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PJB
07-22-2010, 05:53 AM
So, I maked myself an electric soprano ukulele with a GFS Mini Humbucker(http://store.guitarfetish.com/mibiclcohugo.html) and now I need strings. Google isn't pulling up any satisfactory results for steel soprano uke strings, so I wondered if you guys might be able to help me out. Any good online retailers you know of?

Thanks,

PJB

DaveVisi
07-22-2010, 06:01 AM
It's no wonder, since Ukulele's don't typically use steel strings.

Solid body electric? If that's the case, just about any electric guitar steel strings will do. Just use the four high strings and toss the basses. If you want reentrant, you may have to buy an extra high "E" string. The shorter neck combined with tuning up 5 semitones puts them at the same tension as what they're designed for. This will have the tension of a standard electric guitar, so be absolutely sure that's what you want to do before you risk destroying something.

bryanperk
07-22-2010, 06:07 AM
If you are going to put guitar strings on a soprano, I'd recommend making sure the neck is reinforced in some way, like a truss rod, and the bridge is secured very firmly to the top, otherwise there may be some large scale problems in the future of this small scale instrument...

DaveVisi
07-22-2010, 06:08 AM
That's why I asked if it was built like a solid body guitar. I would never dare to mention steel strings on a uke otherwise.

PJB
07-22-2010, 06:48 AM
I considered using the top 4 strings from a guitar, but dismissed the thought, thinking it'd only work for a baritone uke. It is built like a solid body guitar, no hollowness here(But it's heavier than heck!). The bridge was going to be held down by the tension of the strings, but I suppose that wouldn't work now?

DaveVisi
07-22-2010, 06:54 AM
Why not? Most electrics that use a tailpiece have bridges that are held only by string pressure.

GrumpyCoyote
07-22-2010, 07:00 AM
Don't bother looking for packaged strings... you'll have to buy singles. Ignore the "is it a guitar string" thing - the instrument family makes no difference. Could be intended for any type of instrument.

Scale length, tension, and tone are all that count. Try this calculator http://wahiduddin.net/dance/guitar_string_calc.htm, or this one http://www.mcdonaldstrings.com/stringxxiii.html. Once you figure out what you want, just buy a few of each as single from any guitar string website.

PJB
07-22-2010, 07:03 AM
One more question: My current string attachment basically comes down to the traditional tied affair that is most ukuleles. Do I need one of these(http://luthierssupplies.com.au/images/Bridge-GTC101.jpg) for my electric, or am I fine?

GrumpyCoyote
07-22-2010, 07:37 AM
One more question: My current string attachment basically comes down to the traditional tied affair that is most ukuleles. Do I need one of these(http://luthierssupplies.com.au/images/Bridge-GTC101.jpg) for my electric, or am I fine?

I'm no expert, but you are essentially building an electric mandolin or short scale electric tenor guitar. The trouble with that bridge system is the extra two strings... You might want to look into a tenor guitar tailpiece.

I moved this thread over to the luthier section in hopes that wiser folks that me can help you complete your project...

thistle3585
07-22-2010, 08:11 AM
You should contact Tom at moongazermusic.com and buy a four string bridge from him. Use ball end steel strings not bronze strings. Graham's string tension calculator is good if using his scales and tunings but if you vary too far from that then it isn't very accurate. If it were me, I'd suggest starting with .038W(G), .044W(C), .010P(E) and .014P(A). Then you can adjust as needed to give you a better tension balance across all the strings. I'm sure there will be some dissension on this but if you aren't loading the neck up with too much tension then I wouldn't be concerned about a truss rod or stiffener. A mandolin carries 150+ pounds of tension across eight strings and a truss rod isn't necessary but convenient. Part of it will depend on how you built the neck. I think a mandolin neck is built a bit stiffer than a uke neck due to the steel strings, so part of it depends on how you built the neck. The steel strings will create a little back bow but in my experience this is a good thing because it allows for the action to be set lower. I think you'll find that you will struggle with the C string. The short scale isn't very conducive to C strings. That is why mandolin builders lengthen their scales to 14.5" to get a decent C string tension.

JBennett
07-22-2010, 08:35 AM
Yes, I was just going to post a link to moongazer. They have the bridge you need. It works perfectly on my steel string soprano electric uke (http://telelele.tumblr.com/). No, it's not just a bass guitar bridge. It has the proper string spacing for a soprano uke. Plus, you can adjust each string for proper intonation at the bridge.

http://telelele.tumblr.com/post/820498012

Good price, great bridge. I had mine drilled for telecaster "string-through" anchoring.

hoosierhiver
07-22-2010, 09:08 AM
I use steel mandolin strings on a concert banjo-uke that I have, just try to get the gauge as close to uke strings as you can.

