How to Choose the Right Strings for Your Ukulele - dummies

How to Choose the Right Strings for Your Ukulele

By Alistair Wood

Most new ukuleles — particularly cheap ones — come with low-quality strings. Switch them for higher-quality ones and you’ll be amazed at how much the sound improves. A decent set of strings costs $7 or $8, and the strings are worth much more for the amount of tone they add.

Like ukuleles themselves, different strings have different sounds and appeal to different people. So try a few out and see which ones you prefer. Start by trying the string makers with the best reputation: Aquila and Worth.

Unfortunately, with all the different sizes and tunings around, buying ukulele strings isn’t a straightforward task. If you find yourself with the wrong set of strings, you certainly aren’t going to be the first — everyone does it.

The first thing you want to check is the size of ukulele the strings are intended for. Soprano size strings work fine on a concert ukulele (and vice versa), but if you have a soprano instrument, avoid buying tenor or baritone strings — they won’t fit on a soprano ukulele.

Next, check that the strings aren’t low-G tuning (unless of course you’re looking for those specifically). Standard strings are sometimes marked high-G but not always. Sometimes you can see strings labeled aDF♯B (rather than gCEA), but in fact very little difference exists between the tunings, and so these strings work just as well in gCEA tuning. You may also see strings with the names written back to front (AECG or BF♯DA): very confusing, but these strings are exactly the same as the standard strings.

Mercifully, not all string issues are so vexing. Uke strings come in plenty of colors — black, white, transparent, brown, even pink — and they’re all perfectly acceptable.

Don’t try to put steel strings on a standard ukulele. Steel strings have a lot of tension in them. Unless your uke is designed to take them, you’re going to end up with a broken instrument.