Best Ukulele String Review – Top Rated Models in 2018 with Buying Guide
If you’re after some good ukulele strings but don’t have the time to read scores of reviews then you’ve come to the right place, as our team already done the necessary research and compiled a list of some of the top performing products. Our number 1 pick shouldn’t come as a surprise to ukulele enthusiasts since the Aquila Super Nylgut AQ-106 is already well appreciated for the remarkable playing performance allowed by the innovative Nylgut material used. This hits very close to the bright sound delivered by natural gut strings — longtime considered to be the best strings for ukulele by specialists — but offers the good resilience that is only possible with synthetic material. The AQ-106 are intended to be used with a tenor uke, but if you’re interested in a set that will properly fit a soprano, then you might like the Mudder Set of 4.
Highly Recommended Choices – Reviews & Comparison
As the wide range of products available might prove confusing for a beginner, we’ve taken a look through some ukulele string reviews and narrowed down the list to a number of top rated products, featured for your consideration below.
Aquila Super Nylgut AQ-106
The Super Nylgut has received great praise in Aquila strings reviews for the high-quality sound it can produce. This has been designed to be as close as possible to the clear and complex tunes a gut string offers, hence the name.
You will be getting this alongside the regular advantages conferred by a synthetic material, like good tensile resistance, no threat of corrosion and a very smooth playing surface, that should eliminate all worries of your fingers getting sour or developing corns.
These come in a set of 4 and can be used with both regular and high G notes, on either a tenor or baritone instrument. The manufacturer specifically recommends them for the former, but most experienced players tend to consider that what works for one might also work for the other.
They’ve been handcrafted in Italy, so expect good manufacturing quality, and less stretching over time than with other similar models. This means they won’t require being tuned as often, or when subjected to differences in temperature.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($11.95)
Mudder Set of 4
This set from Mudder has numbers attached to each chord, so it will be easy for you to get the right ukulele string order when attaching them to the instrument. The notations are 1 through 4 corresponding to the common GCAE tuning used for soprano ukes.
They are made out of monofilament nylon with a thickness of 0.024 inches for the A; 0.032 inches for E; 0.034 inches for C; and 0.028 inches for the G. The length also varies accordingly, and they are safe to cut to size if one of them might happen not to properly fit your soprano uke.
The nylon gives them good resistance to moisture and corrosion and enough tensile strength to put up with the most aggressive playing styles.
Users are well appreciative of their warm yet clear sound, and the manufacturer does have a significant following, as a testament to the attractive tunes their product delivers.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($4.97)
La Bella 13
This set of 4 primarily nylon strings from La Bella are specifically intended to be used with a banjolele, which is a hybrid instrument intended to sound close to a banjo. To properly hit the lower notes, the high G string is encased in a very thin wrapping of aluminum, which is considered to be the best solution to for this range of sound.
Wounded strings can be a little more fickle than regular ones, as the wounding can unravel if the ends aren’t tied properly by the player, or their manufacturing isn’t up to par. This doesn’t seem to be a problem with the La Bella 13, as users report they hold up particularly well.
The aluminum coating might be a little hard on your fingers, but the nylon surface of the other strings should slide well, for hours of comfortable music playing.
Otherwise, users report that the G is doing its job properly, giving out a nice banjo “twang.”
Buy from Amazon.com for ($9.15)
Aquila Red Series AQ-83
The Aquila Red Series uses a unique variety of nylon developed in-house to achieve a clear sound and to offer a unique player experience. The four strings have a certain texture to them, that is well appreciated by most players and is an element of distinction from other brands.
The diameter of the strings is roughly equal, so that the player gets a similar feel from each one, while the tonal range is given by the differences in material density.
To be used with a high G soprano, they are intended to give a brighter tone than other strings, as well as a higher volume, which many customer reviewers enthusiastically noted to be the case.
Another benefit of the new material is the fact that it doesn’t absorb moisture as easily as other nylon recipes. This means you won’t have to retune your uke quite as often since the strings won’t change in volume to a significant extent.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($10.34)
There’s usually little to be said about a product that does its job as it should, and this Dunlop set of 4 strings definitely fits this category. They are made of nylon, so expect them to be tough and to stay rust-free.
