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View Full Version : advice - strings on a concert solid wood uke



brucemoffatt
07-16-2011, 11:51 AM
Hi all,

I know that the best answer is 'it depends' but here goes anyway. I'm a bit of a newbie, been strumming for 10 months, not anywhere near a good player. I have bought a concert size Cordoba 25CK with all solid wood top sides and back, the 'wood that dares not speak its name' i.e. acacia koa grown in Portugal.

It is currently strung with Aquila Nylgut strings, and I'm curious to try different strings to see the difference in sound. The Aquilas do sound good to me, more than adequate volume, sustain is good. I'm curious as to what else the uke might sound like with different strings on it. I mostly strum, mostly jazz standards and older, and in the next few months I want to start picking more.

Can anyone throw a suggestion or two for strings that I should try on this uke? I'd be very grateful. Some time ago I read about a 'string sampler' pack, but I can't find any info on that anywhere.

Cheers

PhilUSAFRet
07-16-2011, 11:54 AM
I'd try Ko'olau Alohi low g's

pulelehua
07-16-2011, 12:07 PM
Worth Browns. They were the first strings I ever tried that weren't Aquilas. They're well respected, and VERY different from Aquilas. Less volume. Less brashness. A bit more of a "bell-tone". A bit sweeter. I'm currently using Worth Clear Hards (I play a longneck soprano, so same scale as you), and find they're great for fingerpicking. For strumming, they more bark than sing, but I like that.

mm stan
07-16-2011, 01:45 PM
Aloha Bruce,
how's the ukulele sound..is it on the bright side or warm and rich... and what is your sound preferences....and Volume??

brucemoffatt
07-16-2011, 04:25 PM
Hi Stan,

The uke is currently a little on the bright side, but not too far that way. It's also more than loud enough for what/how I play.

bvfrenchknitter
07-16-2011, 04:37 PM
Thanks for asking this question Bruce. Hope you don't mind my jumping into the discussion. I have a solid mahogany concert uke with Aquila nylgut strings too and I've thought about changing them. I've also thought about Worth Browns myself. What is best, light, or medium weight strings? I'm hoping for warm and rich myself rather than bright.

ukegirl
07-16-2011, 04:41 PM
I kinda dig Martin M600's

Doc_J
07-16-2011, 05:01 PM
Hi all,

...... Some time ago I read about a 'string sampler' pack, but I can't find any info on that anywhere.



MusicGuyMic used to have sampler string packs when he had an ebay store.
Send him an email (I think he is still musicguymic@@aol.com ) and see if he still has those.

brucemoffatt
07-16-2011, 05:09 PM
MusicGuyMic used to have sampler string packs when he had an ebay store.
Send him an email

Great idea Doc, I've just sent Mike an email.

iDavid
07-16-2011, 07:29 PM
I like Worth Clears. They have a rep as being bright, but I would say more harp-like. I've tried browns a few times, but they seem too flat to me. I guess they are warmer, but it just seems like they just cut off the highs... giving the illusion of warmth.

crowsby
07-17-2011, 02:31 AM
I think it depends on the individual instrument and the technique, but for my Mainland mahogany concert, I've settled on the Aquila Nylguts. In all, I've had both the old and new Nylguts, Worth Clears, and Martin m600s on it. Clears sounded great at first but seemed to dull after settling in, and I didn't like how the m600s felt under my fingers.

The Nylguts are maybe a bit more percussive than I'd prefer, but I can control that with technique. They're warm, but still uke-ish, whereas the fluorocarbon strings sound more like a guitar if that's what you're going for.

Now one my Ohana mahogany soprano, the Worth Clears sound amazing.

roxhum
07-17-2011, 03:13 AM
I still feel like a newbie but I do have my string preferences. This is a crazy question because everyone has a different preference and may confuse you more than enlighten you. I love the worth clears medium tension on everything I have put them on. Currently I have Fremont Blackline on two ukus and love them. The Fremonts are warmer but maybe slightly duller, it is hard to describe. The Worths sing/ring and are not too bright. Not as bright as the Aquila in my opinion.

strumsilly
07-17-2011, 03:22 AM
I like the worth browns on my Kiwaya, and am also fond of Southcoast, they have so many options for different tunings. while in my local music store, one of the salesman, a uke player, said he uses Aquilla gut on his vintage Martin. anybody use their real gut ?

guitarsnrotts
07-17-2011, 03:33 AM
After being disappointed with the sound the Nylguts on my solid mahogany Lanikai LSM-C concert were producing, I installed Worth Clear Mediums. The tone and sound really came alive and am enjoying the playability and sound more each day.

