The best ukulele strings for you depends entirely upon which type of uke you have. It’s also important to keep in mind where you are in your ukulele playing journey, as some uke strings are better suited to pros and some to beginners. Whether you’re looking to restring your existing uke or you’re buying one of the best ukuleles and want new strings to go with it, you’re in the right place here.
For many people, the ukulele represents that first tentative step towards learning a musical instrument, which is why you need to make it as pleasurable as possible from the start – and the best ukulele strings will help with that. We’ve heard the uke described as a kind of gateway drug… first ukuleles, then acoustic guitars, then comes electric guitars… and before you know it, you’re commanding a 60-piece orchestra. Ok, so that’s a wild exaggeration, but the humble uke is the first stop for many budding players.
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If you’re not familiar with the process of changing strings on a ukulele, it’s actually quite straightforward, and we’ll show you some of the best ukulele strings to choose from right here. From guitar string kings Ernie Ball and Martin, through to specialist ukulele brands like Aquila, there’s a set of uke strings for every need here.
Best ukulele strings: MusicRadar’s choice
We’d always advocate using the right products for any situation, and with the Aquila Nylgut ukulele strings we believe we found the perfect balance between tone, playability and durability. That’s not to say they were streets ahead of the competition; indeed, this round-up has shown there is quality and value to be had across the range.
Hats off to Aquila especially though, particularly considering their color-coded learner set which – child or not – brought a dash of colour to an already colourful little instrument.
Choosing the best ukulele strings for you
Ukuleles come in four main sizes: soprano, concert, tenor and baritone. Unless you’re a dedicated uke player, chances are you have the smaller soprano-sized version. These are the most inexpensive models you find everywhere, and they offer the easiest playing experience for most.
The reason size is important when choosing the best ukulele strings is that these strings come in certain specific lengths. Choosing longer strings and cutting them to size is an option, but not one we’d recommend due to the issue of fraying. It’s far better to find the uke strings size that fits your instrument well in the first place.
Once you know the size you need, you’ll need to weigh up what string material is right for your needs. Historically, ukuleles were strung using sheep’s intestines. Thankfully, today’s best ukulele strings are made using more commonly available (and less gross) materials.
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Best ukulele strings: does material matter?
Entry-level ukuleles most likely come equipped with a set of nylon strings. These are good all-rounders, as they are more consistent and cheaper, plus they won’t hurt little fingers. For a higher quality playing experience, fluorocarbon may be the best ukulele string choice for you as these uke strings sound brighter and are less sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity.
Your desired tuning will also play a part in which ukulele strings you pick. Some players prefer the G string – the one nearest the top when you hold it – to be an octave lower, so string packs will offer a suitable gauge to support this.
Finally, most of the big guitar string brands, such as Martin, D’Addario and Ernie Ball, all offer ukulele strings of differing lengths and tunings. Alternatively, Aquila is a more specialist manufacturer of the best ukulele strings and has its own patented, non-animal-derived version of gut strings called Nylgut.
This uke string material offers the tonal benefits of gut – namely, a brighter sound – with the practicalities of modern production methods and materials. Read on to find out our top choices for the best ukulele strings available today, and how they can transform your sound.
The best ukulele strings to buy now
It stands to reason that the best products you can get, generally, come from the specialist companies. The ones that dedicate themselves to doing one thing, and doing it really, really well. For ukulele strings, Aquila is that company.
Its proprietary Nylgut material (a synthesized version of traditional gut strings) promises the tone and playability of gut, but with the durability and resistance to corrosion you get from Nylon. You’ll notice an instant leap in tone once you’ve fitted them, and they should last a good few jam sessions before they need changing.
One of the major benefits of Nylon strings, over steel, is that there’s none of that nasty squeaking sound when you move across the strings. Fretting notes, slides and bends; steel strings are notoriously noisy. Nylon has none of these problems, albeit at the cost of some treble in your tone.
The GHS H10 Nylon set offers a great upgrade to the set which were on the ukulele when you bought it, and we felt confident they’d stand up to heavy practice without losing their playability.
Electric guitar players who took their first steps using Nylon-strung acoustics will remember the eureka moment when they first played steel strings. Their tone is much brighter, and projects wonderfully, making Nylons sound dull in comparison.
The D’Addario Titanium set brings that same clarity and leap in volume to any soprano ukulele. While not solid titanium, the special material used does benefit from resistance to corrosion and can therefore be relied upon for longer.
If you’re new to the ukulele, you may not have come across the process of re-stringing yet. Some string sets require neat threads and ties, which can be daunting to the uninitiated. They’re simple enough when you know what you’re doing, but for the ultimate in simplicity, we highly recommend the Ernie Ball 2329 set.
These Nylon strings come with a ball end, meaning they simply hook into the bridge of the instrument, ready to be threaded through the tuning pegs at the other end. Ernie Ball is one of the biggest names in guitar strings, and their reputation extends to this set, which we found to be responsive and long-lasting.
In the world of acoustic guitars, Martin is one of the big boys. Its guitars have been played by some of the music world’s biggest names, so on heritage alone their ukulele strings are worth your attention.
The Martin M600 set is constructed from fluorocarbon, a material Martin claims rivals Nylon for durability, yet with the brightness and projection of traditional gut strings.
We found them slightly trickier than the others to string up, on account of the string slipping at the tuning peg end, but once in place they sounded terrific.
It’s no secret that the ukulele is the ideal first instrument for kids. It’s small, easy to handle and weighs nothing. You can coax a tune out of it with very little effort, and it’s hugely rewarding to do so. That said, it is still a string instrument, with frets, so there are techniques to be learned.
The Aquila Kids set aims to help by color-coding its strings. This way, the teacher can refer to the color of the string, helping the learner instantly navigate to where they need to be. It’s hard to find fault with such a simple solution, especially when the Nylgut material used ensures these strings will sound great and last for ages.
While we’re not talking megabucks when it comes to ukulele strings, every little does help. So, if you’re not convinced about shelling out on high quality Nylgut or Titanium strings, the Dean Markley 8500 set might just be perfect for you.
For a shade under $5 you get a good quality set of Nylon strings that feel great to the touch, and will be an upgrade on those green-tinged strings you’ve been meaning to change for a year now.
We’ve covered Nylon and its variants, but with the Dunlop Soprano ukulele strings, we have another material to suggest. This set is produced using a proprietary material it calls VSD-7 Polymer, which it believes provides exceptional tuning stability and touch sensitivity on par with much more expensive sets.
Your mileage may vary, but we’ve always rated Dunlop’s electric guitar strings so would feel confident recommending their ukulele sets too.