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View Full Version : Aquila Strings: Honeymoon Over?



Papa Tom
04-17-2011, 06:33 AM
So are Aquilas losing favor in this community, or are other brands just gaining on them?

I wasn't happy at all with my last few sets of Nylguts (which, it turns out, may not have been Nylguts at all). However, many people here convinced me that I must have gotten a bad batch.

Now I see several members of this group trashing them in favor of other brands.

What's the story...and why can't good things (like the pasta and broccoli at my former favorite Italian restaurant) just stay the same?

janeray1940
04-17-2011, 06:37 AM
I've heard those stories too, and they scare me. I still love my Aquilas. I've had a few sets stockpiled for some time, and they've been consistently good. Last week I helped a friend change strings, and she had a brand new pack of Aquilas - I was really worried that they would be the ones I've heard bad things about, but no, they sounded just as good as always.

GVlog
04-17-2011, 06:46 AM
I've always preferred carbons or rectified nylons.

Having said that, I might try the new Nylgut (http://www.aquilacorde.com/en/corde-per-musica-antica/our-products/new-nylgut-strings-ng.html). I haven't seen it readily available yet. Mimmo offered samples to some classical guitar players but I was late to the online party.

guitarsnrotts
04-17-2011, 07:08 AM
As a relative newbie to the uke world, I had succumbed to the talk about Nylgut strings and
most of my new purchases came strung with them. My Martin S-O came strung with Martin
fluorocarbons and even though I liked the sound I swapped the out for the Nylguts. Didn't
like the resulting sound at all and am going back to the fluorocarbons. A similar story with a
mid-70s Kamaka I recently acquired. The Kamaka sounds much sweeter with the fluorocarbons.
My Mainland cedar/rosewood pineapple soprano came strung with Nylguts and sounds great, so
it will stay strung that way. In conclusion, I just think that each uke reacts differently with the
different types of strings. Much more so than my guitars.

ConspiracyUkeist
04-17-2011, 08:22 AM
What's nice about the fluorocarbons is, you can get fluorocarbon fishing line and stock up on a lifetime's supply of strings.

GVlog
04-17-2011, 09:13 AM
What's nice about the fluorocarbons is, you can get fluorocarbon fishing line and stock up on a lifetime's supply of strings.

I would be a little cautious about this. Jack and Frances (http://www.jackandfrances.com/index.html), who I believe were once SF Bay Area natives before they moved to Mexico, tried that experiment with Seaguar brand flourocarbon on their classical guitars. At first they were excited to have found a less costly solution for carbon strings since they wear out their strings quickly from performances and teaching. In a nutshell, they found after lengthy experimentation that the material is inconsistent and doesn't play in tune. Your own experience may vary.

Of course, you would at least have strings for fishing! ;)

DeVineGuitars
04-17-2011, 09:30 AM
I didn't notice any difference in my last batch of Aquilas. I am a little curious about the new ones though.

haolejohn
04-17-2011, 09:37 AM
i've never been a fan of aquilas. I prefer fluro carbons. But that is me.

gioconbrio
04-17-2011, 09:41 AM
So far, my own personal rule of thumb has been:
laminate small body = Aquilas
solid top and/or long neck = fluorocarbons
low G = classical D string (nearly every low G uke string I've tried breaks within a few days)

Ron
04-17-2011, 09:46 AM
I posted a question about this a while ago and got the answer that I may have had Bionylons instead of Nylguts.
Just restrung with Nylguts - so far so good.

DeVineGuitars
04-17-2011, 09:59 AM
low G = classical D string (nearly every low G uke string I've tried breaks within a few days)
This is so true. I love Aquila strings, but their wound string are sh!t. I started using a Hilo wound low G as a substitute and like it even better than a classical string (which I used to use)

OldePhart
04-17-2011, 10:30 AM
I think they may have stepped in it with their new "biolon" or whatever they're calling it. General consensus seems to be that they're kind of dead. This is compounded by the fact that they and/or their retailers don't seem to be doing a good job of distinguishing between NylGut (which I beleive is still being made) and the new stuff - as a consequence it seems like a lot of people are getting what they think is nylgut and finding it kind of limp, or lame, or whatever.

