View Full Version : Tenor string question

07-07-2012, 05:16 PM
I'm hoping this is a topic with which someone else is familiar. Last June I received an Oscar Schmidt (by Washburn) Aloha tenor ukulele. It is a simple laminate relatively inexpensive model ($90+- on Amazon) but I do not want to ask my wife for anything more expensive at the moment due to (A) the crummy economy, and (B) I just got a really nice concert Uke this June for my birthday. I've always been pleased with the build quality and sound for a basic tenor model but not that keen on the low note's ability to "hold" a tuning. Therefore, I recently replaced the (no-name, as far as I know) nylon strings with Aquila tenor strings. The sound is drastically improved overall and the strings maintain tuning much more readily than before. However, I am getting a "sloppy" feel to the low "G" and a definite "buzz". I'm wondering if this is because the grooves were meant for a wider all nylon string than the wound metal low G of the Aquila. Does anyone else have experience with the Oscar Schmidt and/or this situation? If so (to either question) would/could it help to get Worth strings (or another brand) to quiet down the buzz and/or "tighten" the floppy feel of my present low G or am I just out of luck with the Washburn brand? Sorry to ask what is probably an inane or obvious question but I don't want to reinvent the wheel if someone else already knows the answer to my problem. Thanks for any help, folks!

07-08-2012, 01:10 AM
Search this forum for "wound strings" and you'll find plenty of people not happy with them; wound strings seem to be too "loud" quite often.

You might try replacing the low G string with either a high G or a non-wound low G. Ken Middleton announced a low-G Tenor (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?66777-LIVING-WATER-STRINGS-new-range-of-uke-strings&p=982535#post982535) set of his Living Water Strings a week ago, they should be available soon. And Aquila has an unwound low G as well (see this thread (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?66251-Aquila-Red-Series-unwound-low-G-strings))

07-08-2012, 01:19 AM
Orrrrrrrrrrr, it could also be a badly cut plastic nut that the string seats poorly in?

07-08-2012, 02:20 AM
The wound low g and high G should be interchangeable because they should all be in the .030 thousandths of an inch range. Varies by brand but not enough to require a different nut slot width. It may be like Phil says, if it's only buzzing when the string is open, or unfretted. There may be an overall lighter tension from the previous strings. Worth Low G plain (even though thicker in gauge) are much "floppier" than an Aquila wound low G and buzz quite easily, and Aquila's new plain low G is the easiest buzz out of any. Don't get me wrong, I like these options, but they probably won't give the tension you are looking for, and your neck may want more pull due to a slight reverse bow. A fret dress would help. A heavier tension string may help and the new Nyltech from D'addario are an Aquila like enhanced sound, but heavier tension. Aquila are very light tension as are Worth strings. Most D'addario, Aaron C. Koolau GHS and bunches of others would be better for the buzz. But they may not have the sound you want, and your uke should play fine with those Aquila Low G's. Maybe try Nyltech but even better would be to find a local guitar shop that has a good technician/ repairman that knows something about an ukulele. In the meantime, work on your finesse, attempting to not buzz. Good luck!

mm stan
07-08-2012, 02:25 AM
not sure what stock strings you had on but if the Aquilas are thinner that your factory strings, you nut gap
for the string may be too wide causing a buzz....put a paper shim under the string in the nut groove...

07-08-2012, 03:52 AM
No one has mentioned my favourites for the tenor.....Fremont Low G flourocarbons. Black in colour. No wound string. I agree with mm stan. regarding the paper shim trick first though.

07-11-2012, 04:47 PM
I appreciate all the answers, but I was especially intrigued by two thoughts. I added a bit of paper to the saddle (the nut was a tight fit but the saddle was obviously loose and the location of the buzz). This helped a little, which encouraged me that possibly the problem was (and is) the thinness of the wound low G. The excellent suggestion of the new Aquila Red made me research this (including many helpful links within this forum). I am totally excited about the possibility that this may solve my Oscar Schmidt's problem (which I forgot to mention is the OU-2T model) AND the potential of a Concert Uke with a low G. I have ordered both sizes and will look forward to trying them on the OU-2T and on my original concert (my pre-birthday one). I will keep this site posted on what happens next, but I certainly thank you folks for your help and a special thanks (here's hoping it works!) for the heads up from Louis0815 about the Aquila Reds.

