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Thread: 5ths tuning with steel strings

  1. #1
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    Default 5ths tuning with steel strings

    I was thinking about putting one of my sopranos in mandolin tuning. I saw this post by a luthier on Mandolin Cafe, suggesting the following steel strings that would work tension-wise with reg.uke bracing:
    0.0070 in. plain steel 8.26 lbs (PL007)
    0.0100 in. plain steel 7.51 lbs (PL010)
    0.0170 in. nickel plated steel round wound 8.25 lbs
    0.0240 in. nickel plated steel round wound 7.28 lbs
    What do you guys think?

  2. #2
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    As a mandolin player, I'd suggest that a 0.007" string would be a passport to frustration ... simply too thin to last for any time and it'd likely cut through the saddle and your fingertip in no time!
    If you want a four-string mandolin take four strings off a mandolin ... a set of "Light Gauge" Ernie Ball mandolin strings are .009, .013, .022w and .034w, anything much lighter than that will start to get unmanageable unless you've got a VERY sensitive fretting hand and a very well set-up instrument.
    Whilst the published gauges may allow the strings to be tuned at the appropriate pitch and tension, they're likely to actually play like a bunch of rubber bands

    YMMV
    There are those who will wax lyrical about the ability to play a double shuffle with a split fan and a tight G-string ...
    it just makes me walk funny!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by kypfer View Post
    As a mandolin player, I'd suggest that a 0.007" string would be a passport to frustration ... simply too thin to last for any time and it'd likely cut through the saddle and your fingertip in no time!
    If you want a four-string mandolin take four strings off a mandolin ... a set of "Light Gauge" Ernie Ball mandolin strings are .009, .013, .022w and .034w, anything much lighter than that will start to get unmanageable unless you've got a VERY sensitive fretting hand and a very well set-up instrument.
    Whilst the published gauges may allow the strings to be tuned at the appropriate pitch and tension, they're likely to actually play like a bunch of rubber bands

    YMMV
    Agree! Steel strings on a uke not properly braced for steel strings is one heckuva risk to take. If the desire for 4-string steel on something small is the desire, 4-stringing a mandolin is a better, safer choice than wondering if/when the bridge will go flying off the uke or a tuner snaps. Before I would even consider steel on a uke of any size, I'd go back to the manufacturer for any tension test data they have on the instrument. If a luthier found a particular uke which s/he believed would take steel tension, s/he'd have to provide me a lot of specific structural analysis info justifying that belief before I'd put steel on the uke and run the associated risk.
    ...SteveZ

    Ukuleles: Martin T1K (T), Oscar Schmidt OU28T (T8), Lanikai LU-6 (T6), Lanikai LU-22T (T), RISA Solid (C), Effin UkeStart (C), Flea (S)
    Banjo-Ukes: Duke 10 (T), Lanikai LB6-S (S)
    Tenor Guitars: Martin TEN515, Blueridge BR-40T
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    Mandolin: Burgess (#7)

    Ukuleles, Guitars & Banjo tuned CGDA, Mandolin tuned GDAE

    The inventory is always in some flux, but that's part of the fun.

  4. #4
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    kypher and stevez, thanks for the input. I normally would never consider steel strings on my ukes for the very reason of bracing and tension on the bridge, but this was mentioned in a thread by a luthier on MC. He said that that set of steel strings would have an approximate total tension as reg.strings. Didn’t sound like that would be so, but I wondered, hense the thread. I already play mandolin and thought a little soprano in 5ths would be nice for just general noodling. The steel idea intrigued me. I know the safe bet would be nylons, I have heard Aquila 1M work well.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by bunnyf View Post
    I know the safe bet would be nylons, I have heard Aquila 1M work well.
    Not familiar with the "Aquila 1M" you mention. I use Aquila 30U strings on a pineapple soprano quite successfully. Do note, my personal direct comparison tests show a distinct lack of response from the G string on a conventionally-shaped "budget" ukulele, the extra physical volume of the pineapple body allows a much more balanced response from the same set of strings.

    Inevitably - YMMV
    There are those who will wax lyrical about the ability to play a double shuffle with a split fan and a tight G-string ...
    it just makes me walk funny!

  6. #6
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    I am using the Aquila 31U (CGDA viola tuning) on a Pono Mango soprano that sound wonderful. Every string is very responsive.

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