right sound" before adequate string experimentation took place. The right strings can literally transform an instrument as you have found out.

Glad it worked out for you and you're happy.
yep..............................

Pier
06-20-2016, 06:53 AM
Not all Aquila strings are the same, either. There are Nylguts, New Nylguts, and the Red Series (which are completely different). They also sell genuine gut strings. Probably more.



that's true, but we usually talk about New Nylgut and Super Nylgut, because they are the "stock sets" on most instruments today, and they are pretty similar. Super Nylguts just have a slightly darker sound.

I'm not willing to try the Reds just because they break easilly, and I'm the kind of guy that hates to spend money on something that might break :D however they are interesting in terms of sound, but I'm afraid they can be too bright, from videos I've seen/heard.


but not before the current strings wear out some; strings are affordable, but the expenses add up if you go through numerous sets

I always keep used strings, and switch sets. they will work without any issue, as long as they don't break (but fluorocarbons or nylgut don't break). in the last months I've re-used the various sets I wanted to try, switching when I got bored with a set.

that's the way to not spend too much money on strings :D I do it even on the bass guitar, and it helped me save a lot of money.

Mivo
06-20-2016, 07:30 AM
When I try the reds and they break in the first week, I'll be right in Mimmo's PM box and whine at him. :p Well, I got the baritone set when the reds cost €5,20 at Thomann (there was a sale for Aquila strings), so it wasn't too bad.

Good tip about keeping old strings. I should get in the habit of doing that. I wasted a set of LW baritone strings and the Ko'olau factory strings, too.

Pier
06-20-2016, 08:20 AM
Good tip about keeping old strings. I should get in the habit of doing that. I wasted a set of LW baritone strings and the Ko'olau factory strings, too.

I'm just on my way to retry the New Nylguts, because I'm trying to record different strings with the same pieces of music, to understand better which one I like to hear, to play and to "feel". :D

the bad thing about saving strings is that I always want to switch them, when I'm on those periods I can't decide.

for example, I kept my Ohana sk38 with D'Addario Carbon for two months without the urge to try different strings (after trying Nylguts and Super Nylguts), and then, all of a sudden, I can't keep a set for more than two days, without the "need" to try the other one. I also bought a set of D'Addario black nylon, so I'm swtiching between four sets, ahahha!
it's a curse!

hmgberg
06-20-2016, 08:30 AM
honestly, I think that Aquila strings are just "misunderstood".

the big hype began when stock instruments came with anonymous black strings of questionable quality, usually "dead" and poor of hamonic content, and switching to strings like Aquila were a breath of joy, with their bright tone full of harmonics. however, the Aquila's tone is also scooped on the mids, so a lot of "nuances" in both sound and playing don't come out.
that's why usually we read (ant think) that Aquila strings make every uke sound like Aquila strings.

I find that Aquilas are nice fingerpicked, but strumming they are too "confusing" and "plinky", due to the fact that you almost hear only bass and high frequencies.

fluorocarbons, on the other hand, have a "flat" response, that makes the ukulele chracteristics shine, and due to the fact that our ears perceive better the mid frequencies, carbon strings tend to appear powerful on the mids and with a better "projection".

they also sound less confusing while strumming, so every note of the chord is clear and audible.

it's all a matter of tastes and necessities, and even black nylon and clear nylon have their fans, right?

we usually read about nylgut and fluorocarbons, and few words about what's in the middle :D

This is a good explanation of the differences.

I continually try different strings. It gets complicated as I also experiment with different tunings for different scale lengths. The strings I haven't yet tried are Orcas, Phds and Living Water. I've tried everything else that I know exists, including all the varieties of Aquilas and Southcoasts. I've used Reds on a number of ukuleles since they came out and have never had one break. Maybe I'm just lucky and now that I have said so, they will start popping all over the place. I like them on ukuleles that suit them, especially mellow ones that need a bit of brightness. My overall experience with them is that they are either the best or the worst, depending on the instrument and the tuning. They are great with mellow tenors tuned down a step. I have also used a red A string (with the others being fluorocarbons) when an instrument is weak in the higher register. I like the Lava strings, too.

I have Nylguts on two ukuleles. I used them a lot when I first started and quickly removed them when I developed a preference for carbon strings. However, when I play the ukuleles with them on (Kamaka soprano and Harmony Vita), I find that I appreciate them more than I once did. Aquila products are interesting. I appreciate that Mimo keeps experimenting. Matched with the right ukulele, Aquilas can be great.

I also use Nylon strings by various manufacturers. I'm disappointed that I can't get Ko'olau Golds anymore. Most folks don't care for Kamaka strings, but I like them on longer-scale Kamaka ukuleles.