They might require a bit of tuning after being exposed to differences in temperature, but this will only prove a minor impediment compared to the comfort their soft surface will allow for your fingers. There’s no need to worry about corns and other unpleasantries with nylon material!
These are also remarkably affordable, so if you’re on a shoestring budget and looking to save every dollar, then they will make an especially attractive choice.
They are intended to be used with a soprano ukulele and are sized accordingly, varying from 0.022 to 0.034 inches in diameter, with similar differences in length. Adjusting them to the proper size by cutting won’t be a problem since there isn’t any wounding to unravel.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($7.99)
Many of the D’Addario string reviews we’ve looked through mention how well the low G sounds on their EJ99TLG product. This is particularly important, as this fluorocarbon set of 4 is intended to be used with tenors, which should hit lower bass ranges than other types of ukes, so if you’re into the sound of an unwound low G, this is a product to definitely look into.
People who used it also praised the overall sound quality it delivers, making otherwise cheap instruments sound “a lot more expensive” and the material it’s made of should give it exceptional durability while also keeping it easy on the fingers.
Fluorocarbon won’t be affected by temperature changes quite to the same extent as nylon would, which should prove convenient if you intend to play in the open air or in a cool location such as a basement.
The strings might of course stretch with time, which might not necessarily be a bad thing as a number of users found the A chord to be a little stiff.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($5.37)
Aquila New Nylgut 4U
This particular offer from Aquila might prove enticing for those that appreciate good value for money since it contains not just 1, but 2 sets of 4 soprano high G strings. These are designed with Aquila’s trademark Nylgut technology, which very similar acoustic to what you can get from a gut string although they are made of nylon.
This is partly achieved by matching the density of the new material with that of traditional gut, which is around 1.30 grams/cm3 in the measurement units used by its Italian manufacturer.
But superior sound quality is not the only benefit it provides, as it is also remarkably less water absorbent than regular nylon at only 0.1% as opposed to 2.0%.
This means it will keep tune far better since the strings won’t change in volume if used in humid environments. So if you live in a state like Florida or Louisiana, this is definitely a product to check out.
Buy from Amazon.com
This set from Martin & Co. will provide your tenor ukulele with a good low G and a remarkably good volume. Once broken in they can keep in tone exceptionally well thanks to the fluorocarbon material used, which doesn’t absorb as much moisture as the more common nylon and holds up to differences in temperature.
If you like to travel around with your uke, this will definitely be the item to have, since you won’t have to bother retuneing it once you arrive in a new place. The fluorocarbon doesn’t disappoint when it comes to comfort either, as it’s very smooth and fine on the fingers.
However, this also means that it might be harder to tune the first time, especially as a number of customers noted that the strings don’t contain washers on the end to help you out. This downside is of course greatly diminished by the M620’s remarkable ability to hold a tune for long stretches of time.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($12.26)
If you’re concerned about the way your ukulele looks, then these black strings from GHS should prove just the ticket, because black goes well with everything. They are intended to be paired up with a concert or standard uke, with gauges that go from 0.025 to 0.036 inches.
Since they are made of nylon, it will be easy to cut them to size, and they should hold well to tensile forces and corrosion. People who bought them found that they sound fine, with a crisp yet mellow tune that will probably hold up for long once they’re broken in if no significant differences in temperature are experienced.
They shouldn’t give you any trouble putting them on as nylon is notoriously easy to tie into knots.
It’s easy on the fingers as well, and this product is considered to have a particularly fine polish so there shouldn’t be any worry that your fingerprints would start stripping away because of playing the ukulele too much.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($5.16)
Yearly Guide & Report
The ukulele is famously easy instrument to get into, but before you start playing your favorite tune, there are some things to know about the strings on a uke, as their tone can vary by quite a lot depending on certain characteristics. What are the best ukulele strings is naturally a matter of user preference, but we’ve detailed below what to look for in order to make sure that you get the sound you like.
