The best ukulele strings for any player will depend upon several different factors. The reality is, however, that there is no single best brand on the market. While they are changed regularly, the strings on any instrument are one of its most important pieces where the overall quality of an instrument’s sound is concerned. As one develops skill, one will also develop characteristic elements of their playing style that will make certain brands of strings more preferable than others. This holds true for any stringed instrument, electric or acoustic, ukulele, guitar or otherwise.
Some of the ukulele strings on the market use precious metals in their manufacture, Koolau Golds Ukulele strings, for instance, formerly used a gold alloy in the winding on the lowest string. The company has since switched to a silver alloy. These metals impart a certain sound to the string that some players find desirable. The metal of which a string is made affects its softness, as well. For example, a gold-alloy wound string will generally fret with less finger force than will a similar string that is wound with plain steel. For acoustic instruments, this is an important factor.
The best strings can be identified, in terms of overall quality, by which are used by professional performers. The Koolau and Martin brands are both popular with professionals. For those who are just getting started, there is oftentimes a compromise made on the quality of the instrument to get a better price; a sensible move for a beginner. Strings, however, are inexpensive and no ukulele player should cheat themselves of good strings. The reasons for doing so are myriad. Not only will the playability be affected by the strings, but the sound of the instrument may be even more compromised.
These strings are designed to hold their tuning and to give an even sound at any fret. Martin strings and Koolau strings are both available in nylon, and this provides a good bit of instruction in how much difference a string makes. In the past, strings were made of gut, in the sense that they were literally made of the intestinal linings of animals. Some performers still use these strings as they swear by their sound. Others have moved to nylon for both humane and musical reasons. The sound between the strings, however, is noticeably different, no matter what one’s preference may be.
Ultimately, the best ukulele strings will be those that give the sound preferred by the performer. They also must be suitable for the instrument. Remember to specify which ukulele voice one’s instrument covers when buying strings. Too thin of a string will become spaghetti-like at lower tunings. If one is interested in experimenting with their instrument’s range, purchasing a variety of different string thicknesses is generally the best way to get started.
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