Pier
06-20-2016, 11:48 PM
Most folks don't care for Kamaka strings, but I like them on longer-scale Kamaka ukuleles.

I wanted to try D'Addario black nylon when I red that Kamaka strings are made by D'Addario, and I really like their samples :D I tried them on a soprano, but the "sound" is recognizable, they have some specific characteristics.

however, I noticed that the Tenor size D'Addario have the wound C string, Kamakas don't.


I like the Lava strings, too.

do you know if they actually differ from the Super Nylgut? because on the Aquila's description they just say that they are Super Nylguts dyed to look black, but they are the same.
on some reviews I red that they are different from the Super Nylguts, but maybe those reviewing were talking about New Nylguts. I noticed that many youtube users write "super nylgut", but then they are just the stock "new nylgut".

Mivo
06-21-2016, 01:03 AM
After I had tried a low-G Worth string on my tenor, I had concluded that low-G doesn't work for me. But now that I experienced the difference between a fluorocarbon baritone G string (sounded dull) and a wound baritone G string (sounded alive), I just ordered the Aquila low-G Reds set that comes with a wound G, so low-G gets another whirl. Just to satisfy my curiosity. If it works, my tenor will stay in GCEA. If it doesn't, it goes back to fBbDG.

I guess when UAS settles down, we enter the SAS phase of the journey. :) I didn't expect that would happen for me, but the baritone string experiments showed me how substantial the impact of strings on the sound is. That really dampened my curiosity about different instruments and motivated me to try different string sets on the ukes I already have.

DownUpDave
06-21-2016, 01:32 AM
Mivo, fortunately SAS is much cheaper than UAS. Going from reentrant to low G is like getting a new instrument, sonically. I had a friend come over with a low G florocarbon set and I just swapped out the floro G string for a wound Fremont soloist low G. The difference was dramatic, to the point that this instrument now became his favorite.

If you can get the Oasis warm low G they are a great string set and it is double length so very economical.

Mivo
06-21-2016, 02:08 AM
Right after ordering, I realized the Aquila 88U set doesn't come with a wound G string. I misread that in the product description. In German, a wound string is "umwunden", and unwound is "unumwunden"; my 8-o'clock-in-the-morning brain didn't catch that, but I just in time realized it before they shipped. Phew. (I also didn't realize that U in the model doesn't stand for Ukulele!)

Does anyone make tenor sets that come with a wound low-G and a wound C string?

macfish
06-21-2016, 02:16 AM
Not sure if they ship overseas, but Southcoast has linear sets with wound g and c.
http://www.southcoastukes.com/linear.htm
I really like the ML-WB set on my tenor.

jollyboy
06-21-2016, 02:17 AM
Does anyone make tenor sets that come with a wound low-G and a wound C string?

Southcoast sell linear sets with wound basses. (http://www.southcoastukes.com/linear.htm)

Alternatively, you can make up your own frankenset :)

Edit: ninja'd!

Mivo
06-21-2016, 03:01 AM
I guess it always comes back to Southcoast, no matter how much I might struggle with the idea of getting used to strings that I have to import. :) Thanks guys!

Now that I cancelled my order for the tenor Reds (turned out I wasn't blind: the catalog description was wrong, but the order confirmation's blurb was correct), I did instead order the Aquila dGBE (G tuning, high-D), which curiously enough does come with a wound G string (and it's red!). My tenor using the same tuning as my baritone (low-D here) does have a certain appeal. I'll report when those arrive. Haven't been able to find any videos for those, but not looked overly hard.

But yes, it seems Southcoast is likely the way to go for all of my string desires that are slightly off the beaten track.

Pier
06-21-2016, 03:45 AM
if I'm not wrong, the Red series is designed to have a crispy and defined low G even if not wound, due to the fact that the composition of the string is made to keep the gauge small, but with the right tension and sound.

I'd add a thing to the topic, talking about gauge and tension:

today I spent a couple hours switching strings "on the moment", to really catch the differences in feeling.

D'Addario Carbon are small in gauge, but tight and firm. high G, C and E are really perfect in tension, but the high A string is a bit tighter, so sometimes is harder to press it, in particular with the pinky finger.

Aquila New Nylgut are bigger in gauge, but with less tension, and they feel somewhat "sloppy". using them, the dead spots of my Ohana became kind of black holes. the high G and C are well balanced, the E is a bit loose, and the high A string is stiff.

