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View Full Version : changing strings - am I just thick???



Iulia
11-02-2016, 05:42 AM
This is only my second attempt at changing strings, and the first with my new Ohana. My previous was a uke with peg tuners and the kind of bridge that you just tie a knot (sorry don't know technical name)

decided to put Living Water strings on my ohana - tie bar bridge and geared tuners.

one hour later.

multiple watching of various youtube videos

and the end result still looks like a five year old did it. And I'm not convinced they aren't going to pop off ...

Seriously? All the technology available, is that the best way strings could be attached to a musical instrument?

Or is it just me????? :mad:

actadh
11-02-2016, 05:51 AM
It is not you. My Opio has a fancy bridge and the twisted guitar type stringing. I, too, bought some Living Waters for its upcoming string change. My local music store charges $15 labor to change strings, and I think I am going to go for it. Rationale is that I know how to change my oil in my car, but I still take it in for an oil change. This way, I will have it done correctly and without stress to me. I have trouble tying the strings anyyway with my limited hand strength. So, life is too short to worry about handing off a basic aspect of ukulele playing.

Osprey
11-02-2016, 06:02 AM
If I were you I would persist in learning to change strings confidently. When you have the strings off your ukulele, it's a great time to inspect and clean it. Now I have a lot of experience tying knots so I don't find the tie bridge intimidating. In fact I kind of find joy in spending some time caring for my ukuleles.

Iulia
11-02-2016, 06:18 AM
It is not you. My Opio has a fancy bridge and the twisted guitar type stringing. I, too, bought some Living Waters for its upcoming string change. My local music store charges $15 labor to change strings, and I think I am going to go for it. Rationale is that I know how to change my oil in my car, but I still take it in for an oil change. This way, I will have it done correctly and without stress to me. I have trouble tying the strings anyyway with my limited hand strength. So, life is too short to worry about handing off a basic aspect of ukulele playing.

Well I'm glad its not me at least :-) I did think at one point I was just going to have to call this set of strings a learning curve and order another - I'm still not certain I haven't bggered them beyond use - I'll keep on tuning it today and see how it goes ....

Croaky Keith
11-02-2016, 06:36 AM
There are some knacks to tying strings. ;)

Slotted bridges & through body need big knots so that they won't pull through, so you need to create 2 loops before poking the end through & pulling it tight.

For tie bridges the knack is to ensure the tail is being held behind the bridge & not on top.

A good video is, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfONxF00cIU

JackLuis
11-02-2016, 07:37 AM
It does take some practice to tie on your strings. I've learned how to tuck the tag end back up the hole so the ends are hidden. Makes it look neat and tidy. But occasionally the string slips if I don't wrap three times.

Booli
11-02-2016, 07:38 AM
First time changing strings for everyone is intimidating.

If you can share a close-up photo of the end result, i.e. the bridge, maybe we can offer some suggestions.

What exactly do you feel went wrong? What trouble were you having?

I'm not going to just say 'it's easy, anyone can do it' because I think that would be insulting, but to get detailed and specific advice on any issues that are apparent, one might need to swallow some pride and 'share' the result in a photo here.

Not kidding here, some of us have OCD about the APPEARANCE of the strings when installed, which has nothing to do with their ability to HOLD onto the bridge and not slip off...and I had to train myself to get over it otherwise I'd never have time to play since I'd be trying over and again to obsessively 'fix it'.....

Either way, no judgements, and no worries - just trying to help...

Booli
11-02-2016, 07:45 AM
Well I'm glad its not me at least :-) I did think at one point I was just going to have to call this set of strings a learning curve and order another - I'm still not certain I haven't bggered them beyond use - I'll keep on tuning it today and see how it goes ....

Keep in mind that it takes about 20 HOURS of string vibration, yes play-time, for NEW strings to stretch enough and settle to pitch such that constant retuning every 5 mins is not needed.

Also, if you play for 1 hour, and strum VIGOROUSLY right after you install new strings, and yes constantly retuning every 5 mins, you will greatly decrease the time it takes later on to get them to settle.

But if you only pick it up and tune and then play for 2 mins, and then put it down for 2 hrs, and then rinse and repeat, or expand that to 10 mins every other day, it will take WEEKS for the strings to settle to pitch.

IMHO despite the Hive MIND of UU saying that it's ok to manually stretch strings, I have found that doing so causes DEAD spots and intonation problems and I personally do NOT tug at or pinch the strings. Instead I PLAY and constantly retune every song or every other song and after about 10 hrs of PLAY (string vibration), the retuning is required infrequently, and after about 20 hrs they dont really need retuning.

This is the nature of strings for ukulele, classical guitar and similar instruments...

