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View Full Version : Yesterday was to be "New Uke Day", however...



Uke Whisperer
03-05-2011, 01:10 AM
I am presently playing a $25.00 "starter Soprano" and a Gold Tone Banjolele (which I truly love!).

Time to add another uke! Decided on KALA KA-SMHS solid Mahogany for my next step. Dealer had Mahogany, Koa and Mango in-stock. All three had AQUILA NYLGUT Strings. Played the Mahogany first and I was disappointed with tone and loudness. I had to "really get on it" to get satisfactory volume but sounded to "brash" when I did. I did not like the tightness, texture or size of the strings. I had heard the mahogany with Martin fluorocarbon strings before and it had sounded "sweet" (not as sweet as a $700.00+ range uke, but sweet compared others in same price range or less). I tried the Mango and it sounded better and the Koa sounded the best, but not the sound, nor "feel" that I wanted.

A "simple string change" would not be a "biggy"! However, having to replace the Nut and Bridge with thinner slots to properly "fit" the strings, OR use a temporary fix to correct a long term problem on a new Uke (like inserting some type of filler) just doesn't seem "right".

I welcome all comments and/or suggestions!

TNX,

Tom

kenikas
03-05-2011, 06:57 AM
I have changed between Aquila's and Worth's on several of my ukes and never had a problem with the nut or saddle. I just got a couple if sets of the Martin flourocarbons and haven't really had a chance to play them much, but they don't seem to be much different diameter than the Worths. I wouldn't worry about it to much, try several types and when you find the right strings then adjust if needed.

pdxuke
03-05-2011, 07:33 AM
I am presently playing a $25.00 "starter Soprano" and a Gold Tone Banjolele (which I truly love!).

Time to add another uke! Decided on KALA KA-SMHS solid Mahogany for my next step. Dealer had Mahogany, Koa and Mango in-stock. All three had AQUILA NYLGUT Strings. Played the Mahogany first and I was disappointed with tone and loudness. I had to "really get on it" to get satisfactory volume but sounded to "brash" when I did. I did not like the tightness, texture or size of the strings. I had heard the mahogany with Martin fluorocarbon strings before and it had sounded "sweet" (not as sweet as a $700.00+ range uke, but sweet compared others in same price range or less). I tried the Mango and it sounded better and the Koa sounded the best, but not the sound, nor "feel" that I wanted.

A "simple string change" would not be a "biggy"! However, having to replace the Nut and Bridge with thinner slots to properly "fit" the strings, OR use a temporary fix to correct a long term problem on a new Uke (like inserting some type of filler) just doesn't seem "right".

I welcome all comments and/or suggestions!

TNX,

Tom

I have almost all mahogany, and I also prefer Martin strings--very mellow over the Aquilas. That said, the action on many of my ukes is low. But I've been lucky so far--no issue in changing them. On one particular vintage I did solve a slight buzz by using D tuning. The extra tension worked.

You could also try the "very small" piece of paper trick in the nut slot. I've never had to do it but I hear it works and it doesn't imvolve an alteration of the uke. Let us know what you do.

OldePhart
03-05-2011, 08:07 AM
I've switched back and forth between Aquilla and fluorocarbon strings on three or four different ukes with no problems. The only thing close to a problem was having to clean a bit of varnish out of a bridge slot on my Kiwaya to make the slot wide enough to accomodate an Aquilla C string. I know that "conventional wisdom" holds that slots in the nut and bridge saddle must be exactly the right width to avoid the string "squirming" in the slot with negative effects on sustain and tone. In reality, if the bottom of the nut slots is the correct shape a slightly oversize slot is no problem at all and, on almost all ukes, there is no slot at all in the bridge saddle!

On electric guitars the nuts are often slotted wide enough for heavy gage strings even though such guitars are typically delivered from the factory with ultralight strings. And, of course, the slots in bridge saddles on electric guitars are cast or stamped in.

Bottom line, you should have no problem changing to fluorocarbon strings without modifying anything. In fact, on my Kala pocket uke I switched from Aquilla to Martin M600s and it sounds great.

John

finbar
03-05-2011, 11:14 AM
My wife treated me to a KALA KA-SMHS solid Mahogany as a birthday present about 18 months ago.
It was bought online & I had never heard or played one before.
I hated it. ( I didn't tell my wife) the aquilla strings sounded harsh. :wallbash:

I bought some brown Worth strings for a concert uke that I had and as there was enough to do two ukes, I restrung the Kala.

It became a different instrument, :love: so much so, that I don't play any other uke now and sold off four redundant ukes.

I ended up making a new nut out of 40 year old Camel bone. I don't know if the Camel was 40 years old when it died or the bone was 40 years old.:rofl:

The only reason I replaced the nut was because I misjudged the depth of the slot when I was lowering the action & decide to replace rather than build it back up.
I don't think it will ever be a loud uke, but it is certainly sweet sounding.

The problem is one man's sweet is another man's bitter.

finbar :cool:

Uke Whisperer
03-06-2011, 01:07 AM
Thanks for the comments/suggestions. It apears that more and more manufactures have gone to Aquilas, so if I do experiece the "buzz" from too wide a slot, I won't be by myself. Reading above posts makes me feel a little better about going forward.

As my wife reminds me, "I think, therefore I worry!"

Teek
03-06-2011, 12:19 PM
I have a buncha ukes with a piece of wood or hard plastic stuck in a slot, and one vintage mahogany tenor I had to super glue all the nut slots to get a playable action. The luthier I showed it to said no need to replace the nut! It was ok with the glue in there (I had filed it to a flat surface). I think he just disdains ukes overall as not as worthy as guitars, which are "real" instruments (my feeling about his position), but it does sound fine. I had wanted a nut from Martin and he is certified for Martin repair, and it's a Japanese Martin copy. His stated opinion was that people get overly fussy about nuts and saddles (and bridge pins) overall as far as material etc, and as long as the break angle is correct you never really hear a difference. He continued that "the only people who care are the people who read more than they play". So now I make sure I play waaaay more than I read... ;)

So I wouldn't um fret lol over a string change. They should be fine and the action will probably be better with flourocarbon strings.