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southcoastukes
06-16-2011, 08:13 AM
OK Folks! I figured it wouldn't take long! Thanks for all the posts, PMs & e-mails. We've got enough testers!

Will let you know how everything goes, or testers can add on to this thread.

Thanks again!

***************************

Hello all,

Am looking for a FEW good tenor players. They should like to play in the high rentrant key of C. They should have an instrument that is not built like a tank. Finally, they should be interested in a set of strings they can play at normal tesion.

We're about to release a new pair of string sets. They're alternatives to our Medium and Light gauge high rentrant sets. Our two standard formulations have been very well received. They have a medium bright tone, and liven up pretty much any instrument you put them on.

We wanted to offer another alternative - string sets that give a "softer" sound. Maybe you have a very bright instrument that needs toning down, or maybe your taste just runs to a more subdued sound. The concept would be something like Worth Clears vs. Worth Browns, but of course we like to think our sets have the best balance.

With Tenor Ukuleles, playing in the key of C usually means playing a set like our Medium gauge, and playing at a fairly high tension. Since the beginning, Tenor construction has been pretty heavy, and so you actually need the high tension to get away with C tuning. Normal tension strings in the key of C for an instrument like a standard Tenor are actually pretty thin. Our Light gauge strings are an example. They give perfect tension on a 17" standard Tenor scale, but usually don't generate enough force to excite the heavy build.

Here's where our new "Soft Lights" come in. I am extremely pleased with the overall sound of this set. They have a softer sound than our standard Lights, but still being a Light gauge, they're not dead by any means. The surprising element is that the lower density material and slightly thicker diameters are producing a good bit more volume, while maintaining normal tension. With normal tesnion you'll get better vibrato and sustain.

Now finally to the reason for the test. We don't make a standard Tenor. I am curious as to how these will perform on one of those instruments. Would they still be a little weak, or could they finally be the performance answer for the tuning so many Tenor players want to play? As mentioned above, I would not be optimistic about their performance on a really heavily built instrument.

Still, if you fall into the group I outlined at the beginning, and want to become a "Tester" for Southcoast, I'll be happy to send out a few trial sets.

Any takers?

Tisland
06-16-2011, 08:23 AM
Dear Dirk,

I do have two tenor ukes, one made by myself from a StewMac kit and the other is a pro luthier TIMPLE (which is a 5 string spanish instrument).

For that tenor TIMPLE I have had always a problem with the strings and have not yet found anything that would be right.

Could I buy from you at least two sets to test them? Also I would have a problem since the tuning is D A E C G (first to fifth) and I would need an additional string for the first one.

southcoastukes
06-16-2011, 08:31 AM
Hello Tisland,

Drop me a line with your address: southcoast@inbox.com. The trial sets are no charge - just looking for some feedback.

patico
06-16-2011, 09:22 AM
i would love to be a string tester.
i play fingerpicking n strumming

southcoastukes
06-16-2011, 09:33 AM
i would love to be a string tester.
i play fingerpicking n strumming

Sounds good. Get me your address: southcoast@inbox.com

Fred Leask
06-16-2011, 10:30 AM
Dirk,
I have several tenor ukes and an eleuke.
I would love to try your new strings.

southcoastukes
06-16-2011, 10:41 AM
Dirk,
I have several tenor ukes and an eleuke.
I would love to try your new strings.

I don't know enough about the characteristics of the eleuke to know if it's a good cadidate or not. Guess you'll have to tell me!

Send me your address: southcoast@inbox.com

fumanshu
06-16-2011, 10:46 AM
I'm a string junky and tend to try to find the perfect set of strings for each uke...I'm now in that process right now with my new custom from spanish luthier Lui Feu de Mesquita.

I don't mind to get sets to try out.

haolejohn
06-16-2011, 10:49 AM
would a koaloha sceptre (tenor of course work)?

Mouthy1
06-16-2011, 11:03 AM
I just sent an email about my Pono Cedartop Tenor. Hoping this helps bring out some character. Thanks guys for trusting us. By the way, I have southcoast strings on my Kanilea Tenor and they are better than amazing!!! I can't believe how they have brought out the sustain, the treble and givin it a guitarish/brilliant sound. Nice work boys.(or girls?)

southcoastukes
06-16-2011, 11:11 AM
I'm a string junky and tend to try to find the perfect set of strings for each uke...I'm now in that process right now with my new custom from spanish luthier Lui Feu de Mesquita.

I don't mind to get sets to try out.

Sounds like a good trial (lovely instrument).


haolejohn
would a koaloha sceptre (tenor of course work)?

My guess is it would work well!

Send me your addresses: southcoast@inbox.com


Mouthy1
I just sent an email about my Pono Cedartop Tenor. Hoping this helps bring out some character. Thanks guys for trusting us. By the way, I have southcoast strings on my Kanilea Tenor and they are better than amazing!!! I can't believe how they have brought out the sustain, the treble and givin it a guitarish/brilliant sound. Nice work boys.(or girls?)

Thanks for the kind words - your set goes out tomorrow!

PhilUSAFRet
06-16-2011, 11:38 AM
Love to try some on my Mele koa tenor. Sounds like what I'm looking for. Sent address.

southcoastukes
06-16-2011, 12:03 PM
Love to try some on my Mele koa tenor. Sounds like what I'm looking for. Sent address.

I think you might be right. These will likely be brighter than your Hilos. Let's see if they give you good volume.

