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IDuke
10-18-2009, 01:29 PM
I'm thinking of getting myself a new Lanikai LU21TE Ukulele and i was wondering if it could handle me putting metal strings on it for that different sound, and if not what would be the best strings for it.

KC8AFW
10-18-2009, 02:13 PM
I would be extremely cautious of putting metal strings on your new uke. The uke you identified will have a cumulative tension of about 40 lbs. with the nylon strings that comes with it. Using metal strings...you will be in the neighborhood of 80 lbs. or better by the time you get them in tune and your bridge may come flying off. Just my :2cents:

Edit: Welcome to UU!!

itsme
10-18-2009, 02:15 PM
No, no, no! Don't do it! An instrument designed for nylon strings cannot handle the increased tension of steel strings, which is typically 3x that of nylon. The extra tension can make the neck bow, pull off the bridge and even cause the top to implode in the process.

Now, some sets of nylon uke strings can include a metal wound string or two, but the metal is wound over a nylon or filament core and it is not actually considered a steel string.

There's been a lot of discussion of different uke strings here, but in the end it all boils down to personal preference. Some brands/types of strings just seem to sound better on certain ukes than others.

kissing
10-18-2009, 07:46 PM
This does make me wonder why there aren't any steel-string acoustic ukes?

It's possible right? It will give a louder, crisper sound than nylon.
I've seen electric steel-string ukes, but why not acoustic?

Dibblet
10-19-2009, 12:27 AM
A cavaquinho is close to a steel strung uke.

buddhuu
10-19-2009, 12:28 AM
@ IDuke: Don't do it, man! Standard ukes aren't made to take the tension of steel strings. There's usually no truss rod, so even if your uke didn't disintegrate you wouldn't be able to adjust neck relief for the new tension, so a decent setup may not be achievable.

@ kissing: Just my own taste, but I don't know why anyone would really want a steel strung uke. It wouldn't be... ukey.

The cost of production would probably be higher. The instrument would need to be able to stand more stress, and a truss rod would be a good idea. Oh, and steel strings wear frets out much faster than nylon strings.

The solid electric ones are presumably steel strung so one can use magnetic pickups. Nylon strings won't work with mag pickups.

If I want steel strings I go to mandolin, guitar, fiddle or banjo. I don't want a steel-strung uke. YMMV. :)

ukulele2544
10-19-2009, 01:01 AM
yes you can use metal strings. I use metal strings myself :)

buddhuu
10-19-2009, 05:23 AM
Bear in mind that some ukes are well known for "bellying", under the relatively low tension of nylon strings, and other ukes have had the occasional bridge pop under nylon tension. Even Aldrine has had the bridge on his uke start to lift... All this happens under the tension of nylon strings.

I ruined a Spanish guitar by stringing up with ball-end steels when I was a kid.

Yes, you can use steel strings, but the tension will be higher, so there is a risk. Obviously there's less risk as you're talking about a laminate uke, but the neck and bridge will be under greater load than they were intended to experience.

It's like smoking: it's bad for you, but some people get away with it. ;)

kissing
10-19-2009, 06:15 AM
I guess it depends on what properties we consider to give the uke its identity.
For me, its mainly the tuning of the strings, and I wouldn't mind different kinds of sounds with the same tuning :)

I Ukulista
10-19-2009, 07:45 AM
Ahhhhhh Ahhhhhh Twang, Twang, Crack, Pop!!! Ouch! S*it.

Experience will out old chap, experience will out.

Skrik
10-19-2009, 08:10 AM
How about modding a violin tailpiece and attaching it to a strap pin? Then the only force on the bridge would be downwards.

Personally, I'd buy a cavaquinho.

itsme
10-19-2009, 09:02 AM
How about modding a violin tailpiece and attaching it to a strap pin? Then the only force on the bridge would be downwards.
Even if that would work, there's still too much tension and the neck would bow.

I Ukulista
10-19-2009, 10:32 AM
I'm with Skrik on the idea of buying a cavaquinho. There are some really beautiful instruments for sale in the USA.

buddhuu
10-19-2009, 10:38 AM
This might be worth asking in the builder/luthier section.

My physics is a bit wobbly but...

The violin tail piece idea is interesting, but I don't think it'd be ideal. As itsme said, the pressure would be downward. On many instruments with a tailpiece/bridge arangement, the top is arched (either carved or induced) which gives it more strength to resist the downward pressure. A uke top is flat. I wonder if that might make it weaker when the pressure is downward, rather than that twisting torque that uke bridges and tops usually experience. The other thing is that a separate tail piece would mean increasing the string length which, I suspect, may mean even greater tension would be needed to bring the strings to pitch.

The top and neck would certainly have their work cut out...

