20

Ukulele Strings

Finding the right ukulele strings can take some research and experimentation on your part. It will depend on your instrument, your style of playing, or technique, and your preference of sound. We give some sound comparisons here that will help you decide what to try, but first let’s review the different types of strings and materials used.


  • Aquila‘s are the most popular and probably best in the tension/volume ratio. D’addario’s new version Nyltech , made in conjunction with Aquila, have a slightly higher tension than Aquila but better articulation and often better intonation. I predict those becoming more popular as people try them more
  • 100% percent Fluorocarbon. Many string companies, 100% same material. So who cuts their fishing line better? Density and diameter can attest to the differences but they all have a similar sound. It’s like different chefs serving only eggs. They can be different, but not that different. But don’t get me wrong, the variety does serve a purpose. You can often match the best for your uke and style by trying different companies versions of ….100% Fluorocarbon. Come to your own conclusions.
  • Then you have the Multi-filament Nylon D’addario, GHS and a boatload of small offshoots and manufacturers that color and label nylon. Often Ukulele Manufacturers do it because they need strings for their instruments. Their choices on tension and diameter may be your favorite. All depends on your instrument, technique, and opinion.  My father originally worked with classical string makers in Argentina for Ko’olau Golds. Mike Upton with Kala recently also found string makers in Argentina. That leads me to..
  • Microwound! Savarez has wound nylon trebles, similar to these. Kala has the Red strings with the same principle, but I believe the new Kala Pearls are the best offering in a microwound string. Microwound?  I’m pretty sure Kala just made up the word, but I think it’s appropriate. These strings are a very thin flat-wound metal that squeak about as much as regular plain Aquilas, and get wound like sustain, clarity and attack. I think they are a top option for a very solid built instrument.

A real lightly braced instrument that could hold up Aquila tension over many years would suffer from these. But, the two models in the video are able to handle. Nowhere near the edge of the structure to resonance equation. The Islander MT I put these on did not like this amount of tension. But the newer Islanders have a slightly heavier bracing. So these bring a better tone without compromising the stability.

If you see a string set pull a belly where there wasn’t one. Don’t use them! A belly can happen slowly over time and not do anything too drastic. But if you see a quick reaction from the top, that’s a red flag. If you don’t want to waste a set of strings and can get away with it, tune down a step.

10 years ago people were still using the GHS strings or Hilo strings, and almost always with a wound third and high G. In the last few years Aquila came up like a wave and dominated the market. So what’s the deal with these new strings? They’re all wound?  Maybe you’re thinking, “but how’s that gonna work when I dont even like one wound string in my set?” Good question…. Because they aren’t like other wound strings. They’re flat wound over a nylon multifilament don’t squeek. If they do I guess you could say it was a micro squeek. BUT… the attack and articulation are as good as I’ve heard, and most instruments can handle this tension perfectly fine. Inquire if you are not sure. Aloha from HI. Add your 2 cents below.

(We sell many different ukulele strings at our store and online shop- TheUkuleleSite.com/Strings)

Kala Pearl Strings compared

New Nyltech from D’addario compared with Aquila

8 Tenor sets back to back!

Concert String Comparison

Comments 20

  1. The pearl strings have a clearer sound than the other two brands. Do they make them for a baratone ukulele?

  2. I’ve aways been a fan of Aquilla strings. I just received my Kala- KA SMEC-C which I had Ocras Light low G STRINGS. The sound is absolutely fantastic. The strings are made in Japan. I would be interested to have feed back on anyone else trying these strings. BBB

  3. I’m not a “beginning player” and not an “interrmediate player.” I’m in the no man’s land in between.But when I switched to Aquila on my concert Epiphone, the difference was amazing.
    Thanks to Andrew @ HMS, I recently picked up a Pono tenor acacia/cedar top. Of course it sounds very nice as it is, but I’m thinking of changing to a low G using Aquilas. Now….I’m a also thinking about the Pearls……What to do…..?

