The strings of ukulele are pretty durable, given the fact that they are made from nylon. Hence, you will not have to worry about it. However, you can find the changing of strings pretty challenging.
Everything is subjected to wear and tear and so are ukulele strings. But you may even decide to change the ukulele strings even without the older ones wearing out. Sometimes you may want to restring the instrument in order to try something new or because your old strings are broken.
This restringing of the ukulele is part of the process of learning to play the instrument.
You must be aware of the several steps that you need to follow in order to restring the ukulele- starting from taking off the old strings, to putting up the new ones without any damage to the tuning pegs.
When you first embark on this course of action, you might struggle a little. But trust us, once you get your hands on it, it will be effortless in the long run.
To assist you in the process, we have made a stepwise guide to restring the ukulele in the right manner without causing any sort of destruction to the bridge. But before going directly towards discussing the steps, let us take a look at when to restring the instrument.
How Often is Restringing Needed?
You can tell by the sound being produced by your ukulele that you need some restringing. If it sounds weird or the tone begins to be out of normal, its time to restring the ukulele. It will highly depend on the quality of the strings that you are using and the frequency at which you use the instrument.
You may have to change it on a monthly basis or every half a year. But, how will you know what is needed for such restringing? Here are few signs you should keep your eye out for:
- The strings might display some deep-rooted scratches, groove and flat points.
- Sometimes the strings will struggle to stay in tune once they are initially broken in.
- Strings might start to be too bent or pitched.
- If one of the strings is broken, you might need to consider restringing.
What do you need to restring the Ukulele?
Before you start to restring the ukulele, you will need to have a few tools within your reach. Some of these might not be absolutely necessary but as per our recommendations, they can be handy to make the task of restringing easier for you. Let us take a look at everything you may need for this purpose:
- 2 scissors, 2 cutters suited for strings or wires
- The new strings set
- Winder for the strings
- An electronic tuner for the strings
- A flat surface where you can work
- A cloth or mat where you can place the ukulele to avoid having scratches on the ukulele
Method of Restringing the Ukulele
Let us now look at some of the simple steps that can relieve your stress of restringing the ukulele, especially when you are doing it for the first time. You might feel the rush of adrenaline or feel hesitant when trying to restring the instrument for the first time.
However, motivate yourself to start working on the restringing by reminding yourself that it is going to boost the sound that is going to be produced by the uku afterwards.
Step 1: Removing the previous or the old strings from the uku:
It is essential to be able to remove the old strings of the instrument properly. This can be done by carefully placing the ukulele on a surface which is flat and smooth. You then have to start loosening up the first string using the tuning peg. It will soon slip off easily from the peg.
Using a winder for strings will smoother the process, or make it faster. Otherwise, you have got your hands, don’t worry!
Are you unsure how exactly to turn the tuning peg? Simply attempt to take off the string. Once it starts to loosen up, you will realize how the pitch starts falling lower than normal and the slack rises upon rotating the tuning peg.
You will then need to be very gentle at removing this string from the peg as it loosens up enough. Alternatively, you can also decide to carefully cut the string off near the head-stock of the instrument to separate it from the tuning peg.
During the process of restringing the uku, you will be met with two different types of bridges- these are the standard bridge and the tie-bar bridge. The process of changing the strings will vary depending on what kind of bridge it has.
When it comes to a standard bridge, you need to make sure that the string is parallel to the instrument while you are cautiously sliding it off the slot on the bridge. Sometimes these strings might get stuck.
You must refrain from being too rough at pulling them upwards. Otherwise, you will end up breaking the bridge. You might even consider using some tweezers to liberate the knots.
When it comes to a tie-bar bridge, it is again different. You must ensure that you are pushing the string in the direction of the bridge. This will help loosen this knot completely. Keep doing so until it has fully been unwound. You must refrain from being too rough at pulling them upwards. Otherwise, you will end up breaking the bridge.
Step 2: Annexing the new strings to the uku’s bridge
As you attempt put up the new strings to the bridge after removing the old ones successfully, you also need to realize that the next actions will depend on the type of bridge the uku has.
When it comes to the standard bridge, you must try to leave around 0.5 off the string’s end. Next, you will have to slide the knot which is tied on this very bridge. You will then be able to gently pull this string towards the top to check if that is secure enough.
Once you have confirmed that it is secure enough, you can attempt to pull it out and cut off the additional length, leaving a little more than some millimeters. At this point, you should be able to slide the knot into the slot of the bridge and pull the strings towards the head of the uku.
It is again different when it comes to the tie-bar bridge. You should try to slide a side of the string into the hole of the bridge and keep out the inch of the string which might be sticking out from the end of the bridge.
You can then loop this very part towards the top of the bridge. As the final step, you should loop the string itself around its body thrice.
Step 3: Making sure they are held fixed through the tuning pegs:
After you have successfully ensured that the strings are attached to the uku’s bridge, you must attempt to fasten these strings to the tuning pegs.
This can be done by pulling the end of the string which is not annexed to the bridge upwards from the uku. As the final step, you can slide this end of the string into the pin (which is made of metal usually) on the tuning peg.
Step 4: Tightening the strings:
When it comes to making the strings tighter, this can be done by turning the fastened strings carefully around the tuning peg.
This can be done by holding the straight taunt using the hand that is free and pulling the strings towards the top. This can ensure that the strings are being wound downwards towards the bottom of this tuning peg. As soon as the string is tight, you may cut the excess off.
Sometimes people prefer to leave these excess lengths of the strings. It depends on your preference- there is no harm or benefit of doing so towards the sound of the ukulele.
It is advised for the beginners to follow the cutting of the strings so that nothing unnecessary comes on the way of playing the uku, confusing them. As you climb up to the pro level, what you do with your strings is best decided by you.
Step 5: Stretching the strings and tuning the uku:
You must, at this stage, repeat all the aforementioned steps with the three strings remaining and attempt to tune them once restringing has been executed. You can then be ready to play your uku with the new strings.
You are now well aware of the main steps to follow in the process of restringing your ukulele. It is not that hard you see, right? You must try to check the tuning of the uku around 5 to 10 times following the restringing of the instrument. Don’t expect perfect tune in one go!