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View Full Version : do string preferences change?



chuck in ny
08-03-2014, 01:27 PM
i have a pono concert that was a slow one to break in. it's opening up some now. if i had to take a guess it's partly stout construction and mostly using the wrong finish. i know the guys at the factory don't ask my opinion. i've been woodworking for over 4 decades and could tell by the feel of the finish and the smell that it was going to take a while to fully cure. they would be better served by changing finish or going to satin instead of wet look and again i understand my opinion was never asked for.
the instrument initially had a muted voice. i tried worth browns, too muted, worth clears did not have their usual ring, and finally put martin m600s on that were the only ones that spoke clearly. worth clear strings usually sound a bit better and i wonder that now that the uke is opening up that it might be now possible to put them on.
i could also try aquila reds and other choices. i wonder if a uke ever changes its string preference and whether the worth clears would now work, or whether that's a pipe dream.

Icelander53
08-03-2014, 04:27 PM
Interesting. My Pono is one of the loudest of my 8 ukes.

You'd think they wouldn't make such a basic mistake about a finish, I mean since they've been in the business a while. And I don't see why they wouldn't want your opinion. You are the customer and without you they don't make/sell ukuleles anymore. Plus you are telling us you have some expertise here. Have you contacted them about this issue to see what they have to say about it?

billten
08-03-2014, 05:02 PM
If the uke is a brand new solid wood model i have found that the strings i prefer tends to change as the uke opens up and changes in tone. Usually i start out with something a little more warm like a worth brown and come a bit brighter as the tone becomes richer and is able to handle a wider range. Of course YMMV

Pippin
08-03-2014, 08:35 PM
I prefer Martin Fluorocarbon strings on Ohana ukes, for example, when the Aquila strings sound too harsh to my ears. I prefer a little less volume and sweeter tone. Since string choice is highly subjective, I think that preferences do change quite often. There are other factors at play besides the uke "opening up" as well. Seasonal changes that may cause fluctuations in humidity make a uke sound better, or at the very least, louder at one time and more muted at another, can influence how your uke might sound. You might think it sounds better with difference strings in October than your choice of strings in April.

wayward
08-03-2014, 09:57 PM
Having just searched "opening up" on here I've found an old thread which might be of interest in this discussion, so I've brought it to the top. Lots of people in that thread comment on new ukes sounding different after a few months because it can take that long for the glue and finishes to properly dry out. Hope you find it useful.

tangimango
08-03-2014, 10:00 PM
Which worth clears were u using? Try the worth CL.

cdkrugjr
08-04-2014, 01:33 AM
i have a pono concert that was a slow one to break in. it's opening up some now. if i had to take a guess it's partly stout construction and mostly using the wrong finish. i know the guys at the factory don't ask my opinion. i've been woodworking for over 4 decades and could tell by the feel of the finish and the smell that it was going to take a while to fully cure. they would be better served by changing finish or going to satin instead of wet look and again i understand my opinion was never asked for.
the instrument initially had a muted voice. i tried worth browns, too muted, worth clears did not have their usual ring, and finally put martin m600s on that were the only ones that spoke clearly. worth clear strings usually sound a bit better and i wonder that now that the uke is opening up that it might be now possible to put them on.
i could also try aquila reds and other choices. i wonder if a uke ever changes its string preference and whether the worth clears would now work, or whether that's a pipe dream.

Short answer: Yes, for about a gazillion possible reasons. You might like one sound earlier, then change your mind later. It happens all the time. We obsess about our strings because it's how we physically connect to the instrument.

As to the finish, as you know there are many variables in how a finish cures. I'm inclined to suspect an unusual unanticipated environmental factor than error or incompetence. Did you ping Pono support and ask them about the finish issues?

I prefer a satin finish myself, but I guess I only ever buy old stock that's fully cured.

PhilUSAFRet
08-04-2014, 01:46 AM
Re: Finish. Pono is not making a mistake. It's not whether it's gloss or satin, but the thickness of the finish that's important. No problems with muted sound my Pono gloss finished concert. I have Ko'olau Alohi re-entrant strings on it and its bright, loud, etc. etc. Best sounding strings are "in the ear of the listener." I also think after playing and listening to others for a while, tastes change. As your ears open up to the many tonal possibilities available in other's ukes as well as your own, it's only normal to want to try different woods, uke sizes, strings, etc. Good luck in your search...enjoy the journey. Not sure a "perfect uke" exists, otherwise, there'd be no UAS.

chuck in ny
08-04-2014, 05:34 AM
Interesting. My Pono is one of the loudest of my 8 ukes.

