View Full Version : These Aquilas sound horrible on my new Uke. Normal?

03-20-2013, 09:00 AM
After deciding not risk buying my first nice uke during my HI vacation http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?77845-Humidity-is-it-a-bad-idea-to-bring-a-HI-uke-to-MT&highlight=humidity
(I may pick up a fluke there, or at least a music book).

I traded in my unused electric guitar and amp (had it for almost 20 years) and some $ for a Martin C1K. Aquila strings made my Maholo soprano sound SO nice that I was stoked when the music shop through some concert Aquilas in for free. After playing for week with the stock Martin strings I swapped over to the Aquilas expecting an awesome improvement in sound.

Wow, was I let down. Compared to the Martins they sound dead, no sustain, muted, dull. Will they "wake up" with some more time playing or do my tastes just lean more towards the relatively twangy sound of the Martin strings on this uke?

03-20-2013, 09:13 AM
I'll be interested in the responses. I bought a C1K last month at a local shop. The guys there told me that they hate Martin strings, and so re-string the Martins that come in with Aquilas - so that's what mine had when I bought it. I think it sounds fine, but I will try Martins (or something else) the next time around.

03-20-2013, 09:15 AM
When did you put them on? Theyre gonna take a few days to settle in. It is entirely possible though that they just dont work on your uke. The stock answer youre going to get here is that aquilas are best suited to cheaper ukes as their more intense sound does a good job of covering the sonic deficiencies of cheaper instruments. I dont buy into that, but they arent going to work well with every uke. I havent really heard them described as "dull" ever though. If anything its usually they are too loud, or harsh, or banjo like for most folks. If you dont like them switch it up, strings are cheap, experiment.

Paul December
03-20-2013, 09:17 AM
Usually Aquilas are bright and have good sustain...
...but I've recently read several complaints of the opposite in the forum. Someone said that Aquila has changed their formulation; I hope not.

03-20-2013, 09:20 AM
I can only say that "muted" and "dull" do not describe my experience with Aquilas. If anything, people sometimes complain that they are too bright and lively. I would not expect a meaningful change in tone over time, so the tone you're getting now is the tone you'll get.

Nevertheless, you may want to leave them on for a while. You might just be so used to the tone from the Martin strings that you need to acclimate to the Aquilas. But strings will sound different on different ukes, and it's possible that the Aquilas just aren't a good match for your Martin.

I'm a big Aquila fan, but I've also started using Living Water and Worth Clears, and these are both excellent choices. Changing strings is a pretty cheap way to dial in the tone you want. :)

03-20-2013, 09:26 AM
I am also a big Aquila fan, but my antiques get the Martin Fluorocarbons as they just sound better on that old wood. Maybe you having solid mahogany, you're better off with more of a fluorocarbon setup. However, on newer ukes, whether solid or laminated, Aquilas work great (though I don't have a newer solid mahogany uke, just vintage ones).


03-20-2013, 09:26 AM
If you are using one of those tuners, you are probably a whole octave below where you need to be. Those machines don't care what octave you are in, a low A is the same as a high A. Check it out.

mm stan
03-20-2013, 09:36 AM
I am quite sure you need to let the Aquila break in....some take up to 3 weeks until they break in....depends on ow much you play...and you could be down an octave on all strings
make sure as you strum down that you have the my dog has fleas tune...good Luck....I like martins too....there is no overall strings....you have to find what works for your uke..
buy and test some strings you like .....it's the best way...

03-20-2013, 10:56 AM
Wierd, seems that my previous reply didn't post.

To answer the much appreciated feedback-

I just put the strings on last night and they are getting a bit nicer to hear as a play but still not as bright as the Martins.

They're tuned to the same key as before. At least I think so. They sound the same as the same note played on my soprano - just less bright.

Without a doubt they sounded like "thuds" when I first put them on while the Martins where much more "plinky" or "twangy" - even my sax playing wife noticed that they sounded muddy compared to what I had just taken off.

At any rate, I'll keep playing them for a while to see how they set in. And I look forward to trying different strings until I find MY sound.

Thanks for the replies.

03-20-2013, 11:08 AM
Interesting. I restrung my mahalo with martin m600s (from stock) and it's really nice and bright. My dolphin prestrung with acquilas seems muted and dull, especially in comparison although it could just be the heavier body. My fluke with acquilas also sounds muted to me. I really should restring with the worths I bought for comparison as well.

03-20-2013, 11:12 AM
Did you get your Aquila strings online or from a store?