ProfChris
07-22-2010, 09:46 AM
You should contact Tom at moongazermusic.com and buy a four string bridge from him. Use ball end steel strings not bronze strings. Graham's string tension calculator is good if using his scales and tunings but if you vary too far from that then it isn't very accurate. If it were me, I'd suggest starting with .038W(G), .044W(C), .010P(E) and .014P(A). Then you can adjust as needed to give you a better tension balance across all the strings. I'm sure there will be some dissension on this but if you aren't loading the neck up with too much tension then I wouldn't be concerned about a truss rod or stiffener. A mandolin carries 150+ pounds of tension across eight strings and a truss rod isn't necessary but convenient. Part of it will depend on how you built the neck. I think a mandolin neck is built a bit stiffer than a uke neck due to the steel strings, so part of it depends on how you built the neck. The steel strings will create a little back bow but in my experience this is a good thing because it allows for the action to be set lower. I think you'll find that you will struggle with the C string. The short scale isn't very conducive to C strings. That is why mandolin builders lengthen their scales to 14.5" to get a decent C string tension.

Andrew,

Do you have the E and A strings reversed, as your E is thinner than your A?

Secondly, I'm assuming the G is re-entrant. Why not something like .012(P) for that string? Is it that WWPP makes playing easier than PWPP?

I'm considering trying this as a present for my brother. He's an electric guitar player, so the other option I was considering was G6 tuning (DGBE) to make it easy for him to transition. With a 13.5 inch scale this would mean fatter strings, and I'm guessing from your comment about the problems with C that this is likely to be a non-starter - am I right?

thistle3585
07-22-2010, 10:20 AM
The string gauges I gave were based on those used on mandolins which are close to a soprano scale. That's about the only thing I have to reference and figured it would be a good starting point. I've messed about with the string tension calculators to know that once you vary too far from the original scale or tuning that they are not very accurate. GD Armstrong once told me that a plain steel string will break at about 23 pounds of tension. I think that you want to target 18 pounds for your plain steel strings and 22 for the wound strings. Based on the string calculators I've seen that matches up. You might be able to go with all plain strings or at least for the G,E and A strings but I think you'll need something wound for the C. Another way to tackle this is to go with flatwound strings. They carry less tension in relation to the gauge. On my OM, I use a large flatwound string for the G and regular wound for the D and A. It gave me a better balance tension wise plus gave the G string a bit more low end which I like. I think its all about feel. The pickup is amplifying the vibrating string and not the tone of the vibrating string.

For what its worth, I'm not a fan of standard scale electric mandolins which is why 95% of my mandolins are 14.5" scale. I only use standard scale when I have a specific request. Most of my customers aren't playing 3 and 4 fingered chords like are used in bluegrass, so the extra 5/8" isn't that big of a deal. What is important is providing the same tuning as a standard mandolin so the customer doesn't have to learn new chords. Solid body electric mandolins are for mandolin players that don't want to learn to play an electric guitar but want to sound like one. I think the same thing may hold true for ukulele players. Honestly, for all practical purposes I don't see a reason to build a solid body soprano ukulele. A concert or tenor size will give you a much better tonal range and I think a lot of people will find a soprano size to be a bit shrill and high pitched. Just my opinion.

Timbuck
07-22-2010, 10:25 AM
Steel Strings on a Soprano Uke:confused:????...Thats an Egg slicer.:D

PJB
07-22-2010, 03:50 PM
So, then, will what thistle3585 originally suggested work, or was there another verdict?


...how you built the neck.

Eheh... about that... I just ripped the neck off an old warped uke that had a marking that said "stu-05", but I can't find that model anywhere on the internet.

thistle3585
07-22-2010, 05:25 PM
The Konablaster uses 012 017 026w 013. I'd start there.

It isn't the neck you should be worried about as much as the neck joint. Care to post any photos?

PJB
07-23-2010, 12:56 AM
Care to post any photos? I'm booked this morning, but I'll try later today.

mvinsel
07-30-2010, 02:21 PM
On my first solidbody tenor I used the string sizes that I found online in the string specs for the Riza Les Paul:

With re-entrant - I think these is G .013" C .017" E .011" A .010"
I used a solid piece of maple & "through the body" construction, with the strings set through the body, inspired by a friends early Epiphone firebird mandolin.
The tension doesn't seem so tight as to worry about a truss rod but only time will tell on that.

On a second try I'm using a moongazer adjustable bridge and with Low G, a wound .026".

http://www.vinsel.com/ELECUKE.JPG

Good luck!

-Vinnie in Juneau