As anyone who has played a stringed instrument for any length of time will tell you, the kind of strings you use will matter. Perhaps not to a beginner, but as you tune your craft you’ll certainly start to see the differences.
The Best Ukulele Strings guide will help you know what is on the market today to help your search. Familiarize yourself with the different sizes, construction materials, and quality factors of Ukulele Strings in StringVibe’s upcoming article, “Ultimate Guide to Ukulele Strings”!
Ukulele String Materials
Traditionally, Ukulele strings were made of cat gut but in modern times, they have been more likely nylon or synthetic material. On rarer occasions, you can find Uke players strumming steel or metal wound strings.
Many of the brands we’ve listed below are very popular, especially the Aquila Nylgut, and can be found on many beginner instruments.
Lets take a quick look at the different string types you may find on a Ukulele and the benefits of each!
Real Gut Strings
Before we had developed the technology to make any of the other types of instrument strings, we learned how to make string from the guts of different animals.
Musicians love these strings because their sound tends to be more complex than any other material and they have a feel that is yet to be matched by synthetic materials.
On the downside, gut strings don’t last as long as metal, nylon or synthetic options and are much more expensive.
While often the cheapest option when buying strings, nylon strings vary from company to company and even sometimes batch to batch. Because of the extrusion process that is used to make these strings, they vary in thickness, sound and tones.
The best ukulele string manufacturers will have quality controls set to make sure you don’t have to deal with this, including extra steps and grinding processes to hit precise diameters.
These are probably the longest lasting strings you can get as well, since they won’t degrade as quick as gut and they don’t have the problems that metal strings encounter with humidity. The only thing that will severely limit the length of your strings life is drastic temperature changes, which will have the strings stretch on contract more than normal.
Fluorocarbon strings, a plastic ukulele string that is very similar to nylon, is preferred by many musicians because they don’t have the same problems with temperature as the nylon ones will.
Common metals used for ukulele strings are steel and titanium. These strings tend to generate a sound that is brighter and louder than the other options on the list.
We don’t recommend metal strings for ukuleles, except possibly the baritone versions. The tension that is required to make a metal string sound right puts pressure on the ukulele and can lead to warping of the instrument.
You can find either wound nylon or wound metal strings. In both cases a harder material (the nylon or the metal) is wrapped with a polymer winding material. Just like metal strings, these are generally only recommended for baritone ukuleles and much more common with guitars.
If you’ve ever heard a squeak come from a guitar or uke as the musician is sliding his fingers on the strings, you are probably listening to a wound string!