Ukulele strings do not often break as they are made from nylon, but you might find yourself in a predicament where you need to change the strings. Whether your old strings are worn out, you want to try a new tone, or your strings are broken, part of learning to play the uke is learning how to restring a ukulele.
There are multiple steps you’ll need, including how to remove old strings and fit new ones properly without causing any damage to the bridge or the tuning pegs. How to restring a ukulele can be quite a hustle, especially if it’s your first time, but once you understand what to do, it will be painless in the future.
How Often Do You Need to Restring Your Ukulele?
It would be best if you restring ukulele when you notice the tone starts to sound odd. Depending on the quality of the strings used and how often you play your ukulele, changing the strings can be done monthly or every six months. Below are the signs that you need to Restring your uke:
- You can see flat spots, grooves, or deep nicks on the strings.
- If the strings have trouble staying in tune after they are first broken in.
- A string becomes significantly warped, bent, or pinched
- One is Broken
Tools Needed to Restring Your Ukulele
Changing ukulele strings will require a couple of tools. A few of these things are optional, like the tuner, but are recommended since they make the job much easier.
Below is a list of everything you will require:
- A pair of scissors, string or wire cutters
- A new set of strings
- String winder
- Electronic tuner
- Flat working surface
- Cloth, towel, or mat to lay the ukulele on to prevent scratching instrument.
If you’re not sure which strings you want to use, we have a full guide to ukulele strings that will help point out both what you’re looking for and our favorites!
How to Restring a Ukulele in 5 Easy Steps
Changing the strings on your ukulele can be stressful, especially if you are doing it for the first time. We understand the nervousness and the hesitancy that many first timers experience. You don’t want to damage your instrument after all!
Learning how to restring your ukulele is a normal part of learning to play, just like a C chord, and will boost the sound your uke makes and give you the motivation to play. You’ll even enjoy playing it more once you learn how to change them yourself. Below are five easy steps to guide you on ways to properly restring your ukulele;
1.Remove Old Strings
To properly remove old strings the first step is to put the ukulele on a flat surface and loosen the first string using the tuning peg until it can effortlessly slip off the tuning peg. To make this process simpler and quicker, use a string winder if it’s available, if not, your hands will do.
If you are unsure about which way to turn the tuning peg, you can pluck the string; if it’s getting looser, the pitch will be lower than usual and the slack increases as you’re turning the peg. Gently and carefully remove the string from the peg when it’s loose enough. You may also consider cautiously cutting the string off near the ukulele’s head-stock to remove it from the tuning peg.
When restringing your ukulele, You will have one of the two types of bridges; standard bridge and tie-bar Bridge. Depending on the type of bridge your ukulele has changing the strings will be different for each.
For a standard Bridge, keep the string parallel to the ukulele as you carefully slide it off the slot on a standard bridge. Some strings may get stuck; however, do not roughly tag and pull them upwards, this can cause damage to the bridge. You can carefully use some tweezers to free any knotted strings
For a tie-bar bridge, push the string towards the bridge to loosen the knot until it’s completely untied. Do not be rough when untying the knot, and this might damage the bridge.
2. Attaching new strings to the bridge
Once the old strings are off the bridge, you can start to put in the new strings.
Standard bridge: Leave about half an inch off the end of the string and tie a knot. Slide the tied knot on the bridge and gently pull the string upwards while confirming that it’s secure. Once secure, pull it out and trim off the excess length leaving just a few Millimetres. You can now slide the knot into the slot in the bridge and pull the string towards the head-stock.
Tie-bar bridge: Slide one side of the string into the bridge hole and leave out an inch of sticking out from the bridge’s end. Loop the part that is sticking out behind the string on top of the bridge. Then loop of the string around itself about three times.
3. Fasten strings through Tuning Pegs
Once the strings are attached to the bridge, you can now fasten them to the tuning pegs. Pull the end of the string that is not attached to the bridge towards the top of the ukulele. Slide that end of the string into the metal pin on the tuning peg.
4. Tighten Strings
You can tighten the strings by turning the tuner once the strings are safely fastened on the tuning peg. Hold the straight taunt with your free hand and pull strings upwards to ensure its winding downwards towards the bottom on the tuning peg. Once the string is tight, cut the excess length off.
Occasionally you will see artists who prefer to not cut their strings. This is a stylistic choice and will not harm or help the sound of your instrument. We recommend that beginners cut their strings so there isn’t extra to get in the way, confuse you etc. When you are playing professionally you can do whatever you’d like with your strings!
5. Stretch strings and tune instrument
Repeat all these steps with the remaining three strings and try to re-tune them once you are finished with all four. Once the ukulele restringing process is done, and you can now play your instrument.
You will want to check the tuning of your instrument for the first five to ten times you play after restringing your instrument. Strings will continue to stretch and adjust as they are broken in and will likely not hold a good tone right away.
The Final Note
It is arguable that the most important part of your ukulele is the strings. The better you maintain them, the better your instrument will sound. Now that you understand the process behind changing a set of strings you’ll be able to keep your uke sounding it’s best.
Like many things, the more often you work through this process the faster and easier it will get!