A ukulele is more than just a miniature guitar with 4 strings. Ukuleles are commonly thought of as a Hawaiian instrument. However, they were first brought to the Hawaiian islands by Portuguese immigrants. The name of this instrument literally translates to ‘jumping flea.’ This is a reference to the finger movements required to play one.
For many, the ukulele is a simple stringed instrument that is much easier to learn than the guitar or bass. Its use of nylon strings means you can learn how to play it without experiencing frequent finger pain. Players are also less likely to suffer from wrist strain, since you don’t need to stretch to reach the top frets.
After a while, though, all ukuleles will need a change of strings. You might think manufacturers built all strings the same. However, this isn’t the case. The strings you choose can have a large impact on the sound of your instrument. In this guide, we will show you some of the best ukulele strings you can buy, and tell you what sets them apart from the competition.
Best Ukulele Strings (Quick Summary)
- Black nylon monofilament ukulele strings
- Rich tone with excellent projection
- Ball-ends for fast, easy installation
- Suitable for Concert or Soprano ukuleles
- Gauges: .028, .032, .040, .028
Ernie Ball has been making high-quality strings for years, and these ukulele strings are no exception. This package contains monofilament strings, which means they are made from a single strand of nylon for greater tensile strength. They will lend your ukulele a vibrant tone with plenty of percussive attack to suit unique playing styles.
These strings are long enough for both soprano and concert size ukuleles. Since these are the most popular sizes for beginners, this is an excellent set for those who haven’t changed the strings on their instrument before. They have nylon ball ends, which makes them easy to install.
Unlike strings that need to be tied off at the bridge, these don’t have a long break in periods. This means that as you tense the strings, they are unlikely to become slack or slip out of tune if you leave them. Once you finish with changing the strings, you can get back to strumming much sooner.
- Made from black monofilament for a classic soprano ukulele tone.
- Nylon ball ends make installation much easier.
- Short break in time.
- Less experienced players may struggle to tell which string is which.
- GHS Model#H100GHS
Ukuleles come in four different sizes, of which baritone ukeleles are the largest. As their names would suggest, baritone ukuleles are much deeper than their smaller counterparts. GHS made these strings for a baritone. So, they are extra long and have a different tuning to a soprano set.
The D and G-strings in this set use nylon that wound with a light metal. Metal wound strings are louder and brighter than those made of pure nylon. This helps to support the deeper voice of a baritone ukulele. Thanks to the metal winding, these strings are also very resilient and will last a long time before replacement.
GHS strings used tie-ends, which means the end of the string that attaches to the bridge is easy to bend. This is so you can tie a knot at the end of the string, preventing it from coming loose. Tying off your string can take a bit of practice at first, so if you are a complete beginner, then buy strings with ball ends instead.
- Metal wound D and G-string.
- High-quality nylon strings for a baritone ukulele.
- Durable and great for heavy playing.
- Require more effort to set up and attach to the bridge.
D’Addario EJ87S sets are designed for use with all soprano ukuleles. Each string within this set is made from our bright sounding titanium material and optimized for GCEA tuning.
D’Addario Titanium Ukulele strings are crafted from a dense monofilament material that has an attractive, translucent purple hue and a polished, smooth feel similar to nylon. This unique material is particularly beneficial to Ukulele’s due to its slightly brighter tone and increased projection, resulting in more volume, clarity and dynamics.
D’Addario, the world’s largest manufacturer of musical instrument strings, is known as The Players Choice with a reputation for unsurpassed quality and consistency. D’Addario’s innovative, environmentally friendly packaging reduces waste and provides protection from corrosion. All D’Addario strings are manufactured in the U.S.A. using proprietary, digitally controlled, state-of-the-art machinery for unmatched performance, set after set.
- Optimized for Soprano Ukuleles tuned to GCEA tuning
- Titanium monofilament material for brightness and projection
- Preferred for their modern, projecting tone
- String Gauges: Titanium .028, .033, .040, .029
Manufacturers frequently used nylon strings on ukuleles and classical guitars. This is because they are softer and therefore much better for certain techniques, like finger picking.
These strings are also very popular for beginners to play the ukulele. They are softer and won’t cause finger pain. This often leads to many uke players trying metal strings for the first time and never going back because of their bright tone and louder volume.
