How to String a Ukulele

June 29, 2020

How to String a Ukulele

Musical instruments are musicians' dearest possessions. As a music lover, you want to take excellent care of your instrument, right? If your ukulele has a broken string, here is a complete guide on how to remove the broken string and string your instrument with a fresh new string.

What Ukulele Strings You Should Use

Choose strings according to your skill level. If you’re a beginner, you don’t need expensive strings, but you should avoid low-quality, cheap ones; they won’t make the same sweet sounds that expensive ones do. Also, choose carefully between nylon strings and metal strings.

Your decision all depends on what you can afford. A cheap string may break sooner than an expensive one would. A metal string sometimes can start to stretch and ultimately unravel after being strung.

Keep in mind that each type of ukulele requires a specific string. So choose the string accordingly. For example, if you have a soprano or a concert ukulele, you must pick the correct corresponding type of string. In case you’re not sure which type to buy, you can always check with your nearest dealer.

Although most musicians use Aquila strings, you should research what string fits your ukulele’s requirements.

When You Should Change Your Ukulele Strings

The main purpose of an instrument is to create beautiful sounds, right? So whenever you feel that your ukulele is no longer making melodic music, it may be time to change the strings. What are signs of non-playability?

  • Visible nicks, grooves, or flat spots on your ukulele strings 

  • Dull sounds from the strings and ukulele, which aren't producing as beautiful sounds as before 

  • Broken strings

When comparing metal strings and nylon strings, you’ll find nylon strings stronger and more durable. Nylon strings are also more resistant to damage due to oil and sweat. Metal strings are usually used on guitars. How frequently you should change your ukulele’s strings mainly depends upon their usage. If you play the instrument frequently, you might need to change the strings even every month.

If you have a performance, make sure that you restring the ukulele well ahead of time. This is because the strings need some time to be played beforehand; you don’t want them to stretch when you play them for the first time in performance.


The Things You Need to Know Before Restring

When you need to restring the instrument, make sure to have the following items:

  • A new set of strings
  • A tool like a wire cutter, a string cutter, or a pair of scissors
  • A dust bin
  • A winder to wind up the string (optional)
  • A flat surface on which to rest your ukulele

While restringing the ukulele, make sure there's no hindrance in the way as you might need to tighten the strings. In addition, be careful so that the instrument does not get scratched against the surface on which you are resting it.

Before restringing, remember:

  • Work on each string one by one. This will make it easy for you to manage each string because you will not have to worry about all of them together. Besides, you can follow the pattern of steps through which the other strings have been strung.
  • When you have to replace all of your ukulele’s strings, always start with the C string, followed by the E string, then the A string, and finally the G string. Be careful as the thinner and higher-note strings are usually delicate to handle; they might end up breaking (although this isn’t often an issue, especially with nylon strings).

How to Restring a Ukulele Step by Step

The first thing you need to do is loosen your ukulele's string and let it slide off the tuning peg. In case you don’t know which way to turn the peg, rotate it in either direction and then take out the string. Listen and check the pitch to see if you are turning the peg in the correct direction; the pitch should go down. If the pitch does not go down, simply turn the peg in the opposite direction. Then remove the ukulele string from the peg as soon as it loosens up a bit. If your ukulele has a slotted head, then unwind the string so that you can thrust the string into the hole. 

Another way to go about it is to unwind the ukulele string before cutting it with your tools. Finally, remove the upper part of ukulele string from its headstock. You may opt for a string winder as it will make it easy for you to wind the string.

Next, take the string off of the bridge. The method of removing the string from the bridge depends on the type of bridge your ukulele has.

Standard Bridge:

Your ukulele has a standard bridge when the string already has a small knot at one end, which holds it in its correct place on the bridge. Slide the string off by moving it along the length of the ukulele. You might find that the string is tightly wedged and you’ll need a little longer to get the string out. However, be mindful here to avoid damaging the bridge while continuously trying to remove the string. Do not pull the string forcefully.


Tie-Bar Bridge:

With this type of bridge, the strings are tied. Therefore, you have to untie the ukulele string to free it from the bridge. While doing so, make sure to push the other end of the string through the knot and untie it when it has loosened up enough. Keep trying because the knot may be very tight at times.

Now that you've come this far, it's time to restring your ukulele with a new set of strings.

Standard Bridge:

When attaching a new string to a ukulele with a standard bridge, all you have to do is to tie the knot so that you have a spare end of the string, around 1 inch long. Then tie a second knot over the first one, preferably a reverse second knot. Then shift this double-knot to the notch at the bridge at the same point where the old string was attached. Be careful and make sure that the knot is firmly in its place in the notch; check it by gently pulling on the string. Once you are sure that it is tight enough, cut the extra part just beneath the knot. Leave around .25 inches of a tail to allow for any slippage. Now place the string back into the notch.

Tie-Bar Bridge:

Start off by sliding one end of the string into the tiny hole, so that this end comes out from the bottom. Make sure that you have passed enough of the string through so that around 1.5 inches of it emerges from the bottom. Now loop this end back to the top. Then loop the other end running over the bridge and twist it at least three times before pulling it out of the bottom in order to tighten it.

Once you've come this far, it is easy. Now head towards the headstock of the instrument. Take the other end of the string, pass it through the metal hole, and pull as much of the string as possible through the slot. Then tighten it with the help of its tuning peg. To make things easier, press the string with your finger towards the peg.

Finally, trim all extra parts of the strings with your cutting tools.

Once you are finished restringing, go ahead and tune your ukulele, using a physical or online ukulele tuner. Keep in mind, however, that the strings may stretch out continuously, at least during the first few times you play your instrument. That said, you can speed up the process by gently stretching the strings away from the instrument while you re-tune it. Nonetheless, the best way to stretch strings is to play the ukulele.

Now that you know how to string your ukulele, you can do it yourself. No need to rush to the shop for stringing or restringing your instrument. Do it yourself at home and quickly resume the joy of playing your favorite ukulele tunes. 




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