Arthritis and Strings..

CountryMouse

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With all this talk of Tuning down it occurs to me that someone could buy sets intended for D Tuning and tune them to C instead. Now a little bit of caution here ‘cause some strings need a bit of tension to intonate well.

Anyway New Nylgut is popular and their 33U set is for Soprano D Tuning. https://aquilacorde.com/en/shop/modern-instrument-string-sets/ukulele-banjouke-en/new-nylgut-ukulele. If you have Nylgut strings already then check how far the gCEA strings can be detuned and what the diameters are, that’ll give you a feel for what the D set is likely to do when tuned to C.
Okay, although I am lost trying to figure out diameters!
 

Graham Greenbag

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Okay, although I am lost trying to figure out diameters!
If you know what strings are fitted then you can look at the manufacturers site and it will tell you the sizes of the strings. If you’re struggling with particular sets then say and someone will likely help you out.

You can find the Aquila sizes here: https://aquilacorde.com/en/shop/mod...-sets/ukulele-banjouke-en/new-nylgut-ukulele/

For the 4U set A,E,C,g are 23,31,37,26 thousandths of an inch.
For the 33U set B,F#,D,a are 21,26,31,23 thousandths of an inch.
4U and 33U are Soprano sets of New Nylgut.

See if the E string will tune down to C and intonate adequately along its length, and see whether the g string will tune down to E and intonate adequately along its length. If they will then then the 33U set might work in gCEA tuning for you as a low tension set.

My own test on some Super Nylguts (Soprano gCEA) wasn’t encouraging, I could drop a full tone on the strings but after that the intonation went to pot. It all starts to get messy and expensive but you might be able to pick up intermediate string sizes to try out at different tensions from the Concert and - perhaps more likely - the Tenor sets (26,32,38,28 and 26,33,39,29 respectively). On the 33U set the the 31 D string won’t tune down to C.

Edit. Minor clarification.
 
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CountryMouse

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If you know what strings are fitted then you can look at the manufacturers site and it will tell you the sizes of the strings. If you’re struggling with particular sets then say and someone will likely help you out.

You can find the Aquila sizes here: https://aquilacorde.com/en/shop/mod...-sets/ukulele-banjouke-en/new-nylgut-ukulele/

For the 4U set A,E,C,g are 23,31,37,26 thousandths of an inch.
For the 33U set B,F#,D,a are 21,26,31,23 thousandths of an inch.
4U and 33U are Soprano sets of New Nylgut.

See if the E string will tune down to C and intonate adequately along its length, and see whether the g string will tune down to E and intonate adequately along its length. If they will then then the 33U set might work in gCEA tuning for you as a low tension set. My own test on some Super Nylguts wasn’t encouraging, I could drop a full tone on the strings but after that the intonation went to pot. It all starts to get messy and expensive but you might be able to pick up intermediate string sizes to try out at different tensions from the Concert and - perhaps more likely - the Tenor sets (26,32,38,28 and 26,33,39,29 respectively).
Thank you for finding out that info for me! I think I'm going to try mostly nylon. I did a video a week ago, using one of my old ukuleles that has Hilo Black Nylon strings (I *think*). Comfortable, even in standard C tuning. I think I'm going to have to start changing a LOT of strings. But I'm scared to try. I have watched videos on restringing so many times and I'm still nervous! What if I mess up? I'd better use a uke I don't care about as much and strings that didn't cost too much. Oh guess what: my sister, who is more advanced on uke that I am, is starting to get finger pain. She is looking for softer tension strings and also knows she has to not use a "death grip" with her fretting hand!

CMouse
 

Graham Greenbag

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CM, you’re welcome to whatever help I can give you.

You might like to look through this recent thread, Nylon Fans Assemble: https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/index.php?threads/nylon-fans-assemble.146575/

I’m not sure but IIRC Hi-lo strings are no longer available. Though there’s some String sets I’d avoid (I won’t name them) I’m not knowledgeable enough to feel able to recommend a set to you; some research needed and beware of strings that are on the thin side because they’re really intended for D tuning. Look for something with a C string of 40 thousands of an inch, 34 is D tuning and 36 didn’t work properly for me. You might find that some of the nylon strings bind in some of your Uke Nuts: nylon strings are fatter than Nylguts and Fluorocarbon and so the nuts’ slots might not be quite wide enough for them.

IIRC you ordered some Living Waters strings. Waiting for and then trying them might be a good way forward for you: they’re lighter than some other common strings, will fit your Uke nuts without further adjustment and have a reputation for sounding good.

String changing. I work slowly and use a magnifying glass ... helps me. This isn’t a recommendation but I’d wondered about trying Ernie Ball clear nylons, SUS have a helpful video demonstration of the clears and the blacks ...

