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katysax
12-11-2013, 01:41 PM
Lately I've been thinking that fluorocarbon string branding is just Snake Oil.

I can't definitively find any difference between various fluorocarbon strings. Some are thicker gauges than others, and sometimes that matters on a particular uke. But I can't tell the difference in playing between Worth Clears, Martin M600 and M620, PhD and Living Water. I find it hard to believe they are not just strings cut from the same fishing line. I asked the guy at Anacapa ukulele if the PhD strings were really any different than the Martins and he said that the PhD strings are monofilament and the Martins are braided, but I don't believe that.

Often I tend to just use the Martin strings because they are cheap. I've got Worth Clear on a couple of ukes and Living Water on one uke as well as a couple of packages of the PhD strings that I haven't used yet, but I did try some ukes that had PhD strings on them - I could swear they were repackaged Martin strings.

Am I crazy? Am I missing some exquisite sensitivity to feel or vibration that others have? Are these strings really different or is this string branding just a way to charge a higher price for a bunch of cheap fishing line?

janeray1940
12-11-2013, 01:48 PM
I can definitely tell the difference between Worths and Martins, at least on my ukes - can't stand Worths, but love Martins. And I don't think it's just the cheapskate in me appreciating the low price - they really do seem to have a clearer tone and longer sustain.

DaveY
12-11-2013, 01:53 PM
Lately I've been thinking that fluorocarbon string branding is just Snake Oil.

I can't definitively find any difference between various fluorocarbon strings. . . . I find it hard to believe they are not just strings cut from the same fishing line.

I heard there's an old guy up in coastal Maine (USA) who cuts the lines ("strings") in his dilapidated fishing shack, then has his truant grandkids slap labels on them and take them to the P.O.

OK, actually I can tell the difference between Worth Clear and Fremont Blackline, and Martins seem different from both. (Or at least I think I can.)

Maybe the truth lies somewhere between "no difference" and "not as much difference as we might like to think."

Doc_J
12-11-2013, 02:10 PM
There are differences to my ears. Currently my favorite fluorocarbon strings are Oasis.
Plus you get 2 sets for under $10. I think they are made in 'merica too.

jwieties
12-11-2013, 02:23 PM
I largely feel the same way when comparing clear fluorocarbons. While I can hear and feel slight differences (and do have preferences) I think they are fairly minor from one brand to the next. I especially think this is true after they have been played in for a few weeks. Could be my imagination, but I do believe that Oasis, for whatever reason, settle the quickest. They seem to stretch and reach tuning stability in almost 1/2 the time of other strings.

Skinny Money McGee
12-11-2013, 02:27 PM
Katysax, I believe your not far from the truth. I think it's been pretty well noted by various people on this forum that the worth clears are various gauges of Seaguar fishing leader. Wouldn't surprise me if most clear flouro's are some brand or another of fishing line too.

Ask Oldphart, he cuts his uke strings from Seaguar leader. I think he has a gauge chart to match the worths.

mkatz
12-11-2013, 02:31 PM
There are differences to my ears. Currently my favorite fluorocarbon strings are Oasis.
Plus you get 2 sets for under $10. I think they are made in 'merica too.

I agree with Doc about the Oasis strings.

Mitch

bborzell
12-11-2013, 02:43 PM
I went through a pound of strings before settling on Living Waters for both of my tenors. Along the way, I found some strings that felt slightly abrasive, others that were mismatched for volume, still others that sounded quiet or dull. I settled for that which I could not consistently find with any of the contenders. Smooth feel, good volume, balance across strings, short tuning adjustment, spot on tuning once set in, and making both ukes come alive with resonance.

I do believe that there are many more similarities than differences among most of the FC string makers. But, LW does something different. Maybe they are flash frozen and pre stretched by ice fishermen in Minnesota before being cut to size and sent to Britain. Whatever it is, it works for my Ukes.

stevepetergal
12-11-2013, 02:57 PM
Snake oil for sure.

HBolte
12-12-2013, 01:39 AM
Various string that I have tried all look a bit different, feel different and definitely sound different. Those saying that they are all different brands of fishing line may very well be correct, key word being -different.

sukie
12-12-2013, 02:55 AM
Various strings sound different. And the same strings can sound different when on different ukuleles. It does take awhile to learn to hear the differences. I wouldn't call it snake oil.

Jon Moody
12-12-2013, 03:08 AM
There are a small number of companies that make fluorocarbon fishing line that are then resold and packaged as ukulele strings, so there will be some similarities. But given that Company A is probably making a proprietary blend of their fluorocarbon than Company B (in an effort to create something new/different/better/able to be trademarked), there will be some slight differences which will translate to different sound, feel, etc.. between fluorocarbon strings. So yes, fluorocarbon strings as a whole share some similar characteristics, but by no means are they exact.

Saying they're all the same is akin to stating that every single set of nickel-plated steel guitar strings are exactly the same. They're not; there are proprietary formulas used that, while they result in a similar string, there will be differences in sound, feel and longevity.

