Light tension strings for vintage/antique Ukes?

EDW

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I believe this is the place he was talking about https://www.uspacela.com. He mentions that they are PhD strings. Yes it sounds as if it is a custom set
 

deadstock

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Doesn't seem like he says exactly what string set it is. Seems like it was custom, not commercially available (unless I missed something)

Thanks. I guess there just isn't much of a market for light tension strings for older instruments. Makes it tough to have to try and figure out custom string sets and do all this math haha.

I think I'll try the Martins and hope for the best!
 

chris667

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I'm sure it would be ok, it's just strange to me there isn't a go-to answer or set of strings that people with antique/frail ukuleles use. I know a lot of people play them. I've done lots of research and there just isn't a clear answer.
Because there isn't one. A ukulele is strong enough to take being strung, or it isn't. If it isn't, it was either built wrong (in which case you're flogging a dead horse) or there is some damage that needs to be repaired before you use it or you'll cause more damage.

Really old ukuleles were built to be strung with gut, which is a denser material than nylon so has higher tension. It also used to be common to tune ukuleles to ADF#B which is again higher tension. When these instruments were new, no-one cared about string tension.

I honestly feel you are worrying too much.

However, if it helps I have Martin strings on my old ukuleles (a Lafleur and a Harmony). They're fine, and the Lafleur is tuned ADF#B usually. It's fine.
 

Hilomar

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Clifford Essex sell gut strings in the UK.. I found worth brown strings to be lower tension compared to aquila..
 

taro

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Aquila and D'Addario both publish typical string tensions on their respective websites, so you could go through their sets to find the lowest tension set available for soprano. The Aquila 83U Red and D'Addario EJ885 Nyltech look to be some of the lowest tension sets.

Alternative...

String tension increases with length, frequency, and mass.
  1. length -- not a meaningful variable here, since we're fixed on a specific soprano
  2. frequency -- in theory you could choose alternate tunings, though typically alternate tunings for the soprano are higher frequency (yielding higher tension)
  3. mass -- a function of density of material and diameter size
With mass, you have some actual choice The density of material is hard for consumers to measure, but, string diameters are almost always available online.
So the rule of thumb is: within the same family of materials (e.g. nylon, fluorocarbon), pick thinner gauges for lighter tension.

For example, I use Seaguar Pink on some of my ukes, which come in a wide variety of gauges. I typically start at 0.52mm for the A string, but some soprano fluorocarbon sets (e.g. Fremont black Line Medum) start around 0.435mm, and the 0.405mm gauge might be worth trying too.
 

hendulele

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I have a late ‘20s Gibson that had Worth Browns and sounded lovely. I kept it in a humidified case. One day I opened the case and the bridge had popped off. Fortunately, it was a glue failure, no wood was lost, and the local repair guys fixed it. They put Martins on it (i prefer fluoros) and the sound lost all its warmth. I’ve had great results with Worths, Fremont Blacklines and Aquila sugars on my contemporary sopranos. Never been a fan of the nylguts.

I may return to the old standbys or try the Martin polyguts.

Also, when I store the Gibson, now I detune it!