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View Full Version : How long for new strings to settle?



jisa
06-24-2017, 01:11 PM
Hi all.

I bought my second ukulele, a baritone tuned to GCEA, so the slide into UAS is possibly starting (although I think I'm good for at least a while :P). New strings were put on it just before it was sent to me, so I know it's going to take some time for them to hold tuning. I'm wondering, though, generally how long this might be?

Thanks!

mikelz777
06-24-2017, 01:23 PM
My method to break in strings is once they are put on, I'll start playing. I'll play a song, then tune them again. Play a song, then tune them again. I continue to play and re-tune the strings after each and every song. Once I'm ready to finish the session, I'll tune my uke up (sharp) a half or a full step before putting it away. The next time I pick up the uke I'll continue this procedure until it holds a tune. It usually only takes a few days or sessions.

Doc_J
06-24-2017, 01:40 PM
My method to break in strings is once they are put on, I'll start playing. I'll play a song, then tune them again. Play a song, then tune them again. I continue to play and re-tune the strings after each and every song. Once I'm ready to finish the session, I'll tune my uke up (sharp) a half or a full step before putting it away. The next time I pick up the uke I'll continue this procedure until it holds a tune. It usually only takes a few days or sessions.

I do that too. A couple days to a week of retuning usually does it for me. There will still be small tuning adjustments for weeks.

Mim
06-24-2017, 01:43 PM
I do that too. A couple days to a week of retuning usually does it for me. There will still be small tuning adjustments for weeks.

(Edited... because I gave wrong advice because I skimmed the initial post and said to tune up a whole step. I had skimmed the initial post and missed that this was the customer that bought a GCEA tuned Baritone. DO NOT DO THIS ON A GCEA BARITONE! AND... to humble me even more he bought it from me! So I should have KNOWN better! DOH! I feel like a big ol' dork forgetting that. The strings are super tight on these sets and he ended up popping his string... so I am sending him a couple new sets. DOH! And since this stuff stays out in the internet universe forever I need to correct it as to not be the cause of many popped strings.)

Yes. And you can tune it up sharp a little, don't go overboard. I initially said a full step, and I have had good luck with that on regular ukes, but use your judgement. And do not do it on a GCEA baritone. I don't want to make that general statement and people to be like "I popped a string because Mim gives crap advice." Judge the tightness of your strings, whenever you put it up for the night, tune it a little sharp and It will help expedite it. Just don't go overboard and take into account your uke and your string set. You can usually feel when it is way too light.

Ukecaster
06-24-2017, 02:22 PM
A couple of days for flourocarbon. Nylon Daddario's took 2 weeks.

jisa
06-24-2017, 02:36 PM
Thanks all, especially you, Mim. :) (It's the baritone you sent me.)

peanuts56
06-24-2017, 02:57 PM
It depends on how much I play. I generally practice around 2 hours a day so it doesn't take long. Stretching the strings out by pulling on them also helps.

JackLuis
06-24-2017, 03:27 PM
If you have a tuner, tune up everyday. Soon you'll be able to hear an out of tune string and can correct it quickly. Changing heat, humidity and phase of the moon also effects tuning!

Enjoy!

Croaky Keith
06-24-2017, 10:59 PM
I just re tune every time I take one out, always check it's in tune before playing it, it's routine. :)

Depends how long each session is, & what type of strings, but it'll take from a couple of days to 2 weeks sometimes, with the odd string needing to be re checked now & again.

UkerDanno
06-25-2017, 05:14 AM
When I put new strings on, I tune it sharp, strum a tune or partial tune, leave it sit out and everytime I walk by, tune sharp and strum a few chords, check tune and leave it sharp again. Do this for the first day, thereafter, tune sharp a little every time you think about it and strum a tune or a few chords retune as needed. As mentioned above, it takes a few days to a few weeks...

Nickie
06-25-2017, 01:27 PM
My Worth Browns took about 5 days to settle in nicely. Aquilas take a lot longer, they seem really stretchy, some have taken up to a couple of weeks.
Interesting though, my Kala, with closed tuners, stays in tune with Aquilas and a lo G. My Cocobolo, no matter what strings, with the Peghead tuners, goes out all the time, playing or not.
Still the Pegheads are fun to mess with...so I don't mind. It makes me really listen to it!

AndrewKuker
06-25-2017, 02:31 PM
When you tune baritone up to GCEA it's quite taut, even with the strings designed for that. So if you tune it higher string breakage is much more likely. I wouldn't go more than a half step up, if that.

Mim
06-26-2017, 03:18 PM
When you tune baritone up to GCEA it's quite taut, even with the strings designed for that. So if you tune it higher string breakage is much more likely. I wouldn't go more than a half step up, if that.

Sorry I scanned the initial post and OH SHOOOT! I THOUGHT THIS WAS A REGULAR UKE!

Hahaha!

I did not realize this was the GCEA Baritone... I SOLD HIM!

Andrew is TOTALLY RIGHT!

YES DONT DO IT!

Because... confession time. They just wrote me and said, "Mim I took your advice and the string popped" and it ALL CAME TOGETHER!
And I came back on here and was like "OH THAT BARITONE! How did I miss that?!"

I will edit my original post because I was just in regular ukulele mode and bad advice stays on the internets forever!

I am sending him a couple more string sets. Hahaha! DOH!
I need to make up for my bad advice!
Mim is not perfect, but she makes it right!
Biggest. Dork. Ever... sometimes ;)

UkerDanno
06-28-2017, 04:42 AM
What is meant by "a step"? I tune my new strings a couple marks on the tuner, sharp to begin with...

Tootler
06-29-2017, 05:09 AM
I interpret a step as meaning a semitone.