You'd think they wouldn't make such a basic mistake about a finish, I mean since they've been in the business a while. And I don't see why they wouldn't want your opinion. You are the customer and without you they don't make/sell ukuleles anymore. Plus you are telling us you have some expertise here. Have you contacted them about this issue to see what they have to say about it?

i run a woodworking shop and deal with salesmen who deal with woodworking operations and so know more than necessary about selling products to woodworkers. finish is an interesting issue. shops commonly buy what is available in their area and it is costly to get pails and pails of product in to simply do test runs. my guess is that koolau goes first for ease of application and splendid appearance which they excel at. how much of an <actual> issue this is... the uke heavily smelled when i got it, you didn't have to be a genius to know it had not fully cured, and it is opening up nicely in direct proportion to the smell fading. duh. regardless of the factory claims i suspect the finish could be yet thinner, in the trade we call it over-milling, a mil being one thousandth of an inch.
back to woodworking shop owner behavior there are many horror scenarios, many dealing with wood moisture content, pono is all over that one, many with 'things that dry'. woodworkers are overly conservative with those things, glues and finishes, and can't afford the horror story, and thus gravitate to what's always worked rather than having an open mind to new products, and then again you have the material cost and labor cost of experimentation when the old way is perfectly acceptable. i am in my old age now, am a finish expert, have tried many products, and wouldn't claim to have found the optimum solution for a host of different reasons money at the top of the list. it's unfair to criticize pono for this as it's not a long term problem and the instrument does in fact cure in time and the buyer is not in any way damaged.
i am using the CM worths and will try them again in a couple months, thanks all for the feedback. the martins are great strings with the worths having just that tinge of treble sparkle more on other of my instruments. my string quest is just as lackadaisical as the quest for finish products in most factories, slowly improving at best. some human nature observation here we don't have to delve into.
thanks lads/lassies for the responses this have been informative along with exactly what i wanted to hear.

Icelander53
08-04-2014, 06:11 AM
That's interesting. I'd bet that Andrew would appreciate your feedback on this issue. It's obvious you do have some expertise in this area.

I didn't have that experience with my Pono. There has never been any detectable smell. And feedback doesn't need to be seen or given as criticism. They can use that kind of info to improve their products if they choose.

Dan Uke
08-04-2014, 06:23 AM
Do you know the build date of your Pono? Just like many companies, they are improving techniques.

chuck in ny
08-04-2014, 06:31 AM
nongdam

take a guess it has been built in the last half year. i don't think any of their techniques need improvement. if you want a lighter built instrument you won't be attracted to getting a pono so that's an affinity choice. if they did go to a very sparse finish it would impact the visual hit of the instrument. i went for the deluxe having heard and suspecting they would play a bit better, and naturally they would save the choicest wood for the better line. i got the gloss finish with the deal and would do it again simply to get their best wood. they don't have to alter the business model to accommodate the 1% of buyers who would wish the deluxe but in a satin finish. you don't ask for a different brand lacquer to be applied to your chevy, that sort of thing.

Icelander53
08-04-2014, 06:54 AM
I'll guess the wood is the same. If they are going to use their best wood on something it would be on the pro classics.

