How to Take Care of Your Ukulele
This may sound a little bit basic, but believe me, it’s not.
To take care of an ukulele it’s like taking care of any other instrument. So, you need to be careful with it, even if you have a cheap ukulele, take care of it and you will see that it will have a beautiful sound and look for many years.
Also, if you used to play other instrument, like a guitar or a bass, you will be good to go with the maintenance of your ukulele.
First thing first, if you are a musician that likes to be on the road, find a good, not decent, but really good case.
A good case will be one of the most important things for keeping your ukulele safe and without fear that it will break in case you drop it.
Personally, I would use a hard case, because it will give some nice style to carry your ukulele and of course will keep it completely safe.
Now, let’s check out the parts of your ukulele that will need more maintenance than the rest, and which other ones you will take care of from time to time.
1. Tuning pegs:
If you are looking to play for long hours, or to play live with this amazing instrument your tuning pegs must be in perfect condition.
Because like that you will not have to worry about it going out of tune in the middle of a song. It’s always good to remember that even if you take a very good care of your ukulele and the tuning pegs, it will go out of tune with time.
So, what you need to do to keep your tuning pegs working fine, it’s actually quite easy. First of all, keep it clean, but don’t clean it with a wet or rough old wipe. Gently clean them with a soft-dry wipe and try not to leave any cloth or little residues of the wipe.
Finally, always check that they are not getting out of tune so easily, if this happens, normally is because of three things, which are: you have old strings, you changed your strings recently or the tuning pegs are not so good.
If your case is the third one, don’t worry about it. Try to keep the gears well adjust, but not too tight, and they will perform regularly good. In case you are looking some good tuning pegs, I can recommend you to buy a normal two pair of ukulele pegs, you won’t need more than that.
Also, believe me, almost all normal price ukuleles have good enough pegs for you to use them and never change them.
2. Clean body and frets:
This is important not only for the look of your ukulele, but also for the sound.
When your ukulele has way too much dust, it will sound different and it will also be not so comfortable to play. We need to always think that our hands are always touching the body and frets of the ukulele.
So, if you don’t clean them, it will become sticky with time and nobody will want that. To clean it, you just need to be cautious of not being too rough.
You can also use some clean products that are special for instruments. My favorite one is “Dunlop 65”, it’s actually for guitars, but it will leave also your ukulele shining and feeling fantastic!
You will see that there are many Dunlop 65 products, so try to go for something that polishes the body of the ukulele and that it’s a little bit oily.
Oil will help you to move around the frets, so keep it always in mind when buying a cleaning product. Also, don’t use so much cleaning product, a little bit will be enough to keep it good as new.
3. Store your ukulele in a dry space:
Normally, an ukulele is made principally out of wood, and as any wood, humidity is a big enemy for it.
So, keep it simple, store your ukulele in a normal instrument stand. But don’t put it next to a window or a place you know there is a chance that it can get wet.
In case it gets wet, try to dry it as soon as possible so it doesn’t become damaged or some stains because of the humidity. What you can expect when steam gets in your instrument, it’s that the neck will bend, or some part of the ukulele will have some little deformity.
Because of it, let’s take precautions and avoid losing our favourite instrument for something like this.
It is good also to understand that changes with the weather or altitude will affect the wood, but it’s nothing you need to pay attention to.
4. Strings and when to change them:
Let’s go to the big part of your ukulele now. Because without this, your ukulele will not be able to make anything. The strings! beautiful as they are, strings of ukulele can last for a long time with some conditions, and these conditions are:
a) Clean your strings and don’t mistreat them.
How you can mistreat your strings?
If you pull them way too hard, eventually they will get damage. Play with energy and even make some awesome fingerpicking. Play normally not roughly.
b) Don’t lay things on your strings
It may sound weird, but I have seen it with my own eyes. Some people put cans or books on the strings of the ukulele.
This is not only bad for the strings, it is also bad for the ukulele. I’m pretty sure you have a little space (it doesn’t need too much space) for your ukulele. But in case you did it, don’t worry, it will still work, but it’s very possible that the tension of the strings has changed.
c) Buy good strings
Buy strings that are the perfect fit for your ukulele. Meaning that, you should buy strings according to the size of your ukulele. For example, normal strings for a soprano ukulele have an overall length of 21”.
Also, find some good made strings, not all ukulele strings are the same, sure they are made normally of the same material, that is nylon. But, from personal experience, there are some that work and last a lot more. Good enough, the ones that I can recommend, are good and cheap. These are: Martin strings and Aquila strings.
Both are really easy to find in any local music shop and online for a very good price.
Now, strings normally are change every few weeks when you play a lot your ukulele, or between two or three months. In my opinion? If you take the precautions I told you, you can play long sessions for 3 to 6 months without changing them.
Yes, you will lose some sound of the strings, but sometimes it will even gain a different sound not necessarily bad. It can give a retro style and this like “crunchy old strings” style. This also comes too with an old ukulele, and for me there is not better sound than the old strings sounds. I love it with the guitar and also with the ukulele.
Let’s cover now one of the most common questions:
Should I change my own strings or let somebody else with knowledge to do it?
I would do it by myself, maybe the first times it will not be a perfect job. But, at the end you will learn how to do it and maybe safe some bucks just for learning it.
There are plenty of tutorials on how to do it. Even with that, if you will unsure with your ukulele, or have the feeling you can make something wrong, ask somebody to help you out and watch so you can learn.
The last thing I can tell you about strings, if you lose one string, don’t change just the one that broke. Change the entire set, because a new string with some old ones will add a weird sound to your ukulele that you don’t want. It’s always better when you change strings, to change all of them.
5. Ukulele bridge:
Well, there is not so much to say about this one. But, if there is something to say, would be this. As the rest of your ukulele, keep it clean and try not to scratch it, the strings lay here and it can add a very unwanted sound if it starts to get too scratched.
It’s not a piece of the ukulele you will pay so much attention, because actually you don’t need to. Just always remember to clean it too and that the bridge is well adjust to the body of the ukulele.
At last, don’t be so afraid about your ukulele getting damaged. They are resistant enough, but with an amazing care, with the years you could even be holding an amazing retro instrument that still sounds beautiful.
Also, in case would happen to your ukulele, take it to your local music store and more than sure that they will know what to do. With that said, I hope you had enjoyed learning about taking care of your ukulele.