Correction a step I interpret as a whole tone and a half step as a semitone.

Tootler
06-29-2017, 05:14 AM
When I put on new strings, I tune them up. Play a little, retune and repeat a few times. I then tune it sharp, typically about a semitone maybe more if string tension is lower and leave it overnight. The next day, I retune (it will have gone flat) and play a little, retune as necessary and again tune sharp to leave overnight. After a few days the strings are more or less OK. It will take some time after that for the strings to properly settle and you need to check them every time you pick the uke up. Also changes in weather will affect tuning so always check and retune as necessary.

Rllink
06-30-2017, 03:06 AM
So what is the definition of "settled in"? Is there a quantified standard of tuning that indicates that the strings have finally settled in? What are the expectations for strings, I wonder?

mikelz777
06-30-2017, 04:03 AM
When strings are still breaking in or "settling" they may need to be re-tuned as often as every song or several times in the course of an hour or half-hour. My definition of "settled in" is when I no longer have to tune them during the course of a playing session or it is still it tune from the last time I played it. When they are settled in I may not have to re-tune them for several playing sessions, days or weeks. Even then if they do need tuning, the strings are all off the same 3-4 ticks on my tuner which is more a reflection of the "barometer effect" of the neck waxing and waning with the humidity and not really a matter of the strings changing.

bratsche
06-30-2017, 06:27 AM
They never really "settle" (at least for me) in the same way that a steel-stringed instrument does. My ukes are always "just a tad off" when I take them out of the case. Sometimes the bass strings are flat and the trebles sharp. My favorite mandola, OTOH, sat completely neglected for a few months as I became acquainted with the ukes. I just played it the other day, and it was still spot on. At most, if it ever goes out of tune, it's just one string, which is easily heard and fixed. In all my years with mando-family instruments, it never occurred to me to want a clip-on tuner. A D'Addario micro-tuner came with the pre-owned baritone uke I bought, and I thought it was a curious novelty item. I quickly learned that it's very handy to have, and bought one for the other uke, as well.

bratsche

Graham Greenbag
07-02-2017, 02:02 AM
What is meant by "a step"? I tune my new strings a couple marks on the tuner, sharp to begin with...
I'd really wondered about that too and was trying to pick up the meaning from the contexts in which it was used. In the 'Ukulele Handbook' (p110) by Pretor-Pinney and Hodgkinson a (musical) step is defined as a whole tone and half a step as a semitone. In contrast to them I know less than nothing so I'll go with their definition.

To me the movement between each fret on a Ukulele feels like it should be called a step, but to do so would be musicically incorrect: whilst it might clearly be one physical step or advancement between adjacent frets it's half a musical step or a semi-tone between them.

Graham Greenbag
07-10-2017, 05:06 AM
A few weeks ago I put new strings on my regular player (the Uke that sits next to my arm chair), now it's pretty much in tune every time I pick it up which is what was expected. My regular player isn't my best Uke and a few weeks ago I sat then both side by side plucking strings and checking tone and sustain, the strings are different but pretty much the same age. To my ear my best or playing out Uke has a nicer tone and longer sustain than my regular player; tone is subjective but sustain I sort of measured by the time (pluck on one and count onwards - two, three, four, etc.) it took for the digital tuner to stop displaying a note.

Last night I sat tuning my regular Uke up and plucking strings as before but, as best I can tell, the sustain seems to have slightly improved (in duration). I can't say that my results are the finding of rigorous experimentation, they arrived by chance alone and their validity is rather questionable. However, besides not needing tuning as often do 'settled' strings have a longer sustain too?

SailingUke
07-10-2017, 05:37 AM
New strings in general improve sustain. It is my opinion that settling in is as much the knots tightening as string stretch. I usually get my strings stable in a day or two. After a string change there is a noticeable improvement in tone and sustain. I try to change strings often enough so the change is not dramatic.

UkingViking
07-10-2017, 08:01 PM
I have a bad habit of changing strings top rarely. Especially on my guitar that I seldom play. I can leave them on for years, until I can hang it on the wall for a week, pick it down, and it is still in tune...

But for practical purposes, I would say that strings are settled in when you can play a handful of tunes without tuning in between. Tuning an instrument whenever you start a playing session should be expected.

Ukecaster
08-11-2017, 11:17 AM
OK, settling in is one thing (new strings will hold a tuning better), but how about tone? Assuming the new strings are in tune, is the best tone right from the beginning, or can that get better too over days/weeks?

Tootler
08-12-2017, 01:18 PM
New strings in general improve sustain. It is my opinion that settling in is as much the knots tightening as string stretch. I usually get my strings stable in a day or two. After a string change there is a noticeable improvement in tone and sustain. I try to change strings often enough so the change is not dramatic.

That's really only true for steel strings. If you were to take a steel string and hang a weight on it, it would stretch by a fixed amount and no further. If you do the same thing with a nylon string (or a fluorocarbon one), there would be an initial amount of stretch but then, unlike the steel string, it would continue to stretch and it would take some time to reach its maximum extension. This is an important difference in the physical properties of polymers compared with metals. Polymers take time to fully react to an applied stress. So with ukulele strings, the initial relaxing of a new string immediately after the initial tightening will be largely due to the string settling into place and the knot "pulling up" but the continued relaxing of the string over time will be largely due to the polymers taking time to fully react to the applied stress of tightening the string.

deznuchs
08-12-2017, 01:20 PM
I just changed my strings to Freemont Blacklines. I love them but they took about 2 weeks to finally settle.

Just ordered some of the new Koolau Aho Flourocarbons and going to change out my other uke with those. Hopefully, those settle more quickly.