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View Full Version : Strings. I thought I knew (surprise, surprise)



Mr. Mojo
05-25-2017, 02:21 AM
Expecting my first ukulele to arrive tomorrow I called a local luthier who has been in the area for the 25 years or so I've lived here, to inquire about a set up. A woman answered and seemed very knowledgeable about ukulele. She was very friendly. I also mentioned getting new strings as reviews of this uke mention it comes with nylon strings. To my surprise she said all uke's use nylon strings (basically). I was confused and she then explained cat gut, nylon, nylgut and other things I didn't quite understand.

Anyway, after hanging up I did some research. My reaction was a bit of :eek: I re-read the review of my ordered uke as well as others and noticed the common theme of "you may have to change the strings because it comes with nylon strings." Here, I thought that meant "good" uke strings were not nylon but more like guitar strings (maybe lighter?). Turns out most uke strings are just some form of nylon or modified nylon. I never knew this.
I began to wonder if "nylgut" was just a combination of nylon and catgut thus the word Nyl-Gut.

Boy, you learn something new everyday, even about stuff you think, you just learned. Anyway...without getting into detailed explanations....this did a lot for me as far as choices. And thru this I also learned that classical guitars use nylon strings! (I never knew...now it makes sense...."tone")

Geez...it never ends! ;)

player
05-25-2017, 02:37 AM
Think I'll be keeping my original strings as long as possible. One guy said he hadn't changed since 2014.

Croaky Keith
05-25-2017, 02:46 AM
Nylon strings as against steel strings. ;)

Yes, the nylgut are supposed to be as like to gut strings as is possible.
Some people like plain nylon strings, but most favour flourocarbon because of their feel & sound that they help to produce.
(Most cheaper ukes come with nylgut, but the cheapest have plain nylon.)
They are all a form of plastic in the long run though. :)

Mr. Mojo
05-25-2017, 03:23 AM
If I've learned anything over the years of hobbies, interests, or any other new endeavor, and the internet (research) concerning such things; it's " be thorough, but don't look too deep." It becomes very easy to look so deep that you overshoot and go so far passed your original goal that you are now lost or confused. I'm not going to worry too much. My goal is to have fun. If this were the 80's before the internet I would probably just go out and buy a uke and not think twice, playing it just as it came. Then I'd learn to play and maybe buy a better one (or not). Some do just fine...or even great... with cheap stuff. Others not. It's all very subjective. I think my first line of business is going to be (like anything else for me) to be working on "me" to make my music sound good. Not the strings or wood or nut/bridge materiel, brand name or whatever. As for my instrument? All I need is playability. But I will be doing the playing/work. I don't need so much quality that the equipment does the work. But that's me. Not the right way or the wrong. My way :)

player
05-25-2017, 03:41 AM
Looks like a good philosophy, Mojo. Just played one string at a time to a remix of Chemical Brothers' Hey Boy Hey Girl. Should look up what these original strings are made of, I'd bet nylgut, because my uke wasn't the cheapest possible. Anyhow they'll be good enough, nothing to complain about :rock:

Rllink
05-25-2017, 05:22 AM
I think that comes with Aquila Nylgut strings. That is what I use and always have used. I would suggest that you play what you have until you get enough experience to form your own opinion and not do things just because someone else tells you to. Also, my Makala came quite playable right out of the box. If it needs a setup, then by all means, but I would play it first if it were me.

Mr. Mojo
05-25-2017, 05:55 AM
I think that comes with Aquila Nylgut strings. That is what I use and always have used. I would suggest that you play what you have until you get enough experience to form your own opinion and not do things just because someone else tells you to. Also, my Makala came quite playable right out of the box. If it needs a setup, then by all means, but I would play it first if it were me.

That's my plan. :) After all, if the uke is decent then while the strings may not be optimal (for the more experienced player), as long as it's playable for me and not hindering my learning I'll be fine. And if it's playable then, at this point, what the hell do I know about "better strings" or better playability anyway? One step at a time....it's all good :)

johnson430
05-25-2017, 07:36 AM
Think I'll be keeping my original strings as long as possible. One guy said he hadn't changed since 2014.

That is actually the opposite of what you should do. Strings wear out. If you play daily you might change out your strings monthly. Or more.
Fresh strings make for a happy uke.

SailingUke
05-25-2017, 09:00 AM
That is actually the opposite of what you should do. Strings wear out. If you play daily you might change out your strings monthly. Or more.
Fresh strings make for a happy uke.

Definitely more than a year is too long. On ukes I play regularly I go 3 to 6 months for a change.
I use flourocarbon high and low g.

DownUpDave
05-25-2017, 11:00 AM
Here is a short uke string primer. Basically three types or materials that get falsely lumped together as "nylon strings".......just means they ain't steel.

Nylon strings : ie D'Addario Pro Arte are largest in diameter and usually warmest sounding

Florocarbon strings: ie Worth, Oasis, Martin are usually smallest in diameter and brighter sounding

Aquila ie Nylgut is in between in diameter and tone. Some say they are loud and brash sounding. A large number of ukes come stock with Aquila strings and they are a good staring point.

