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View Full Version : Strings, believe it or not they DO make a difference!



thejumpingflea
05-14-2008, 02:25 PM
So I have a Kamaka Concert Deluxe and love it to death. I've always used D'addario strings (because they were cheap, AND conveniant to buy)

The other day I was at my favorite music store (Dusty Strings for the win!) and decided to buy some Aquila Nygluts as I knew that I needed to re-string my uke. (Understand I had the same strings on for a year!)

I go home and put on the Aquilas. Only one word describes the difference. WOW! It has better intonations, overtones and the playability is much better. Who knew $7.80 would make that big of a difference.

So the reason I write this thread is for all you people like I who think that strings don't make a huge difference. Guess what? They do! So spend that extra couple bucks for those nicer strings, you'll be happy you did. :nana:

UkeNinja
05-14-2008, 03:03 PM
I wonder how many people on these forums really think that strings do not matter. I think it is more like common knowledge that even a lesser sounding uke can be helped by a set of good strings. Luck you though, for having a nice uke to start with.

thejumpingflea
05-14-2008, 03:36 PM
I wonder how many people on these forums really think that strings do not matter. I think it is more like common knowledge that even a lesser sounding uke can be helped by a set of good strings. Luck you though, for having a nice uke to start with.

Truthfully I didn't think that strings didn't matter as much as they wouldn't make a huge difference in the sound the uke produces. Boy was I wrong!

Maybe it is just me though and everyone else knew that strings made such a drastic difference in the sound of the uke. In that case....

http://i266.photobucket.com/albums/ii274/HobOscar/Dunce.jpg

:D

the new guy
05-14-2008, 04:01 PM
my brother needs to restring his concert, the music store i go to doesnt sell aqilla but i sw them online. wats the differnce between high c and low c

thejumpingflea
05-14-2008, 04:03 PM
my brother needs to restring his concert, the music store i go to doesnt sell aqilla but i sw them online. wats the differnce between high c and low c

I believe that it means one will be a wound C string and the other will not. In my personal preference I like my C string to be not to be wound, but it is a matter of personal preference.

Plainsong
05-14-2008, 04:22 PM
Sometimes guitar players can think strings don't make a difference, which is why my husband thinks me insane for discussing differences between sets of strings and why I look forward to restringing a uke. He just always picked out the closest strings at hand.

No, he wasn't a classical guitar player... in fact keyboard was mostly his thing but in his family you had to know how to play more than just piano or just guitar (Not that his parents were music taskmasters. I just mean that it was the done thing to pick up something and play.). :music:

I swear though, he hears no differences at all between the sets of string while with me it's like night and day. Right now I'm prefering the Worths, but with the koa Flea I think aquilas do just as well... just a different kind of well.

While we're talking about audible sound differences and strings, I'll throw out there that there are differences in sound depending on which cables you use in your audio setup. Now THERE is a can of worms for audiophiles everywhere. ;)

NukeDOC
05-14-2008, 05:05 PM
the strings topic has been discussed in incredible depth. but keep in mind, no two ukuleles are the same. what will work great with one, may not be so nice with another.

in your case there are a couple of things to consider:
you had your strings on for a year. usually strings will go "dead" (meaning not sounding anywhere near as good as new ones) long before a year goes by (depending on how much you play). so at that point, you probably coulda put any new strings on there and noticed a difference.

on the other hand:
no one brand of strings is going to be awesome on all instruments. you will need to do some experimentation. i was a believer in worth strings, but when i put them on my pono, it made it sound waaaay too wiry for my tasted. but i loved how the d'addarios sounded. on my makala, the d'addarios were so-so, but the worths made the uke SING. i was hating aquilas for a long time because they werent sounding that great to me at all, but i had a spare set. and when i got my koa pili koko, i strung her up with them and maaaaaaaan.... butter.

keep in mind, im no authority on strings. ive just done a good amount of experimentation. trial and error. spent the money to find what "works" best, instead of what "is" best. coupled with the awesome discussions that can be found on these boards about this same subject, i was able to come to this conclusion.

UkuLeLesReggAe
05-14-2008, 06:36 PM
i guess its like anything really.. anything that comes stock with most things isn't usually the best... when u buy something that includes batteries - normally they are pretty shabby. Tennis rackets are my example, they make a difference - its like.. instead of having a sword in a fight.. you have a gun..

4strings707
05-14-2008, 07:18 PM
Nukedoc has a point. I just recently changed strings after a year. I had GHS strings and i heard about the worth browns with a low G. It has a pretty warm sound but the low G has too little tension so it rattles. i'm gonna buy another set but with the high G which should have more tension on it. This is my first trial and error so far.

UkuleleSwanlet
05-14-2008, 08:53 PM
I assume that my Kala KA-S comes with GHS strings? I play almost everyday, so how often should I change my strings and any recommendations for what type of strings, so many names out there.
Thanks.
:confused:

tad
05-14-2008, 09:19 PM
I assume that my Kala KA-S comes with GHS strings? I play almost everyday, so how often should I change my strings and any recommendations for what type of strings, so many names out there.
Thanks.
:confused:

Unless you bought it from MGM, yeah, it probably comes with something like that.

