Low G is overwhelming other strings

BlackwaterRat

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Greetings! This is my first post, and I want to thank everyone on this site for all the pearls of knowledge I have gleaned here so far over the past few months. I've used member advice since before I even got my first ukulele--everything from researching ukulele companies to my first string change. I've finally reached a point where I felt like I needed to be able to describe my issue in order to get the best advice.

I do realize that every ukulele is different and every person is different, leading to very individual preferences, so your answers will be largely subjective. However, this is also probably a common enough issue that you guys might have some general advice as well. I play a Flight Concert uke (DUC525) with Martin graphite strings, but I decided I wanted to try out a low G string. Yesterday i put on a Fremont Soloist wound low G and tuned it, but then let it sit overnight. Today I tuned it up again, and I used two different tuners to check it--they both agree that it is in tune, but to me it sounds "off" somehow. This may sound crazy, but to me it sounds sour, which makes me think it is sounding sharp. Some chords sound ok, but others just don't sound good. Not only do the notes not sound quite right, but the low G is overpowering the other strings. The sound from it persists longer and sounds louder. I had read about the potential squeakiness with a wound string, but I'm more bothered I think by its twanginess.

This is the only ukulele I've ever played, and the Martin graphites were installed by Mim so I've never heard it any other way, but to me I have found the strings to be kind of quiet and buzzy. I assume this is just due to me being a new player with multiple technique issues I am sure, but I'm also wondering if there are other strings that might compete better with the low G string. Does anyone have any experience with Martin graphite strings being quiet? I'm going to keep playing with the low G to see if I grow more accustomed to its sound and the string stretches out more, but I thought I'd start some research in the meantime.

Thanks in advance for any input you guys might have!

Amy
 
How old are the Martin strings? All strings will naturally fade in volume and vibrance as they age, even if you don't play them hard all the time. If the Martin strings are more than a couple of months old, you should install a new set when testing the low-G.

A wound low-G string can be more boomy than unwound strings, especially if you like hammering the strings from your elbow when you strum. Many low-G players will adjust their strumming motion to reduce this effect.

The easiest way to minimize the imbalance between the low-G and the rest of your strings is to buy a matched set of 4 strings, especially sets like Worth or PhD that have unwound low-G strings.
 
I put a Soloist low G on my Martin T1K and left the original Martin Strings on the rest. I can't say that the mix was a good one to my ear. I think the Martin Strings were brighter and didn't seem to blend well with the much more mellow and warmer Soloist. I replaced the Martins with Worth Browns and they seem to be a better compliment to the soloist.
 
Hmm...so if I understand it, the strings didn't sound off until you put on the low G? That is interesting. It's possible the low G has some defect. Not common, but not unheard of. You might call your vendor and ask if others have complained about the string. I had a similar issue with a B string on a baritone - it was a bad string. I replaced it with a new one and the issue was solved.
 
Welcome to the UU forum from a fellow north Jerseyan. To me Low G is most suitable for fingerpicking rather than strumming (in general). Especially when you are starting out, strumming on a low g uke often does sound boomy, especially on chords with an open (unfretted) g string. The key for strumming is to use a light touch on that string.

Andy
 
Two things I can think of:1) concert size uke may not have good resonance for low G which may cause unpleasant sound... solution would be to use a tenor. 2) Just switching out a G string from re-entrant set to different material low G may also cause unbalance. Solution is to get a full set that has purpose to work with low G. There are several that include the polished brass string and I recommend the original LaBella set.
 
@BlackwaterRat

The issue might be your ear hearing the louder lower octave G standing out in chords where it is not the root note.

Wound strings are often louder than unwound strings.

You might want to try strumming a C chord where the G is the 5th of the chord. Then strum a G chord where the low G is the root. See if the sound issue is different between those two chords. I mean does one chord sound good, and the other not so much?

Sometimes on a reentrant set of strings the C can boom out louder than the other strings, too. That’s one reason why the C chord might sound better on a reentrant Uke as opposed to a linear ( low G ) Uke.

Anyway, welcome!
 
