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View Full Version : My first re-stringing job....



mailman
05-04-2010, 03:51 PM
Well, I finally did it. I restrung my soprano. I've been meaning to do this for months, but for whatever reason, I found it to be intimidating. I worried that I would screw it up somehow; maybe even damage the uke. It went well, if I must say so myself.

The original strings were black GHS, and I disliked them right from the beginning. They seemed to have very low tension, the string guages seemed almost identical across the instrument and the strings felt like plastic. That being said, I did like one thing about them (on this instrument)....the color. I really liked the black strings with the ebony fretboard, based purely on looks.

Both of my other ukes, both concerts, have Aquilla Nylguts installed; one high G and one low G with a wound G. I really like them in both cases, so I purchased a set for the soprano.

My biggest question once I got started on the job was how to determine how tight to pull each string through the tuner before beginning winding. This uke has friction tuners, unlike my other two. I had read enough about the process to know how to orient each string to it's tuner, and to allow the first wrap to go over the free end of the string before making the remaining wraps go down toward the peghead. But how do you determine how much slack to allow starting out to avoid having the wraps double-up on themselves? So far it looks okay, but who knows how much they'll eventually stretch? The G, E & A strings are wound down the tuner posts almost to the bases, while the C string only took about one wrap to come up to pitch.

Should I loosen the C string and allow for more wraps around the tuner post?

My knots at the bridge came out good (actually better than the originals), although I did pull the first knot in the A string through the hole in the bridge....I thought I had broken the string!

I wish I had taken the time to inspect the installation of the nut and saddle, although thinking back on it, I never had all of the strings loose at once. My hope is that these new strings will have a positive impact on the intonation of the uke; it was never right up until now. I've read that a string change can improve intonation....I'm guessing in this case it can't make it any worse. Already I think the strings have improved the uke's volume, so that's a plus.

Anyone else hesitant to do their first string change, or was it just me? Now to tune, and re-tune, and re-tune....

mangorockfish
05-04-2010, 04:00 PM
I really need to restring both of mine, tenor and cocert, but it scares me to death.

AC Baltimore
05-04-2010, 04:04 PM
It is simple...


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDJywsNAF1g&feature=related

jer989
05-04-2010, 04:06 PM
Yeah- I'd say I'm hesitant about it. I bought a set of concert Aquila's from MGM before xmas and still haven't taken the plunge...
A bit worried I'll mess it up an get stuck with an unplayable uke- and with only one uke, that'd be bad news. Maybe I'll give it a go after reading your post... thanks for sharing your experence.

cletus
05-04-2010, 04:28 PM
Thanks for sharing, glad it went well. And thanks to AC Baltimore for the video.
Happy tuning and strumming!

cornfedgroove
05-04-2010, 05:01 PM
I prefer the look of black strings myself...I hate ghs and not a fan of hilo, but I'm sold out on Worth Browns. I know I know, they're brown...but only if you hold them up to the light. otherwise they look black.

I love the browns...but I am originally from Cleveland area

RyanMFT
05-04-2010, 06:04 PM
OK, I'll admit it, when I first started playing, I was worried that I would screw things up when I changed my first set of strings. However, after I took the plunge I was annoyed with myself that I had waited a while and it was such an easy operation.

As far as intonation, on a couple vintage uke's I bought, which had very old strings, the intonation was terrible even when tuned to pitch. I thought that I really screwed things up and bought bad uke's, however, after I changed the strings everything was solved.....so I know very old strings can intonate very badly and it isn't the uke at all.

arashi_nero
05-04-2010, 06:26 PM
the intimidation factor is definitely true. and it's also true that new strings can completely change an instrument. i needed a new saddle for my soprano and took it to the shop. they repaired the saddle and replaced the 10yr old strings with some new strings. this inspired me to change the strings from the strings that were on my tenor. i watched as many videos as i could find and tried it myself. the first string was probably the most intimidating. after that, it was cake. and man am i glad i changed the strings on my tenor!! and i'm not afraid to change the strings anymore.

