View Full Version : String advice, please?

03-01-2012, 04:56 AM
Hi all,

I have started regularly participating in gypsy jazz jams where I am generally the only ukulele among guitars, fiddles, also a clarinet, trumpet and trombone. With my basic Makala soprano (not a Dolphin) I tend to get drowned out in the sound department. My sister suggested I get a banjolele sometime, which will put out more sound, but I can't afford to get another instrument right now. I have Aquila strings on my uke currently; do you think putting different strings, such as Kala Reds, on it would make a difference, or do you have any other suggestions?



03-01-2012, 05:07 AM
Hi Patricia,

I'm not too sure that changing strings is going to help with this problem. Aquila's are widely regarded as the loudest, punchiest strings out there.

I would consider moving to a different uke, maybe a tenor and/or a spruce-topped uke. Typically (though not always), larger sized instruments are louder.

Alternatively, you could look into putting a pickup into your makala and playing plugged in to a little amp.
As your sister suggests, a banjolele would have much more punch and might be able to cut through the other instruments.

I'd lean towards the pick-up and amplification. I don't know of any acoustic uke that could easily project beside brass instruments.

Scott S.
03-01-2012, 05:27 AM
I have used both Aquila and Kala Reds on my tenors, and in my opinion, the Aquilas are noticably louder. I too can't think of a string set that I've used that is louder than the Aquilas. I would imagine that you have already tried a more aggressive right hand? While mindful of the cost factor, I echo what Jamie said about considering a larger bodied instrument.

03-01-2012, 06:04 AM
You are already using the loudest strings generally available. Try using a pick. It will probably significantly boost the volume until you can afford a better uke.

03-01-2012, 06:11 AM
Hi, Patricia!

The Southcoast Medium Gauge set is the loudest set I've tried. They were actually a little too loud for me.

And a ukulele more likely to be heard at a gypsy jazz jam? A banjo uke!

03-02-2012, 08:12 AM
Thank you all for your advice! Yes, I could use a "more aggressive right hand" and try a pick. Ralf, I'll look into trying the Southcoast Medium Gauge set, and ultimately I'll save up for a banjo uke; I tried some at Artichoke and was amazed at what a loud, ringing tone they have. I'm sure I'll be heard with one of those!

Scott S.
03-02-2012, 10:17 AM
Elderly Instruments has a number of used banjo ukes in stock. I've purchased a couple of instruments from them, and I think they do good business. Here's a link to their used uke page: http://elderly.com/vintage/cats/180U.htm

03-02-2012, 06:59 PM
I am just down the road in Salem. I have a wide selection of banjoleles, so you don't pay shipping from Lansing if you find one you want to buy. I also have a sale going on with Morgan Monroe banjo ukes until the end of the month. One even has a pick up installed from the factory. Even a standard 5string banjo can have a capo at the 5th fret, and just pull the GCEG up to GCEA. just take off the 5th string and play it as four. If you would like to come down and hear and play different voices of banjo ukes, contact me at thecraftedcow@comcast.net I am a two years in a row winner of the sad song fest at PUA...probably would have been three but I got told not to even try for a threepeat. Our dau is a piano teacher and staff accompanist at L&C college.

I would side port your Mahalo, and also do through the body attachment of the strings , but you still will be outgunned. wdt

03-03-2012, 04:16 AM
William's offer sounds great. And while there, consider tuning a banjo Chicago Style and play it like a baritone. A tenor banjo makes a great rhythm instrument.