  4. I have a Lani Kai Soprano, pretty sure it came with the Aquilla strings which were fine for someone who never played a uke. So as I grew with it, fiddled, explored it, I decided to get new strings. 1st set I got was the Martin strings and they were fine for quite some time. Then decided I would go with a higher end and try them. I bought the 3 levels of Ko’olau. the only ones I could get to sound good were the golds and have been on there since. just my 2cents. amy

  5. I personally swear by the Aquila nylgut. I have not tried many other brands but that’s because I love Aquila so much.

    1. I highly recommend trying different string out. Even if you already have a preferred brand. I swear by the ko’olau alohi strings but still ventured into trying every kind i could find that I haven’t (make sure to get strings that are right tension for your uke), and each string type brings out different qualities in your uke. Now I enjoy switching up every now then…it’s like re-falling in love with your uke every time. Be brave and explore the world of strings.

  6. Are steel strings good for Ukuleles? What are the attributes that they have? I’d imagine it to be more crisp, loud and sharp. But I never seen a good comparison review on YouTube or Online. Some advice for a guitar-like sound or at least some deep crisp sounding strings recommendation would be helpful!

    1. Post
      Author

      Steel strings are too much tension on almost any ukulele because of the way it’s braced. It would most likely pull up the top over time, and right away on many models. There have been ukes that were made for steel strings but it’s rare.

  7. I would like some advice on re-stringing my banjo ukulele. It has been suggested that I go for:

    D’Addario EJ53C pro arte rectified concert strings
    or
    D’Addario EJ65C pro arte custom extruded concert strings
    or
    Aquila red string sets

    1. Post
      Author

      Those are good options. It really depends on how you play and what you want to hear. The D’addario sets will mellow out the brashness you can get from a banjo uke. The Aquila will emphasize the volume and attack.

  8. Dont know if you can help me but hope you can. Recently received after long awaited my new pono baritone pro classic ukuele rosewood sides and back with spruce top gloss and radiused ebony fretvoard. Trying to find out what strings were installed on this instrument.top two strings are steel or nickel wound.bottom two strings appear to be clear nylon maybe clear fluorcarbon.Cant seem to find anyone who might know.Any ideas as your help woul greatly appreciated.T really like these strings and am looking for replacements with thw same brand. Thank-you Patrick Whitby Ontario Canada

    1. Post
      Author
  9. Can you tell me what kind of strings came with my Kala KA-TE- Tenor Acoustic/Electric uke?Love them, and want to be prepared for a breakage at some point.

    1. Post
      Author
  10. I’m trying to find strings for my pono asd. What kind of strings are on those? Also thinking of putting some worth Browns on them. What are your thoughts?

    1. Post
      Author
  11. Hello,

    I love your guys, thanks for all you do! I have two string related questions. The first one, I have a Pono tenor solid acacia TE . I have only been playing with the Ko’olou strings it came with. It sounds great but it isn’t quite as bright and punchy as I like. I’m not used to playing with the wound C String. Typically at play Aquila new nygut strings. So I was planning on putting them on but didn’t know if you had any other recommendations?

    I have a 1960 solid mahogany Martin baritone ukulele. However, I play with traditional GCEA tuning, with a high G. I have only been able to find Aquila strings that offer this. I tried both the Lava and nygut and I like the nygut better, but it still doesn’t have a sound I’m looking for. I know dude the extra bracing the baritone has it will have a different tone, but wanted to know your thoughts, I was recommended to try worth of strings on them, but wanted your input.

    Thanks,
    Doug

    1. Post
      Author

      Hey Doug, For the TE try some fluorocarbon strings like the Oasis warms. I like those on Pono tenors and they are bright and punchy.
      For the baritone, Aquila is the only one I know making sets for that specifically but you can use other sets if they are light enough. We found the Southcoast Light gauge work well for that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *