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Do ukulele strings make a difference?

What’s so special about each kind? Find out now!

by Susan Montgomery
ukulele strings

You have your awesome ukulele and now you’re bombarded with all sorts of options for strings. But your ukulele came with great strings, right? Why would you want to change them? Sometimes, you need to change them and sometimes you just want a different sound. But do ukulele strings really make a difference? What’s so special about each kind?

I will discuss the basics of ukulele strings and what factors influence the differences in the strings. You’ll be “in the know” with strings by the end!

The Basics of Ukulele Strings

Ukulele strings are typically made from various materials including nylon, fluorocarbon, gut, and steel. The choice of string material impacts the sound they make. When you pluck a string, the sound vibrates and creates waves in the air. This is what we know as sound.

EVERYTHING STRINGS: Learn everything you need to know about ukulele strings in this NEW COURSE!

Thicker, longer strings produce a sound that is slower, producing lower pitches. Thinner, shorter strings produce a sound that has a higher pitch. The vibrations from the strings go through the ukulele body through the bridge, which is in contact with the strings. Many factors influence what the resulting sound will be like.

Material Matters

Ukulele strings can be made from many materials and these make a difference in how the ukulele sounds. Nylon strings sound warm and are very stretchy. While they can be easy to play, especially for beginners, they can take a while to settle so you’ll find yourself tuning them a lot in the beginning until they stretch out.

Fluorocarbon strings sound brighter and are very smooth. They don’t take as long to settle and you won’t need to tune them as often. D’Addario makes a great fluorocarbon string you can find here in the Terry Carter Music Store. This set is optimized for a tenor-sized ukulele, using a high G string.

Metal strings offer a brighter and crisper sound compared to nylon or fluorocarbon strings. They produce more sustain, clarity, and projection, making them suitable for certain playing styles and musical genres. The steel composition contributes to their distinct tonal characteristics.

Gauges and Tensions

Different gauges and tensions can affect the volume and feel of the strings. The gauge describes the thickness of the string and tension describes the amount of pressure exerted on the string. Both of these are essential when choosing ukulele strings and determining differences between various sets.

Thicker strings generally sound warmer and more mellow. Lower tension also has a mellow and relaxed sound. Thinner strings sound brighter and more crisp and higher tension will sound brighter and have more projection.

The strings you ultimately like will depend on personal preference. Some players like that bright tone and some like a low and smooth, mellow sound.

Wound vs. Unwound

Some ukulele strings have a wound metal core (usually for the lower-pitched strings) while others are entirely unwound. Wound strings offer more sustain and warmth, while unwound strings tend to be brighter and crisper. Many players like the unwound string in a low G string. It offers a distinct sound. A low G string is used when you want linear tuning as opposed to reentrant tuning.

Read more: Fingerpicking Patterns for your Ukulele

Specialty Strings

There are many different specialty strings you can experiment with as well. There are low-G and baritone strings. You can even put strings on your baritone and tune them to G-C-E-A (with a low G) instead of the standard baritone tuning of D-G-B-E. This is what I have on my baritone ukulele and I use these great strings by PhD. You can find them here in the Terry Carter Music Store. Some, like myself, love playing the baritone-size ukulele without having to play the typical baritone chords.

Conclusion on Ukulele Strings

Ukulele strings are inexpensive enough that you can play around and experiment with which strings you like the best. All the different types do make a difference in how they sound and feel. Your playing style and what kind of music you play may also make a difference in which strings you pick. As always, it’s important to keep your strings clean and store your ukulele properly so you can prolong the life of the strings.

Do you have more questions about strings? You can connect with other players and ask them about which strings they prefer in the Uke Like the Pros Community Forum. It’s a friendly community of players and it’s great to share the joy you have for the instrument with others. We offer a variety of membership packages that can suit your needs.

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