If you’re new to playing the ukulele, you have a lot to learn. Not only do you have to practice chords, scales, and strumming patterns, you have to learn about the many parts and components of ukuleles.
One of the most important ukulele components to worry about is the strings. Choosing the right strings is vital to the overall sound and playability of your instrument.
Need help picking the best ukulele strings for you? Read on! This guide has all of the information you need.
What Are the Strings on a Ukulele?
The vast majority of ukuleles utilize four strings. While there are exceptions to this, they are fairly rare. If you’re a beginner player, you’re almost undoubtedly going to be using a 4-string ukulele.
When these strings are strung to the instrument, they are typically strung with the thinnest string on top and the thinnest string on the bottom as well assuming a standard tuning of GCEA. So string 2 and 3 are thicker then 1 and 4. Strings do not reduce in thickness from the top down as a guitar would.
However, with low-G tuning, which is an alternative tuning with a thicker g-string, it would be thickest to thinnest from strings 4 down to 1.
While ukuleles can be tuned in a variety of different ways, they are generally tuned to standard tuning. In this tuning, the thinnest string is tuned to G, the next thickest string is tuned to C, the next thickest string is tuned to E, and the thinnest string is tuned to A.
Ukulele String Materials
Ukulele strings can be made out of a number of different materials, all of which come with their very own benefits and drawbacks. Below, we’re going to review the most popular materials used for uke strings.
Fluorocarbon strings are durable, low-maintenance, and of very high quality. These strings stretch very little over time, allowing them to stay in tune regardless of the environment which surrounds them.
Relatively inexpensive, they are a suitable option for beginner ukulele players. Possessing a brighter, punchier tone than most other types of strings, they are on the louder side.
Nylon strings are the most commonly used type of uke strings on the market. This is so for two reasons: 1, most ukuleles are initially strung with nylon strings, and 2, nylon strings are extremely affordable.
Because nylon strings differ so much from brand to brand, it’s difficult to give their sound an overall classification. However, most would describe nylon strings as having a “warm” tone.
One of the problems with nylon strings is that they tend to stretch out over time. This can make them difficult to keep in tune. However, if you’re a beginner who’s just starting to learn the instrument, they are an excellent choice.
Wound nylon strings possess a nylon base. This base is wrapped in a synthetic polymer which helps to bring a bass-like low end to the sound of the ukulele.
In most cases, you’ll find that wound nylon strings are only used for the two thickest strings in a set of strings. Most typically, they are used for baritone and tenor ukuleles.
One of the problems you’ll find with these types of strings is that they can create a bit of a scraping sound as you move your fingers up and down them. For some players, this scraping sound is a nuisance which must be avoided. For other players, however, it’s welcomed with open arms.
Wound nylon strings have a warm and full tone that comes across as downright pleasant. As a beginner, there’s no reason to stray away from wound nylon.
If you’re looking to make your ukulele as loud as possible, you should opt for titanium strings. These strings are more like guitar strings and are capable of projecting all the way across a room.
Durable and low-maintenance, they pack a bright punch. In this sense, they are very similar to fluorocarbon strings.
Wound metal strings are similar to wound nylon strings in that they produce a full, bass-like sound. However, whereas wound nylon strings have a warm tone, wound metal strings have a punchy tone.
Again, because they’re wound, they can make a bit of a scraping noise as you run your finger across them. However, if this is not a distraction for you, there’s no reason not to give them a go.
On occasion, you’ll see a ukulele-based instrument strung with steel strings. Generally, this is when that instrument is a hybrid with a guitar, banjo, or other stringed instruments.
If you have a standard ukulele, you should not use steel strings. Steel strings will put too much tension on your ukulele, slowly damaging its neck as well as its bridge.
Choosing the Right Length
These ukuleles come in a wide range of sizes and thus require strings of varying lengths. Below, we’re going to discuss string lengths for the most common ones.
The smallest of all ukuleles, soprano ukuleles have a scale length of 13 inches. The scale is the distance from the bridge of the uke to the nut of the uke. The overall length of soprano ukuleles is 21 inches.
Concert ukuleles are just a bit bigger than soprano ukuleles, measuring in at 15 inches in scale, and at 23 inches in total. When buying a package of strings, keep your eyes open for these lengths.
If they’re not present on the package, the package should specify directly that the strings are compatible with concert ukuleles.
Tenor ukuleles measure in at 17 inches in scale, and at 26 inches in total length. Again, the packaging of the strings you’re perusing should have these lengths indicated on it.
The biggest of all ukuleles are baritone ukuleles. These measure in at 19 inches in scale, and at 30 inches in total length. There are all types of strings available for baritone ukes, from titanium to nylon and more.
Popular Ukulele Strings Manufacturers
There is an essentially endless list of companies that manufacture ukulele strings. While any company is capable of releasing a high-quality string, there are a few specific companies that have proven their ability to distribute quality strings over a long period of time. It’s advised that you purchase strings from one of these companies.
They are as follows:
D’Addario is one of the absolute top names in the world of stringed instruments. They make everything from guitar strings, to bass strings, to banjo strings, to mandolin strings, and much, much more. They, of course, also make ukulele strings.
You can find uke strings of all kinds from D’Addario. Not only do they manufacture nylon strings, but fluorocarbon, and titanium strings as well.
The fact of the matter is that you can’t go wrong with D’Addario strings. They provide top-notch sound at a fair price.
While Martin primarily makes its living in the world of guitars, it has, quite successfully, tried its hand in the world of ukuleles. The company makes strings for all ukuleles, all of which are made out of high-quality fluorocarbon.
Whether you have a soprano, baritone, concert, or tenor ukulele, Martin uke strings will serve you well. All of their strings are available for a very reasonable price.
Aquila USA is widely seen as one of the most prestigious string manufacturers in the country. This company uses a special type of nylon to create their strings; a nylon known as nylgut. It is meant to mimic the sound and feel of traditional animal-based ukulele strings.
These strings are affordably priced and are manufactured to fit with all types. Regardless of the uke you play, Aquila will accommodate you.
Aquila strings is among the highest quality strings you can get for your uke. The good news is that there are many ukulele’s that already come with them and if they didn’t come with them you can always upgrade.
Cheaper ukuleles that are mostly under $50 don’t come with them such as the color Dolpin Makalas. They come with stock nylon strings. Which is why I recommend starting with a Kala 15S at a minimum.
One of the oldest surviving musical string manufacturers in the world, La Bella creates absolutely top-notch ukulele strings. This Italian company has been in business since the 1640s and has demonstrated an incredible competency for impeccable quality.
This company makes strings for ukes of all sizes. So, whether you play a soprano, a concert, a tenor, or a baritone, it will have you covered.
How Often Should You Restring Your Ukulele?
There is no hard and fast rule for how often you should restring your ukulele. It depends, in large part, on how much you play your ukulele. The more you play your instrument, the quicker its sound quality will diminish.
If you’re playing for hours every day, you would be best served by changing your strings every few weeks. If you only play your instrument sporadically, you can usually get by with changing them every few months.
If you break a single string, it’s usually wise to replace your entire array of strings. There’s no point in throwing on a fresh string with a group of worn-out strings.
Looking for More Information on Ukuleles?
Did this article help you to find the appropriate ukulele strings? Are you looking for more information on the instrument?
If so, you can find it right here at EasyUkuleleSongs.com. We have information on just about anything a beginner ukulele player could ever need. Chords, tabs, tuning tips and buyer’s guides all exist on our website.
- Best Ukuleles to Buy for Beginners
- What Ukulele Accessories Do I Need?
- How to Strum a Ukulele: Strumming Patterns 101
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.