This week will be the start of what I am calling “The Kitchen Ukulele String Test” The plan is to take a ukulele and to try out a series of very different types of strings on it over a few weeks. I’ll play the same brief pieces and record each piece with a high end Sony PCM D100 recorder which does great sound capture. This will be done in my kitchen which has a wonderful natural reverb and I’ll take care to ensure that the levels of the recorder are the same for each and every recording, so the only true variable will be the strings themselves.
The released recordings will be audio only clips, so there are no visual clues as to which sets of strings are being used. The sets will include high and low g strings, so there is a great range of choice. I’m personally very interested in the whole combination of instruments and strings and have blogged on this before on this site. There are no “right strings” only different sound combinations and of course the ultimate sound depends on the acoustic space, how the instrument is being played and how and where you are hearing it from! When I am looking at buying instruments as well as playing them myself, I always get somebody else to play them and then listen back from a distance so I can hear how the instrument sounds as a listener!
I genuinely have no idea how this will turn out, but I think it will be an interesting experiment. The plan is to have at least five string variations and only reveal which is which at the end of each experiment! I am aware that some folks are almost evangelical about this from at one end of the spectrum insisting that “brand X is best” to “all you need is fishing line” and everything in between. My plan is not to dictate what people do or don’t have but rather in a more neutral way highlight different combinations. My experience to date suggests the combinations can make a big difference to the overall sound, but lets see and hear what transpires!
The first uke will be the Cocobolo tenor that I received via the mighty Barry Maz, who did an excellent review here. This is the exact same ukulele, so you can already get some sense of what it sounds like here with the existing Aquilla strings that it has on it already