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Thread: Low G string sounds bad

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2020
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    Default Low G string sounds bad

    Hello,

    This is my first post. I have been playing the ukulele for about one year. Last week, I decided to try a low G configuration. I have a small soprano and bought an Aquila 5U [1], which (I thought) should be appropriate.

    After tuning, I am extremely dissatisfied with my setup. The low G vibrates for extremely long creating an uneven sound. More precisely, half a second after strumming, CDA will stop and G continues to sound. It is even worse when playing notes for a song, it creates some "buzz" effect.

    My question is, what have I done wrong? Is Aquila 5U not appropriate for a small soprano? I only changed G, perhaps I should change all strings? Any comments are more than welcome!

    [1] https://www.amazon.com/product-revie...pe=all_reviews
    Last edited by Alkozu; 11-21-2020 at 05:31 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Default

    Hello and welcome to UU!

    I may not be much help. I don't like Aquila strings, at all. I've tried several sets, and kind of liked the Reds, but one broke in less than a month.
    My lo G string is a wound string from D'addario. I like it a lot.
    "Those who bring sunshine and laughter to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves".

    Music washes from the soul, the dust of everyday living.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2020
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    Default

    Thanks for the quick reply! Is your ukulele a soprano?

  4. #4
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    Nope, it's a very chimey, beautiful concert scale Ohana. I hope to have a pickup added soon.
    "Those who bring sunshine and laughter to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves".

    Music washes from the soul, the dust of everyday living.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
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    1,355

    Default

    I don't use Aquila strings nor do I play sopranos. Therefore I don't have any particular information to relate. However, generally speaking, I think it is time you learn to mute strings--in this case, the G string. I do this all the time. If you're playing a chord that uses the G string, just lift your finger up a little bit and the G string will stop. If you're not currently fretting the G string you can either lay the palm of your strumming hand across the string and choke off the G string or you can use one of the fingers on your fretting hand to stifle the G string by just touching the G string. By one of these techniques you should be able to control the G string

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
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    Default

    Many factors here. Some people feel that a soprano doesn't sound right with low g. Some ukes don't sound good with low g. Since the low g is a wider string, sometimes the slots need to be widened a bit to allow the string to sit properly. And then there's the strings themselves - brand, wound or unwound, fluorocarbon or not, etc. I have low g on all my ukes except my sopranos, which I'm leaving at high g - for now. I've switched all my ukes to fluorocarbon strings, because to my ears they sound the best. I'm not a fan of Aquilas. I don't particularly like wound strings either. My Kala maple tenor, which came with Aquilas, didn't sound or play nearly as lovely as it does now with the Uke Logics I changed to. Oh, and yes, changing all the strings at once could play a part in how they sound - new vs old strings, old ones may be worn.
    Last edited by Cadia; 11-21-2020 at 07:28 AM.
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  7. #7
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    Jan 2020
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    There's already some good information in the thread. Muting as per Ripock's suggestion is a very useful skill, but it is not one most players master in a week or so, so take your time with it. I also think that a low G usually will ring noticeably longer than the other strings. It takes a gentler touch. Many fans use linear tuning for fingerpicking chord melody. Taimane Gardner, a skilled Hawaiian performer loves low G so much that she has two low Gs on her 5-string Kamaka instead of one high and one low G.

  8. #8
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    I prefer Aquila strings but I think that set comes with wound low G. Wound strings generally sound very different than than plain ones and the Aquila ones don't last long anyway. The difference in sound may be magnified by the small soprano size, as resonance for low G is much better with tenor sized body and scale. I don't know if Aquila makes a red low G for soprano but for my tenors the red low G is perfect with the other Nylgut strings.

  9. #9
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    I have a Blackbird Clara that I asked to be strung high G but to include the low G that it came with from the factory. The Clara is a loud concert with excellent sustain. Months ago I switched it to be my low G uke and put on the wound low G. And it dominated the sound. So I went to a store and bought a low G fluorocarbon (these are thicker and may need nut widening, but not on the Clara which was made as a low G uke, similar to Romero ukes). The change to an unnamed flourocarbon (they cut their own from a large spool) solved the issue.

    But I found I like a high G for my chord/melody and play it only now and then.

  10. #10
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    You didn't do anything "wrong" other than choosing to put Low G strings on a Soprano.

    If you do some searching, you'll find that the body of the ukulele has a resonant frequency. The larger the body, the lower the frequency. Conventional luthier wisdom says that you want the lowest note on the uke to be just above that. So, the resonant frequency of a Soprano is almost always going to be just below that low C note on the C string. Low G is significantly below that, thus it can sound "boomy" or loud, or over-resonant, or just generally not right.

    On a Tenor uke, because the body is larger, the resonant frequency is a little lower, and at least SOME Tenors sound pretty darned good with a Low G setup.

    You can learn to "play around" the problem. My Low G tenor was "boomy" on the G string, especially fretting certain notes, and I just learned to not hit that string as hard.

    I'm no expert, but you can also play with different strings. Not necessarily Aquila vs whatever else... though there are differences between string materials... but, think about string tension. If you go with a thicker (or more dense) string, it will take more tension to reach the same note. If you go with a thinner (or less dense) string, you can use less tension. You might find that lighter strings on your Soprano will give you less tension, and perhaps a better Low G sound.

    Every uke is different, you just have to play with it.

    Another uke that I owned was an Oscar Schmidt Mango Tenor. It was a very "bright" sounding instrument (also very heavy!), and I couldn't get it to sound good to my ear with Low G strings. It's very uke-dependent.

    Sidebar: If you want to know the resonant frequency of your uke, you can sing notes into the sound hole until you find the note that resonates. (my wife happens to cough right at the resonant frequency of my uke, it's annoying when it's hanging on the wall!) Whatever note that is... in theory, you should have all your strings tuned higher than that.
    What could possibly go wrong?

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