Now you’ve got your nice new shiny ukulele, it’s definitely a good idea to look into decent strings. Strings that come with beginner uke’s are generally poor. The last thing you need is a new instrument that doesn’t stay in tune. Especially if you’re learning. It can get monotonous constantly tuning up.
You won’t believe how much quality strings improve the sound. Let’s look at the essential steps you can take before you buy strings.
Buying The Correct Strings For Your Ukulele
Uke strings come in many different types and lengths. It’s important to buy the correct ones for your instrument. It’s not as simple as buying a packet and cutting them to size.
Let’s look at the factors we‘ll need to consider:
Scale Length/Overall Length
|Ukulele Type||Scale Length||Overall Length||Tuning|
Most string packaging shows the sizes of the strings, or the ukulele type on the front. If you follow this table above, you now know which length strings to buy.
Our Picks: The Best Ukulele Strings
- Aquila Nylgut Soprano Ukulele strings (key of C) AQ-4U
- D’Addario EJ99TLG Tenor Low G Pro-Arte Carbon Ukulele Strings
- Ernie Ball Concert/Soprano Nylon Ball End Ukulele Strings Black
- Martin Nylon Ukulele Strings – Standard (.0191 – .0216)
- 2 Sets of Nylon Ukulele Strings with 4 Felt Picks, Strings are White, Picks are Yellow, Gray, Black, Red
What Are The Different Ukulele String Types?
Nylon is the most popular string type but there are others that you may want to try. The good thing is ukulele strings are cheap to buy, so I would advise trying out a few sets to find your own sound. Here are the various types of strings (or Ukulele String Names):
Nylon Polymer strings come in many different types. The overall sound differs depending on the brand. Nylon strings do stretch over a period of time, you may need to keep tuning it in the beginning. Humidity does not affect the tuning but a change in temperature can. Perfect for beginners and children.
If you’re into fishing, then you may know fluorocarbon is used as a fishing line. You get a brighter sound than nylon and the temperature doesn’t affect the tuning as much. So if you play ukulele outside a lot, then I would try a pack of fluorocarbon.
Titanium strings offer more volume and a brighter tone than nylon. They are also stronger and much more durable. Some of the best uke strings are made from titanium. Best for the intermediate players, not so much for a starter.
The inner part of the string contains nylon which is wrapped with a polymer-made winding material. Usually found on baritone or tenor ukes.
Made from copper or aluminum. Typically found on the larger size uke. Can be squeaky to play when fretting the notes.
Steel strings are rare on a uke unless it’s been built that way or set up by a professional. If you were to revert from nylon to steel, you may damage your instrument as the steel-string exerts a lot of tension on the neck.
A Quick Glance At The Pros And Cons
- Soft on the fingers, great for kids/beginners
- Warm sounds at a nice volume
- Classic ukulele tone
- Not affected by humidity and won’t deteriorate as quick as steel
- Affects tuning when there’s a change in temperature
- Not good if you play near an air conditioning unit
- Not affected by temperature changes, so stays in tune better
- Can be cut to the desired length unlike wound strings
- Clearer, louder sound
- More durable than Nylon and Fluorocarbon
- As they’re made of metal you’ve got much less chance of snapping a string
- Brighter and louder than the competition
Steel Strings (+)
- Offers a different tone to the standard mellow island tone
- Much brighter tones than the competition
Steel Strings (–)
- Best used on acoustic guitars
- Can damage smaller ukes
Wound Nylon Strings (+)
- Used only on larger Ukes, such as Baritone or Tenor. Produces great bass sound on the lower strings which smaller ukes cannot match
Wound Nylon Strings (–)
- Cannot cut the strings to length as they’ll fray
- Squeaky when fretting, can be annoying after a while
Steel Strings (+)
- These are primarily intended for larger ukes and when musicians need a boost in the lower end of the frequency range
Steel Strings (–)
- Again, can be squeaky unless you like the mousey tone
- Not a good idea to cut to length as they unravel
Did you know?
All strings were produced from ‘gut’. Sheep’s small intestines! Whilst a sheep eats, the lining of the intestine expands and shrinks after digestion. This is what makes natural sheep gut so desirable to string manufacturers.
Yuk, unless you’re learning Ba-hemian Rhapsody (sorry!)
Changing Your Ukulele Strings, You Can Do It
If you decide you love playing the Uke, i think it’d be best you learned how to change the strings. Don’t panic, it’s pretty easy with a bit of practice.
- Start by unwinding the tuning peg so the string loosens.
- Gently pull it back through the hole on the headstock and it’ll become loose at the bridge.
- Remove the string gently, not too fast or pulling too hard.
- Go back and repeat the process on the next string until all strings are off.
- Post the correct string through the hole leaving around 3 inches UNDER the bridge.
- Wrap the shortest piece UNDER the string, then OVER, then THROUGH the loop TWICE
- Don’t panic! Take it really slow
- Push your finger on the string at the very bottom of the string and then pull the longest end tight. (slowly)
- Now you can let go. Take the other end of the string and post it through the correct peg from the RIGHT side of the peg.
- Hold the posted part of the string with your left hand whilst using that hand to wind the peg anti-clockwise. Leave slack on both sides of the hole.