If you are used to metal strings and want to try them on your ukulele, then this is the perfect set for you to do so. D’Addario made these strings from pure titanium, which gives them an excellent tone and a very good projection.
They are calibrated for GCEA tuning. This is the most common tuning for a ukulele. It also has a monofilament core to prevent the tension from the strings damaging the bridge.
You can buy these strings for any size of ukulele, from soprano to baritone. This product only comes recommended for uke players who are already familiar with metal strings. If you have only ever played with nylon or monofilament strings before, these will probably hurt your fingers. This makes them much less pleasant to play with, but great if you seek a brighter tone.
- Made from a monofilament wound with titanium for a much brighter tone.
- Calibrated for GCEA tuning.
- Rust resistant for better longevity.
- It will hurt your fingers if you are used to Nylon strings.
- New Nylgut strings provide better sound than traditional nylon or PVDF
- Designed to have excellent player feel and a sweet tone similar to that of genuine gut strings
- Proprietary composite material absorbs less moisture to assure tuning stability
- Accurately gauged strings of varying densities provides increased accuracy of fret-intonation
Originally, all ukulele strings were made from catgut. To this day, many professional players still swear by this material for its unmatched tone and warmth.
Aside from the ethical issues, this material also didn’t last long before it needed replacing. That’s why Aquila started their Nylgut line. These strings are made from a special composite nylon that replicates the qualities of real gut. They are also much more durable.
These Nylgut strings are marketed towards children. However, they are a brilliant choice for anyone learning the Ukulele for the very first time.
They provide a superb warm tone, with good sustain that will allow your notes to ring out for longer. To help children and beginners find the correct string much faster, they are color coded. So this is great when you are just beginning.
These strings are a wonderful product for any soprano ukulele, whether it is for a child or adult. The material is resistant to water, which means they are much better at holding their tuning. One issue is that they don’t have ball ends. So tying them onto the bridge may be a little more complicated for beginners.
- Provides the warm sound of gut strings, while being completely synthetic.
- Made from water-resistant material for better tuning stability.
- Color coded, so you can tell which string is which at a glance.
- Soft feel, with a great sustain.
- Tie on ends may be difficult to attach to the bridge for complete beginners.
- Allows you to tune-to-pitch tension while minimizing string elongation
- Offer a rich, amplified tone
- Gauges: M600 soprano . 0191 . 0256 . 0340 . 0216
The M is another set of fluorocarbon strings that are easy to pick and strum. Meanwhile, they are still strong enough to hold their tuning.
Martin claims these strings offer true-tone. This means their sound is perfectly accurate and will help to bring out the unique tone of your instrument. Whether this is true, these strings definitely have a warm and excellent sound.
They are tie-end strings, meaning they may take a little longer to set up on your ukulele than ball ends. These are concert gauge strings, but they will work just as well for a soprano size ukulele. You can also buy these strings for a baritone ukulele should you wish to. However, they are of a much thicker gauge and unsuitable for smaller instruments.
Thanks to the fluorocarbon material, these strings are very durable and likely to last a long time. They are also great at holding their tuning, and unlike nylon strings, feel the effects of sudden changes in temperature. The material is a little more slippery when attaching to the tuning peg. This means they can take a little longer to break in.
- True tone strings that will bring out the best in your instrument.
- Suitable for both concert and soprano ukuleles.
- Great tuning stability and durability.
- It may take a while to break in because of slippery material.
- The latest Nylgut model 4U soprano uke strings
- Regular Key of C Tuning: G C E A
- Highly polished and smooth surface
- Elevated resistance to wear under tension – greater than that of gut
- Made in Italy
We mentioned Aquilas nylgut strings earlier in this guide. These nylgut strings are a more professional set that is cheaper than the one for children. Despite the lower price, these strings offer better quality and sound because they aren’t for children. However, their color-coded counterparts are easier to string and learn on. They have the warmth and sustain of gut strings, while being more resilient and vegan friendly.
Many customers have claimed that these strings can stay in tune for up to a week. This makes them one of the most stable options on this list.
They have a smooth texture that feels great under your fingers and makes strumming chords an absolute delight. Unlike strings made from real gut, these can withstand a lot of punishment. They will last much longer before they needing replacement.
Aquila has calibrated these strings for standard ukulele tuning and comes in standard gauge. They are moisture resistant and very good at handling large temperature fluctuations, unlike Nylon. Although they are very expensive, they are worth the money for an exceptional set of strings with a sound like no other set on the market.
