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Thread: Why so many ukes shipped with Aquilas?

  1. #1
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    Default Why so many ukes shipped with Aquilas?

    Aquila must have some sweet sweet extensive arrangement with many makers. I've already voiced that I'm not a huge fan of Aquilas. It just seems that uke makers could very often provide customers (especially those new to ukes) with much better sounding ukes, straight from the factory.

    My Mainland came with Aquilas ... sounded OK, changed to Worths, sounded much better, changed to Oasis warms, sounded even better.

    Lanikai, Kala, Ohana ... all came strung with Aquilas ... all sounded (to me) OK ... changed to a different brand and the change in sound quality blew me away.

    I recently got a low-end Ohana, 1st uke I've received with Aquilas that I really liked the sound ... last night I decided to swap with Worths ...this uke to me sounds even BETTER! Clearer, better sustain, lovely.

    Just got an Islander for a friend ... again, Aquilas. Didn't like the muffled sound at all (even my son commented), threw Worth's on her this morning and it is a TOTALLY different uke!

    I scratch my head with factory loyalty to Aquila. I know MANY of you love Aquilas, and that is totally cool ... to each their own. But the vast majority of string-related threads, deal with folks ditching them for better sounding alternatives. There, my opinion
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  2. #2
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    My first "real" ukulele was a Luna strung with Aquilas. Nice tone, but mostly it was easy on the fretting fingers. It doesn't hurt as much as some other strings - if I had started with my OXK strung with Martins I would have soon have had sore fingers and maybe given up. When I was a novice player, I liked how the fretting fingers "grabbed" the strings for a cleaner sound.

    It is a good string for a variety of approaches. It sounds good strummed or fingerpicked. I am working on Rob MacKillop's 20 Easy Fingerstyle Studies, and he is using Aquila Nylgut on the demo CD. (I only wish I could play that well.) I think that the manufacturers need to find a string that falls on the sweet spot range - good for multiple things - and the Aquilas fit that need.
    Last edited by actadh; 03-11-2015 at 07:54 AM.
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  3. #3
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    <complete speculation>
    I think it's because they're loud.
    If you don't understand tone, then what you immediately hear is volume.
    And with cheap ukes, volume can be a very real struggle to get the plywood to resonate.

    So.. if you get a cheap uke and it comes with generic black strings, and you replace them with nylgut, it's a miracle. And nothing is more evangelical than someone that thinks they saw a miracle. Word gets around, and then people look for the miracle string, instead of listening.

    I think it's easier to sell a miracle, than make people listen.

    It could also be that chording is easier for beginners than finger style, and fuzzier sound can sound more full, than cleaner separation?
    </speculation>

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by deschutestrout View Post
    I scratch my head with factory loyalty to Aquila. I know MANY of you love Aquilas, and that is totally cool ... to each their own. But the vast majority of string-related threads, deal with folks ditching them for better sounding alternatives. There, my opinion
    Loyalty MAY have something to do with it. But when it comes to production, it really comes down to money. Saving .02c per instrument may seem like nothing to us, but when that factory is kicking out thousands of instruments on a regular basis, that's a lot. Add in the fact that the first thing that most people will switch out are strings, and there's no real reason to do anything but go with the lowest bid.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Bad Monkey View Post
    Loyalty MAY have something to do with it. But when it comes to production, it really comes down to money. Saving .02c per instrument may seem like nothing to us, but when that factory is kicking out thousands of instruments on a regular basis, that's a lot. Add in the fact that the first thing that most people will switch out are strings, and there's no real reason to do anything but go with the lowest bid.
    Makes perfect sense.
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  6. #6
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    Deschutestraut, maybe it's just selective hearing. If one wants to march to a different strummer or if he/she wants to use strings that are far "above" the strings that every one likes or uses, perhaps the other strings will sound really, really superior to him/her. Therefore he/she can use strings that are better than everyone else's, and surely no one can say that his/her hearing is wrong.

    We usta test guys who said they hated a certain kind of beer. We would send the person away from the table and fill two glasses out of the same bottle. Then someone would chug half out of the other bottle. When he returned and drank, he would swear up and down that the one on the left was good and the right one tasted like dishwater. So much for being a beer connoisseur.

    Do you really think that ukulele builders would use inferior (wrong) strings on them? Or that they don't know anything about strings? Aquila strings aren't even cheaper than other strings. I wonder if brandy new ukuleles are ever played and sampled.

    Well, anyway, it's nice that you are enjoying your superior sounding Ukes. Keep on sampling!

    P.S. I fully admit that I use Aquila strings on all my Ukes and probably wouldn't hear the difference if I didn't.
    Last edited by Down Up Dick; 03-11-2015 at 08:16 AM.
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  7. #7
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    A) Standard Aquila Nylguts are fairly inexpensive compared to other brands
    B) Search 'ukulele strings' on Amazon and the most prominent hits will be for Aquilas (as happened to me a few weeks after purchasing my first Dolphin after getting fed up with the stock strings)
    C) That very well-produced and classy-looking headstock label for in-store. If you know squat about ukes or strings and you're looking at a wall of ukes, I imagine your eyes get drawn to it and the marketing speak works wonders.

    Caveat: I have only ever used Aquila strings in nearly two years of uking. I have a Dolphin and a laminate Korala. The Dolphin came with strings that did enough to help me learn the chords but not much else, Aquilas vastly improved the sound to my ears. The Korala came with Aquilas, and sounded good. Not long after I wanted a Low G setup, went straight for Aquila Reds and fell in love with the sound. Just trying out Lavas now and haven't felt much need to explore other brands as yet. Maybe on my next uke.
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  8. #8
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    If you do nothing else to an instrument when you first buy it, you change the strings. (Most of us would set them up and change the strings at the same time). So the manufacturers want loud and cheap, because strings are a throwaway. The uninitiated want loud as was noted, and the more experienced are going to put on the brand they want right away.

    This reminds me of Craigslist ads selling stringed instruments written by people who don't play. "Guitar is damaged--two strings are missing." "I have to point out that you will have to get this ukulele tuned before playing it."

    It's like an ad for a car that says "Doors do not come pre-opened. You will have to open them yourself if you wish to drive the vehicle."

  9. #9
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    Yes, this is a subjective thing. And I didn't mean to offend any die-hard Aquila fans, as I certainly would not be offended if someone "dissed" Worth or Oasis or any other brand of string. It has been my PERSONAL EXPERIENCE that several of my ukes were completely transformed by a switch ... not subtly, completely. And I understand fully that the tone I'm seeking may not at all jibe with the tone someone else is seeking. So, I'll insert my foot in my mouth, and shut up about Aquilas
    Covered Bridge Cedar/Myrtle Tenor
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    Concert Flea
    Mele Mahogany Tenor
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    Mainland Mahogany Soprano
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Bad Monkey View Post
    But when it comes to production, it really comes down to money.
    At first I found myself nodding, but then I was thinking.. Aquilas aren't cheaper than fishing line. If it was strictly throw away pricing, it wouldn't explain why aquilas are the default non-generic strings, and are so pervasive.

    I don't want to imply aquilas are bad in anyway, or that what you said was inaccurate, as i'm sure it's true. But there's gotta be more to it.

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