Music is the essence of life and there are numerous amazing instruments out there that bring out the best melodies.
It is so powerful that most of the time it doesn’t even require any lyrics to have an impact. One of these amazing instruments is Ukulele that has quickly become quite popular.
We are going to dive deep into everything that is associated with this instrument. Most importantly its strings; the main star. Different kinds of strings produce different ranges of sounds and are made with unique materials, so it’s up to you the kind of tone and material you prefer.
To help you steer through this labyrinth, we have explained it all here because too many options can cause confusion so it’s important to learn everything before making a ruling.
How to Choose the Right Ukulele Strings
In order to best understand which uke strings suit your instrument most, it is imperative to mention the different elements that factor into this decision.
First and foremost, the ukulele scale length is a fundamental measurement for any instrument incorporating strings. It defines the tone, depth, and volume. Some of the most common sizes are:
Soprano: It is the standard size, measures 21 inches with a 13-inch scale, and produces a vibrant sound.
Concert: 23-inch body with a deeper sound and louder range than the soprano with a 15-inch scale.
Tenor: 26-inch body, 17 inches scale and is made for larger hands so the sound resonates even deeper.
Baritone: Largest at 30-inch body and 19 inches scale, provides the same range as an acoustic guitar and can go deeper and lower.
Different Ukulele String Material
There are a few distinct string materials, distinguished by the substance used in their creation and the technique applied for their wounding.
Wound Metal Strings
These incorporate metal as the core and are created for bigger ukes however they mainly use nylon but the exterior is made of a type of metal.
Their winding material is either copper or aluminum. These are designed to give a boost in the lower frequency notes.
Though it is noteworthy that these strings tend to get squeaky because some of the materials used and cutting them to your desired length can absolutely ruin them so don’t entertain that idea.
Wound Nylon Strings
As their name suggests, these strings are nylon-based but consist of two parts: the inner being that is made up of nylon but the winding part is made up of polymer.
These are for tenor and baritone sized instruments delivering a deeper tone but initially, they are for producing the traditional ukulele sound.
Though the offside is the strings emitting a screeching sound when you play them and the nylon tends to stretch over time for which the instrument will need tuning. But if you’re someone who travels and changes their environment frequently, the nylon gets affected by the temperature too.
These are for the advanced and seasoned users of the instrument as these are designed for guitars. You can only use these on your instrument if it is built for them.
They produce a very different sound as compared to the traditional one that the nylon strings do as steel strings’ range tends to be similar to that of the acoustic guitars, landing it on the deeper sound side.
However, the strain that these strings can cause to your instrument can end up damaging it because these can induce five times more tension to the body of the instrument as compared to nylon strings.
These are made from the guts of animals and are selected by instrumentalists because of the rich sound they produce and the easy slide of fingers while playing is another one of their qualities.
Many enjoy the tonal quality of warmth and clarity of the strings, these were around longer than the nylon ones.
Durability is not of their strongest suits because they tend to fray easily and are also very expensive. However, the complexity of playing these strings has driven many people to experience it.
These are made from different kinds of varying nylon polymer materials so every manufacturer can have a certain sound. Through the process of extension, molten nylon is pushed into different sized openings making a nylon fiber.
This brings choices in the thickness that leads to producing various sounds. These strings don’t hurt the fingers and the sounds produced are warm yet clear.
Nevertheless, the temperature does affect nylon causing these to contract in shifting environments so that will require some regular tuning on your part.
Fluorocarbon (plastic) strings
These can be substituted for nylon strings and these pretty much produce the same sound. These are preferred by many musicians because of the ease of use and mercy they take on the fingers.
They tend to stay in tune because they are originally formulated for fishing lines so they don’t get dull or snap easily.
Some more good characteristics of these strings are that temperature doesn’t affect them and you can easily cut them to your desired length if you’re not happy with the purchased size. All you have to do is be mindful of the tuning.
These are longer lasting than the plastic or nylon strings and are made of metal. That makes them sturdy which enables them to stand pressure so they do not break.
Their unwound part is made with mono carbon threads and the wound strings are copper that is silver plated.
These strings tend to produce very loud and shrill sounds and if you’re looking to amplify your instrument, these would be the best choice to boost it up.
This is the make or breaks factor for any instrument as it sets the pitch to play any music. String instruments like ukulele come with tuning clips that can be turned in both directions for raising or lowering the pitch that conforms to one of the strings
The strings on any ukulele are generally tuned to the notes G, C, E, and A. This is called standard tuning or gCEA. To establish a better and toned sound, some musicians prefer to tune their instruments with a low G string instead of a high G.
It is all about personal preferences and what makes you happy. Another option is D Tuning, which uses the notes aDF#B, it simply takes the actual standard tuning and transitions everything up by one whole tone.
The GBE tuning, also called Chicago tuning, is intended for larger instruments and is common for the baritone size. It matches up with the top four strings of a guitar and works flawlessly for guitar-based tones.
FA#DG tuning is less common but still useful. It shifts all musical notes down by one whole tone, it’s also helpful for situations where you wish to bring the pitch a little lower. Another easy option can be by using a microphone based tuner.
You can play each string promptly into the microphone, which can give you feedback as you keep on playing. It will enable you to adjust the tension in the strings accordingly.