Skinny Money McGee
12-12-2013, 03:12 AM
Various string that I have tried all look a bit different, feel different and definitely sound different. Those saying that they are all different brands of fishing line may very well be correct, key word being -different.

Yes, Seaguar makes 12 different kinds of flourocarbon line, each with many different gauges. Here is the Seaguar chart matching Worth Strings OldePhart (John) made up and posted in this thread. http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?18975-fishing-line-ukulele-string-recipe

PhilUSAFRet
12-12-2013, 03:17 AM
I'm not sure it's safe to assume that all fluorocarbon strings are the same quality material (would affect tension), or have the same uniformity. These variables could make all the difference in strings that otherwise are "labeled" the same with regard to diameter and composition. Perhaps that's why many can hear differences in string sets that are generally considered to be the same.............they're not. Just my thoughts on the matter.

wendellfiddler
12-12-2013, 03:29 AM
Since Worth and Living Water are the exact same guages, it's a good comparison. I've used both and they are definitely different. Not a whole lot, but Living Waters are a bit softer and less harsh sounding - I have almost no doubt about that :)

Duk

Captain America
12-12-2013, 04:07 AM
Great thread. I haven't experimented much at all, but I put some inexpensive clear fluoros on my tenor and it sounds great. I just like fluoro strings.

cigarfan
12-12-2013, 04:17 AM
Same strings ... different uke ... often different result in sound/feel. That said, to my ears Living Water clear fluoro-carbon strings sound best on a majority of my ukes. Can't speak to why but that's my story and I'm sticking to it. I put them on a Martin Style 3 soprano from the 50's and she is singing big time. It is amazing to me. Not snake oil to me ... I truly hear a difference.

OldePhart
12-12-2013, 04:24 AM
For what it's worth (pun intended) I can very definitely hear differences between Worth CM and Martin M600, for example. I think much of the difference is accounted for by the different gages used in the sets - this affects the string to string balance. The string-to-string tension and balance are quite different between the two sets, with the Martin having almost equal tension across the strings and thus more emphases on the C and E strings as compared to the Worth CM strings. As SkinnyMoney mentioned, I've done a lot with Seaguar fishing leaders (enough that I've used up the 25M roll of one of the gages) - even using the same material you can get significantly different sounds just by adjusting the gages.

I will say that I think there is a lot less variation across brands of fluorocarbon strings than there seems to be across nylon strings, but that simply makes sense because the material is so dense and stable.

As for colored fluorocarbon I have only tried Fremont blacks and I wasn't real impressed with them - but that could just have been that they were a bad match for the uke they were on. I did try an experiment where I dyed some Seaguar leaders using RIT dye as I wanted to see if I could quantify what changes absorbing dye might make. It was not an unqualified success. :) Using black dye and boiling the strings I was only able to get them to take on enough dye to be slightly gray. It definitely changed the tone...and not for the better...but I chalk that up more to the boiling than anything the dye did.

John

bborzell
12-12-2013, 04:35 AM
Boiled snake oil (couldn't resist).

haole
12-12-2013, 06:12 AM
They're all virtually the same except for small variations in gauge and tension. The differences aren't significant enough for me to notice or care, so I get whatever fluoros are cheapest.

strumsilly
12-12-2013, 06:40 AM
They're all virtually the same except for small variations in gauge and tension. The differences aren't significant enough for me to notice or care, so I get whatever fluoros are cheapest.

I agree.
and on some ukes, I like nylon better, on some wound basses, it seems to me really a matter of what sound you want with which uke. One guy in a music store swore by gut on his vintage martin. I really like Aquila reentrant on my Martin bari, to each his own. It's great we have so many choices.

wickedwahine11
12-12-2013, 06:42 AM
For me, there is a difference. Maybe it is all in my head, but I like the Living Waters on my Kanilea and the PhD on my KoAloha. I tried swapping them and nope, I didn't like the Living Waters as much on the KoAloha or the PhD on the Kanilea. Can I quantify why scientifically? No. But they definitely sounded different to me. And they certainly feel different on my fingers as well.

I can't say for certain it is not snake oil, and I guess if it is, I'm a KoolAid drinker -- but I stock each set for each uke specifically.

hammer40
12-12-2013, 09:32 AM
To the op's question, I don't think it's snake oil. Of the strings I have tried so far, I have been able to hear a difference between them. Sometimes it's subtle and sometimes very noticeable. What contributes to the difference I hear I can't say but it's there.

Kayak Jim
12-12-2013, 10:31 AM
I don't have a lot of experience but I can definitely hear a difference when I swap strings. Whether that would be true once the new strings settle in is another matter.

Newportlocal
12-12-2013, 11:02 AM
I have used a lot of fluorocarbon leaders for fishing they aren't all the same. May be similar, but there is some variance with resins and extrusion. Here is a quote from Seaguar's website.
Just one example.