Iulia
11-02-2016, 07:52 AM
where to start - the strings kept slipping out of my fingers, I couldn't get the knot to go where I wanted, the knots wouldn't tighten, the string kept slipping out of the tuner .... I'll try to post a pic, might not come out in which case I'll have to wait for better light in the morning and a better camera. Thanks everyone

Iulia
11-02-2016, 07:57 AM
Its roughly holding tune at the moment - at one point as I was turning the tuner key the pitch was going up and then down, up and then down, which obviously wasn't right - then the string popped out and I started again. Sigh. They seem to be staying in place at the moment. Think I need to order another set of strings just in case ;)

Iulia
11-02-2016, 08:01 AM
95364

Is this any good??

mikelz777
11-02-2016, 08:02 AM
Keep in mind that it takes about 20 HOURS of string vibration, yes play-time, for NEW strings to stretch enough and settle to pitch such that constant retuning every 5 mins is not needed.


It takes 20 hours of play time for the strings to settle to the point where they don't need constant tuning?!! I can't say that I would agree with that, at least not in my experience.

When I put on new strings I know they are going to stretch and will need to be tuned again so what I'll do is tune the uke, then play a song. Once I'm done playing the song, I'll tune it again and play another song. Once I'm done with that song, I'll tune the uke again and play another song and continue the play a song and tune process for as long as I choose to play. It's pretty easy to kill an hour or more doing this. Before putting the uke back in the case until the next session I will tune it 1/2 step sharp to stretch the strings some more the first couple of times. I just continue this process for however long it takes. I find that the strings settle in a matter of days (or playing sessions) - less than a week and certainly less than 20 hours of play.

Iulia
11-02-2016, 08:06 AM
95365

Not sure if this is better

mikelz777
11-02-2016, 08:08 AM
95364

Is this any good??

It looks functional but not especially pretty. ;) I like to cut the tails a bit shorter and then tuck them back into the corresponding string holes on the bridge.

9536695367

You can see where some of the ends come back through the string holes/bridge but it still looks pretty neat and tidy.

spookelele
11-02-2016, 08:14 AM
It comes easier the more you do it. If you've never done it before, maybe practice with something that isn't the strings, like.. wire. Don't like... tighten it because the wire will have the wrong tension, but just to work out the knotting, it would probably work.

As for the tuner side... you can use a locking knot. I usually do this, especially on the thin strings, which can slip.

ghostrdr
11-02-2016, 08:30 AM
This is one of those things that the more you do it, the easier it is. It's like riding a bike - super hairy at first, but piece of cake later.

This video is great - because it uses giant rope to clearly show how to loop it around. I thought it was immensely helpful.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyv7uOiXsbM

Take your time and enjoy the ride - including changing the strings - trying to get the best tone out of the instrument is part of the fun.

Good luck!
Rich

Booli
11-02-2016, 08:49 AM
It takes 20 hours of play time for the strings to settle to the point where they don't need constant tuning?!! I can't say that I would agree with that, at least not in my experience.....

I find that the strings settle in a matter of days (or playing sessions) - less than a week and certainly less than 20 hours of play.

Yes, less than 20 hrs, I usually use this as hyperbole to offset the malformed/misinformed expectations that most beginners have, that all ukuleles and classical guitar can 'never stay in tune' as per tons of complaints and bad reviews on this forum, other forums and sites like Amazon, where folks complain about constant retuning.

I usually play (both practice and songwriting) at least an hour per day (on average, often even more), so yes, for ME, also, in about a week they hold tune, but for newbies, they always say the strings never hold the tuning due to lack of experience with string changes.

Sorry for the confusion.

Booli
11-02-2016, 08:51 AM
where to start - the strings kept slipping out of my fingers, I couldn't get the knot to go where I wanted, the knots wouldn't tighten, the string kept slipping out of the tuner .... I'll try to post a pic, might not come out in which case I'll have to wait for better light in the morning and a better camera. Thanks everyone

if the string is slipping out of the tuner hole, then you can pass it through the tuner hole a second time, i.e.,
just go around the tuner, and into the hole a second time and pull the new LOOP tight (from the loose end) leaving some slack towards the bridge. Then hold the loose end while you turn the tuner button, and after a wrap or two around the post, string tension and friction should hold the string from slipping.

Booli
11-02-2016, 08:56 AM
You might also find this video helpful, a string changing tutorial from Aaron of Hawaii Music Supply.

pay close attention to how to ties the string on the tuning peg post...


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwNDkh43oqc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwNDkh43oqc

Croaky Keith
11-02-2016, 09:07 AM
95364

Is this any good??

That is what I was talking about - you may not have the tail end of the strings far enough down the back side of the bridge. ;)

(One looks perfectly placed, two look a bit iffy, & the other one appears to be the wrong side.)

I use my thumbnail to hold it in place down as close to the hole as possible, whilst I tighten the knot.

