View Full Version : What fishing line for strings?

05-12-2011, 07:26 AM
I had one of my classes build ukes from the Grizzly ukulele kits. Unfortunately, the strings that come with the kits are really poor. They don't even seem to have different gages.

I'd like to get some better strings for the students but dont have the time or money to order strings from somewhere.

I've heard lots about people using fluorocarbon fishing line as uke strings. Anyone know what brand(s) and line diameters will work the best? I'm planning on purchasing the fishing line from Canadian Tire (this store is much like the baby a Walmart and a hardware store would have if they focused on teaching their child really poor customer service) so it won't help me to suggest fishing lines that arent widely available.

Thanks in advance!

05-12-2011, 07:48 AM
I happen to have done a fair amount of testing with Seaguar brand fluorocarbon leaders. Here is the most useful part of my notes:

This is what I've found to be the best overall set. It is very similar to Worth "CM" strings (every string Worth sells seems to correlate precisely with a Seaguar brand leader - I'll let you draw your own conclusion from that). The only difference between this set and a Worth CM set is that the E string is slightly smaller to place it closer to the C string in tension. I like this balance better and it also intonates better on my compensated bridges. I've used these on concert (perfect) and tenor (good but a little lighter than some tenor sets). They should also work very well on a soprano but I haven't tried that yet:

G .0224 Premier 40lb
C .0291 60lb
E .0244 40lb
A .0205 30lb

mr moonlight
05-12-2011, 08:28 AM
I wouldn't be surprised if they are the same. I put a set of Worth's on two of my uke's and they sound pretty nice and balanced but I've had issues with intonation. I'll be trying some other sets next time around. Here's a video that I saw of a comparison between fishing line and uke strings. The fishing line sounds very similar to my Worth's. I'd say just go for it. When you think about it, if you buy a cheap uke, you're probably getting something of lower quality than flourocarbon fishing line anyways.


05-12-2011, 09:34 AM
I was given a uke with fishline floro, and it was the seaguar i believe...the person did alot of research...though it was their first time using it...I found them very quiet and dull (but i use aquila most of the time) so i took them off after about a week and the uke sounds much better as a result...HOWEVER if you're doing lots of ukes for a class...the fishing line will save you lots of money in the long run...and they are about a 1091823098123% increase over those grizzly kit strings...You may want to look into how cheap you can get aquilas i know retail they go for about 4.80 US on elderly music, but maybe you could work something out with friendly smaller time dealer...i feel like aquilas are the way to go for lower end materials like the grizzly kits

Keep on ukin and building ukes for the masses!

05-12-2011, 10:04 AM
There are no music stores around you? Just get some Martin or Worth strings lol

rar jungle
05-12-2011, 10:34 AM
check out this thread:

these fishing leaders are really thick and fancy quality, probably won't find it at the baby walmart place. other smaller gauges or nylon fishing line will probably not sound very good.

here's some stuff i compiled from forums at ukulele cosmos:

Student » Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:27 pm
I've been doing experiments and calculations with SeaGuar fluorocarbon leader. I have the complete set of SeaGuar from 20# to 90#. (Not something I'm necessarily proud of, but maybe I can help.) Here's the results.

Numbers represent SeaGuar # pound test leader.

soprano gCEA
- light 30 70 40 25
- medium 40 80 60 30
- high 50 90 70 40
(EDIT -- this high tension set works, but experiments reveal that it's a bit too much, really.)

- medium 30 70 40 25
- high 40 80 60 30

- too light 25 50 30 20
- medium 30 70 40 25
low G
- too light 80 50 30 20
- medium 90 60 40 25

- DGBE tuning doesn't get enough tension with a 90# low D. It kind of works, but it's anemic, not much snap. But just in case ... 90 70 40 25.
- I think that John Kavanagh uses SeaGuar strings on his low-A Canadian tuned baritone, and likes it.

John Kavanagh » Fri Apr 25, 2008 2:59 pm
This is what I'm using now. They're similar to Worth Clears, they may actually be exactly the same material, but Worth doesn't have a set with these guages, or didn't last time I checked. This is for a 19¼" baritone, in "Canadian tenor" tuning - I actually think of it as a long-scale tenor, because I think of "baritone" as a tuning, not a size. Anyway, I tune low4th D - ad'f#'b'.

Seaguar Invisible Fluorocarbon Leader
80 lb test (.036", .91mm) 4th a string
60 lb test (.029", .74mm) 3rd d' string
40 lb test (.024", .61mm) 2nd f#' string
30 lb test (.020", .51mm) 1st b'string

With this length, this is a very high-tension set - I'm pretty much at the limit but it seems to work for me on this uke. For a lighter uke with a shorter neck - say a normal 17" tenor - this set would likely work in C tuning, but give you much more normal tension. The people at Worths and Aquila have figured what works for most people on most ukes, and I'd always suggest people start there, and stay there if they're happy.

