View Full Version : Strings and things...

04-27-2008, 07:42 AM
I understand that what kind of strings work well for each uke/player is really a personal opinion. But I'm so new yet I'm still not sure what's what, and others opinions are nice to know.

So here's the question: What kind of strings do you use and why?

I'd love to know a bit about the personality of the strings you use, and how they compliment your uke.

04-27-2008, 08:12 AM
On my tenor mahogany Lanikai, I'm using Worth BT's.

I had Aquilas on them not too long ago. I think I'll stick with Worth BTs on this ukulele. The brightness and loudness of Aquilas offset the mellowness of the ukulele, but the Worths are easier to play. Plus I think the Worths let you hear this instrument as it really is, with no disguises. I picked that ukulele out of the bunch because of its mellow, smooth tone. Why would I want to alter that with Aquilas?

Here's a video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dk1OLu6u6iU) of the Lanikai with Aquilas, and here's one (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bIeNaZwYtKo) with the Worths.

I think it's important to note that I tried Thugz Mansion on my Kala with Aquilas before switching to the Lanikai with Worths. The fretwork was just easier with Worths.

On my tenor cedar Kala, as I said above, I've got Aquilas on there now. I had Worths on it previously. I had a bit of a buzzing problem with Worths. The Aquilas seemed to make the buzzing stop. This is enough in and of itself to stick with the Aquilas on this ukulele.

I only have one video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLGAl_fxhCw) of my Kala strung with Worth strings. I haven't made a video of the Kala strung with Aquilas yet.

04-27-2008, 11:06 AM
The Worths definitely sound smoother, seeso. My tenor has aquilas which I really like. Very thick and easy to play, although I'm still getting used to the tenor.

Bourbon Boy
04-27-2008, 04:39 PM
Hey Seeso.
I have to agree with you here. I am all about tone and warmth. I checked out your videos, mind you I subscibe to your youtube channel so I know them all well. But I was impressed by the Worth strings warmth. I will have to order some of thise online... btw....you killed Thugz Mansion.....amazing, loved it...

04-27-2008, 04:53 PM
Someone asked this before and noone answered him. Is there any reason you couldn't use concert strings on a tenor?

Reason I ask is I am having a horrid time with my new tenor. I simply cannot get a clean fretted note on the first fret position without strangling the neck. I play other stringed instruments and I have never had such a problem, so I thought I would try the thinner strings. Seems like it would take less tension to tune them to the proper notes and might be easier to fret.

04-28-2008, 10:42 PM
If you can't play in the first position, but can up the FB, its usually action at the nut. Unless, something else is off, or not suited to you - neck shape, FB width, fret size, etc.

Putting a smaller guage string on a larger instrument would usually result in lower tension, resulting in lower volume, etc, and the potential for buzzing. But, without seeing the instrument, hard to tell.

Valerie, as for strings, you asked:
I don't use Worth - too thin for me, although I have it on my Concert KoAloha (that my 6 year old plays), and its fine.
I don't care for Aquila. Yes, they are loud, but lack complexity. They also intonate off, and smash if not careful. I prefer Hilo's over Aquila, at least from a consistency standpoint.
Used the old Ko`olau, liked the sound and tension, didn't like the feel, but haven't used the new ones.

Personally like:
D'Addario Pro Arte J46 to get a sweeter sound, usually prefer the J50 to get a brighter sound. Depending on the bracing, I'll also use the J45 and J49 series (lean towards J49) for lighter braced instruments. One drawback for most - these are larger guaged, so the nut has to be recut, but no bid deal. The high tension strings are really nice on Spruce tops, again, with the nod to the J50 series - not too many good black nylon strings around, and these are the best for me.
Usually install:
Savarez Alliance 540 Series R & J, again depending on the bracing. These are about 3x the cost of D'Addario, but who cares, its only $12 for 4 strings. Again, the nod goes to the higher tension usually, so the 540J's. These high tensions are not as stiff nor thick as the D'Addario's, and are more forgiving on the fingers. Bright and clean, not as loud as the J50's, but great overall. Composition is Carbon (similar to Worth, except thicker, and definitely not tinny), with a very balanced tone.

By the way, you'll notice the D'Addario and Savarez are not packaged `ukulele strings, they are classical guitar strings. The D'Addario J46 is what their `ukulele J71 (I think) set is made from for Jake. As of January, I met with the Savarez rep, and he is working with his American distributors to come up with `ukulele sets. They have the strings right now to repackage for Tenors, but I think their target market is the mainland, so more Standard and Concert rather than Tenors.