At the other end where the tuners are, make sure to put the string through the hole, pull up the slack, then wrap around the post & put the string back through the hole a second time, that is usually sufficient to hold it whilst you bring it up to tension. :)

Edit: This will show how in pictures, https://ukuguides.com/how-to/how-to-change-ukulele-strings/

SoloRule
11-02-2016, 09:15 AM
I finally change my own strings but four strings is my limit. I won't touch six strings so off I went to downupdave house.
Strings changing is not the hard part for me, it's the turning it up to tune that is frightening . I always imagine or hearing string snapping sound.
The pin drop system is a nightmare when I can't see anything underneath the wood.
My favourite is the regular simple knot tie and the Tiny Tenor style where you fish the string through then pull it up from the sound hole to tie a knot.
No you are not the only one. I still break out a cold sweat even changing four little strings.

Iulia
11-02-2016, 09:58 AM
The ones where you just tie a knot seem so much simpler I just don't really understand why this rigmarole exists ....

I didn't cut or wrap the ends today as I thought the knots/tuner end might pop out again, and didn't want to lose any length in case there was any chance of salvaging the strings ...

That video with the rope was really helpful thanks!!!!

There were two variations on the headstock end in the vids I watched - one that said cut to size first and THEN wind, the other wind then cut to size, but I didn't see the one suggesting the double loop. Thanks again everyone. Its playable at least, though an insult to a lovely instrument :-) and Living Water strings are the dog's bits!!

Mivo
11-02-2016, 09:58 AM
It gets easier the more often you do it. I dreaded string changes in the beginning, but now that I have done it maybe 40+ times with different bridge types (tied, slotted, pin, string-through), it's pretty straight forward. The single most important thing for me to learn was how to make proper knots with pin/string-through bridges so that the knots pull on themselves and don't unravel themselves.

With a tied bridge (like you have), I put the string ends through the knot to the right, like I did here (https://www.dropbox.com/s/1aut7j1n7d5i6rp/Photo%2008-07-16%2017%2005%2019.jpg?dl=0). Gives a cleaner look.

The best video on string changes that I found (or rather, the one that helped me the most) is the new one by HMS: http://support.theukulelesite.com/customer/en/portal/articles/1655935-how-to-restring

Mivo
11-02-2016, 10:03 AM
The ones where you just tie a knot seem so much simpler

Until the strings eat through the wood, and the knots, if not done right, either constantly slip through (especially the A string) or even rip off part of the bridge. Many vintage ukuleles with slotted bridges have that issue, including damaged bridges. Tied bridges are a better choice, I feel. You can also use beads with them if you don't want to tie up the string, but I feel it looks a bit off (matter of preference).

hendulele
11-02-2016, 10:50 AM
Until the strings eat through the wood, and the knots, if not done right, either constantly slip through (especially the A string) or even rip off part of the bridge. Many vintage ukuleles with slotted bridges have that issue, including damaged bridges. Tied bridges are a better choice, I feel. You can also use beads with them if you don't want to tie up the string, but I feel it looks a bit off (matter of preference).

Yes, I have a G-string (so not very old) soprano that I purchased used and the bridge has become slotted from wear because (I guess) a previous owner used very low-gauge strings, perhaps of the wrong tension. For that reason, I bought bridge beads and haven't had any trouble. Plus, they should prevent me from having to replace the bridge!

quiltingshirley
11-02-2016, 11:39 AM
Yes, the tuning is the scary part. You keep turning and turning, just waiting for that pop. It's happened more than once on certain ukes so it makes all high strings scary to me!

Mivo
11-02-2016, 11:50 AM
Yes, I have a G-string (so not very old) soprano that I purchased used and the bridge has become slotted from wear because (I guess) a previous owner used very low-gauge strings, perhaps of the wrong tension. For that reason, I bought bridge beads and haven't had any trouble. Plus, they should prevent me from having to replace the bridge!

I bumped into the problem with my 1920s Lyon&Healy soprano where the A string ate through the wood and then eventually took a bit of the bridge with it. A local luthier suggested to insert a piece of very thin metal with notches for the strings (in retrospect I should have suggested ebony, but it probably doesn't matter), which is a permanent solution. Here's a picture (https://www.dropbox.com/s/nbsy378xxqln4yp/Photo%2006-07-16%2018%2013%2056.jpg?dl=0) of it. What looks like rust is discoloration that since then I removed with some steel wool (I also switched to Aquila D-tuning 33U strings and learned to make better knots that sit lower.) It does show the damage, which luckily doesn't look so pronounced as in the photo.

But yeah, ease of stringing aside, I think slotted bridges are my least favorite bridge type.

