I enjoy maintaining my ukulele and I enjoy giving tips to others on how to do so.
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 it is 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 you 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 String
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.
Step 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 Knot
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!
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- 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: Tightening
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!
Doc Snow from Camden, South Carolina on July 05, 2016:
Hey, thanks for the tips! I'm a uke newbie, though I've been playing guitar and bass for years, and I'm having a lot of fun with my $30 'Diamond Head.' It's good to have a reference to compare to the restringing technique that I worked out with myself. And it's also good to hear your thoughts on strings.
I actually restring my soprano to the 'low G' tuning. I used a classical guitar string for that, so my soprano looks a little unusual with one wound string, shining all silvery!
I even got so enthused that I decided I wanted to add a pickup for band or home recording situations. I wrote about that here, incidentally:
(And you can see that low "G" string, too.)
Hopefully, they'll move that Hub over here to Spinditty, where it belongs!
Natasha from Hawaii on December 19, 2014:
Cute uke! I just saw some strings at the store yesterday and wondered if I should pick up some spares for my dad. I bet the strings are a little easier for us to find in Hawaii than they are for him back on the East Coast!
Helena Bonde (author) from San Francisco on December 19, 2014:
Thanks, guys! @Learn Things Web - ukuleles are perfect for kids because they're smaller and have fewer frets for small fingers, but they still sound just lovely. I bet your 6-year-old will have a great time playing hers.
RTalloni on December 19, 2014:
Congrats on this timely Hub of the Day award for your info on the ukulele and instructions on how to string them. What a great item to highlight here just before Christmas!
LT Wright from California on December 19, 2014:
I got my 6 year old a ukulele recently and plan to start teaching her to play. She has a toy acoustic guitar she likes to play but I think a ukulele will be easier to teach at this age. I probably will upgrade the strings because they don't sound too great.
mySuccess8 on December 19, 2014:
I have never played the ukulele, but love its music so much. Now I can appreciate better the beautiful music that can be made by this wonderful instrument, when you explained very well how to properly maintain and take care of the string. Now I also know it can be easy to start playing with, and that one can improve and become really good, with effort. Congrats on Hub of the Day!
stella vadakin from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619 on December 06, 2014:
Hi, very useful hub, I have never had a ukulele but looks like fun. Nice hub. Welcome to Hub Pages. Stella