"Double Structure is the combining of two distinct 100% fluorocarbon resins into one solid piece. The exterior resin is soft and contributes to higher knot strength, while the interior resin is hard and contributes to higher tensile strength. A Seaguar Exclusive."

As previously mentioned there is the gauge variance as well.

I have certainly had different tonal and tactile experiences with PhDs,living water,and oasis strings.

I really like PhDs for low G unwound, living water strings were easy on my fingers and had a nice tone. Oasis had a nice "bell like" tone.

Gadzukes!
12-12-2013, 02:05 PM
All of this "I can tell a difference" is interesting, but ultimately pointless. Way too many tests have been done to show that people can perceive differences in things that are identical only because they expect there to be a difference. I'm not saying there isn't a difference—just that without something being measurable, you can't conclusively prove it.

Here's what I've sometimes fantasized about: Build a rectangular box with a sound port in it that is wide enough to allow you to string up a number of different strings all to the same tuning. Take a few different strings, tune them up, let them settle, and then a week later do a recording and see if you can tell which string is being strung. Here's a quick mockup of what I mean:

61870

You could even use an oscilloscope or something to really measure the sound, although trying to pluck them with the same velocity is going to be tough. Either way, I wish music stores had something like this to demonstrate strings on. Anyone want to go into business? :)

blue_knight_usa
12-12-2013, 03:14 PM
I went through a pound of strings before settling on Living Waters for both of my tenors. Along the way, I found some strings that felt slightly abrasive, others that were mismatched for volume, still others that sounded quiet or dull. I settled for that which I could not consistently find with any of the contenders. Smooth feel, good volume, balance across strings, short tuning adjustment, spot on tuning once set in, and making both ukes come alive with resonance.

I do believe that there are many more similarities than differences among most of the FC string makers. But, LW does something different. Maybe they are flash frozen and pre stretched by ice fishermen in Minnesota before being cut to size and sent to Britain. Whatever it is, it works for my Ukes.

Well like the package says they are from "Heaven" so that's pretty special strings ;-)

blue_knight_usa
12-12-2013, 03:22 PM
I have used a lot of fluorocarbon leaders for fishing they aren't all the same. May be similar, but there is some variance with resins and extrusion. Here is a quote from Seaguar's website.
Just one example.

"Double Structure is the combining of two distinct 100% fluorocarbon resins into one solid piece. The exterior resin is soft and contributes to higher knot strength, while the interior resin is hard and contributes to higher tensile strength. A Seaguar Exclusive."

As previously mentioned there is the gauge variance as well.

I have certainly had different tonal and tactile experiences with PhDs,living water,and oasis strings.

I really like PhDs for low G unwound, living water strings were easy on my fingers and had a nice tone. Oasis had a nice "bell like" tone.

Agree on the Oasis, 100% on the description of the type of sound. I just put a new set on my tenor last night with their "Bright" low G and the bell like tone is unmistakeable. Almost sounds as if there is now vibrato which to me sounds great.

wickedwahine11
12-12-2013, 04:09 PM
Agree on the Oasis, 100% on the description of the type of sound. I just put a new set on my tenor last night with their "Bright" low G and the bell like tone is unmistakeable. Almost sounds as if there is now vibrato which to me sounds great.

Hmm, I might need to try those.

OldePhart
12-12-2013, 04:11 PM
I'm a big fan of double blind tests, myself. However, the mockup you show wouldn't work (or would be inconclusive without running a lot of tests moving the strings around to different positions for the tests). Otherwise, the test doesn't eliminate the variation in the physics of where the string is in relation to the soundhole and the rest of the structure of the device. :)

John


All of this "I can tell a difference" is interesting, but ultimately pointless. Way too many tests have been done to show that people can perceive differences in things that are identical only because they expect there to be a difference. I'm not saying there isn't a difference—just that without something being measurable, you can't conclusively prove it.

Here's what I've sometimes fantasized about: Build a rectangular box with a sound port in it that is wide enough to allow you to string up a number of different strings all to the same tuning. Take a few different strings, tune them up, let them settle, and then a week later do a recording and see if you can tell which string is being strung. Here's a quick mockup of what I mean:

61870

You could even use an oscilloscope or something to really measure the sound, although trying to pluck them with the same velocity is going to be tough. Either way, I wish music stores had something like this to demonstrate strings on. Anyone want to go into business? :)

Jon Moody
12-13-2013, 02:45 AM
All of this "I can tell a difference" is interesting, but ultimately pointless. Way too many tests have been done to show that people can perceive differences in things that are identical only because they expect there to be a difference. I'm not saying there isn't a difference—just that without something being measurable, you can't conclusively prove it.

