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View Full Version : Is removing all the strings at once harmful to the neck?



hammer40
12-19-2014, 08:32 AM
I have read differing views on removing all the strings off a uke at the same time. I'm not asking about just during a normal string change, but maybe once a year or so to give the fret board a good cleaning and conditioning. Is this as harmful as some make it out to be?

jcalkin
12-19-2014, 08:44 AM
No. In fact, the neck might like it. If the neck has been stable for a long time with strings on, removing them shouldn't be a problem.

IamNoMan
12-19-2014, 08:46 AM
Drift: In what order should I put strings on a naked uke?

Patrick Madsen
12-19-2014, 08:50 AM
LOL, ya always start with the G String on anything naked, esp. a uke.

katysax
12-19-2014, 09:26 AM
I bought a Vita uke off a guy who had taken the strings off it it 30 years ago. It's probably in much better condition than it would have been if the strings had been left on it.

Wicked
12-19-2014, 12:28 PM
There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking all of the strings off at once. I do it to all my stringed instruments every time I change the strings.

l3uffer
12-19-2014, 03:18 PM
I heard contrasting opinions about this as well - the main basis against this (for ukes w/out truss rods) I think would be that it resets the tension on the neck, allowing the neck wood to relax and bend back, but then once you put new strings on, the neck is tense once more. Considering how the neck doesn't move much, I don't think it's much cause for concern until maybe 40-50 years later doing this, but even then, I'm not sure that this affects structural integrity that much.
As for me personally, I like to clean the whole uke when I change strings (which is less than a year each time for sure), because I know how much oil and gunk sticks onto my fretboards, and how much I let other people play my ukes haha. So far, I haven't seen anything go wrong with my ukes, but I think if you're doing this once a year, you should be perfectly fine. If you have a truss rod in your uke, you're even more secure!
I've never heard of an uke breaking at the neck because the strings were changed too often like this... hopefully we never will! xD

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
12-19-2014, 05:35 PM
Strings slowly but inevitably bend and distort any instrument.

They are the force that slowly kills what they make sound so good.

hammer40
12-19-2014, 07:00 PM
Strings slowly but inevitably bend and distort any instrument.

They are the force that slowly kills what they make sound so good.

That's interesting Beau. I never would have thought that the force from the strings would eventually, over time, possibly damage the instrument. I'm going to assume it's many, many years though. Does modern design, truss rods, or carbon fiber inserts reduce the possibility of that damage over time?

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
12-20-2014, 04:02 AM
yes- modern metal truss rods help, but not with the top distortion etc. If a top isn't distorted, it is over built.

Only a few things "naturally" harm an instrument- string tension and humidity. The rest are secondary causes such as dropping it or playing it and harming the top (like Willie Nelsons guitar).

A $500 neck reset every 20 years is a small price to pay though. Of course, you cant do that on a spanish heeled uke/guitar.....

Pete Howlett
12-20-2014, 04:25 AM
No - there is not enough tension on a uke neck for it to matter. Just get a pair of snips and chop them off! It's what I do...

sequoia
12-20-2014, 09:48 AM
I used to believe in this theory too and for many years only changed one string at a time on my steel stringed guitars. I think maybe the theory is overly fussy even on a steel stringed guitars where I'm pretty sure the tension in pounds per square inch is much higher than a gut string ukulele. I do still remove one string at a time when restringing just because I'm lazy and I like to get the new string up to approximate concert pitch by using the old strings as reference.

Wicked
12-21-2014, 02:53 AM
I used to believe in this theory too and for many years only changed one string at a time on my steel stringed guitars. I think maybe the theory is overly fussy...

Overly fussy is the perfect description for much of the guitar/ukulele advice out there. While much of it may make technical sense (and is not wrong) the results are so minuscule to make no practical difference.

IamNoMan
12-21-2014, 03:32 AM
My engineering background suggests there should be no problem with any of this except over millions of cycles. don't worry about it.

Do not take all of the strings off a banjo uke at once unless you enjoy resetting the bridge everytime you do.

Edit: Somebody quipped about Going for the G String first. Got me thinking. On a banjo the G string is the heaviest and probably has the most tension on it. What ever string has the most tension on it you should probably change-out first or remove last. gives the most stability to the neck. Don't think it matters too much. There is an annoyance factor with removing all the strings at once when changing strings. say your at a festival and want to get back into action quick. Take all the strings off. Replace. Retune an octave too low. Your still in tune but can't figure out why it sounds like dreck. I have done this sort of thing too often to be happy about it.

Jim Hanks
12-21-2014, 03:36 AM
I do still remove one string at a time when restringing just because I'm lazy and I like to get the new string up to approximate concert pitch by using the old strings as reference.
:agree: This. I've done this ever since I once tried to tune a guitar an octave too high. Strings aren't meant to do that. :rolleyes:

Jim Yates
12-21-2014, 06:19 AM
How often do you folks change your ukulele/banjolele strings? I change the guitar strings about once a month, mandolins and banjos about twice a year, but the ukes have almost never been changed. My oldest uke has had the same strings on for four years and they don't sound dead to me. Will I notice a big difference if I change them?

I always put a pencil line on my banjo heads to facilitate placing the bridge. I thought everyone did this. Even the mandolins and arch top guitar have a small mark for bridge placement.

finkdaddy
12-22-2014, 06:25 AM
LOL, ya always start with the G String on anything naked, esp. a uke.

74294
I see what you did there!