I put a Soloist low G on my Martin T1K and left the original Martin Strings on the rest. I can't say that the mix was a good one to my ear. I think the Martin Strings were brighter and didn't seem to blend well with the much more mellow and warmer Soloist. I replaced the Martins with Worth Browns and they seem to be a better compliment to the soloist.
Oh that’s a good tip. I will look into that
 
I apologize, I was trying to reply to specific questions but I couldn’t make it work on my phone 😂
Thank you to all of you for responding; you all made good points. I expected my ear to have to get used to the sound, but I didn’t expect certain chords to sound unpleasant.
That’s what is bothering me I think.

I played a little longer this afternoon, and I noticed that the low g string is much more sensitive to where I put my finger on the fret. For instance, the D chord easily sounds off if my first finger slides even a tiny bit up the string, whereas I feel like the Martin strings are a little more forgiving that way
 
I have found that you have to control the low G. Over the years I have engaged in a few techniques: muting the G string to let it ring out a bit but not buzz, playing true triads on the upper 3 strings which omits the G string, and using weighted strums where you lightly brush the G string and dig in on the treble strings. It doesn't sound like it, but I am a devout linear player; you just have to learn to curb the G string's enthusiasm.
 
Try and Fremont Black unwound. It's a little quieter and just feels better on the hands (mine anyway)
You're also going from reentrant to linear tuning so it will sound a little different. A lot of people keeps ukes strung one in low and one in high g.
I pick a lot so I love low g. You may want to give it a little time and see if you like it. If not and you like reentrant tuning, just go back. I guess just ask why you changed it in the first place.
You can always switch strings to find one that sounds good to you.
 
I find myself agreeing with Ripock a lot. He's more musically theoretical than I am, but we otherwise share a lot of the same feelings/opinions/habits regarding playing the uke. So... "what he said".

I also found the Low G to be "boomy" when I first started out. I'm sure there's at least one thread on here about it and me trying to address it, as well as the inherent intonation issues that go with Low G. Ultimately, I found the set of strings (custom set, very low tension) that work for me, and I learned to "modulate" the G string. Sometimes I accentuate while strumming it almost in a "bum-ditty" sort of fashion. Other times, I just lightly brush it so that it doesn't overwhelm. I'm sure there's some subconscious adjustment on my fretting hand, as well.

The short answer: Practice. Just keep playing with it until you figure out how to get it to make the sounds you want it to make without making the sounds that you don't!
 
One thing I do not believe was mentioned was checking the G string against the others after using the tuner. So you would fret the G string on the fifth fret to produce a C note. Compare that with the open C string. Then do so against the E and A. Do they "match"? If not, then something obviously needs fixing.

When I first switched my concert Clara to a low G, I used a wound low G. It was loud and boomy. I replaced it with a flourocarbon low G (unknown brand) and that worked fine for me. Good luck figuring it out.
 
I forgot to mention that I manage the G string by string selection. I hate the feeling of wound strings. To me the difference is like petting a kitten versus stroking an alligator. I always use unwound Fremont blacklines or, sometimes, worth strings. And I usually downtune at least three half steps so that my issue is buzzing rather than booming.
 
is there a physical reason why you downtune 3 half steps @ripock ? or is it just for the sound? reason I ask is I sometimes struggle with barre chords in the first two frets...not so much the fingers but the thumb. seems to take an inordinate amount of pressure to get clear tone on all the strings. thanks for any response :)

as to the low G boominess...I have an unwound on a cedar top tenor and it was super boomy until a luthier filed the nut slot to actually fit the string. the other low G I have is on an all koa tenor but it's a gold smoothwound. pretty balanced with the other strings actually and more natural/toneful (if that makes sense). I mention this because I suspect that at least some of the boom is from the instrument and soundboard wood
 
I downtune to get the feel I want. I like a certain amount of bendiness in my strings. Plus, I dislike the traditional jangly plonky timbre of the uke and looser strings moderates that sound.

The trick that fixed barre chords for me was to pull my hand slightly towards the floor instead of pressing into the fretboard with more and more force.
 
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