Ahnko Honu
10-19-2009, 11:29 AM
When I first bought my eBay Kumalae a few years back I found the bozo previous owner strung it with steel and warped the top, and popped a brace (which he failed to mention). I removed the strings and the Hawaiian humidity let the wood top relax and most of the warping went away, then I glued the brace back on. Please don't put steel on a instrument that was never designed for it. ;)

I Ukulista
10-20-2009, 03:37 AM
Ahhhhhh Ahhhhhh Twang, Twang, Crack, Pop!!! Ouch! S*it.

Experience will out old chap, experience will out.

Get yer self a cavaquinho and report back on your progress!!!!

IDuke
10-20-2009, 02:01 PM
Hey thanks guys!
I think i'll settle with just using the nylons that come with it, but I'll purchase some other strings and do some experimenting:) My friend actually got his Tenor today and tried to put some steel strings on, but it only took a few strums before the bridge popped. :(

itsme
10-20-2009, 02:14 PM
My friend actually got his Tenor today and tried to put some steel strings on, but it only took a few strums before the bridge popped. :(
Wow! Bet he's really bummed right about now. And you didn't warn him that could happen? :eek:

IDuke
10-20-2009, 03:45 PM
Wow! Bet he's really bummed right about now. And you didn't warn him that could happen? :eek:

I warned him to wait a little while for some good advice, but he's not a patient kind of person. :P He went ahead with it anyway. He's gonna be buying another one, and this time he'll be a little nicer to it. he's got a real nice history of treating his instruments the wrong way :)

KC8AFW
10-20-2009, 04:02 PM
Tell him to save the parts...you can make a cigar box ukulele. Or, depending on the damage, you might be able to reglue the bridge back on.

The Lanikai you were looking at should come with Aquila NylGut strings on it. Those are (in my opinion) the best sounding strings on those laminate ukes. But...part of the fun is trying different strings. One of the beauties of these instruments is that strings make such a dramatic difference in the sound. Its fun to experiment around to see which strings you like the best on a particular instrument. Good luck and enjoy! :D

vahn
10-20-2009, 05:21 PM
check this cavaqhuino out, $200, pickup, cutaway...

http://cgi.ebay.com/CAVACO-CAVAQUINHO-ROZINI-FLAT-MINT_W0QQitemZ220491030516QQcmdZViewItem?rvr_id=&itemid=220491030516#ht_622wt_958

Brad Bordessa
10-20-2009, 08:31 PM
It has been done by somebody who knows what they are doing. Kimo Hussey recorded "Eminent 'Ukulele" with steel strings. Don't know any details, but I'd be curious to find out. I didn't pick his brain about it when he told me.

They give out a really unique sound. Something different for sure.

cocohonk
10-20-2009, 09:43 PM
Are metal strings the same as wound strings? Are there particular brands with all wound/metal strings to use for the ukulele, or is it as you say, only something done by people who know what they're doing, and not easily buy-able?

If so, what's a good brand for wound string(s)? I'm looking for a low G wound string (single string preferably) that I could purchase.

buddhuu
10-20-2009, 10:43 PM
Nickel, steel or phosphor bronze strings, as used on banjo, guitar, mandolin, are what I think of as "metal" strings. They have metal windings on (usually) a metal core.

Wound uke and classical guitar strings have metal windings on a nylon(ish) core.

Not the same thing. One or two metal-wound nylon uke or classical guitar strings is not at all the same as subjecting a uke to the stresses of a full set of all-metal strings!

cocohonk
10-20-2009, 11:28 PM
Ah, I see. Thanks for the clarification. So I gather it's perfectly fine to use one or two wound strings on a concert or a tenor ukulele? Good to know.

If so, what are some good brands for wound strings? I read that Aquila has one in its low G pack, but are there any other brands that have a wound C and/or low G string?

kissing
10-21-2009, 12:17 AM
I warned him to wait a little while for some good advice, but he's not a patient kind of person. :P He went ahead with it anyway. He's gonna be buying another one, and this time he'll be a little nicer to it. he's got a real nice history of treating his instruments the wrong way :)


If the uke was brand new, try get it fixed/replaced with Warranty :D
(Dont tell them you used steel strings though :p )

buddhuu
10-21-2009, 05:54 AM
Hmm. I suspect that idea may be unpopular with the builders and retailers...

kissing
10-21-2009, 07:11 AM
on second thoughts, you're right.

my bad :(

Mulong
10-26-2009, 12:37 PM
Actually there does exist a fretted string instrument, which is the cousin of the ukulele, which is refer to as the Puerto Rican Tiple Doliente. i.e., www.santiagoramos.com - The Puerto Rican Tiple Home, which is the seize of a concert ukulele, which is strummed with 5 steel strings tune in fourth, i.e., e, a, d, g, c; however, I personally tune it like a guitar, i.e., e,a,d,g,b. :)

Jim Tibstra
03-03-2010, 04:35 PM
I just got turned on to the uke after playing mandolin.I thought I'd try turning one of my mando's into a steel string uke.I really like it as a different option.I used the standard mando strings with low G.I first tryed it with all 8 strings but found I liked 4 better because of the spacing.