Here's what I've sometimes fantasized about: Build a rectangular box with a sound port in it that is wide enough to allow you to string up a number of different strings all to the same tuning. Take a few different strings, tune them up, let them settle, and then a week later do a recording and see if you can tell which string is being strung. Here's a quick mockup of what I mean:

61870

You could even use an oscilloscope or something to really measure the sound, although trying to pluck them with the same velocity is going to be tough. Either way, I wish music stores had something like this to demonstrate strings on. Anyone want to go into business? :)

I wish it was that simple. We had talked about buying a number of instruments of the exact same make and model to attempt to do an apples/apples comparison when we were prototyping our strings (and then also have one strung up with a competitor's as well). Even with mass produced instruments, there will be enough variation that it's not a true comparison. Even if you put four of the same string (say, a high G) on the same ukulele, the tension difference between all four strings is going to affect the tone and playability.

And honestly, all instruments WILL REACT DIFFERENTLY with different strings, and that's part of what you hear with variation.

cdkrugjr
12-13-2013, 03:57 AM
Now let's not blanket all snake-oil salesmen with the same broad brush.

First, there are the guys who just take ANY oil and slap the name "Snake Oil" on it. It's those guys who are giving the rest of us a bad name.

Second, there are thousands of species of snakes. Old hands at the snake oil business will tell you that each species has its unique oil profile. While some boutique strings are made of single species lots, most makers use a proprietary blend of snakes. The precise blend of species will vary too, as the specific blends.

Now some players swear by small batch, single species snake oil strings, but others swear At them for being much too expensive, as well as wildly inconsistent. High-end small batch producers work VERY hard for consistency, similar to single-malt scotch distillers, but in the end snakes are a natural product with natural variations. We want to provide our customers with a consistent, high-performance snake oil string, so we, like most other makers, use a blend of high-quality snake oils.

So while there are a few bad apples out there, understand that most of we snake oil salesman are doing our best to provide you with the best possible product squeezed lovingly from only the highest quality snakes. Naturally the price will reflects the care that goes into producing top-quality snake oil ukulele strings.

I think once you try my or my competitors snake oils, you won't fall for the empty promises of our cheap imitators.

katysax
12-13-2013, 04:52 AM
Even though I am strongly inclined to think that the difference between strings is in my mind, I am probably as extreme as anyone in my string changing. I have a drawer full of various ukulele strings, including just about every string mentioned in this thread. I alternate between thinking that a certain string (and it varies depending upon my thinking of the moment) is the best or the best for certain ukes and then thinking that the difference between strings is minimal and just use the cheapest. (Well the cheapest fluorocarbon strings)

I do think there is a marked difference between fluorocarbon and nylon. And I think that string tension does make a difference. Sometimes I think the Martin strings are great, other times I think they are too thin. I do rather like both the PhD strings and Living Water. I don't know that they are that different from the similar Martins (but I don't know how choosing the Martins because they are cheaper does me any good when I change all the time just because I think something else might be better).

RichM
12-13-2013, 07:04 AM
All of this "I can tell a difference" is interesting, but ultimately pointless. Way too many tests have been done to show that people can perceive differences in things that are identical only because they expect there to be a difference. I'm not saying there isn't a difference—just that without something being measurable, you can't conclusively prove it.

Here's what I've sometimes fantasized about: Build a rectangular box with a sound port in it that is wide enough to allow you to string up a number of different strings all to the same tuning. Take a few different strings, tune them up, let them settle, and then a week later do a recording and see if you can tell which string is being strung. Here's a quick mockup of what I mean:

61870

You could even use an oscilloscope or something to really measure the sound, although trying to pluck them with the same velocity is going to be tough. Either way, I wish music stores had something like this to demonstrate strings on. Anyone want to go into business? :)

Good gosh, does nobody here play music anymore? Here's a thought: find some strings that sound good to you, put them on your uke, and play a little tune.

Gadzukes!
12-13-2013, 07:28 AM
Good gosh, does nobody here play music anymore? Here's a thought: find some strings that sound good to you, put them on your uke, and play a little tune.

Yes, of course. But some of us also like to measure things. I think it's the nerd in me coming out. Actually, I probably inherited it from my dad (along with this):

61895

bborzell
12-13-2013, 03:31 PM
I guess it's quite possible that folks who don't hear a difference between different FC strings simply are not hearing a difference. Not necessarily the same as saying that there is not a difference; only that they can't hear it. Does not make all manufacturer's claims of superiority snake oil offerings, but my experience leads me to believe that most FC strings sound pretty much the same. Main departures from sameness have been Living Waters and Martin 600s.

I'm thinking that LW and Martins probably never took the Ukulele left turn off the fishing line production run. Then again, some of the FC strings I have burned through did smell a bit fishy; so maybe we have the oil all wrong.

Jon Moody
12-16-2013, 02:50 AM
I think a lot of it is assuming that strings are made specifically for one particular instrument, and that's it. Or, that the materials used in creating strings is proprietary to the string industry and that anything other than that is somehow wrong and/or inferior.

Neither is the case.

Fluorocarbon ukulele strings are made in the same factories as fluorocarbon fishing line. I would wager that fluorocarbon line is also used for a lot of other things that we generally don't think about. There are a small amount of companies that are making fluorocarbon, each company changing their formulation enough to allow them to patent it and market it as something completely different from the competitors. The fact that there is a boom in using fluorocarbon line for ukuleles is nothing more than an opportunity for these companies to increase their sales. It's the same thing, and if it sounds good on a uke, does it really matter if it's coiled in an envelope or pulled off a reel?

And here's another example. I work at GHS strings, and one of our main materials we use is called "Alloy 52," which is a nickel-iron alloy. This is a magnetically-active wire that is the exact same wire as what is used in your car to bring power to your headlights. Same material, same spool, same company that makes it. Only difference is one spool comes to us and one spool goes to the auto manufacturer.

katysax
12-16-2013, 04:55 AM
Here's the reason I care. Martin strings are cheap - $5.00 a pack - available at any Guitar Center or most music stores - and are functional. Some of the other strings go up in price, and up and up. They are hard to get. The biggest negative for me with Martin strings is that they are very thin and for some of my ukes the gauge just isn't right. Gauge matters. But other than that I don't know if the extra money and effort I spend to get Living Water, or PhD, or Orca, or Southcoast, or . . . is worth it. I don't know if I'm buying something that's "better" or just marketed differently.

Some of us also find it fun to mess with the technical aspects of our instruments, and some of us find it fun to converse about things like strings. I know I'll never have an answer.

wickedwahine11
12-16-2013, 04:56 AM
As a side note, I always keep the PhD strings on my KoAloha. I noticed I was trying to play a semi bar (A, E and C strings on the 10th fret) on that uke and it was not resonating as clearly as it was on my Kanilea (which had Living Water strings). So I thought that was odd since the action is lower and easier to play on the KoAloha and it is a brighter, less mellow sounding uke in general. I put on the Living Water strings onto the KoAloha and it now rings clear, sweet and bright at that same semi-bar.

I already ordered a set of Oasis to pair with a Fremont smooth low g to try on that uke, but for now the Living Waters are staying on it until those arrive later this week.

None of this proves any difference in the strings per se, but they definitely feel different, and at least for the moment seem to play differently on that particular uke.

It still could be snake oil, but I'm still in the believer camp.

Steveperrywriter
12-16-2013, 01:20 PM
Some years ago, my memory still serving, there was a luthier (Alan Carruth) who wanted to see how things would go if he built two identical guitars. So he did -- same kind of wood, same strings, same glue. Made them both at the same time, as I recall. Once they were strung up, they didn't sound the same. Very similar, he said, but "the same" is a high bar.

General things don't always translate to specifics.

Alan also tested out the sound port notion by building a guitar with a whole bunch of ports in the sides that he fitted with big corks, unstopping one here or there. He wrote a paper on it which, I confess, I read and mostly didn't understand, save that a sound port does make a difference. Read it here: http://www.alcarruthluthier.com/Downloads/sidePorts.pdf

He was asked to speak to the cedar versus spruce debate, and basically said people will hear what they want to hear.

I've tried different kinds of strings on my ukes, and I notice a difference. Some I like better than others, so those are the ones I use. Past that? Somebody else's mileage may vary, and no problem by me.

Steve

Dearman
12-16-2013, 04:58 PM
All of this "I can tell a difference" is interesting, but ultimately pointless. Way too many tests have been done to show that people can perceive differences in things that are identical only because they expect there to be a difference. I'm not saying there isn't a difference—just that without something being measurable, you can't conclusively prove it.

Here's what I've sometimes fantasized about: Build a rectangular box with a sound port in it that is wide enough to allow you to string up a number of different strings all to the same tuning. Take a few different strings, tune them up, let them settle, and then a week later do a recording and see if you can tell which string is being strung. Here's a quick mockup of what I mean:

61870

You could even use an oscilloscope or something to really measure the sound, although trying to pluck them with the same velocity is going to be tough. Either way, I wish music stores had something like this to demonstrate strings on. Anyone want to go into business? :)

Find a university that does Raman spectroscopy, find a grad student to write a paper, run a series of blind "sound" tests with the human ear and compare it to the fingerprint from the spectrometer. I bet the human tests can't reliably identify all the brands and the ones they do are not chemically similar. You can have the grad student weigh them as well to account for any flaws or moisture absorption.

Mattyukaholic
12-16-2013, 09:18 PM
The difference between some fluorocarbon strings is night and day for me. I've been close to selling ukes before because I didn't love the sound until I found the right strings.

drbekken
12-17-2013, 01:06 AM
In the town where I live, the ukulele strings easiest to get are GHS nylon strings...over the counter, at least. All other brands must be ordered from somewhere. I like the Southcoast strings, but I have come to the conclusion that i don't have time to order from overseas all the time, so I buy the GHS, for my sopranos and my baritones. They sound ok.
Now comes the stupid question: What is the difference between regular nylon strings - black or clear - and fluorocarbons? I really don't know, since I'm not sure I have played the latter.

