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Thread: Strings and things...

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    Default Strings and things...

    I understand that what kind of strings work well for each uke/player is really a personal opinion. But I'm so new yet I'm still not sure what's what, and others opinions are nice to know.

    So here's the question: What kind of strings do you use and why?

    I'd love to know a bit about the personality of the strings you use, and how they compliment your uke.

  2. #2
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    Dec 2007
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    On my tenor mahogany Lanikai, I'm using Worth BT's.

    I had Aquilas on them not too long ago. I think I'll stick with Worth BTs on this ukulele. The brightness and loudness of Aquilas offset the mellowness of the ukulele, but the Worths are easier to play. Plus I think the Worths let you hear this instrument as it really is, with no disguises. I picked that ukulele out of the bunch because of its mellow, smooth tone. Why would I want to alter that with Aquilas?

    Here's a video of the Lanikai with Aquilas, and here's one with the Worths.

    I think it's important to note that I tried Thugz Mansion on my Kala with Aquilas before switching to the Lanikai with Worths. The fretwork was just easier with Worths.

    On my tenor cedar Kala, as I said above, I've got Aquilas on there now. I had Worths on it previously. I had a bit of a buzzing problem with Worths. The Aquilas seemed to make the buzzing stop. This is enough in and of itself to stick with the Aquilas on this ukulele.

    I only have one video of my Kala strung with Worth strings. I haven't made a video of the Kala strung with Aquilas yet.

  3. #3
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    Mar 2008
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    The Worths definitely sound smoother, seeso. My tenor has aquilas which I really like. Very thick and easy to play, although I'm still getting used to the tenor.

  4. #4
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    Apr 2008
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    Default Strings

    Hey Seeso.
    I have to agree with you here. I am all about tone and warmth. I checked out your videos, mind you I subscibe to your youtube channel so I know them all well. But I was impressed by the Worth strings warmth. I will have to order some of thise online... btw....you killed Thugz Mansion.....amazing, loved it...

  5. #5
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    Apr 2008
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    North Carolina
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    Someone asked this before and noone answered him. Is there any reason you couldn't use concert strings on a tenor?

    Reason I ask is I am having a horrid time with my new tenor. I simply cannot get a clean fretted note on the first fret position without strangling the neck. I play other stringed instruments and I have never had such a problem, so I thought I would try the thinner strings. Seems like it would take less tension to tune them to the proper notes and might be easier to fret.

  6. #6
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    If you can't play in the first position, but can up the FB, its usually action at the nut. Unless, something else is off, or not suited to you - neck shape, FB width, fret size, etc.

    Putting a smaller guage string on a larger instrument would usually result in lower tension, resulting in lower volume, etc, and the potential for buzzing. But, without seeing the instrument, hard to tell.

    Valerie, as for strings, you asked:
    I don't use Worth - too thin for me, although I have it on my Concert KoAloha (that my 6 year old plays), and its fine.
    I don't care for Aquila. Yes, they are loud, but lack complexity. They also intonate off, and smash if not careful. I prefer Hilo's over Aquila, at least from a consistency standpoint.
    Used the old Ko`olau, liked the sound and tension, didn't like the feel, but haven't used the new ones.

    Personally like:
    D'Addario Pro Arte J46 to get a sweeter sound, usually prefer the J50 to get a brighter sound. Depending on the bracing, I'll also use the J45 and J49 series (lean towards J49) for lighter braced instruments. One drawback for most - these are larger guaged, so the nut has to be recut, but no bid deal. The high tension strings are really nice on Spruce tops, again, with the nod to the J50 series - not too many good black nylon strings around, and these are the best for me.
    Usually install:
    Savarez Alliance 540 Series R & J, again depending on the bracing. These are about 3x the cost of D'Addario, but who cares, its only $12 for 4 strings. Again, the nod goes to the higher tension usually, so the 540J's. These high tensions are not as stiff nor thick as the D'Addario's, and are more forgiving on the fingers. Bright and clean, not as loud as the J50's, but great overall. Composition is Carbon (similar to Worth, except thicker, and definitely not tinny), with a very balanced tone.

    By the way, you'll notice the D'Addario and Savarez are not packaged `ukulele strings, they are classical guitar strings. The D'Addario J46 is what their `ukulele J71 (I think) set is made from for Jake. As of January, I met with the Savarez rep, and he is working with his American distributors to come up with `ukulele sets. They have the strings right now to repackage for Tenors, but I think their target market is the mainland, so more Standard and Concert rather than Tenors.

  7. #7
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    Just try them out yourselves, it's really a matter of taste. Each of us will describe his strings differently. So I suggest, if you have or want to change the strings, buy a new brand/material.
    I did that too and now half a year later (yeah I change strings very often) I came to the conclusion that I absolutely hate Nylon, (not the Nylguts thoguh, and love Worth Flour Carbon, Aquilas and in general wounded strings. Nylon feels like it has no tension at all and the tone is not too brilliant.
    On my Brueko I have Worth Brown Medium, On my Applause I play Aquila Nylguts, both are soprano size. The Worth seem to be more accurate and more versatile, but therefore seem to have a more "clinical" tone. While the Aquilas are a bit less accurate, but therefore, soundm more brighter and warmer. Okay I guess I can't describe it...

