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Thread: Help a newbie to change strings for the first time

  1. #1

    Default Help a newbie to change strings for the first time

    Hi,

    I just got my new KA-ATP-CTG-CE from Mim a week ago, and Mim also helped to install Worth BT Brown strings. I've been really happy with it.

    However, today when I started to tune it (they are out of tune in like less than an hour, I guess that's normal for new strings?), the A string was broken. Then I watched some changing string videos, and I feel that' not that complex. So I'm thinking of changing strings by myself (also I think I need to gain these skills anyway). But I still have some questions:

    1) My experiences with uke is just less than one year. I'm still not that confidence that I can do it perfectly. Do you think I'd better reach out to a luthier in person to learn it first?
    2) Do I need to change the A string only or it's better to change the four together?
    3) Is there any recommendation on stores that sell strings?
    4) Any recommendation on tools? Like the "Planet Waves String Winder & Cutter" by Andrew in his video.
    5) Any tips for a newbie like me?

    Thanks a lot!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    2,430

    Default

    The video below is the best one I know for changing strings on ukuleles. It's easy to do, just intimidating the first few times. There is no need to pay a luthier or a guitar tech to change strings. It's something you'll regularly do and it's a skill you want to have. It may take you an hour or longer the first time, while repeatedly re-watching the relevant section of the video, but eventually you'll do it in much less time. I'm not a very "handy" person, and I dragged the first string change out far longer than was good (I should have experimented with strings sooner, it might have saved me a couple of instrument purchases! Ukes can sound so different with different strings.) Other than a tuner and scissors, you don't need tools.

    I'd change all four strings. This way, they will all be the same age and have the same wear. It is not normal that a string breaks, though. Did you accidentally tune it an octave higher than it should be? That would easily cause the string to snap.

    Last edited by Mivo; 06-27-2018 at 09:51 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    West Sonoma County, Commiefornia
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    96

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jo3x View Post
    Hi,

    I just got my new KA-ATP-CTG-CE from Mim a week ago, and Mim also helped to install Worth BT Brown strings. I've been really happy with it.

    However, today when I started to tune it (they are out of tune in like less than an hour, I guess that's normal for new strings?), the A string was broken. Then I watched some changing string videos, and I feel that' not that complex. So I'm thinking of changing strings by myself (also I think I need to gain these skills anyway). But I still have some questions:

    1) My experiences with uke is just less than one year. I'm still not that confidence that I can do it perfectly. Do you think I'd better reach out to a luthier in person to learn it first?
    2) Do I need to change the A string only or it's better to change the four together?
    3) Is there any recommendation on stores that sell strings?
    4) Any recommendation on tools? Like the "Planet Waves String Winder & Cutter" by Andrew in his video.
    5) Any tips for a newbie like me?

    Thanks a lot!
    1) you should do it yourself
    2) that is up to you. I buy my strings in bulk, so if I break one, I replace one. but if they are aged, replace them all, it is fun.
    3) they are on amazon.com and a million other online shops. If you have a local spot, check them first.
    4) you can get winders and cutters but you don't need them.
    5) watch this video https://youtu.be/kyv7uOiXsbM and have fun.
    They call me Mister Sweetie.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Posts
    1,497

    Default

    Here are my answers:

    1) No, I think you'll manage just fine, particularly with the video that Mivo provided.
    2) I'd change all 4 for the same reasons as Mivo.
    3) I've bought from Uke Republic, Strings by Mail, and Daniel Ho (PHD strings), and all of them have been great.
    4) I've used pliers with a wire cutting attachment and even nail clippers to cut strings. You shouldn't need a specialist tool. A string winder is handy because without it you will be winding forever if you have geared tuners. They cost about $2. If you have friction tuners, you won't need it, though. Also, be careful that the winder doesn't scratch your headstock. I accidentally scratched the headstock of my favourite uke because I wasn't careful enough.

    I also second what Mivo said about making sure you don't tune an octave high.

