Monday, January 21, 2008

Yikes! USAS!

'Ukulele fans are well aware of a little disease called Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome, commonly known as UAS. I know it very well because if you look at that little picture on the left side of this blog, you know I've got a bad case of UAS. Well, a little visit to the 'ol string drawer revealed that I also have UAS's little cousin, Ukulele String Acquisition Syndrome, or USAS. If you look at the pictures I've attached to this entry, it may not look all that bad considering how many ukes I have, but if you consider that in most of the cases I have at least one spare set of strings, then it's probably getting a bit much. And on top of that, I have a few packs of Guadalupe 'ukulele strings and some Savarez strings on the way to me this week!

So why does one need so many strings? I guess for me it's mostly due to curiosity and the desire to come up with the best strings for a particular uke. Most ukes are factory strung with pretty average and even lousy strings. To bring the uke to its full potential frequently require a change of strings. The best example I can cite from personal experience is with my Honu concert. It was actually strung with Aquila strings, which are very good strings, from the factory. However, I didn't really like that sound too much and tried some Worth strings on it. Worth BM's improved the sound a little bit and Worth CD's really made it sound good to me.

Some of the strings I bought out of curiosity. I got some D'Addario J71 sets because that's what Jake Shimabukuro used and I wanted to see what it was like. I put it on the Pono cedar top and if I remember correctly, it was kind of plinky and metallic sounding. It wasn't too bad but didn't really do it for me so I changed it a few times since then. Maybe I'll go back to try it again someday. I got a set of soprano Kala Reds because there has been so few reports on it and was curious about it. I put it on an Applause soprano I had but didn't really like the sound or the feel of the wound strings. Recently I got some old KoAloha colored strings while in Hawaii and tried a green set on the Honu concert. Sadly while the strings sounded decent, they didn't seem to intonate very well and I switched them back to the Worth CD's.

I guess through all this experimentation, I've become a fan of Worth strings. Almost all of my ukes are currently strung with Worth strings and they all sound very good to me. Some ukes did well with other strings such as Aquila strings, but I like the smoother feel of Worth better. Of course, I still got some Savarez and Guadalupe strings to try soon, and it's fun to experiment even if the strings don't work out at the end.

By the way, for geared tuners, be sure to get one of these string winders. It makes the job so much quicker!

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