- Combines the sound and feel of real gut with modern technology.
- Can hold their tuning for up to a week.
- Very durable.
It is easy to think that all ukulele strings are the same. However, there is a surprising amount of variety across the different brands. Some strings will focus on offering a good tone. Others may be more geared towards durability and lasting a long time. In this section, we will cover all of the most important things to consider when buying new ukulele strings.
Different ukelele string sizes
Ukuleles come in four different sizes, including soprano, concert, tenor and baritone from smallest to largest. Soprano and concert strings can often be used interchangeably. You can just trim off some of the excess after you are done restringing.
However, strings for larger ukuleles focus on a different tuning and won’t work on smaller instruments. Baritone strings especially should never be on a soprano instrument, as the higher gauge may be too strong.
If your strings are too strong, the tension may cause your ukulele to warp. Eventually, your bridge might snap from your body.
To prevent this, always buy the right size of strings for your ukulele. Also, avoid alternate tunings that could put too much tension on the bridge.
What is the best material for your ukulele strings?
Traditionally, ukulele strings came from catgut. You can still buy strings made from animal gut to this day.
Modern genuine gut strings use cow gut. Musicians praise them for their warm sound and soft feel.
Because of their organic composition, gut strings are far more likely to break. They will also will degrade much faster than synthetic strings. This means that you will get a superior sound but will need to change your strings much more often.
Below are some string alternatives and what makes them great.
Nylon strings are the most common variety used today. While they are durable and capable of offering a great tone, some musicians may find them too thin. Sudden changes in temperature can easily damage nylon strings, which can cause them to slip out of tune.
Fluorocarbon strings are like nylon in terms of sound and feel, but are more resilient to changes in temperature. These strings are the best option if you want something very durable that will last a long time before needing to be replaced.
You can also buy metal strings for a ukulele, but be careful when doing so. Manufacturers do not design ukuleles to have metal strings. They are too strong and may cause the instrument to warp.
If the strings are too strong, they could rip the bridge of your instrument, which will be difficult to repair. That said, D’addario sells titanium ukulele strings that have a beautiful bright sound. They also have correct tensile strength to not damage your instrument.
Wound strings have a solid core made from nylon or metal wrapped in a coil of metal or fluorocarbon. These strings are even worse than metal strings. Musicians hate they produce a horrible squeaking sound when you slide your fingers along them.
For many musicians, the performance offered by genuine gut strings cannot be beaten. However, their poor longevity can be a problem. To solve this, some companies such as Aquila have invented composites such as Nylgut. These are synthetic strings made to replicate the sound and feel of the real gut.
These strings replicate the tonal and textural qualities of the gut, while being much more durable and suitable for vegans. The one issue with Nylgut strings is that they are very expensive. However, you get a very high-quality product in return for your money.
Different ukulele string wrappings – ball vs tie-ends
The strings on your ukulele need to be wrapped around the tuning pegs at the headstock and secured to the bridge on the body. Attaching them to the tuning pegs is relatively simple, however, things can get trickier at the bridge.
Like classical guitars, many ukulele strings need to be tied together at the bridge. This is a very secure method of attaching your strings, but it can be tricky for complete beginners to get the hang of. Strings attached in this way can become more slack as they stretch, which means they will take longer to break in.
If you want something that is easy to install and won’t take a while to break in, then buy string with ball ends. These have a small plastic or metal ball on the end so that they won’t easily slide through the holes in the bridge. Ball ends are much better for beginners since they take seconds to install, and your ukulele will be ready to play almost immediately after restringing.
Frequently Asked Questions.
What Is Standard Tuning For A Ukulele?
The most common tuning for a ukulele uses a high G-string and is commonly represented as G4, C4, E4, A4. The numbers after the letter help to denote which octave a string is in. Some people like to use a low G-string instead, which would be represented as G3.
Baritone ukuleles use a different tuning, more similar to the top notes on a guitar. The tuning for these instruments is as follows: D3, G3, B3, E4.
Here are some other fun tunings that you can try on your ukulele when you want to mix things up a bit.
- 20th Century standard tuning: A4, D4, F#, B4
- Canadian tuning: A3, D4, F#, B4
- Half Step Up From Standard: G#, C#, F4, A#