I've got Worth clear mediums on mine. Sounds like buttah.

facemeltingukulele
05-14-2008, 10:05 PM
Still though, a good player can sound good even with "bad" strings. Gordon Mark still uses (or at least as of a few years ago) the old black GHS strings that used to come with every uke you'd buy fifteen years ago. That said, for guys like me, strings make a huge difference. I'd be nothing without my super top secret strings! (thomastik-infeld classical guitar strings)

Kekani
05-14-2008, 10:19 PM
spent the money to find what "works" best, instead of what "is" best.

VERY well said.


i guess its like anything really.. anything that comes stock with most things isn't usually the best...

I need to disagree a bit here. I've seen too many occasions where a player takes an `ukulele, swap strings because they heard its the best, then complain about buzzing and intonation. I've even seen instruments returned to the factory under those circumstances.

On the other hand, there are clients who request a certain set of strings when ordering their Custom instruments, even after the builder advises them otherwise. I think its amazing that someone would want an instrument built around a set of strings, rather than match strings to the instrument.

One topic that always seems to be missing when discussing the subject of strings - what else needs to be done to the instrument. More often than not, the instrument should be set up again. This leads me to question: Had the instrument been properly set up after a string swap, would the player still say that the set was junk?

UkuLeLesReggAe
05-15-2008, 12:55 AM
VERY well said.



I need to disagree a bit here. I've seen too many occasions where a player takes an `ukulele, swap strings because they heard its the best, then complain about buzzing and intonation. I've even seen instruments returned to the factory under those circumstances.

On the other hand, there are clients who request a certain set of strings when ordering their Custom instruments, even after the builder advises them otherwise. I think its amazing that someone would want an instrument built around a set of strings, rather than match strings to the instrument.

One topic that always seems to be missing when discussing the subject of strings - what else needs to be done to the instrument. More often than not, the instrument should be set up again. This leads me to question: Had the instrument been properly set up after a string swap, would the player still say that the set was junk?

Hmm i would say its a personal opinion then.. i haven't actually changed my ukulele strings but i was just referring to tennis rackets to be honest because i change my strings all the time.. and they always turn out for the better..

As for my LU-21T i was thinking of changing to aquillas but i don't want no buzzing noises and im worried that i won't be able to string it properly and never get strings back on my ukulele hahaha.

But these strings are fine.. im going to buy some soon actually just depends when i switch them or not..

deach
05-15-2008, 12:56 AM
Do Aquilas make your tennis racket buzz?

UkuLeLesReggAe
05-15-2008, 01:34 AM
i hate it when i get in conversations like this...

Kekani said that once people change their strings they get a buzzing noise, which i DON'T want when i change my strings..

FYI - I dont have Aquilas on my tennis racket.. and no they can't buzz.

i don't understand what u even mean deach..

deach
05-15-2008, 01:35 AM
FYI - I dont have Aquilas on my tennis racket.. and no they can't buzz.

i don't understand what u even mean deach..

It was a joke.

UkuLeLesReggAe
05-15-2008, 01:36 AM
.... hard to tell if somebody is telling a joke over the net when its just writing.. i thought u were being a smartass, my bad.. sorry dude

deach
05-15-2008, 01:41 AM
......i thought u were being a smartass, my bad.. sorry dude

I was. lol ;)

UkuLeLesReggAe
05-15-2008, 01:46 AM
I was. lol ;)

...seriously, stop confusing me..

Plainsong
05-15-2008, 02:58 AM
I've changed lots of strings in my young string-changing career, and I've not once gotten a buzz. Just follow Aldrin's and Nukedoc's string-changing videos and you'll be fine. :) Nor have I ever heard from any of my guitar or uke-playing veteran friends that you have to re-setup an instrument every frakking time you change the strings. That sounds a bit out there. I mean yeah, so my Pono wasn't as playable with aquilas. It was a simple fix - I changed the strings.

davoomac
05-15-2008, 04:05 AM
I agree that strings do make a difference. Nukedoc was right on when he said that you have to experiment a bit and see which strings will go best on which uke.

Of course i only have 1 ukulele so far, but I have played a bunch of others. My personal preference is the J71's over the aquila nygluts though. I really don't like the aquilas for some reason.

Valerie
05-15-2008, 06:28 AM
So I just ordered 3 packets of new strings to try out. Right now I'm using Worths (and love them) but they are giving me some serious callouses.

I'm a physical therapy student, and as such need to have good feeling in my fingertips and callouses make that really difficult.

So, anyways... two questions dealing with strings:

1. If I get a thicker gauge will my callouses not be as pronounced?

2. How often do you change your strings? I've had mine on for three weeks and I can definetly hear a difference- they are losing some of their initial pizzaz. My guitar strings had to be changed out every month (as I usually practiced for 1-3 hours a day-- I don't watch tv, lol, just fiddle around with instruments)

Lanark
05-15-2008, 07:10 AM
The Aquilas that came on my uke seemed to lose their 'zazz after a couple months of heavy playing.