Will send some out tomorrow.

MattLindahl
06-16-2011, 12:15 PM
Just sent you an email, I would love to hear something different from this Eddy Finn.

70sSanO
06-16-2011, 12:17 PM
Dirk,

I have an 18" solid koa tenor that is very bright, to the point where I have used maple for the saddle to tone it down. I now use ebony for the saddle and fluorocarbon fishing strings (off brand) because Aquilas are too bright/harsh, CTs don't bring out enough, Worth BS sound nice tuned to Bb, but lose volume, and various others including Savarez didn't work out.

After a 4 year search what I am using is working pretty good, (a tad more ring would be nice) but I have your mediums on a concert and really like them. If you want me to try them, great, if not that is fine also. I play mostly fingerstyle instrumental. I'll send you an email unless you already have enough testers.

John

southcoastukes
06-16-2011, 12:21 PM
Dirk,

I have an 18" solid koa tenor that is very bright, to the point where I have used maple for the saddle to tone it down. I now use ebony for the saddle and fluorocarbon fishing strings (off brand) because Aquilas are too bright/harsh, CTs don't bring out enough, Worth BS sound nice tuned to Bb, but lose volume, and various others including Savarez didn't work out.

After a 4 year search what I am using is working pretty good, (a tad more ring would be nice) but I have your mediums on a concert and really like them. If you want me to try them, great, if not that is fine also. I play mostly fingerstyle instrumental. I'll send you an email unless you already have enough testers.

John

Hello SanO!

These just might do it - I'll be anxious to hear how it goes. Send me the address: southcoast@inbox.com

RyRod
06-16-2011, 12:22 PM
I would love to assist you!

I've been trying all kinds of strings out on my Talsma Custom tenor. It's walnut with a western red cedar top. It's pretty broken in by now too.

southcoastukes
06-16-2011, 12:24 PM
OK Folks! I figured it wouldn't take long! Thanks for all the posts, PMs & e-mails. We've got enough testers!

Will let you know how everything goes, or testers can add on to this thread.

Thanks again!

Dan Uke
06-16-2011, 01:06 PM
Really nice of SCU to look for testers from this site. I saw your thread early and even thought of fibbing and saying I play high G but then I would break the honor code amongst this great uke communitiy. I'm a golf player and police myself and I hold ukeleles in the highest regard.

I'll volunteer and test your strings when you add the low G!!!

JamieFromOntario
06-16-2011, 02:02 PM
Dirk, I've used your strings on and off for a year or so. I really like them. In fact, I just put a set of mediums on my bluegrassukes tenor and tuned down to Bb re-entrent.
This uke has never sounded better. It's built pretty heavy and has a body more the size of a bari than a tenor. It's really been singing at this tuning.

I've been thinking that I wanted to do a quick recording to show everybody on UU how great tuning down can sound (I was skeptical at first myself). If I can get my act together, I might post tonight.
Also, I've got another, more lightly built tenor, an MP Custom, which has worth browns on it, and I not too thrilled with these. Expect an order for some lights (and mediums and heavies) soon!


John/SanO, I think that you are going to find that SC strings are a good balance between the bright, punchy aquilas and the super-mellow worth browns. This has been my experience.

olgoat52
06-16-2011, 05:51 PM
Dirk. Just purchased (shipment in transit) 2 sets of Med gauge strings to try on a new Boat Paddle Tenor I received last week. I would like to keep it tuned GCEA. Did I order the wrong ones?? You got me wondering now. Thanks Tim Clark

southcoastukes
06-17-2011, 05:49 AM
Hello to Jamie (good to hear from you again) & Tim (thanks for the recent order),

Your posts actually deal with a related, but slightly different topic. Just the same, maybe I could have been a bit clearer in what we were offering / hoping for, with these new "Soft Lights".

From a builder's or string maker's perspective, your top priority is sound. It's easy to forget that this is not always the top priority with all your customers - other factors can and do enter into one's choice of a set-up. One thing we are looking at with the Soft Lights, is the possibility of them making high reentrant C tuning at normal tension a possibilty on Tenor Ukuleles. What I don't mean to imply is that Tenor Ukuleles will sound best tuned that way.

Best sound is always going to be subjective, but personally, I think Tenor Ukuleles are at their best, from the perspective of pure sound quality, with Jamie's set-up (Medium Gauges - normal tension - B flat). It is the most natural fit for the standard Tenor's size and scale (Post the video, Jamie!) Of course some people may prefer another type of sound, but most importantly, for various reasons (some valid - others not so), a lot of people want to tune to the key of C, even though on a Tenor it is a bit of a round hole / square peg proposition.

Our Soft Light strings present the possibility of improving that situation for a lightly built Tenor. I posted a little "dissertation" on Tenor tuning awhile back:

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?46949-Tunings-for-the-Standard-Tenor-Ukulele&highlight=Tunings+Tenor+Ukulele

If this "test" turns out positive, I might have to update that post.


Dirk. Just purchased (shipment in transit) 2 sets of Med gauge strings to try on a new Boat Paddle Tenor I received last week. I would like to keep it tuned GCEA. Did I order the wrong ones?? You got me wondering now. Thanks Tim Clark

It's not that you ordered the wrong strings, Tim. The test is because I'm wondering about a new possibility myself.

