Above all regarding ukulele strings.Your desired tuning, and type of instrument, will play a part in which ukulele strings you pick. In addition to this the quality of the string set can impact everything from the sound of a ukulele to the way that it looks. (Differnt colors as white, clear, brown, red, purpel and black) The better the strings are, the longer they will perform to the best of their ability too. Therefore, you can change the tone and visual characteristics of your ukulele by choosing different types of strings. If you want to find out more about ukulele strings in adittion to how to select strings that will truly give you both the best sound and look for your ukulele, keep reading. First of all it is two main sorts.
- Strings for normal ukuleles such as Soprano, Concert, Tenor and Baritone Ukuleles
- Strings for Bass Ukuleles
1. Strings for normal Ukuleles.For this segment there are several types.
Lengths of the strings.You have to be aware that they are sold in different lengths for the different types.
- Soprano (33 cm) (21 inches long, for a 13-inch scale length)
- Concert (38 cm) (23 inches long, for a 15-inch scale length.)
- Tenor (43 cm) (26 inches long, for 17-inch scale length.)
- Baritone (51 cm) (30 inches long, for 19-inch scale length.)
Are Ukulele Strings Cross-Compatible?Can you use strings made for a Consert ukulele at a Soprano, and so on? Ukulele strings are made for each size, and the length, gauge and tension are optimized to fit the scale length. (You will read about tension and gauge further down.) However, some strings are similar enough that they can be used on other sizes. For instance, Soprano and Concert strings are similar enough that they can be used interchangeably. Other combinations can produce interesting effects as long as they are long enough. You can read more about it at this link to Fret Folks’ article on cross-compatible ukulele strings, and you should read the post before you try.
Strings materials.There are a lot of strings materials and names, and this can be a bit confusing. Therefore, we will try to make it a bit clearer. While it is generally accepted that the strings are sorted in six groups regarding the materials, Basic Ukulele believes that Nytgut should be considered as a separate group (seven groups). Number 2 – 5 is a sort of “plastic” strings. 6 and 7 is not normally used for smal ukuleles.
The seven main groups are:
The original string:
1. Gut: In early days the strings were made of intestines from livestock, often sheep, but that is not the case today. However, this kind of strings was the original strings for Ukuleles, but was replaced by nylon strings around 1940. Another name is Catgut. You can read about it on the link.
2. Nylgut/Nylteck: Nylgut (from Aquila) is made from a plastic compound of three synthetic components. It is a synthetic gut string that gives you a bit of the original sound as Gut strings. You can also come across a name like Nylteck strings from D’Addario. That is a string developed together with Aquila. Nyltech strings are made of a nylon compound that is a bit different than other nylon strings available on the market. They are 100% synthetic, just like nylon and fluorocarbon strings. Nylgut/Nylteck strings are normally easy to identify because the strings are visibly white, whereas most other ukulele strings are either clear or tinted with some other color (they can in some cases also be white). This strings holds a tune much longer than standard Nylon strings, and the sound is also brighter.
3. Nylon: This kind of strings give you a warm and mellow tone. For Hawaiian music, this choice is perfect. Nylon strings are durable and resistant to humidity. The only downside is that they doesn’t hold its tuning as well as other string materials. That’s why it is not the best material for strings used by beginners because you often have to tune the Ukulele. Nylon strings are often sold as Clear and Black strings, and they can be called Custom Extruded or Rectified.
In addition you can also see other descriptions as nylon monofilament (one string of nylon pressed through a hole) and Titanium strings (not Titanium). Aquila’s titanium strings are actually made of a nylon monofilament. The Titanium strings, also known as Purple Nylon/Purple Fluorocarbon strings, have a sound between the warmness of Nylon and brightness of Fluorocarbon strings. (Some have this type of string in a separate group, but they are nylon strings.)
4. Fluorocarbon strings: Fluorocarbon strings are quite similar to nylon strings, and originally they was invented for fishing line. In fact you can use fishing line as strings 🙂 The difference between nylon and fluorocarbon strings are the way they produce them, and the material. In fact, Fluorocarbon strings are made of a polymer called polyvinylidine fluoride (PVDF). As a result the tone become brighter, they keep the tuning a bit better, and they normally last longer. If you play ukulele outside a lot, then you may be should try them.
5. Wound nylon strings: This kind of strings have a nylon core and is wrapped with a thin polymer thread. because of this they have a bit richer sound than the normal strings and they are normaly used only on larger ukuleles, such as Tenor and Baritone Ukuleles. Wound nylon strings produces great bass sound on the lower strings which smaller ukes cannot match.
