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View Full Version : Martin clear flourocarbon strings...not so great?



ejnovinsky
11-12-2011, 05:25 PM
went to pick up some new strings today, and all that was in stock was martin clear flourocarbons (usually I like Aquila Nylaguts) So I figure what the hell Ill try them. Now I notice they arent as loud as the aquilas, and they feel slick, and slippery which I dont like. The sound itself isnt bad, its earthy, and less bright and plinky than the aquilas, and in fact they seem to be holding a tune better right out of the package than the aquilas. However the volume issue, and the feel have really turned me off on them. Am I crazy, or is this maybe a common quality of flourocarbon strings?

PoiDog
11-12-2011, 05:43 PM
went to pick up some new strings today, and all that was in stock was martin clear flourocarbons (usually I like Aquila Nylaguts) So I figure what the hell Ill try them. Now I notice they arent as loud as the aquilas, and they feel slick, and slippery which I dont like. The sound itself isnt bad, its earthy, and less bright and plinky than the aquilas, and in fact they seem to be holding a tune better right out of the package than the aquilas. However the volume issue, and the feel have really turned me off on them. Am I crazy, or is this maybe a common quality of flourocarbon strings?

Aquilas tend to have a lot more texture than other strings, so the fluoros will feel much different compared to them. Whether you like that or not is a personal thing, I guess. Or maybe you just get used to the way one feels, so the other feels weird. As far as volume, it's pretty well accepted that Aquilas are among the loudest. But sometimes volume isn't the most important thing.

I have a set of Orcas low G on one uke and Southcoast re-entrants on the other, and have used Worth Browns on both as well. All of these are fluoros, and all of them are outstanding. They have a better complexity that (I think) is sometimes lost in the Aquilas volume.

Ultimately, different strings will work differently on different ukes. Perhaps the Aquilas are the best for your uke. But if you're still interested in trying some fluoros, I'd strongly recommend you check out Orcas, Fremont, or Southcoast. I don't know if they are the best, but they sure sound the best for me.

mm stan
11-12-2011, 05:47 PM
I think the martins are clearer and you can hear the individual notes better also love the sweeter sound and playability, you just gotta get used to them, yes they do seem to break in faster than
the aquillas. .......but wait it out and it gets even better, ...you lose a little volume, but it makes up in other areas...it's not muddled up like the Aquillas...
You probally don't like the less tension too....give it time and get adjusted..

ejnovinsky
11-12-2011, 05:49 PM
its weird...ukulele strings seem to be like wines or something, every kind appears to have its own flavor. The martins are on my cigarbox, and I think thats what is bugging me because of the obvious tone issues with playing through a cigar box, I can use all the volume I can get...Im sure the martins would sound better on my lanakai. but youre right the aquilas have much more texture to them, and I do like that.

ejnovinsky
11-12-2011, 05:50 PM
I think the martins are clearer and you can hear the individual notes better, its not muddled up like the Aquilla's also love the sweeter sound and playability and comfort from them..
you just gotta get used to them....yes and they do seem to break in faster than aqillas...but wait it out and it gets even better...you lose a little volume, but it makes up in other areas...
You probally don't like the less tension too....give it time and get adjusted..


I did notice they seemed slappier and looser, I felt like the aquilas were clearer, and brighter because of that....Like I said I think the sound of them is nice....its more guitar like to me where as the aquilas seem more banjo like....

mcnut
11-12-2011, 06:31 PM
Took a Kamaka by my luthier today for a pre-purchase inspection, and he was advising me that with winter coming on I should replace the Nylgut strings to get tension off the solid wood top (there was a small crack in the top of the Kamaka and the pressure would just make it worse) and poly's require less torque and were best as the wood dries out in the winter. I recognize these were his thoughts, but he was not trying to sell me strings as he was not a fretted instrument shop and did not stock uku strings.

Big_e
11-12-2011, 07:13 PM
That's neat how everybody has their own tastes in strings, we kinda develop that quickly from day one of picking up a uke.
Local stores only stock Martins and that's just fine by me. I like them because they are thin, slick and have a crystalline sound that I love. Aquillas (to me) are thick and thuddy and I remove them off my new ukes as soon as I take them home.
Ernest

Uke Whisperer
11-13-2011, 01:26 AM
I agree with MM Stan on my solid mahogany top ukes. Not so much on my laminates...

elisdad
11-13-2011, 02:11 AM
I like fluorocarbon strings SO much better than the aquilas. The feel of the fluorocarbons are one of the primary reasons. All of my ukes have come with Aquilas. The first time I had to change strings, the local shop only had Martins and I thought maybe I was taking a step down when I replaced the Aquilas. It opened my eyes, that just because everyone seems to recommend a certain brand, you might not like them. I also really like Worth clears. Try out the different kinds and go with what you like best.