- With your right hand gently hold the string at the lower side of the hole and wind until you feel the tension. Do not over tighten
- Use a decent clip on tuner to tune to pitch.
Here’s a really helpful video of a technique you can follow:
The Best Ukulele Strings Review
- Pros: Great Strings For Any Size Uke, Pro Sound, Good Mixture Of Other Tunings available, Produced By A Most Respected Names In String Production, Superior Sound To Nylon
- Cons: None
Aquila ukulele strings a very popular in the ukulele world. They come at a very affordable price and boast elevated resistance wear under tension. The pack I’ve reviewed here is for a ‘Soprano’, but if you have a Concert, Tenor or Baritone you can easily follow the links and choose the correct string type.
Aquila has its own ‘Nygut’ brand of strings. These strings and made from three synthetic components, the first of this kind to boast a near vintage gut string tone. They mirror the original 19th and 20th-century gut string. The Aquila stay in tune longer, offer more accurate fret intonation, and are very stable through moisture changes. A professional, clear, and concise sound. The more expensive uke’s are sold with Aquila strings already fitted, this tells you a lot about the quality. A good starting string for every player. Can’t go far wrong with Aquila.
- Pros: Brighter Than Aquila, Various Types Of String Type Available, Modern Tone, Covers all Uke Type Instruments
- Cons: None
D’Addario are a huge player in the string market. They cater mostly to guitar strings, but also produce accessories and strings for orchestral instruments. These ‘Tenor’ strings are the pack I’m reviewing, but D’Addario also has this range for Soprano/Concert and Baritone.
These ‘Pro-Arte Carbon’ ukulele strings are designed for the perfect blend of tone and projection. These fluorocarbon sets are ideal for progressive ukulele players looking for a bright, modern sound. If you’re already a guitar player, i would suggest these are a good match for you. These particular type of string would suit an intermediate to advanced player. They provide a bright warm sound, that sustains better than the nylon-based strings. The Fluorocarbon string are a little better at staying in tune. 100% worth trying these if you’re still trying to find your own sound.
Whether you’re starting out, looking for strings for your kids, or a seasoned pro, D’Addario can cater for you.
- Pros: Great Price, Anchored Strings, Trustworthy Brand, Clear And Loud.
- Cons: Black Strings Look A Bit Ugly
Ernie Ball strings are another brand guitarist’s will know well. I sometimes use the Slinky range of strings from Ernie Ball on my electric guitar. When i saw these i thought, they must be of a good standard. You kind’a know what you’re going to get.
These particular strings come in a black color and instantly feel like a fluorocarbon to me. Straight away i can tell the difference in volume and clarity compared to the ‘traditional’ nylon sound. They have a warmer, darker tone too them. On the packet, they advertise a ‘Ball End Nylon’. The strings basically have a small plastic washer at the end. This acts as an anchor and works brilliantly if you have a pin bridge (like an acoustic guitar). You can still fit the strings in the traditional figure 8 technique (just snip the ball off). I like this anchor feature as it’s very much like the guitar-based strings, it’s also easy for a complete beginner to string a ukulele.
- Pros: Value For Money, Mellow And True, Longer Resonance, Reliable Brand, Better For Staying In Tune
- Cons: None
If you haven’t heard of Martin & Co, they produce outstanding acoustic guitars. Naturally, they’d turn their hand to strings and eventually ukulele strings.
Martin uke strings are capable of being drawn out or stretched to improve tuning and consistent true tone. Once again these strings are made of Fluorocarbon, so you’re guaranteed a rich amplified tone. The strings allow less elongation and therefore resist tone loss from stretching. Martin Fluorocarbon strings are denser and thinner than traditional nylon. This results in a more powerful tone. Players looking for the warmer tone and softer touch strings, you should check the martin range out.
2 Sets of Nylon Ukulele Strings with 4 Felt Picks, Strings are White, Picks are Yellow, Gray, Black, Red
- Pros: Strings Are Labelled, 2 Packs For The Price Of 1, Felt Picks Included, Great For Kids,
- Cons: Not As Reliable, Lower Quality Sound
Chengu are not a household ukulele name, in fact, they make all types of random products from China. The reason I’ve added these strings into the review is; there will be a lot of you out there who’ve just purchased a lower-priced uke, you may need some replacement strings. Your toddler may want to give ukulele a go, but you don’t want to pay too much at this time. These nylon strings are a better replacement than the ones that come on the uke from the factory. The fact that you get two packs for such a lower price is an absolute winner. This basic pack is fine for someone who is finding out if they want to pursue playing. They are nylon and soft in touch, so your kids can bash away, and if a string brakes, you have plenty of spare.
Although the quality is lower than the rest of the reviewed strings, the Chengu option are very popular, and a safe bet for beginners.
Uke Couldn’t Do Better: The Winner
The Best Ukulele Strings
D’Addario Ukulele Strings are my clear winner. Simply because they provide strings for all ukuleles/alternative tuning and the whole spectrum of sound. From classical warm beach sounds to clear resonated concert tone. They’re a brand that you can trust. They cover the soft thin Soprano strings for children right up to the pro player. The price is also pretty competitive with the rest of the competition.
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