Best Ukulele Strings Review
D’Addario EJ87S Titanium Ukulele Strings
These strings offer amazing, contemporary execution with excellent quality. These are made for soprano sized ukuleles and optimized for GCEA tuning.
Producing a powerful and loud tone range thanks to the titanium factor crafted with thick monofilament material, many users have loved this as it makes their instrument sound crisp, clear, and vibrant.
The strings are translucent which makes them fit any color of your instrument. D’Addario is applauded widely for its consistency and quality making a lot of customers very happy and satisfied
Aquila Ukulele Strings
These are created by combining three diverse synthetic elements to make a blended instrument that sounds good and stays in tune longer.
An enhanced feature is that these were designed to soak up less moisture as compared to the other strings which make these sound clearer and get tuned correctly.
These strings amass a thickness identical to gut strings but deliver a refined tone; eradicating the individual metallic-like sounds frequently found in other synthetic structures.
For users who would prefer the best sounding synthetic string that gives the feel of a gut and lasts longer, this is a perfect choice.
D’Addario EJ88S Nyltech Ukulele
These strings are crafted from exclusive Nyltech substance and are developed in alliance with Aquila, these are a deluxe blend of materials constructed to provide a perfect combination of mellow, yet sharp tones, along with relaxed playability, exact intonation, and tuning balance.
Producing an edgier tone, these stay in shape for a good while and are recommended highly by users who also enjoy the grip of these strings.
Ernie Ball Ukulele Strings
These are prepared from nylon monofilament and come in clear resin material for a sharp, balanced tone and terrific projection.
Featuring ball end structure for quicker, simpler installation over strings that require end-tying and can prove to be tough to drape around the bridge of the instrument.
The unique ball end design keeps from the undesirable stretch that comes along with the tie end techniques employed for traditional strings hence saving time and energy.
Aquila 115U Lava Series Ukulele Strings
Inspired by the volcano, this series is designed to pay homage to the people of Hawaii who made the ukulele so famous. These strings preserve the mechanical and sound characteristics of Nylgut strings.
These produce a deep, rich sound and are designed in a dark, grey look. With a great look and feel with the quality that is associated with Aquila, the lava series are enjoyed by many users.
The extended range on these strings shines through and the wound sounds fantastic although it isn’t designed for those who prefer the traditional tone and sound.
This edgy series is made to resonate more as it has great sustain and projection.
GHS Strings H-T10 Tenor Ukulele Strings
These are constructed to give the classic nylon feel with an articulately mellow sound that gets you in the mood.
Designed for players of all kinds from beginners to experts, these offer a little lower tension for excellent strumming and plucking. These bring out the rich traits of your instrument.
Each individual string is locked in a nitrogen domain, removing all oxygen, in a tear-resistant packaging so whether you use one string or the entire set, it guarantees freshness.
LaBella 200 Uke-Pro Soprano Ukulele Strings
Prepared with high-quality improved nylon to secure excellent intonation for all points. These strings are mellow and have a rather lower tension than some of the other strings.
It has a soft build and texture that can be heard under the fingers while playing. Some users have thoroughly enjoyed the grip of these strings along with the brightness of the design that adds some characters to the ukulele.
However, these strings are all about personal preferences because of some of the traits they offer. It is exceptional and tailor-made for a solo experience. La Bella has been a long time producer of the finest ukuleles in Hawaii.
Martin M600 Standard Concert Ukulele Strings
If you’re a fan of fluorocarbon strings then these are the perfect for you. These offer a high tensile endurance to keep tunings for a long time and enhance the sound production to get a consistent tone.
The density of fluorocarbon substance is greater than nylon and generates a richer tone, it also allows less extension and thus prevents tone failure due to stretching, which enables longer play.
These strings don’t provide extremely bright sounds but they have enough mid-range to cut through and be clearly heard.
However, if you adore the traditional tone of the ukulele then this is an accurate product for you.
Quick Guide for Ukulele Strings
How long does a Ukulele last?
The correct answer would be that it depends entirely on you. It also banks on your instrument, the type of strings, how much time you’ve spent playing, the way you play, the creation of the strings, your fingertips, etc.
However, they do tend to last a good while, the only difference is that once you change your strings even after a little time, you’ll notice a definite sound improvement. While some people restring theirs every few weeks, some also do after a few months.
How to tighten these strings?
You should tighten up your strings just enough to secure them if they feel loose. String winders can assist in making this task rather easier.
Or if you prefer then you can utilize the hand-winding tools or battery-powered ones. Just be very careful in tightening them too much lest you break them.
Also, look out for the bridge knots and tuning pegs to ensure the ends don’t slip.
How often should I change my strings?
The first answer would be how aggressively you play and how often you do. Naturally, once it breaks you must restore it but strings, in general, are meant to be changed and not cherished for long.
Though, the best practice would be to keep an eye out for the telltale signs of when strings start to wear out: any grooves or cuts on them, if they can’t hold a tune or if they start to sound dull. The best practice would be to change them every two to three months.
A lot goes into pursuing the passion of owning and playing this instrument. From its various kinds of strings to the tuning, everything plays a crucial role in keeping your instrument fresh and working.
Everything from top to bottom has been talked about here, so if you plan on buying one of these but are still undecided, then think about what kind of sounds you’d like, the durability factor and how would you like it to feel on your fingertips after a long session of playing.
Nonetheless, whatever you decide to choose, know that it will make a tremendous difference in switching up your ukulele.