I had some interesting e-mails. One offer was to do a video comparison between the Soft Lights and some Aquilas. I'm assuming we are talking an Aquila Tenor set, here, and while that would be interesting, it's like comparing Apples / Oranges. An Aquila Tenor set has very heavy gauges and quite a bit of tension. Of course, some instruments will need that and some players will want that.

With our Medium gauges, Tim, you will also have that high tension scenario in key of C. I'm sure you have your reasons for wanting to keep that tuning, but if, for example, it's to play along with groups, keeping the arrangements you already know, or maybe playing along with instructional videos, bear in mind that outside of those situations, you can always relax the strings - dropping the tuning down for the richer sound, and then crank it back up to C when you need to.

I also had one member write me who had a both a Tenor, and a 17" scale concert. I asked him to try his test set on the Tenor first, as that would be the real challenge. We make longneck concerts, and I know very well what a set of Soft Lights will do there. With the smaller body, and generally lighter build, I think that for those instruments, in C tuning, these will be the finest material you could have. (As an aside - the standard Light Gauge set will likely be the string of choice on a vintage soprano).

One final thought. At the moment, we have two good options for high rentrant Tenor C tuning. Our Medium Gauge and the new Soft Mediums . The Soft Mediums have already been released. I'm just awaiting the results of this test before releasing the Soft Lights. That may give us three options. Every instrument and every player will have their preferences. I always encourage people to look at the Combo packs as an economical way to try out 2-3 sets and find your "perfect fit".

Dan Uke
06-20-2011, 08:26 PM
Instrument: Koaloha Tenor w/ Koaloha Tenor Strings which are most similar to Worth CH-LGHD.

I just got my set and read your above post and I think I am comparing apples and oranges. My intial reaction is that the strings are a little sticky, sorta like rubbing my fingers on a very full balloon. I could hear my fingers squeaking accross the string. Another thing I noticed is the notes do not sustain as long as my current set. However one positive thing is that intonation is very good for a new set of strings and the attack of the note is very precise and consistent regardless of how hard I pick the note. It sorta reminded me of the Worth Brown Mediums on my Pono Mahagony Concert.

I have not tried to tune in the Bflat as you suggested as I don't plan to play songs lower tuned so might not be getting the true intentions of the string. So far, it seems like a very good string. I will have to give an update in a week or so as this is a new string set.

southcoastukes
06-21-2011, 02:31 AM
Instrument: Koaloha Tenor w/ Koaloha Tenor Strings which are most similar to Worth CH-LGHD.

... notes do not sustain as long as my current set. However one positive thing is that intonation is very good for a new set of strings and the attack of the note is very precise and consistent regardless of how hard I pick the note. It sorta reminded me of the Worth Brown Mediums on my Pono Mahagony Concert.

I have not tried to tune in the Bflat as you suggested as I don't plan to play songs lower tuned so might not be getting the true intentions of the string. So far, it seems like a very good string. I will have to give an update in a week or so as this is a new string set.

Thanks for the first impression. Less sustain is probably something to expect on one of our "Soft" sets. The material, especially on the outside strings, is not as dense as, for instance, a flourocarbon. This means less sustain, but is also what produces the "softer" sound.

The comparison to Worth Browns on a concert is especially good, as this set aims not only for the softer sound, but lower tensions - like what you would find more often on a concert than a tenor. I would have hoped less tension would have also increased the sustain - but getting a string set that "does it all" may be too much to hope for.

I would not, however, tune the Soft Light set to B flat. That would be the realm of either of our two Medium gauge sets (Mediums or Soft Mediums). They're at normal tension at B flat and the more customary higher Tenor tension when tuned to C.

In the end, a few people got those as well, so maybe we'll end up with some comparisons of all three, but the main intent of this test is to see if a Light set has enough "juice" for a standard Tenor.

Thanks again!

Mouthy1
06-21-2011, 04:45 AM
Well I put my new strings on my Pono Cedartop with Mohag. sides and back. I have tried Aquila's, Worth's, low G Aquila's Fremonts blacklines, Koolau golds and maybe even some more to get the sound I know is in there! My very early impression is that this string doesn't add any volume but adds a very nice complexity to the instrument that no other string has. One reason I did this is because I have a nice Kanilea with Southcoast strings on it and was so impressed that I thought maybe it would be the string to wake up my Cedar. So far, they have added a fantastic complex sound with brighter highs. I would say if I had to compare on my particular uke, I would put them closest to the Worth Clears(that is what was on it as I changed them). I will say they are closest to them but not the Worths sound one dimensional comparatively. I won't change back the Worths after using these. I may change to one of the other tensions to try to get a little more volume but so far, these have taken the "muddy" sound out of the Pono. Nice work so far and i will keep giving feedback as they settle in.

southcoastukes
06-21-2011, 05:03 AM
...My very early impression is that this string doesn't add any volume but adds a very nice complexity to the instrument that no other string has. One reason I did this is because I have a nice Kanilea with Southcoast strings on it and was so impressed that I thought maybe it would be the string to wake up my Cedar. So far, they have added a fantastic complex sound with brighter highs. I would say if I had to compare on my particular uke, I would put them closest to the Worth Clears(that is what was on it as I changed them). I will say they are closest to them but not the Worths sound one dimensional comparatively. I won't change back the Worths after using these. I may change to one of the other tensions to try to get a little more volume but so far, these have taken the "muddy" sound out of the Pono. Nice work so far and i will keep giving feedback as they settle in.

