Buying a new set of strings for your Arabic oud can seem like a pretty daunting task. But remember — even the best oud players like Yurdal Tokcan, Farid El Atrache, Ara Dinkjian and George Mgrdichian felt this way at the start!
Nowadays, a lot of companies have a stake in the Arabic oud string market so there are countless to choose from. Although, this doesn’t make your choice any easier (it probably makes it harder, to be honest with you).
Luckily, you have stumbled upon us, Ethnic Musical! We are here to shed light on the string-buying conundrum and recommend you the best ones out there.
Let’s jump right in, shall we?
What to Look For When Buying Arabic Oud Strings
Material – Nylon
Nylon is the most common material used for oud strings. — Pyramid oud strings and Aurora oud strings use nylon for a variety of their products.
It may come as a surprise that there are 2 types of nylon strings. The first is regular nylon and the second is rectified nylon. Usually, companies make use of the rectified version if they find that the regular stuff drops its tune.
Sometimes, you will see “silver-wound strings”, “copper-wound strings”, or “nickel-wound strings”. This just means the nylon has been incorporated into the extra material.
In reality, this is just normal nylon. However, the difference comes from the fact that it has been analyzed for different thicknesses and shapes. Then, after abnormalities have been spotted, they are ground and shaped by high-tech equipment to ensure they are perfect.
As you can appreciate, this is a specialized process so it’s usually only done on high or treble strings.
Aquila has managed to patent nyglut strings so these guys are the only company that can make them.
They claim that it has all the advantages of nylon, gut, and PVF, without warping under different climates. Typically, these are recommended for ukuleles but not talked about for ouds that much.
Yep, a nylon substitute (scientifically referred to as fluorocarbon). It’s mostly found in fishing wire but it does make fantastic oud strings too.
You’ll notice that they have a brighter tone when you compare PVF strings with nylon and nyglut. Not to mention that they are both thinner and lighter.
Gauge and Tension
Gauge (i.e. thickness)
All you need to know here is that thicker strings make lower (bass) notes. Therefore, thinner strings make higher notes.
Tension (i.e. the weight exerted on the oud)
Again, this is pretty simple. The heavier the string, the higher the tension. Therefore, the lighter the string, the less tension. Of course, it’s directly proportional to the string’s gauge too.
Right, now it’s time for our recommendations! Trust us, you won’t be disappointed.
Our Top Strings Recommendations
Pyramid Oud Strings
Pyramid oud strings are unbeatable for the beginner oud player. They are constructed to amazingly high standards, yet still affordable for the average musician. You’d be hard-pushed to find this standard at a better rate.
These are well-suited for tunings like C, G, A, D, G, C.
- The orange label is great for beginners
- Nylon made
- Some silver-plated, copper-wound strings
- Deep sound
- Made for extra clarity
- Professionals might want a “classier” type of string as these work primarily for beginners
Kurschner Oud Strings
Kurschner oud strings have been loved by generations of musicians around the world. The designers and developers work very closely with professional oud players to bring you the best quality you can imagine.
These Kurschner oud strings are best used for C – C tuning thanks to their premium carbon build and medium tension.
- Medium tension
- Brilliant tone quality
- Incredibly precise
- Premium carbon strings (PVF)
- More expensive than Pyramid (not by too much)
Aurora Oud Strings
Aurora oud strings are made for multiple tuning types. In the package, you’ll receive a total of 11 strings that work magically together to give you the best oud sound imaginable.
- Wonderful sound
- Multiple tuning types
- Not so easily found in some countries (even online)
The Bottom Line
Whether you go for Pyramid oud strings, Kurschner oud strings, or Aurora oud strings, you are bound to have a fun-filled, tuneful time playing it!