Jon Moody
12-17-2013, 02:26 AM
Goodness, so now we have electrical cable strings as well as fishing line strings, what is the world coming to?

That was just one example; there are a number of others. I'm sure many people on this forum would be surprised to know that the same steel string goes on a guitar, banjo, mandolin, dulcimer, or anything else that has the ability to have a ball end string. It's not nearly as specific as people think.

OldePhart
12-17-2013, 04:05 AM
Now comes the stupid question: What is the difference between regular nylon strings - black or clear - and fluorocarbons? I really don't know, since I'm not sure I have played the latter.

No, the only stupid questions are when someone asks a question they already know the answer to. :)

To answer your question - fluorocarbon is much more dense (and stronger) than nylon and much more stable. Therefore fluorocarbon strings for a given application and tension tend to be thinner than their nylon counterparts. Some people don't like them for that reason - they "feel" like the tension is higher because the thin strings "hurt more."

The stability of fluorocarbon is pretty amazing. I use a number of different strings on various ukes, having experimented to find what I like best on each one. My fluorocarbon strings last about ten times as long as any of the nylon strings I use.

It seems to me that fluorocarbon strings seem to stretch in and stabilize much faster than nylon strings, but then I've heard other people say just the opposite...so it may just be a matter of perception.

John

ScooterD35
12-17-2013, 04:34 AM
All of this "I can tell a difference" is interesting, but ultimately pointless. Way too many tests have been done to show that people can perceive differences in things that are identical only because they expect there to be a difference. I'm not saying there isn't a difference—just that without something being measurable, you can't conclusively prove it.


Very interesting. I would love to see the data on these tests and learn the parameters of the process. Do you have any links to any of the studies?

For years now I have offered to host a blind listening test at The Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum's annual gathering in Nazareth. There are many people on that forum that claim to be able to hear the difference between dovetail and mortise & tenon neck joints and I would love to see it tested. So far, no takers for the challenge.


Scooter

RichM
12-17-2013, 05:24 AM
I like Aquila Nylguts, and use them primarily. I have tried several brands of floroucarbons, and while the sounds is okay, I find the tone lacking in character and the very narrow nature of the strings doesn't give me as much meat as I'd like for fingerpicking. I laugh hysterically at those who insist Aquila's "only sound good on cheap ukes" or "mask the character of a high-end uke." I have had great success with them, and they suit my playing style and the tone I'm going for. Run all the tests you like, I'm still going to like them.

If it feels good and sounds good, it *is* good. Run all the double-blind tests you like. The rest of us will be playing strings we like on instruments we like.

ScooterD35
12-17-2013, 08:40 AM
I like Aquila Nylguts, and use them primarily. I have tried several brands of floroucarbons, and while the sounds is okay, I find the tone lacking in character and the very narrow nature of the strings doesn't give me as much meat as I'd like for fingerpicking. I laugh hysterically at those who insist Aquila's "only sound good on cheap ukes" or "mask the character of a high-end uke." I have had great success with them, and they suit my playing style and the tone I'm going for. Run all the tests you like, I'm still going to like them.

If it feels good and sounds good, it *is* good. Run all the double-blind tests you like. The rest of us will be playing strings we like on instruments we like.



These are my sentiments exactly! Although, I recently switched to D'Addario Nyltech strings. They are made in America by D'Addario, but the material they are made from is Aquila's proprietary formula. I assume there is a licensing agreement of some sort.

They sound and feel more like the original Aquila Nylguts (as opposed to the "new" Nylguts), they're easy to find, very inexpensive and very consistent. It's worth noting that The Magic Fluke Co. now uses the D'Addarios on all new instruments as well.


Scooter

RichM
12-17-2013, 08:58 AM
These are my sentiments exactly! Although, I recently switched to D'Addario Nyltech strings. They are made in America by D'Addario, but the material they are made from is Aquila's proprietary formula. I assume there is a licensing agreement of some sort.

They sound and feel more like the original Aquila Nylguts (as opposed to the "new" Nylguts), they're easy to find, very inexpensive and very consistent. It's worth noting that The Magic Fluke Co. now uses the D'Addarios on all new instruments as well.


Scooter

I was unaware of the D'Addarios, I'll have to give them a try. Thanks for the tip!

drbekken
12-17-2013, 11:28 AM
No, the only stupid questions are when someone asks a question they already know the answer to. :)

To answer your question - fluorocarbon is much more dense (and stronger) than nylon and much more stable. Therefore fluorocarbon strings for a given application and tension tend to be thinner than their nylon counterparts. Some people don't like them for that reason - they "feel" like the tension is higher because the thin strings "hurt more."

The stability of fluorocarbon is pretty amazing. I use a number of different strings on various ukes, having experimented to find what I like best on each one. My fluorocarbon strings last about ten times as long as any of the nylon strings I use.

