View Full Version : Low G/A Strings

Down Up Dick
07-07-2014, 05:02 AM
I have some questions about low G/A Strings for my Six String:

1. Can one use a low G string and tune it up to A successfully?
2. What are some alternatives to Wire Wound low G/As? I already know about the red ones that break like mine did.
3. Anyone know of a good way to lower the action at the nut without a nut file?

07-07-2014, 06:09 AM
Let me try to answer these (success not guaranteed):

1. Can one use a low G string and tune it up to A successfully? Depends on the tolerance of the string. Up-tuning will add additional tension, so the bridge has to be able to accommodate the additional strain. Personally, have not had a problem going up-one on one string only.

2. What are some alternatives to Wire Wound low G/As? I already know about the red ones that break like mine did.. Any unwound low-G will be of a much larger diameter and probably will not properly sit in the nut slot or fit cleanly into any bridge slot/hole. Re-channeling the nut larger would make future use of a high-G or wound-G awkward, probably resulting in buzzing and other related problems. The red one that broke may have been because of pinching/binding at the nut or bridge while tuning, rather than just increasing the tension a bit.

3. Anyone know of a good way to lower the action at the nut without a nut file? No.

Down Up Dick
07-26-2014, 08:25 PM
Well, I finally got a Red Aquila low A string for my Ohana 6 string and replaced the wire wound one. Voila! No more buzz! At least, so far, so good.

Now I'm worried about the red one breaking, and I'm still wondering about alternatives to wound (or red) low A or G strings. Anybody use anything else for the low strings?

07-27-2014, 03:10 AM
Strings don't just "break." It's because: 1) of over-tension beyond its tensile strength; 2) the string has been sliced/gouged and lost some strength at the cut/gouge point; or 3) the string has been wedged into the nut/saddle slot(s), causing 1) or 2).

A lot of folk swear that cutting nut/saddle slots to string diameters is bunk, but have never heard any luthier say that. There's good reasons why ukuleles, guitars, banjos and mandolins all come from their builders with nut/saddle/bridge slots sized to the strings the builder puts in the instrument, and why the decent shops which do set-ups include checking nut slots for proper diameter and depth.

Have put a low-G unwound Aquila Red on my Flea Soprano. It involved adjusting the nut and saddle slots to accommodate the wider unwound string (see photos). Everything is running fine and no breakage is anticipated. Ironically, Aquila is now including with its Reds a "Strings Breakage - Common Mistakes" flyer which addresses incorrect nut slot sizing as one of the problems.

69400 69401

Down Up Dick
07-27-2014, 05:19 AM
I see what you're saying, but, if it's correct, one would always have to use the same size/brand of strings with each Uke. I've had one wire wrapped low D snap while I was playing, and a red low G snap while I was reading a book. It seems to me that each type Uke requires a certain size strings, so, if one buys a package of strings for his type Uke, they should fit and not snap. I understand that, if one experiments with different size/type strings, the tight grooves might snap them, but I think that any package of strings sold for any type of Uke should work. If the fit must be that precise, we'd be better off taking our Ukes to a Luthier to have the strings changed. I really like the little nails used on the Boat Paddles. Someday (when I'm a much better player) I'm gonna have a Boat Paddle.

07-27-2014, 06:42 AM
Yep. The "size" factor is real. That being said, stringmakers are not fools, and they package their products to match what the "standard" nut slots are. As an example, all GCEA packages use strings within a very close diameter margin so that all G, C, E, and A strings are within a minute tolerance to other G, C, E and A strings. Also, the wound low-G is close to the same diameter of the unwound high-G, so the potential of a good fit. That way any "user" can swap strings as a "user" action.

Ukuleles are precision instruments, just like mandolins, violins and other stringed stuff. Sometimes, in my humble opinion, ukuleles especially are not often appreciated as the precision musical instruments they are, probably because they are such darned fun. I've been lucky in that I got some great experience mainly with maintaining mandolins on working on nuts, bridges, saddles, strings, tuners, etc. and that transcended to maintaining ukuleles.

I can understand the string just snapping while you were reading a book. If the the string got sliced/gouged by the sharp side of a too-tight nut, the string just gave out from the tension at the cut point.

07-27-2014, 06:43 AM
For what it's worth, after checking out that list of ukes you have, would like to know your opinion of the Lanikai banjoleke. Have only played one once at the local music store, but have no long-term experience/knowledge about that instrument.

Down Up Dick
07-27-2014, 09:51 AM
Well, if what you say about most packaged G,C,E,A strings fitting most G,C,E,A Ukes, then my question is moot. I'm happy with the way the red low A feels and sounds, and the buzz is gone. However, some of the people in the UU change their strings almost on a daily basis. I wonder if any of them are having string breakage problems. There are two threads on this forum about a lot of red string breakage. People are trying and trying for a certain tone or sound, but I probably don't hear well enough to be that picky, and I certainly don't play well enough to worry about it either.

And now to my Lanikai Banjolele. I really like it a lot. The wooden parts look just great, and the metal parts are good too. I think I would have preferred chrome but no biggy. It is very loud, so, if one is playing with others, he will be heard. It's very heavy, but I've got a guitar strap on it, so this old man can deal with it. I mostly sit and play anyway. I've been thinking of removing the resonator, but I'm worried about getting the Remo head back on correctly. I'm trying to learn Clawhammer, but my progress is a bit slow. Anyway, it looks good, and it plays good enough for me. The only possible negative is it's weight, but, if you play banjo, you probably already know about that

Thanks for your help; I feel better about my Low A problem now.

07-27-2014, 10:28 AM
I've got a Deering Goodtime 16-fret Tenor banjo with a Sosibee resonation. The darned thing weighs like an anvil. I may try trading it for a banjolele just for the size difference. I'm getting to the age where I need a strap, car jack even an overhead hoist. Have had it for a few months and only got it based on curiosity and some comments on a banjo forum and a mandolin forum. A lot of the mandolin guys joke a bit about banjos being the instrument of the devil, so had to get in on the fun.

Tried clawhammer style and my play sounded like I was using one. Went back to single picking so the dog wouldn't howl.

07-27-2014, 10:32 AM
For what it's worth, on the main mandolin boards (Mandolin Cafe and Mando hangout) one of the participants (robster) provides a free e-book on mandolin set-up and maintenance. Almost all if it is applicable to ukulele. It's an easy read and explains things better than I can. It helped me a lot and I've used it for setting up all my stringed stuff. Recommending it is easy.

07-27-2014, 12:33 PM
I did nothing but place candle wax into the nut slot to put on my lo G Aquila Red. And made sure that I never tune it above G. And I stretced it by hand before I mounted it. Never have had a problem with it yet, and it gets played almost every day.

What is a lo A string for?

Steve in Kent
07-27-2014, 09:40 PM
I have been using "Living Water" strings with a low G on my Tenor ukulele for a couple of months now, and so far I am really pleased with them.



Down Up Dick
07-28-2014, 04:47 AM
Gold Tone makes a very nice Tenor Banjolele without the big resonator, and one can get it in D,G,B,E. I've been giving it a good look.

Clawhammer's not so bad once one gets the "Bum-Ditty"; my problem is reading the darned tabs along with it. Reading tabs gives me the yips once I get going. I wish everyone would use "notes on the staff".