Mr. Mojo
05-25-2017, 11:11 AM
Thanks, that's good info. The "diameter" thing is good to know. As usual, I am a middle of the road type of guy. So in this case, middle of the road diameter as well as not too warm and not too bright is a good start. I'm sure the strings the uke comes with will work fine for a start.

Nickie
05-25-2017, 04:58 PM
"alpha-numeric that labels a sound"

Bill, what do you mean?

Croaky Keith
05-25-2017, 11:10 PM
Also, Middle 'C' on a piano is C4, which is how we compare notes, so the C below will be C3, & a C in the next octave above will be C5.

1890
08-09-2017, 03:29 PM
This may be slightly off topic, so please feel free to move it, but this is a discussion of string materials, so hopefully this is okay . . .
I was looking at a Yamaha Guitalele recently and saw that it seemed to have 3 nylon strings and 3 metal wound. Is there any such thing as a guitalele where all 6 strings are nylon? (I found a discussion on steel string guitaleles, but I'm wondering about going the other direction, with no metal strings.)

krubby
08-09-2017, 07:07 PM
I hope I don't hijack this thread too much, but it is kind of related, mostly to the age portion
I also just got a new ukulele. Well, now its been about a month or so but still. Regardless this thread got me thinking, I have only had it for 4-5 weeks, but I am not sure how long the ukulele sat on the wall etc. before being purchase by my father as my b-day gify (47 year BD, I am still a kid I guess despite the age...)

Anyway, it came from a local Music and Arts music store, not some fancy or knowledgeable Uke store. I am thinking the strings might be a number of months old, even if they were not played very much. the fact that there was tension on the strings etc - would that matter? should I think about swapping them out because of that?

By the way for me this is a bit of just a curiosity question. When I dive into a hobby (ukes, beer making, smoking meats...) I jump in and try to LEARN as much as I can, if nothing else just so I have the knowledge. I am also not good enough or have enough comparison points to know about the feel of the strings.

again more just a general question for thoughts and reactions. Or maybe I'm just hoping someone tells me I have to switch just so I can do more shopping (smile)

JackLuis
08-09-2017, 10:01 PM
I hope I don't hijack this thread too much, but it is kind of related, mostly to the age portion
I also just got a new ukulele. Well, now its been about a month or so but still. Regardless this thread got me thinking, I have only had it for 4-5 weeks, but I am not sure how long the ukulele sat on the wall etc. before being purchase by my father as my b-day gify (47 year BD, I am still a kid I guess despite the age...)
-
again more just a general question for thoughts and reactions. Or maybe I'm just hoping someone tells me I have to switch just so I can do more shopping (smile)

I'd just play it and practice your left hand for a while. I assume you have a tuner? Play each note on the string/fret and listen to it and look at the tuner. say the not and watch how much +/- error you have. When the notes change (more or less than "normal") then it's a sign to change strings. I'd play these for a month or two and then switch to one or some of the others. Changing strings is a pain with just one Ukulele as it take days for them to settle down. I like to pick up a uke and not have to retune it, even if it's a little flat on all the strings. The thicker strings generally take the longest to settle.

I like EJ99T's on my tenors and EJ99's on my concert and soprano. Worth Browns are warmer they say, and they seem to last well. Plenty of time to try a few sets, after you have four Key's in you left hand. ;-)

sculptor
08-11-2017, 11:17 AM
That is actually the opposite of what you should do. Strings wear out. If you play daily you might change out your strings monthly. Or more.
Fresh strings make for a happy uke.

"Fresh" strings also don't stay in tune all that well...

-- Gary

sculptor
08-11-2017, 11:22 AM
I hope I don't hijack this thread too much, but it is kind of related, mostly to the age portion
I also just got a new ukulele. Well, now its been about a month or so but still. Regardless this thread got me thinking, I have only had it for 4-5 weeks, but I am not sure how long the ukulele sat on the wall etc. before being purchase by my father as my b-day gify (47 year BD, I am still a kid I guess despite the age...)

Anyway, it came from a local Music and Arts music store, not some fancy or knowledgeable Uke store. I am thinking the strings might be a number of months old, even if they were not played very much. the fact that there was tension on the strings etc - would that matter? should I think about swapping them out because of that?

By the way for me this is a bit of just a curiosity question. When I dive into a hobby (ukes, beer making, smoking meats...) I jump in and try to LEARN as much as I can, if nothing else just so I have the knowledge. I am also not good enough or have enough comparison points to know about the feel of the strings.

again more just a general question for thoughts and reactions. Or maybe I'm just hoping someone tells me I have to switch just so I can do more shopping (smile)

In another discussion here not too long ago posters noted it takes years for unused unwound strings to simply age out of usability... Don't over think things and just play!

-- Gary

Emily68
08-11-2017, 10:01 PM
As I know,the nylon string from D'Addario shows well,
the tone quality is so mellow--