Are you eager to find out how to change your ukulele strings? Changing ukulele strings can be quite a pain when you are just starting out, but restringing an instrument can give a new boost to the sound. Furthermore, you’ll enjoy playing even more once you have changed them. In this guide I will try to explain as well as I possibly can how to restring your ukulele properly.
Check out the different ukulele string types and the best ones to buy.
Quick guide to changing ukulele strings
Out with the old, in with the new! These are the step you will need to take.
A. Removing the old ukulele strings
Out with the old, in with the new! These are the step you will need to take to change ukulele strings.
- Loosening the string
Unwind the tuning key (also called tuning peg or machine head) until the string is loose or has unwound completely.
- Push the string through the bridge
Once the string is loose enough (or has come off the tuning key), push the string through the hole in the bridge.
- Remove the string
Now you can undo the ukulele string knot and safely remove the string. Repeat this for all four strings.
- Cutting the string
Are you a daredevil? Some people simply cut the string while it is still fully wound onto the ukulele. Then you can remove the two parts of the string (one at the head and the other at the bridge). Be careful, this is not the recommended way of changing ukulele strings!
B. Putting on new strings
Insert the string in the bridge
Take a new string and insert it through the hole in the bridge. It doesn’t matter which side it’s on, but make sure that the longer end is on the headstock side and the shorter (2-3 inches or 5-7 cm) is at the bottom of the instrument (1).
Tie the knot
This is the most difficult step when changing ukulele strings. Many people struggle to tie the knot. Here’s how to get it right: • Wrap the short end of the string around the long end (2). • Then wrap the string around itself twice (3 and 4). • Hold the short side against the bridge and pull the long end very tight to make sure it locks in properly. This string isn’t going anywhere!
Adjust the tuning pegs
Now adjust the tuning pegs to align the holes with the ukulele (you want the holes to be pointing towards the top and bottom of your instrument).
Insert the string in the tuning peg
Insert the long end of the string through the hole and pull it 2 or 3 frets back. That will give us enough string to wind onto the peg.
Tune the ukulele
You’ve reached the final step! Wrap the string around the tuning head by turning the peg: the first time you wrap it round, pass it over the string sticking out. The remaining wraps should pass under it. Tune your ukulele correctly and carefully clip off any excess string without cutting through the new string itself! Take it from me: this does happen when changing ukulele strings.
C. Keeping it in tune
When you have new strings, you will usually notice that you have to retune your instrument the first few times you play it. You can speed up this process by stretching the strings in the middle, but be sure to take care. So stretch them a few times, re-tune and you should be good to go! Find out how to properly tune your ukulele here.
If you have an older ukulele or a brand new one with no set-up at all, you might find that you can’t get your ukulele in tune. The solution to this problem is to tighten the screws of the tuning keys.
How to change ukulele strings with bridge pins?
While having to change the strings on a ukulele with bridge pins might look more challenging, it is actually the opposite. To remove the strings, first loosen the strings. Unwind the tuning keys (also called tuning peg or machine head) until the string is loose or has unwound completely. Then take a pair of pliers to take the bridge pins out (specialized tools exist, but pliers work just fine). I suggest putting a thin cloth between the teeth of the plier in order to not leave marks on the bridge pins. No you can safely remove the strings out of the holes and from the ukulele.
You will notice either a small knot at the end of the string or a small metal cylindrical piece. If there is no cylindrical piece on the string, tie one or two knots in the new strings and put it back in the respective hole for that string its tuning.
Finally push the bridge pin back in the bridge and pull on the string to make sure it’s a tight fit. Insert the string in the tuning peg and tune the ukulele.
When should you change your ukulele strings?
When you restring your ukulele is really up to you. It depends on how much you play your ukulele and how hard you play it. Some people change them every few weeks, other people wait for a few months. I change them every 4-6 months.
Obviously, you should consider changing your ukulele strings when a string breaks. Do not just replace that one string, but change all the strings at once because the others are probably worn out as well. If you find yourself tuning your ukulele a lot more then you usually do, then you can take this a sign that you need to restring your ukulele.
The best-known brands for quality nylon ukulele strings are Aquila (soprano, concert, tenor, baritone) and D’Addario (soprano, concert, tenor, baritone). They offer good stability, durability and a warm, traditional ukulele sound.
Need more input?
Feel free to contact me whenever you need more information about changing ukulele strings.
Also interested to know how to properly tune your ukulele?