Chris Tarman
05-04-2010, 07:26 PM
I don't change strings. When my strings get old-sounding, I just buy a new ukulele!

AC Baltimore
05-04-2010, 08:49 PM
I don't change strings. When my strings get old-sounding, I just buy a new ukulele!

single man huh? lol.

Vindelanda
05-05-2010, 06:04 AM
I've changed my strings once, but it was on my Mahalo and I spent the whole time freaking out anyway! It wasn't too hard, but then I had a family member (who's a guitar player) helping me.
My Fluke looks like it might be harder to change, but haven't tried yet.

Ronnie Aloha
05-05-2010, 06:14 AM
single man huh? lol.

LOL! I wonder if you can change strings on a wife?

Thumper
05-05-2010, 06:21 AM
I've changed my strings once, but it was on my Mahalo and I spent the whole time freaking out anyway! It wasn't too hard, but then I had a family member (who's a guitar player) helping me.
My Fluke looks like it might be harder to change, but haven't tried yet.

Fleas and Flukes are surprisingly easy to change the strings on. Just tie a knot in one end and thread the other end through the tuners. I'm more intimidated by the ukes that have the elaborate winding and interweaving of the strings around the bridge, like on my Lanikai and my Kala.

Ukeffect
05-05-2010, 07:18 AM
LOL! I wonder if you can change strings on a wife?
Welll....yeeesss, but VERY carefully! And, man watch that G-string...get that too tight and the eyes cross! In that case...RUN!!:uhoh:

dnewton2
05-05-2010, 07:42 AM
The first time I restrung one of my ukes I watched a video Nukedoc made and it was pretty easy. The one thing I did not know was the G string was a low g (Kala Red) and I was tring to get it up to a high g. Snapped that thing, luckly no damage to my uke though.

mailman
05-05-2010, 12:12 PM
What a difference a day (and a new set of strings) makes! I had no idea this little uke could be this loud. The tone is also improved, although the jury's still out on the intonation....the strings are still stretching.

I've been tuning it regularly, and the correction needed seems to be diminishing (unless that's my imagination). I'm gaining much-needed practice with my friction tuners, although I won't claim to like them yet. If this keeps up, this little uke may actually get some playing time!

Again, to my earlier question. Is it necessary (or advisable) to go back and adjust the length of the string at the tuner end to achieve the desired number of wraps around the post? The G, E & A strings are nearing the bottom of their tuner posts, and if they stretch much more they'll start to "double wrap". The C string, on the other hand, although still stretching, has only one and a half wraps around the post. Leave them alone, or try to adjust the length?

Ronnie Aloha
05-05-2010, 12:26 PM
Personally, I would trim the strings down. If you do follow my advice, don't trim too much since the strings have already been stretched out for the past couple of days.

The C or low g strings have very little tension so you don't have to wind them much. In fact, I try to leave some slack in them before winding, unlike the other higher tension strings. I was just informed from a guitar player that set up peeps pride themselves on having as few winds as possible. The theory is that the strings hold their tune better with less winding. Myself, I prefer three winds to secure the string in its post.

Dane
05-05-2010, 12:35 PM
Yep I was scared the first time, really the only thing that you can mess up is if you somehow manage to put a cut in one of the strings or something, But once you restring your uke the first time and learn how much different other strings sound, you'll probably start changin em a lot till you find something you really really like. Oh and I always make sure I start with my a string, because I like my bridge to look neat and I string em together a certain way that they layer on top of each other and don't stick out.

It's really easy, just do it! =) plenty of videos on how to do it. If you're nervous just go slow, won't hurt nothin

mailman
05-05-2010, 12:37 PM
Thanks, Ronnie. I think maybe I'll undo the G, E & A strings and pull a little more string through the tuner (3/4"?) and bring them back up to pitch. I don't want the windings wrapping back over themselves. I'm thinking I'll leave the C string as is for now. I have not trimmed the excess length yet (although it bugs me), so adjusting length should be easy enough still....