I've never been a big fan of the Nylguts on really top notch ukes anyway. They seem great for livening up a somewhat mediocre uke but even my Kiwaya long neck soprano - which is "ultra thin laminate" - sounds better with fluorocarbon strings.

As for Nylguts on ukes that are naturally way bright (i.e. solid spruce top, etc.) - you should be required to get a license to use Nylguts on them! :)

John

OldePhart
04-17-2011, 10:34 AM
I would be a little cautious about this. Jack and Frances (http://www.jackandfrances.com/index.html), who I believe were once SF Bay Area natives before they moved to Mexico, tried that experiment with Seaguar brand flourocarbon on their classical guitars. At first they were excited to have found a less costly solution for carbon strings since they wear out their strings quickly from performances and teaching. In a nutshell, they found after lengthy experimentation that the material is inconsistent and doesn't play in tune. Your own experience may vary.

Of course, you would at least have strings for fishing! ;)

I've had great results with Seaguar leaders - there is an awful lot of circumstantial evidence that convinces me that's all Worth strings are. I would avoid regular line - it's nothing like the leaders, which is why the leader material is far more expensive than the regular line.

That said, I don't think even the heaviest of the leaders would be suitable for the low strings on a guitar.

John

bunnyrawr
04-17-2011, 10:34 AM
I've found that whilst aquilas boost the sound of my cheaper ukes to wonderful heights, instruments of a higher quality actually fare better with the clear strings provided by the local music shop- I think they're Worth? I'll have to ask if I go back.

Kekani
04-17-2011, 10:37 AM
So are Aquilas losing favor in this community, or are other brands just gaining on them?. . . . Now I see several members of this group trashing them in favor of other brands.

I used to install Aquila exclusively years ago, but gave all of my stockpile (as Jane refers to) away to MGM (again, years ago). I don't think other brands are gaining, I just think the players are getting more educated and experimenting more. Or, they're just getting better instruments and realizing what happens when they take off the stock strings and go to Aquila - I think in some cases its an issue of denial. . . "I can't believe these stock XXXXX nylon strings sound better on my midrnage $500-$1000 factory instrument than the Aquila's I just grabbed from my stockpile (like that term, Jane)." My statement was a little different - "I can't believe these Classical Guitar strings sound better on my instrument than the Aquila's I always install from my year's worth of stock." Yes, I gave away more than a few sets.

This forum is a victim of its own internet success - there was a point in time where someone would ask "what strings" and the answer would be Aquila. Everytime I saw that I thought "typical expert response based on what everyone else is doing", sort of like Wikipedia, sort of. At the time, I really didn't have anything nice to say, but eventually came to a medium where I could formulate a response. They have their place in the realm of bringing in some volume and brightness to cheaper instruments (as I'm typing, OldePhart and bunnyrawr posted the same). Unfortunately for Aquila, most high end instruments, and even midrange factory instruments don't need help in this area. This has been discussed ad nauseam, without Aquila trashing, but more from a preference standpoint.

For Aquila, from a business perspective, I get it, and I wouldn't change the recipe in targeting the low end instrument market. Of course, this forum supports the midrange market as well (as evidence by Jane's quiver) - its too small for D'Addario and Savarez to be worried about (but then again, D'Addario DID repackage their Pro Artes into `ukulele sets- that should send a message right there. . .maybe someday they'll get to the T2's ).

-Aaron

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
04-17-2011, 11:05 AM
Aaron, you want what's left of my Pro Artes "stockpile"? I gave most of them to my buddy who fishes papio.

Kekani
04-17-2011, 02:31 PM
Aaron, you want what's left of my Pro Artes "stockpile"? I gave most of them to my buddy who fishes papio.

If you got J50's and J46 T2's, absolutely. I'll take a stab that you're likely to have J46's, but there's a use for them on some instruments so you certainly can donate them my way.

I'll also guess its Laron who was the recipient of said previous stockpile? Of course, if I were you, and you ever got into other body woods (like Maple or Myrtle), I'd keep the J46's, you'll find they match well. . .

GVlog
04-17-2011, 03:29 PM
I've had great results with Seaguar leaders ...
Sorry I should have been specific. Jack did use Seaguar leaders. He bout 25m and 50m rolls.