6. Wound metal strings: Wound metal strings is like the name says: they have a metal core, and are wrapped with a thin polymer thread. They have the brightest sound before steel strings. The metal material can be aluminum, copper, silver or phosphor bronze. Some times they are used for C and G strings.
7. Steel strings: Steel strings are not the normal material for Ukuleles. You find them on guitars, banjos, sitars, balalaikas and other string instruments, but you can use them if you dear to. It gives a bright sound, but they also can break the Ukulele. This is because the Ukulele normally is made for plastic strings, and, in worst case, they can break the Ukulele because of the tension from the steel strings. However, you can find strings that is made for Tenors or Baritones.So, If you’re looking for a higher quality playing experience, fluorocarbon strings may be the best choice for you. These strings sound brighter in adittion to that they are less sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity, but they can be expensive. (You can read about recommandations for beginners further down.)
Ukulele strings tensionIn physics, tension is the pulling force transmitted axially. It is the opposite of compression. At the atomic level, when atoms or molecules are pulled apart from each other and gain potential energy with a restoring force still existing, this is also called tension. Each end of a string under tension pulls on the object it is attached to in order to restore the string to its relaxed length. (Think at it as a bubber band.) In other simple words regarding strings, the higher the tension, the tighter the string. Regarding ukulele strings: The thickness of the string (gauge) and the length from nut to saddle matters. More mass gives higher tension. (A thick rubber band have more pulling forces than a thin.) Ukulele strings are made out of many different materials, each having unique properties that impact string tension. For that reason thinner fluorocarbons strings are different from thicker nylon strings. Higher-tension strings can give a bigger, bolder, and more aggressive sound. However, they can also be harder to fret and press down. On the other hand, lower tension lets the string move more because they are not so tight and be “floppy.” This makes it easier to fret notes with low-tension strings and they may have a warmer tone. Tension is measured in newtons in the International System of Units or pounds-force in Imperial units. Approximate tensions on the various sizes of ukuleles are according to ukuleles.com:
Ukulele Strings and Manufacturers.There are a lot of manufacturers of strings to Ukuleles. However, some are more famous than others.
Aquila.Regarding manufacturers Aquila has a famous name because this is a genuine Ukulele string manufacturer. They have a lot of different types and qualities. Here you have some:
- New Nylgut – Standard strings.
- Lava Series – This is the same as New Nylgut but in silky black color.
- Red Series – They have a red copper powder in the formula to increase density and improve intonation, increase volume and brightness, and reduce breakage.
- Super Nylgut – Designed to reduce string-stretch, improve tuning stability, and they have a bit smoother outer playing surface.
- Bionylon – A “eco-friendly” string. Made 100% natural castor oil.
D’Addario.This is a family-owned and operated American multinational company that specializes in musical instrument accessories. Their headquarter is in Farmingdale, Long Island, New York and was founded in 1973
They offer ukulele strings made from “titanium”, nylon, and Nyltech.On their site the also have a String finder, that helps you to find the right string for you.
Worth.Worth is a Japanese company founded in 2002. You can read more about their string at this page. Worth Strings is classified into two types by color, three types by fluorocarbon material and two types by length.
Ernie Ball.Ernie Ball has been making high-quality electric guitar and bass strings since 1962, but they also produce ukulele strings. Their ukulele strings are made from 100% nylon monofilament, and are available in both black and clear sets.
Kala.Kala is an American company situeted in California, and they makes ukuleles. They also produce strings for Bass Ukuleles.
Ortega.Ortega is a family-owned manufacturer and distributor of musical instruments based in Gutenstetten, Germany. They started with making guitars in 1994. Ortega Ukulele strings are made in Italy in cooperation with Aquila, and they are white, black or clear/crystal clare nylon strings.
GHS.GHS Strings is an American string manufacturer based in Battle Creek, Michigan, specializing in electric and acoustic guitar and bass guitar strings. The company was founded in 1964, and the name GHS comes from the surnames of the company’s founders — Gould, Holcomb and Solko. Their ukulele stings are made of fluorocarbon or nylon.
