Can You Use Classical Guitar Strings on Ukulele?
You can tune a ukulele to any tuning you like as long as there are strings available, and the construction can support it.
Yes! You Can Use Classical Guitar Strings
A ukulele is constructed basically like a small guitar, typically a classical guitar. As such, a lot of the same concerns, and information, technique and resources can be used for the ukulele.
Most ukulele strings are classical guitar stings cut the ukulele lengths, depending on the size of the ukulele. Many major string manufactures are creating special string formulations are now being used to draw on and enhance specific ukulele characteristics. But, there are pretty music classical guitar strings.
Ukuleles are generally constructed to support the following approximate strings tensions (4 stringed ukuleles)
- Soprano: 30lbs
- Concert: 30lbs
- Tenor: 40lbs
- Baritone: 50lbs
NOTE: Consult the specific string manufacture or builder for any specifics regarding your particular instrument.
Here are a few links and resources for some great information on classical strings:
- How to Select the Best Classical Guitar Strings for Your Nylon String Guitars from Classical Guitar Express
(source: FleaMarketMusic.com) Any classical guitar strings will work. You'd only use the D G B and E strings. As far as I know, there aren't any unwound classical D strings.
- Use the classical guitar D string for string four G when using a low G tuning.
- Use the classical G string for the string three C.
- Use the classical B string for the string two E.
- Use the classical E string for the string one A.
Any gauge of string would work, depending on how much tension you like on your strings and if your ukulele can support it. Refer to the Ukulele Strings section of the site for more information on these and many other brands of ukulele strings.
Curt's Current Custom Tenor String Set
Thomastik-Infeld Classic-N Strings
Abe Lagrimas came through Funky Frets during his 2018 east coast tour for a concert and workshop, and I noticed a different C string when I played his Ko'olau CS tenor, the same model I play. Abe was using a Thomastik-Infeld CF27 – 3rd string (g) .027 Chrome Steel Flat Wound string for his C string. It had great balance and didn't wear out as quick at the frets as a round would string typically does.
I use a low G, so I got the CF27 for the C string three as well as a Thomastik-Infeld CF30 - 4th string (D) .030 Chrome Steel Flat Wound for a low G. I play a Ko'olau CS tenor as well and this string combination is great. I don't know why I didn't consider Thomastik-Infeld before, I've been using their guitar strings on my guitars for decades. A bit pricey, but given that you use less of them, over time it is well worth it.
The Curt Sheller Custom Tenor Uke Set is a combination of singles from two Thomastik-Infed Classic Guitar sets. The Classic N Supernova and The Classic Guitar sets.
C Tuning, Low G
The below custom string sets are what I'm currently using for my two Ko'olau CS Tenors in Low
G, C tuning. For my Solid Koa Top, Tenor Fluke it prefers Ko'olau Golds or Ko'olau Golds Manaha strings.
Ko'olau CS Tenor Tenor Ukulele Set
Thomastik-Infeld String Option
Curt's custom set is available at Funky Frets Music Store, Boyertown, PA USA and on the on-line store .
- String 1 — Thomastik-Infeld Classic Guitar, Carbon Nylon Hybrid Material CPK24 (.024in/62mm, 19.40lbs/8.80KG) tuned to A (A4)
- String 1 — Thomastik-Infeld Classic Guitar, Carbon Nylon Hybrid Material CPK27 (.027in/69mm, 14.55lbs/6.60KG) tuned to E (E4)
- String 3 — Thomastik-Infeld Classic-N Supernova CF27 Chrome Steel Flat, .027, 039 (.027in/69mm, 14.20lbs/6.50KG) tuned to C (C4) a.k.a. Middle C
- String 4 — Thomastik-Infeld Classic-N Supernova CF30 Chrome Steel Flat, .030, 039 (.030in/76mm, 14.70lbs/6.50KG) tuned to G (C3) a.k.a. Low G in the Uke world
Tension Note: This set is a higher tension, so be sure to verify with the manufacture or builder that the ukulele can handle it.
Tenor Ukulele Set
Savarez Alliance String Option
This are the strings I used prior to 2022 an are still a great option, I only switched because of my access to TI strings and my personal preference for the flat-wound option. The gauges, the material, the feel are the same for the plain strings.
- String 1 — Savarez Alliance KF Plain Treble Standard Tension .024, 541R (.024in/62mm, 17.44lbs/7.9KG) tuned to A (A4)
- String 2 — Savarez Alliance KF Plain Treble Standard Tension .027, 542R (.027in/62mm, 13.02lbs/5.9KG) tuned to E (E4)
- String 3 — Thomastik-Infeld Classic-N CF27 Chrome Steel Flat, .027, 039 (.027in/69mm, 14.20lbs/6.50KG) tuned to C (C4) a.k.a. Middle C
- String 4 — Thomastik-Infeld Classic-N CF30 Chrome Steel Flat, .030, 039 (.030in/76mm, 14.70lbs/6.50KG) tuned to G (C3) a.k.a. Low G in the Uke world
C Tuning, High G
This is the set that ( (Curt) currently recommend for tenor ukuleles in C Tuning with a High
Strings are one area where different ukuleles might prefer different strings. A ukulele can be very opinionated as to the stings that it likes and brings out its best. Basically, your mileage might vary.
For my (Curt) Magic Fluke Solid Top Tenor Fluke I use Ko'olau Golds. I have a few sets left for personal use, as these are discontinued.
- String 4 — Thomastik-Infeld Classic-N, Carbon Nylon Hybrid Material CPK24 (.024in/62mm, 19.40lbs/8.80KG) tuned to G (G4)
Strings one, two, and three are the same as the Low G, C Tuning sets above.