PDA

View Full Version : Why Wound "C" String?



Snargle
12-21-2016, 02:28 PM
The FedEx guy arrived this afternoon with my new Pono ATD-CR (Cedar top, Acacia body Tenor) from HMS and it's a beauty! My only disappointment was the factory-installed strings which included a wound "C" string. Not only is it wound, but it's not flat-wound, so it's very noisy. It's also much louder and "boomier" than a normal string. I suspect I'll be changing the whole set to a fluorocarbon tenor set (probably Worth Browns) before much longer.

My Kala Tenor has a wound low-G Fremont Soloist string and it's great...no string noise and blends in very well with the other plain strings.

My question is what purpose does the wound "C" string serve? It doesn't sound terribly bad when strumming, but it is very clashing and irritating when finger picking.

Mivo
12-21-2016, 03:00 PM
On tenors, an unwound C string can sound a little dead/dull/thuddy, particularly around the D and D#. The wound C is more resonant. Like with low-G strings, this is also a matter of preference: some people like them wound, others prefer them plain. I feel it also depends on the instrument: some sound better with wound Cs, others boom too much with it. If it's a low-G instrument, I prefer a wound C string with a wound G string as it's more balanced, unless the wound G string is a Fremont Soloist, which in my ears sounds great with three fluorocarbon strings. Wound strings tend to require a bit of a different approach/technique, both for the boom and for the squeak.

PereBourik
12-21-2016, 03:08 PM
The Oasis wound low G balances well with 3 fluorocarbon strings too.

Booli
12-21-2016, 03:21 PM
Maybe HMS strings that uke in a standard way? Maybe you were not offered a stringing choice when you added it to your shopping cart on the web site?

Easy solutions exist...

If you search the forum for 'Thomastik', you will find out about their chrome flatwound strings, which are in fact as smoothe if not smoother than the Fremont soloist, and many folks are happily using the string CF27 which is a chrome flatwound 0.027" string for a wound C string.

On soprano a wound C string can help to offset the low-tension flubby tubby sound and feel of most 0.0319" or 0.0291" fluoro strings and 0.041" nylon strings which at that scale are typically no more than about 9 lbs of string tension.

The wound C is thinner, has MORE tension and will intonate better than most other unwound C strings save for the 0.0340" unwound C string found in the Martin M600 and M620 string sets.

Alternatively, if you want to make your own smooth wound string, you can remove the string and use some 250 or 220 grit sandpaper and do about 20-30 passes along the length of the existing string you already have, and this will knock down the windings to be much smoother, while also removing whatever silver or aluminum coating is on the out copper wrap wire, so the wire will now have the copper exposed, which will oxidize faster without the coating, but will in fact have a much reduced finger squeak noise. Then after sanding it down, you can re-install the string and see how you like it.

I have done all the above. I dislike wound strings that are not smooth so testing out all the options is a process I have been going through myself, and it's become a hobby in and of itself over the past few years.

Hope this helps :)

Snargle
12-21-2016, 03:30 PM
A couple additional points:

The ukulele is tuned in standard (High "G") reentrant tuning.

The photos and the demo on the HMS website (theukulelesite.com) show an instrument with unwound strings. Some searching seems to show that Pono tenors are now shipping with a wound "C".

It's not a big deal and I don't mind changing strings, but I was just wondering what purpose the wound "C" string served. To my ear, anyway, it doesn't play well on my new Pono.

Patrick Madsen
12-21-2016, 06:15 PM
I suggest you go to southcoastukuleles.com and read Dirk's tech and tips section. He's the guru of uke strings

DownUpDave
12-22-2016, 01:42 AM
"Why a wound C string"......As Mivo said it will give more sustain and resonance in high G tuning if the is what you are after. Getting the right wound C is the trick and I have never liked the Ko'olau strings that come stock on Pono! I love the instruments.

As Booli said Thomastik CF27 are a great wound C string as is D'Addario NYL027.

jollyboy
12-22-2016, 03:12 AM
I agree with all the reasons given above. I would add that the Ko'olau strings are either composite or modified nylon IIRC (depending on which ones you get). And they are relatively thick - thicker than fluorocarbons. And it's the thickness that often causes an unwound C to sound thuddy.

I did read that in the dark days before fluoros, using a wound C (on a tenor) was a fairly common practice. And I believe that the .036 aluminium wound C has been knocking around for a while. But times move on and, like others have said, there are better wound C options available. And it's worth experimenting as there can be real advantages.