Gauge.As you know, the strings on the ukulele don’t have the same thickness. Sopranino, Soprano and Concert Ukuleles usually have re-entrant tuning, which means the 4th string is higher than the 3rd string. On the other hand, the “lower pitched” instruments such as Tenor, Baritone and Bass often have linear tuning, where the strings are tuned from low to high pitch. The thickness of the string is referred to as gauge. Gauge is measured normally in thousandths of an inch and ranges from 0.02 to 0.04 inches in diameter (0,02 will then be called 20). The larger the number, the thicker the string, and the thicker the string, the louder and stronger the sound. For a normal C-tuned ukulele, the strings are (from your face and to the ground):
- G – the third thickest
- C – the thickest
- E – the second thickest
- A – the fourth thickest
The material the string is made of, will also impact the thickness/gauge of the string.
This is an example for a Soprano from one of the producers that shows you that the thinnest is Fluorocarbon and Nylon is the thickest:
A gauge – a measuring tool – The String Action RulerThe expression gauge is also used in another setting, and that is for measuring the height of the string over the fretboard. String Action Ruler Gauge or normally just String Action Ruler is a multifunctional measuring tool for string-distance, bridge saddle height and depth, fret groove depth (and for string-distance of electric guitar pickup). It’s a directional guide for your repairing and setup. At this link you have som more of this instrument.
Ukulele Strings for beginners.For your first set of strings, you’ll want strings that are nylon/Nylgut (or similar material) and the smallest gauge. All things cosiddered, here you have some sugestions:
- Aquila Nylgut Soprano Ukulele strings are very smooth to touch and delicate enough for first-timers, preferred by most ukulele players. AQ-4U is often recomended.
- D’Addario EJ65S Nylon Ukulele Strings are also a good choice for beginners, and so is D’Addario EJ99TLG Tenor Low G Pro-Arte Carbon Ukulele Strings, if you need that kind of string.
- Ernie Ball Concert/Soprano Nylon Ball End Ukulele Strings Black are also a good choice for beginners.
- Martin Nylon Ukulele Strings – Standard (.0191 – .0216)
- (And of cource others.)
Some sites for reviews:Basic Ukulele don’t make any reviews for strings. However, we can provide you with links to the best sites where you can find reviews and recommendations for ukulele strings. Here are some of the best sites:
- Best Nylon Ukulele Strings Reviews 2023: Top 5 Models – Ukuleles Review
- 10 Best Ukulele Strings for Beginners: Uke Strings That Don’t Break (2023) • Pro Music Vault
- Beginners Guide To The 5 Best Ukulele Strings – Authority Guitar
- What Ukulele Strings Are Best for Beginners? – Clean My Instrument
- Best ukulele strings 2023 | MusicRadar
Ads for Ukulele Strings.Try to support your local music shop! Shopping locally is a great way to support your community and small businesses. You can check out your local music shop to see if they have the strings you’re looking for. If they don’t have them in stock, they may be able to order them for you. This can also be a great way to get advice from experts who can help you find the best strings for your ukulele and playing style. In this post, you can find ads for strings that you can use for shopping if you don’t have a local music shop. Alternatively, you can read the ads to get information about the strings. That was one of the reasons for putting them in the post. If you don’t buy them at our links, you can still read all about them before you go to the shop. Go to this link!
Low- and high-G Ukulele strings.The primary difference between the high-g and low-G ukulele string is how they sound. High-g has a more focused, brighter sound as a result of its note range isn’t as large (middle-C is the lowest note). High-g is finest for a more traditional, Tin Pan Alley or Hawaiian rhythm sound, or a Campanella picking style. On the other hand, low-G tuning is generally deeper and fuller; while high-G is brighter and more typically ukulele sounding. (Greate for strumming) Low-G tuning is great for playing jazz and blues music. All types of ukuleles, including soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone, can accommodate a low G string. This special string drops the pitch of the G-string in a standard GCEA ukulele tuning by an octave, producing a “mellow” sound and extending the ukulele’s range by five additional notes. There are two primary types of low G strings: wound and unwound.
- Wound low G strings consist of a nylon core with a metal winding on the outside.
- Unwound low G strings are made entirely of plastic, similar to the other strings in a set.
Octave ukulele strings.If you’re looking to achieve a deeper tone on your big ukulele that’s perfect for Latin music such as bossa nova, background music or “Back Porch” blues solos, then octave strings can be a great option. Octave ukuleles are tuned an octave below normal low-G GCEA. To achieve this sound, you’ll need strings that are specifically designed for this purpose. One example of such strings is Perry’s Octave Ukulele String Set. This string set is designed to convert your baritone ukulele into an “octave” ukulele. Perry’s Octave Ukulele String Set: Tuning: G2 C3 E3 A3 Gauges:
- 0.032 A3
- 0.030 E3
- 0.035 C3
- 0.043 G2
Keep in mind:If you’re considering experimenting with strings from different manufacturers to customize your instrument’s sound, here are a few key points to keep in mind:
- Firstly, let’s talk about cross-compatibility. Not all ukulele strings can be used interchangeably. The gauge and tension of strings are specifically designed to match the scale length of each ukulele size. For example, soprano and concert strings are similar enough to be used on either instrument. Mixing and matching can sometimes lead to interesting and often desirable results.