Thanks M, for your first take as well. I wouldn't expect volume to be the strong suit with these. Just want to make sure there is enough volume there to recommend them as an option for standard Tenors on our site. The standard Light set is brighter - more sustain, but even though the tension is the same as the Soft Lights, I have a very strong caveat against their use on Tenors. Our feedback was that they just didn't have enough push for that big of an instrument.

We use an assortment of material in every set, instead of just different gauges of the same stuff. Balancing those sounds & tones is the tricky part of formulating these sets, but when it's done right, it gives better balance, both in tone and in tension, plus it accounts for the complexity you mentioned.

Mouthy1
06-21-2011, 05:21 AM
What's interesting is that I didn't lose any volume(it doesn't have a bunch so that was a relief) but the complexity is just outstanding. It appears to be letting every little sound make it out of the instrument. It didn't have a lot of high's which is strange I think for a Cedartop but now it has them in both abundance and a range of them. Again, I will reserve my final anaysis until I have more "seat" time. Until then, I can't believe the differences in both of my Southcoast strung ukes. It is like I have new(one is new!) and outstanding ukes. Great job....so far!

Dan Uke
06-21-2011, 05:57 AM
[QUOTE=Mouthy1;708742]What's interesting is that I didn't lose any volume(it doesn't have a bunch so that was a relief) but the complexity is just outstanding. It appears to be letting every little sound make it out of the instrument.

I was the opposite as I had no volume with the strings, especially strange considering Koaloha are known for being louder than other ukes. One thing I forgot to mention is that the vibrato is pronounced with the strings...can't wait to see how it sounds today!

southcoastukes
06-21-2011, 06:55 AM
I was the opposite as I had no volume with the strings, especially strange considering Koaloha are known for being louder than other ukes. One thing I forgot to mention is that the vibrato is pronounced with the strings...can't wait to see how it sounds today!

The vibrato should be a result of the lower tension. KoAlohas are unusual in several ways. Good volume from the instrument, as you said, but maybe that unibrace needs more powerful strings than these Lights?

Just goes to show how no one set can be the best fit for all instruments.

RyRod
06-21-2011, 08:57 AM
Just got mine in the mail today and I'm about to throw them on.

Give me a few days to let them settle in properly and I'll make a video.

*Edit*

They've been on for 2 hours now and I've been messing around in Bb tuning.

From what I have read, the tension is pretty low in this tuning. I agree. I've been gutterballing the "A" string on pull-offs more than usual...could just be me.:p This makes it much more comfortable to fret though and I'm enjoying that aspect.

As for loudness, they are a little more quiet than "normal", but not too quiet.

My one pet peeve is a chunky "C" string. You know, the one with the overpowering sound that barely fits in its slot at the nut. Well, I was relieved when this "C" string fit nicely and didn't have a thick feel too it.

The intonation is very good too, even though the strings are still stretching. More on that once they settle

That's it for my first impressions. I'll have more to say later.

southcoastukes
06-21-2011, 12:55 PM
My one pet peeve is a chunky "C" string. You know, the one with the overpowering sound that barely fits in its slot at the nut. Well, I was relieved when this "C" string fit nicely and didn't have a thick feel too it.


Thanks for your quick impressions Ryan -

That "low profile" 3rd string is something that practically all our sets have - not just these Soft Lights. It's again part of the "mixed material" approach.

Since the outside strings are higher pitched, they are naturally brighter, so we select material that's a little less dense for them. Makes them a littles less bright. The inside strings are lower pitched, and naturally softer in tone, so we use denser materials for them. That gives them a clearer sound, no muddy tone.

The result is more balanced tone across the fretboard - not nearly as much difference in tone between the thick strings and the thin ones. The side benefit is that the denser inside material is not as thick in relation to the outside strings. Makes for less variation in the string thicknesses and makes them more comfortable to play!

8daypsalmist
06-21-2011, 04:34 PM
Received your package earlier today and strung up my Mainland solid mahogany Tenor this evening. Dirk, I like these strings. A lot. Nice string to string balance. Real nice tension - I was a little concerned with them being "lights" that the feel might be a little "rubber bandish". They give a nice smooth resistance to finger tension. Very nice tactile response.

Definitely "sweeter" sounding than the Aquila's that were previously on. Kind of like the Aquila's were normal and the Southcoast were HD. Your string set is full sounding without being strident. I especially like the two middle strings (C & E) - kind of "woodsy" with a nice "snap", without being harsh or brash at all.

I have struggled finding the right string set to fully enhance the tone of this particular instrument and would say that this set really hits the mark for me. The light gauge helps offset the higher action of this particular Uke very nicely and really brings out the rich woody midrange frequency of the mahogany.

Thank you so much Dirk for giving me a shot at testing them. If I were to swap out the high G for a low G, do you sell a single low G that would go with this set? I have read your philosophy on going wound for 3 & 4 for balance, but I have grown fond of wound Low G for blues and single note lead playing. I really love the plain C (my favorite string in this set) and wouldn't want to swap it out.

Peace,

James

southcoastukes
06-22-2011, 02:35 AM
Dirk, I like these strings. A lot. Nice string to string balance....
If I were to swap out the high G for a low G, do you sell a single low G that would go with this set? I have read your philosophy on going wound for 3 & 4 for balance, but I have grown fond of wound Low G for blues and single note lead playing. I really love the plain C (my favorite string in this set) and wouldn't want to swap it out.