  8. #8
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    I've gone through a number of different strings over the years, but I've pretty much settled on Worth BSs on most of my ukes. Anyways, I've composed a list of strings that I've tried and the things that I liked and disliked about them (from what I can remember, it's been a while since I've used some of these)

    DISCLAIMER: These are my own personal opinions and others may have had different experiences with the strings listed. Personally, since strings really aren't that expensive, I think it's best to try out as many different strings as you can yourself.

    GHS strings: Rubbish...the only positive thing I can say about these strings is that they're available EVERYWHERE and CHEAP. They're dull-sounding, thick, and feel "stiff"

    Hilo Strings: Cheap strings, and these are actually pretty good. They're "supple" and comfortable to play. Pretty good tone, kinda sweet and mellow. A little on the quiet side and kind of thick. They're rectified, so they've got a little bit of texture and can be a little noisy (but not as noisy as Aquilas) when you slide up and down the string.

    Kamaka Strings: I really didn't like these strings as much as I thought I would. If I were to rank the strings I've tried this would be near the bottom of the list, just above GHS. They've got a "suppleness" to them, but they don't sound as good as the Hilos do.

    Ko'olau Golds (Old Style): These aren't made anymore, so there really isn't much point in listing them, but oh well. I switched to these strings after using Hilos for quite a while. Better tone than Hilos, huge step up from GHS. These strings are pretty thick, they're also rectified and have an even rougher texture than the Hilos. These are really noisy strings, I would often get a "scratchy" sound while finger-picking. I absolutely loved the wire-wound Low-G string. It looked and sounded great, it was thinner than most wire-wound Low-G strings and added a nice round, warm tone.

    Ko'olau Golds (New Style): I really wanted to like these. But I don't. When they first came out, I thought that they would be sort of a cross between the old-style Golds and Worth strings, but they weren't. They feel and sound dead and lifeless. They're too stiff and they seemed "muffled". I don't like the wire-wound Low-G string on the new set either, it's a lot noisier than the old-style string and it's too loud and overpowering...it tends to drown out the other strings when you strum.

    Aquila: I switched to Aquilas from Golds and I really liked them. Nice sound and easy to play. I had a problem with the wire-wound C strings though. That string would keep breaking on me (in as little as a week-and-a-half). I think the problem was just a combination of humidity and body chemistry (I sweat a LOT). A couple days after stringing it up, the string would start to discolor along the bottom and over the fret wires. A few days later the wire would already start bulging over the fret wires and it wouldn't take long after that before it snapped. Eventually I switched to the Nylgut C string, and that worked great. Never had a problem with the wire-wound Low G (wrapped with a different kind of metal). Aquilas have a little bit of texture to them and that does make them a little noisy (but not as noisy as the old-style Golds). These strings are loud, and one some ukes they're "in-your-face" loud. I personally prefer a mellower sound, so I eventually switched off of Aquilas. They're an excellent string though, and definitely worth a try.

    Worth Clears: I loved these strings. They have a kind of "dry" sound, but it's really crisp and clearly pronounced. Smooth feel and silent when you slide along the string. The Low-G strings come in different "hardnesses". I've tried them all, but the harder strings seemed to not intonate as well as the medium-feel Low G. The medium-feel Low G felt a little too floppy though, so I would use an old-style Gold Low-G string in it's place.

    Worth Browns: This is where I'm at now. I've been using browns for the last 2 years and absolutely love them. I doubt I'll be switching strings any time soon. I used the Medium Browns for a long time, until I "discovered" the Brown Strongs. The Strongs offer a much better tension (the mediums feel a little "loose" sometimes) and more volume. Browns are a really thin string, a lot thinner than most (if not all) other strings out there. It takes some getting used to, but some people hate them because they're thin. I describe the tone as warm, bright, and sweet. Just like with the Clears, the Low-G string feels a little floppy. I used to use the old-style Gold Low-G in place of it, but they're no longer made and I'm still experimenting to find a new replacement.

    I think that pretty much covers everything I've tried. There are still a number of other strings that I haven't tried yet. One of these days I'll get around to trying out the Kala Reds and the D'darrio strings...but I'm pretty content with the Brown Strongs right now.

    Hope this helps!
    Last edited by Keonikapila; 04-29-2008 at 07:33 AM. Reason: fixed a minor typo

  9. #9
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    I switched my tenor Fluke to aquilas and it was a match made in heaven. The sound was alive, acoustic, energetic, natural. I was hooked. I already knew Worths were reliable from my uke-solid concert and soprano koaloha.

    I didn't care for the Koolau either on the Pono, so I switched to aquila. The strings are still bright and lively, but they are too thick for the pono and too hard, and the sound, while bright and lively, just somehow doesn't match the instrument. I switched to Worths and now things sound normal.

    My koa Flea came with Aquilas as standard, but I want to compare the Worths and see which kind of sound I prefer. Perhaps both. They do slice my fingers a little more, but not like a steel string guitar.

    I like the medium tension, but to each their own. I've got a set of Risa branded Worths from Rigk at ukulele.de. I like to give him some business when I can, and the Risa brand are Worths. He doesn't sell his ukes with no GHS strings.

  10. #10
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    Feb 2008
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    Georgia
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    Great thread, folks!

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