It seems to me that fluorocarbon strings seem to stretch in and stabilize much faster than nylon strings, but then I've heard other people say just the opposite...so it may just be a matter of perception.

John

Thanks, John!

jackwhale
12-18-2013, 12:34 PM
In my experience there is a difference in how the strings feel when played. I'm not certain I can reliably tell the difference in sound between most strings. I had settled on Worth browns for my tenors. When I ordered the Living Water clears, I immediately noticed the difference. At first I thought they were brighter and louder but after several 'semi-blind' tests, I realized that the feel is what differentiates Worth, Living Waters and other fluorocarbons. I definitely don't like the feel or the sound of Aquilas, Hilos or the strings that came on my Pono.

Having said this, I don't think the question will ever be settled. There are too many variables between different players' style of playing, different ears, different ukuleles, and string sound often seems to change from one day to the next.

blue_knight_usa
12-18-2013, 05:55 PM
in my experience there is a difference in how the strings feel when played. I'm not certain i can reliably tell the difference in sound between most strings. I had settled on worth browns for my tenors. When i ordered the living water clears, i immediately noticed the difference. At first i thought they were brighter and louder but after several 'semi-blind' tests, i realized that the feel is what differentiates worth, living waters and other fluorocarbons. I definitely don't like the feel or the sound of aquilas, hilos or the strings that came on my pono.

Having said this, i don't think the question will ever be settled. There are too many variables between different players' style of playing, different ears, different ukuleles, and string sound often seems to change from one day to the next.

amen brother!

jackwhale
12-19-2013, 06:48 AM
Hah! I'll definitely accept an 'amen' from you Jay.

bazmaz
12-19-2013, 08:17 AM
I can tell a difference and that is good enough for me.

Whilst all flouros may come from fishing line, of different brands (and certainly different gauges) - those things will indeed create differences. Why would they not.

I hunted high and low for a string set that would ease off the woody tone of my Kanile'a Tenor, and found that when I put Living Waters on. Don't know why they made a difference, but they did. In fact, I was away and forced to change them to Worths again a while ago and I immediately noticed the difference in tone.

blue_knight_usa
12-21-2013, 10:48 PM
No, the only stupid questions are when someone asks a question they already know the answer to. :)

....... My fluorocarbon strings last about ten times as long as any of the nylon strings I use.

It seems to me that fluorocarbon strings seem to stretch in and stabilize much faster than nylon strings, but then I've heard other people say just the opposite...so it may just be a matter of perception.

John

I find the same experience of all the strings I have tried and play on, the flurocarbon strings last longer than the nylon. I stretch my strings when I put them on so within 30 minutes, my strings are very stable regardless of the material. Extreme cold/warming in the house will require me to adjust slightly on my tuner but otherwise they stay pretty much dead on for many days.

I just want to know how you get snake oil out of a snake? I hate snakes. Maybe cook it like those strings you did? ;-)

Cheers,

OldePhart
12-22-2013, 03:22 AM
@blue_knight_usa - you have to milk the snake. Seriously, google "snake milking" :)

BTW, I'm sure the origin of the term probably comes from the fact that several primitive cultures use the venom of particular snakes as medicine. One of the fairly common medicines (for pain or arthritis, I think, don't recall for sure as it has been several years since I read the article) was actually developed by studying a snake venom used by tribes in South America and then synthesizing whatever it was that provided the beneficial properties.

So...I guess "snake oil" would actually be a good thing, right? LOL

John

UkeKiddinMe
12-22-2013, 03:56 AM
I don't think it is snake oil at all.

If you do some research, you'll find there are indeed different variants of *fluorocarbon* yielding different characteristics.

blue_knight_usa
12-22-2013, 04:00 AM
@blue_knight_usa - you have to milk the snake. Seriously, google "snake milking" :)

BTW, I'm sure the origin of the term probably comes from the fact that several primitive cultures use the venom of particular snakes as medicine. One of the fairly common medicines (for pain or arthritis, I think, don't recall for sure as it has been several years since I read the article) was actually developed by studying a snake venom used by tribes in South America and then synthesizing whatever it was that provided the beneficial properties.

So...I guess "snake oil" would actually be a good thing, right? LOL

John

Certainly better than when I heard someone they tell me they put nut sauce on their nuts... and then I got the Google link http://www.bigbends.com/ and said "Whew...I thought it was ...." ROFLMAO!

I digress...sorry

So how about them fishing lines to get back on track ! LOL

Ramart
01-02-2014, 11:15 AM
[from the OP:] "I asked the guy at Anacapa ukulele if the PhD strings were really any different than the Martins and he said that the PhD strings are monofilament and the Martins are braided, but I don't believe that."