Tune is relative to size
In the case of the uke, the size of the instrument will affect the way it will sound since strings of different lengths won’t reverberate the same way, while the resonance box will carry the sound differently depending on its volume.
The soprano is the most common size for a Uke, with a 21-inch body and a 13-inch scale. This is used to deliver a crystalline, high pitched tone that can be modified by pairing it with the appropriate strings. They are tuned in GCEA or ADF#B.
The difference between soprano and concert ukulele is relatively small but noticeable enough to discerning ears. The concertos deliver a slightly deeper sound and a somewhat higher volume, with a 23-inch body and a 15-inch scale, but the same tuning range of either GCEA or ADF#B.
The tenor has three more inches added to its total length and uses a 17-inch scale to give out a noticeably deeper sound with relatively high resonance. Besides GCEA and ADF#B, these are also tuned in DGBE.
The largest model is the baritone, which is commonly tuned in DGBE. It makes a good choice for people with large hands, as it has a 30-inch body with a 19-inch scale. Its size puts it closer to an acoustic guitar, and this resemblance continues when it comes to sound, which is significantly deeper than what you would expect from a uke.
Some more notes on tuning
There are two versions of the GCEA tuning that is commonly used on a ukulele, with one of them being noted with a lowercase “g.” This is the case when the G string is tuned 1 octave up, for a slightly higher sound.
High tension sets and alternate tuning are best to be avoided by beginners since they can prove difficult to get right, and the risk of snapping a string can be pretty high.
Another factor that will influence sound quality is the material used for the strings, which we will discuss below.
These were the first to be used back when the uke appeared towards the end of the 19th century. Expectedly, they are made from the dried up guts of different animals, which can increase their price a little, but they are still considered to be affordable by musical instrument standard.
Most players appreciate the rich, complex sounds they can deliver and the unique feeling they give to the fingers. They are also considered to slide better, and their most significant downside compared to other string types is the somewhat frail construction.
Various types of plastic material can be used to make some cheap ukulele strings. Depending on the exact variety of nylon used, these can sound different depending on the company, and experienced players tend to form preferences for certain brand names.
The least expensive nylon strings are made following a process called extrusion, where the molten polymer is pushed through small holes thus forming the filament. In the case of better models, the process is continued with a grounding, meant to get a more precise diameter and to slightly alter texture for a fuller sound.
Nylon strings are considered easier to play with compared to other types because they aren’t as abrasive on the fingers. The comparatively warmer sound they give is well appreciated by some, while it’s still high enough to be considered bright and clear.
Nylon won’t rust, which will positively affect the string’s lifespan, but it will stretch over time or under temperature shifts, requiring for the user to re-tune his instrument depending on the weather or the time of year.
A relatively new material developed primarily for use in fishing lines, fluorocarbon has similar properties to nylon, extending to the range of sound it produces.
This is equally warm, while also clear and snappy, and fast tunes can be played with little strain on the fingers since fluorocarbon slides particularly well. As a benefit over nylon, this material isn’t as susceptible to temperature shifts, and it can also be cut to size without affecting the sound quality.
Strings made from this material shouldn’t be cut unless you know very well what you’re doing. Its main advantage over synthetics comes from its superior durability. Since they’re metallic, the sound provided will also be brighter and louder, with a significantly better projection, which will make them particularly suitable for stage use.
To put it bluntly, steel shouldn’t really be used for a uke, as the tension it applies to the bridge and body can seriously damage the instrument. Some careful tuners do employ it on hybrid pieces like guitar/ukuleles or banjoleles for a crisp and clear sound, similar to what titanium provides.
Wound synthetic strings
These are usually made by surrounding a nylon core in a plastic material and will typically give a particularly low bass sound. Consequently, they are used as the lower strings in tenors and baritones, if the squeaking sound they make when the player’s fingers frets over them isn’t found to be too bothersome.
