View Full Version : Strings revelation for a newbie

11-26-2011, 07:54 PM
Being new to the ukulele I've accepted that Aquila strings are the de facto standard for good quality strings. Although I've read many comments here from proponents of other brands, I've gone with Aquilas...until now.

I've been kind of disappointed at the sound of my new Kala Solid Acacia Concert. For my first solid wood uke I had much higher expectations.

Lately, I've been reading a lot about Southcoast strings, and after thoroughly reading their website I decided to order some sets to try out. In the meantime, I figured it couldn't hurt to try out Martin M600s on my Kala.

Well, what a tremendous surprise. The Martins made my Kala sound like I expected it to. This was a tremendous positive change and has just excited me to no end. I can't wait to get the Southcoast strings and try them out.

I'm quite happy with the sound of Aquilas on my Oscar Schmidt OU7 tenor and my Makala Soprano and see no need to change those. I'm not quite happy with Aquilas on my newest purchase, my Mainland Mango Soprano, but I'm going to wait for the Southcoasts to arrive before changing them out. The jury's still out on what I will do with the Lanakai. It's build quality, IMO, keeps it sitting on the sidelines compared to the rest of my stable.

I ordered both regular and soft mediums and medium lights in the Southcoast line. I'm thinking I will try the soft mediums on my Mainland for the better balance, smaller diameters, and taming the current brightness of the Aquilas on the Mainland.

I'll report on the results just to add to the "which strings" discussion. When I was into guitars, this same sort of heated debate occurred on guitar forums. Debates about phosphor-bronze vs. 80/20, coated vs. uncoated, and brand loyalty popped up regularly. I think it's a healthy thing to do and I certainly wouldn't have had the courage so early in my uke experience to try something new if it hadn't been for following the different discussions.

This is a really great forum with lots of members to learn from.


11-26-2011, 08:00 PM
I think the general rule is that Aquilas make cheap ukes sound better. If you have a good instrument, the range of difference narrows. Aquilas might be okay but other strings that don't do enough to improve lesser ukes might sound better. Learning what works best for your instrument is half the fun.

AC Baltimore
11-26-2011, 08:41 PM
First of all, welcome to the island :)

I too have a kala acacia, but tenor size. in fact it came yesterday along with a lanikai monkeypod tenor. The aquilas sounded atrocious on the monkeypod, so I quickly switched to worth browns and they sound great. The aquilas on the acacia are tolerable. They don't sound all that bad strumming but they sound very muddy and un-defined when finger picking. I have not changed them out yet but it is going to happen. I have more worths around so I will probably go with clears on the acacia.

And Dave is very correct. With ukes it seems strings are a large part of the journey with each instrument. There is really no way to say "I am a worth" or "I am a aquila" guy etc... So much personal taste and individual instrument discovery applies, there just really is not a standard. Try a variety and see which ones make each uke most speak to you. The more you enjoy the tone and feel the more you will play, and every time a uke is strung an angel smile... or at least I do lol.

Happy hunting.