Aquila Super Nylgut are better balanced then the New Nylgut, but the A string is smaller, so more flexible and easier to play. it even makes dead spots disappear, probably due to the lower tension. the C is slightly bigger, but not much.
the overall feeling is of "tighter" strings, but still looser than fluorocabons. they also eliminates all the buzzes I had with New Nylgut and on the Carbon's C.

I'll post some sample in the evening :D

JessicaM
06-21-2016, 05:41 AM
Would there be some way to start a chart where people put the make/model of uke and which strings they landed on as great?

Basically I'm hoping to crowdsource some of the fiddling to those of you who are experienced string-swappers ;)

JackLuis
06-21-2016, 06:09 AM
Would there be some way to start a chart where people put the make/model of uke and which strings they landed on as great?

Basically I'm hoping to crowdsource some of the fiddling to those of you who are experienced string-swappers ;)

It is really a personal thing choosing the 'Right Strings" for any particular Uku. Composition is more important than the brand, IMHO. To me Fluorocarbons sound best on my Zebras. If you like the idea of black strings, Fremont Black lines are very nice. D'Addario Carbons are about equal and Worth Brown are very close but different a bit. PhDs are a different material but very good sounding.

All of my Uku's came with Aquilas and I think they sound too brash, but I have Frequency Selective Hearing loss and that may influence my choices.

cml
06-21-2016, 06:36 AM
I just wish there was an easier way to get strings in Sweden...I have to order from either the UK or Germany everytime, even if I only want Aquilas. The stock here in Sweden is ridiculous.

Mivo
06-21-2016, 06:58 AM
Would there be some way to start a chart where people put the make/model of uke and which strings they landed on as great?

Personal preference plays a big role in this, and at least for me it's not a static thing. I find myself being somewhat fickle and inconsistent when it comes to ukulele preferences (it's probably like with food: even if you enjoy something, you won't feel like eating the same every day). Plus, few people have tried most of the available strings, and it depends on the individual instrument also.

cpmusic
06-21-2016, 07:04 AM
I'm sorry to go on about this, but I cannot get over how much better my Pono MGT sounds with Martin fluorocarbons. It's as if I got a new, much better sounding uke.

For what it's worth, here are the stats on the Martin and New Nylgut strings, both re-entrant. Although the Martins are considerably thinner, their overall tension is a little higher.

Martin tenor
1st - .0216 inch
2nd - .0280
3rd - .0340
4th - .0256
Total tension - 53.480 lbs

New Nylgut (converted from mm)
1st - .0264 inch
2nd - .0331
3rd - .0394
4th - .0287
Total tension - 53.352 lbs

jollyboy
06-21-2016, 07:06 AM
I suppose you could maybe do something like a poll - with two axes, one for instrument make/model and one for string type. People could score combinations that they have tried, say give marks out of 5 or 10. It would be interesting to see what, if any, consensus emerged. There's a lot of different instruments out there though...

Mivo
06-21-2016, 07:17 AM
Perhaps size and wood used for the top would narrow it down and give a rough idea. But then again, ukes are often differently built, which probably affects how well different string types/materials work.

WCBarnes
06-21-2016, 08:32 AM
I have found that I really like Aquilas on my laminate ukes. I think they drive the top very well. On my other ukes I tend to start with Southcoasts or Martins and adjust from there. I just got a uke that had Fremont blacklines and I am not yest sure what I think about them. I don't hate them, but I don't know that I would use them again. I do, however, love the Fremont soloist for low G. You can hardly tell it is a wound string and it isn't too boomy, IMHO.

70sSanO
06-21-2016, 12:21 PM
I have been trying all sorts of strings over the years nylon, fluorocarbon, fishing line, even steel.

An overly generalized statement... strings are basically string material and tension. Every ukulele has an optimum combination of those two elements. Some ukes play better with softer nylon strings like Aquila and some with harder fluorocarbon strings. But the common thread is that it is just the soundboard that is reacting to the vibration of the strings. Too much tension, thicker strings, can choke the sound and too thin, lower tension, will not drive the drive the soundboard. Too thick can sound muddy and too thin, sounds.. thin.

The challenge, and fun to some extent, is to find the best blend of strings for a particular ukulele. If you are into any of the techie stuff, you can keep track of materials and diameters so when you compare the sound of Martins to Worths you can get a feel why the C string sounds like this, and the A string sounds like that, or no difference at all. As noted, there can be an obsessive nature to this (SAS) where a person can mix-n-match brands or, use a mix with, God forbid, fluorocarbon fishing line. I'm in the tech camp and, at least for me, it has helped to dial a tension/sound.

I will say that Southcoast probably offers the most diverse selection for experimentation.

John