- Next, consider the string length. When it comes to the length of a ukulele’s strings, you’ll find that it varies based on the size of the instrument. As you navigate the process of choosing strings, there are two key measurements to keep in mind: the total length and the scale length. The scale length, specifically, measures the distance from the nut to the bridge. This is the portion of the string that vibrates when you pluck or strum it, producing the sound you hear.
- Lastly, don’t forget about the string materials. The material of a string can significantly affect the sound of a ukulele. While this can make shopping for new strings a bit overwhelming, most players will likely choose from a few key string styles.
How often should I change the strings?Some recommend that you change your ukulele strings every 6 to 12 months for sporadic players, every 1 to 3 months for daily and heavy players, and every few weeks for professional players. However, we think it depends on your playing style besides the string type and quality. So, may be this advice is somewhat exaggerated. It might be normal that you should change strings a couple of times a year if you play a lot . A drop in sound quality (the intonation drops), physical damage, and loss of tuning stability are all signs that a string change is needed. You can hear it or feel it on the underside of the strings. Take a look at this video:
2. Strings for Bass Ukuleles.Strings for Bass Ukuleles are a bit special. Normally, for having a deep sound, the strings have to be long and thick. However, the Bass Ukulele is a small instrument so you cannot have long normal strings to have the deep sound. So what have they done about this challenge? They have made them like no other strings. They are very fat, rubbery strings to hit such low notes on their short 20″ scale. These strings are often made from polyurethane or similarly stretchy materials. There are mainly three different types of strings for Bass Ukuleles:
- Flatwound: This type of string is made of chrome steel wrapped around a nylon core. It provides fast and stable intonation and brings warmth and consistency to the sound.
- Roundwound: This type of string has a nylon core with silver-plated windings, similar to a big classical guitar string. It provides accurate intonation and a warm but powerful sound.
- Rubber/Silicone: These strings are simple but strong and durable. You can also find them as rubber and polymer-based strings.
Gauge – the thickness of the bass strings.Regarding gauge for bass strings (read about gauge further up) the numbers are much higher than normal ukuleles of cource. For instance this strings from Worth. Worth Bass Ukulele Strings – Regular Gauge: Worth Strings for Bass of special Poly Urethane material. Length: 28 inch (As you can see, they also uses mm regarding gauge.
- 1st G : 3.50mm/.0.1378″
- 2nd D: 4.00mm/0.1575″
- 3rd A: 5.00mm/0.1969″
- 4th E: 6.00mm/0.2362″
Reviews for bass ukulele strings.If you’re looking for reviews of bass ukulele strings, here are a site that may help: – Strings Kings: https://www.stringskings.com/awesome-bass-ukulele-strings-that-you-need/
Ads for Bass Ukulele Strings.Or, go to this link and take a look! Please comment if something is wrong or missing 🙂
Ukulele Tuning.If you need som help and advices for tuning your Ukulele, go to our postes about it (you should read bouth):
How to put on new strings to your UkulelePart 1: Removing the Old Strings
- Firstly, start by unwinding each string from its tuning peg at the top of the ukulele. For the 2 pegs that face up when you play, turn them clockwise. Conversely, for the strings on the 2 pegs that face down toward the floor, turn the pegs counter-clockwise.
- Next, undo the knot at the bridge to slide the string out of the bridge hole. If your ukulele has a bridge with bridge pegs, gently pull the peg out to free the string. If it has a tie bar bridge, untuck the ends of the strings from underneath first.
- Now that the strings are off, it’s a good opportunity to clean your ukulele. Use a little lemon oil or wood polish and a soft, lint-free cloth to gently clean the surface.
- Moving on to the new strings, if your ukulele has bridge pegs, tie a knot at the end of each string. This knot keeps the string from slipping past the peg.
- If your ukulele has a tie bar bridge, insert your new string through the bridge hole and pull about 2 to 3 inches (5.1 to 7.6 cm) of the string through. Then, knot the end of the string around the bridge.
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