RyanMFT
04-17-2011, 03:38 PM
For me, out in the suburbs, all local music stores ever carried was Martin crystal nylons.....which are horrible in my opinion. It was always a little hard to get Aquilas quickly and easily when I picked up a used or vintage uke. So, when I found Aquilas I would buy a couple sets as I didn't want to wait several days to order them online. Now, local stores carry Martin flurocarbons and I like them more than I like the Aquilas on my vintage uke's......so, something in life actually got easier!

I can now get a good set of strings anytime I want them....so mostly I am going with what works well and what is convenient.

janeray1940
04-17-2011, 04:44 PM
Now, local stores carry Martin flurocarbons and I like them more than I like the Aquilas on my vintage uke's......so, something in life actually got easier!


I've heard those Martin fluoros on a non-vintage Kamaka concert uke and they sounded great. Definitely trying them out on mine next time I get the itch for a string change.

Gillian
04-17-2011, 06:47 PM
I would rate the strings I've tried as follows:

1) Martin fluorocarbons (high-G)
2). Worth Clears (low -G)
3) Aquila Nylgut (high-G)
4) Pro-Arte T2s

I sure wish Martin would sell a non-wound low-G.

Hippie Dribble
04-17-2011, 07:20 PM
As for Nylguts on ukes that are naturally way bright (i.e. solid spruce top, etc.) - you should be required to get a license to use Nylguts on them! :)

John

some more fragrant back door wisdom from ye olde phart. The Tom Guy flying owl tenor I just sold came with aquila nylguts and they sounded terrible. Just seemed a ttoal mismatch to me...You sure have to be careful using those on woods that are on the brighter side of the tonal range...spruce tops, maple, walnut etc... wouldn't even think about it. They just sound tinny and abrasive...and end up making the uke sound way too thin.

EricStetson
04-17-2011, 08:46 PM
I guess I'm one of those "hardcore" Aquila fanboys of wrote. I've experimented with many brands including the Martin fluorocarbons, and every time I've tried something other than Aquila, I wished I'd gone with the white nylguts I've learned to love. As I write this, I've got 'em on my cheapo Lanikai tenor, my mid-range Pono mango concert, my Waverly Street banjolele, and my baby, a Kanile'a K1 tenor. I teach as well, and I don't even have to recommend them, I show them the difference on a cheap uke or two compared to what they've got, usually something cruddy like the GHS black strings that are still stock on a few brands, or they've got Martins or D'Addarios. I dunno, I'm not really a brand zealot, it's just a tool to me - I've just found they sound better than the other brands I've tried. The day I hear a different string sound better is the day I start switching.

Hippie Dribble
04-17-2011, 09:01 PM
I probably should have also mentioned that I am actually a big fan of aquila nylguts, but just gotta be on the right uke is all... :)

bazmaz
04-17-2011, 09:24 PM
Good thread - I say that because as some of you may know, I have done quite a bit of rallying about strings.

Its not that I think Aquilas are bad (they are not, they are great strings) its just that it gets my goat when you go online (not on here) and you see endless discussions or uke websites saying - oh you have to get Aquilas - nothing else.

My advice to any player is use your OWN ears, not someone elses - try a few varieties on your uke and go with what you like best.

I do agree with those that have stated above that Aquilas work great on laminate small bodied instruments (ie beginner instruments - Lani LU21, Makala Dolphin etc - they really bring them alive. In my "nicer" ukes section though, I have tried Aquilas on all of them - didnt like them on any, and I tend to favour Martin Flouros and Worths.

lozarkman
04-18-2011, 02:01 AM
Southcoastukes strings or worth clears all the way.!!! Lozark

mm stan
04-18-2011, 02:12 AM
I probably should have also mentioned that I am actually a big fan of aquila nylguts, but just gotta be on the right uke is all... :)
I agree totally with Eugene, on certain ukes as laminates and some premimums(not all) and heavier body customs..work really well..I like them on the Kani'ea K5, Koa Works,
haven't tried a Chuck Moore uke with them on, but I think they would sing on his....let me know, Chuck.

SailQwest
04-18-2011, 03:05 AM
As for Nylguts on ukes that are naturally way bright (i.e. solid spruce top, etc.) - you should be required to get a license to use Nylguts on them! :)


Where should I apply for this license? :D

Aquila nylguts are my preferred strings for my solid spruce/rosewood concert. I've tried numerous others, but keep going back to Aquilas.