You don't necessarily want exactly the same tension on each string; you often have to experiment to get a good balance between the sounds of the strings. On commercial guitar sets, for instance, the tension is usually higher on the top strings.

Student » Sun Aug 03, 2008 10:58 pm
Allison's R wrote:Fremont has 1st - 0.022 (A); 2nd - 0.027 (E); 3rd - 0.031 (C); 4th - 0.023 (g)

SeaGuar has available (ignoring the stuff that's way too thin for our use):
0.018 25#
0.020 30#
0.024 40#
0.026 50#
0.029 60#
0.031 70#
0.036 80#

For a concert (or soprano) uke tuned GCEA I use
G = 0.024 (40#)
C = 0.036 (80#)
E = 0.029 (60#)
A = 0.020 (30#)

I used to use 30#G-70#C-50#E-25#A, but I've discovered that I like tighter, so thicker, strings.

If you plan to use SeaGuar strings for a tenor uke tuned GCEA, the longer scale length will require that you use the thinner strings to maintain a similar tension.

John Kavanagh » Fri Jun 13, 2008 11:50 pm
Student wrote:On a soprano tuned GCEA, I use 40-80-60-30 pound SeaGuar.

That's interesting - I use 80-60-40-30 for a 489mm (19¼") baritone tuned ad'f#'b'. So my 3 lowest strings are two or three semitones lower than yours, but six inches longer - almost five frets worth. So if I tuned to low 4th C tuning, I'd have almost exactly the same tension as you. (Hm. Well, it's interesting to me, anyway.)

It seems that your outer strings, a tone apart, should be the same guages as my top two, a fourth apart, but there's a point of diminishing returns on the higher strings. I know a 25lb test string at .47mm wouldn't be strong enough - Pyramid sent me some .50mms and they kept breaking. Even though the 30lb (.52mm) string has to be tighter, it's enough stronger that it can still take that pitch. Also, I like a tight top string so it sounds clear and you can bring out the melody on top - when I used nylon a .60 was too light; a .62 was too heavy, and an .61 was just right. A hundredth of a millimetre.

DaveInClintonville » Sat Jun 07, 2008 2:37 pm
Thanks to RSteve, who was so kind as to send me some samples, I can say that these fishing leader strings are every bit as good as the "store bought" fluorcarbon strings (Worth, Freemont, etc.). It's the same stuff, in bulk, without the packaging.

For soprano/concert:

1) .020" (30 lb test)
2) .026" (50 lb test)
3) .029" (60 lb test)
4) .024" (40 lb test)

4) .036" (80 lb test) (for low-g)

Student » Mon Jun 09, 2008 3:14 pm
After spending way too much time and money on exactly this topic, here's where I landed. Maybe it'll help.

According to the best equations I could find, if you multiply the string diameter times the frequency of the note, you should get about the same number, all else being equal (string length, density of the material, force of gravity, pi, and tension on the string). The relevant variable here is string tension (since everything else is constant), and my assumption is that I want about equal tension on all strings.

DxF = K

D = diameter, F = frequency, K = a constant (the "same number").

On a soprano tuned GCEA, I use 40-80-60-30 pound SeaGuar.
Concert GCEA, 30-70-40-25.
Tenor, same as concert. For low-G, I use 90# test.

The numbers rarely come out exactly the same, so sometimes I have to choose between too much and not enough. And you may want some strings tighter or looser than others.

Student » Mon Jun 09, 2008 6:48 pm
I previously put a bit more of my results here, at the bottom of the first page.

I've only checked out SeaGuar fluorocarbon leader -- no other brands. Fishermen seem agreed that it's the best leader available, and for making music we need consistent density and diameter.

If that posting is not enough info for your needs, I've put together Excel worksheets of frequency (musical note) by diameter (by string length) which I could send. Or, if you have specific questions, I could put any relevant portions into text format and send that.

Here's the most relevant parts of the soprano table in text format:

Code: Select all
soprano* 13.5" scale* * * *
* * * * * *C* * E* * G* * A
#* * mm* *262* 330* 392* 440
10* 0.254* 66* *84* 100* 112
12* 0.33* *86* 109* 129* 145
15* 0.37* *97* 122* 145* 163
20* 0.41* 107* 135* 161* 180
25* 0.47* 123* 155* 184* 207
30* 0.52* 136* 171* 204* 229
40* 0.62* 162* 204* 243* 273
50* 0.66* 173* 218* 259* 290
60* 0.74* 194* 244* 290* 326
70* 0.81* 212* 267* 318* 356
80* 0.91* 238* 300* 357* 400
90* 1.05* 275* 346* 412* 462

Numbers between maybe 220 and 270 are pretty good. Less is a bit slack, more is rather tight. So you can see why 40-80-60-30 might have more or less equal tension.

