The ukulele is an amazing instrument that has gained popularity all over the world in no time. People love the relaxing, chill and upbeat sounds that the ukulele has to offer. It makes almost any music sound great with its unique sound.
But, what if you were to break a string or they just got worn out with time? It can get a bit troublesome to change ukulele strings. But the good thing is that, since the strings are made of nylon, they don’t really break as easily. You can’t really cross out the possibility of it happening to you, so learning how to do it yourself can be a really handy skill to have.
Learning How to Restring Ukulele is Not Easy
Whether it’s because your strings are broken, they’re worn out or if you just want to try out new tones, whatever your reason for changing the strings on your uke, you need to keep in mind that learning how to restring your ukulele is also a part of learning the ukulele as a whole. It might take quite some time and practice when you first do it, but once you’re used to it, it will definitely be an easier future for you!
Photo credit: Mitchell Luo
When and How Often Should You Change the Strings?
How often you restring your ukulele is completely a matter of preference. There are people who do it every couple years and there are some who like to do it every couple weeks.
But, you can still stay on the lookout for some of the signs that can mean you need to change your uke strings.
- If they become hard to tune. An old set of strings are often needed to be tuned much more frequently than newer ones.
- If the strings have trouble staying in tune. Old strings tend to sound a bit off even when properly tuned.
- If flat sports, deep nickels or grooves are visible on the string.
- When one of the strings breaks. Unless you have a brand new set of strings on your uke, it’s better to replace the whole set when one breaks. Check the saddle or the nut of your ukulele if the same string ends up breaking twice in a row.
- If your string is showing excessive wear. A slight bit of wear may be okay but if the whole durability of the string is in question, you should definitely get it changed. A frayed string has the possibility of snapping while you play and if it hits your hand it can hurt a lot, which is definitely not recommended.
Tools Required to Restring your Uke
You would need a couple tools in order to change your ukulele strings. Some of them are optional but having them on board does make the job easier.
The tools that you will require are:
- String cutters, wire cutters or a pair of scissors.
- A set of new strings.
- A string winder.
- An electronic tuner.
- A flat working surface.
- A mat, cloth or towel to prevent your ukulele from scratching while it’s laid down and you’re working on it.
How to Change your Ukulele Strings
It’s natural to be a bit nervous and hesitant when you change your ukulele strings for the first time. It can be quite stressful since you don’t want to end up damaging your instrument. Remember that it is also a part of learning and mastering your ukulele, it is just as important as learning the chords.
Now without further ado, let’s get into changing your strings!
1. Remove the Old Strings
To properly and safely remove the old strings, put down your ukulele on a flat and soft surface, like a mat, and start off by loosening the first string by using the tuning peg. If you have a string winder available to use it can really make this process much easier, if not your hands would work as well.
If you’re not really sure about which way you should be turning the peg, then try plucking the string. You’ll know it’s getting loose as you turn the peg when the slack increases and the pitch gets lower, you can then try to carefully and gently remove the string when it’s loose enough from the peg.
Another alternative method would be to cut the string near the ukulele’s headstock cautiously to remove it from the turning peg.
2. Attach New Strings to the Bridge
Once you’re done with the old strings, it’s time for the new ones to go in.
- Standard Bridge
In this process, tie a knot at the bottom part of the string by leaving about 1 and a half inch at the end. Gently pull and slide the knot on the bridge to make sure it’s secure. Once it is, trim off the excess length.
- Tie-bar Bridge
Leave out an end of the string sticking out from the bridge’s end by sliding a side of the string into the bridge hole. Loop the part that’s out behind the top bridge string, and loop the string 3 times around itself.
3. Fasten the Strings with Tuning Pegs
Once attached to the bridge, you can fasten your strings using the tuning pegs. Take the other end of the string and slide it into the tuning peg’s metal pin.
4. Tighten the Strings
Once the strings are safely fastened on the tuning peg, they can be tightened by turning the turner. When the string is nice and tight you can cut off the excess length.
5. Stretch the Strings and Tune Your Uke
Make sure all the strings are nicely attached by repeating these steps for all of them. Once you’re sure they are, you are ready to play your instrument just after tuning all the strings in.
It can seem like a lot of work at first but maintaining your strings is an important thing if you want to take good care of your instrument. If you’ve done it once, you’ll feel less nervous the second time and soon enough you can do it with ease!
You may also like to read: Best Soprano Ukulele Strings.