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Learning `Ukulele with Curt

Learning `Ukulele with Curt

The home for Learning Ukulele and All Things Ukulele with Curt Sheller: Ukulele Player, Musician, Author, Publisher, Educator, Graphic Artist, Programmer, Website Designers, Shipping Clerk, Janitor, Roadie, Chauffeur, Short-Order Cook, Carpenter, Electrician, Plumber, Sound Engineer, MC. Kumu a'o...

Ukulele Strings

All about ukulele strings. Links, information, brands, types of string material, changing strings, and string miscellaneous string resources.

My Personal Ukulele Strings Recommendations

Here are a few ukulele string sets to try out first. These are sets that have a good reputation among ukulele players. I like the full line of Ko`olau strings.

Ukulele strings are basically Classical Guitar strings on a ukulele. The only difference is the packaging and the length of the string. work fine. Ukulele (a.k.a. classical guitar strings ) strings are primarily are made of materials such as nylon, fluorocarbon, and other synthetics.

I bounce between using Ko`olau `Alohi Strings and Savarez Alliance ( 540R Trebles ) on my performance tenor ukuleles. Both of these sets are Fluorocarbon strings.

savarez_541Rkoolau-alohiSavarez now makes a dedicated ukulele string set for soprano/concert and tenor ukuleles. No low G, so I use the D'Addarrio Pro-Arte J4304 for the Low G. These are the same Alliance KF stings that I've always been using just in a ukulele package.

For a ukulele string recommendation that you can pretty much find at any music store, go with Martin Ukulele strings - which are fluorocarbon.

For some great information on strings checkout the Strings by Mail - String Basics page .

Aguila-AX-AQ Alice Aquila Aquila-Lava BlackDiamond CurtMangan DAdarrio-BlackNlyon DAdarrio-dj53 DAdarrio-djt2 DanielMari Doga Dunlop Dunlop-2 Freemont GHS Hannabach-Baritone Hannabach-Concert Hannabach-Soprano-1 Hannabach-Tenor Hilo JohnPearce KalaRed Kona Labella LucysUkuleleStrings Martin Oasis Orcas Pahoehoe PepeRomero Risa-Soprano Risa-Tenor RotoSound Savarez_tenor daddario_proarte funky_frets koolau koolau-alohi

Changing Strings

Here are two great videos for learning how to change your ukulele strings. More cna be learned from the classical guitar and guitar fingerstyle world when if comes to strings and every technique that the ukulele world. The reason is simply a longer history of the spanish guitar and the more advance techniques involved for playing a demanding repertoire.

Guitar TIP-Stringing a Nylon String Guitar • Same for ukulele

Buster B. Jones shows you his fast technique for changing nylon strings. If you're a gut string player you'll love this video. (YouTube link)

How To Change Classical Guitar Strings | Strings By Mail.com • Same for ukulele

Changing classical guitars strings made simple and effective. Learn the basic and quick approach to changing nylon strings on your classical guitar. Strings By Mail is THE source for guitar strings order online. (YouTube link)

Ed. These techniques for changing strings applies to ukuleles as well with a tie bridge. It also explains why there is so many windings of string on mass produced ukuleles when the come into the store ( Funky Frets ).

Ukulele Strings On-line Resources

Here are a few more resources and information on ukulele strings. One of the best sources for string information is Strings by Mail. They are my source for strings that I can not directly get as an owner of a music store from any one of my distributors.

  • Classical Guitar String Basics - StringsByMail.com - Again, ukulele strings are simply classical guitar strings repackaged as ukulele strings.
  • How to Choose Strings - TikiKing.com - This page covers slotted saddles, pin saddles and saddles that require you to type the string as in the classical guitar technique in the above videos. for a pin bridge learn to tie the Ashley's Stopper Knot.

11 Ukulele String sets Compared by Kalei Gamiao

This 11 different string sets on the same model ukulele, a Pono AT or Acacia Tenor.

The sets are nylon strings - Ko'olau Alohi w/3 high G, and w/3 & 4 low G. Ko'olau Mahana all plain, and w/4 low G. Aquila Super Nylgut High G and Low G. And fluorocarbon sets Oasis Warm high G and Smooth low G. Fremont Blackline high G and with the Fremont Soloist Low G. And Worth BT high G.

Types of Ukulele String Material

Real Gut Strings

"Cat Gut" is made from the intestines of the sheep or goats. For a long time, catgut was the most common material for the strings of harps, violins, and viols, as well as other stringed musical instruments, although most musical instruments produced today use strings with cores made of other materials, generally steel or synthetic.

