View Full Version : Effect of body heat on nylon strings

12-18-2013, 07:20 AM
I'm sure this is not an earth shattering discovery but just something I've noticed over the past few months. I would repeatedly:
1. Take uke(hf-1) out of case
2. Notice that the two inside strings are flat
3. Tune them up
4. Play for a while
5. Tune them back down because they went sharp

Then I wondered if it was being affected by holding it. So I recently tried taking the uke out of the case. It's sometimes a little cool from being on the floor. If any strings are flat I just hold the neck/fingerboard in my hands for a minute or so and the strings respond to the change in temperature and will be back pretty close to in tune.

I read on a classical guitar forum that this is the nature of nylon strings. I've never seen it discussed here and wondered if anyone has any similar experiences.

BTW, stock Kamaka strings.

12-19-2013, 10:00 AM
Nylon strings are sensitive to temperature changes. Right now I play my tenor with Ko'olau Golds and I have to warm them up one minute before I play. Doing this action I can play for a long time without retuning.

12-19-2013, 12:15 PM
Yep, I suppose technically all strings are temperature sensitive (almost all materials are, even the air through wind instruments, which is one reason you never see a professional floutist drinking an iced beverage during a rehearsal or performance, for example). But, nylon strings are more temperature sensitive than steel or fluorocarbon, by far, and different types of nylon differ quite a bit.

As tonet mentions, the Ko'Olau Gold are very temperature sensitive and this was purportedly the reason that Ko'Olau considered discontinuing the line a few years ago. I'm glad they didn't, because I was prepared to go on a hoarding binge; I've got a couple of ukes that the Ko'Olau Gold are just magical on. Alohi are far less temperature sensitive than the Gold strings, but they are a little sensitive.

At an open mic I'll warm up the strings, tune the uke, then run my hands quietly back and forth over the strings while I'm waiting my turn - especially if using the Ko'Olau Gold strings as on my mango tenor.

All of the fluorocarbon strings I use are so stable they don't change tuning noticeably with regular changes in temperature, though I've noticed them go very slightly sharp if I'm outside on a very cool evening.