Ok, so now we know how to change strings,
but what about how to pick out new strings?
First of all there are four main "sizes" of strings.
Soprano, Concert, Tenor, and Baritone. So the first thing is you need to know what you need. Refer to the first part of my Ukulele types and tunings chart, in the Ukulele lesson section. One thing to keep in mind. Not all strings will work the same on all ukuleles. It is possible that changing strings will change the way it plays, for better, or worse. Once you know what kind of strings you need, then it is a matter of personal preference. "harder" strings produce a brighter tone, but can be hard on the fingers. "softer" strings produce a warm mellow tone, but tend to wear faster, and need to be tuned more often. There are real gut strings, nylon strings, fluorocarbon stings, and synthetic gut strings. Unfortunately, the only real way to know if you will like a certain brand or type of strings, or if they will sound good on your Ukulele is by trying them. But, here are some basic things that you should know.
1. Real gut strings.
These are often called "Cat Gut" but are not actually made from our feline friends. They are generally made from the intestines of the sheep or goats. They produce a most "genuine" old-time Ukulele sound, but can be hard to keep in tune as they are very susceptible to changes in temperature and humidity.
2. Nylon strings.
There are two basic types of Nylon strings. Extruded, and Ground.
Extruded are basically made by pushing hot nylon through a small hole to make the sting. The string is then checked for thickness and consistency.
Ground string are initially extruded, but are then ground down to the proper size. This produces a more consistent sting diameter, and a slightly "rough" or "squeaky" feel, due to the microscopic texture on the string. While Nylon is generally stable in humidity, it can have problems with temperature changes.
3. Fluorocarbon strings
Originally designed as a material for fishing line, fluorocarbon strings are becoming popular among Ukulele players. Generally a bit brighter than nylon, due to the string being slightly smaller than it's nylon counterpart. Fluorocarbon is also favored because like nylon, it holds up well to humidity, and also is less susceptible to changes in tempter.
4. Synthetic gut strings
These are currently being made by only one company that I know of, "Aquila" and are sold under the trade name "Nylgut" They were invented for use on Violins. These are a synthetic material that mimics the sound and feel of real gut strings, without the moisture problems. They can however be quite susceptible to changes in temperature.
String Q and A.
Q. Are all four strings on my ukulele the same?
A. No. Not only are all four strings on the ukulele different, but they are also different for different sizes and tunings. Some times on "low cost" or Toy ukuleles, they are all the same, but that is also one of the many reasons they sound bad
Q. Can I put concert strings on my soprano?
A. It depends. although they are both tuned G C E A, (some sopranos are A D F# B) Some concert strings are different diameter than their soprano counterparts, and may damage your Ukulele as you bring them up to tune.(or after a while!) You should check with the manufacturer to see if the difference is in length, diameter, or both. If they are just longer, go for it. You may get two sets out of them.
Q. Can I put soprano strings on my concert?
A. Again, it depends, but many times they will be too short, and if the tension is too high, it could cause damage over time
Q. Can I put Soprano or Concert strings on my Baritone?
A. Well, first of all they will probably be too short, but more important is that even if they actually fit, the tension could be wrong, and quite possibly tear the bridge off over time, so my advice is don't do it. There are companies making baritone scale strings for concert (GCEA) tuning, so if you must do it, get strings made for it.
Q. Can I put Baritone strings on my Concert/Soprano?
A. Sure, but it will more than likely sound really bad, and may damage your Ukulele.
Q. Can I tune my Ukulele like a Mandolin?
A. I guess, if you feel the need to do that. But you will need different strings, and the chords will not be the same, so I kinda think, why not just play a mandolin?
Q. I have seen some people leave all the extra string kinda coiled up by the tuners. What is that all about?
A. Well I have been told that that is so that if the string breaks, you already have a replacement ready to go. If it works, and you don't mind the look, why not?
Next,4. Things to look for when buying a Ukulele
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