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View Full Version : I think I found the strings for my Mainland mahogany baritone



OldePhart
05-02-2012, 11:23 AM
So, a few of you have been following my recent purchase and the string "experiments" I"ve been running on it.

I thought the Aquilla strings that were on it were okay but the D was a little "woofy" - then it broke (I mention that because it may have been woofy because it was defective; I don't want to unfairly characterize the strings based on one possibly bad example).

Next I tried a set of Martin M630 baritone strings. These I detested and there is no mincing words. It's strange because I love the M600 soprano/concert strings. The unwound fluorocarbon strings were way too soft, the G string was just terrible any way I measured it. It had a rattly tone (not contact with frets, the string itself rattled). I think it may have been the aluminum outer winding - I've never had an aluminum wound string before - it weren't pretty. The only string out of this whole set that was decent was the D - it might have made a good mix with the Aquila set! LOL

At the same time that I bought the Martin strings I bought some classical guitar strings - thinking I'd try them out, too. Well, when the Martins turned out to be a complete dud I replaced the four strings with the 3rd through 6th strings from a set of D'Addario Pro Arte Extra Hard Tension Strings (set EJ44) - tuned an octave down from linear GCEA - i.e. if you've heard a low-g tenor think down an octave from that. This was actually pretty interesting. It sounded good picked, but not so good strummed.

However, I found that I really liked the three treble strings. So, I pulled the G string from the set of Augustine strings that I'd also purchased to use for the G string on the baritone. This works, and sounds good enough to let me know that this tuning ("octave ukulele"?) is what I'm looking for. However, the Augustine string is quite a bit softer than the string from the Pro-Arte set that is in the A position. I've tried tuning that string down to G just to see how I like it and that one is much better.

So...my "perfect" set for this uke in reentrant "octave GCEA" is:
1 - A - Pro Arte J4403
2 - E - Pro Arte J4404
3 - C - Pro Arte J4405
4 - G - Pro Arte J4403

The really amazing thing about this is not only do these strings sound good open and in the first position - the intonation is very nearly spot on all the way across at the 12th fret. In fact, the J4403 intonates fine at the 12th whether tuned to A or G (I guess a long scale like the baritone is much more forgiving than shorter scales, because the intonation even on my tenors changes pretty radically with tuning).

So, this tuning may not be everyone's cup of tea but on the mahogany Mainland (19.5" scale, BTW) I'll drink this tuning and these strings all day... :)

Update - several weeks later - I found that I really wanted an even harder G string. I ordered a spool of Seaguar Premium Fluorocarbon 130lb leader and it works better. The G string has less tendency to be "snappy."

John

OldePhart
05-02-2012, 11:29 AM
Oh...and my Mainland now definitely has a blem... :(

In the course of all this string changing I got careless and had my clamp pull free from a string end down at the bridge and put a long, deep scratch from the bridge to the binding at the heel...wah!

Oh well, I'll probably take some extra-fine steel wool next time I change strings and just take the finish pretty much completely off, then use Renaissance Wax to protect it.

Sigh.

John

ukecantdothat
05-02-2012, 11:36 AM
Oh...and my Mainland now definitely has a blem... :(

In the course of all this string changing I got careless and had my clamp pull free from a string end down at the bridge and put a long, deep scratch from the bridge to the binding at the heel...wah!

Oh well, I'll probably take some extra-fine steel wool next time I change strings and just take the finish pretty much completely off, then use Renaissance Wax to protect it.

Sigh.

John

That's what's known as an "honest use" mark on Antiques Roadshow.
(How long do you have to wait for it to be called "antique?")

ukuleledaveey
05-02-2012, 12:48 PM
Ahhhh nooo shame about the scratch John , i love threads about strings :) i totally agree about the Martins m600's i love them strings on my ohana soprano, ive been slowly working my way through strings on that, instantly loved the martins, when it came to change them i thought i would use a set of Ko'alohau golds, i had to take them off within 48 hours, i was not happy with the C string it just constantly sounded out of tune and not buzzed but when strummed it would resonate for ages horribly and these are classed as pro strins, im not knocking the strings, just obvioulsy not acustomed to my untrained ear and my uke, i have a set of worth fat browns on now, quite like them, though they are hard on the fingers, still leaning towards the martins though, may try worth clears next.
Now the baritone is another matter, lol i love m worth browns on that, we seem to be quite limited to sets without any wound strings, but so far i do like the worths :)
I guess as i mentioned earlier its not just how they sound on the uke it is how they sound to our ears as well , sorry for waffling on lol :)

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
05-02-2012, 01:26 PM
Ah, a baritone string thread. Nice.

@John: Glad to hear you've found a sound and feel that works. Octave ukulele. That's deep, my friend. Cool.

@Davey: Worths on your baritone work? Sweet. (I'm also still searching for the right strings for an Ohana sopranino. Started with Aquilas tuned to D---not good for me. Now I'm playing with the D'Addario J65 set tuned up to E flat---sounds good, but I'll be likely try something else next string change.)

I am loving the Ko'olau Gold baritone set on my Kala KA-B. The wound and unwound strings are nicely balanced both in tension and volume. The sound is even, mellow, and deep. A nice strings/uke match!

ukuleledaveey
05-02-2012, 01:50 PM
Ah, a baritone string thread. Nice.

@John: Glad to hear you've found a sound and feel that works. Octave ukulele. That's deep, my friend. Cool.

@Davey: Worths on your baritone work? Sweet. (I'm also still searching for the right strings for an Ohana sopranino. Started with Aquilas tuned to D---not good for me. Now I'm playing with the D'Addario J65 set tuned up to E flat---sounds good, but I'll be likely try something else next string change.)

I am loving the Ko'olau Gold baritone set on my Kala KA-B. The wound and unwound strings are nicely balanced both in tension and volume. The sound is even, mellow, and deep. A nice strings/uke match!

Hi ya Ralf yeah i love the worth browns on the baritone, they are a little slack but i do like them, im going to try the clears when i eventually get through the browns as you get double lengths when you buy them, on your sopranino try the martin m600's ive got them on my kala pocket uke,but i do understand that what i like may not work for others :)
Over here in the Uk i have so far only found worths that are all fluro strings for the baritone, i may have to do some more research, it is to costly to buy the strings over sea as they charge fortune for shipping, even on just strings :)

OldePhart
05-04-2012, 12:35 PM
Here's the set - still waiting on another D'Addario string for the G to replace the too-soft standard tension string that is on it right now.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIC1c4wYwTA&feature=youtu.be
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIC1c4wYwTA&feature=youtu.be

John

1931jim
05-04-2012, 01:23 PM
Hello John,
Regarding your new blemish and steel wool.....my son is a car enthusiast and he will detail (I think that is the term or word) or polish the finish on his car until it is really something to see.....all car guys do this it seems. Anyway the stuff to remove your blemish kindly is from a company called Maguire. I hope my spelling is correct. There are about 3 or 4 different grades to fix cars that are completely oxidized to ones that are just needing a little coddling. I liked your post about the classical strings. Myself I have been experimenting with LaBellas.
Jim