Rick
05-05-2010, 01:39 PM
I know it isn't right for me to share such negative information, but! I changed the strings on my baritone, and I didn't know how hard to pull or tighten it, so I pulled too hard and ripped the bridge right off of my 'ukulele.

arashi_nero
05-05-2010, 02:03 PM
I know it isn't right for me to share such negative information, but! I changed the strings on my baritone, and I didn't know how hard to pull or tighten it, so I pulled too hard and ripped the bridge right off of my 'ukulele.

this is why you tighten with a tuner. as for "pulling", i was a little worried about how hard to pull to stretch the strings, so i underpulled. it took a while to get a good, even pull. i'm still worried about that. probably better to give a lighter tug and keep your bridge than to pull too hard and pull the bridge off. you could also not tug the strings and just let them take longer to stretch.

70sSanO
05-06-2010, 09:46 AM
Whenver I have changed strings on a guitar, bass, or ukulele, I only change a string at a time. I start with the "high/low g" 4th string and work my way to the "a" 1st string... take one off, put one on...

I do this for two reasons, the first is it eliminates the off by an octave tuning as you use the old strings to get you close to the right pitch, which makes that easy. The other is not founded on anything scientific but I don't like to go from a fully tensioned neck to a completely non-tensioned neck. I'm sure this has no effect on a ukulele, but there is some serious tension with a 5 string bass. I've been changing guitar strings the same way fo 45 years without any problems.

John

On pulling strings, I was told a long time ago to pull the string away from the fretboard to stretch them. Never pull them parallel or up and down against the nut.

Dane
05-06-2010, 09:55 AM
I also leave my other strings on as I'm changing, I don't take them all off at one time. And when I pull my strings to stretch em, I do it lighter than most people would. And yes, pull it up perpendicular to the fretboard.

arashi_nero
05-06-2010, 10:04 AM
yeah, i saw a video on youtube that explained pulling strings at the end of the setup. for some reason, the video isn't working. it's the only one of this guy's videos that aren't. he actually said he's from UU. anyway, on the video, he said to put your thumb on the string and your pointer and middle finger under the string and whild pusing down with your thumb, pull up with your pointer and middle fingers. this way, you're not pulling up on the string at the nut (the string stays level on the fretboard). that's the method i used and it worked really well.

edit: i also do one string at a time. it just seems easier that way lol.

AC Baltimore
05-06-2010, 02:40 PM
LOL! I wonder if you can change strings on a wife?

Hmmm, there is a tasteless joke in there, but I w will refrain lol. I simply changed wives lol.

kalmario
05-06-2010, 07:13 PM
you guys forget to mention how good new strings sound when they settle down. once youv'e mastered this then you start filing down saddles and other fun instrument altering things! :)

depending on how often you play i'd change strings every 6 months or so.

Ronnie Aloha
05-06-2010, 07:27 PM
Since I don't change strings often I usually take them all off and clean the fretboard then treat it with Fret Doctor. Keeps the uke looking new.

Dane
05-06-2010, 07:39 PM
Since I don't change strings often I usually take them all off and clean the fretboard then treat it with Fret Doctor. Keeps the uke looking new.

Depending on the type of string you don't need to remove them very often, I find that the very thin flourocarbons that I like get worn from the frets after a while (I play pretty intensely too on many things) also my ukulele holds tune really well even with extreme playing, so they get worn down on the same spot with the string not moving at all, just getting worn in the same place over and over

mailman
05-09-2010, 06:19 AM
Okay, so it's been five days and it's time for an update.

The strings are either still stretching, or the tuners are slipping. I think they're just stretching. I did not pre-stretch the strings as I installed them, as some folks have suggested. I was too afraid of breaking either the strings or the bridge of the uke. I'm getting tired of the tuning, but I'll give it a few more days for them to settle in....what else can I do?

