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View Full Version : Aquila Red Series - A personal experience



b00geyman
01-03-2017, 04:44 PM
There were a few threads on Aquila Red series here, mainly mixed feelings, so I decided to contribute with my own experience.

I bought a set of Aquila Red series for my Lanikai LU-11 soprano. Before that, it had Aquila nylons and it sounded okay, but it was fairly quiet and somewhat dull on finger picking.

I replaced the strings myself, one at the time to preserve the tension, starting from high G. I first pre-tensed them using my hands and a piece of soft cloth. You will know you're good when most of the red dust residue is gone.

I then carefully wound them, three-four wounds on each peg, about half step at the time, leaving them somewhat under-tuned to tense them properly.

When I finished replacing the strings, I tuned the uke [GCEA] and left them like that for a few hours. I then re-tuned the uke.

I'm pleased to say that they stayed in tune for the most part, except for C which I slightly over-wound by mistake.

The strings definitely work. They brightened up the uke unbelievably well, to the point it is now a different instrument altogether. They resonate beautifully, especially for finger-picking and campanella styles. They look unusual, but on this uke they do not really stand out, since the fretboard is mahogany and the body is pretty dark.

They are a bit coarse in the beginning, so bear that in mind if you have sensitive fingertips, but this seems to go away after a while due to sweating and, I assume, soaking the grease from the fingers.

They also have a lot, A LOT of scratching noise in the beginning as well, when you are sliding your fingers down the strings. This also goes away after a while.

One thing I noticed, they seem to be much more sensitive to humidity changes than the nylons [obviously], so you'll have to tune your instrument fairly frequently if you play in a room susceptible to humidity changes. If you keep your uke in a case, this does not happen as often.

Another thing, which was a slight disappointment for me is that sliding doesn't sound as good as with the nylon strings. This is not only due to scratching noise. Once this goes away, sliding is simply too quiet. First note resonates well, but when sliding a few frets up or down, sustain simply drops sharply.

If you're strumming, while nylon strings are pretty forgiving, the reds are relentless. You can hear every note and especially missed or half-pressed strings. This is not necessarily a bad thing.

They respond excellently to the strumming/picking angle and sound differently depending on your strumming/picking finger/nail position. Again, not necessarily a bad thing since it improves technique and precision.

In conclusion, if you play a lot of finger picking and campanella on a relatively quiet uke, these strings are for you. If you are more inclined to strumming and sliding, pick nylons. Nylons are much easier to maintain and keep in tune, but are not as bright and resonant.

Hope this helps.

Rllink
01-04-2017, 04:01 AM
I have a set that I have not installed. I have used Aquila Nylguts exclusively for the reason that you site in your last sentence, they last a long time and they are easy to maintain. I haven't installed the Reds because I don't want to break a string in the middle of something. I will be interested to see how they hold up once you start playing them for a while.

UkieOkie
01-04-2017, 04:29 AM
I have been planning to do a Reds review also. I'll give the short version now. I have had them on a couple Ukes for quite a while now. On both Ukes, one a cheap laminate and one a nice solid Koa Uke, they have improved the tone significantly. I love them now and I hav had no broken strings. I think their new stock has really improved in that regard. Great strings. Bright yet tonally clear and rich. I'm a big fan.

Ukulele Eddie
01-04-2017, 05:06 AM
While I don't have any on my current instruments, I have used probably at least 20 sets of Reds on at least 12 different instruments. I love their tone and have had only one string break. The rough, papyrus like texture smooths out some after a week or so of regularly playing.

Rob Uker
01-04-2017, 07:17 AM
Funny you should mention an LU11 soprano. I actually did low G wound strings on mine. It's probably my cheapest uke but it sounds awesome!!!

b00geyman
01-04-2017, 12:28 PM
Funny you should mention an LU11 soprano. I actually did low G wound strings on mine. It's probably my cheapest uke but it sounds awesome!!!

It really does. It's a great uke and is still my favourite, although I'm waiting on this baby to arrive - http://www.theukulelesite.com/ukulele-market/kala-ka-asac-c-all-solid-acacia-concert.html :drool:

Nickie
01-04-2017, 04:41 PM
Hmmm, I might hafta give the Reds another shot....I have the Lavas on now, I really like them, but they don't stay tuned well. I might have worn them out....

WCBarnes
01-04-2017, 04:44 PM
Great review b00geyman! I agree with nearly everything you said. My only disagreement is with the slides not working as well. I actually find bends, hammer-ons, and slides to be very responsive with reds. But everyone has their own perceptions and preferences. I definitely agree with the statement that these strings are great for Campanella playing. They absolutely ring!