I've bought a few ukulele's with Aquila's on them that didn't sound right to me. They were too dull. I put it down to Original Equipment Aquila's being slightly different. Anyway I swapped them out and the new ones sounded fine. I'm not 100% sure of this. Anyway new Aquila strings need 2 to 3 weeks to settle down before critically judging them.


03-20-2013, 11:46 AM
I used to be a big acquila fan but since I restrung my Kala concert, they sound muted. Someone suggested Living Water strings that Ken Middleton highly recommends. I just ordered a set so we'll see. I really miss the bright sound that my acquilas used to put out. Living Water is supposed to put out a very bright sound. I will post with results when I try them out.

03-20-2013, 12:52 PM
Try some Martin M600 fluorocarbon or worth CM strings on that Martin.

Ken Middleton
03-20-2013, 09:42 PM
Martin themselves recommend M600 strings. If Aquilas don't sound good to you, go with fluorocarbons. Just don't use nylon strings on this uke.

03-20-2013, 11:06 PM
Strings work better with some ukuleles than others.
E.G. My Lanikai SMP-TCA sounds awful with the bionylon aquila strings (No hate on aquila). ALTHOUGH, I can say that it sounded great on my friend's laminate ukulele, my stagg solid mahogany top and my old Kala laminate. Once I switched to fremont fluorocarbons on my lanikai, it sounded right finally.

Also, a note to people who own my model or the concert version, Aquila Red Series tenor/concert sets sound awesome on it.

03-21-2013, 03:59 AM
I feel like Aqulia strings are best on ukes that start off sounding kind of dead. Otherwise they're just so bright and tinny that you lose all of the substance in the tone of the uke. I like fluorocarbons and nylons because they drive the soundboard better and that results in fuller tone.

03-21-2013, 04:33 AM
I switched my Kala KA-S's strings from Aquilas to Martin M600s. I like them a lot. I'm about to do another re-string and try some D'Addarios on it. But I got a new uke a few weeks ago and the Kala is getting ignored. (I'm not sure how so many UUers can have so many ukes--I wouldn't have enough time to play them all!) I like the Martin strings and would try those or some of the other brands mentioned, if the Aquilas don't settle in to your liking. Give them a little more time.

03-21-2013, 05:23 AM
Did you get your Aquila strings online or from a store?

All the ukes I have with aquilas have come shipped with them. Fluke, lanikai and dolphin. Interesting it does seem like the fluke ones are slightly different than the other 2 (maybe). I also note on the lanikai and dolphin that 'C' string pulls sharp up the fretboard possibly due to the its thickness.

I'm not sure how so many UUers can have so many ukes

The mahalo is my son's, the dolphin is my youngest daughter's, for now the fluke is my "performance" ukulele (well I need to go perform), the pineapple is 'just cause" (and i do like it!), the bari was "just cause", my oldest daughter may end up taking that one. I still need one for work.

03-21-2013, 05:36 AM
You need to replace those strings. No doubt. The "breaking-in" or "settling-in" of strings really refers to the stretching the strings go through when first put under tension, causing them to go out of tune quickly and often, not any change of sound. There may/may not be some change in sound, but it would be negligible if not utterly imperceptible. If they sound dead, they will not improve. Over time, under tension, the strings deteriorate.

Your experience is very unusual in that most people (myself included) find Aquila strings among the brightest strings on the market.

As for your strings being an octave low, impossible. An octave low, your strings would be slack and unplayable. So, that's not the problem.

When you change the strings, which you must, don't necessarily disqualify Aquila. They are good strings. You may have received a defective set. (At least they were free.)

03-21-2013, 10:31 AM
sorry guys: are these aquila bionylon or aquila Nylgut? the difference is crucial. be sure about the string type. Bionylon is warm and a bit dull; nylgut is brighter. same colour more or less.
The nylgut formula was not changed: they are just smooth and well polished while in the past the surface was a bit raf

03-25-2013, 04:56 PM
To follow up - a few hours ago I put the stock Martin strings back on and spent a fair amount of time plucking each of the Aquilas before swapping the Martins back on then playing some.

Now, I consider myself just a somewhat advanced beginner, and this is my first good uke that I've only had for a few weeks, so take this for what that's worth... The difference is in the A string.

The rest of the strings sound comparable. And the Aquilas "feel" nicer, kinda like the difference between driving a car with a leather wrapped steering wheel and one without, just more comfy. But the brightness/twang/detail of the A is where the Martins sound better to me.

Very well coulda been a bad string. Or maybe my ear is just maturing... But boy oh boy, is this fun!