PhilUSAFRet
04-18-2011, 03:08 AM
I think we raise the same question. After being a beginner for 50 years, I have gotten very serious within the past several months. Part of my makeup is to do a prodigious amount of "research" in something I am interested in to find out what folks "who know what they are doing" think. I too developed an early "bias" that Aquila strings were the best.........."period." Well, I have since discovered that there is no one string that brings out the best tone from every uke, including Aquilas. Many, many ukers are constantly seeking the perfect string to make their favorite ukes sound best, they there are many posts on UU to that end. I think the Aquilas on my Vintage Martin O make it sound too "bright" and will be trying Martin Fluorocarbons soon. The same is true of my Cordoba Mahogany acoustic/electric tenor and I plan on trying Worth Brown's, low G (it's my "blues" uke.) I still have the factory strings on my Mele Koa Tenor and am very unhappy with the sound. Based on how it now sounds, I think that Aquila's may actually make it sound more like I want it to. Good luck with your search and your efforts to get your ukes to sound like you want them to, not what anyone else thinks they should sound like.

philpot
04-18-2011, 04:24 AM
Good thread - I say that because as some of you may know, I have done quite a bit of rallying about strings.

Its not that I think Aquilas are bad (they are not, they are great strings) its just that it gets my goat when you go online (not on here) and you see endless discussions or uke websites saying - oh you have to get Aquilas - nothing else.

My advice to any player is use your OWN ears, not someone elses - try a few varieties on your uke and go with what you like best.

I do agree with those that have stated above that Aquilas work great on laminate small bodied instruments (ie beginner instruments - Lani LU21, Makala Dolphin etc - they really bring them alive. In my "nicer" ukes section though, I have tried Aquilas on all of them - didnt like them on any, and I tend to favour Martin Flouros and Worths.

I'm gonna have to disagree :p out of the strings I tried on my Lanikai LU-21 from my least favorite to favorite went Black Diamonds, Aquilas, Martin fluorocarbons, Fremont Blacklines. I'm now a firm blackline convert ^.^

cletus
04-18-2011, 04:44 AM
At a recent seminar, Joe Souza from Kanilea spoke at length about his affinity for Aquila strings, despite the higher expense, on his companys ukuleles.
Any Kanilea owners have opinions?

GVlog
04-18-2011, 05:32 AM
I am a little curious about the new ones though.
I think the new Aquilas just settle faster and are "gut" colored. My understanding from a Pacific-coast importer is that they're available only as singles, mainly for period instruments. One would have to "build" a set.

If you play a lute with several courses, then a faster-settling string would make you less averse towards Aquilas versus carbon, nylon or rectified nylon.

GVlog
04-18-2011, 05:39 AM
At a recent seminar, Joe Souza from Kanilea spoke at length about his affinity for Aquila strings, despite the higher expense, on his companys ukuleles.
It's also possible that Joe has a good business arrangement with Mimmo of Aquila.

I believe that luthier Kenny Hill had a personal preference for Hannabach strings. When he started his import line, the factory had a deal with Savarez and would only install those strings on the guitars.

As mentioned before, players should assess what strings work best for their tonal preference, their playing style, and their ukes. I think people are just becoming more experienced and have begun to explore outside of the "Aquila comfort-zone".

ukulelecowboy
04-18-2011, 05:44 AM
Ever since Dirk Wormhoudt started selling Southcoast Strings, I have not been the same man or ukulele player.

I honestly don't think I will ever buy another brand...

Mike

Huna
04-23-2011, 07:19 AM
I am really liking the Hilo standard strings on my Mahalo U350. now I wonder about the black D'addario J53 if anyone has tried them? Or the best place to get the Hilos.

hoosierhiver
04-23-2011, 07:46 AM
It's also possible that Joe has a good business arrangement with Mimmo of Aquila.

".

I don't think that is the case and doubt if he's just being a paid mouthpiece.

70sSanO
04-23-2011, 08:35 AM
I have found that Aquilas can get overly bright and can almost have a washboard scratchiness when strummed on some instruments. Also winter seems like a bad season for Aquilas.

That said I use them on one tenor and they sound great. I have gone the fluorocarbon fishing leader, not Seaguar, route on my other tenor that is overly bright. Since California is bankrupt it costs a fortune to get a license to use Aquilas on it. LIke OldePhart, I have had good success with them.