  5. #5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Mivo View Post
    The video below is the best one I know for changing strings on ukuleles. It's easy to do, just intimidating the first few times. There is no need to pay a luthier or a guitar tech to change strings. It's something you'll regularly do and it's a skill you want to have. It may take you an hour or longer the first time, while repeatedly re-watching the relevant section of the video, but eventually you'll do it in much less time. I'm not a very "handy" person, and I dragged the first string change out far longer than was good (I should have experimented with strings sooner, it might have saved me a couple of instrument purchases! Ukes can sound so different with different strings.) Other than a tuner and scissors, you don't need tools.

    I'd change all four strings. This way, they will all be the same age and have the same usage. It is not normal that a string breaks, though. Did you accidentally tune it an octave higher than it should be? That would easily cause the string to snap.

    Thanks a lot Mivo! Now I've got more confidence encouraged by your words.

    Yes, I also suspect it was because I tuned it an octave higher. I start thinking of buying a tuner that shows octave info. The built-in one doesn't have octave info.

  6. #6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Sweetie View Post
    1) you should do it yourself
    2) that is up to you. I buy my strings in bulk, so if I break one, I replace one. but if they are aged, replace them all, it is fun.
    3) they are on amazon.com and a million other online shops. If you have a local spot, check them first.
    4) you can get winders and cutters but you don't need them.
    5) watch this video https://youtu.be/kyv7uOiXsbM and have fun.
    Thank you Mister Sweetie!

    I'll do it myself encouraged by you guys.

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by robinboyd View Post
    Here are my answers:

    1) No, I think you'll manage just fine, particularly with the video that Mivo provided.
    2) I'd change all 4 for the same reasons as Mivo.
    3) I've bought from Uke Republic, Strings by Mail, and Daniel Ho (PHD strings), and all of them have been great.
    4) I've used pliers with a wire cutting attachment and even nail clippers to cut strings. You shouldn't need a specialist tool. A string winder is handy because without it you will be winding forever if you have geared tuners. They cost about $2. If you have friction tuners, you won't need it, though. Also, be careful that the winder doesn't scratch your headstock. I accidentally scratched the headstock of my favourite uke because I wasn't careful enough.

    I also second what Mivo said about making sure you don't tune an octave high.
    Thank you Robin!

    I'll change all 4, despite they have an age of like 7 days.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    2,430

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jo3x View Post
    Yes, I also suspect it was because I tuned it an octave higher. I start thinking of buying a tuner that shows octave info. The built-in one doesn't have octave info.
    I use the "Tunable" app (available for Android and iOS) when re-stringing, just to make sure I'm in the right octave, then switch to the clip-on tuner for the fine-tuning within the octave. After a while, you'll also hear if you are reasonably close to the note.

    During my first encounter with friction tuners, I snapped a string because I had been used to geared tuners and I didn't realize that with fiction tuners you don't need to twiddle the knob nearly as much. Unfortunately, the knot of the snapped string also ripped out part of the already worn slotted bridge (it was a used uke) and I had to spring for repairs. It's the kind of thing you do once and then you know better the next time.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Upper Hale, Surrey/Hants border, UK.
    Posts
    6,295

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    Change one string at a time, bring it up to rough tune, do the next string, bring it up to rough tune, then the next, then the last. then bring them all back into tune again.

    You will need to retune for a day or two, then they should have stretched & will start holding their tuning.

    No tools needed, just coil the excess string into a small loop & tuck the ends through at the headstock tuners.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Catskill Mountains, NY
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    5,522

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jo3x View Post
    Hi,

    But I still have some questions:
    As the others have said, changing strings is easy enough, but it is a somewhat finicky job because you're dealing with small things in small spaces. It took me a while to learn the technique of wrapping the string around the tuning post - first over then under. Also, having one set of strings on hand is not enough. If you have to replace broken strings using the only set you have, then you have nothing in reserve. It's like have just one backup of your important computer files.

    I think it's funny that they sell winding adapters for an electric drill. I can see a use for that if you're doing this all day long, but not for one set every few months. I wonder how long the tuning gears would hold up while being turned at full speed by an electric drill. Let me put that on my To Do List.

    Strings are just about the cheapest item you have to buy for the ukulele. Imagine if you played a cello or a bass.
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!
    https://www.catskillukulelegroup.com/

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