Joyful Uke
11-02-2016, 12:53 PM
I see that the video that I found to be very helpful has already been posted:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyv7uOiXsbM

Here is another, in case you're still looking at videos:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwNDkh43oqc
(starting around 1:55)

My first attempt to change ukulele strings had me ready to give up ukulele. But now I have USS, (ukulele string syndrome), and change strings just to try out something different. It's kind of like getting a new ukulele, without all the cost. :-)

It's really a frustrating process the first time you try, but it really does become easier with practice, so don't despair any struggles with your first attempt.

I keep old strings around and practice tying knots without the ukulele from time to time, so I don't forget how to do it.

pritch
11-02-2016, 01:45 PM
Not kidding here, some of us have OCD about the APPEARANCE of the strings when installed, which has nothing to do with their ability to HOLD onto the bridge and not slip off...


Guilty. When I started I viewed all of the tutorial clips on Youtube but they all manage to make it look complicated. The one done using a piece of rope was better. About the third attempt I suddenly realised it wasn't complicated, although it does look that way in the clips. Next trick ws to get the tails at the bridge end all pointing in the same direction. :(

Then all I have to do is figure out how much of each string to leave loose after threading it through the tuner so that the capstan part is fully loaded when the strings are stretched, with the string leaving the tuner at the bottom. This being made slightly complicated by the different diameters but it's about 2 inches/50mm?

It sometimes happens that my ukuleles will be handed to a better player and I would be embarrassed to hand over an ukulele with a quick and dirty stringing job.

Although sometimes not recommended I will take all the strings off and clean the instrument, including the fretboard. Being careful to avoid loose nuts and saddles of course...

Iulia
11-03-2016, 12:02 AM
My first attempt to change ukulele strings had me ready to give up ukulele.
I keep old strings around and practice tying knots without the ukulele from time to time, so I don't forget how to do it.

Yeah that's about how I felt :D

That's a very good idea

Thanks everyone for your help

Rllink
11-03-2016, 03:37 AM
Having done a hitch in the Navy I'm pretty good with wrapping strings and tying knots, so I had a head start. But I saw a guy playing a Kala at the farmer's market one day, and he just ran the strings through the hole in the bridge, tied it in an overhand knot so that it wouldn't slip back through, maybe a figure eight knot on the A string. Is there any reason why people who have so much trouble wrapping the strings around themselves can't just do that?

One other thing, when I string up my ukulele the strings settle in after two or three days. I'm sure not twenty hours of playing. But then my knots are tight to start with. Maybe someone who doesn't get them wrapped good and tight it might take a lot longer to get the slack out of them. So it could take some longer than others. Just saying, that you can't say that they set in X numbers of hours. It just depends.

UkerDanno
11-03-2016, 03:51 AM
where to start - the strings kept slipping out of my fingers, I couldn't get the knot to go where I wanted, the knots wouldn't tighten, the string kept slipping out of the tuner .... I'll try to post a pic, might not come out in which case I'll have to wait for better light in the morning and a better camera. Thanks everyone

I just run the string through the tuner hole, pull it tight, then pull back the first 2 frets. Then Start winding it up making sure the winds go down toward the headstock. Never had any problem with string slipping at the tuner end.

Tie bridges are the most complicated to get looking good and holding tight. Only had one 1st string come untied, use 3 twists and leave the 2nd string loose so you can tuck the tail back under the tie. Start with the 4th string so you can tuck the tails under the next string and the tails will be point away from your arm. String beads may be a wise investment for you.

Slotted bridges are easier, just have to be careful you don't mess up the slots and the top of your uke.

Pin bridges are the easiest and simplest to change, Kanile'a and Islander use bridge pins, along with a few others.

Croaky Keith
11-03-2016, 03:52 AM
A tied bridge spreads out the string forces acting on the bridge, compared to a slotted, where all the forces are concentrated on the knot area. More difficult to tie initially, but better for the bridge.

Mivo
11-03-2016, 06:33 AM
Pin bridges are the easiest and simplest to change, Kanile'a and Islander use bridge pins, along with a few others.

Not sure about simplest. Some pins are really hard to get out and you need a pin puller if you don't want to pull like crazy (can't be good for the top). My Barron River's pins are super smooth and easy to use (I really like Alan's work), but Kanile'a plastic ones required a puller. You also need to make a proper figure-8 knot and an overhead knot on top of it to prevent that the knot unravels itself under tension after you cut the tail. That had happened to me, and it was somewhat frustrating. On the flipside, I learned how different types of knots and how to make them, which in itself is fun. :) I do like pin and string-through bridges, though, even though they make me wish ball ends were more common with ukulele strings.

For me the easiest and fastest bridge type is the tie bridge. Straight forward, no beads, no knots unraveling, no knots slipping through holes or cracking poorly made beads. But yeah, the first few string changes had me drenched in cold sweat and they took really long while I kept re-watching the HMS video. Now it's just a matter of a few minutes, and I learned to make new types of knots, so there are some benefits to SAS. :)