Peace,

James

First, James - thanks so much for the kind words!

The single wound issue is a bit off topic on this thread, but why not go there for a minute?

You called out one of our primary goals in formulating sets: the "string to string balance", or as I like to say it "transitions" from one string to the next. I just don't think a wound string 4th / non-wound third combo exists where that 4-3 transition would sound good. Even the softest wound string will be a lot brighter with a lot more sustain than a 3rd, mainly because the 3rd is the thickest and "deadest" of the treble materials. In other words, you probably wouldn't like that 3rd string as well with a wound string next to it.

Does this mean you can't play beautifully with an "out of balance" set of strings. Of course not. All kinds of people do it, compensating for the differences in tone, or actually using them to their advantage. People do it with the single wound 4th sets (I'm sure you have developed a nice technique yourself, James) and most non-wound low 4th sets have a 1st string that is waaaaay brighter than the 4th on the other end. Ukulele Ike did it best of all, taking a heavy gauge gut set, tuning down to B flat or A, and then using the dead 3rd string like a slap bass.

If I were to try to guess at what people wanted in these instances, I'd get lost in a hurry. How far out of balance should I go? Should I base it on cost? (a single wound set is always less money). There would be a different answer from one player to the next. For me, I need to keep the goal of the best balance possible - it simplifies things, and as a builder, you have a tendency to look for overall balance - both in your own instruments, and with the strings we offer for other folks instruments.

Gmoney
06-24-2011, 03:46 AM
Was out of town on business & got in last night to a mound of uke related incomings... among the two ukes, hydrometers, Eugene Ukelele's CD's(!), is a small package w/the tester "Southcoast Strings". Will be doing a sound check w/the LoPrinzi Tenor & KoAloha Super Concert w/existing strings & then string 'em up w/these new Southcoast. "News at 11"

After reading the rest of the thread & another as well, I'm prepared to be impressed. Thanks for the opportunity.

haolejohn
06-24-2011, 03:52 AM
I am excited about getting mine. My review won't sound nearly as technical as these others b/c I'm just a normal player. i have no vocabulary of snap, and balance and all that, but i do know what sounds good:) I have enjoyed reading these responses.

Mouthy1
06-24-2011, 04:48 AM
I have enjoyed reading these feedbacks also. It always reminds me how different each or our opinions are. Some things like "KoAoloha's sound good" are fairly universal but some still don't like the sound. I listened to someone testing fishing string against Southcoast strings. I thought the SC's were way better sounding and more complex. But there were several folks that didn't agree. Crazy? Anyway, I love the sound on the Light set I got. They sound amazing and bring out character that I knew was hiding in there. I don't like that the volume is still too low. Not any lower than it was but still low volume. I knew that these would be quieter and too that goal, they are successful for sure. Quieter and more brilliant all at once. I am trying to get a set for my KoAloha so I am ordering some today for that but I will use a louder version of course.

Southcoast-you seem like you sweat the details and from this crazy uker, it is paying off greatly.

Dan Uke
06-24-2011, 05:47 PM
I've had the strings and I think they've settled in and I will give my updated review. The strings sound much better strummed than picked as they don't have the volume or sustain. However, I definitely like the tone of the note. I wonder if these strings would sound better on a Koaloha Concert??? I just assume with Koaloha's bracing system, you need high density, high tension to make the tenor sing?

I will move back to the Worth CH-LGHD strings for my Koaloha Tenor. It could also mean that I am just used to a familiar sound???

southcoastukes
06-24-2011, 06:13 PM
I've had the strings and I think they've settled in and I will give my updated review. The strings sound much better strummed than picked as they don't have the volume or sustain. However, I definitely like the tone of the note. I wonder if these strings would sound better on a Koaloha Concert??? I just assume with Koaloha's bracing system, you need high density, high tension to make the tenor sing?

I will move back to the Worth CH-LGHD strings for my Koaloha Tenor. It could also mean that I am just used to a familiar sound???

nongdam,

Thanks for the feedback. The point of the test was to find out if we could stretch the limits on a Light set of strings - in this case the Soft Lights. On a lot of Tenors, they will probably have a somewhat low volume, as you described. They are also designed for a soft sound ("Soft" Lights), and that implies a bit less sustain. Some people play in a style where they want the notes to die quickly - others prefer that they linger.

You are also correct about these strings on a concert. They'll fill that smaller body up - no issues with volume. Our Medium gauges, after all, are the standard selection on Tenors. Frankly, I've been surprised at how well the Soft Lights have held up on the bigger body. If the test results continue as they have, I'll relax the caveat I have on the website against using Light gauges on a standard Tenor. I'm leaning toward a qualified recommendation for these Soft Lights for those who prefer these sound qualities and a more normal tension (not for the standard Lights, which are brighter, and have more sustain, but less power). Still, on a standard Tenor, the Mediums (Soft or Regular), will probably remain the choice of most.

I did notice that the set you are used to is a Low 4th Worth set. Any low 4th set, with the deeper note and wider range, will naturally have more volume. You couldn't find more of a contrast than with these Soft Lights, so yes, what you are used to probably also has something to do with your evaluation.