I soldiered on another week until a MGM sampler pack arrived and tried the Ko'olau golds. They are not 'droids I am looking for. I'll try another set in a few weeks after I think I've squeezed some value out of this set and try another.

Strings and when to change them is always going to be subjective. Try a bunch to see what works for you and change 'em when you think they sound like they need it.

There are no hard and fast rules. Use your best judgment.

Kekani
05-15-2008, 08:23 PM
I've changed lots of strings in my young string-changing career, and I've not once gotten a buzz. Just follow Aldrin's and Nukedoc's string-changing videos and you'll be fine. :) Nor have I ever heard from any of my guitar or uke-playing veteran friends that you have to re-setup an instrument every frakking time you change the strings. That sounds a bit out there. I mean yeah, so my Pono wasn't as playable with aquilas. It was a simple fix - I changed the strings.

Question still remains, how do you know the Aquila's weren't the right set (although I do agree, Aquila's are usually never the right set)?

I agree that most players will not go through the effort of setup everytime they change a set of strings, but, I don't think that process is "out there". Its just not something most people think about, because its not something most people are tooled up to do.

When I setup an instrument, it is for a particular set of strings. Once I change the strings to a different set (with different gauges, especially), I automatically assume to recut the nut, and possibly change out the saddle. Hopefully, the change goes to a larger diameter, then cutting the nut is easy. Going from larger to smaller, this requires making a new nut.

Someone like MGM keeps his clients, and gains new ones partly because he takes off most stock strings (he already knows which set he'll install on a particular instrument), and sets up the instrument before it goes out, even on his sub $500 instruments. On the other hand, I think the only ones he won't touch, are his Customs. Reality states that he shouldn't have to.

This thread can go one step further, IMO, if we add in changing tunings as well. Going from low g to high G, a compensated saddle will require replacement.

Now, I'm not saying anyone is wrong if they don't setup an instrument when changing to a different set of strings (again, most people won't).
What I am implying is that it is something that should be considered.

Plainsong
05-15-2008, 11:01 PM
Uh, yeah, I know how to do all that. :(

Kekani
05-16-2008, 11:46 PM
Uh, yeah, I know how to do all that. :(

You wouldn't be the first, and you certainly won't be the last. I had to learn what good setup is, and though logic dictates that its pretty straightforward, its not always the case. This is why repairmen, craftsmen and luthiers exist (and Frank Ford's site). Better yet, just ask, and there's a whole world of forums full of individuals willing to share knowledge.

Be honest though, the next time you (or anyone else) swaps out a string set, you'll take a peek at how the strings sit in the nut, you'll glance over the action above the 12th and the 1st (when fretted at the 3rd), and at the very least, chime the strings at the 12th and then fret it to check how much (and if) the intonation has changed.
In doing so, you will not have taken steps to adjust action, but, you have taken steps to check the setup.

Of course, you'll get some guys out there that will measure, in cents, every single string, and every single fret on an instrument that the factory set up the action at over .125" at the 12th fret, and wonder why the intonation went off. -Aaron

JackT
05-17-2008, 01:54 AM
I assume that my Kala KA-S comes with GHS strings? I play almost everyday, so how often should I change my strings and any recommendations for what type of strings, so many names out there.
Thanks.
:confused:

Personally i switched my Kala KA-FMC to Aquila Nylgut strings, my Mahalo u30 also has these, they rock. Im using concert strings on my soprano but thats generally my choice, I guess you could use either concert or soprano Aquila strings on your Kala.

Plainsong
05-17-2008, 09:45 AM
Actually, I do all that already, and the only time it changed (for the worse) was Ko'olau golds to aquilas on the Pono tenor. Then it changed back to how it should be switching to Worth browns.

There was more to that than just playability though. Intonation was fine also, it just lacked synergy. I don't think my paying fifty bucks to a guitar luthier who has never seen a uke would change that. In those cases it's still easier to just change the strings.


You wouldn't be the first, and you certainly won't be the last. I had to learn what good setup is, and though logic dictates that its pretty straightforward, its not always the case. This is why repairmen, craftsmen and luthiers exist (and Frank Ford's site). Better yet, just ask, and there's a whole world of forums full of individuals willing to share knowledge.

Be honest though, the next time you (or anyone else) swaps out a string set, you'll take a peek at how the strings sit in the nut, you'll glance over the action above the 12th and the 1st (when fretted at the 3rd), and at the very least, chime the strings at the 12th and then fret it to check how much (and if) the intonation has changed.
In doing so, you will not have taken steps to adjust action, but, you have taken steps to check the setup.

Of course, you'll get some guys out there that will measure, in cents, every single string, and every single fret on an instrument that the factory set up the action at over .125" at the 12th fret, and wonder why the intonation went off. -Aaron