Wound metal strings
These are also used for rendering the lower end of the frequency range and tend to pair well with larger ukes or hybrids, where they put up a sound reminiscent to that of a guitar. The winding material can also prove squeaky, so special care must be taken by the player to avoid this.
Both types of wounded strings cannot be cut to size, as this will cause the wounding material to unravel, so you should watch out that they have the required length for the uke when buying some of these.
Frequently asked questions about ukulele strings
What are ukulele strings made of?
Traditionally, ukulele strings were made out of the dried up guts of various animals, but due to improvements in technology, there is a wider choice of materials available today. Metals like titanium and even steel are being used to give a specific sound to larger units while synthetics such as nylon and polycarbonate are used because they are cheap and easier on the fingers.
Some uke strings have a wounded construction, which means that two materials are employes. The core is usually made of the very popular nylon, while metal, sometimes even aluminum, wraps around it to provide for better lower end Gs.
Are ukulele strings plastic?
Sometimes synthetic materials that are used to make uke strings are referred to as “plastic.” Depending on the nylon composition, this can be chemically similar to the common plastics used to manufacture toys and other consumer products, but its properties will still be close to those of nylon.
The fluorocarbon that’s sometimes employed for strings — usually the same stuff they make cutting edge fishing lines out off — gets called plastic reasonably often, and it might not be an improper description depending on your acceptance of the word. This is generally resistant to stretching and hydrophobic, so the uke doesn’t need to be retuned as often.
How to tighten ukulele strings?
You will be using the pegs at the end of the scale of the ukulele to change the pitch of the strings. There should always be 4 of them, one for each string of the uke, but the direction you need to turn in order to tighten or loosen isn’t always the same between brands. It is easy enough to see which way you should rotate by the resistance put up by the string, especially with fluorocarbon and metal units, as these don’t stretch very much.
A tighter string will give a higher pitch while for a low bass they have to be loosened. The most important thing to have in mind is that you don’t tense the string too much since it might snap.
How long do ukulele strings last?
Most ukulele strings for sale can hold for several months, although this greatly depends on how often you are playing the instrument and can vary to such an extent as to make any fixed figure meaningless.
Synthetic materials can last for a considerable amount of time, while metal is admittedly less resilient.
The strings will be in need of a changing if you experience problems holding your tune. This is of course after the initial tuning, which should stretch them to their optimum and keep them like that for more than a month.
Visual indicators like nicks, flat spots or grooves can also give you hints about when you need a new set of strings.
Are ukulele strings the same size?
No, they can differ in both diameter and length. In a single set of strings, the wires that take center on the scale in a standard GCEA disposition will sometimes be longer than the Gs and As, and it is easy to see that this is the case, as the pegs you will be tying them to will be further away from the base. Their length naturally differs between sets, depending on the type of uke they are intended for.
Otherwise, all strings have different gauges, the A which sits the furthest away from your hand the thinnest, followed by the G that is actually closest to the hand, then the E, and finally the C being the thickest.
How often should I change my ukulele strings?
This is closely related to the “How long do ukulele strings last?” question above. While you could potentially use a string long after it starts showing signs of tear, like nicks and grooves on its surface, the sound quality will be noticeably affected. Remember that strings are meant to be changed quite regularly.
If you’re playing your uke nearly every day, this will mean up to once a month for steel or aluminum plated strings — since these can oxidize from the grease on your hand — and once every three months for synthetic materials.
When they start losing the tune, and the sound loses its brightness, then you will know that you have to change them. Regarding how to string a ukulele, check below.
How much do ukulele strings cost?
By the standards of musical instruments, uke strings are pretty cheap, even top tier ones. They usually start at $3, and some of the best pieces rarely break 12 dollars. Depending on the material used, how often you play your uke and how aggressive your style is, these can last anywhere from 1 month to half a year, so there might be some reason to pay attention to the price if you expect to be changing them fairly often.
A $5 nylon pack might make for the best value if you know they are not bound to last long anyway, while relatively fragile gut string will come off as needlessly expensive in the same scenario.
How are ukulele strings numbered?
