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View Full Version : Does a uke's sound grow on you?



Kayak Jim
05-05-2012, 12:42 PM
Yesterday I replaced the stock Aquila strings on my Mainland mahogany concert with Southcoast mediums. I'd been playing the Mainland with the Aquilas for a few months (my previous uke was a Kala, also with Aquilas). I initially thought they were brash but I think the sound had grown on me.

After switching to the Southcoasts the sound seems quiet and even thin or tinny. The volume from each string does seem very balanced and so they sound good when finger picking (and don't make that squeaking sound).

I was expecting the string change to be something akin to the switch from the laminate to the solid- wow! If I tried a "K" uke and it sounded like my Mainland now does I think I'd say "no thanks".

How about it- have you had this "old familiar sound seems better" experience?

Jim B

nix
05-05-2012, 01:19 PM
I've had something similar happen. I have a Luna that I thought I would try out low G. After much research and reading of the UU boards, I ordered a set of Worth low G strings and promptly put them on when they arrived. I immediately hated them. They felt too "squishy" and they sounded dull compared to the Aquilas I was used to. I picked it back up a couple weeks later and was impressed with how resonant it sounded and how much I liked the feel of the strings. I think our tastes change and sometimes they cycle. It wouldn't surprise me if I ended up not liking them again someday and then play a different song and change my mind.

You might want to leave those strings on your Mainland for a while, pick it up a few times in the next month and see if the sound and feel grow on you.

Nix

solocoukester
05-05-2012, 02:56 PM
I agree, just changed from aquilas to J-71 dadarrios. The tone was somewhat muted comparitively at first but got a lot better. I think aquilas sound banjolike, which is cool on my mahogany Pono. The daddarios sound awesome on my Kala tenor, way different .

Doc_J
05-05-2012, 03:27 PM
Yesterday I replaced the stock Aquila strings on my Mainland mahogany concert with Southcoast mediums. I'd been playing the Mainland with the Aquilas for a few months (my previous uke was a Kala, also with Aquilas). I initially thought they were brash but I think the sound had grown on me.

After switching to the Southcoasts the sound seems quiet and even thin or tinny. The volume from each string does seem very balanced and so they sound good when finger picking (and don't make that squeaking sound).

I was expecting the string change to be something akin to the switch from the laminate to the solid- wow! If I tried a "K" uke and it sounded like my Mainland now does I think I'd say "no thanks".

How about it- have you had this "old familiar sound seems better" experience?

Jim B

Yep. Sounds familiar. But new strings, especially a different kind, on a uke take a while to sound right to me.

Just slapped some Ko'olau Golds on my Mya-Moe mango supersoprano.....they are still in the process of growing on me... the jury is still out on this combo.

BlackBearUkes
05-05-2012, 03:48 PM
IMO, you are hearing familiarity, you got used to that sound so anything different is some what strange to your ear. You play an import Mainland and judge all ukes by that one. If you should ever move up to a professional grade instrument, you will wonder how you ever thought the import was any good. It is all part of the learning process.

And for what it is worth, a really good instrument will sound good with any string, although you will still like one better over the long haul.

PhilUSAFRet
05-05-2012, 04:11 PM
IMO, you are hearing familiarity, you got used to that sound so anything different is some what strange to your ear. You play an import Mainland and judge all ukes by that one. If you should ever move up to a professional grade instrument, you will wonder how you ever thought the import was any good. It is all part of the learning process.



And for what it is worth, a really good instrument will sound good with any string, although you will still like one better over the long haul.

:agree: I recently took a relatively new set of Hilos off my Mele solid koa teno to test some soft lights from Southcoast. When I first put them on, I was very iffy.
However, the more I hear them, the more I like them. They are bright and chimey, much different than the Hilos that Mele's are set up with. Easy on the fingers and extremely well balanced. I hadn't trimmed off the extra string material because I wasn't sure I'd keep them on it. Have since decided to keep them on at least until I need new strings.

hmgberg
05-05-2012, 04:30 PM
IMO, you are hearing familiarity, you got used to that sound so anything different is some what strange to your ear. You play an import Mainland and judge all ukes by that one. If you should ever move up to a professional grade instrument, you will wonder how you ever thought the import was any good. It is all part of the learning process.

And for what it is worth, a really good instrument will sound good with any string, although you will still like one better over the long haul.

Yep! Exactly. You learn to hear and appreciate other qualities. I posted the same thing to a thread in which the OP questioned whether a Collings sounded x$ better than a Mainland. I was kind of called out on the carpet for suggesting that if one is used to playing a particular uke, it may take some time to fully appreciate the qualities of a better instrument. It's never been my experience, having played ukuleles that range in price from $50.00-$5,000.00, that the $5,000.00 ukulele sounds like the $50.00 ukulele, only 100 times better. They sound different, and the more expensive ukulele exhibits qualities that the cheaper one does not.

As to the strings, for what it is worth, it's similar. I think Aquilas and Southcoast strings are both. One does not sound like the other, only better, in my opinion. They sound different. If you've become accustomed to one, you are not likely to hear what the other truly sounds like. Put it this way, if you had been playing Southcoast strings the whole time and then put on a set of Aquilas, you might say that the Aquilas are loud, but sound really brash and uneven. As the memory of the older strings fades, the new ones will sound better. This really only applies if you have a better-than-decent ukulele, as Duane writes, "a really good instrument." Aqulias, as has often been attested to, tend to bring out the best in an otherwise not-so-hot ukulele.

Patrick Madsen
05-05-2012, 04:35 PM
I found the Southcoast strings had much more sustain than the Aquilas. I was hesitant using a wound c string but noticed the Southcoast wound C really mellowed out the Low G string.

