Ken Middleton, ukulele player extraordinaire, and a well known figure in the world of Ukuleles, has produced his own range of Ukulele strings. He swears by them, and I have always respected the gentleman. But is he, in this case, a little biased?
All the Ukes we produce are fitted with Aquila ‘Nylgut’ strings as standard. They are popular, sound good and are made in Europe rather than the Far East. Ken’s strings, however, proclaim to be ‘Made in Heaven’, although I understand that that is somewhere in England!
So, the only fair thing to do was to give them a try. Using a Tenor cutaway Uke finished recently, which has quite a bright sound (Walnut body, European Maple soundboard, Laburnum fretboard and bridge, 14 frets to the body.) that has been fitted with Aquila Tenor re-entrant (High G) strings that had been on it long enough to settle, I recorded a quick clip (Sorry it’s me trying to play, rather than someone who really can!) and then changed them for a new set of Ken’s Living Water Strings in the same configuration. This was strummed and tuned, plucked and tuned etc for half an hour until they were reasonably stable before trying to record the same clip. Here is the result:
To me the sound is a little brighter and they are certainly not a backward step from the Aquilas. Stringing them up however, did remind me of days long ago, spent on the stony beach at Recuver trying to tie tackle onto a beachcaster rod! They are far more high tech than ordinary fishing line though, but the clear Fluorocarbon does produce a slightly slippery knot, meaning an extra turn on the thinner strings than are required on the Aquilas.
They also felt a little more taut than the Nylgut version, but that is just the feel to me. They seem to play quite similarly.
I’d certainly be happy to put them on our Ukuleles if someone wants them, although Ken can’t, at the moment, supply stocks of them.
Apologies for the wind noise in the video, but with a rare day of sunshine, I went outside without a windsock on the H2 recorder.