Can You Color Clear Ukulele Strings?

UkeCan1

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Okay, so here's a crazy question ... forgive me if it's been asked before (I googled, but couldn't find anything), or if it's completely wacko.

I regularly recommend to new players that they immediately upgrade their new uke to fluorocarbon strings (PLEASE don't tell me why I shouldn't recommend that ... I don't want to get into string wars here).

I tell them to get the Martin M600's, because most of them are trying to keep expenses down, and those are excellent strings at less than half the price of the other fluorocarbons ($4.71 right now on Amazon, free shipping if bought with a uke).

The only downside with the Martins ... and it's a big one for beginners ... is that they are clear, and therefore hard to see against the fretboard.

I learned on the (white) Aquilas my uke came with, until I changed to the Martins, and even after I'd been playing a while (but was still somewhat new-ish), I found it a challenge not to be able to see my strings. It made playing and learning suddenly harder when I went from white to clear strings, in those early stages of learning.

So I hesitate to recommend them to brand new ukers, since my purpose in recommending them is to make the learning experience easier, not harder.

So, here's the question:

Is there any way to color clear fluorocarbon strings after purchase, that 1) makes them visible, 2) lasts, 3) doesn't color your fingers or uke, and 4) doesn't affect the qualities (playability, longevity, etc.) of the strings?

If anybody's tried this, I'd love to hear your experiences.

Yeah, it's a wacko question - I wouldn't do it myself at this point ... but I'm at the point where 1) I don't need to see my strings, and 2) my better ukes have higher-priced higher-quality strings. The question is for brand-new players who want to get up and playing the best, easiest possible uke at the lowest possible price.
 

Croaky Keith

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I don't think that would be possible without affecting the strings.
 

wayfarer75

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I doubt it. You'd either make a mess of your fingers when you play or screw up your strings.

I don't like recommending strings just because they are cheap and easy to get. It's like when I played clarinet, I bought the best reeds I could find. Besides, on Amazon I have to buy $25 worth of stuff if I want to buy Martins. I like the Martins, of course, but not everyone does. There are Fremont Black Line and Worth Brown strings, of course. But I think they blend in a lot too, against a dark fretboard. The only really colorful strings are Aurora, Aquila Reds and Lucy GCEA (that I know of) and if I remember right, they're all nylon. And I'm with you, I prefer fluorocarbons.
 

johnson430

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Try color-coated fluorocarbon leader fishing line.
You can buy it in small spools, usually 25yds.
 

bacchettadavid

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Ko'olau makes the golds (yellow) and alohi (transluscent purple). I know they aren't cheap.

The man who writes the reviews over at Got a Ukulele has a post and youtube video about using Seaguar fishing line for strings. I believe that line is blue. It's expensive up-front, but you could sell it to your students cheaply and last for years on one batch.

As far as coloring fluorocarbon...I think coating the strings in anything is bound to change sound. You could probably use latex or enamel paint up on the fretboard, but I imagine it would mess up the fretboard over time. Dyeing requires chemical alterations. You MIGHT be able to dye something like 303 Fabric Guard then immerse the strings in it, but I don't know what sorts of dyes are soluble in this instance.

Each of these has its associated costs. I'd be surprised if dyeing the Fabric Guard turned out to be inexpensive (I'd imagine most dyes for that sort of thing are proprietary).
 
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DownUpDave

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If colour is a huge priority just buy Fremont Blackline florocarbon ukuleles strings. They are a great sounding high quality srring, I have them on a Mya Moe. You sure can see the black color. Considering how cheap strings are..... under $10.00 and how long they last....one year or more if someone doesn't want to change regularly, that's an easy fix. Coloring existing strings......not so easy if not impossible considering all of your above criteria.

The other alternative is just leave the white ones on for the learning process. Beginners will not know any difference in sound, I sounded like crap the first few months no matter what insrument or strings I attempted to play.
 
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Booli

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I doubt it. You'd either make a mess of your fingers when you play or screw up your strings.

I don't like recommending strings just because they are cheap and easy to get. It's like when I played clarinet, I bought the best reeds I could find. Besides, on Amazon I have to buy $25 worth of stuff if I want to buy Martins. I like the Martins, of course, but not everyone does. There are Fremont Black Line and Worth Brown strings, of course. But I think they blend in a lot too, against a dark fretboard. The only really colorful strings are Aurora, Aquila Reds and Lucy GCEA (that I know of) and if I remember right, they're all nylon. And I'm with you, I prefer fluorocarbons.


FYI: Aurora colored uke strings are in fact OEM by Aquila and are the Aquila Nylgut strings with custom dyes added
by Aquila when the chemical soup is made before the material is extruded into actual 'strings'.

This info was confirmed by both Mimmo (CEO of Aquila) and Aurora Strings a few yrs back when Aldrine did an interview with them during one of his NAMM excursions.

As such, the colors of the strings are homogenous from within and not something just painted on the surface.

To Wendy: I commend your enthusiasm and intent for wanting to remove as many obstacles as possible. Kudos to you! The only way I could think of to DYE the strings would be to soak the strings in hot water that has previously just been boiled, and then add either food coloring or RIT Fabric Dye (used for Tie-Dye), but I do not know what the heat will do to the molecular structure of Fluorocarbon. If the water is actively boiling I think it will just melt the strings into a blob. If you try this, take the pot of water OFF the stove and put it on a trivet, BEFORE you add the dye and mix it, and then ALSO BEFORE you add the strings to your colored soup. I would not use a microwave for this at all.

Afterwards, the strings might just sound bad, or they might disintegrate under tensions when tuned to pitch, or the dye might bleed out and color your hands, and also leech into the fretboard wood, possibly ruining the instrument

You might want to talk to fellow UU brother One Bad Monkey (aka John Moody) who works for GHS strings, and see if he has something already made by GHS to offer you, or knows of another solution.

Aside from that, I'd say feed them the Aquila Nylguts, and wait until way later for them to ask you about strings. The white strings are easy to see, and also available EVERYWHERE for like $5/set, so yer not saving much & with the Martin strings if folks lack the visual perception to see the clear fluorocarbon, and the transparency is causing easily avoidable frustrations for the newbie - How much frustration in blindness is worth $1 or $2???.

Disclaimer: I have nothing against Martin strings and use them on certain ukes and guitars.

[edited for clarity]
 
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