You might have the ukulele you want and can play almost all of your favorite songs. But without the best ukulele strings, it can be hard to get its full acoustic sound. Pro tip: use your headphones or studio monitors to hear if your uke sounds good.
Practice is the key to improve but you have to also learn how to change and choose the right strings for your ukulele.
So we are here to help with this Ultimate Guid to Ukulele Strings For Beginners. This guide will help you get the right strings, you’ll be playing your ukulele with its top sound in no time.
Choosing the Right Ukulele Strings for Beginners
Most low-cost ukuleles will have cheap strings on them. To improve the acoustic sound of your uke, it will not hurt to invest in a new high-quality string set. And for a relatively small cost, you can get a big improvement in the sound.
Before we go to the best ukulele strings in the market, lets first look at the things we need to know when choosing the right ones. Let’s start!
Sizes of Ukulele
Some of you might not know, but ukuleles come in 4 standard sizes: soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone.
Each size has a different scale length and tension requirements. Therefore, not every set of uke strings will fit on all sizes of ukuleles.
Soprano has the most traditional size of all at 20″ or 51cm. This size is the most common and makes a typical classic ukulele sound.
The body of a concert ukulele is bigger at 23″ or 58cm. Its neck is longer with more room between frets. Easier to use compared to the other sizes. It produces a sound like a soprano, typical classic ukulele sound but a bit louder than soprano.
Recently, the most popular ukulele is the tenor at 26″ or 66cm. It produces a deeper sound than a typical classic uke sound. More like a classical guitar sound than soprano and concert. A lot of professionals and famous ukulele players prefer tenor because of this.
The largest size is baritone at 30″ or 76cm. It produces the deepest tone of all and sounds like a classical nylon stringed guitar. Because of its size and sound, baritone ukes are the least popular of the bunch. Since, majority of ukulele players choose this instrument for its size, portability, and its sound. Also, the tuning for this size is more guitar-like than a ukulele.
Majority of ukulele strings are made from nylon polymers. They offer the typical ukulele sound but there are a lot of very interesting and better alternatives in the market. Here are some types of string material you should definitely check out!
Gut ukulele strings were the first ones to be used as strings. As the name suggests, these are made from various animal guts.
Some musicians like this because it gives a more rich and complex sound compared to nylon and titanium. They also have a different feel to them and slides better. But they are really expensive and don’t last very long.
Like we mentioned above, this is the most common ukulele strings. But the sound they produce may vary depending on the brand.
The cheapest nylon strings are made through extrusion. A process where nylon monofilament is made by pushing molten polymer in holes of specific diameters.
While more expensive ones also extruded. But later ground to produce a more consistent diameter. Ground strings tend to be a little more textured compared to those that aren’t.
Nylon will surely stretch over time, sooner if used more often. So, you might need to retune your ukulele often. Though this type of string is not affected by humidity, a change in temperature can cause your string to stretch.
Fluorocarbon is traditionally used in fishing lines. When used, it gives off a brighter sound compared to nylon. The sound it produces is perfect when you play your ukulele outside the house where there is a lot of change in temperature. Compared to nylon, fluorocarbon is less affected by a change in temperature.
Titanium is a monofilament material known for its strength, durability, and brighter tone compared to nylon with more volume and projection. The sound it produces is similar to fluorocarbon.
Wound Nylon Strings
Wound nylon ukulele strings have a nylon core wrapped with a polymer winding material. It is commonly found in sets for tenor or baritone as the 2 lower strings. This type of string produces finger squeaks that some ukulele players might find distasteful.
Wound Metal Strings
Wound metal ukulele strings are commonly used on lower notes and larger ukuleles. This type of material can sound a little too squeaky for some people. The typical winding materials for this type of strings are copper or aluminum.
Steel ukulele strings are rarely used by ukulele players. Unless your uke is specifically made for it, like banjoleles. It is never a great idea to use these strings because the tension they exert on the top, bridge, and neck will cause damage to your ukulele.
If you want to produce the typical classic ukulele sound, steel strings are not for you.
The common tuning is GCEA. But remember, there are 2 versions of this.
- Low G – GCEA in ascending order
- Low G – gCEA with the G-string 1 octave up
Do not forget to check each string pack you buy. Getting the wrong one can leave you with broken strings.
Each pack for these tunings can also be found in all 4 ukulele sizes. Although, with baritone, DGBE is the most commonly used. While in sopranos, there are some strings tunes with ADF#B (d-tuning).
Depending on the pack of ukulele strings you bought, some strings typically the G and/or C strings may have an outer winding over a nylon core.
Here are the common materials used for winding:
- Phosphor Bronze
There are also strings wrapped in nylon as well.
Choosing metal-wrapped or nylon-wrapped strings can add some degree of volume and brightness. But they can produce a squeaky sound when played.
The only way for you to know which one you prefer is to spend some time trying both. So, if your current strings are nylon, try some metals one next and vice-versa.
The Best Ukulele Strings
It might take you a long time for you to choose or buy your ukulele but do not forget about its strings! Uke relies on its strings to produce great sound, tone, and music. With the best ukulele strings, you can get the performance your ukulele is capable of.
We look at various reviews on the internet and Amazon to choose which are the best ukulele strings available in the market. Let’s start!
There are 5 different versions or subline of Nylgut, namely
- New Nylgut – standard and most popular line.
- Lava Series – same as new Nylgut but in cool black color.
- Red Series – has a red copper powder to enhance string density and improved intonation, increase volume and brightness, and lessen breakage.
- Super Nylgut – designed to lessen string-stretch, enhance tuning stability, and adds smooth outer playing surface.
- Bionylon – the first-ever eco-friendly uke string made from 100% natural castor oil.
Also, it is worth mentioning that D’Addario’s Titanium line is not actually made from titanium. But they use a unique monofilament material with a purplish color.
Changing your Ukulele Strings for Beginners
Once you found the right strings for your ukulele, the next thing you need to know is how to change your strings.
There are a lot of negative online reviews about certain strings on the internet. But there are times that the problem was the person. Usually, some beginners do not know how to change their uke strings correctly. And even the best strings if used incorrectly will not perform.
Also, you have to keep in mind that new strings require breaking-in time and several re-tunings.
So, if you are a beginner and you haven’t done this before, watch this quick video from Cordoba Guitars. Hope it helps you in your first try.
Which is the Best Ukulele String?
Which one is the best ukulele strings? Well, there is no exact answer to that.
It will solely depend on your preference, ukulele, and playing style.
There are a lot of things to consider, like durability, comfort, sound, material, etc.
The key to finding the right set for you is to experiment! Uke strings are not that expensive. So, try various brands, sets, and materials to help you choose the best one for you.
Also, it doesn’t hurt to record yourself playing your ukulele. You might be surprised how you register on a microphone!