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View Full Version : What do you think about steel strings?



agus700
08-13-2011, 04:51 PM
I'm Agustin and I am from Uruguay.
So I Some time ago I got my ukelele, it's a stagg us-20.
26875
It camed with nylon/plastic (I dont know how to call them) strings.
What do you think about getting steel strings, does it sound better?
I'm afraid that the ukelele won't support the steel strings,
I mean it's a cheap ukelele (it costed me 40 dollars).

Thaks for reading :D

itsme
08-13-2011, 05:21 PM
I'm afraid that the ukelele won't support the steel strings,
Never, ever put steel strings on an instrument intended and designed for nylon strings. They are not built for the higher tension of steel strings. It will bow the neck, cause the bridge to pull off, or collapse the top, or maybe all of the above.

zac987
08-13-2011, 05:21 PM
I wouldn't recommend putting steel strings on ANY uke, let alone a cheapie. Try some Aquilas, they're known to liven up cheapies.

chindog
08-13-2011, 05:59 PM
I like steel strings on my guitars. But I prefer nylon on my ukuleles.

joejeweler
08-13-2011, 07:03 PM
Never, ever put steel strings on an instrument intended and designed for nylon strings. They are not built for the higher tension of steel strings. It will bow the neck, cause the bridge to pull off, or collapse the top, or maybe all of the above.

But it would sound like a "CANNON"!!!!





............(when it blows up, that is) :D

Kazz3lrath
08-13-2011, 07:36 PM
Monkey wrench makes a pretty slick steel string uke. Just saying.

http://monkeywrenchmusic.com/

Craig Chee
08-13-2011, 08:30 PM
I have an 8 string steel string Sonny D, and it sounds absolutely beautiful... much harder on the fingers though and like previous comments, it needs to be made for the higher tension or else things could go really wrong.

kissing
08-13-2011, 09:27 PM
I think steel string ukes are fantastic.

But only on ukes that are designed to take the steel strings
Regular nylon string ukes are not to be used with steel strings. There is a lot of risk for damage, let alone not sounding terribly good lol.

Tudorp
08-14-2011, 02:36 AM
Cant say anything else that hasn't already been said here. Just don't do it, unless the neck and bridge has been designed for the stress, or you will certainly destroy the uke. I have seen steel strings fold a uke up like a cheap lawn chair. As far as i am concerned, a uke isn't supposed to have steel strings and wont even sound like a uke. Yeah, yeah, I know I'm a hipercrit, because I am in the process of building a steel string uke. But, I'm not going for the uke sounds with it, because frankly, it really isn't a uke at that point anyway IMHO. ;)

kissing
08-14-2011, 05:12 AM
Yeah, yeah, I know I'm a hipercrit, because I am in the process of building a steel string uke.

Epic line. Made my day :D

FiL
08-15-2011, 04:23 AM
I have an 8 string steel string Sonny D, and it sounds absolutely beautiful... much harder on the fingers though and like previous comments, it needs to be made for the higher tension or else things could go really wrong.

Craig, that sounds like one of my dream instruments. Do you have pix and/or sound samples?

agus700
08-18-2011, 07:50 AM
Thanks , I'll keep my nylon strings.

drbekken
08-18-2011, 08:00 AM
After I rediscovered the ukulele, I don't think I will ever play a steel string instrument again, unless you call the piano a 'steel string instrument'...
And everybody here is right; a ukulele built for nylon strings will go seriously bust if you put steel strings on it.

lozarkman
08-19-2011, 01:54 PM
Well MOST of the advice given on this thread is true, as ukes are primarily designed for non steel strings and certainly can ruin a uke. However, there is an exception being overlooked. I play mostly Baris and recently strung my Kala spruce top with Southcoastukes all metal (Two wound and two fine steel strings) tuned to Bb. WOW I just love it. These strings are very different from what we expect from all steel strings as found on a guitar. They are much smaller, smoother, and beautifully balanced. They do not put an undue amount of stress on my uke, and are tuned one note lower than C tuning, and the Bb flat tuning gives a kind of bluesy feel to the sound. Again they are not for all ukes and one has to be careful of what uke they go on. but used correctly they will give a wonderful clear beautiful sound. Of course there is a small adjustment to getting fingers toughened to steel, but NOTHING like getting used to Guitar steel strings. Just wanted to be clear that there is a set of all steels that can be used on Baris. Lozark

