Plastic Or Steel Ukulele Strings – Discover Which One’s Better in 2023?

How to Choose Steel Ukulele Strings

A ukulele is a fretted string instrument that produces sound much like a guitar, mandolin, or banjo. There are a number of types of ukulele, including soprano ukulele, concert ukulele, tenor ukulele, baritone ukulele, and even the bass ukulele. The key component of any ukulele is the instrument’s strings.

For a tiny investment and for one more item in your accessories, a fresh set of strings can improve or revive your ukulele’s sound. Many lower-cost ukes are shipped with lower-than-optimal strings, and a greater high-quality set could make a stunning distinction in their performance. In this guide article, we are going to show you how to select the set that’s proper for your uke.

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One Size Doesn’t Fit All Ukuleles

The length of a ukulele’s strings varies relying on the dimensions of the ukulele. Two numbers matter when choosing string: the full size and the scale length, which is the space from the nut to the bridge, or the actual length of string that vibrates whenever you pluck or strum it.

It’s, therefore, necessary to decide on a set meant for your type of ukulele. Listed here are the 4 most common ukulele sizes with their typical scale lengths, and total lengths:

  • Soprano ukulele strings are 21 inches long, for a 13-inch scale length.
  • Concert ukulele strings are 23 inches long, for a 15-inch scale length.
  • Tenor ukulele strings are 26 inches long, for a 17-inch scale length.
  • Baritone ukulele strings are 30 inches long, for a 19-inch scale length.
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Types of Ukulele String Materials

While the majority of ukulele strings are made of various nylon polymers, there are a big number of variations, every one with its very own tone characteristics.

The sounds of a ukulele vary depending on its string materials. This may make searching for new strings slightly overwhelming, however, luckily most players will only have to select from a couple of key string types.

Nylon strings:

Nylon strings produce a warm, mellow tone. They’re the trendy descendent of traditional gut string that has been produced from livestock intestines. When you plan to use your ukulele for strumming gentle Hawaiian music, you will get the sound you need from these strings.

Nylon is durable, and it is proof against humidity. The drawback is that it does not maintain its tuning in addition to different string materials.

Fluorocarbon strings:

Fluorocarbon strings are similar to nylon strings, however with a brighter overall tonality. A fluorocarbon set of strings can also last more than its nylon counterpart and be somewhat simpler to maintain in standard ukulele tuning.

Steel strings:

Steel strings usually are not standard for ukuleles. Generally, they’re better suited to musical instruments just as the guitar and bass guitar. However, if you’d like a bright, twangy sound out of your ukulele and also you need strings that may reliably maintain completely different tunings, steel would be the solution to go.

Wound nylon strings:

In some ways, wound nylon strings break up the difference between traditional nylon and shiny steel. These strings have a nylon core that’s wrapped with a skinny polymer thread. They have a considerably richer sound than normal string and are commonest on baritone or tenor ukuleles.

Wound metal strings:

These strings are much like wound nylon strings, however with a metal core. They get about as shiny as you’ll be able to without crossing over to metal strings which can make your ukulele sound like a guitar.

Titanium strings:

This monofilament material offers strength, durability, and a somewhat brighter tonality than nylon with more projection and volume.

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Everything About Plastic Ukulele Strings That You Need To Know

When searching for strings you’ll most likely be unable to find plastic strings per se. However, nylon and fluorocarbon are the materials used for ukulele strings and they are often considered plastics. Normally, these strings are clear, although typically they have a blue hue to them.

In case you touch and bend such a string you will notice that it’s very malleable – while you bend the string it is going to stay in that position. Fluorocarbon is an extremely popular material amongst those who prefer to fish as it’s usually used in fishing lines.

The enjoyable reality is that fluorocarbon was initially used by fishermen and after seeing its resistance and its potential to provide sound, someone determined to use fluorocarbon for strings. Surprisingly, this material has nice potential to turn a wooden instrument right into a great-sounding one.

Pros And Cons Of Plastic Ukulele Strings

One drawback of plastic strings is that, if in case you have a less expensive uke or one that’s made from laminate wood, you will notice that the sound produced is a hollow one. It appears that evidently, it lacks power, and, furthermore, the ukulele doesn’t keep in tune too much. That’s due to how the instrument reverberates and when using plastic strings, the combination isn’t a great one.