I did once try a set with the 90# for a C string, down to 40# for the A string, but it was really really tight. Didn't break the Mahalo, but I'd worry about anything more lightly built, though.

And different scale lengths affect tension also. As would ADF#B tunig, or a low G ...

juke jeff » Tue Jun 10, 2008 3:08 am
Student, I think you are forgetting that the tension needs to increase as the scale gets longer.
You want more energy to drive the larger soundboard.

To calculate the tension of a string in pounds use the formula below,
inserting the three variables described below:
T (Tension) = (UW x (2 x L x F)2) / 386.4
The last 2 in the equation is squared or
T (Tension) = (UW x (2 x L x F)(2 x L x F)/ 386.4

UW- Unit Weight. In all the charts and formulas in the brochure, unit weight is
expressed in pounds per linear inch (lb/in).
L- Scale Length. This is the vibrating length of the string. This is determined by
measuring the distance from the nut to the bridge of the instrument in inches (in).
F- Frequency or pitch. This is the pitch at which you will be tuning the string
expressed in cycles per second (Hertz).

This is from-
http://www.daddario.com/Resources/JDCDA ... _chart.pdf

John Kavanagh » Fri Jun 13, 2008 3:28 pm
I'm using Seaguar too, after years of getting fluorocarbon form Germany as lute strings (there isn't a uke set with the guages I wanted). Thanks to Student for doing all the work. I don't think you necessarily want the same tension on every string, but it depends on the instrument and what you want. Thanks again for doing that, and thanks for printing that table here - I lost the one you sent me.

I get mine from www.outdoorproshop.com. Mike Da Silva gets his from Cabelas.

Road_Toad Date: 11/22/2006 11:39:20 PM I think that the high quality 100% fluorocarbon fishing lines have very consistant diameters on the spool, but there could always be variations from batch to batch. I personally have 25 to 30yd leader spools from Seaguar & Yo-Zuri that cover .019 inch to about .042 inch diameters.

Per Seaguar reel labels:

25lb is .019
30lb is .020
40lb is .024
50lb is .026
60lb is .029
70lb is .032
80lb is .036

In the Yo-Zuri

100lb is .039
130lb is .048 (actually about .042)

05-12-2011, 12:37 PM
I happen to have done a fair amount of testing with Seaguar brand fluorocarbon leaders.

Say, if I sent you $2 and a SASE, would you send me about 2 ft of each so I can try these on my KoAloha pineapple (currently wearing CMs)? If so, I'll review/compare in a post...


05-12-2011, 12:49 PM
Say, if I sent you $2 and a SASE, would you send me about 2 ft of each so I can try these on my KoAloha pineapple (currently wearing CMs)? If so, I'll review/compare in a post...


Send me a PM...

05-12-2011, 01:59 PM
takes a bit of a challenge to get it exactly right with fishing line... if you want to, you might have some savings but that stuff is not cheap either. I myself like Martin Fluorocarbons and am settling on them for all my ukes.

05-12-2011, 04:30 PM
I've used both Worth BT and CT on my Kinohi tenor tuned to C and they didn't do anything for it. The BT were pretty nice, but quiet when tuned to Bb. Aquilas are too bright. I bought some cheap fluorocarbon leader, eupro GT, in 40# (.024), 50# (.025), 60# (.029), and 80# (.037) and it works quite well on that particular ukulele. I don't think it is 100% fluorocarbon. I'm guessing it is a hybrid. It is heavier than Worth and lighter than Aquila and sounds good.

I tried them on my PD-1, but Aquilas sound a little better and the the 80# fluorocarbon C string booms a bit too much for me.

I have some of OldePhart's Seaguar that I am going to put on my concert when the Southcoast mediums wear out. The Southcoast medium strings are really nice. I'll compare the two down the road.

Personally it was more about finding the right string for that ukulele than saving some money.


02-01-2012, 06:33 AM
Seaguar leader material is on sale right now at The Longfin


02-01-2012, 11:21 AM
A friend of mine ordered 50 sets of uke strings directly from a factory in china, they worked out at 28 cents A SET and we cant find any difference between them and the cheaper brands of uke strings that sell in the local music shops that go for between 5 and 10 bucks a set, I feel that some string sellers are just making massive profits out of buyers because they are sticking cheapo strings in their own brand name packet and hiking up the price, oh well, welcome to capitalism.

Stick with aquilas, they may be ridiculously expensive but its like the difference between a cheap asian car and a BMW, no contest if you can afford it, and the italians really need the money right now :)

03-01-2012, 07:15 PM