Have your strings started sounding dull recently? Your ukulele might need a restring for your tunes to come out light and bright again. If you were looking for ways to do that, you have arrived at the right place! We will go through some simple methods in which you can restring a ukulele at home.
Your strings may give up after a while and that’s when you need to change them. This will vary depending on how often you playing and your environment, but as a rule of thumb, musicians who perform publicly should restring their ukulele once every one to three months for best results.
If playing is more of a hobby than a career option to you and you play less frequently, you could get away with changing the strings every three to six months. Disclaimer: Once you break a string, you have to restring the whole set. No, you can’t just do one as it’s not ideal to mix one new string with a bunch of older ones as the newer will produce a brighter tone.
Guide to Restring a Ukulele
1. Unwind and Take Out Old Strings
Unless your ukulele has spent quite a few years with you and the strings have started to solidify due to oxidation and grime from tuning the pegs, the first step to restringing a ukulele is fairly simple.
However, if the strings have solidified, use a pair of nail clippers or wire cutters to clip them off. Be careful not to damage the ukulele’s wood while doing so.
Unwind in a clockwise manner when unwinding the strings located on the side of the ukulele that is faced towards the ceiling during play. On the other hand, the strings that face the floor when you play must be unwound in a counter-clockwise manner.
There are two kinds of bridges you will find on a ukulele. Once the strings are off, make sure to check the bridge for clean or repair needs.
Step 2 – Attach New Strings to the Bridge
For the second step, you need to have your new strings nearby. A few well-known brands for ukulele strings are GHS, Martin, and Aquila.
It’s easier to change the strings that contain a bit of texture rather than ones with super smooth finishes. Good quality strings will retain the knot you tie in them. In contrast, the knot easily slips apart in lower quality strings when you begin tightening up the string.
Depending on the kind of bridge your uke has, you have to use a different method to attach the strings. Simply tie a knot in the end of the string and secure it into the bridge’s slot.
If you feel like the knot may start to come apart when you start to tighten it, it’s best to double knot it. After all the strings have been secured to the uke, take the ends of the strings and tuck them underneath the knots to the sides of the string you are tying. This ensure the ends won’t poke you when you are playing. Additionally, it helps prevent the string from coming undone.
Once the strings are placed you way you wanted, pull them tight before proceeding to the next step. However, make sure none of the knots are on the saddle. The strings should be knotted up behind the saddle.
Step 3 – Feed the Strings Through Tuning Peg Holes
For the next step, you will learn how to insert every string into its representative tuning peg hole. Start this after each string has been secured at the bridge. Keep one hand steady on the bridge knots to make sure they don’t unwind.
Once the string is through the tuning peg hole, you can begin winding up the string. Keep the clockwise/counter-clockwise bit from last section in minds.
Sometimes using this method can also result in the strings sliding out of the turning peg hole. Under those circumstances, just tie a knot in the string right at the hole and tighten up the string from there.
Step 4 – Tighten the Strings
This is the bit when you need to tighten the strings up. Don’t think too much about tightening them to reach the pitch. Just tighten till you feel like the strings are perfectly secured and proceed to the next section of the restringing.
To make the job a little easier, there are string winder. If you feel the need, you can use a battery powered winding tool, or a manual one. But don’t over-tighten the string to the extent it snaps.
At this step also keep an eye on the tuning pegs and bridge knots to make sure the ends aren’t slipping out.
Step 5 – Extend the Strings and Tune to Pitch Perfection
Finally, to restring a ukulele, stretch the strings to remove any slack by pulling. Lay the uke flat on a table after all strings are done, gently pulling every string up by a few inches.
Sometimes, it takes too long to stretch some nylon strings into position when they are first put on, but this actually speeds up the tuning process. Like we said before, don’t over-stretch or the string will snap.
After the tension is removed from the string, you can continue retightening it. This time, take it all the way up to the actual pitch. And that’s about it! You now have a freshly tuned ukulele with brand new strings.
Also Read: How to Tune a 6 string ukulele
Any beginner musician finds it quite difficult restringing their instrument at first, especially uke players due to the construction material of the strings. But our five step guide to restringing a ukulele should make your struggles much easier. Your ukulele will hopefully revert to its original bright, clear tune that you adored when you first picked the instrument up. Remember to tune your ukulele timely to keep it lasting long!