garyg
11-13-2011, 02:22 AM
I don't have any laminate ukes but have 3 modern solid Koa ukes, 1 vintage koa uke and five vintage mahogany ukes. I have tried a variety of strings but not all. My "go to" strings are Fremont Blacks but I also really like Orca's, although they seemed to take much longer to settle than the Fremonts. Don't know if this is a function of the uke (KoAloha Pikake) but I don't think so. I have some Worth Browns that I haven't tried yet and the rep on southcoast strings is good so I"ll probably try those some time. From many posts here it is obvious that some ukes are "string sensitive" i.e., one type of string sounds much better than others, but I also remember the post of a much more experienced uker who said, any brand of quality flourocarbon string will sound good and fairly similar on a vintage mahogany uke. So in that case it may come down to "feel" or subtle acoustics that vary from person to person. I've tried the Martin's but like the Fremonts and Orcas better, both feel and sound-wise. Trying out several brands of strings on a uke is an expensive proposition, at least for me it is <g>. YMMV. g2

oldtimestrings
11-13-2011, 03:56 AM
I've tried the Martin's but like the Fremonts and Orcas better, both feel and sound-wise.
Agreed. I tend to favor fluorocarbon strings for most of the same reasons already stated by others: clear sound, nicer feel, better note separation, and also better intonation (generally, because of the thinner string diameters). Among the fluorocarbon strings, however, Martins are my least favorite. They have a rather neutral sound, which could be a good thing, but I like a little more complexity. I also think the gauge of the Martin strings is a little off: the C string is heavier than in most other brands of fluorocarbon strings, while the rest of the strings are lighter. Fremont and Worth make more balanced sets, and also have different gauges to choose from. I like Fremonts best (but never tried Orcas or Worth browns).

EDW
11-13-2011, 06:18 AM
I am another fan of fluorocarbons over Aquilas. I like the feel and the ring. To my ear, there seems to be a more balanced set of overtones and I hear more of the resonance from the wood rather than the rasp of the string. I have had good success with various Worths and also like the Southcoast strings.

Doc_J
11-13-2011, 06:26 AM
Martin M600 FC strings definitely add a "vintage" (somewhat plinky) tone. They are clear, and plenty loud for me.
If you are looking for a more smooth, even-across-the-strings sound try Worth CM or CL, or even better...try the SouthCoast FC Medium strings.

Here's my DaSilva 3k with old fishing line FC strings (original to the uke):
http://www.box.net/s/tzd6lkr6f8eppxp78t6i

and here it is with new Martins....I think I preferred the fishing line....really.
http://www.box.net/s/uz7ujyv80hxdhz8pakek

I keep Martin and Hilo strings around just to change up the sound, but SouthCoast are my new go to strings (and....some ukes do need Aquila Nylgut).

willisoften
11-13-2011, 12:10 PM
I like Martin's M600 strings - they sound good on my Kiwaya ukes. They are pretty cheap from Thomman too. I do prefer Worth BMs or Fremonts Blackline mediums, but they aren't easy to get.

Aquila - loud, dull, heavy tone and thick under the fingers.

I did have a Kala K-AS laminate for a little while and it was actually OK strung with aquilas.

ejnovinsky
11-13-2011, 03:06 PM
So is the consensus that aquilas are best on laminate ukes because of their ability to bring a little extra noise out of the deader wood? The martins, or just flourocarbons in general would be better on solid wood ukes because the wood is of a good enough quality to bring out the best in the strings?

Doc_J
11-13-2011, 03:21 PM
So is the consensus that aquilas are best on laminate ukes because of their ability to bring a little extra noise out of the deader wood? The martins, or just flourocarbons in general would be better on solid wood ukes because the wood is of a good enough quality to bring out the best in the strings?

Some folks prefer Aquila on all their ukes (not me). While I generally prefer flourocarbons, I do like Aquila on some of my solid wood ukes ( low g on my tenor for example).

PoiDog
11-14-2011, 04:34 AM
So is the consensus that aquilas are best on laminate ukes because of their ability to bring a little extra noise out of the deader wood? The martins, or just flourocarbons in general would be better on solid wood ukes because the wood is of a good enough quality to bring out the best in the strings?

Actually, I think the consensus is that flurous have a lot to offer besides volume, but ultimately it depends on what you think sounds best on your uke and what you feel most comfortable playing.

garyg
11-14-2011, 04:43 AM
ditto, and experimentation is the name of the game, but a good quality flurocarbon string (e.g., Fremont, Orca, Worth, Southcoast) won't do you wrong. Martins are quality strings, just seems like a number of folks think these are better. cheers, g2

Uke Whisperer
11-14-2011, 06:52 AM
When you read this thread and the past threads on string preferences, it really does seem to come down to the sound that the player prefers, doesn't it?

Pete Beardsley
11-14-2011, 10:36 AM
I did notice they seemed slappier and looser .....
That is quite interesting as I put a set of Worth Browns on my tenor last night and they seem to be tighter and hold a lot more tension than the Aquilas I took off. They also kept slipping out of the knot I made on the bridge, though that is possibly just my inexperienced hands.
I have to say that the Worths do have a fuller, less metallic sound though, which I like.

OldePhart
11-14-2011, 11:16 AM
I like Aquilas on inexpensive laminated ukes like LU21s and LU11s. I had a solid cedar/rosewood tenor that I liked them on. Otherwise, it's fluoro all the way for me.

