How to Restring Your Ukulele

How to keep your uk' playing like new.
Tayler Tayler (34)
Total time: 20 minutes 

So, after many days of strumming away at your ukulele, the strings finally bit the dust. It happens to everyone with a string instrument. Fortunately for ukulele players, that day is usually few and far between due to the durable nylon strings that most ukuleles come strung with.

That day, however, does come for all ukulele players, but it doesn't have to be intimidating. With this guide, we'll walk you through the steps of restringing a classic tie bridge ukulele. First thing's first...

How to decide if your strings need replacing

If you're unsure of whether or not your strings need to be replaced, a sure way to tell is by the appearance. Strings that are worn and played often will begin to fray, usually along the fretboard. Old strings also lose the ability to hold tune over time, resulting in a duller overall sound.

Grab your ukulele, a new pair of strings, and a pair of scissors, and let's get started!

Note: These steps are specific to ukuleles. If you need to restring your acoustic guitar, please follow our guide for that.

Scissors ×1
Replacement ukulele stringsReplacement ukulele strings ×1

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Ukulele strings are relatively inexpensive, as they're made from nylon or nylon-like material like fluorocarbon, both of which stand up against the oils and grease on your fingertips.

Most strings come with a ball on the end to help with the installation process. They're not necessary, but they do help, especially if you're not used to restringing ukuleles.

These are the exact strings I'm using in this guide and the ones I recommend you use too!

Unwound ukulele strings

In order to give yourself enough slack to finagle the strings from the tuning pegs, you have to rotate the keys in the same direction that you wind them to make your strings flat.

For the tuning keys on the left of the headstock, rotate toward you.

For the tuning keys on the right of the headstock, rotate away from you.

A nude ukulele.

With your string unwound, you'll be able to gently pull the string from the tuning peg.

The only thing connecting your string to your ukulele is the bridge near the base of the instrument.

Ukulele strings unwound
After some finagling, I managed to get these knots undone!

With enough slack in your string, you'll be able to safely untie the knot connecting your string to the bridge.

It's important to work gently here to avoid damaging the bridge. If your string gets stuck, gently wiggle it from side to side until you're able to tug it free.

Untying the knots can be difficult for a tie bridge. Try not to rely on scissors to remove them because a small slip can damage the body of your ukulele, bridge, or saddle. Have patience here and work carefully.

Repeat these steps four times until you have a nude ukulele.

*Now that your strings are off, it's the perfect time to wipe down your ukulele.

Threading ukulele strings
I cut the ball tip from the string after threading it through the bridge.

Each string will be either color-coded or in different packets, so you'll know which one is which. From left to right, the strings for standard tuning are G C E A.

In the case of these Ernie Ball strings, they're organized by 1, 2, 3, and 4. The numbers correspond with the following strings:

Ernie Ball Number String
1 A
2 E
3 C
4 G

Take your string and work it through your bridge hole. Once it's through, leave around three inches for yourself at the bridge. The rest of the string will be attached at the other end of the ukulele with the tuning pegs.

Ukulele strings
Note the strings tied to the bridge. Feel free to trim excess string once everything is in place!

Once threaded through the bridge, take the short end and fold it back up over the bridge. Fold the short end of the string underneath the long piece right against the bridge. Then, wrap the short end of the string around the loop you've created.

Repeated this two more times, until the short end of the string is wrapped around itself. From this point, you'll be able to just pull the rest of the short end until it's tight.

Make sure you pull it tight after each loop to make sure your string isn't wiggling around!

Repeat this step four times until all of your strings are tied against the bridge.

Ukulele tuning pegs
Here you can see the fourth string in the peg, ready for me to turn the key.

Run your string up the fretboard and thread the end through the tuning peg. Pull the string until you feel the resistance from the bridge.

At this point, I like to trim down the string a little bit before I start turning the tuning key. If you're trimming, make sure you leave at least an inch of slack.

From here, I like to pin down the string against the nut of the ukulele, which helps to ensure the string is in the designated groove of the nut.

Turn the tuner key until your string is taught. Repeat this step until your strings are attached to the tuners.

Feel free to trim down any excess string at your tuning pegs and your bridge.

Restrung ukulele
My little ukulele looking sharp with new strings!

With your new strings attached, you're ready to tune your ukulele!

You may find that your strings have trouble holding a tune after you restring your instrument. Don't worry - it takes some time for the strings to settle in. The strings will continue to stretch, meaning you'll probably find that you tend to run flat for the first week or so.

Once the strings reach their optimal stretching point, you'll find that they keep their tune longer.

With your ukulele restrung like new, you'll be able to enjoy brighter tones! Happy strumming!

Series: Ukulele Basics
Tune Your Ukulele
Show all in the Ukulele Basics series