Nylon Strings

There are two types of Nylon strings - Extruded, and Ground. Extruded strings are made by pushing hot nylon through a small hole. Ground strings are first extruded and then ground down to size.

Fluorocarbon Strings

Basically fishing line. A brighter sound than nylon string. A very technical description of Fluorocarbon can be found on WidipediA:

Titanium Strings

The term "titanium" refers to the color of the trebles. They are simply nylon strings with some secret, mystic formula that is different than traditional nylon or fluorocarbon strings. Typically a brighter tone and increased volume than nylon or fluorocarbon and smooth polished feel.

Synthetic Gut Strings

Aquila has a trade name Nylgut. A synthetic material created to have the feel and sound of traditional gut strings with out the traditional problem of gut strings. Aquila supples the majority of mass produced manufactures with strings.

String Action

Action, the height of the strings above the frets, measured at the 1st and 12th frets. Action at the 1st fret is primarily affected by the depth of the slots in the nut, while action at the 12th is influenced equally by the nut and the saddle.

  • Action and playability, Mya-Moe Ukuleles - link ( from Mya-Moe site: In the absence of specific information about the musician, we adjust our ukuleles to a medium-low action (about 0.080" at the 12th fret). The #3 string has a slightly higher action allowing for its larger diameter.
  • Lowering Action at the Bridge on Ukulele, by Frank Ford - link
  • Checking Nut Action, by Frank Ford - link
  • Lowering Action at the Saddle, by Frank Ford - link
  • String Action Gauge, Stewart-MacDonald - link

    Measure string action (the height of the string above the fret) at any point by placing the gauge behind the string. The string height markings are at increments of .010" (ten thousandths of an inch). When the bottom of a mark aligns with the bottom of the string, that measurement is the string height at that point. The markings themselves are .005" thick, so referring to the top of a mark instead of the bottom adds .005" to the measurement. In this way the progressive string height scale measures in .005" increments.

Frank Ford is a world renowned luither - repairman and has some of the best information available on-line.

Israel "Iz" Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole

Brudda Iz used a regular high G Martin string set, but this is how he used the strings.

  • For the G string, he used his C string and tuned it low.
  • For the C string, he used his E string.
  • For the E string, he used his G string.
  • He left the A string in the normal place.

( source: Brudda Bu, FleaMarketMusic.com Forum) Brudda Iz used a tenor uke in low "G" tuning.

Using a Classical Guitar String Set on Ukulele

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.

Here are a few links and resources for some great information on classical strings:

(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 the uke G when using a low G tuning.
  • Use the classical G string for the uke C.
  • Use the classical B string for the uke E.
  • Use the classical E string for the uke A.

(Ed.) Any gauge of string would work depending on how much tension you like on your strings. One of my favorite brands is Savarez. I've used Savarez Alliance strings (red package) on my tenor ukulele for a few years now and keep coming back to them. Another favorite brand among players is D'Adarrio strings. Check out the Ukulele Strings section for more information on these and many other brands of ukulele strings.

Savarez Classical Guitar Strings on Ukulele

Both low and high string four variations.

"C" Tuning (G C E A) Low "G"

Savarez Alliance (red card-R)

  • E-1 KF Plain Treble Standard Tension .024, 541R for the A
  • H-2 (B-2) KF Plain Treble Standard Tension .027, 542R for the E
  • G-3 KF Plain Treble Standard Tension .033, 543R for the C

D'Addario Pro-Arte

  • D Light Silverplated Copper Wound .028, J4304 for both the low G and low A bass strings

"D" Tuning (A D F# B) Low "A"

Savarez Alliance (red card-R)

  • E-1 KF Plain Treble Standard Tension .024, 541R for the B
  • H-2 (B-2) KF Plain Treble Standard Tension .027, 542R for the F#
  • G-3 KF Plain Treble Standard Tension .033, 543R for the D

This is the same set as a Low "G", "C" Tuning set.

D'Addario Pro-Arte

  • D Light Silverplated Copper Wound .028, J4304 for the low A bass string

This is the same set as a Low "G", "C" Tuning.

"G" Tuning (d G B E) High "D"

Savarez Alliance (red card-R)

(red card-R) and high tensions (blue card-J)

  • Plain KF Treble High Tension .033, 543J for the D
  • Plain KF Treble Standard Tension .027, 542R for the E
  • Plain KF Treble Standard Tension .033, 543R for the B

D'Addario Pro-Arte

  • D Light Silverplated Copper Wound .028, J4304 for both the low G (string 3)

Savarez S.A.

Savarez S.A.

