View Full Version : ADF#B on soprano - Aquila 4U vs 33U

07-19-2016, 06:49 AM
For a while now, I had a 1920s Lyon&Healy Washburn soprano that I wasn't quite sure what to do with. It's in great condition, but C tuning (gCEA) wasn't very impressive on it. I had it strung with D'Addario EJ99SC, which is an all nylon set, and that didn't help with brightness, either. :) I tuned it up to aDF#B (D tuning), but the tension was too high for comfort and peace of mind.

I read some older threads on the topic of D tuning and the consensus seemed to be that any C tuning strings can be used for D tuning, too, but I figured more specialized strings may be a better, perhaps safer route to go. I saw that Aquila had a dedicated D tuning set, though it isn't as widely offered as their other sets and I couldn't really find much information on it. To settle the question whether there is a difference for myself, I went ahead and bought both the C tuning set, which is Aquila 4U, and the D tuning set, which is Aquila 33U, both are New Nylgut. The packaging is the same, except for the legend and the sticker on the back.

I didn't measure the strings (no tools), but the 33U set does have visibly thinner strings. The picture is too large to upload, but you can view it here (https://www.dropbox.com/s/6pclr3yedsu3hyc/Photo%2019-07-16%2013%2048%2022.jpg). The red-marked and white(unmarked) strings show the difference in diameter (I hope!). Perhaps this helps someone down the road who is also wondering about the differences between those two sets. (The background is the cover of a baritone chord book, not a real ukulele!)

I really like those strings. The tension is surprisingly comfortable. They do have some bite, but they aren't so taunt that I worry about the bridge coming off. I'd say the tension is comparable to Living Water gCEA strings on sopranos, neither painfully tight nor floppy. They definitely bring out the voice of this soprano, and they're loud with good projection. I also like that they are thinner, since I never quite liked the thickness of the white nylguts overly much. The 33U set strikes a happy medium and matches my preferences perfectly.

This little uke is going to get a lot more playtime now. :) (Tempted to put the U33 set on my Black Bear soprano, too.)

07-19-2016, 05:31 PM
Maybe you should try some Worth CL or BL strings on it. They are the thinnest and lowest available tension fluoro strings I have found.

They always have a nice, bright, crisp and bell-like tone, no matter what instrument I put them on, but I've not tried them in D6 tuning on a soprano yet, which I will try to remedy right after typing this message, and get back to you...(thanks for the idea)

07-20-2016, 02:21 AM
Most "standard" soprano string sets will tune up to ADF#D (D6 tuning) OK. Obviously, the tension will be higher but no worse, IMO than a concert in standard GCEA (C6 tuning) and less than a tenor in C6 tuning. That's a subjective view rather than an accurately measured tension, admittedly.

I currently have a Cloud Music soprano tuned to D6 and I simply tuned up the supplied strings which, I believe are Aquila Nylguts - they look and feel like it - and it feels and plays OK. I previously had a Bruko soprano tuned D6. I used a standard living water set of soprano strings and they were fine. After a time I found the characteristically bright Bruko sound to be a bit too bright so I retuned it back to C6 and tuned the Cloud Music Soprano up instead.

If you're worried about the comfort factor, then Booli's suggestion of the Worth CL or BL is worth a try as they are their low tension strings.

07-22-2016, 12:25 AM
I had it strung with D'Addario EJ99SC, which is an all nylon set, and that didn't help with brightness, either.

if they are the EJ99SC they are not nylon, but fluorocarbon. fuorocarbon has higher tension than nylon, also with smaller gauge, so it "cut through" the fingertips.

you should try the EJ65S, which are nylon strings with less tension (but higer gauge), and they are designed for D tuning, as it was back in the old days. Sopranos were usually tuned in D, not C.

the Aquila 33u seem to be the best choice in your case. I would have suggested you to try the Super Nylgut, but they still don't make a D-tuning set... I'm loving them on my Soprano, due to the fact that the A string is smaller compared to "usual" sets of strings, and they don't buzz even with the lowest action I could get.

07-22-2016, 12:45 AM
I'm definitely happy with the 33U set, so for the time being it'll stay on this soprano. The tension doesn't seem higher than when I was in C tuning with the D'Addario set, and intonation is really good.

Yes, I'd have preferred Super Nylgut to New Nylgut, and most of all I would have liked a red set for D tuning, but the New Nylgut works. :)