John

mm stan
04-23-2011, 08:45 AM
At a recent seminar, Joe Souza from Kanilea spoke at length about his affinity for Aquila strings, despite the higher expense, on his companys ukuleles.
Any Kanilea owners have opinions?
My friend let me borrow his top of the line Kanilea for over a month, it was the K5 with Aquila and it had great bottom end with perfect intonation and wasn't muddled sounding at all...I guess different ukes
react different to them...I also have them on my Koa Works and they sound outstanding on it...so laminates are not primary for Aquila's in general...Happy Strummings...MM Stan

Kekani
04-23-2011, 08:47 AM
At a recent seminar, Joe Souza from Kanilea spoke at length about his affinity for Aquila strings, despite the higher expense, on his companys ukuleles.
Any Kanilea owners have opinions?

Not an owner, but I have an opinion. Joe builds excellent instruments, and I've always thought it a waste of his sound to install Aquila's. Personally, they cheapen the sound of his instruments. While its not a bad sound, I think it makes it sound too close to a lower end instrument, like a Kala or Lanikai. Not exactly like them, but with tonal qualities of them. BTW, I'm referring to his Tenors.

I can understand though, as stated, I once had an affinty for Aquila and what it brought out of the instrument. I was just in denial that Classical Guitar strings were a better choice for me. I thought it was wrong that I didn't have an `ukulele specific string set on my `ukulele. Then I stepped back and thought about where all the R&D goes, and its in Guitars, not `ukulele. Again, D'Addario is a perfect example on their repackaged Pro Artes - their regular `ukulele strings suck, but the Pro Artes are completely different.

-Aaron

frofrofro
06-12-2011, 06:34 AM
I switched from aquila nylguts to martin fluorocarbons on my ohana for a change of pace, and it sounds different, but nice.
Unfortunately the aquilas were thicker, and ohanas are factory setup with aquilas, so the nut slots are too big for my martin strings; my C and E string buzz when i pluck them hard enough.
I'm gonna switch back to aquilas just to get rid of the buzz.

ukulefty
06-12-2011, 07:36 AM
I wonder about the black D'addario J53 if anyone has tried them?


I've got a set of those J53's that are going to go on either my Bowley or my cheapo Vintage (depending which uke needs new strings first). Both are currently strung with Aquila's "new" Nylgut strings.

I like the sound of Aquila's, not that I've tried many different string brands yet, I just wish they came in other colours besides white...

Lori
06-12-2011, 07:56 AM
I've got a set of those J53's that are going to go on either my Bowley or my cheapo Vintage (depending which uke needs new strings first). Both are currently strung with Aquila's "new" Nylgut strings.

I like the sound of Aquila's, not that I've tried many different string brands yet, I just wish they came in other colours besides white...

New Aurora Strings are colored Aquilas
http://stringsbyaurora.com/order_form.php?inst=All%20Instruments
Scroll down the list to find ukulele listed under certain colors.
They only list soprano size here, but I have seen the other sizes as well at their
booth at the New York Uke Fest last May. I bought a set of bright green concert strings.
–Lori

Foinnse
06-12-2011, 09:58 AM
Firstly, I just want to say that this a very interesting thread. As a newbie who went from standard black something-or-other strings I am absolutely a supporter of Aquilas. But, that is of course with a lack of experience of the other quality string types. I think I will take the advice of the more experienced players here and just try and decide what I prefer in terms of sound. Aquilas seem like an easy solution at the moment but I will certainly experiment in the future. Also my Uke, although I love it, is certainly a lower range instrument, so that may make a difference too as has been mentioned already.

As an aside; @Lori.
I saw those strings on aurora alright and I thought I might buy some for the fun for the little Makala dolphin I've been thinking about buying soon. Bright red strings on an apple green body would look pretty cool I reckon, right? :) I wondered whether they were actually the same in quality as the standard nylguts? I have seen them listed as nylgut and also something other than Nylgut so I'm a little confused.
Cheers! -F

uke4ia
06-12-2011, 10:37 AM
I just put a set of Aquila Bionylons with a low G on my Kiwaya K-Wave concert last night. I buy my strings off JustStrings.com, and the page for the Nylguts said that people find the wound G breaks a lot so they offer single G strings to purchase. So I bought Bionylons instead. I haven't had time to form an opinion yet.

pdxuke
06-12-2011, 10:59 AM
Great thread. Can't believe I missed it first go around.

