Having already reviewed ( and been delighted with) my Kanile'a K-1 Tenor, I have since been keen to test it with a set of D'Addario Pro-Arté strings.
The Pro-Arté strings are D'Addarios premium ukulele string line, of laser selected all nylon strings. I am not normally a fan of pure nylon strings but I had read great things about this set and how they perform. But they are unusual for a simple reason - they are actually classical guitar strings!
I understand that the pack, whilst branded on the outside as ukulele strings often confuse many people as the string sleeves are marked as guitar strings, and are labelled as E,G,B and E!
So, what's the deal? Well, they are indeed classical strings, and they are the favoured string selection of a certain Jake Shimabukuro for his Tenor uke. He selected these himself from the D'Addario stocks and the public demand then grew so great that D'Addario packaged them in ukulele branding as a ready made set!
They are a high G string set, and if you buy some and are confused the strings are labelled as follows with the appropriate uke string
J4401 E-1st .029" - for the uke G string
J4603 G-3rd .041" - for the uke C string
J4602 B-2nd .033" - for the uke E string
J4601 E-1st .028" - for the uke A string
Now, you will notice that the pack contains two high E guitar strings, but they actually differ slightly. The E that is used for the G uke string is actually very slightly thicker than the other, and whilst all the others are labelled Hard Tension, this one is an Extra-Hard Tension string. I presume that is to assist in making that re-entrant G string chime.
Stringing them up, and the guitar provenance is obvious, they are very long and much thicker than any other uke strings I have played. More on that below.
So after much stretching and tuning, I've been playing these for a couple of days now. You may recall that i felt that my Kanile'a really shone (strung with Worth strings) when fingerpicked. Well the D'Addarios are equally as good. They are not as bright sounding as the Worths which have a zing to them, but have more sustain and a richer tone to my ears. There is also a clear improvement in strumming tone. Don't get me wrong, strumming before on an instrument as good as a Kanile'a was very sweet, but these new strings seem to bring even more clarity to the range of tones.
Volume wise, its a tough call. I think overall the volume is comparable to the worths, but with a little less treble and a touch more bass.
So all sounds good. The quality of the strings is clear with superb clarity of sound. But I suppose it does come at a price. I suppose it serves to make the uke sound a small step closer to a guitar sound, something I know many users dislike. I'm in two minds myself.
But newcomers should really be aware of that high tension and thickness. Luckily I've played guitar for over 20 years but if you struggle with sore fingers you may find these hurt the fretting hand tips. Extra tension also makes them harder to fret, but also I found I needed much stronger picking to get decent volume. I have long fingernails, but suspect someone trying to pick just with tips may struggle to get volume from the instrument.
So in summary they are clearly a very professional grade string, but that means they come with a small health warning. I adore the clarity and richness as the strings harmonise together, but miss the zing that the Worths gave me. As such, undecided at present but certainly a string I think any tenor player should try.
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