I've seen no further comment/confirmation here on the "monofilament" versus "braided" issue, but I tend to think that might be true because of a reply I received on a separate thread I started about fluorocarbon A strings that fray (i.e., fine "hairs" beginning to unravel and stick out from the main body of the string, but only between the nut and the fourth fret, and only on the outer/top surface of the A string, not the surface that contacts the fingerboard and frets). One commenter said his Martin FC A string also was fraying in the same area as my Worth clear FC A strings, which I use on two tenors. The E string has also just begun to fray a tiny bit on one uke. Aquila Nylgut string never frayed on me. BTW, tuning/tone/intonation seem unaffected by the fraying, even though I've pulled some of the longer detaching filament hairs completely off the A string.

If some kind of braiding process is involved in making Martin and Worth fluorocarbon strings, that might explain why they'd fray over time. Perhaps PhD strings (purportedly monofilament FC) would not fray like Martins and Worths.

Has anyone who's experienced fraying A strings from Martin and/or Worth also used PhD strings and found that they don't fray? And does anyone know for sure whether the guy at Anacapa was correct that some fluorocarbon string is monofilament and some is braided?

cdkrugjr
01-02-2014, 11:20 AM
Some years ago, my memory still serving, there was a luthier (Alan Carruth) who wanted to see how things would go if he built two identical guitars. So he did -- same kind of wood, same strings, same glue. Made them both at the same time, as I recall. Once they were strung up, they didn't sound the same. Very similar, he said, but "the same" is a high bar.
Steve

Yul Brenner once recounted a conversation he had with Itzak Pearlman:

Yul: "Play a note"

Itzak plays a note

Yul: "Now play the same note."

Itzak fusses a bit with his bow, trying to recreate the same note, then glares at Yul
Itzak "Damn you!"

pabrizzer
01-02-2014, 11:52 AM
Now let's not blanket all snake-oil salesmen with the same broad brush.

First, there are the guys who just take ANY oil and slap the name "Snake Oil" on it. It's those guys who are giving the rest of us a bad name.

Second, there are thousands of species of snakes. Old hands at the snake oil business will tell you that each species has its unique oil profile. While some boutique strings are made of single species lots, most makers use a proprietary blend of snakes. The precise blend of species will vary too, as the specific blends.

Now some players swear by small batch, single species snake oil strings, but others swear At them for being much too expensive, as well as wildly inconsistent. High-end small batch producers work VERY hard for consistency, similar to single-malt scotch distillers, but in the end snakes are a natural product with natural variations. We want to provide our customers with a consistent, high-performance snake oil string, so we, like most other makers, use a blend of high-quality snake oils.

So while there are a few bad apples out there, understand that most of we snake oil salesman are doing our best to provide you with the best possible product squeezed lovingly from only the highest quality snakes. Naturally the price will reflects the care that goes into producing top-quality snake oil ukulele strings.

I think once you try my or my competitors snake oils, you won't fall for the empty promises of our cheap imitators.

I like how you're thinking. I was working my way through the tread before posting this.

But wait, there's snake oil and there's snake oil.

ukemunga
01-02-2014, 12:48 PM
7 months on 1 set of strings? Must not play much. But maybe I'm just impatient.

OldePhart
01-02-2014, 04:37 PM
I use a lot of Seaguar fluorocarbon leaders and I've never had an issue with them fraying - if anything, they seem to last forever. In fact, the only strings I've had issues with fraying were NylGuts - and that wasn't so much fraying of the string itself as the coating wearing and flaking off.

I've had some nylon strings look a little gnarly but by then the intonation has usually gone south and it is long past time to replace them anyway.

John

Harold O.
01-02-2014, 08:01 PM
I made a batch of ten tenors earlier this year as an exercise to practice building ukuleles. I made a point of using wood from the same boards, etc in an effort to get six of ten sounding similar. That way, I reasoned, my jigs, process, and technique could be deemed good enough to launch a more serious effort at building/selling ukuleles. I used Seaguar line according to OldePhart's posts as one more way to ensure consistent parts.

On my purchased ukuleles, I've always preferred the feel and sound of Aquila strings. Except on my Koaloha concert, which has Worth.

My tenors (walnut body and sides, spruce top, mahogany neck) strung with the Seaguar line all sounded very similar to one another. I then experimented with a set or two of Aquila strings for comparison and found the sound to be a bit louder with the Aquila strings. Not necessarily better, just different. I got tinnitus so bad, it's a wonder I play at all. The wood shop got busy with other work and I've not been able to make more ukes yet, but I will continue to use the fluorocarbon line with them. By the way, four rolls of line set me back some $$, but not nearly so much as I won't recoup after stringing up another dozen tenors.

When I pick up one of my ukes to play, I expect it be a certain way. Each has a look, feel, sound. Some songs sound better played on a different instrument, be it size (soprano, concert, tenor), string type, or materials (solid vs laminate, etc) making the difference.

As to snake oil, jeez, some guys are way too serious about this stuff. There is no single correct answer. The ukulele has limited musical range to begin with. Pick one that suits you and enjoy yourself. As they say, "Sooner or later you gotta shoot the engineer and just build the darn thing."