Ukulele beginners tips - Changing Strings

29 Apr 2010

Ukulele beginners tips - Changing Strings

I get asked this one a lot - how easy is it to change strings?  Really easy!

Thought I would share a few tips here - this is not a guide on how to do the change step by step by step...., just some helpful hints.

Reason I cant do it totally step by step, is that the way you tie strings to bridge varies, and some people prefer there own methods.  People also prefer their own way of tying to the tuning peg.  My tip here - copy the tying done on the uke you bought!! (they are basic knots really)

So, my tips

  • Tie one end of new string onto bridge as per the old string (do them one at a time to copy the old strings!).  String 1 in your packet is the one nearest the floor, string 4, the one nearest your face.
  • Run string to the peg end, pass through the peg, and round once, and through hole again.  Some prefer to tie them - that is good too, and you may find if your strings slip its essential.  Important thing is to avoid it slipping.    Because the string is nylon, it will stretch a bit, so when you have doubled it at the peg end, keep it taught down the length of the uke before you start winding or you will end up with far too much wrapped around the peg.
  • Then, tighten the peg to pitch getting the string to wind once around the top of the hole (over the string) and the rest winding down towards the headstock - I would invest in a couple of things here - a peg winder (very cheap) and a digital tuner (though you can tune to pitch with pipes, tuning forks, piano etc).   Digital tuners are cheap and they make things so easy and accurate.  Purists will shout at me here for not encouraging tuning to ear.... yadda yadda - I am trying to encourage beginners, not give them another skill to learn......   Try not to have too many coils around the post.  If your string starts over lapping on the winding, you didnt pass enough of it through the post when you started.
  • Repeat on all the other strings.
  • You can then go back to your first string - pluck it and you will find it has gone flat.  This is because the string is stretched.   You can either retune, play a bit, then leave it, retune, play leave it but that takes ages.   You can speed this process along a few ways - but my method - put your forefinger under string and pull away from the neck about half inch or so and hold it for a few seconds.   Retune, repeat, retune repeat retune repeat.  Eventually you will find you need to retune less and less.  But do be careful with this - dont overdo it - you may well snap the string
  • As in previous post - keep spare string coiled at the headstock - if your sting snaps at the bridge, you can re-use it.
Good luck - it really is very easy.  If you make a mistake, the nylon strings are easily re-usable, or cheap if you snap them all!!

Hope that helps


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