I have a set that I have not installed. I have used Aquila Nylguts exclusively for the reason that you site in your last sentence, they last a long time and they are easy to maintain. I haven't installed the Reds because I don't want to break a string in the middle of something. I will be interested to see how they hold up once you start playing them for a while.

Although I was not as cautious as b00geyman, I did take care to install the strings. I followed the video Mimmo put on YouTube (https://youtu.be/tGH1d8IP_Us) and have had no issue with any strings breaking. I have had this set on for about 3 months.

b00geyman
01-05-2017, 11:13 AM
Great review b00geyman! I agree with nearly everything you said. My only disagreement is with the slides not working as well. I actually find bends, hammer-ons, and slides to be very responsive with reds. But everyone has their own perceptions and preferences. I definitely agree with the statement that these strings are great for Campanella playing. They absolutely ring!



Although I was not as cautious as b00geyman, I did take care to install the strings. I followed the video Mimmo put on YouTube (https://youtu.be/tGH1d8IP_Us) and have had no issue with any strings breaking. I have had this set on for about 3 months.

Thank you very much WCBarnes. While pull-offs and hammer-ons are great, sliding, I'm not so sure of.

Mivo
01-05-2017, 11:18 AM
I used Aquila Reds a lot in the past year, on a baritone, a concert and a tenor, and in all cases I really liked them and appreciated tone and volume. I have had no strings break, either, even though I did not use any precautions (no pre-stretching, no super being careful -- I just put them on like any other strings). Really liked them, no doubt they are among my favorite strings. Remarkably different from everything else I had tried.

I only have a tenor and various sopranos now, and for the tenor I went back to Worth since it had been built for those strings. The Red C string was too thick for this particular instrument, so it went sharp after the 8th or 9th fret. I didn't want to mess with the saddle, so it was easier to use the strings the uke had been set up for by the luthier. Sadly, Aquila do not offer the Red Series for soprano D tuning, so I use the D tuning Nylguts instead. Would love the Red Series strings on my sopranos.

actadh
01-05-2017, 05:47 PM
I have them on a solid mahogany 1940's Silvertone soprano. Gives it the perfect vintage sound.

Been on there a while, but I got high G soprano strings from my local music store.
Still show soprano strings being made both high and low g, but true about no key of D. Can the key of C strings not be tuned to D?

http://www.aquilacorde.com/modern-instrument-sets/modern-instrument-products/165/red-series/?lang=en

plastuku
01-05-2017, 06:38 PM
I had a low-G set on my tenor Caramel for a while once. They are loud; they're very bright. They're extremely sensitive, and when I used a plastic pick, they seemed to amplify the attack, making a clicky, snappy sound. I didn't care for the tone; they seemed to make the uke sound quite nasal. That was on the Caramel, though, and they weren't a good choice for that instrument, but I'd like to try a set on my Outdoor Uke, which is not a bright-sounding uke.

I had no problem with breakage, and I didn't think they were noisy, except for the wound fourth, which screeched every time I touched it. I wish they sold low-G sets with an unwound fourth.

pritch
01-06-2017, 01:25 PM
I have had reds on several instruments with no problem. Currently have them on two tenors, I just swapped the high G on the accoustic ukulele for a Fremont Soloist Low G which transforms the sound. To my mind a tenor tuned to C sounds very little different to a concert. Tuned to B with a low G, well F#anyway, the tenor has a much bigger sound.

robinboyd
01-07-2017, 12:57 AM
I had a low-G set on my tenor Caramel for a while once. They are loud; they're very bright. They're extremely sensitive, and when I used a plastic pick, they seemed to amplify the attack, making a clicky, snappy sound. I didn't care for the tone; they seemed to make the uke sound quite nasal. That was on the Caramel, though, and they weren't a good choice for that instrument, but I'd like to try a set on my Outdoor Uke, which is not a bright-sounding uke.

I had no problem with breakage, and I didn't think they were noisy, except for the wound fourth, which screeched every time I touched it. I wish they sold low-G sets with an unwound fourth.

I have an unwound Aquila red low G on my tenor...

frigiliana
01-07-2017, 07:25 AM
I'me going back to Aquila Reds (low g) been trying some other makes and haven't enjoyed the first impressions i had when i first put a set of Reds on my tenor.
I might stick with the Fremont Soloist low G as that is a great string to my ears only wish they did a C string out of the same stuff .