I agree that it takes time to get accustomed to a new sound from a different set of strings. For me, it's about the sustain and how easy it is to move up the neck on them.

Dirk was really helpful. I ordered the wrong set and he sent me the right set free of charge. He called to make sure it was okay. I'm sold on S/C strings!

OldePhart
05-05-2012, 05:01 PM
I find that if you replace Aquilas with almost any string you will experience a noticable volume drop. However, on many ukes and with many strings the sweeter tone is worth the lower volume. You can always amplify - it's awfully hard to get rid of the brashness. That said, the one uke that I do like Aquilas on is my Mainland mahogany tenor. On my Mainland mango tenor I live fluorocarbon strings (lower volume but very sweet).

John

connor013
05-05-2012, 05:13 PM
... If you should ever move up to a professional grade instrument, you will wonder how you ever thought the import was any good. It is all part of the learning process.

And for what it is worth, a really good instrument will sound good with any string, although you will still like one better over the long haul.

Ah, zen master Duane. You're right again.

To the first point: I took my first leap from production to professional uke when I bought a Black Bear. It has made me a better player; it's so responsive that I'm aware of all sorts of things I missed (or they simply didn't register) on a mass-produced uke.

And the second: I'm not sure I believe the "any string for a good instrument" theory, but at the very best it's subjective and habitual. Case in point: I love Worth browns. I recently re-strung my Black Bear with Southcoasts. I know they sound better -- I recorded a before and after -- but I miss the Worth BMs.

Nickie
05-05-2012, 05:29 PM
I've never had anything but Aquilas on my Kala. I love them. It's brash and loud and I can really attack them. I thought I had broken one today, and I looked down and they were all still there, but out of tune a tad.
I had Aquilas on my old Cordoba, and loved them, and the current owner has stuck with them, only with a low G. It sounds great.
My new koa custom made uke will come with Aquilas, but with all the talk here, I might try something else on it. I'm anxious to see how much worse I sound on a better uke...
My Dolphin has Martins on it, don't like them so much, but they beat the heck out of the fishing line that came on it!

connor013
05-05-2012, 06:00 PM
Nickie,

I know I sounded wishy-washy in my previous post, but give Southcoasts a try. If you don't know which ones to get, shoot Dirk an email.

In my experience, they're high quality strings at a great price, and Dirk is a wealth of information. Plus, he's a good guy. Bonus!

AndrewKuker
05-05-2012, 06:26 PM
I find that if you replace Aquilas with almost any string you will experience a noticable volume drop. However, on many ukes and with many strings the sweeter tone is worth the lower volume. You can always amplify - it's awfully hard to get rid of the brashness. That said, the one uke that I do like Aquilas on is my Mainland mahogany tenor. On my Mainland mango tenor I live fluorocarbon strings (lower volume but very sweet).

John
I rarely see pros that plug in a lot using Aquila for that reason

Kayak Jim
05-06-2012, 12:34 AM
Thanks for all the input. I'll give the new strings a chance.

Teek
05-06-2012, 09:58 AM
All strings take time to settle as you tune them up until they are done stretching, meaning when you pick up the uke to play it the next day, you only have to adjust a couple of cents, if that. I learned to give any string that is new to me on a specific uke a week or two before I swap out. Once settled there will be a difference from the initial sound of the strings. I was sort of "Hmmm..." the first time way back when I put Southcoasts on my mahogany tenor, they seemed a little loose and trebley, after a week or so as they got snugged up after stretching, I thought "These are freaking amazing!" Soft and responsive feel but clear as a bell ringing sustain on a good uke, and plenty of clean volume. I notice that my other tenors with Worths (my previous faves) in comparison feel stiffer and have less ring, and their sustain is why I favored them. On the Southcoasts if I hammer on even softly I get a nice note back, on any other brand I have to hit the string harder.

I do have a baritone with Worth Brown Mediums (tenor strings) on it tuned to A that is awesome however in its clean sound and response, so I am leaving that one alone for now. I feel it is a good practice to swap strings around over time to find what you like and what fits a specific uke the best, then make note of it. Also I think with more time put in, tastes will change and get more refined. I think that is partly what UAS is about. I have four acoustic tenors, I would like to get down to two that I really love, one re-entrant (and probably a six string) and one linear, plus my solid body electric.

I'm stringing two more ukes up with Southcoasts today to see how they sound, my Donaldson custom and a koa Kanil'ea tenor. One has Aquilas, the other Worth clears. The koa Mele tenor with new Worth browns sounds great, but it's not quite as responsive as the 'hog with the Southcoasts. I really love the dark strings on this darker colored uke though.. :o and I need to reorder Southcoasts.

My one question to Dirk would be "What would making a set of dark strings require, and would it change the sound?" It seems to me it could.

Nickie
05-06-2012, 05:27 PM
Nickie,

I know I sounded wishy-washy in my previous post, but give Southcoasts a try. If you don't know which ones to get, shoot Dirk an email.

In my experience, they're high quality strings at a great price, and Dirk is a wealth of information. Plus, he's a good guy. Bonus!

Thanks Conner! I'll contact Derk before I decide on strings for the new WW concert! I'm sure Willie can get them.

Doc_J
05-10-2012, 10:00 AM
Yep. Sounds familiar. But new strings, especially a different kind, on a uke take a while to sound right to me.

Just slapped some Ko'olau Golds on my Mya-Moe mango supersoprano.....they are still in the process of growing on me... the jury is still out on this combo.

The jury is in, the Golds are out. I had lots of trouble with the C string intonation with the Golds. They also made the uke sound a little boxy.
Not every uke/string combination grows on me.

Replaced them with SouthCoast Soft Mediums. Wow. These sound much better to my ear, with a slightly mellower tone comapared to Worths.