Sambient
07-17-2011, 03:42 AM
Ko'olau Golds might give you some of what you want, nice sweet tone that works for the jazz pallette.

brucemoffatt
07-17-2011, 03:34 PM
Thanks to all.

I'm overwhelmed by the breadth of the good advice. It really does depend.

I'm getting a set of Martin M600s plus a sampler pack that includes Koolau, Kala red, Fremont and Hilo, and then I'll try Worth Browns. At a rough estimate I reckon that will be about 2 years worth of experimentation before I reply back with my results.

Thanks musicguymic for the quick response re the sampler pack and the great price, and sorry I rang you in the middle of the Festival just when Jake was coming on stage. My bad, I live in a sheltered world on the other side of the globe. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. :)

brucemoffatt
08-02-2011, 11:32 PM
for what it's worth, and in case anyone is interested, I have a whole ship load of strings to try out and I'll post my impressions of each set.

the original Aquilas were OK but seemed a little bit dead. Maybe they were on there a while before I bought the uke (used), I don't know. They were OK but not spectacular.

I tried a set of Martin M600s. They are thin gauge strings and had clear tone and excellent intonation, but a little bit buzzy (probably the nut slots cut for bigger strings). I did not like the volume, too soft, and the thinness of the strings physically was sort of matched by the thinness of the sound. I got the impression that they sere not passing enough energy into the top to make it really pump. disappointing, but others love them so I put this down to a bit of personal preference and a bit of unsuitability for this particular uke.

I've just put on a set of Ko'olau Golds. Big fat and chunky. They are not broken in yet so a better review later, but they make the uke body vibrate a lot in a sexy, 'let me play with your senses' kind of way. They feel like uke strings ought to feel in my opinion. More later...

Next in line are
Fremont Black Lines
Kala Red
Ko'olau 'Alohi
Hilo
Aquila

All are re-entrants. Many thanks must go to Mike at MGM for the sampler pack (how on earth does he do this for the price???) and Richard G (scorpex) for the new Aquilas.

brucemoffatt
08-05-2011, 03:45 AM
The Ko'olau Golds are off the uke already. The stretching in and settling down happened pretty quickly, and the massive resonance remained. However the intonation was way off all the way up the fretboard, and with the massive body vibration came some buzzing.I couldn't find and fix the buzzing so I suspect it was string-on-fret.

I have just installed the Fremont Blacklines. Initial impression as they just begin to settle, intonation is good, tone seems clear and broad. Volume is quite high, much higher than the Martin M600s. At this stage it sounds like the Martin M600 strings did, but as if someone has turned up the gain and balanced the signal, except of course this is an acoustic instrument. I don't know if this makes sense to anyone but me. The feel under the fingers is thin and smooth, quite slippery but not too much. More info on the Fremonts as they settle in and stretch.

sbpark
08-05-2011, 11:35 AM
lately i've been trying a lot of string out on my two ukuleles, one is an Ohana CK-35, all solid mahogany, the other is a Koaloha concert, solid KOA. I've tried Martin M-600, Ko'olau, Aquila, Worth clears, and Worth browns. My favorites ended up being the Worth browns on the Ohana and Worth clears on the Koaloha. I just dont like Aquilas, the Martins just didnt do it for me and felt 'rubbery', the Ko'olaus were really, really thick strings and were very dull/lifeless, and i just thought the Worths has the best sound/tone/balance. The browns seem to fit better with the mellower mahogany and these have to be my absolute favorite strings as far as how they feel under your fingers (medium gauge), and the Worth clears (medium gauge) seem like they were just made for the bright, loud Koaloha.

poppy
08-05-2011, 02:03 PM
I have just installed the Fremont Blacklines. Initial impression as they just begin to settle, intonation is good, tone seems clear and broad. Volume is quite high, much higher than the Martin M600s. At this stage it sounds like the Martin M600 strings did, but as if someone has turned up the gain and balanced the signal, except of course this is an acoustic instrument. I don't know if this makes sense to anyone but me. The feel under the fingers is thin and smooth, quite slippery but not too much. More info on the Fremonts as they settle in and stretch.

Yea how do you describe "feel" for strings but I totally agree they are unique. My Honu is in the shop as we type getting a set af low g fremonts set up on it. I have them on my OU6 already and at one time they were on my 240 till it went to OS for repair and they returned it with stock strings on it and I been too lazy to change it back lol.

brucemoffatt
08-05-2011, 04:37 PM
My favorites ended up being the Worth browns on the Ohana and Worth clears on the Koaloha. I just dont like Aquilas, the Martins just didnt do it for me and felt 'rubbery', the Ko'olaus were really, really thick strings and were very dull/lifeless, and i just thought the Worths has the best sound/tone/balance.

The Worths are the only ones I want to try that I don't yet have a set of. Everything else I want to try I have at the ready. I agree with your comment re the Martins, but I did not find the Ko'olaus dull or lifeless, just the opposite on my uke, bell like tones with great sustain and enough energy to make the whole uke ring - but on my uke intonation was terrible. I find it fascinating that the same strings behave so differently on different ukes. I know the Ko'olaus are excellent on some ukes, and I'd kill for that tone and volume combination on my uke if only they rang true to tune for me.

Thanks for commenting, I am learning a heap from this exercise and I appreciate all added knowledge.

poppy
08-05-2011, 06:40 PM
Shortly after I posted Scott called from the shop ,uke was ready!!! Wow got lucky and made the right choice again. He got the action spot on and the FREMONTS are spot on. You won't find a world of difference between Worth BM's and Fremont BL I think the Fremonts are a very little losser not quite as much tension and thats just my perception no facts to back it up. They sound and react very similar size wise they are within a couple of 10 thousands of each other.

brucemoffatt
08-10-2011, 03:37 PM
The Fremonts settled down and are very nice on this uke. Intonation is spot on, as it was with the Martins, volume and tone is somewhere between the Martins which were quiet, and the Ko'olau Golds which boomed. I now have an aiming point, being the tone and volume of the Golds and the intonation of the Fremonts. If I don't find that, the Fremonts win so far.

Next on are the Ko'olau Alohi strings. First impression having just strung it up is that they are louder than the Fremonts but the tone is not as good as the Fremonts or the Golds. Intonation is hard to judge yet as the strings are still settling down, but at first look they seem good. They are super fat under the fingers.

Uke Republic
08-10-2011, 03:43 PM
Hiya Bruce - String test driving is fun! It's like getting a new uke each time:)

brucemoffatt
08-12-2011, 09:42 PM
The Alohis are back in their bags. They are pretty good on this uke, good tone, good volume, fair to good intonation. Not as good as the Fremont Blacklines which so far score an 8/10 on my highly subjective scale, tone not as good as the Golds, but intonation better than the Golds and not as good as the Fremonts.

Next up are the Kala Reds. This is my first play with wound strings so I may take a little bit longer to form an opinion. First impressions, volume is good, tone is not as good as the Fremonts, Golds or Alohis, intonation is spot on just like the Fremonts. Feel under the fingers is very good.

So far here's the score card. By score I only mean how these strings suited my inexperienced playing on my uke in these circumstances, I am not at all trying to do a quality comparison between the strings. That would be totally unfair as different ukes suit these strings differently, and different playing styles demand different quality attributes.

old Aquilas 7
Martin M600 5
Ko'olau Gold 5
Fremont Blackline 8
Ko'olau Alohi 7

Still to come are Hilo, new Aquilas, and Worth Brown Mediums if I can snag a set without breaking the bank. I'm also thinking about trying Savarez if I can find a local supplier or an inexpensive online seller.

brucemoffatt
08-14-2011, 12:50 AM
The Kala Reds are off and the Hilos are on. The Kala Reds score a 5 on my highly subjective scale. Tone wise they don't suit this uke at all. There was buzzing on 2 string (E) on the lower frets.

It's interesting that different strings have different idiosyncrasies on the same instrument, and the same strings have different idiosyncrasies on different instruments. With the various sets of strings I've seen minor buzzing on 1 string (A), a bit more buzzing on the same string, and bad buzzing on 2 string but none on 1 string. The action is pretty low but not alarmingly so, and the fact that some sets of strings show no buzzing at all is interesting. I suspect that with a non-braced neck the different string tensions are inducing variations in bowing, but I haven't measured that.

