Before diving into this article, you should know that we have also written an article on the best ukulele strings you can find. And if you want to diversify the list of your instruments, check our guide on how to choose an electric ukulele. With this in mind, let’s see what uke strings you can find and how much they cost.
General things to know
There are many things that influence the price of ukulele strings. You can get sets for as little as $2, or you can invest a lot in your strings and get some that are worth $20 or even more. It mostly depends on the materials they are made of, who made them, and other minor factors such as their length.
It’s important that you don’t overlook the length factor, as you want to get the strings that are good for your uke. So check if you have a soprano, concerto, tenor or baritone ukulele before purchasing strings for it.
There are also two different types of tuning that the strings have, and you will need to pay attention to that too. Depending on what you want to buy, there are low G sets and high G ones. The difference in price between them is insignificant.
Some say that brand is the most important thing when it comes to strings, but others disagree. What’s certain is that the prices are very different from a manufacturer to another. Brands like Aquila and D’Addario can offer you some of the cheapest strings, while others tend to make premium strings made for professionals.
Ultimately, what makes the price of a set of strings is the materials it’s made of.
Initially, all uke strings were made of gut, a material that comes from sheep intestines, thus its name. But once the industrial era came, people moved to nylon, because it was easier to produce and had some other qualities such as durability.
However, many players still prefer the sound of gut strings. Unfortunately, they are harder to find, and a set of genuine Aquila gut string costs between $20 and $30 depending on the size of the ukulele they’re made for. Because not many people want them, the manufacturers can afford to only sell a few of them for those that really love the mellow sound of gut strings.
There are nylon strings that are made using special polymer formulas designed to offer the similar warm and round sound of the original gut strings. D’Addario has a set of this type of strings that should provide the classic sound while having the force needed. They are also easy to keep in tune, unlike gut strings, and they cost about $8.
These are the most used ones and they are usually very cheap. That is because the process of making them is a fairly easy one – they are produced through extrusion, a process in which molten nylon polymer is pushed through a hole with the diameter of the desired string.
You can find nylon strings for as low as $2 but the cheapest ones are usually not that good, no matter who makes them. It’s better to buy a set that costs at least $5 if you want to make sure they do the job well.
There are many types of polymers used when making nylon strings and that’s why their sound can vary a lot from a manufacturer to another. That can also be said about their quality, so finding a good set may take you some time. More expensive nylon strings use the same initial method of production, but they are ground after they are extruded, so the irregularities are eliminated.
Aquila and D’Addario are good brands that make quality nylon strings at affordable prices, but Martin and Pyramid produce some good sets too. Their strings are known for their durability and the warm sound of a classic set of ukulele strings.
What’s bad about nylon strings is that they stretch with time and they need to be replaced, but for the cheap price you pay for them, that is worth it. They aren’t affected by humidity but they will stretch more or less if they sit in warm or cold environments.
Recently, this material has become the preferred one by ukulele players and the reasons for that are clear. When comparing it to nylon or gut, fluorocarbon has a more powerful sound, it’s brighter, and also less sensitive to temperature changes. These strings have a sound similar to the one produced by an acoustic guitar.
Of course, that’s not something that many people like. The strings made of this material are also denser and their gauge is smaller so one could argue they are easier to play. But they can also make your fingers hurt more. It all depends on how you like to play your strings and how you want them to sound.
Anyway, a set of fluorocarbon strings is usually more expensive than a set of nylon ones, and you can find quality strings for around $10. Lower than that and they aren’t great. Some manufacturers like Worth Ukulele Strings only make these kinds of strings and they have some usual ones priced around $12, and they offer premium variants too, that can cost up to $25.
Sometimes the core of the string is wrapped in a material to offer more durability. You can have both nylon and fluorocarbon strings covered in a metal winding. Usually, the strings found on bigger ukuleles are wound, and the G or C string on every uke can be wound.
There are different types of metals used to cover the core – aluminum, copper, phosphor bronze or silver are the most used. The winding doesn’t necessarily raise the price of a set of strings, but because wounded sets are most often the ones that are made for bigger ukes, they tend to be more expensive.
Stay away from cheap wound strings, because they produce a squeaky sound that rings too much compared to the other strings. A quality set can sound beautiful.