Wacky World of Ukulele Strings

For a uke player, ukulele strings make a huge difference. A high-quality instrument will produce lousy sound if it has poor quality strings on it. Fortunately for ukulele players, strings for these instruments are not particularly expensive and, among companies that produce very high quality strings on the whole, there are significant differences in their products. The end result is that there really is no brand that makes the best strings, but there is very likely a brand out there that you will end up preferring above others.

Nylon vs. Gut Ukulele Strings

Uke strings incorporate many different materials in their manufacture, and what’s chosen does make a noticeable difference. It’s not a difference in that one company makes the best uke strings because they use a material that a competitor does not. The difference is that the specific feel and response of a given brand of string—as well as its sound qualities—are likely to make it ideal for some players and not particularly good for others.

The vast majority of uke strings are made out of nylon. It’s durable and gives excellent sounds. Some strings, however, are made out of gut. The gut is taken from animals. Some players believe that these have the superior sound and other players prefer the sound of nylon. Some players use nylon strings for humane reasons, as well.

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Recommended Strings

  • Koolau Golds Ukulele strings once used a gold alloy in the construction of their strings, and now uses silver instead. This metal is used for the winding on the lowest string on the instrument. The choice of a particular metal affects both how the string feels and how it sounds. Some people prefer the silver-wound strings as silver is softer than steel and, thus, a silver-wound string requires less pressure to fret than a steel-would variety.
  • Martin is another major manufacturer of ukulele strings and one that is very popular among professional performers, as are Koolau’s. Whether one of these companies or another entirely makes the best uke strings is really subjective. It depends upon what the player wants and how much the string contributes to that goal.

Choosing Your Strings

There are plenty of different brands to try and a lot of products within each of those brands, as well. Finding the best uke strings might take you a while, and your preferences may change with time. For instance, the softer touch allowed by a gold- or silver-wound string might appeal to you when you’re starting out, but you might prefer the sound of a steel string later on, and not be bothered by the increased pressure to fret it due to having developed callouses.

Experiment with strings. They’re cheap and, if you don’t like a brand, taking it off and changing it out is more practice stringing and tuning your instrument, which is good for a beginner. With time, you’ll find which strings work for you.

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