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!
8 of the Best Ukulele Strings
Aquila Nylgut is on of the most popular strings with ukulele players. These strings are usually white and made with a proprietary composite material called nylgut.
They are smooth, feel dry, and play a bright tone. Nylgut has become famous for making cheap ukuleles come alive with volume and presence. If you’re not sure which strings to start with, it’s hard to beat these.
Aquila Super Nylgut
Aquila recently released this Super Nylgut strings. This is the next step in synthetic gut strings, they provide a smooth and polished feel.
They also should stay in tune longer than the original Nylgut strings due to a reduction in the stretch of each string.
These strings produce a similar sound to Aquila Nylgut, but they should stay in tune longer and play truer, the downfall is they may not last as long.
The “Reds” are another relatively new string type, this string has been designed to have less variance in width across all 4 strings.
They are very popular with Ukulele players who dislike the squeakiness of a wound low-G string and the blaring volume that goes with it. The biggest complaint these strings received is the low-G string, without the support of the wind, has been extremely brittle.
Worth Clear strings are usually highly recommended by heavy hitting players because they are made with fluorocarbon giving them a thin but sturdy feel. These strings are one of the most expensive as they are made and produced in Japan.
If you are looking for a more mellow, mild sound look at the Worth Brown Strings
Living Water Ukulele Strings
Ken Middleton, who is recognized from his many excellent YouTube videos, makes these strings. The strings are very similar to the Super Nylgut. They tend to be clear, very light, and louder than many other strings.
Ken designed these strings for his own use, but they’ve become a popular option for players of all skill levels.
D’Addario have classically been a guitar strings manufacturer that have branched into the Ukulele. They are a high-tension string though it doesn’t affect the playability much at all. Even though they are made of nylon, they are slightly fatter than fluorocarbon. They produce good sound and are used by professional ukulele player and musician Jake Shimabukuro.
Martin M600 Fluorocarbon
Another set of strings that are made from fluorocarbon. They hold for a long time due to their tune-to-pitch tension design and are nice and smooth on the fretboard. They are associated with just the right volume, sustain, and tone.
A really good review discussion of these strings can be found at UkuleleUnderground.
Very popular with Concert Ukulele players, these strings are the most popular Ko’olau make. They are made from traditional nylon and therefore tend to have a muted sound that is very warm.
The Ko’olau Gold make the best ukulele strings list because of how they are highly polished giving them a great feel on the fretboard.
The Final Note
Ukulele players agree, these are some of the best strings you can find. We intentionally did not add any natural gut (cat gut) to this list due to the fact they are generally more expensive and don’t play as well as many of the synthetics made today. We would, however, recommend you look into them if you would like to experience playing the “real thing”.
If you want more information about ukuleles, check out the rest of our articles for details on instruments, how to play, and more!