However, in case you use fluorocarbon or nylon on a solid-wood ukulele or an old instrument, that’s one of the best ways to get probably the most out of that particular instrument when it comes to volume.

Because fluorocarbon is a stiffer material, it’s additionally louder, making your ukulele project sounds better. Moreover, these materials are nice at accentuating the tone of your uke’s wooden. So the sounds shall be even brighter or mellower, relying on the wooden your instrument is made from.

Due to its characteristics, fluorocarbon is among the most popular choices when it comes to strings, for solid-body ukuleles. That is a such flexible material that some skilled players that break lots of strings choose to buy a reel of fluorocarbon and use that as material for their strings. It’s a reliable and low-cost material, so even in case you break lots of strings, you may at all times change them simply.

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Our Opinion About Steel Ukulele Strings

In contrast to different instruments such as the guitar, the ukulele doesn’t work properly when all of the strings are made from steel. That’s as a result this instrument is characterized by the sound produced with the assistance of the strings made from softer materials similar to the gut, nylon, or similar materials.

Technically, the steel ukulele strings that you just discover on most ukuleles aren’t actually steel. Their core is made from nylon or similar materials and only their exterior is made from a sort of flexible steel. These are known as wound strings and they’re used for producing lower notes.

On a uke, you’ll most likely find such a string to be the low-G one, and generally, the C. These strings are available in 2 types, round or flat wound. The benefit of the second type is that such a string doesn’t squeak that a lot once you move your fingers on it.

As a result of they’ve got the steel layer, these strings reverberate much more than normal ones and a few low-cost ukuleles sound bad as a result of their thicker wound strings vibrating much more than their other ones.

Should You Use Steel Strings?

Some players like wound metal strings and few of them even go so far as using only steel strings for their ukes. However, remember that they do this understanding of what the gauge needs to be. A nylon string and a steel string of identical gauges have a really totally different force that they pull with.

So in case you just change your common nylon or fluorocarbon strings for some steel ones of the same gauge, you won’t be doing any good to your ukulele. Many brands, however, sell metal-wound strings which are way thinner than their counterparts but produce the identical musical note, the G most often.

You also need to know that metal strings produce a unique sound. They don’t have an identical attack because the common strings and their resonance is totally different. Furthermore, as you move your fingers on them, they squeak.

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Steel Strings Put A Lot Of Stress On Your Uke

The ukuleles aren’t musical instruments that are designed for high stress, like the guitar, and that’s why it’s advisable in case you don’t use steel strings. It’s okay in case your low-G string only is made from steel, however, having all-metal strings will put too much pressure on your uke and break it.

Solid-body electric ukuleles can accommodate metal strings however that’s a result of they’re quite a bit sturdier. Remember the fact that there are instruments, such as the mandolin, which are quite much like the uke and so they use metal strings. And these instruments have their unique sound, so trying to place steel strings on a uke will change its sound drastically.

The benefit of metal-wound strings to have in your is that they’ve got a mellower sound that most people like. Additionally, they are usually louder as a result of the extra tension in them. However, that final thing is also a drawback for beginners that discover it hard to press metal strings and produce clear notes.

Moreover, these harder strings may cause lots of damage to the fretboard, because they require you to press them harder. That’s the reason plastic frets will gradually be destroyed when using metal strings.

There’s additionally the sound aspect of things. The classic ukulele has its sound as a result of the Koa wood it’s made from but additionally because of the strings that have been originally gut ones. Steel strings, alternatively, sound completely different and they’re going to make your uke resemble a guitar more. Your uke won’t really feel like a real one when you only put metal strings on it.

Watch the video about different types of ukulele strings.
Bill Hood

Bill Hood

My name is Bill, and I am a musician and music enthusiast who has a deep love and passion for anything and everything stringed that moves my soul. It is an honor to be a part of the team at our website dedicated to stringed instruments, and I look forward to sharing my passion and knowledge with our readers as well.

Strings Kings
Strings Kings