To add my voice:

Martin FC strings are wonderful on my mahogany ukes. Vintage and new.
Aquilas are great on my Dolphin. I just find them sloppy on a soprano uke when tuned to C. That's why If I have them on a soprano I always use D tuning.

I like Southcoast strings. I have a pair on my barry, and although I don't like the barry I love the strings.

Finally, I'd like to encourage all of you to make entries on the Uke String Database. It's something I set up so we all can post our experiences with string sets. I've found other opinions interesting, and so I think it's worth gathering everything in a database.

DATABASE HERE (https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?authkey=CJmiu9kC&hl=en&key=tpuiavkE9sM_1ahodR82GvA&hl=en&authkey=CJmiu9kC#gid=0)

poppy
06-12-2011, 11:32 AM
PDX the data base is a great idea ---but imho needs more thought and columns perhaps with a 1-5 rating
examples --- tone h or low l0 =5 ,,sustain , tension , harsh -mellow , picking -strumming--- I not sure what all but it really has potential to help people choose. would make comparison easier

Ukuleleblues
06-12-2011, 12:10 PM
Great thread. Can't believe I missed it first go around.

To add my voice:

Martin FC strings are wonderful on my mahogany ukes. Vintage and new.
Aquilas are great on my Dolphin. I just find them sloppy on a soprano uke when tuned to C. That's why If I have them on a soprano I always use D tuning.

I like Southcoast strings. I have a pair on my barry, and although I don't like the barry I love the strings.

Finally, I'd like to encourage all of you to make entries on the Uke String Database. It's something I set up so we all can post our experiences with string sets. I've found other opinions interesting, and so I think it's worth gathering everything in a database.

DATABASE HERE (https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?authkey=CJmiu9kC&hl=en&key=tpuiavkE9sM_1ahodR82GvA&hl=en&authkey=CJmiu9kC#gid=0)

Can you add four columns for string gage? Use the standard numbering from left to right g = 4 c = 3 e = 2 a = 1

It would make it seasier to pick a string that would not require reworking the nut.

CTurner
06-12-2011, 02:30 PM
When I got my Kanile'a concert it had the Aquilas as stock. After a bit I experimented with different makes and settled on Worth clears, medium. Then within the last months, I put on some Southcoast mediums and really love them. Would not go back to Aquilas. Also got my Lichty custom tenor with Aquilas, low g, but again I experimented and love the Worth Low G extra hard set on it. But am about to order Southcoast's flatwound low g set: should be interesting. But I think that Kanile'as sound even better with a bit more of the brightness that the Worth give, IMHO.

Lori
06-12-2011, 04:02 PM
As an aside; @Lori.
I saw those strings on aurora alright and I thought I might buy some for the fun for the little Makala dolphin I've been thinking about buying soon. Bright red strings on an apple green body would look pretty cool I reckon, right? :) I wondered whether they were actually the same in quality as the standard nylguts? I have seen them listed as nylgut and also something other than Nylgut so I'm a little confused.
Cheers! -F

The Green Aurora strings say "Silkgut developed by Aquila". I haven't used them yet... still trying to choose which uke to put them on, and waiting for the current strings to wear out.

–Lori

Ukuleleblues
06-13-2011, 01:00 AM
What brand of string is most similar to Worth CMs? Diameter and sound wise?

byjimini
06-13-2011, 01:14 AM
It all depends on the uke. My Mainland mahogany soprano and the Flea sound superb with them, however my Mango Lanikai just doesn't shine at all and I prefer Worth Clears on that.

fumanshu
06-13-2011, 01:40 AM
I'm not a big fan of Aquila but what I observe is that Aquila strings balance well with certain kind of wood. And from my experience, I think they fit quite well with uke with cedar top. It takes out a little bit the warm side of the cedar and bring some punch and brightness to it.

Actually, when I'm using Aquila strings, I use the Alabastros one which is use on classical guitars. It's actually quite popular amongs guitar and flamenco guitar players.

I find them to maybe have a little less spectrum than let's say Oasis Titanium strings or T2 from D'Addario.....but like I said, I like them on cedar top because they bring a brighness side to it...