The most common system ascribes numbers from 1 to 4, following the common GCEA ukulele string notes in descending order. The A string, which is the thinnest and furthest from your hand in the standard right-handed playing position is noted with a 1. The E immediately follows A, and it’s the second thickest, and it receives a 2.
The fattest string, C, sits a little closer to your hand and will be number 3. Finally, the G, which is either a high g noted with a lowercase letter or a low one noted with a capital will stay closest to your hand and is numbered with a 4.
Best ukulele strings brands
D’Addario is a family owned business whose history stretches at least as far as the 1680’s, where one Donato D’Addario was known to be a string manufacturer in the small Italian town of Salle. Currently, their operation is located on the eastern coast of the United States, in Rhode Island, and are one of the biggest manufacturers of instrument strings in the world.
They are particularly well known for their guitar and orchestral instruments strings, but the products intended for the banjo or ukulele are nothing to scoff at either. They are one of the first manufacturers to use fluorocarbon instead of regular nylon in their line designed for large ukes.
Unlike D’Addario, the owners of Aquila stuck to the old country, but this doesn’t mean their products are in anyway old fashioned! Quite the contrary, one of the more high priced manufacturers out there, they are acknowledged for constantly keeping to the forefront of research and development.
Their special Nylgut materials are aimed at delivering the closest possible tune to that of a gut string, which is highly appreciated by ukulele purists. Their polymers are also designed for minimal water absorption, so they do not change in volume as much as a regular nylon material, causing alterations in tone.
Not to be confused with the world famous tire manufacturer, Jim Dunlop established his string making business back in 1965. Right now, his company covers any popular stringed instrument out there, including the ukulele. Its products are well renown for being reliable, as the owner is well acquainted with the fact that a snapped string might be more bothersome to your casual guitar or uke player then the sound not coming out perfect.
The uke strings made by Dunlop are usually sold at very affordable prices and make very good purchases for people that practice many hours a day.
Another early adopter of fluorocarbon material, Martin made uke strings are well appreciated for their good tensile strength and for the mellow sound they put out. Their M620 Tenor line is appreciated as having a lower tonality than the corresponding Aquilas, while the fans of the Italian firm might find them less bright than they would like.
But as is with uke enthusiasts, they tend to appreciate brands based on what sounds closer to what they like to hear. Objectively, Martin is considered as one of the most reliable out there, albeit their products sell for a little cheaper than the top competition, and their uke strings deserve at least a try-out.
A fairly big manufacturer, GHS became a familiar name to uke players back in the 2000s, when most new models used to come with GHS strings from the factory. Their products are seen as affordable and reliable, but they rarely garner the same enthusiasm as those of more famous brands.
If you want a good workhorse, then a GHS set is bound to deliver in either nylon or fluorocarbon. Also, lately the company started to cater to niche demands, by starting a series made out of black nylon to go with the aesthetics of certain ukes.
Assuring success when purchasing a set of ukulele strings first and foremost requires knowledge of your instrument. Ideally, you should only pair up a uke with strings that are designed by the manufacturer to fit an appropriate size, either soprano, concert, tenor or baritone.
You could conceivably use thicker and longer strings on an instrument that’s one size smaller, but this will lead to potential damage to its wooden ridges, who aren’t usually designed to handle the tension.
The material is also something to pay attention to. Metal strings, made of titanium, steel, and sometimes aluminum have a very distinctive sound that is well appreciated by some players, and it’s very hard to hit lower Gs without at least an aluminum coating on the string. However, these will often oxidize in constant contact with the grease from your hands, so they will require changing at fairly constant intervals.
Synthetic polymers are impervious to rust and are close in tensile resistance to titanium. They give out a warm, melodious sound, that might not be as crystal-clear as you’ll get with the best metal strings, but it’s still preferred by a great number of fans.
Most varieties of nylon tend to absorb water fairly easily and expand or contract to a significant extent under temperature, both of which alters their volume, taking them out of tune. Newer varieties of nylon, such as fluorocarbon or the nylgut from Aquila, deal with these issues fairly well, and these more advanced recipes might very well become the norm in the future.