04-28-2008, 11:41 PM
Just try them out yourselves, it's really a matter of taste. Each of us will describe his strings differently. So I suggest, if you have or want to change the strings, buy a new brand/material.
I did that too and now half a year later (yeah I change strings very often) I came to the conclusion that I absolutely hate Nylon, (not the Nylguts thoguh, and love Worth Flour Carbon, Aquilas and in general wounded strings. Nylon feels like it has no tension at all and the tone is not too brilliant.
On my Brueko I have Worth Brown Medium, On my Applause I play Aquila Nylguts, both are soprano size. The Worth seem to be more accurate and more versatile, but therefore seem to have a more "clinical" tone. While the Aquilas are a bit less accurate, but therefore, soundm more brighter and warmer. Okay I guess I can't describe it...

04-29-2008, 06:57 AM
I've gone through a number of different strings over the years, but I've pretty much settled on Worth BSs on most of my ukes. Anyways, I've composed a list of strings that I've tried and the things that I liked and disliked about them (from what I can remember, it's been a while since I've used some of these)

DISCLAIMER: These are my own personal opinions and others may have had different experiences with the strings listed. Personally, since strings really aren't that expensive, I think it's best to try out as many different strings as you can yourself.

GHS strings: Rubbish...the only positive thing I can say about these strings is that they're available EVERYWHERE and CHEAP. They're dull-sounding, thick, and feel "stiff"

Hilo Strings: Cheap strings, and these are actually pretty good. They're "supple" and comfortable to play. Pretty good tone, kinda sweet and mellow. A little on the quiet side and kind of thick. They're rectified, so they've got a little bit of texture and can be a little noisy (but not as noisy as Aquilas) when you slide up and down the string.

Kamaka Strings: I really didn't like these strings as much as I thought I would. If I were to rank the strings I've tried this would be near the bottom of the list, just above GHS. They've got a "suppleness" to them, but they don't sound as good as the Hilos do.

Ko'olau Golds (Old Style): These aren't made anymore, so there really isn't much point in listing them, but oh well. I switched to these strings after using Hilos for quite a while. Better tone than Hilos, huge step up from GHS. These strings are pretty thick, they're also rectified and have an even rougher texture than the Hilos. These are really noisy strings, I would often get a "scratchy" sound while finger-picking. I absolutely loved the wire-wound Low-G string. It looked and sounded great, it was thinner than most wire-wound Low-G strings and added a nice round, warm tone.

Ko'olau Golds (New Style): I really wanted to like these. But I don't. When they first came out, I thought that they would be sort of a cross between the old-style Golds and Worth strings, but they weren't. They feel and sound dead and lifeless. They're too stiff and they seemed "muffled". I don't like the wire-wound Low-G string on the new set either, it's a lot noisier than the old-style string and it's too loud and overpowering...it tends to drown out the other strings when you strum.

Aquila: I switched to Aquilas from Golds and I really liked them. Nice sound and easy to play. I had a problem with the wire-wound C strings though. That string would keep breaking on me (in as little as a week-and-a-half). I think the problem was just a combination of humidity and body chemistry (I sweat a LOT). A couple days after stringing it up, the string would start to discolor along the bottom and over the fret wires. A few days later the wire would already start bulging over the fret wires and it wouldn't take long after that before it snapped. Eventually I switched to the Nylgut C string, and that worked great. Never had a problem with the wire-wound Low G (wrapped with a different kind of metal). Aquilas have a little bit of texture to them and that does make them a little noisy (but not as noisy as the old-style Golds). These strings are loud, and one some ukes they're "in-your-face" loud. I personally prefer a mellower sound, so I eventually switched off of Aquilas. They're an excellent string though, and definitely worth a try.

Worth Clears: I loved these strings. They have a kind of "dry" sound, but it's really crisp and clearly pronounced. Smooth feel and silent when you slide along the string. The Low-G strings come in different "hardnesses". I've tried them all, but the harder strings seemed to not intonate as well as the medium-feel Low G. The medium-feel Low G felt a little too floppy though, so I would use an old-style Gold Low-G string in it's place.