07-12-2012, 05:29 PM
In short: a qualified Wow! What follows is a post I made in a series of comments about the Red Aquilas. As I mention therein, the bottom line is that these strings improved both Ukes that I had, including my original inexpensive Makala concert. Oddly enough the specially noticeable difference was in the Makala - maybe because the low G gave the instrument such a more mellow sound. In any event, for an investment of $4.00+- you can really improve many a ukulele. I happen to have a house full of family right now and the improvement in sound is not just to my ears (and my son is quite an accomplished amateur musician).

By-the-way, Dr. Cluck (and the USPS) got these to me REALLY fast and, without my asking, "bundled" the two together to cut the shipping. Great Service, Dr. Cluck!

Again, though, these strings are really cool. If you have a ukulele with a decent sized sound box it is an extremely cheap way to get a "tenor" uke, especially if you have more than one lying around (as most of us uke owners are prone for doing). I'm really intrigued, now, with the idea of putting it on a soprano Peanut, since the amplification takes away the concern of the size of the body (but my fingers will still be kinda big for a small fretboard).

Aside from the cool factor the other things to mention are that the Red Aquilas have just the right volume for typical other ukulele strings (mine have been coupled with some regular aquilas I had placed on the tenor and whatever where the plain nylon strings on the Makala) and a sound that aren't metallic AND a "cozy"/pleasant feel.

In regards my original thread, I am sorry to say that the strings do not entirely solve the problem. The OU-2T and its construction limitations are apparently the main defining problem. Nonetheless, the Red Aquilas definitely improved the Oscar Schmidt to a nice degree (although there is still some buzz) and I now expect a bit of a "floppy" feel since this is an inherent side issue with Red Aquilas (please see the thread referred to above by Louis0815). The new string does assuredly enhance my enjoyment of the Oscar Schmidt, along with the remaining nylgut aquilas on the other strings. I would definitely suggest these additions to anyone with a basic tenor instrument.

07-24-2012, 12:14 PM
Just in case anyone follows this thread and makes an incorrect conclusion I must make a correction. As it turns out I was so used to a "buzz" from my tenor's low "G" string, and had been warned about the floppiness of the Red Aquila, to the point were I tuned the new string until I got a low "G" according to my "wonder" electronic tuner and was just living with the fact that the string was still a bit floppy. I kept wondering, though, about the sound being a little TOO full and yet the string not being quite right, despite its thickness.

Well, I feel like a cream-filled maroon head. I finally took the Oscar Schmidt to my wife's piano and, within seconds, realized it was perfectly tuned to a low G, just a whole octave too low! No wonder it was still feeling floppy. In retrospect it is a testament to the Red Aquila that it was playing a good note at all, but now that it had been tuned up an octave and is now the "G" just below middle "C" (instead of struggling to pretend it was a semi-bass guitar) it is playing beautifully. The Oscar Schmidt has redeemed itself and is worthy of the good comments it receives as an entry-level ukulele. In fact, with the all Aquila set-up it really sounds much better than I would have thought possible for its price.

This got me thinking of the importance of strings and so I have just put some Martin clear fluorocarbons on my basic Makala (keeping the low "G" with the top three strings) and this instrument is now "singin' the blues" amazingly well for a simple instrument. No, neither sound as good as the new instrument I just got for my birthday but both are really fine sounding instruments with nice accompanying sound "fields" that are very melodious in their own ways. So for a roughly $10.00-$15.00 I essentially got two new, worthwhile instruments. Take Note all who are living with no-name strings! Also, Oscar (by Washburn) please accept my apologies. Your OU-2 is worth spending a lot of time being used as a decent tenor.

Again, thanks to all and I hope this helps anyone with a similar problem. I still love and enjoy the Red Aquilas more and more every day as they settle in.