Edit.
SUS = Southern Ukulele Store (of Bournemouth, England).
gCEA clear nylon strings of gauge size 28, 40, 32, 28 are pretty standard.
 
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donboody

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Consider Uke Logic Supercarbon Soft Tensions. I like the Pink Sandia.
 

Bluesy

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I'm never too concerned about ruining a string, but I am fussy about protecting the ukulele's top.

The only precaution I take is to place a series of 3 inch square Post It notes below the bridge. Losing control over the string can happen. It can save your uke's top from a ding or scratch. Whether I actually need to do this or not doesn't really matter, but it does let me proceed without worry.

Good luck with those strings. Like many others, I'm a fan of Uke Logic's soft tension strings.

Bluesy.
 

Kenn2018

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Thank you for finding out that info for me! I think I'm going to try mostly nylon. I did a video a week ago, using one of my old ukuleles that has Hilo Black Nylon strings (I *think*). Comfortable, even in standard C tuning. I think I'm going to have to start changing a LOT of strings. But I'm scared to try. I have watched videos on restringing so many times and I'm still nervous! What if I mess up? I'd better use a uke I don't care about as much and strings that didn't cost too much. Oh guess what: my sister, who is more advanced on uke that I am, is starting to get finger pain. She is looking for softer tension strings and also knows she has to not use a "death grip" with her fretting hand!

CMouse
Changing strings is not a big deal. It's pretty hard to damage anything. If you really mess up, you're out a string or two. I've made about every mistake possible over the years. From over-tightening an A-string until it broke, to accidentally cutting through two A-strings on my 8-string tenor whilst trimming off the ends at the tuners. (TV distracted me while I was finishing the change.)

I like Living Waters strings a lot. The A & High-g strings are very fine. A little slippery sometimes too. I've had the knots unwind (put an extra wrap around when tying on a tie bar bridge), pull through the hole or slot no matter how big a knot I tied (use a tiny metal bead on the end). Even having too many windings of string on the tuner pegs (unwind and pull more string through the hole before tightening).

If you're afraid of scratching or marring the finish of your uke, use some low-tack tape or a cling plastic (not cling wrap) at the bottom of the bridge while you change the strings.

Practice on one of your less expensive ukes before you tackle your better uke(s). After you change them a couple of times, you'll wonder why you were ever so hesitant to do so.
 

CountryMouse

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CM, you’re welcome to whatever help I can give you.

You might like to look through this recent thread, Nylon Fans Assemble: https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/index.php?threads/nylon-fans-assemble.146575/

I’m not sure but IIRC Hi-lo strings are no longer available. Though there’s some String sets I’d avoid (I won’t name them) I’m not knowledgeable enough to feel able to recommend a set to you; some research needed and beware of strings that are on the thin side because they’re really intended for D tuning. Look for something with a C string of 40 thousands of an inch, 34 is D tuning and 36 didn’t work properly for me. You might find that some of the nylon strings bind in some of your Uke Nuts: nylon strings are fatter than Nylguts and Fluorocarbon and so the nuts’ slots might not be quite wide enough for them.

IIRC you ordered some Living Waters strings. Waiting for and then trying them might be a good way forward for you: they’re lighter than some other common strings, will fit your Uke nuts without further adjustment and have a reputation for sounding good.

String changing. I work slowly and use a magnifying glass ... helps me. This isn’t a recommendation but I’d wondered about trying Ernie Ball clear nylons, SUS have a helpful video demonstration of the clears and the blacks ...
Actually, I wish you *would* tell me what strings to avoid. You could DM me here. The more I hear about strings, the more difficult it all seems, finding the right size/diameter. All I know is that I don't like the fine/thin feel of fluorocarbons, and even my old Nylguts feel too tough on my fingertips now. I must've done some permanent damage to the nerve endings in my fingertips. :-/ What/who is SUS?

CMouse
 

CountryMouse

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Changing strings is not a big deal. It's pretty hard to damage anything. If you really mess up, you're out a string or two. I've made about every mistake possible over the years. From over-tightening an A-string until it broke, to accidentally cutting through two A-strings on my 8-string tenor whilst trimming off the ends at the tuners. (TV distracted me while I was finishing the change.)

I like Living Waters strings a lot. The A & High-g strings are very fine. A little slippery sometimes too. I've had the knots unwind (put an extra wrap around when tying on a tie bar bridge), pull through the hole or slot no matter how big a knot I tied (use a tiny metal bead on the end). Even having too many windings of string on the tuner pegs (unwind and pull more string through the hole before tightening).

If you're afraid of scratching or marring the finish of your uke, use some low-tack tape or a cling plastic (not cling wrap) at the bottom of the bridge while you change the strings.

