How do I choose strings for a custom set?

I want to make a custom set of strings, using Pyramid, La Bella or some other mix of strings. What strings should I pick? 

While the exact string choices require doing a bit of math to match the tension, tuning and size of your oud, you can make a rough guess using the following suggestions based on my years of designing custom sets. If you're not sure, it's always better to err on the side of getting a lighter set, since a heavy set can damage your oud. 

 

 

Arabic Ouds 

 

  • Use 

lighter 

strings for longer ouds, and heavier strings for shorter oudsOuds range from 57-64cmthe median is 60cm. 

 

  • Use 

heavier 

strings for floating bridge "Bashir" style ouds 

lighter 

strings for fixed bridge "classic" or "sharqiouds 

 

  • Use 

lighter 

strings for antique ouds (Pre-1970) 

 

  • Use 

heavier 

strings if you are tuning down 

 

 

Here are some ranges that we've found to work well on most ouds: 

 

  • highf': .018-.023in (.400-.575mm) nylon, or .44-.52mm nylgut (Aquila), or .38-.48mm carbon (PVF - Pyramid). 

 

  • highc': .024-.028in (.600-.700mm) nylon, or .58-.64mm nylgut (Aquila), or .50-.59mmcarbon (PVF - Pyramid) 

 

  • plaing: .028-.033in (.725-.850mm) nylon, or .70-.79mm nylgut (Aquila), or .63-.74mm carbon (PVF - Pyramid) 

 

  • plaind: .038-.041 nylon (.95-1.07mm) nylon, or .97-1.04mm nylgut (Aquila), or .83-.95mm carbon (PVF- Pyramid or Savarez) 

 

  • woundd: .022-.025 wound (La Bella or D'addario), or 1008/9085/10085/1009/10095/1010/10105/1011/1111/1012 (Pyramid - listed lightest to heaviest) 

 

  • woundA: .027-.031 wound (La Bella or D'addario), or 1016/1116/1017/1018/1019 (Pyramid - listed lightest to heaviest) 

 

  • woundG: .030-.033 wound (La Bella or D'addario), or 1018/1019/1020/1021/1022 (Pyramid - listed lightest to heaviest) 

 

  • woundF: .031-.034 wound (La Bella or D'addario), or 1020/1021/1022/1023/1024 (Pyramid - listed lightest to heaviest) 

 

  • woundD: .040-.042 wound (La Bella or D'addario), or 1030/1031/1032/1033/1034/1035 (Pyramid - listed lightest to heaviest) 

 

  • woundC: .042-.044 wound (La Bella or D'addario), or 1035/1236/1237/1238/1239/1440 (Pyramid - listed lightest to heaviest) 

 

 

For a typical Arabic fixed-bridge oud 

 

My median Pyramid reference set is: .650, .800, 10095, 1116, 1022, 1236. If your oud is long/antique, go lower, if it's short or floating bridge (or both), go higher. 

 

 

Turkish Ouds 

 

  • Allmodern Turkish ouds are the same size: 58.5cm 

 

  • Use 

heavier 

strings on the lower courses if you are using "modern" tuning 

 

  • Use 

lighter 

strings on the lower courses if you are using the old tuning  

 

 

  • highd': .022-.024in (.550-.625mm), or .50-.56mm nylgut (Aquila), or .50-.54mm carbon (PVF) 

 

  • higha: .028-.029in (.700-.800mm), or .64-.70mm nylgut (Aquila), or .63-.68mm carbon (PVF) 

 

  • wounde: .022-.025in wound (La Bella or D'addario), or 1007/908/10075/1008/9085/909/10085/1009 (Pyramid - listed lightest to heaviest) 

 

  • woundB: .027-.030in wound (La Bella or D'addario), or 1014/1114/1015 (Pyramid - listed lightest to heaviest) 

 

  • woundA: .028-.031in wound (La Bella or D'addario), or 1116/1017/1018/1019 (Pyramid - listed lightest to heaviest) 

 

  • woundE: .040-.042in wound (La Bella or D'addario), or 1027/1028/1029 (Pyramid - listed lightest to heaviest)  

 

  • woundF#: .032-.034in wound (La Bella or D'addario), or 1024/1025/1124 (Pyramid - listed lightest to heaviest) 

 

  • woundC#: .042-.044in wound (La Bella or D'addario), or 1236/1237/1238/1239 (Pyramid - listed lightest to heaviest) 

 

  • woundB: .043-.045in wound (La Bella or D'addario), or 1239/1240/1440/1441/1142 (Pyramid - listed lightest to heaviest) 

 

 

Electric Ouds (solid body): 

 

  • Use 

heavier 

strings on electric ouds. You can use the heavier range for the tunings above, or go even a bit heavier 

 

  • GodinMultioudcan use very heavy strings 

 

  • Sukarshould use moderately heavy strings 

 

  • Najarianshould use moderately heavy strings