How to String Your Ukulele
Why Restring your Uke?
The ukulele is an ideal instrument for beginners. It's easy to play at an amateur level, with hundreds of pages of chords and tabs online for free, but also extremely rewarding for a player who puts in the time and effort to become really good.
If you are a beginner, you may not want to spend a lot of money on an expensive ukulele; however, good quality strings will make a world of difference to any cheap ukulele you buy. New strings are much less expensive than even the cheapest ukulele, but can make a $30 uke sound like a $150 uke with only a little time and effort.
Not to mention, restringing your ukulele is fun and teaches you a lot about how your instrument is put together. If you've done it once, you can do it again easily any time your strings wear out or snap. Follow this guide, and you'll feel like a pro in no time!
What You'll Need
Stringing your Ukulele is pretty easy and requires very few items. Here's what you'll need:
- A ukulele
- A good set of strings
- A little bit of time and a willing attitude!
Whether you buy a high quality uke or a cheap one from a toy shop, getting high quality strings will make a huge difference to your sound. A new set of strings will cost anywhere from $2 - $10. My favorite brand is Aquila, but you can't go wrong with Martin strings either, which are slightly cheaper. Just make sure you get nylon strings, not metal (which are more appropriate for guitar) and that you get a set of strings that are appropriate for the ukulele you own. For example, if you have a standard (or concert) uke, you'll want the standard GCEA set of strings, but if you have a tenor or baritone uke, you'll want a specific set for that ukulele.
Step 1: Remove the Old StringClick thumbnail to view full-size
Important tip: Only replace one ukulele string at a time. The strings come labeled by key, so this way you won't mix up which string goes where. It also helps because that way you can use the old strings as a guide as you go.
- Loosen the peg of your first string all the way (or until it's really loose).
- Now pull the end of the string out of the tuning peg.
- Push the rest of the string through the bridge hole.
- Now you can undo the string knot at the bridge and completely remove the string.
Steo 2: Insert the New String
- Make sure that you've chosen the right string; for a standard uke either the G, C, E, or A string depending on which string you're replacing. The package should come with four strings and mark each one clearly.
- Take the new string and insert it through the bridge hole, leaving a couple of inches on the outside end (this is for the knot) and the majority of the string reaching toward the sound hole and tuning pegs.
Step 3: The KnotClick thumbnail to view full-size
This step looks harder than it is. It takes some dexterity, which is why I usually leave some extra string on the outside for my clumsy fingers. But if I can do it, you certainly can, too!
- Wrap the short end of the string up and around the long end.
- Now wrap the short end around itself two or three times (three times for security!).
- Take the long end of the string and pull so the knot locks itself into place.
Step 4: TighteningClick thumbnail to view full-size
This is your fourth and final step to restringing your ukulele!
- Turn the tuning peg for your string so that the holes are parallel with the length of the instrument (one hole facing the bridge, so that the string won't bend when pushed through).
- Push the end of the string (you know, the one that isn't already knotted to the bridge) through the peg in a straight line.
- Pull the string as tight as you can with one hand.
- Now turn the peg to tighten the string. Keep turning! Make sure the long end is wrapping around the peg underneath the hole where the string is sticking out.
- Keep tightening until the string stays taught on its own. Then tighten some more.
Now you've restrung your uke, but you're not quite done. You probably want to take some sharp scissors or wire clippers and trim off the extra string by the bridge and pegs. This is a purely aesthetic choice, however, and if you like the look of hanging string bits, feel free to leave them.
Once you've done that, it's time to tune your ukulele so you can actually play it. If you already have access to a tuner, great, if not, there are plenty of website and apps out there you can find with just a quick Google search. I've tried quite a few, and I haven't had a bad experience yet.
Keep in mind that it'll take a while for your new strings to settle. You'll have to retune your uke pretty often in the next few days because the strings will keep stretching. You can speed this process up by manually stretching the strings so that they reach their stretch capacity faster. It's up to you, though. And remember: once you tune, you're ready to croon! Congratulations on your newly stringed uke, and happy playing!