Practice on one of your less expensive ukes before you tackle your better uke(s). After you change them a couple of times, you'll wonder why you were ever so hesitant to do so.
I did buy a set of Living Waters, but now I'm hesitant to use them. They are expensive. And I don't like thin/fine strings. I bought them because they are supposed to be "soft" and "bendy". But now I don't know if this was a mistake.

CMouse
 

donboody

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I bought some; but again, hesitant to make any string changes yet. :-/
Not that youve said this, but I was reluctant for a really long time to change my ukulele strings because the ties at the bridge just looked really intimidating to reproduce. I checked out a few youtube videos, and it turned out to be very easy. I couldnt believe it.
 

Kenn2018

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I did buy a set of Living Waters, but now I'm hesitant to use them. They are expensive. And I don't like thin/fine strings. I bought them because they are supposed to be "soft" and "bendy". But now I don't know if this was a mistake.

CMouse
Ah, Fluorocarbon strings are thinner than Nylons. But, they are stiffer as well.

Fremont Black Lines are slightly thicker, and are more bendy, but may still be too thin for you.

I know some people have done well with concert strings on their tenor. That they are lower tension. But I myself haven't tried doing that.

If you decide to not use your Living Waters, I'd be happy to buy them from you.

I'd be willing to swap a set of Fremont Black Lines for them, but I only have tenor strings.
 

CountryMouse

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Not that youve said this, but I was reluctant for a really long time to change my ukulele strings because the ties at the bridge just looked really intimidating to reproduce. I checked out a few youtube videos, and it turned out to be very easy. I couldnt believe it.
It *does* look intimidating! I've watched videos over and over. Just afraid to jump in!
 

CountryMouse

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Ah, Fluorocarbon strings are thinner than Nylons. But, they are stiffer as well.

Fremont Black Lines are slightly thicker, and are more bendy, but may still be too thin for you.

I know some people have done well with concert strings on their tenor. That they are lower tension. But I myself haven't tried doing that.

If you decide to not use your Living Waters, I'd be happy to buy them from you.

I'd be willing to swap a set of Fremont Black Lines for them, but I only have tenor strings.

I could sell the Living Waters to you, but they are for soprano (I have mostly soprano and some concerts). I could use the Fremont Black Lines for Cat'r's tenor when I get the courage to restring *his* ukulele. He's got a lot of trouble with arthritis, though, so I don't know if/when he'll even play again. :-( But if you want to do a swap, that would be fine. :)

Since we're talking about thickness and stiffness of strings, how do Aquila Nylgut (original, New Nylgut, Super Nylgut) strings fit in along that line? The Super Nylguts feel the worst of the Aquilas to me. Unless the Sugar strings are even stiffer. I haven't gone back to test those again. They came installed on one of the Flight Travel ukuleles. I bought some new (to me) strings from Mim: Martin polygut. I also have not tried these yet. I think Martin worked with Aquila to make these? Here is what Mim says on her site: "With great sustain and a clear balanced tone, these strings bring out the warm richness of your ukulele. They also have a soft, almost rubbery feel, so they are a great choice for those who have sensitive fingertips. They are also a good string to try if you have arthritis or joint issues."

When I was playing ukulele 2009-2013, I never had these issues with pain. But I never had fluorocarbon strings. And Aquila had not fooled around and made the Super Nylguts yet either. AND I was paying more attention to action. WhenDogsSing used to work on all my ukuleles, so my older ukes have very low action. But now that I've had the nerve-ending problems, just plain Aquilas on my old ukes seem to hurt after a short time. :-( I may have to restring a LOT of my ukuleles. And I'm thinking of using a capo at the first fret on my Enyas and Flight ukuleles. I have no one to do set-up now (WhenDogsSing lives in another town now), plus you can't really adjust the action on polycarbonate fretboards, I don't think.

Sorry to run on so! I'll get this all figured out eventually!

CMouse
 

Graham Greenbag

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I suspect that Polycarbonate / Plastic fretboards with zero nuts are part of your problem. In my very limited experience of them they have ‘zero frets’ that set the action slightly high and frets down the neck are slightly higher than on a wooden fretboard. However such an arrangement is ideal for trying nylon strings (because there’s no nut to adjust), I find nylon strings to be low tension and they can cost very little (so worth a try).

The Martin Polygut were developed by Aquila and IIRC effectively rebranded one of Aquila’s existing lines which is now exclusive to Martin.

If you include your general location in your signature then somebody might be able to suggest someone near to you to help with string fitting and nut adjustment - obviously remember that this is a public forum and be cautious. If you have a local Uke Club then it might also know of someone to help you, in the club I belong to a few of the old guys do such work for interest and a little bit of pocket money.
 