There is a significant difference in string balance between the Martin M600s and the most common sets from Worth. The Martins are thicker (higher tension) overall and they are almost equal tension across all four strings while in the Worth CM sets the C and, to a less extent, E strings are under lower tension than the outside strings. The lesson is, if you're having "up the neck" intonation problems or just don't like the tone of one brand on a particular uke, try another brand of string before trashing the uke. :)

John

Plainsong
11-14-2011, 12:09 PM
I have this weird relationship to Aquila. On my ukes that favor them, when I have them on, it's the exact sound I want. But when it's time for a change, I prefer flourocarbon, and the cycle repeats.

The last three ukes that came new with Aquilas on, they were just awful! The Sailor Brand, the Kala Mighty Uke, and the Ohana Vintagetastic sk38. I've always thought that bad strings will make a good uke sound ok, but these strings were making good ukes sound just horrendous. And the strings had a way of bouncing off my fingers, like they were afraid of being strummed. I don't know what was up with those, but it was three different ukes all made horrible just by the strings.

The Ohana and the Sailor Brand were rescued by Martin Fluorocarbons. I can't imagine that there is a better match for the Ohana, but I suppose I could still experiment with the Sailor. Certainly it sounds bright and plucky now though. The Kala Mighty Uke has Fremont Blackline mediums, which really seem to suit it well.

When I buy a pack of Aquilas, they sound and feel like they should. Did I encounter the new blend? Who knows...

mm stan
11-14-2011, 12:28 PM
You need to experiment with strings...there is no one "right" string for all ukes...every uke will sound and preform different with strings...when I first started, I used to discount ukes here and
there...then I learned strings can change the sound and playability and comfort...next I learned that tuning can affect the strings and can make bad sounding ukes sound decent and good.. It is the learning curb....that in time you will understand what I am saying...didn't believe it myself until I realized and learned.. Good Luck and Happy Strummings..

flacoclef
11-14-2011, 12:39 PM
Martins made a Mahalo painted and a Rogue Soprano sound very sweet!

ejnovinsky
11-14-2011, 01:12 PM
That is quite interesting as I put a set of Worth Browns on my tenor last night and they seem to be tighter and hold a lot more tension than the Aquilas I took off. They also kept slipping out of the knot I made on the bridge, though that is possibly just my inexperienced hands.
I have to say that the Worths do have a fuller, less metallic sound though, which I like.


I had trouble with the bridge knots on my lanakai with aquilas straight out of the box...what i thought was normal string stretching turned out to be the knots slipping...I retied them all, and didnt have any more issues, but its interesting that you mention it as well.......This has been a very useful eye opening thread for me for sure!

nscafe
11-29-2011, 10:46 AM
I just swapped out the Aquilas on my Fluke with Martins for the first time, and I think I like the change. Yes, it is a bit quieter, but still loud enough for my purposes, and I prefer the slicker feel (good for sliding up/down the neck). I think it has a bit of a sweeter tone with the Martins too (it's hard to describe sounds with words isn't it?).

mm stan
11-29-2011, 12:54 PM
I've seen some custom ukes 2500 and up with aquilla's.... go figure..

DougNC
11-29-2011, 01:37 PM
I started a thread about a week ago about my discovery with strings other than Aquila. My Kala Solid Acacia concert came with Aquilas which, as a newbie to the uke, were the only strings I knew anything about. I really have not liked its tone since I got it. After doing some reading here and on the web site, I ordered Southcoast strings to try, but in the mean time I picked up a set of Martin M600's and tried them on.

Like night and day! My Kala sounds sooooo much better with the Martins. It is much louder, it's notes are all more bell like, and each note is distinct. Strumming an F <-> F6 back and forth really demonstrates the differences between the two chords. They also are not as thick as Aquilas and there's not as much variation in diameters from the C to the G strings, at least not as much as the Aquilas.

But I can't wait for the Southcoasts to get here so I can try them out.

Someone commented in my thread that Aquilas are great at making an inexpensive uke sound much better. I can certainly attest to that with regard to my Makala Candy Apple Red Dolphin soprano. But he said that the higher quality, solid wood ukes each have their own preferences as to what strings work with them. This certainly fits in with my experience with string choices among my stable of Martin guitars.

I'm definitely up for more experimentation when it comes to strings.

Doug

pdxuke
11-29-2011, 02:25 PM
I have Martin 600s on ALL my solid mahogany ukes. This after many experiments. Personally, I'm sold. On all my "novelty" plastic or laminates (Dolphins, my Kala Watermelon) I have and enjoy Aquilas.

Please check out the STRING DATABASE in the link in my sig line, and add your observations.

T

Pippin
11-29-2011, 11:50 PM
I love the Martin strings; however, there are some ukes that do not produce as much volume with them. I find that they are best on loud ukes that could be tamed somewhat by the Martins, rather than using Aquilas. On the other hand, Aquilas bring out the volume in cheaper ukes, especially laminates, and over-braced ukes.

I like the new Aquilas far better than the old Aquilas (Nylguts, that is). The bionylons are a different breed and behave differently.