Capital de 731 500 € - SIRET: 784 124 463 000 59
APE: 363Z

5, Avenue Barthélémy Thimonnier
BP 133 - 69643 Caluire and Cuire Cedex - France
Tél: (0033/0) 4 37 40 32 00
Fax: (0033/0) 4 37 40 32 10



Listing Info click here to show or hide more info

from the Savarez S.A. web site

Benefiting from the most recent discoveries, the classical guitar strings (three trebles strings made at first of plain gut and basses strings made of copper wound on silk (later on silver plated copper wound on silk)) have evolved into the use of monofilament nylon called plain nylon for the three trebles strings and of silver plated copper wound for the three basses strings.

These are the strings I've been using exclusively on all my ukuleles for the past 10+ years. - Curt

Even more information, discussion and comments on this listing.

D'Addario Classical Guitar Strings on Ukulele

Both low and high string four variations.

daddario_titaniumT2 Titanium Trebles - The titanium trebles offer a projecting tone that is brighter than traditional nylon. With its attractive purple hue and ultra-smooth feel, they are comfortable for the traditional nylon user. They are laser sorted for guaranteed precise intonation set after set and offer an ideal volume and tonal balance with the dynamic wound strings.

daddario_proartePro Arté - All Pro-Arte treble strings are sorted by a sophisticated computer-controlled laser machine which performs diameter and tension measurements, ensuring true-sounding, precise trebles in every set. Pro-Arte basses are wound using silver-plated copper on a multi-filament nylon core for consistent and warm, yet projecting tone.

Aquila Strings
Aquila Strings

Gut strings were already produced in Padoa, Verona, Venice, Treviso and Vicenza since the beginning of the 17th century. Documents of the time show that such production lasted uninterruptedly well into the 20th century. Locally produced strings, thanks to their superior quality, were exported abroad in big quantity, as proven by numerous recently discovered archival sources. Our products are wholly produced in house in Vicenza (60 Km far from Venice), to individual requirements, beginning from fresh gut, respecting and reviving the old tradition. With this catalogue we would like to introduce our complete range of strings and propose some favorable sales conditions; we would also like to offer you any advice and technical assistance you may require.

J. D'Addario & Company, Inc.
J. D'Addario & Company, Inc.

D'Addario's first factory was in Lynbrook, New York, and the initial staff consisted of only five employees. As always, it was a real family operation with John, Sr., John, Jr. and James leading the company's growth and business plans. James' wife Janet helped to design packaging, heading up what would eventually become the company's art department. The printing facility was still a strong support for the fledgling company, providing a steady source of income as the family developed their superior line of strings. The D'Addario reputation for service and quality served them well as they tapped into the market with their own products. Aggressive marketing strategies would help their product line gain popularity, and the staff of five quickly multiplied to fifteen.

D’Angelico Guitars of America

John D’Angelico was born in Little Italy, on Manhattan's Lower East Side. At only 9 years old, he became an apprentice to his grand uncle Signor Ciani, an expert violin and mandolin maker. This apprenticeship would become the basis for construction principles he later incorporated into his world-renowned archtop guitars.

GHS Strings
GHS Strings

Innovation has been a key for us since 1964 when our company founders brought a wealth of string making experience to a small family-owned business. Now, 35 years later, as a top brand in the global market GHS Strings is staffed with dedicated personnel trained and experienced in string technology. Our continuous innovation can be seen in such areas as our ìBrightness Barî (found on select string packages and designed to show what strings will produce which tones), our close collaboration with key artists (who often actually provide direct input during the string design process for Signature strings), and our ongoing efforts to create new and exciting product.

Guadalupe Custom Strings
Guadalupe Custom Strings

Fourteen years ago Francisco Gonzalez, a very accomplished and knowledgeable musician himself, set out to design strings that would "respect the aesthetics, traditions and musical uniqueness of each instrument and the cultures they represent." His time and dedication produced the basic formulas the artisans of Guadalupe Custom Strings use to create strings that maintain a reputation for their exceptional quality, durability and craftsmanship.

Hannabach Strings
Hannabach Strings

Werner Hannabach, the son of Adolf and Elisabeth joins the company in 1962. In 1965 he marries Maria (Maridi) Schwaiger whom he met during a holiday in Austria. Maridi joins Werner in the management of the company and they build up the company to what it is today. Their two sons Uwe (1966) and Jörg (1971) are involved in the company from their early ages. While Jörg decides to follow a career as a musician, Uwe again follows in the footsteps of his father and grandfather and carries on with the family tradition of string making. In 1991 Uwe joins the company and in 1995 becomes the General Manager of Hannabach.