Worth Browns: This is where I'm at now. I've been using browns for the last 2 years and absolutely love them. I doubt I'll be switching strings any time soon. I used the Medium Browns for a long time, until I "discovered" the Brown Strongs. The Strongs offer a much better tension (the mediums feel a little "loose" sometimes) and more volume. Browns are a really thin string, a lot thinner than most (if not all) other strings out there. It takes some getting used to, but some people hate them because they're thin. I describe the tone as warm, bright, and sweet. Just like with the Clears, the Low-G string feels a little floppy. I used to use the old-style Gold Low-G in place of it, but they're no longer made and I'm still experimenting to find a new replacement.

I think that pretty much covers everything I've tried. There are still a number of other strings that I haven't tried yet. One of these days I'll get around to trying out the Kala Reds and the D'darrio strings...but I'm pretty content with the Brown Strongs right now.

Hope this helps!

04-29-2008, 07:14 AM
I switched my tenor Fluke to aquilas and it was a match made in heaven. The sound was alive, acoustic, energetic, natural. I was hooked. I already knew Worths were reliable from my uke-solid concert and soprano koaloha.

I didn't care for the Koolau either on the Pono, so I switched to aquila. The strings are still bright and lively, but they are too thick for the pono and too hard, and the sound, while bright and lively, just somehow doesn't match the instrument. I switched to Worths and now things sound normal.

My koa Flea came with Aquilas as standard, but I want to compare the Worths and see which kind of sound I prefer. Perhaps both. :) They do slice my fingers a little more, but not like a steel string guitar. :D

I like the medium tension, but to each their own. :) I've got a set of Risa branded Worths from Rigk at ukulele.de. I like to give him some business when I can, and the Risa brand are Worths. He doesn't sell his ukes with no GHS strings. :D

04-29-2008, 07:28 AM
Great thread, folks! :D

04-30-2008, 05:29 AM
i bought a fluke recently and i found the Aquila strings were idea for it, they're bight and lively and have a lovely tone. thats one of the main things i love about my fluke, the bright cherpyness. but this is just on a fluke, i havent herd any on another ukulelein person, and through videos on the internet its hard to tell between a cheap mic and bad strings

05-20-2008, 06:26 PM
So I just finished trying out two new brands of strings:

Ko'olau gold- Loved the fact that the strings weren't super skinny- they felt wonderful under my fingers- but the sound was dead. And after three days, the strings were still not settled down- very annoying. I had to keep on re-stringing because the tuning spools ran out of room. (This probably attributed to them not settling down very well, too.)

D'addario J53- The feel was very rough. Again, I did like that they had some thickness to them. But again, they just bloody didn't want to stay in tune. I gave these guys three days of playing to stretch out and no luck. It would be one thing- if they sounded alright- but they only sounded okay. Plus, the rough feel made finger picking sound aweful as with every stroke of my finger, there was this raspy noise.


Here's the deal. I love my Worths (and have put them back on...) The sound is super! But they really really cut up my fingers (giving me big callouses) And I cannot have callouses like these!

So... I guess my next step is to try Aquila's...

05-20-2008, 06:38 PM
Some callouses with string instruments is inevitable. Every instrument I touched had some sort of drawback to it. Reed instruments can tear up and chap the lower lip, brass instruments can do the same to the upper, the hands get sore when the instrument gets too heavy, and with strings there are the inevitable callouses.

05-20-2008, 06:44 PM
. . .
Here's the deal. I love my Worths (and have put them back on...) The sound is super! But they really really cut up my fingers (giving me big callouses) And I cannot have callouses like these!

So... I guess my next step is to try Aquila's...

I used to have a real problem with callouses. They would dry out and start flaking and actually "shave" the strings. I ended up trying a product called FingerEase, it's a string lubricant and the residue helps to condition your callouses. Since I started using it, I don't have the big nasty dried-up sandpaper callouses...don't really have noticeable callouses at all actually.

If you decide to try it out, be sure to do a test spray on your uke someplace inconspicuous to make sure that it doesn't cause some kinda problem with your finish...I've been using it for years on all my ukes and never had a problem, but better safe than sorry.

Also, this stuff makes the strings SLICK...and since you're using Worth strings they'll be REALLY SLICK...haha...it might take a little while to get used to it, but I personally love the stuff.

Good luck!

05-20-2008, 07:06 PM
I know strings cause callouses and that it's inevitable... I've played violin for about 4 years and guitar for almost a year. With the violin I got horrid callouses but I never had bad callouses with my classical guitar (because of string tension/diameter- or so my teacher said.) It was annoying when playing- as my fingers got a bit sore if I played for a long while- but it was worth the pain to not end up with calloused fingertips.