If you want to go the other way, try one of our low 4th wound sets. They're smooth, clear and balanced; you can get them with little or no squeak (depending on the set), and they'll blow your socks off!

bdukes
06-25-2011, 06:38 AM
I let my set settle for a couple of days before I felt ready to comment and at this point feel comfortable with my sharing impressions. In this test, I replaced a set of Worth Browns on my Koaloha Pineapple Sunday hoping to mellow it out a bit and cut in particular what I feel is a too punchy brightness inherent in the uke. Arguably, the ukulele was designed to be bright as Koaloha had intended given Papa's preference for the sound. We were told this at the factory and by all accounts this uke delivers. So, long way of saying that this particular uke and these soft lights may be a square peg - round hole situation. But that's what tests are for.

Firstly, I don’t think I’ve ever had a set of strings hold tune quicker. For me it was about 24 hours. I usually tune standard C (highGCEA) and with new strings a full step up and strum away for a while or until I’m bored then let them sit overnight to settle. Rinse. Repeat. By the evening of the next day they were holding tune pretty well.

Secondly, they did mellow and warm the ukulele. Lower volume (loud volume is not a priority for me) and shorter sustain as expected. I agree with nongdam that these sound better strummed than picked. I did hear better separation of notes when playing chord solos or as an example, moving from major to minor barre chord doing a simple finger lift. Something I didn’t hear as clearly before with my other strings. I really liked the lower tension a lot. Coming from guitar, this tension feels more natural to me and really nice for pulling bends and such. I hear Jake and Aldrine bending AND crazy sustain with what has to be higher tension strings and probably nicer instruments and obviously much more talent, but that’s what I’m looking to hear out of my gear. So all in all, I like the sound separation better with the compromise of less volume and sustain.

Related to feel, I liked them overall, especially the lower tension, but did not enjoy the texture initially. In particular, the first string did feel like as a previous poster stated: like a baloon. And mine really squeaked when picking. Pretty much only that string. The texture thing is one reason I don’t tend to use Aquila’s that much although they do tend to smooth out over time. The Southcoast Soft Lights did the same thing. Here we are on day 5 and the first string is not nearly as “baloony” feeling as it was, but it’s still there. I will happily update next week as to that specific issue because maybe it needs more playing and time. And as I said, it was only that string that stood out. I did really like the diameter and the relationships to each other of the set. And in particular liked that the C string was not as big or chunky as some sets I played. A very nicely balanced set from a size perspective.

Quick summary, liked them overall in particular the increased note separation with chords and the lower tension they enable on a tenor scale. Love the tension. Although sustain was less, and that was expected, I did think it warmed up the sound. I did have an issue with texture and squeakiness of the first string, but that may play itself out with more time. Good strumming feedback on this uke and may be a good fit for faster more up tempo strumming. I think George Formby would love these.

I’m not sure I would pick these strings again for my Pineapple Sunday, but seem to work very well with other ukuleles. My impression is they will work well for maybe Spruce or Mango tops to help warm them up, provide that’s what you want. Dirk did state initially, that these would potentially be a good fit for lightly built ukes. I think he also said, not built like a tank. This is where my issue may be rooted. The Pineapple Sunday because of its design with less body depth and the D brace (in all Koaloha’s) may be approaching tank-like qualities. They literally stand on these things for goodness sake as a show of build quality. :) So I think the PS was meant to be crisp, bright and punchy and I should embrace it for what it is.

I think this test highlights the importance of matching strings to your uke. As a test this was a great experience for me. It gave me opportunity to really listen and quantify in my own head what are my priorities in sound, feel, and playability. And most importantly, be able to identify those things as I play. I want to thank Dirk and the folks at Southcoast for letting me participate and providing an opportunity to learn from other UU’ers. I do plan on trying out other Southcoast string sets based on the feedback provided in the forum. I’m particularly interested in seeing what will a soft medium in B flat sound like on my Kamaka tenor. I will also try this soft set on my other ukes because I do really like the tension and sound separation.

Thanks again.

southcoastukes
06-25-2011, 07:13 AM
I think this test highlights the importance of matching strings to your uke. As a test this was a great experience for me. It gave me opportunity to really listen and quantify in my own head what are my priorities in sound, feel, and playability. And most importantly, be able to identify those things as I play. I want to thank Dirk and the folks at Southcoast for letting me participate and providing an opportunity to learn from other UU’ers.

Thanks again.


Thank you bd -

Great review! Since it's been mentioned a couple of times, I should address that 1st string texture. Our sets are different in that we use an assortment of materials in each set as opposed to the normal practice of a single type of material for all four strings. That's what gives a lot of the advantages people have mentioned - more definition, more uniform tone, and especially more uniform diameters.

It does also mean that individual strings in a set will have somewhat different characteristics from each other. With the Soft Light set, in particular, the challenge was the 1st string. I was able to pick good material for the others straight away, but kept changing the 1st string over and over. It's not easy to come up with a combination of "Light" and "Soft". Thin strings are bright by nature, and of course, this is the thinnest string of a set that uses somewhat thin diameters to begin with.

When finally, I was able to find a 1st string material with a sound and tension that blended nicely with the other strings, I didn't pay much attention to texture. I'm one, who for example, always kind of liked the gut-like feel of rectified nylon or nylguts, so I probably didn't pay it much attention. Without checking each set, I'll say quickly that the only place you'll find this texture would be on a very thin diameter material, and in an instance where we want to keep the sound somewhat muted. The standard Light set, for example, even with it's thin diameters, wouldn't have this because it's formulated for a medium bright tone. Normally our sets will have textures like you found on the other 3 strings.

