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Thread: Kamaka Strings On Other Ukes

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    Default Kamaka Strings On Other Ukes

    Has anyone tried this? I know Kamaka's stock black nylon strings are not very popular, even on their own instruments, and a lot of people don't seem to like nylon at all. But has anyone put a set of Kamaka strings on a non-Kamaka instrument? Has anyone done so and liked it?

  2. #2
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    Kamaka strings are a lower tension version of D'Addario's nylon classical guitar strings. A lot of serious ukulele players (eg Jake Shimabukuro) use D'Addario nylon strings on their ukuleles, but usually with slightly higher tensions. The lower tensions are better for easier strumming.

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    Quote Originally Posted by man0a View Post
    Kamaka strings are a lower tension version of D'Addario's nylon classical guitar strings. A lot of serious ukulele players (eg Jake Shimabukuro) use D'Addario nylon strings on their ukuleles, but usually with slightly higher tensions. The lower tensions are better for easier strumming.
    These higher tension strings are clear nylon whereas Kamaka strings are black nylon which in turn are almost identical to D'Addario Black Nylons. I've tried both (meaning the Black Nylons and Kamaka strings) on my Kamaka and to me they sound and feel identical.

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    A friend put them in his Pono tenor and likes them. I played it and the sound didn’t thrill me but I have florocarbon on everything so that is what I prefer.
    Currently enjoying these ukuleles : *LdfM tenor, *LfdM 19" super tenor. *LfdM baritone, *I'iwi tenor , *Koolau tenor, *Webber tenor, *Kimo tenor, *Kimo super concert, *Mya Moe baritone, *Kamaka baritone, *Gianinni baritone, *Fred Shields walnut pineapple super soprano, *Kala super soprano, *Loprinzi super soprano, *Black bear ULO concert , *Enya X1 concert, *Enya X1 pineapple soprano, *Enya Nova *Gretsch tenor, *Korala plastic concert

  5. #5

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    There is nothing profoundly unique about Kamaka strings that make them specific for Kamaka instruments.
    As others have said, they're pretty much D'addario Nylon strings which are a pretty popular choice for many ukulele players anyway.

    I like them for their mellowness. The thicker string diameters compared to Nylgut and Fluorocarbon make them more pleasant for finger-picking in my experience. It's the same strings that Classical guitar uses.

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    I had the kamaka strings on the martin C1K. Liked it a lot. It didn’t have a long sustain but had a sweet mellow voice to it. But that’s expected of any nylon strings, but I just like the black coloured strings and the branding that comes with them. You see, I didn’t own a Kamaka at that point of time and the best I could do is to put some Kamaka strings on some other ukes to pretend that I was playing a kamaka.
    aNueNue Moon Bird US200 || Kamaka HF-1 || Martin S-1 Uke || Eddy Finn EFTS-20-S || Kala KA-SLNG || Martin C1K Uke || Yamaha GL1
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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by man0a View Post
    Kamaka strings are a lower tension version of D'Addario's nylon classical guitar strings. A lot of serious ukulele players (eg Jake Shimabukuro) use D'Addario nylon strings on their ukuleles, but usually with slightly higher tensions. The lower tensions are better for easier strumming.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dohle View Post
    These higher tension strings are clear nylon whereas Kamaka strings are black nylon which in turn are almost identical to D'Addario Black Nylons. I've tried both (meaning the Black Nylons and Kamaka strings) on my Kamaka and to me they sound and feel identical.
    Quote Originally Posted by kissing View Post
    There is nothing profoundly unique about Kamaka strings that make them specific for Kamaka instruments.
    As others have said, they're pretty much D'addario Nylon strings which are a pretty popular choice for many ukulele players anyway.

    I like them for their mellowness. The thicker string diameters compared to Nylgut and Fluorocarbon make them more pleasant for finger-picking in my experience. It's the same strings that Classical guitar uses.
    That's what I was wondering about. So many people dislike them and replace them on their Kamakas, I was wondering if anyone likes to use them on other ukes, and how that experience was.

    I didn't know they were the same as D'Addario black nylons.

    I have a tenor that came with stock Aquilas. I tried D'Addario Titaniums on it, and the sound was okay, but disappointingly quiet. Since I actually like how the stock Kamaka strings sound, I thought about going back to nylons--maybe Kamaka strings this time. But I've only heard of people getting rid of their Kamaka strings, not buying sets for other ukes. I was curious if they just don't sound great with other ukes.