Tootler
12-22-2016, 04:24 AM
I think it depends on the instrument. Mostly my ukuleles are strung with fluorocarbon strings and I don't have a problem with that. The three Brukos I have all work well with f/c strings - either Worth Clears or Living Water. My tenors are strung re-entrant dGBE and the G string is plain fluorocarbon and while the Fluke is a little boomy, the Bruko most certainly is not. Interestingly, though I find the Fluke a little boomy, most other people tell me they like the sound so I reckon it's a case of hearing it differently from others. I did try Aquila tenor dGBE strings on the Fluke but I wasn't happy with them at all (they came with a Red G string) and went over to Worth CF (Clear Fats). OTOH, my new baritone came with Aquila strings which are wound D and G strings and plain D and E and I am very happy with them as they are well balanced. The D & G aren't flatwound and do squeak a bit but I haven't found it a major problem.

I guess the answer, as usual, is you have to experiment. When my Baritone strings need changing I might try Living Water f/c strings and see how they do compared with the Aquilas.

Snargle
12-22-2016, 03:37 PM
Well, I gave the wound "C" string a fair trial on my new Pono tenor. It was found guilty and sentenced to solitary confinement in my cigar box of spare string sets. I pulled off the whole factory set and replaced it with an "Aaron C Signature Set" (plain) that was shipped with the new uke from HMS. It's an interesting set...so far it sounds very nice, but the mixture of strings from different manufacturers looks and feels a little weird. Despite that, the tone, balance, and playability is excellent. The strings willl take a few days to settle in, but I think I'm going to enjoy playing this new, beautiful uke.

Al Davison
12-23-2016, 04:19 AM
I put a Kooa'la wound C on my Kanile'a Super Tenor a few days ago. I don't think I like it very much. It's fat and noisy. I can't tell that it's a big improvement.
I'm trying to find a reasonable source for the Thomastik strings but nobody has them locally and the shipping is as much as the string from everywhere I've found it online. So, around $13 for a single string is a bit much...and I still don't know if I would like it. Thanks for the tip on the D'Addario - I think I can get those locally.

Booli
12-23-2016, 04:39 AM
I put a Kooa'la wound C on my Kanile'a Super Tenor a few days ago. I don't think I like it very much. It's fat and noisy. I can't tell that it's a big improvement.
I'm trying to find a reasonable source for the Thomastik strings but nobody has them locally and the shipping is as much as the string from everywhere I've found it online. So, around $13 for a single string is a bit much...and I still don't know if I would like it. Thanks for the tip on the D'Addario - I think I can get those locally.

Below is the only 'reasonable source' that I've found:

stringsbymail.com charges a flat rate of $3.99 for string orders unless you meet the free shipping threshold, and they sell the CF27 string for $5.69

https://www.stringsbymail.com/thomastik-infeld-cf27-3rd-string-g-027-chrome-steel-flat-wound-2480.html

I have not seen ANY online string seller with free shipping that ALSO has these strings from Thomastik as singles, so the cheapest you are gonna get one to your door is like $9.69

Might as well add other strings to the same order since shipping is the same, stringsbymail has LOTS of different uke strings, 9 different brands, each with at least 2 different sets, so there are MANY choices:

https://www.stringsbymail.com/ukulele-strings-684/

Mivo
12-23-2016, 05:04 AM
Ko'olau wound strings also didn't do it for me. I had bought a few of their sets with a wound C and ended up returning the ones I had not opened. That was the only time I returned strings. Thomastik-Infeld wounds are a completely different beast (as are probably all flatwounds). They still boomed a bit on my tenor.

I wish Fremont made a wound C Soloist, since their low-G Soloist is by far my favorite.

DownUpDave
12-23-2016, 05:30 AM
Ko'olau wound strings also didn't do it for me. I had bought a few of their sets with a wound C and ended up returning the ones I had not opened. That was the only time I returned strings. Thomastik-Infeld wounds are a completely different beast (as are probably all flatwounds). They still boomed a bit on my tenor.

I wish Fremont made a wound C Soloist, since their low-G Soloist is by far my favorite.

Fremont Soloist wound C.......Amen to that brother, I have heard others say the same thing. A bunch of us should contact Fremont and let them know there is a demand for it.

frigiliana
12-23-2016, 06:02 AM
Please Please Fremont low C i'd sign up for one :)

jollyboy
12-23-2016, 06:22 AM
Yeah let's start a petition :)

If Fremont offered sets with two wounds that would be cool too...