So to the Hilos. First impressions as they settle down... tone is good in some areas, volume is OK, intonation is good but not as good as with the Fremonts. There seems to be some 'dead spots' on 2 string where the string just won't ring, and a very slight buzzing on fret 1 and 2 of 1 (A) string. I'll let them settle a bit, but at this stage they don't seem to be as good as the Fremonts.

The score so far (see my disclaimer above about what this score means please)
old Aquilas 7
Martin M600 5
Ko'olau Gold 5
Fremont Blackline 8
Ko'olau Alohi 7
Kala Red 5

bazmaz
08-14-2011, 01:21 AM
I tried most strings you could name on my Mainland solid concert mahogany, and settled on Martin Flourocarbons. They really chime. Good volume too!

brucemoffatt
08-16-2011, 12:01 AM
The Hilos are off and the Aquilas are on.
The Hilos are pretty loud with pretty good tone and finger feel. Intonation very good. I guess in summary the most accurate thing to say is they had no vices on my uke. Nor did they have stand out performance. I'd happily go back to them if I couldn't find something better.
Score 7
The Aquilas are on and settling down. First impressions - volume very good, tone very good if a bit barky, but Ilike that. Intonation very good. Tone not as good as the Ko'olau Golds. If only the intonation of the Golds was better on this uke. Maybe I have to work on that.

brucemoffatt
08-16-2011, 05:02 PM
Aquilas have settled down quickly. Tone very good. Volume excellent. Intonation excellent. Feel very good.
These get 8.5 on my very subjective score system.
That is the last of the sets I have to hand. If I get somw Savarez or Worths I'll update the thread but for now the Aquilas are staying on.

localmana
08-21-2011, 09:21 PM
I've really enjoyed following your progression and reporting. Like soap opera only better.

Noobie
08-22-2011, 03:44 AM
The Aquilas are so often what people come back to. I just ordered some Worth BM and CM, and Fremont Blackline to try on my Honu.

Keylines
08-25-2011, 05:59 AM
Hi,


Saw this and thought it would help.

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?52078-For-those-with-Kala-Acacia-ukulele-s.&highlight=acacia

brucemoffatt
08-25-2011, 12:13 PM
Hi,


Saw this and thought it would help.



Thanks keylines, that will help push me to try the worths. I have a set of Savarez 140R uke strings on order and I will try them first. Truth is, the Aquilas suit this uke the way it is set up that I'm temppted to finish this set of trials early. I think worths come in a double length, so if anyone has recently boght some and doesn't know what to do with the extra set of off-trims, send them down to me and I'll trial them.

There's also a summary due in this thread talking about why the different brands sound the way they do on this particular uke. I don't want anyone to read this in future times and think there is a definitive quality comparison being done. It's not that at all and I think the string manufacturers deserve a bit more from me.

bynapkinart
08-25-2011, 01:26 PM
It's a tough call and I definitely have noticed that strings matter much more on uke than on guitar. For me, my concert is strung with Aquilas and sounds wayyyyyy better than the M600s that were on before that. On the other hand, when I soup up my Lanikai tenor (more on that soon), I'll be putting either Martins or Worths on it in an attempt to balance the sound more.

It's incredibly subjective, but in my case, I think Nylgut matches well with solid mahogany concerts.

buddhuu
08-25-2011, 10:57 PM
Subjective indeed.

I eventually settled on Worth browns for mahogany ukes. A little smoother and sweeter than Aquilas.

Any place where Aquilas are a touch brash the Worths may be a good brand to try.

brucemoffatt
12-01-2011, 10:33 PM
OK so now I'm really putting the thread to bed.

I tried some Savarez R140s which suited the uke quiet well. Tonally they are between Aquilas and Martins, but with the volume and intonation of the Aquilas. So if you like the Aquilas but think they are a bit too 'barky' then you might want to try the Savarez.

I've given the Savarez a good run for a few weeks and like the Aquilas they are good but not great on this uke. So armed with the info that the Ko'olau Golds seemed to have the best tone on this uke, but an intonation issue, I've started to work through the issue with the aim of maximising the opportunity with the Golds. I was a bit concerned at how low the action is up the neck, so I've swapped out the standard saddle for a custom teak saddle I made today. The Golds are back on, and the intonation is better but not perfeect. It's pretty close though and you can hear them on some videos on my youtube page, as the 'blue room' recordings. My technique and talent level are the limiting factors so try to hear through the mud to the strings.

One day I'll try the Worths. I have too many other string sets to work through now to be bothered trying them out, but one day...