Strings Bamboo and strings

mlolya

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I’m wondering if anyone who owns a Bamboo ukulele has found that any particular string choice has been a good match for this wood. (Grass)
I get the impression that a lot of people don’t think much of Bamboo as a ukulele material and as a result perhaps there hasn’t been a lot of experimentation with different strings.
Has anyone found a dream combo?
 
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I have a couple Bamboo ukes and I think sustainable materials is always a good idea depending on the tradeoffs. Both ukes have a decent sound, on the warm side with good volume, similar to many entry level ukes I've played. I've never played a high end bamboo uke, not sure they exist but on these the Aquila's that came on them sound good. Good volume, not to bass-y.
 
Don't own one, but have played a couple with aquila and there were fine, typical laminate to my ear... not bad.

I'm not swayed much by the purported sustainability aspect of bamboo ukes...after all, how much cheap laminate wood are they saving? and other green-ess in their construction? whatever it is has got to be offset a bit by the making of the laminate (extra glue needed? other resources, etc.).
 
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I had an Aklot bamboo tenor cutaway that I bought in December 2019 on eBay from a seller in China for $70 shipped. I knew when I saw the listing that I was going to replace the nut and saddle with black ones, and replace the strings with black D'Addario reentrant high G strings and use black beads for the strings at the bridge. I did a minor setup, and was very pleasantly surprised how good it sounded and played. I used it often, rotating between my collection of 8 tenor cutaway ukes.

Aklot mine 800.jpg
 
I had an Aklot bamboo tenor cutaway that I bought in December 2019 on eBay from a seller in China for $70 shipped. I knew when I saw the listing that I was going to replace the nut and saddle with black ones, and replace the strings with black D'Addario reentrant high G strings and use black beads for the strings at the bridge. I did a minor setup, and was very pleasantly surprised how good it sounded and played. I used it often, rotating between my collection of 8 tenor cutaway ukes.

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I was wondering Mike, was the change of strings to the Blacks more of a cosmetic choice or did you feel they might improve the sound and if they did improve it do you think it was the strings or more the setup?
I think the black strings along with the other black hardware looks great on the bamboo.
 
I was wondering Mike, was the change of strings to the Blacks more of a cosmetic choice or did you feel they might improve the sound and if they did improve it do you think it was the strings or more the setup? I think the black strings along with the other black hardware looks great on the bamboo.
I did it for cosmetic reasons. Having played the uke with the Aquila Nylgut, then the black D'Addario with the black nut and saddle, I did feel that combination improved the sound. I also replaced the chrome strap buttons with black and gold to match the tuning machines, just to complete the look. It was a favorite of mine until last year when I found with nerve damage to my neck spinal cord, I was most comfortable playing my thinline Lanikai, so I let go of my seven other standard depth ukes and replaced them with five thinline.
 
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I think I’m going to follow your lead on the Kala Bamboo I ordered. It already comes with a black nut and bridge and tuners. So I think I’ll just switch to Fremont Black Lines, maybe low G, we’ll see.
I do like how yours looked.
 
I think I’m going to follow your lead on the Kala Bamboo I ordered. It already comes with a black nut and bridge and tuners. So I think I’ll just switch to Fremont Black Lines, maybe low G, we’ll see.
I do like how yours looked.
I've found low G can be hit and miss with laminates, so give it a chance, for sure, but don't be married to it if it turns out kinda meh. I've had better luck with wound low G for laminates but that's me.
 
I think I’m going to follow your lead on the Kala Bamboo I ordered. It already comes with a black nut and bridge and tuners. So I think I’ll just switch to Fremont Black Lines, maybe low G, we’ll see.
I do like how yours looked.
I've got one of those, did the same swap as Mike - D'Addario 53's. Makes it more mellow, I'm not really a fan of the nylgut strings overall. If you like nylgut, you can swap them for Lava's.
I personally don't think the bamboo matches with a low G, but that's my preference.
 
I've got one of those, did the same swap as Mike - D'Addario 53's. Makes it more mellow, I'm not really a fan of the nylgut strings overall. If you like nylgut, you can swap them for Lava's.
I personally don't think the bamboo matches with a low G, but that's my preference.
I did go with the Freemont Blacklines and stayed with high G. I really like the way it sounds and agree that high is just right with the bamboo.
 
I haven't had any bamboo instruments, let alone a ukulele, but things that I HAVE bought that were made of bamboo have been prone to cracking in short order. Or warping. Or both. I don't think I would feel "safe" with a bamboo instrument unless I could soak it in a vat of mineral oil for an extended period of time, and since most things bamboo come with a thin layer of cheap shellac-like stuff on them - not sure that would be effective unless I could remove that first.

I routinely soak my wooden AND bamboo tools (for pottery, for cooking, or whatever) in mineral oil until they are good and soaked, then wipe off thoroughly with a paper towel. As long as I can do that they seem to last for virtually ever. I have a 20 year old wooden tofu press treated thusly that still looks new. Also helps make them resistant to soaking up Bad Stuff like tofu effluvia while pressing tofu. (I make my own tofu). However my confidence level in that protection doesn't extend to trying to use that to press paneer, whey being considerably more prone to bacterial colonizations of unpleasant characteristics.

Actually now that I think of it, I DID once have a bamboo end-blown flute. It warped and became unplayable within a week or two of purchase. Maybe it was just crap. I don't know.

Any info on longevity of a bamboo ukulele?
 
I've found low G can be hit and miss with laminates, so give it a chance, for sure, but don't be married to it if it turns out kinda meh. I've had better luck with wound low G for laminates but that's me.
I don't consider the Kala BMB a laminate... Laminate is stacked ply, the bamboo is solid-core (1 ply) but the strips are glued together (sideways, in a horizontal plane) due to the limitations of the width of the base material. But that's me 😉 ...
 
I have the Aklot bamboo concert and always look for the Kala version used (no luck yet). I am a fluorocarbon player and I thought my standard Martin M600 strings sounded better on this instrument than the stock white strings (I can’t say the originals were Aquila).

I wouldn’t hesitate to try Aquila Sugar or Worth Browns, either.
 
I also have been tempted... but have too many already. After 3 years of them being available, I've not read of any changing (warping, cracking) dimensionally.
 
I don't consider the Kala BMB a laminate... Laminate is stacked ply, the bamboo is solid-core (1 ply) but the strips are glued together (sideways, in a horizontal plane) due to the limitations of the width of the base material. But that's me 😉 ...
Good point!!
 
I don't know about the other sizes, but I went to look at the Baritone version - or rather listen to it via youtube. It sounded muffled and dull compared to other baritones I've heard. It may be fine in smaller versions, but I'm a fan of bass without having to lose the treble. The only soprano ukes I like are all pineapples. Between my concern about cracking (I've not had good luck with anything bamboo if I couldn't get it well soaked in mineral oil) and the sound, its not for me (in the baritone).

Ooooh, give me a 'tone, in the HPL zone, its the kind I would most like to plaaaaay ...
 
I purchased an Aklot Tenot and did the identical mods that Kohanmike did. I found it a bit bright with Fremont Blacklines (one of my favorite strings) I put a set of Kamaka black nylons on it..... ended up with a wonderful sound , not too bright and not too warm.
Absolutely delighted.
 
Now try tuning it down a step to Bb. Even better IMO.
Mine is creeping up in my FAV beater-list :cool:...
 
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