Help Make my Steel String Ukulele a Reality

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So...I really want a steel string acoustic ukulele (for under $200), but I know that you can't just put steel strings on any old uke. That would very likely end in a ruined instrument. As such, I need it to be an instrument with reinforcement to handle steel strings--truss rod in the neck and sturdy body bracing.
The first way of that happening would be one prebuilt that way. Seagull Guitars has one like that, but there are a couple problems. Number one, it's way out of my price range. Number two, it's only available from a very few retailers (Sweetwater even stopped carrying it). Number three, I want something that's properly acoustic--not a carved-body instrument (the body's made out of a solid block of wood that had a resonance chamber drilled out).
The second way of that happening would be to convert a mandolin into a uke (with only half of the strings). The biggest problem with those is ones that fit within my budget and also fit my requirements regarding construction. That's also total budget (minus tax), including a tailpiece if the provided one is only compatible with loop end strings, as well as a bone-tipped bridge top. If you know of any models that fit those requirements, some suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Flat top and back are not required, but greatly preferred.
 
Save your money for what is available. A compromise with a mandolin will always be a compromise. I like the suggestion for a cigar box uke. Some youtube searches should find some suitable listening options.



check here
 
Sometimes, what you want, at the price you are willing to pay, just doesn't happen.
Such is life.
I'm sure that a LOT more people would drive a Mercedes, if the sold it for the price of a Kia, yet that doesn't really happen.
 
Have you considered a cigar box uke?
Save your money for what is available. A compromise with a mandolin will always be a compromise. I like the suggestion for a cigar box uke. Some youtube searches should find some suitable listening options.



check here
That is indeed an option. Completely forgot those exist. I'd rather have one of these than a mandolele, for sure. I just hope I'm successful if I decide to build. I'll be able to string it for GCEA, though, right?
Are you opposed to a tenor guitar?
Yeah, I'd rather not have it that big. I already have my six-string taking up space
A steel string ukulele is called a Cuatro.

Save yourself a lot of time and money and find a nice Cuatro.

Another option is something like the Ibanez Piccolo.
From what I've found, they're nylon-strung, and still seem a bit large
Sometimes, what you want, at the price you are willing to pay, just doesn't happen.
Such is life.
I'm sure that a LOT more people would drive a Mercedes, if the sold it for the price of a Kia, yet that doesn't really happen.
You're not helping here.
 
That is indeed an option. Completely forgot those exist. I'd rather have one of these than a mandolele, for sure. I just hope I'm successful if I decide to build. I'll be able to string it for GCEA, though, right?
Yes, they're strung in GCEA. Sparrow Ukulele makes steel string electric ukes and they also sell their own string sets for them. I've never tried them so I can't tell you anything about them, but they do exist. https://www.sparrowukulele.com/collections/strings-2
 
Maybe none of us can.
I wan't a Moore Bettah for the price of a Kala, yet I'm not getting this either.
Many people aren't getting a Moore Bettah at any price.
I'm not expecting a Moore Bettah, I'm expecting something like my Yamaha FS800 (a $200 guitar), but in ukulele form.
Yes, they're strung in GCEA. Sparrow Ukulele makes steel string electric ukes and they also sell their own string sets for them. I've never tried them so I can't tell you anything about them, but they do exist. https://www.sparrowukulele.com/collections/strings-2
I'm surprised. Those strings look thick enough to work on an acoustic. They're flatwound, though. I would love an electric one eventually, but that'll be quite far out.
 
I'm not expecting a Moore Bettah, I'm expecting something like my Yamaha FS800 (a $200 guitar), but in ukulele form.
Ukuleles don't come with steel strings.
The purists here will say that once you fit it with steel strings, its no longer a ukulele.
Now of course I do own 2 "steel stung ukuleles", one solid body Les Paul style instrument and one Gibson ES350 style instrument.
An acoustic steel strung ukulele?
Well, people do make them yet the market is so small, that no one is making a mass market $200 instrument to fill the market slot.
 
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I'm surprised. Those strings look thick enough to work on an acoustic. They're flatwound, though. I would love an electric one eventually, but that'll be quite far out.
Yeah, going back and looking at the gauges I'm a little surprised they're that thick, but I use guitar strings on my electric tenor and they work just fine. String tension is pretty high, but I think that just comes with the territory. Maybe I'll give the Sparrow strings a shot and see if it's different. I never really play that tenor, so I haven't really experimented with it. It still has the strings the last owner put on it, which were D'addarios.
 
I actually installed steel strings on my Caramel baritone ukulele. The uke came equipped with a truss rod, fairly heavy bracing and a “pin” bridge. I kept like that for a few months with no discernible effects on the uke body, and eventually filled the steel string itch with a tenor guitar, switching the Caramel back to nylon strings. Just gotta have the right uke to try this out…57F8BC70-AC4E-46FC-B767-2696FF04682D.jpeg
 
Ukuleles don't come with steel strings.
The purists here will say that once you fit it with steel strings, its no longer a ukulele.
Now of course I do own 2 "steel stung ukuleles", one solid body Les Paul style instrument and one Gibson ES350 style instrument.
An acoustic steel strung ukulele?
Well, people do make them yet the market is so small, that no one is making a mass market $200 instrument to fill the market slot.
I believe someone in the reddit ukulele sub put steel strings on an acoustic uke using one of those metal tail pieces for support. The mutability of the ukulele and the creativity of man. A good combo.
 
In my opinion, the most economical way of having a steel string instrument is to buy one that was made for this purpose. Anything else is going to yield poor results, give you grief, or cost you more money along the way. Or if you are unlucky, all of the above.
 
Nobody makes what you want, certainly not under $200. You are going to need to customize in some way.
 
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I've put steel strings on a tenor ukulele and tuned it down to linear baritone (guitar) tuning.

The way to go about it is to calculate the string tension based on diameter, scale length, and pitch so it is "close" to the tension of nylon/fluorocarbon stings. You can't just throw acoustic guitar stings on it.

The issue I found was having to go with thinner electric guitar strings, which are lousy even on an acoustic guitar.

You will get a more metallic sound. It is pretty cool at first but the newness wears off pretty quickly with the tone being overly thin sounding.

John
 
Find a Cavaquinho. I bought this last yearEFTER (2).jpg
 
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