Now with the uke- it's like playing violin again. The problem is that for my chosen profession- callouses are super bad as I need to have sensitive fingertips in order to do palpations and such (I'm a physical therapy student...) I've been, if not yelled at, warned by more than one PT and my professors that my callouses are bad and I should take pains to be rid of them or minimize their size.

But I refuse to stop playing all together... So I'm just on a hunt to find a good sounding string that doesn't cut my fingers up the way those tiny Worths do (and, yes, I use light tension Worths- to no avail...)

I will check out that FingerEase stuff, though. Maybe that will do the trick...

05-20-2008, 10:10 PM
D'addario J53- The feel was very rough. Again, I did like that they had some thickness to them. But again, they just bloody didn't want to stay in tune. I gave these guys three days of playing to stretch out and no luck. It would be one thing- if they sounded alright- but they only sounded okay. Plus, the rough feel made finger picking sound aweful as with every stroke of my finger, there was this raspy noise.

D'Addario `ukulele strings aren't very good. If you want a soft feeling string with thickness, try the Pro Arte J49 (if you like the black nylon), or better yet, the J45 (clear nylon). Ooops, sorry, you're looking for a Concert set.

Okay, just checked the D'Addario site - they have a J92 Normal Tension Pro Arte `Ukulele set for concerts - these would probably suit you well.

Be careful if you go with too soft tension strings; you may end up with buzzing.

Personally, any D'Addario (Pro Arte) string that I've tried feels better than Aquila's or most Black nylon strings. Savarez, even better, and brighter.

05-21-2008, 03:02 AM
So your profs are riding you because you have callouses on your fingers, but it's only on your left hand, right? What is your right hand then, a hook? Jeez, this is something that I hate about college, professors who are in their own world.

I know that the fingertips are sensitive, and that you need them, but the body is wonderful at adapting, and certainly (especially after finding the right strings) it's something that can be worked around.

And I'm sorry you have professors that have been stuck in a college setting for too long. :(

05-23-2008, 12:21 AM
I just ordered a new Koa Pili Poko uke from MGM on ebay and I'd like to get some good strings for it as backups and possibly to replace them immediately if they are no good and wanted to see what everyone likes. The only ones I've heard spoken of consistently are the Aquila nylguts, what others are worth a look?

05-23-2008, 01:43 AM
Usually MGM will pair up a uke with a set of strings he thinks matches up nicely.

Here are some others' opinions. click me (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2171)

05-23-2008, 03:42 AM
Thanks for the link, Deach. I'm going to go ahead and merge these threads.

05-23-2008, 03:42 AM
Threads merged.

05-23-2008, 05:51 AM
hmmm.... now I want to try some Worth's... I just wish Canada had strings on-hand/in-store. ah well, good things come to those who wait.

05-23-2008, 09:24 AM
I couldnt find any Worth BT's on ebay.

does anyone know of any place that i can get some?

05-23-2008, 10:23 AM

05-23-2008, 11:17 AM
Elderly Instruments carries Worth's as well


05-23-2008, 01:03 PM
So much to consider. I guess I'll just wait :( for my uke to arrive and see what we have. Thanks for pointing me here.

05-23-2008, 05:57 PM

if i have extra tenor strings.........

can i use them on my soprano if im in dire need of it???

will they still work alright?

05-24-2008, 10:26 AM
On my tenor mahogany Lanikai, I'm using Worth BT's.

what does the BT stand for?

i know the B means brown

is it brown tight?

05-24-2008, 10:58 AM
what does the BT stand for?

i know the B means brown

is it brown tight?

I'm pretty sure it's Brown Tenor.
Don't quote me on that, though.

05-24-2008, 01:18 PM
what does the BT stand for?

i know the B means brown

is it brown tight?

Yeah, it stands for tenor.

05-24-2008, 01:47 PM
wow that was pretty stupid of me. lol

05-28-2008, 12:50 AM
So has anyone had any experiences with the reds? I'm going to order some from MGM, but I was just curious.

05-28-2008, 01:02 AM
So has anyone had any experiences with the reds? I'm going to order some from MGM, but I was just curious.

I've never used them but look here (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2744&highlight=kala+red).

06-10-2008, 08:06 PM
I just bought a sampler set from MGM last week and tried the Kala Red, E & C strings are wound and don't like the sound when I strum, I hear my nails!! I just put on the Aquilas and it makes my cheap uke sound just wonderful!! There's a set of Hilo and Ko'olau Gold which I will try in a few days.