Strings - how often should you change them?
There are many things to consider about the frequency of restringing. A lot depends on how often you play and of course if you want your uke to always sound its best. Many social players are not too fussed about their sound, they will keep the same old strings until they break which may never happen.
But if you are a more serious player, especially if you perform on stage, then your sound is important, and therefore regular string changes may be required. So how often should you change your strings to keep your uke sounding great?
Well once again there are many factors at play here. Your strings will loose their brightness from play, weather you wipe your strings down after every time you play, the amount you sweat on them, and even how hard you play. For the average social player I will consider re-stringing at least once a year if not every 6 - 8 months.
For a person that plays a few hours every day I would change about every 3 months. For maniac players like myself who play hard and everyday and like my ukes to always sound their best I change my strings once a month. I know some players that change their strings almost weekly.
What strings should you use on your uke?
Well, we could talk about this for a hundred years and still not find the answer. String types generally give you a certain sound for example, worth med clears tend to sound bright and alive while worth browns sound a little warmer. String gauges, how the uke is built, what wood is the soundboard (top of uke) all play a determining factor in the sound. One of the main determining factors is your right hand technique as this influences the sound in a big way. Good technique can make a very cheap horrible uke sound fantastic.
So what I am saying here is their are no right string as every string set will sound different on every uke. What sounds good on one will not necessarily sound good on another. - it is such a personal taste thing.
What I do whenever I buy a new uke is try about 5 or 6 different string types on it and I usually find one string type will just sing and that is the set I will use on that particular uke. throughout my uke collection I use about 7 different string types, so I am not using the one brand or type string on all my ukes.
Now that I have said this simply putting a set of Aquila new Nylgut or Aquila's new Super Nylgut string on a cheaper uke will often make it sound great. These strings tend to bring alive laminate or cheaper made ukes like those made in china. A very general rule for string selection is below
Warm dark or mellow sounds - Worth browns, Daddario retified nylon black, La Bella Uke Pro strings,
A more jazzy sound - La Bella Uke Pro's, Daddario titanium, Aquila super nylgut
Bright crystal clear sparkly sound - Worth med clears, Worth light meds, Southcoast strings most models, Martin M600's
In ya face loud and brash - Aquila new Nylgut, Worth hard tension strings.
Of course another thing to consider is your tuning. Do you want to tune your uke in the popular re-entrant tuning (high G C E A) or do you want to have a Low G re-entrant as this gives dare I say a more guitar like sound having all the strings in the same octave. If you like play jazz tunes low G will sound better than high G. Another option for tuning is different keys. Reentrant is a C6 tuning. Traditionally ukes were tuned in a D tuning and sopranos sound really great with D tuning it really brings them alive and gives them that traditional sound. Have a bit of a search on google about different tunings and explore a little.
Anyway have fun Trevor