tbeltrans
08-04-2014, 07:00 AM
Some people experiment with strings, looking for "the one" that does it for their particular instrument, while others just stick with one that seems to work well and leave it at that. In between these two extremes are all manner of ways people approach string choice. I am happy with Aquila on my ukuleles, with one ukulele being low G and the other high G. I purchased lots of sets of strings (36 sets per) for each ukulele recently from Elderly when they had their 10% coupon and they discount these strings further when buying three sets at a time, bringing the cost per set well below $5. I stocked up because the sets for both ukuleles do not have any wound strings, so shelf life should not be an issue (i.e. no rust). I do that with my guitars, but since there are always wound strings involved, I get the D'Addario that are packaged as sealed against moisture. I go years between buying strings and save a lot of money, and really am not interested in frequently changing strings to try yet another brand. It seems all too easy to obsess about most anything regarding playing my instrument, from UAS to strings to books and DVDs, the latest strap design, etc. My solution is to quickly find what works for me, decide to settle in on that, and then put it behind me and play music from then on. It did take a few tries to resolve the strap issue, but that ended pretty quick too. Luckily, I was able to resolve the pickup/amplifier issue fairly quickly too. I am sure there is always a better ukulele, better strings for my current ukuleles, a wonderful new strap design, and a new book just around the corner. But I can break the bank and drive myself crazy trying to keep up with it all. Unfortunately, these choices are very individual, so my choices are certainly no silver bullet for anybody else. We each have to go through this in our own way.

Tony

Rllink
08-04-2014, 07:32 AM
Some people experiment with strings, looking for "the one" that does it for their particular instrument, while others just stick with one that seems to work well and leave it at that. In between these two extremes are all manner of ways people approach string choice. I am happy with Aquila on my ukuleles, with one ukulele being low G and the other high G. I purchased lots of sets of strings (36 sets per) for each ukulele recently from Elderly when they had their 10% coupon and they discount these strings further when buying three sets at a time, bringing the cost per set well below $5. I stocked up because the sets for both ukuleles do not have any wound strings, so shelf life should not be an issue (i.e. no rust). I do that with my guitars, but since there are always wound strings involved, I get the D'Addario that are packaged as sealed against moisture. I go years between buying strings and save a lot of money, and really am not interested in frequently changing strings to try yet another brand. It seems all too easy to obsess about most anything regarding playing my instrument, from UAS to strings to books and DVDs, the latest strap design, etc. My solution is to quickly find what works for me, decide to settle in on that, and then put it behind me and play music from then on. It did take a few tries to resolve the strap issue, but that ended pretty quick too. Luckily, I was able to resolve the pickup/amplifier issue fairly quickly too. I am sure there is always a better ukulele, better strings for my current ukuleles, a wonderful new strap design, and a new book just around the corner. But I can break the bank and drive myself crazy trying to keep up with it all. Unfortunately, these choices are very individual, so my choices are certainly no silver bullet for anybody else. We each have to go through this in our own way.

TonyI don't have a ton of experience, but I did change strings on my ukulele a month or so ago. I played the stock strings for quite a while, then one broke. Well, I almost think that I wished it to break, and it obliged me. But so many people were shouting the praises of Aquilas, so I wanted a set. I think that the Aquilas sound better than the stock strings, but they did not transform my uke. I don't know if there is a set of strings out there that will make me a better player, and I sure know that strings don't play themselves. I'm pretty confident at this point strings are not holding me back. I ended up buying two sets, just in case I broke one trying to put them on, which did not happen by the way. Actually it went very smoothly. But I have them on there now, and the spare set in the case, so I'll probably be playing Aquilas for a long long time. But when I do change them again, I'm going to get something else. Not because I don't like them, just because I'm interested to see what others sound like. I think that it is funny though, before I changed them every post that I read had something great to say about Aquilas. As soon as I put them on, people started talking about other strings being so great. I can't win. Right now though, the Aquilas are doing fine.

PhilUSAFRet
08-04-2014, 09:30 AM
A few incorrect assumptions being made about finishes. Satin finishes are not necessarily thinner than gloss. Gloss finishes are not necessarily thicker than necessary just to achieve a "glossy look." Companies like Ko'olau do not place cosmetics over sound. That's why they are Ko'olau. Pono's are not particularly "overbuilt" when compared to ukes that are, such as O.S., etc. Miscellaneous woodworking experience does not necessary translate to knowledge of instrument building and finishing except in some very general ways. Here's a previous thread on the subject of finish, of which there have been many here on UU. Compared to tone wood, construction, and strings, finish is waaaaaaay down the list for a quality instrument finished properly, regardless of whether it's satin, gloss, matte, etc. Just my take on the matter. Other's have their own views. :shaka:

http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?24238-Gloss-vs-Matte-vs-Satin

Icelander53
08-04-2014, 02:27 PM
Thanks for the info. I would have been very surprised if Ko'olau was not on top of their art.