    Quote Originally Posted by DownUpDave View Post
    A friend put them in his Pono tenor and likes them. I played it and the sound didn’t thrill me but I have florocarbon on everything so that is what I prefer.
    Pono (Ko'olau?) stock strings are another that I hear people often dislike and replace right away.


    Quote Originally Posted by AustinHing View Post
    I had the kamaka strings on the martin C1K. Liked it a lot. It didn’t have a long sustain but had a sweet mellow voice to it. But that’s expected of any nylon strings, but I just like the black coloured strings and the branding that comes with them. You see, I didn’t own a Kamaka at that point of time and the best I could do is to put some Kamaka strings on some other ukes to pretend that I was playing a kamaka.
    I like black strings also, but I don't really know what kinds are out there. I like Fremonts. I didn't know D'Addario made any. I just found out that Ernie Ball makes black nylon strings for ukulele.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rafter View Post
    That's what I was wondering about. So many people dislike them and replace them on their Kamakas, I was wondering if anyone likes to use them on other ukes, and how that experience was.

    I didn't know they were the same as D'Addario black nylons.

    I have a tenor that came with stock Aquilas. I tried D'Addario Titaniums on it, and the sound was okay, but disappointingly quiet. Since I actually like how the stock Kamaka strings sound, I thought about going back to nylons--maybe Kamaka strings this time. But I've only heard of people getting rid of their Kamaka strings, not buying sets for other ukes. I was curious if they just don't sound great with other ukes.

    Pono (Ko'olau?) stock strings are another that I hear people often dislike and replace right away.

    I like black strings also, but I don't really know what kinds are out there. I like Fremonts. I didn't know D'Addario made any. I just found out that Ernie Ball makes black nylon strings for ukulele.
    I don't know whether Kamaka and D'Addario strings are exactly the same. I think there might be a tiny difference in gauges, but as I said they feel and sound identical. Nylon strings in general seem very similar regardless of the manufacturer. I'm sure the big string manufacturers like D'Addario or GHS produce strings for other brands like Kamaka or Ko'olau who then repackage and brand those strings. It's the same thing with D'Addario Titaniums and Ko'olau Alohi strings. They are extremely similar, quite clearly made from the same type of monofilament material, and I can't tell them apart.

    I'd say the reason why people often replace Kamaka and Ko'olau strings is because they just don't like nylon strings that much and I understand why. Nylon strings usually sound quieter and lack the projection of some of the more modern strings available these days. What they excel in is a richness and warmth in their tone, and they also feel different because of their larger gauge. The trend, in my opinion, has been towards thinner and brighter sounding strings, but personally I really like the warmth of nylon strings and I massively prefer the feel of them to any other type of string. If you also like those types of strings, don't be afraid to try them on your ukes. Just be aware that, at least in my opinion, they don't suit all kinds of ukes quite as well as fluorocarbon strings. Particularly the purple Titanium strings and equivalents are very hit and miss in my experience and are better suited for larger bodied ukes that already have natural depth and warmth in their tone.

    And just as a side note, Aquila strings aren't really nylon but rather nylgut, their own proprietary material. Their sound is noticeably different to nylon strings, usually louder and a bit brighter but very distinct which results in many ukes fitted with nylgut strings sounding the same.

    Regarding black strings, outside of black nylon your options are usually black/brown fluorocarbon, so Fremont Blacklines and Worth Browns, aNueNue Blackwater strings if you can find any. Can't think of any others of the top of my head.

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    My used Ko'olau came with black strings which I thought were GHS.
    Kamaka HF3, Tenor
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  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by rafter
    That's what I was wondering about. So many people dislike them and replace them on their Kamakas, I was wondering if anyone likes to use them on other ukes, and how that experience was.
    It's all a matter of taste, and the best way to find out is to try them.
    Fortunately strings are cheaper than most ukuleles.
    Just give them a week or two to settle in before they sound right.

    As for me, I like D'addario nylon (=Kamaka) strings the best.
    They're my go-to strings - the tension feels just right and the tone is deep and mellow on the right ukes.
    I don't like most of the other popular string choices such as fluorocarbon because I don't like how they feel.

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