As difficult as it was to find a good 1st string material in this setting, I think this is going to be one anomaly that will have to remain with this set, and possibly other sets with a thin, naturally bright string somewhere that needs toning down. This would usually be the 1st string, but I'm experimenting now with some ultra-thin material for the octave 3rd on a 6-string set, so we'll see.

My experience also is that these textures smooth out with time, but I haven't played one of these sets long enough to be able to say that for sure.

Again, thanks for the great review!

RyRod
06-27-2011, 06:20 PM
Here's my take on the strings.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfFdAvnyPgs

and here's a video of a song I did while the camera was out.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1sRba_f76Q

Thanks for letting me test these out Dirk.

southcoastukes
07-09-2011, 09:07 AM
Here's my take on the strings.
and here's a video of a song I did while the camera was out.

Thanks for letting me test these out Dirk.

Well, this response slipped by me. Surprising, since I’ve really been looking forward to it. Goes to show two things: 1st this forum can move really fast at times, & 2nd, I’ve been putting in some really long hours lately.

At any rate, this is a great review. I’ll start out with the only negative comment, and it’s probably not even that. Ryan mentions that these are “Soft Light Tenor Ukulele" strings. That may have been just a slip of the tongue, but we don’t make Tenor Ukulele strings (or Soprano, Concert or Baritone either).

They are simply a set of Soft Light Gauges – it’s up to you to decide where they’ll fit best. As a general rule, people will buy the Light gauges for smaller ukuleles and higher tunings, the Mediums as general purpose, and the Heavys for Big Ukes or low tunings. The string sets are all 30”, however, so the choice of where to use them is yours. That’s what this test is actually about – whether we can stretch the limits of a Light Gauge string, and put it on one of the bigger ukuleles.

On each string page, we give tensions, though not in lbs. We don’t have the densities on every material and without that, you can’t calculate actual tension. We give our take on feel in different tunings, so you’ll have an idea of what to expect. Here, for example is what we say on the Light Gauge page. It would apply to both the standard Lights and the new Soft Lights as well:

For the 13” scale - tune to key of D

For the 15” scale - tune to key of D - firm tension
- tune to key of C - moderate tension

For the 17” scale - tune to key of C

For the 20” scale - tune to key of B flat

This is one of the reasons I find Ryan’s review so useful. He takes pretty much the same approach – changing it by using only the 17” standard Tenor scale, but putting the strings at several tensions to judge their performance.

Of course, you also take into account the preferences of the player – Ryan likes a somewhat high tension – and you very much take into account the instrument the strings are played on. Seems like I may have heard of this Dave Talsma fellow before. He seems to build a pretty good ukulele. The fact you can get decent response in B tuning is a testament to the responsiveness of the instrument – that tension is awfully low with Light gauges. The thing that took me by surprise was the response in D tuning.

Most Tenors are built to respond to higher tensions, and that is obviously the case here. What surprised me was not so much how the instrument responded, but that the high range of notes sounded as good as it did in a big Tenor body. A lot of people play linear D on a Tenor (James Hill), but that’s the first time I’ve heard it in high reentrant form. As you can see above, we don’t have a recommendation for 17” scale D tuning, but looks like I’ll need to add one:

For the 17” scale - tune to key of D - high tension

Even if a lot of people don’t use that tuning on their Tenors, it should be nice on the 17” scale Concerts. Thanks much, Ryan, for both the video and the new insight!

p.s: really nice 6 in the morning

p.ps: I still haven't released the strings yet. I'm working on the 1st string "feel" problem, that Ryan and others have mentioned. If I can solve it and keep the sound, I will, otherwise, I'd rather have the balanced sound than the uniform texture.

olgoat52
07-09-2011, 12:56 PM
Here's my take on the strings.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfFdAvnyPgs

and here's a video of a song I did while the camera was out.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1sRba_f76Q

Thanks for letting me test these out Dirk.

Very nice review Ryan. I was curious about your comment about only knowing one tune in C#. Why couldn't you play anything you know in C or D in C# as well. The intervals between strings the same right?

Thanks again for you time.

RyRod
07-09-2011, 02:38 PM
Very nice review Ryan. I was curious about your comment about only knowing one tune in C#. Why couldn't you play anything you know in C or D in C# as well. The intervals between strings the same right?

Thanks again for you time.

I was talking specifically arranged for that tuning. The song in C# was arranged by Jake in that tuning, just like Aldrine did Schizophrenic Snowflakes in D. That's all I meant by it. I know I could play pretty much whatever song in that tuning.

Thanks for watching!

olgoat52
07-09-2011, 04:51 PM
I was talking specifically arranged for that tuning. The song in C# was arranged by Jake in that tuning, just like Aldrine did Schizophrenic Snowflakes in D. That's all I meant by it. I know I could play pretty much whatever song in that tuning.

Thanks for watching!

The way you play, I figured you already knew that and I was missing something. ;)

Mouthy1
07-09-2011, 08:02 PM
Just an update from me. I think the strings have become more bright over time and are really making my cedar pono a player. Love it and it is only missing volume. Other than that, it has transformed but I expected it that and have bought more set since then!

RyRod
07-15-2011, 06:17 PM
Here are some more videos of the Soft Medium and Medium gauge string sets.

