View Full Version : Stretching Strings Before Stringing Up ??

02-23-2014, 12:32 PM
I noticed there is limited amount of space on pegs for strings, so I stretched out Nylgut strings by hand the best I could --- before putting on uke. I thought this would ease tuning/stretching period and allow more space on peg for future tuning.

Is there any downside to this? Do others do this before stringing up?



Doug W
02-23-2014, 01:47 PM
I am confused, how are you stretching the strings before putting them on? I am going to have to ask you to turn around, put your hands behind your back and step away from that ukulele.

Book him Dano!

02-23-2014, 01:53 PM
I have never heard of that. Hmmm....

02-23-2014, 02:15 PM
Hi Gene,
That's an interesting thought, here's what I can share,

1) I haven't heard of anyone bothering to "pre-stretch strings".
I wonder how stretched out you can get them with your hands alone?
It seems to me to take a while for strings to stretch, days of regular tightening (they keep stretching, but it's really slow).
I'd also worry about ruining the intonation, since it might place uneven stress on them.
If I was going to pre-stretch, I'd use weights. But that would require researching the breaking strengths of each of the strings, to avoid using too much or too little weight. [I believe nylons are in the 5-16lb range, but it could be a little higher, not much though]

2)Why not simply put them on, and get them stretched in the usual gradual manner, and if you find there's excess string, simply take the strings off, trim that amount off, and put them back on? You might need to do it more than once, but it should help you zero in on the right length.

3) Are these wooden pegs, or metal friction tuners? I ask because if you're talking about wooden pegs, I have seen the opinion that they work better if the string windings reach all the way down and actually press firmly against the wood. But...
I've also seen the seemingly contradictory opinion that it's easier to tune them if you push them back out a little first (to loosen the peg), then when they're in tune, push them in firmly again.
This is seems to contradict the first tip: how can you push it out if the string is pressing against the wood?
Maybe they aren't contradictory, maybe you can press it out a little even with the string there.
I haven't had experience with wooden pegs yet, so I don't know.

Doug W
02-23-2014, 03:06 PM

As Warbulele says above, you will find conflicting information about how to install strings all the time. Many people say, get at least 2 turns of strings around the pegs. I usually end up with more than that. Making sure you don't have too much left over is just a matter of practice. After I put new strings on, I do stretch them a bit by pulling them up away from the fretboard. Some people will tell you not to do that because it will deform the strings. Just another conflicting set of facts to add to the string changing encyclopedia.

Just cut off the excess string lengths after each installation and leave them on the carpet for the cats, they will find hours of enjoyment playing with the parts and it saves you the pesky trip to the garbage can.

02-23-2014, 03:23 PM
Lots of great videos actually "show" you how to change strings: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=installing%20ukulele%20string s&sm=3

and pre-stretch them: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=pre%20stretching%20ukulele%20 strings&sm=3

I pre-stretch a little, but mostly, I leave the uke out for the first several days and retune it every time I walk past it...usually 6 to 8 times a day or more. Usually takes 3 or 4 days before you can play a bit without constant retuning. Some strings worse than others.

02-23-2014, 03:36 PM
Pre-stretching strings is not uncommon, but can cause a bit of controversy. Apparently, with some brands it can cause unevenness, and lead to intonation issues.

In my experience, gentle hand-stretching can dramatically reduce the hideous out-of-tune settling time that comes with a string change.

For the record, I've also been known to do the controversial "pull at the twelfth fret" stretch to help settle strings faster. ;)

02-23-2014, 04:14 PM
This is an old issue with nylon strings. They settle a LOT. Willie Nelson, who plays a nylon string guitar, has a great method of pre-stretching strings. If he breaks a string in concert he can't just put on a new one. It will be settling during the rest of the show and never quite be in tune. He keeps a junk guitar tuned up to pitch with a set of new strings. If he breaks one, he just takes one off of the junk guitar. It is already stretched to length and will settle much less after being put on the good guitar.

02-23-2014, 04:22 PM
The "good" guitar is a matter of perspective when talking about Willie. He's been playing that one with the big hole broke in the top for years, I haven't seen him lately but if he's still clinging to that one, I would say he's taking the string off the good guitar and putting it on the junk one! :)

02-23-2014, 04:38 PM
Thank you for your posts. I stretched and pulled between both hands, kind of like with a monofilament fishing leader. With the Nylgut I noticed stretch, and I am not a large man with apparent hand strength; I have city hands, as they say.

I will think twice on whether to do this again, reading the comments above on intonation issues through uneven strings.

The uke has geared tuners. I tied strings into bridge first in manner of classical guitar and then secured them on pegs. It seems like there is not much peg to wing on until the Nylgut fills the peg -- to where I'd be wrapping over the strings. I noticed this ... before ... I replaced the factory installed strings. With the slot-head uke, of course, there is so much more space!

I appreciate the input. I get the ideal that stretching strings is kind of a "why would you do that?" activity.



02-24-2014, 11:03 AM
I noticed there is limited amount of space on pegs for strings, so I stretched out Nylgut strings by hand the best I could --- before putting on uke. I thought this would ease tuning/stretching period and allow more space on peg for future tuning.

Is there any downside to this? Do others do this before stringing up?



Gene, one of the issues with stretching is applying pressure to different parts of the string. The method you noted doesn't really do this. As an alternative please consider the method used by Joel of Hawaii Music Supply. The video is about how HMS sets up their ukes - the stretching part is near the end:


Note how he runs the pressure point up and down the string from end to end, then finally tunes it up. When I'm in a hurry, I'll tighten the tuners carefully until the pitch change slows down, then do the Joel stretch and repeat.

Still if you have the time (and those of us with UAS should) just tuning up a bit several times a day over three or four days (as mentioned already) is a good idea. Good luck...

02-24-2014, 11:09 AM
If you have ever loosened a string after tuning it up, you may have noticed the need to let the string re-settle in.
There is an elasticity to strings, so I doubt pre-stretching would accomplish much.

02-27-2014, 07:18 AM
I tune the strings high when I put them on. If tuning to the "standard" GCEA, I will initially tune up to ADF#B (It doesn't have to be exact) when I leave it. With completely new strings left overnight, they will be quite close to GCEA. There is still a settling in period but it is much shorter.

02-28-2014, 02:27 AM
Stretching strings before they go on the uke, or when they are on the uke is a dangerous business. People yanking at strings is likely to cause dead spots and tuning issues, and those same people then claim the instrument or the strings are at fault.

If I am swapping during a gig I will do it as I need to get up to speed quickly, but generally dont. Perhaps some little pinches down full length of the string, or tuning over half a step overnight, but nothing much more really

I find the best way to get strings to settle quickly is put them on, tune them up then thrash the hell out of the uke for ten minutes and repeat.