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Thread: Jazzy string recommendations - think 'Jeeves and Wooster'

  1. #1

    Default Jazzy string recommendations - think 'Jeeves and Wooster'

    Hi guys, new to the forum and reasonably new to ukulele. I was watching Hugh Laurie's 'Perspective' tv show, where the guitarist picks up an old gretsch uke and starts strumming some improv jazzy stuff. I play double bass and guitar and I'm enjoying ukulele as well.

    Basically, I want to get that 'dead' jazzy sound out of my ukulele. I'm learning the chords, and I know a lot's technique, but the string's that came on my second-hand makala seem too jangly. Can someone recommend me some strings that cop the sound I'm looking for a bit better?

    Cheers,
    Joe

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Welcome to the Forum!

    Are you are playing in G or C and using a baritone or tenor? For my baritones in G: '46 Favilla I use the Diaddarios T2 I think they are for a smoky bluesy sound, they are a thicker nylon based string. The Webber has the Ko'olau Golds for a little brighter sound with the '63 Martin having Worth Browns 1&2 with Hilo wound 3&4 for mre of that cool jazzy soud. If you don't want wound 3&4 I found the Living Waters (C) are really jazzy sounding especially tuned down to a Bb.

    On my Griffin tenor I use Southcoast the ML-SW. On a different Griffin tenor I use the same string tuned down to a Bb.

    If you're tuned to C, have you tried tuning down to a Bb, a lot of the old jazz tunes were written in that key because of the brass instruments in Bb. Are you playing jazz position chords or just regular chords; big difference. Glen Rose has some great books on Jazz positions.

  3. #3
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    Oct 2010
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    Columbus, Ohio
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    I use Southcoast linears on my Graziano Baritone jazz box. Tuned with low g tuning. Chord voicing is the key here. No open chords. I play 9th, 11th, and 13th when I can. Also diminished and half diminished chords as well. Also lots of syncopated strumming techniques and chord damping.

    Just my two cents

    Mke
    Mike Kaplan

    The Velvet Sirens
    Unique & Traditional Vocal Jazz and Swing
    http://www.thevelvetsirens.com


    "To this day, if I ever meet grownups who play ukulele, I love 'em." --Paul McCartney

  4. #4
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    I'd recommend a read through the southcoast information at http://www.southcoastukes.com/stringuide.htm. It's a long read, but it gives a good basis for understanding the factors in different strings.

    Do you know what you have on the Makala now? If you don't know, or if the strings are old, you might consider putting on a set of Aquilas (or other common strings) just to get a baseline. That will help with talking to the forum as well - if we know where you're starting from, it gets easier for the group to point in the direction you want to go.
    Blackbird Clara
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  5. #5

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    It's a soprano uke. Chords can be tricky higher up the neck, but they're becoming clearer each time I play.

    I'll check out the link. I have no idea what the strings are, they're black and seem quite thin compared to others I've tried.

    Any links or advice to help with my jazzy ventures?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    Jazzyukulele.com for one. Perhaps a larger ukulele than a soprano. Just keep practising the jazz chord shapes.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    Interesting conversation, some magic words, Southcoast strings, Glen Rose, Ko'olau.

    I will subtly urge along with the others that you really do have to move to a larger uke, even if Ohta-san plays a soprano, I believe. He plays mostly lead and I'm guessing you're into chord comping with smokey fills.

    I once had a Pono tenor or baritone that came with Ko'olau Gold strings and man were they thick and smokey! I think they were low in volume though and that was the reason along with their thickness that made me eventually replace them, but definitely a unique sound in the world of strings.

    Another thing to consider is your touch. You, as a musician, have to learn to make the strings sing and you have to learn to muffle. Get yourself a good tenor Kanilea K-1, put on some Southcoast strings and start living, if you really plan to stick with the uke and get good. Best wishes.

  8. #8
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    I'd say it's 90% technique, and I would disagree as to necessarily going to a bigger uke.
    Sopranos have more attack and less sustain, which sounds like what you're referring to by "dead sound"

    It worked ok for Roy Smeck
    http://youtu.be/RcQYt7xvA8M

    Try Martin m600s for easily available and cheaper quality strings

  9. #9
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    Mar 2011
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    Apollo, PA
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    I like Worth Medium Browns. Others have mentioned chord voicings. Check out Gerald Ross at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YafhDexY6I for some tips on Jazz and Swing Ukulele and the use of closed chords.
    Last edited by guitarsnrotts; 07-04-2013 at 02:52 PM.
    My 4-String Family:
    Kamoa E3 Pineapple Soprano
    Martin S-O (given to my brother for Christmas with the stipulation he learns to play it)
    Early-70s Kamaka Soprano
    KPK Acacia Concert (given to a friend for his birthday because he wanted to learn to play ukulele)
    KPK Deluxe Long Neck Acacia Pineapple Soprano
    Gretsch Concert Resonator
    Lanikai O-8 Spruce/Ovangkol 8 String Tenor
    and various guitars

  10. #10
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    [QUOTE=peewee;1316626]I'd say it's 90% technique, and I would disagree as to necessarily going to a bigger uke.
    Sopranos have more attack and less sustain, which sounds like what you're referring to by "dead sound"

    This is a joke, right?

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