How to change your ukulele strings
It can be a little challenging to change your uke strings by yourself especially if it is your first time, however, at some point, you will need to do it anyways.
This is not actually a bad thing; you might be surprised how much more alive your song sounds with the new strings.
But, when should you consider restringing your ukulele?
It’s not just about changing broken or worn-out strings. Even with the availability of durable strings nowadays, you will eventually find out that they sound dead at a certain point, and changing them will boost the sound of your instrument even if you replace them with the same set of strings from the same manufacturer.
There’s no definite specific time to change your strings, in fact, this depends on how much you play your instrument. Some players can go 3 months without changing their strings and others change it every other week.
One sign you need to restring your instrument is when you find yourself tuning it more than usual, worn-out strings can hardly hold in place.
A good tip would be not to change one string only and leave the others because if one string is dead, the others are probably dead and need to be replaced as well, and even if we assume they are not as worn-out as that one string, there’s no doubt they don’t sound as good as the new string so, you do the math!
In this article, I will take you through everything you need to do to successfully restring your uke and get that new zippy tune every musician wants.
So without further ado, let’s jump into it!
1. Ditch the old strings
First things first, you need to unwind the old strings until they are entirely loosened.
You can use a tuning key to get it done, then you will need to push each string back through the loop to get it off the bridge hole, after this, you can simply undo the strings and remove them. When it comes to pegs, you can remove the peg and simply just remove the string.
Another way to go is to just cut the strings and remove the remaining attached parts! You get to choose how to treat your worn-out buddies I guess!
2. Time to clean!
In my humble opinion, this is the best time to clean my fretboard and get my frets to look shiny.
A small rag will get the job done, believe me, you have no idea how much dust has built up on your fretboard without you noticing and with the strings being removed, it is a lot easier to get rid of all the gunk that has accumulated around.
3. Attaching the new strings
You are now ready for the actual restringing part.
This is the trickiest part and the one most players struggle with, at least on their first trials.
So, let’s try to break it down a bit by a bit so that it’s as simple and clear as can be.
Grab your new strings set, it doesn’t matter which string to attach first although, I usually start with the G string and work my way from there.
Pass the string through the bridge hole, it doesn’t make much of a difference which side to start from, the most important thing is to have the short end at this side and the longer part towards the headstock.
Now, you tie up your string;
- Wrap the string around itself, i.e., the short side of the string is to be wrapped around the long side.
- Now you wrap it again and tie your strings. pull the two ends apart so that the string is tightly anchored to the bridge and doesn’t slip.
Next, attaching the string to the peghead end:
Put the long end through the hole and then pull it back a couple of frets just to have enough string to that you can wind.
It’s best to wind the string around the peg two or three times.
Don’t just wind it once because this way, it is less secure and winding it more than this will make tuning harder.
A fast way to speed up the rest of the winding process is, to use a string winder. When you are starting to wrap your string, your first turn should be above the peg hole but just before you complete the turn, push it down below the hole and continue winding. Keep winding your string until you bring it to a pitch
Lastly, cut off the excess string using a wire cutter, and you are now ready to start attaching the next string.
4. Tune your strings
You should be aware that new strings are too slippery. For the first couple of times you use your ukulele after restringing it you will find yourself in need to tune it over and over again.
Sometimes if your ukulele is too old or if it is brand new, you might feel like it’s impossible to keep it in tune. Maybe you can try tightening your screws; another way to go is to try stretching the strings at the middle a little.
You probably already know that your ukulele is to be tuned G - C – E - A in standard tuning except if you are playing a baritone ukulele, which is tuned D - G – B – E.
The most accurate way to tune your ukulele is to use an electronic tuner. For me, I usually use the tuning application on my smartphone; however, it’s even more accurate to use a clip-on tuner.
Another and more professional way to go is to plug your ukulele into a pedal tuner.
If you are used to tuning your instrument to a piano or relative to each other, I recommend that you do this when your strings are more or less fixed in place.
This is only because after a while from changing your strings, they loosen up to a much lesser extent and are not far away from the exact, accurate tune.
On the other hand, you might be a little surprised how much out of tune your strings are even though you just tuned them yesterday after changing them!
One thing I know for sure, nothing is as satisfying for me as changing my strings, because whenever I do, I know my ukulele is going to sound much better and it’s just too exciting, hope you fall in love with your new strings too!