Soft Medium

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9c27AA42Bao

Medium

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gEfH1ec108

southcoastukes
07-16-2011, 02:55 AM
Two more great reviews!

I'm not surprised Ryan's favorites were the standard Mediums. They are probably the favorite among our customers as well. Ryan's Tenor has a soft, smooth tone to begin with, and combined with his playing style, I kind of guessed these would be best for him.

Elsewhere you can search for a sound sample of the Soft Mediums. More or less same tension as the standard Mediums, but as you hear, a softer sound. In that one, John had a very bright ukulele that needed a bit of toning down. That's where a "Soft" formulation will work for you.

Finally, I thought it was interesting when Ryan got up to D tuning on the Soft Mediums. With any strings, there comes a point where increasing tension actually decreases performance. With the softer formulation, that happens sooner than with the standard set. As he noted, the Soft Lights, actually performed better up there.

That's what the Soft Lights were designed for - higher tunings - lower tension. Both the Soft Lights and standard Lights would have their natural home on smaller ukuleles. On the website, we have a caveat against the use of Lights on a Tenor, but I think, based on the results of this test, with the "beefier" volume on the Soft Lights, I'm going to relax that a little bit. For most Tenor players, of course, one of the Mediums will be the choice.

Thanks, Ryan, for the outstanding reviews, and thanks to everyone who participated. The opinions were fairly consistent - they gave both me and the readers what I think is an accurate impression.

southcoastukes
08-09-2011, 05:28 PM
Been about a month since this test was begun. There were some "testers" who noticed an odd feel to the 1st string. Not something I had really picked up on, but after having it brought to my attention - yes it was a bit "different".

It's a quality that low density strings often have, and I needed that kind of material for a 1st string in a Light set. Thin by nature, they can get very bright - the low density keeps that tendency under control. I was about to give up - sound to me, is more important than feel. At the last minute, however, I hit on a great one. The new 1st string is just a touch thinner - not really brighter, but clearer (that's good), and with none of the bothersome texture. Win! Win!

I'm now releasing this set. My favorite spot for it remains C tuning on a long neck concert, but Tenor works too. Saludos to all who participated. I think it was an excellent set before your input - now it's even better!

Many thanks,
Dirk

Mouthy1
08-09-2011, 06:30 PM
I am no pro but I really have come to love the thin soft strings. I grab the pono a lot now because of these strings. Don't like the mediums on the koaloha concert though. May try some soft mediums.

crowsby
08-11-2011, 08:53 AM
I've been on a string binge lately, and I wanted to compliment these strings. They talk about being balanced, and they certainly are. My triplet sounded more consistent than ever with these, and the tone is great; a little brighter than Worth Clears, and not as squawky as Nylguts.

The one thing I did notice with these (I got the medium re-entrants) is that they seemed to come off of my tie bridge when tuning up. I tie my knot like this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyv7uOiXsbM), and I had to put an extra turn in the knot to keep them from slipping. Not a big deal, but something to be aware of in the future I suppose.

Jon Moody
09-03-2011, 03:14 PM
I'd love to give these a try, if you're still looking. I've done a couple of string tests for bass strings (Circle K strings, Elixer strings) so I can definitely give you a lot of feedback. My Kala Tenor is definitely NOT built like a tank either.

southcoastukes
09-04-2011, 04:43 AM
OBM -

Drop me an e-mail:

southcoast@inbox.com

raecarter
09-04-2011, 04:58 AM
Hi south coast can I ask do you do tenor strings but in re-entrant baritone tuning dGBE Guadalupe do them but said I need to buy 5 packets and im in the uk

southcoastukes
09-04-2011, 06:19 AM
Wish I could help, Rae.

Our Heavy Gauge strings give that tuning on a standard Baritone. On a standard Tenor, they would be one step up - key of A.

Thanks for asking.

v30
09-04-2011, 11:27 AM
I'd like to try your strings. I need some for concert and tenor, both GCEA tuning. I'm more than happy to purchase them. How do I do this? (I'm in Canada if it matters)

Kanaka916
09-04-2011, 12:32 PM
I'd like to try your strings. I need some for concert and tenor, both GCEA tuning. I'm more than happy to purchase them. How do I do this? (I'm in Canada if it matters)
Southcoast Strings (http://www.southcoastukes.com/stringuide.htm) - String selections are located on the left side of the page.

patico
09-04-2011, 01:43 PM
hey, i'd like to test some strings. just send them to "Francisco Castillo, Easter Island, Chile"
concert or tenor, or both !!!!

iorana

southcoastukes
09-04-2011, 02:19 PM
hey, i'd like to test some strings. just send them to "Francisco Castillo, Easter Island, Chile"
concert or tenor, or both !!!!

iorana

Hello patico,

Love your playing and would love to see you playing our stings. The test on this set, however, is over. Read back a little ways, and you'll see where they've been released.

We're going to announce one more "test" on UU in about a week or so. In the meantime, if you have any questions about our strings, check the link that Kanaka just posted, or drop me a line at:

southcoast@inbox.com

southcoastukes
09-04-2011, 03:36 PM
This particular test was over a while ago. To avoid any confusion, our esteemed moderator Kanaka will lock it shortly.

The info remains - thanks to all who participated and to our moderator's watchful eyes!

Dirk

Kanaka916
09-04-2011, 03:59 PM
This thread is http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v486/hawhyen51/locked.png for the above reasons.