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wolfewithane / Fishing for Ukulele String

One of the not-so-secret secrets about the ukulele is that some of the best strings are made from fishing line. It's true. There are a vast number of ukulele string producers out there and most have their strings made in Japan by companies that produce fluorocarbon angling leader. When you give it a little thought, companies that make fine fishing line already have the machines to produce string. So uke companies have worked with these producers to develop ingredient mixes, extruding temperatures and techniques to make some incredible sounding uke strings.


FISHING LINE SOUNDS BETTER
I know that's a bold statement, but Chet Aktins used fishing line for some of his guitars and that's a pretty sound endorsement. Strings make almost as much difference in the sound of a uke as the uke itself. I bought a dozen string sets from different companies at Elderly Instruments to try on my ukes. Some sounded great and others sounded lackluster. (I DO need to point out that there is one uke string brand in a class by itself. That's Aquila's Nylgut http://tinyurl.com/6gkzqcs. These are patented nylon strings made in Italy. They have a matte white finish, a beautiful "chorussy" tone and last forever. But my personal preference is an earthier tone.) I now have fishing line on my sopranos and tenors and have been very happy with the sound.


SEAGUAR, THE MOTHER OF ALL FISHING LINES
I preferred the sound of Worth strings and all indications are that Worth has their clear strings made by Seaguar, the producer of the finest fluorocarbon leader for fishing. This line is made in two layers. The inner layer is hard, while the outer layer is soft. As uke strings, this keeps the Seaguars in tune and lasting a really long time, but keeps them easy on the fingers. I've had Seaguars on some of my ukes for over nine months. They show minimum signs of wear and are still bright and keep in tune.


COST SAVINGS
Seaguar comes in 25 and 50 yard spools so you have to make an initial investment of about $100-150. This will give you about 37 to 74 sets of string. For most uke players, having a dozen or more ukes is common, so you could easily pay out that much for individual string sets in a year. I figured that I now pay less than half of what commercial strings were costing me. I also have string in a variety thicknesses and can experiment with tension and sound to tweak for each uke.


IT COMES DOWN TO THE SOUND
The sound of the Seaguars really caught my ear. I put them on my custom Boat Paddle Kayak and they sounded nicer than the Worth Clears it came with. My Flea http://tinyurl.com/5vbcht5 came with Hilo black nylon strings, which I never thought matched it well. The Seaguars are the only strings I've tried that to my ear do the unique design of the Flea justice. I also bought a cheap [Makala Pineapple](http://tinyurl.com/3ub8sy5) which came with some cheaper fishing line strings. On most Ukes, the rich midrange of the Seaguars is complemented by a twinge of high treble.


WHAT'S MY LINE
I have to thank Dave G. at Waverly Street Ukes http://www.wsukes.com for the assist on gauging the strings. His unique creations get Seaguars.

DAVE G'S FORMULA FOR CONCERTS AND SOPRANOS
• G 40 lb http://j.mp/1slEO8O
• C 60 lb http://j.mp/1slF3AS
• E 50 lb http://j.mp/1slFdrU
• A 30 lb http://j.mp/1slFlrq

MY LIGHT FORMULA FOR TENORS
This has a lower tension for easy finger-feel and fast soloing. Has a touch of high-end brilliance, but lacks a little punch compared to standard tenor.
• G 50 lb http://j.mp/1slFdrU
• C 80 lb http://j.mp/1slFtat
• E 60 lb http://j.mp/1slF3AS
• A 40 lb http://j.mp/1slEO8O

MY STANDARD FORMULA FOR TENORS
• G 60 lb http://j.mp/1slF3AS
• C 100 lb http://j.mp/1slERBN
• E 80 lb http://j.mp/1slFtat
• A 50 lb http://j.mp/1slFdrU

BARITONE CONTRENTRANT
Requires less pressure to fret, useful for softer playing.
• G 100 lb http://j.mp/1slERBN
• C 150 lb http://j.mp/PpqdEz
• E 130 lb http://j.mp/1slGbo2
• A 80 lb http://j.mp/1slFtat

KALA POCKET UKE FOR C TUNING
Kala recommends tuning up to F. This formula is for tuning to normal C.
• G 40 lb http://j.mp/1slEO8O
• C 100 lb http://j.mp/1slERBN
• E 80 lb http://j.mp/1slFtat
• A 30 lb http://j.mp/1slFlrq

GODIN MULTIUKE TENOR
This formula is lighter than the original Godin strings the uke comes with.
• G 50 lb http://j.mp/1slFdrU
• C 80 lb http://j.mp/1slFtat
• E 60 lb http://j.mp/1slF3AS
• A 50 lb http://j.mp/1slFdrU


SO WHAT'S IT SOUND LIKE?
This is the tenor formula above on a Mainland Mahogany Super Concert Pineapple (concert body/tenor neck). They have a nice mellow presence and a tempered volume level.

http://bit.ly/Qo2e5Q

For those who need more details, the uke has a MiSi Acoustic Trio pickup which was run through a Korg Pandora PX5D http://amzn.to/hfgS1P with USB signal run into an iPad2 through the iPad Camera Connector Kit http://amzn.to/eJ2lGw and recorded and mixed in Studio.HD http://bit.ly/gY0QEn on iPad. The tune is Three Dimensional Man.

MY TAKE
String choice is as personal as uke choice. I'm not trying to sway the world to Seaguars. I just want to give you yet another fine-sounding string option and point out that the Seaguars are as good and durable as the top clear uke strings on the market today. These really do rank up there in quality and sound with the best uke strings you can buy and personally they're my choice on all ukes I've tried them on. I know: some folks will now go to Walmart and buy discount nylon fishing line to try on their uke and will be severely disappointed. The Seaguars won't disappoint.

Oh the black strings? They're made from Dupont brush bristles. But that's a story for another time.


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