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Lola
03-24-2011, 10:04 AM
After three months with my ukuele playing an hour a day or more (most of the time), I could feel that the factory strings (Aquilas) were getting chewed up and bent from the fret wires, mostly the G and A. I ordered new Aquila strings online and put them on myself with the help of Aldrine's great tutorial about 2 weeks ago and there was such an improvement that I swapped out all 4 strings. They seem to have stretched out and stabilized now, but I find that the overall sound quality is better if I tune up to A-D-F#-B. Down in C, it sounds muddy with much less "twinkle," whereas I hear the individual notes sounding in each chord when I play in D.

This isn't a problem, in general. I'm comfortable transposing some and just playing other songs a step up with the muscle memory I already have ingrained. I only get a chance to play with others about 2x a month, and I can often use another uke there. But I am wondering: is this is more-or-less normal or maybe the result of something I may have done "wrong" in changing strings?

(Edit: I just noticed the very similar post (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?44338-ADF-B-Tuning-I-like-it-what-should-I-do) in the regular Uke Talk forum. Sorry for starting another post on such a closely-related topic! I think there's a minor difference in the actual questions asked, but if mods want to merge them that's OK, too.)

ukulelecowboy
03-24-2011, 10:15 AM
After three months with my ukuele playing an hour a day or more (most of the time), I could feel that the factory strings (Aquilas) were getting chewed up and bent from the fret wires, mostly the G and A.

Hi,

I'm curious about this. After three months, even playing an hour a day or more, Aquilas should hold up better. Can you elaborate on the condition of the strings and how the frets might have been chewing them and bending them?

Thanks,

Mike

SailingUke
03-24-2011, 10:45 AM
Depending on playing style three months is a good run on a set of strings.
Nylon based strings degrade over time. The sound at attack and sustain will diminish.
I also find if I run my fingers along the string I can feel small dents at the fret wires.
Other than the break in (stretching) period I really like fresh strings. A set of strings is a small price to pay to keep your ukulele sounding its best.

Hopefully you put the right size strings on your uke (soprano/concert/tenor). The voice should only get better with a change of the same strings.
Changing brands might change the voice, could be your ears have changed. Your old strings were probably muddy, now you have fresh strings.
With the extra tension with D tuning is giving you a brighter clearer sound.

Lola
03-24-2011, 11:13 AM
Thanks to both of you for replying!


I'm curious about this. After three months, even playing an hour a day or more, Aquilas should hold up better. Can you elaborate on the condition of the strings and how the frets might have been chewing them and bending them?
I really attribute a lot of this to excessive pressure in the initial I-have-no-idea-what-I'm-doing stage. :) The A was indented on the underside at the 2nd fret wire and began to feel rough (as though it were fraying or being eaten into), also creating a pretty nice kink in the string once it was removed. The G didn't feel as though it had been penetrated, but had similar wear at the 1st fret and a slight kink. There was nothing on the C or E strings and otherwise the other strings seemed to be intact. Neither wire feels rough or sharp.

Because my uke was a gift and I don't know where it was purchased, there's no way of knowing how old the strings were and what sort of conditions they faced before it came to me in December.

OldePhart
03-24-2011, 11:32 AM
Hi,

I'm curious about this. After three months, even playing an hour a day or more, Aquilas should hold up better. Can you elaborate on the condition of the strings and how the frets might have been chewing them and bending them?

Thanks,

Mike

Heh, heh. I can have Aquila Nylgut strings in shreds in six weeks or so. If you use your nails a lot the soft gut "skin" on them tatters fairly quickly.

Fluorocarbons hold up a lot better but even with those three or four months is a pretty good run on one of my popular (i.e., played) ukes.