kayakdog
08-24-2011, 03:23 AM
If you want to play around with steel strings, but you love that ukulele tuning, I suggest you get a 1/4 size electric guitar. I just picked up a Jay Turser 19" scale strat style electric (http://www.jayturser.com/jayj/jrst-19pak.php) (marketed for kids). It was $99 at Target online, with free shipping. I just cut 2 new notches in the nut so that 4 strings would be evenly spaced, and performed a similar modification to the bridge. Remove the 2 lowest strings, and you've got a low-g (GCEA) electric guitar.

The cons:
- The neck is about 1 5/8" wide, which is much wider than any uke I've seen. This makes for very wide string spacing. I prefer this to the narrow neck of a Mandobird, though.
- The tuners are terrible (hard to turn) but functional.. I may replace them.
- The pickup sound quality isn't great
- Guitar "dots" at the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 12th, 15, 17, 19, 21st frets.. might be confusing if you are used to uke dots at the 5,7,10,12th frets

The pros:
- The body and neck quality are higher than my $250 Eleuke
- Fully adjustable bridge
- The body is lightweight (versus full size electric guitar), and very comfortably contoured.

Delso
10-14-2011, 05:45 AM
I have a Fender Mandocaster, which I am thinking of tuning gCEA, but obviously mandolin strings won't cut it.
Does anyone supply steel gCEAs?
Would the result still sound like a uke? I don't want the sound of a cheap capo'd electric solidbody guitar.

Big_e
10-14-2011, 02:11 PM
If you want a louder uke', use a soft pick. Most people here strum by using their finger or thumb for that "homemade" or natural sound.
I rediscovered some old Dunlop nylon .038mm picks (the really flexible ones) today and I may use them for awhile. They really add volume to your uke, other than going amplified.
Ernest

southcoastukes
10-14-2011, 08:07 PM
Well MOST of the advice given on this thread is true, as ukes are primarily designed for non steel strings and certainly can ruin a uke. However, there is an exception being overlooked. I play mostly Baris and recently strung my Kala spruce top with Southcoastukes all metal (Two wound and two fine steel strings) tuned to Bb. WOW I just love it. These strings are very different from what we expect from all steel strings as found on a guitar. They are much smaller, smoother, and beautifully balanced. They do not put an undue amount of stress on my uke, and are tuned one note lower than C tuning, and the Bb flat tuning gives a kind of bluesy feel to the sound. Again they are not for all ukes and one has to be careful of what uke they go on. but used correctly they will give a wonderful clear beautiful sound. Of course there is a small adjustment to getting fingers toughened to steel, but NOTHING like getting used to Guitar steel strings. Just wanted to be clear that there is a set of all steels that can be used on Baris. Lozark

Thanks for the nice review, Lo -

Only one thing to add to that. As you said, B flat tuning on a Baritone, but they'll set up in C on a standard Tenor.

http://www.southcoastukes.com/stringuide_files/fwound.htm

frofrofro
10-15-2011, 02:07 AM
There is a brazilian instrument 'cavaquniho' or 'cavaco', steel strings, fretboard the size of a soprano and can be tuned to dgbe so it uses the same chord shapes as an ukulele. Youtube them, they sound great.

Nickie
10-15-2011, 03:16 AM
"I have seen steel strings fold a uke up like a cheap lawn chair."

LOL, what a visual...
I tried an old uke with steel strings once, and I hated it. Thank the gods for nylon.

southcoastukes
10-15-2011, 06:44 AM
We used to make a version of a Cuatro with a slightly longer scale - 23". I forgot we had done a sound sample of our "Classical Metal" set on that Cuatro model. You'll hear that while they're brighter than nylons, they're more subdued than typical steel, and being flat wound, there's practically no finger noise.

As it's scale was slightly longer than Lozark's Baritones, it was tuned another half step deeper - key of A. It is important not to push these into a higher tuning than they are designed for, but they have more flexibility than regular steels and the tensions are on the light side (compared to standard steel, that is). When set-up correctly, they pose no problem.

B flat on a Baritone - C on a Tenor. Anyway, here's the sample:

http://www.southcoastukes.com/Misc/Ctro-LA-FWCS.mp3