Hilo Strings
Hilo Strings

Hilo strings for ukulele are precision ground to close tolerances. This helps them stay in tune and play in tune. They are made from Tynex, which is more resistant to moisture than nylon.

Ko'olau Guitar and Ukulele Company
Ko'olau Guitar and Ukulele Company

Ko'olau Guitars and 'Ukuleles are professional quality, hand crafted instruments. The shop is located in Kaneohe, on the Island of Oahu, Hawaii, approximately fifteen minutes from Honolulu, at the foot of the the beautiful Ko'olau Mountains.

Lanikai Ukuleles
Lanikai Ukuleles

Lanikai Beach is located in Lanikai, meaning "heavenly sea" in Hawaiian is a neighborhood within Kailua, on the windward coast of Oahu, Hawaii. This small 1/2 mile beach has been consistently ranked among the best beaches in the world.

C. F. Martin & Co., Inc.
C. F. Martin & Co., Inc.

Martin's steadfast adherence to high standards of musical excellence, mixed with experienced management, has largely accounted for the company's remarkable longevity. Marketing methods and product mix have changed at Martin over the years, but the company attitude towards guitar building has never varied. In the preface to the 1904 catalog, Frank Henry Martin explained to potential customers, “How to build a guitar to give this tone is not a secret. It takes care and patience. Care in selecting the materials, laying out the proportions, and attending to the details which add to the player’s comfort. Patience in giving the necessary time to finish every part. A good guitar cannot be built for the price of a poor one, but who regrets the extra cost for a good guitar?” Almost eighty years have passed since Frank Henry Martin authored this statement of policy, but it still is an accurate expression of Martin’s ongoing commitment to quality.

Pepe Romero
Pepe Romero

Pepe Romero Jr. was born into a family that lives the Spanish guitar. From his childhood Pepe loved the guitar. He grew up playing some of the world’s greatest guitars from the incredible collection of his father. Growing up surrounded by guitars made by Torres, Esteso, Santos Hernandez, Hauser, and Miguel Rodriguez set the standard for how a guitar should be made.

Savarez S.A.
Savarez S.A.

Benefiting from the most recent discoveries, the classical guitar strings (three trebles strings made at first of plain gut and basses strings made of copper wound on silk (later on silver plated copper wound on silk)) have evolved into the use of monofilament nylon called plain nylon for the three trebles strings and of silver plated copper wound for the three basses strings.

Strings By Aurora
Strings By Aurora

Strings by Aurora is proud to bring their line of colored guitar strings to guitarists throughout the world. Aurora produces top of the line guitar strings that combine tried and true winding methods with the latest technology – producing the most brilliant and durable colors and coatings. Strings by Aurora, manufactured in Bridgeport, Connecticut, are the ONLY guitar strings that are made entirely from domestic components; truly 100% made in the USA. We use top-grade materials, fabricated from our own rod, sealed with our patented enamel coatings, and precision wound. All processes are meticulously over-seen by our master craftsmen, drawing on 60 years experience. The result is a truly unique product that is available in a multitude of colored and clear coated sets that sound as good as they look!

Ukulele Creations
Ukulele Creations

`Ukulele Creations is a comprehensive music program based in Southern California, developed by six- time GRAMMY award winner, Daniel Ho, and Jason Arimoto, Ph.D.

Worth Strings by Worth Creation
Worth Strings by Worth Creation

100% Fluoro-carbon Ukulele Strings “Worth Strings” is made of an special material called Fuluoro carbon. The features are a clear sound and a good balance, so it can be adaptive not only for solo play but also for stroke(strumming) play. Therefore, despite “Worth Strings” is higher price many people choose them, because the length is longer than other company’s string, and you can get two from one of our strings sets as long as normal size ukulele.

Just browsing over both books, they look fantastic! I'm a guitarist and uke player for over 25 years and was thinking about writing a ukulele book but you've already written what I think are the best, most comprehensive and thorough books I've ever seen for the instrument. I just might end up buying every book you've written and I'll be giving my highest recommendation for your books to my friends and students. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such great books!Peter Rhee

Aloha, Curt, All I can say is WOW! What you have accomplished is simply incredible! All the bestGlen Hirabayashi, The Aloha Boys

Folks, if you haven't stopped by Curt's site, do so right now! ..And get his books, they are fantastic. This guy knows his stuff and is able to pass it along too.Alan Johnson Proprietor, The 4th Peg

I can highly recommend Curt's Uke books — I have four of them and they are excellent.fatveg — Portland

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