Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Building the Savarez Set

If you’ve spent any time on the UkuleleUnderground, you know there is much love for Savarez Alliance classical guitar strings. Curious, I decided to buy a set and put them on my Laniaki S-TEQ spruce top; while I was not that impressed at first, I quickly grew to love their full, rounded tone and supple feel and am, indeed, now a Savarez devotee.

The only problem with Savarez is that they do not make a set for the ukulele. Thus, you need to order single strings. There are a number of places that sell Savarez single strings by mail, such as stringbymail. Many of these places sell just strings, such as juststrings.

If you are thinking of sampling a set, here is how to “roll your own.”

Order two 541R strings (a guitar E string used for both the High g and the A on the ukulele), a 542R (a guitar B string used for the ukulele C), and a 543R (a guitar B string used for the ukulele E). If you want a low G, substitute the 541R you are using for the high-g with a wound Savarez 544R (which is a guitar D string). Some people, by the way, prefer to use the high tension Aliance E for the high G (the 541J, I believe). 

To recap, the basic guitar-to-ukulele string conversion is:

Ukulele high G = Guitar high-E guitar
Ukulele low G = Guitar D
Ukulele C = Guitar G
Ukulele E string = Guitar B
Ukulele A = Guitar high-E

Strings Compared

If you are playing Aquila Nylguts and want to hear them compared to a nylon string like the Savarez, Ken Middleton has a wonderful video that captures the true sound of both the Nylguts and Worth clears, which, to my ears are virtually identical to the Savarez Alliances (the Worths, I mean).

If you need to hear the actual Savarez sound, uluapoundr has a YouTube video which compares Savarez Alliance, Savarez New Critsal Corum, D’addario ProArte and D’addario T2 Titanium. I actually love the sound of the ProArtes and may try them soon. The video, by the way, is rather thorough, so to get right to the strings, the Savarez Alliance demo starts at 3:57, the New Cristal Corum at around 5:02, the ProArte at 6:09 and the T2s at about 7:17.

There is no right or wrong here—what sounds good to your ear is all that matters. I love Savarez, but I still love the sound and feel of the Nylguts, too (which is why my Boulder Creek tenor is still strung with them). And Worth, D’addario and Aquila all have one advantage over Savarez—you can buy them in pre-packaged ukulele sets, making ordering just a little easier.

By the way, I want to send a special thanks to UU member Craig of http://www.ukulelecraig.com/ for his forum posts on making a Savarez set and the guitar/ukulele string equivalents, and to Ken Middleton and uluapoundr for their helpful YouTube videos.

-Lamb Chop

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