Ukulele players love their strings. When I played guitar, it seemed there wasn’t much difference between steel strings. But a big range of tones is achieved with different strings on a single ukulele. The problem is, different strings sound and play different depending on the ukulele, so the only way to compare them is to try them.
The Instrument: Pono MT Mahogany Tenor
The Incumbent: Worth Clear
The Challenger: D’Addario Pro-Arte EJ65T
My Pono needed new strings – I change them about every 6 months – so I decided to try the strings that Jake Shimabukuro peddles for D’Addario, the Pro-Arte nylon classical guitar strings sold for ukulele. I’ve had Worth Clears on for a while. They’re OK but I definitely recall feeling like they were a step down in tone from the Martin strings I had on before that. They play nicely but I find them a bit thin on tone.
I made a quick recording of the Worth Clears before changing strings, and then made a recording of the same thing with the D’Addarios on to see if I’d notice any difference.
As I suspected, I definitely notice a difference in feel and tone. The D’Addarios are noticeably thicker and they sound warmer. I do like them better than the Worths. The D’Addarios add a lot of warmth, probably a little too much. I mostly fingerpick, and if I picked with fingernails, I think these strings would sound amazing. But I pick with the pads of my fingers. It makes these strings go from warm to a bit muddy. They do sound good, but I don’t think I’ll buy them again. If you’re a strummer or fingerpicker with nails and are looking for a lot of warmth without sacrificing volume, these D’Addarios are definitely worth a try.
On the other hand, as far as I can tell, they are indistinguishable in the recording. I used a Sure SM58 going through an M-Audio USB preamp into Ableton Live with no effects or additional processing of any kind. Listen for yourself:
Can you tell a difference?