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View Full Version : Jazzy string recommendations - think 'Jeeves and Wooster'



Apprenti L'Artisan
07-03-2013, 05:06 AM
Hi guys, new to the forum and reasonably new to ukulele. I was watching Hugh Laurie's 'Perspective' tv show, where the guitarist picks up an old gretsch uke and starts strumming some improv jazzy stuff. I play double bass and guitar and I'm enjoying ukulele as well.

Basically, I want to get that 'dead' jazzy sound out of my ukulele. I'm learning the chords, and I know a lot's technique, but the string's that came on my second-hand makala seem too jangly. Can someone recommend me some strings that cop the sound I'm looking for a bit better?

Cheers,
Joe

Patrick Madsen
07-03-2013, 05:58 AM
Welcome to the Forum!

Are you are playing in G or C and using a baritone or tenor? For my baritones in G: '46 Favilla I use the Diaddarios T2 I think they are for a smoky bluesy sound, they are a thicker nylon based string. The Webber has the Ko'olau Golds for a little brighter sound with the '63 Martin having Worth Browns 1&2 with Hilo wound 3&4 for mre of that cool jazzy soud. If you don't want wound 3&4 I found the Living Waters (C) are really jazzy sounding especially tuned down to a Bb.

On my Griffin tenor I use Southcoast the ML-SW. On a different Griffin tenor I use the same string tuned down to a Bb.

If you're tuned to C, have you tried tuning down to a Bb, a lot of the old jazz tunes were written in that key because of the brass instruments in Bb. Are you playing jazz position chords or just regular chords; big difference. Glen Rose has some great books on Jazz positions.

ukulelecowboy
07-03-2013, 06:45 AM
I use Southcoast linears on my Graziano Baritone jazz box. Tuned with low g tuning. Chord voicing is the key here. No open chords. I play 9th, 11th, and 13th when I can. Also diminished and half diminished chords as well. Also lots of syncopated strumming techniques and chord damping.

Just my two cents

Mke

PTOEguy
07-03-2013, 08:56 AM
I'd recommend a read through the southcoast information at http://www.southcoastukes.com/stringuide.htm. It's a long read, but it gives a good basis for understanding the factors in different strings.

Do you know what you have on the Makala now? If you don't know, or if the strings are old, you might consider putting on a set of Aquilas (or other common strings) just to get a baseline. That will help with talking to the forum as well - if we know where you're starting from, it gets easier for the group to point in the direction you want to go.

Apprenti L'Artisan
07-03-2013, 09:20 AM
It's a soprano uke. Chords can be tricky higher up the neck, but they're becoming clearer each time I play.

I'll check out the link. I have no idea what the strings are, they're black and seem quite thin compared to others I've tried.

Any links or advice to help with my jazzy ventures?

Patrick Madsen
07-03-2013, 09:35 AM
Jazzyukulele.com for one. Perhaps a larger ukulele than a soprano. Just keep practising the jazz chord shapes.

Kimosabe
07-04-2013, 05:38 AM
Interesting conversation, some magic words, Southcoast strings, Glen Rose, Ko'olau.

I will subtly urge along with the others that you really do have to move to a larger uke, even if Ohta-san plays a soprano, I believe. He plays mostly lead and I'm guessing you're into chord comping with smokey fills.

I once had a Pono tenor or baritone that came with Ko'olau Gold strings and man were they thick and smokey! I think they were low in volume though and that was the reason along with their thickness that made me eventually replace them, but definitely a unique sound in the world of strings.

Another thing to consider is your touch. You, as a musician, have to learn to make the strings sing and you have to learn to muffle. Get yourself a good tenor Kanilea K-1, put on some Southcoast strings and start living, if you really plan to stick with the uke and get good. Best wishes.

peewee
07-04-2013, 09:34 AM
I'd say it's 90% technique, and I would disagree as to necessarily going to a bigger uke.
Sopranos have more attack and less sustain, which sounds like what you're referring to by "dead sound"

It worked ok for Roy Smeck
http://youtu.be/RcQYt7xvA8M

Try Martin m600s for easily available and cheaper quality strings

guitarsnrotts
07-04-2013, 02:46 PM
I like Worth Medium Browns. Others have mentioned chord voicings. Check out Gerald Ross at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YafhDexY6I for some tips on Jazz and Swing Ukulele and the use of closed chords.

GregT
07-04-2013, 07:59 PM
[QUOTE=peewee;1316626]I'd say it's 90% technique, and I would disagree as to necessarily going to a bigger uke.
Sopranos have more attack and less sustain, which sounds like what you're referring to by "dead sound"

This is a joke, right?

ichadwick
07-06-2013, 05:23 AM
There's a thread here you might want to check:

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?82249-Ukulele-Swing

On Youtube, search "ukulele swing" and see what comes up. There are a couple of good lessons on swing chords and rhythms. Also, check out my collection of vintage uke music song sheets for specific tunes.

we tigers
07-06-2013, 06:29 AM
I recommend the SouthCoast Soft strings.
A little thicker, a little warmer. Love them.

peewee
07-06-2013, 06:43 AM
[QUOTE=peewee;1316626]I'd say it's 90% technique, and I would disagree as to necessarily going to a bigger uke.
Sopranos have more attack and less sustain, which sounds like what you're referring to by "dead sound"

This is a joke, right?
No I'm serious, sopranos can sometimes cut through a band better, like a mandolin, but they don't have the ringing sustain of a larger body. To me. I am not clear on what the OP means though, reading back...all we know is some guy on TV played a gretsch and he plays a Makala. No specifics, no examples, so I am going to go back to practicing...