The string change has done a couple of things. The uke is certainly louder with the new Aquilas than with the old GHSs. This is a good thing. The intonation seems to be better to my untrained ear. With the old strings I could tune the uke with my electronic tuner to a perfect GCEA on open strings, but once I tried to play chords they would sound out of tune. The new strings sound much better while chording. This is also a good thing. The Aquilas sound brighter, less mellow, than the old strings. This would be okay up to a point, but I think that now it is too bright....to the point of sounding harsh, particularly on the A string, for some reason.

This has taught me several things. The uke was not to blame, the strings were to blame, for the intonation issues. I can change strings, and with increased confidence. Although I love Aquilas on my two concerts, they may not be ideal for my soprano. Friction tuners, while not impossible to work with, take a lot of getting used to (for me, anyway). White strings in place of black strings makes a big difference visually, particalarly against this ebony fretboard.

I may order some Worth browns to replace these with. Perhaps they will take care of both of my issues with the new Aquilas....color and harshness. My initial plan was to change the strings on all three of my ukes in preparation for UWC2010....I may never get them all to settle in in time!

bazmaz
05-11-2010, 10:25 AM
i string like the video guide, but dont put ANYWHERE NEAR that amount of slack on string before winding. I pull string through so it is taut to fingerboard and start winding. I find that why that with stretching of strings, when settled and in tune, I have 2 or 3 winds on each post. Perfect.

If I did aquilas as per video, after stretching, i swear my coils would be overlapping.

SailingUke
05-25-2010, 05:30 AM
i string like the video guide, but dont put ANYWHERE NEAR that amount of slack on string before winding. I pull string through so it is taut to fingerboard and start winding. I find that why that with stretching of strings, when settled and in tune, I have 2 or 3 winds on each post. Perfect.

If I did aquilas as per video, after stretching, i swear my coils would be overlapping.

I have always had issues with the stretching process. I usually would need to remove a few wraps from the post after a day or so. Aquillas are so resillient I would have to go through the stretching process again.
It would normally take me a few days to get the strings to hold tuning.
Last night I changed strings on my super c. Aquilla low g. I tied the knots at the bridge and then pulled all the slack from the string before winding.
Not only did I wind up with 3 wraps on each post, but this morning when I checked the tuning it was still at pitch.
I did leave just a little slack on the wound string as it won't stretch as much as the unwound.

Pukulele Pete
05-25-2010, 08:51 AM
Back to having to retune with new strings. I hope you are also giving some attention to the tightness of the tuners. Often I have to tighten the screw on the back of the friction tuner when breaking in new strings. They may seem tight but could be slowly slipping and going out of tune. I pull on the strings but gently and not hard at all and only once.

mailman
05-25-2010, 01:30 PM
Original poster here with an update. Boy, am I glad you guys chimed in!

I had about given up on this uke ever holding a tune. The string change was three weeks ago, and the uke was still not holding. Having tried to tighten the friction tuner screws at the time of the string change and feeling as if they wouldn't tighten any more, I discounted slipping tuners as a problem. I figured the strings were still stretching....

These most recent replies prompted me to revisit the tuner screw adjustment more carefully. What I've found is that the apparent problem was an ill-fitted screwdriver. With the first screwdriver I used three weeks ago I couldn't tighten the screws any more. Tonight, after looking more closely (darn bifocals!), I tried a different tool. Worked like a charm! The tuners could, indeed, be tightened more, and the uke tuning seems to be more stable. I won't know right away if this is all it needed, but it's a step in the right direction.

I took this opportunity to un-wind the C string to pull some more slack in it before rewinding. I only had about a wrap and a half around the post when at pitch after first doing the string change. Now I have a full three wraps, which looks much better. It does seem as if now the C string is doing a bit more stretching, and that's okay.

I intend to bring this uke with me to UWC2010, in the hopes of getting some more experienced hands/ears/eyes on it. I'm curious what more knowledgable folks think of it.

I'll be curious to see whether this thing actually starts to hold a tune now. Thanks, guys....