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CountryMouse

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I suspect that Polycarbonate / Plastic fretboards with zero nuts are part of your problem. In my very limited experience of them they have ‘zero frets’ that set the action slightly high and frets down the neck are slightly high. However such an arrangement is ideal for trying nylon strings (because there’s no nut to adjust).
I think you're right on that. I've been having trouble making a simple F chord (hurts my index finger, pushing down so hard). Nylon should be better than the stiff Super Nylguts that came on them. HOWEVER, I've never had trouble with my two Flukes and two Fleas, which also have polycarbonate fretboards and zero frets; but the neck/fretboard is wider on those, plus the frets are farther apart. And I guess the manufacturers/builders were more careful about the height of the nut and zero fret. Oh! Forgot: the frets on the Flights esp. seem to be low so the step-down from the nut/zero fret to the first fret is a lot.

I'm thinking of putting a capo at the first fret on the zero fret Flights and Enyas. Might it help? Also I've been trying B tuning (half-step down).

I want to get something working soon because Cat'r and I want to do a duet video soon ("Closing Time" by Semisonic).

Thanks for all your help!

CMouse

P.S. Thoughts on Aquilas? Also I have a lot of Aurora Silkgut strings. But first I'll try straight-out nylon. Okay, enough late-night rambling.
 

Graham Greenbag

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Besides liking the sound of some other strings better I’ve never had any bother with Aquila strings.
I think that the b tuning and capo might well help - good idea - worth a try. Your strings should be a slightly lower tension in B tuning and the capo at the first puts the subsequent strings back into C tuning.
There are some (protective) things called gorilla tips that fit over the ends of fingers, I’ve never tried them and understand that some guitar players use them.
Good luck with the nylon, I believe that it’s one of your better options with respect to tension. Sound wise nylon is likely a bit quieter and more fussy than other materials, but if it works then it allows you to play again. An imperfect solution is better than no solution.
 
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Kenn2018

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I think you're right on that. I've been having trouble making a simple F chord (hurts my index finger, pushing down so hard). Nylon should be better than the stiff Super Nylguts that came on them. HOWEVER, I've never had trouble with my two Flukes and two Fleas, which also have polycarbonate fretboards and zero frets; but the neck/fretboard is wider on those, plus the frets are farther apart. And I guess the manufacturers/builders were more careful about the height of the nut and zero fret. Oh! Forgot: the frets on the Flights esp. seem to be low so the step-down from the nut/zero fret to the first fret is a lot.

I'm thinking of putting a capo at the first fret on the zero fret Flights and Enyas. Might it help? Also I've been trying B tuning (half-step down).

I want to get something working soon because Cat'r and I want to do a duet video soon ("Closing Time" by Semisonic).

Thanks for all your help!

CMouse

P.S. Thoughts on Aquilas? Also I have a lot of Aurora Silkgut strings. But first I'll try straight-out nylon. Okay, enough late-night rambling.
If you put a capo on the first fret, the tension will get higher.
 

Bluesy

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I think I'm going to have to start changing a LOT of strings. But I'm scared to try. I have watched videos on restringing so many times and I'm still nervous! What if I mess up? I'd better use a uke I don't care about as much and strings that didn't cost too much. Oh guess what: my sister, who is more advanced on uke that I am, is starting to get finger pain. She is looking for softer tension strings and also knows she has to not use a "death grip" with her fretting hand!
Just take one small step today and don't think about all that string changing. Just set up your changing station with a nice towel laid down on your table and set out whatever tools you'll need. Select the strings you want to try and the uke that you want to change. Set your laptop or tablet on the table with the YouTube video that will guide you through the process. Then walk away for awhile. Later in the day or the next morning, you may find yourself changing strings on that one uke. You just need to start with one; forget all the others.

One suggestion on the hand pain: the soft tension strings do help, but it always helps to take a look at how the uke is being held because that's usually the culprit. In this UU podcast linked below, at around the 26 minute mark, Aldrine demonstrates how to hold a tenor the right way. Be patient through the conversation that ensues b/c what he demonstrates is one of the best explanations I've seen and I've watched many videos about it. If your sister is willing to get her uke out and try it as she watches Aldrine demonstrate, it will go a long way to losing the death grip for good.

One small step will lead you to great results. All the best, Bluesy.

.Aldrine Holding a Uke
 

CountryMouse

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Besides liking the sound of some other strings better I’ve never had any bother with Aquila strings.
I think that the b tuning and capo might well help - good idea - worth a try. Your strings should be a slightly lower tension in B tuning and the capo at the first puts the subsequent strings back into C tuning.
There are some (protective) things called gorilla tips that fit over the ends of fingers, I’ve never tried them and understand that some guitar players use them.
Good luck with the nylon, I believe that it’s one of your better options with respect to tension. Sound wise nylon is likely a bit quieter and more fussy than other materials, but if it works then it allows you to play again. An imperfect solution is better than no solution.
Thanks! I'll look into the gorilla tips.

CMouse