John

mm stan
03-24-2011, 01:19 PM
Good Idea to change all the strings except just the worn ones....too

coitmusic
03-25-2011, 04:10 AM
I started out having learned in D and my first foray into C came in a similar case to yours: I had a new uke and it just sounded better in C tuning, so I kept it there...it also helped that I had started playing in a group and now had a uke that I could take and play there where everone played in C.


but I find that the overall sound quality is better if I tune up to A-D-F#-B. Down in C, it sounds muddy with much less "twinkle," whereas I hear the individual notes sounding in each chord when I play in D.


Something else to keep in mind is that ukuleles strings don't handle tension changes as well as steel strings do. Once you've tuned a set of strings up to D they will stretch and if you try dropping back down to C they'll have even less tension.

Have fun in D!
Chester

Tully
03-25-2011, 11:24 PM
Hopefully you put the right size strings on your uke (soprano/concert/tenor).
Even for soprano Aquila makes a couple of different sets. In particular there's one for C-tuning and one for D-tuning, so that could be the problem.

coitmusic
03-26-2011, 03:07 AM
Even for soprano Aquila makes a couple of different sets. In particular there's one for C-tuning and one for D-tuning, so that could be the problem.

I think you may be mistaken...Aquila makes many different sets and some for different tunings, but I've never seen soprano or concert sets listed as being for C or D tuning.

Tully
03-26-2011, 03:50 AM
Here they're sold as AQ-4U for "soprano ukulele string set, regular tuning, G-C-E-A" and AQ-33U for "soprano ukulele string set, regular tuning, A-D-F#-B". And then there's AQ-5U and AQ-34U for low tuning (wound G or A) and finally AQ-30U for fifth tuning (G-D-A-E with wound G). So five different sets for the soprano.

coitmusic
03-26-2011, 11:33 AM
Tully,
My apologies...nothing like making a firm statement about someone else being wrong to set yourself up for a fall. I was aware of the 5u and 30U sets but have never seen the 33u and 34u sets anywhere. By any chance, do you know what the gauges are? I be curious how much different they are from the C tuning sets. I've always just used the 4U set and tuned it up to D.
Again, sorry for saying that you were wrong when i didn't have all the information.
Chester

Tully
03-26-2011, 11:04 PM
No problem; I almost started doubting myself. The package has check boxes preprinted for 'soprano', 'concert' etc. But it's got either 'High D' or 'High C' handwritten underneath. Perhaps it's just the distributor who's turning them into two different sets ;-) Don't know the gauges.

Lola
03-27-2011, 04:39 AM
Thanks again, everybody. I just tossed the string packet away, but the auction listing described them as being for GCEA and I seem to remember a "4U" sticker on them. It doesn't really matter at this point, I suppose. I'm not letting it stress me out too much.

coitmusic
03-27-2011, 10:09 AM
I poked around a little on the interwebs and I can't seem to find any of the D tuning sets mentioned available anywhere in the USA. The only hits I'm getting are for shops in Europe or the UK. Maybe these haven't made their way overseas yet?

Lola
03-12-2012, 09:53 AM
Almost a year and 2 string changes later, I have an update! When I changed the strings last September or so, that set of Aquilas also seemed to sound better tuned up a step. Again, not a big deal. I played like that for a few months.

This time around, I had some Worth Clears laying around already and gave them a shot. The result? It sounds really nice tuned gCEA all of a sudden! It's seems to be not as loud, but they give it a nice balance of warmth and brightness. If I need volume, my other uke(s, plural, by the end of this week!) deliver that in spades.

southcoastukes
03-12-2012, 11:25 AM
Hello Lola,

You never said specifically, but it seems you're talking about a Soprano. A lot of Sopranos, especially older models, are just more at home in D tuning. A lot of folks now are building them a touch deeper to take care of the C note.

Just the same, as you've discovered, strings can also sound better in one tuning or another. Since you said you only play with others a couple of times a month, what I'd do is just tune to where it sounds best. That could be C#, for instance.

If C tuning is your "standard", what your songbooks are written in, for instance, then just "pretend" you're in C when you're on your own, even if you're a step or two sharp. It's easy enough to drop your tuning back down in the group. Best sound is really most important in a solo setting anyway.