General Ukulele Care and Maintenance
New Instruments – Tune frequently! New nylon strings will stretch for a few days depending on how often it is tuned and played.
Tuners – Keep them tight. Using a Phillips screwdriver at the end of each tuner, tighten until the tuner just begins to get difficult to turn. As the seasons change and the wood dries, tuners may become loose preventing the instrument from staying in tune.
Storage and Environmental – Reasonable changes in temperature and humidity should not affect the instrument. Storage in a temperature/humidity-controlled environment is not necessary as long as extremes are avoided. Prolonged exposure to sunlight may fade some top finishes.
Cleaning – Use damp cloth with mild soap if necessary. General-purpose guitar polishes and cleaners are compatible. Most tops are finished with a water borne lacquer, some printed tops are polyurethane. Necks are finished with a tinted, catalyzed nitrocellulose lacquer.
String Replacement – Replace strings with those designed for your scale length. Small gage strings must be double knotted or figure 8 knotted to prevent slipping through the bridge. Twice through the hole and two or more turns around the tuner will suffice to keep the string from slipping. Pre-stretching or tuning to higher than the recommended pitches is not recommended. Wound metal strings are not recommended for use with molded poly fingerboards.
Straps – The Flea soprano has a loop at the base of the neck – simply pass a chord or thin strap through and knot to size. A strap can be attached to the Fluke by adding a self-stick hook and loop patch to the bottom or back and then tying the other end to the open headstock. Traditional strap hooks can also be added.
Fret Markers – Additional fret markers can be added to the fingerboard by painting with either automotive touch up paint or nail polish on the top or side of the fret board. We offer optional inlayed side markers on wood fret boards.
Fingerboard Wear and Replacement – Nylon strings should not wear the molded polycarbonate fingerboard however if it shows wear at any time, it may be returned for replacement. If wound strings are used, such as ‘low G’ sets, a hardwood fingerboard is highly recommended. Because of the special glue required to bond the polycarbonate to the maple neck, we do not recommend unauthorized repairs.
Replacing Uke Strings
Any brand nylon ukulele strings will work, as long as they match the scale of the instrument. Generally nylon uke strings last a long time however if thin spots, roughness, or poor intonation is noticed, the strings should be replaced.
Replacing one at a time will allow you to copy how the others are done and make sure the get the different gauges in the correct order.
Knot the bridge end – double knot or figure 8 knot for smaller G and A strings to prevent slipping through the slots on the bridge. Needle nose pliers work well for pulling knots tight and wire cutters or scissors for trimming, leaving about ½” beyond the knot.
Pass twice through hole in tuner and adjust slack such that you have at least 3 to 4 full turns on the peg (when up to pitch) with the string winding toward the head stock supporting the peg.
Try not to exceed pitch when tuning and remember all new strings will stretch for a few days requiring constant tuning until they stabilize.
Installing a Low G String
Any low G will likely require opening up the slots in the saddle and bridge. The Fremont fluorocarbons are slightly smaller in gauge then nylon but the low G is still larger than the high G nylon. If you have a thin file a V groove can be filed into the nut slot or it can be opened up with a piece of folded sandpaper. It will take some time and you might want to mask the wood above the nut to avoid scratches. The goal is for the string to rest fully on the zero fret with the slot in the nut just big enough to guide the string and hold it in place. The string should pass thru the nut freely. If you have the opposite problem with the slot too wide causing the string to click back and forth while playing, you can pad the slot with a piece of tape or slip a small plastic sleeve from a piece of wire over the the end and in the slot to take up the room. Similar to the sleeves used on violin strings to protect the bridge. The slot in the bridge on the uke may also need to be opened up which will require sanding wider with a folded piece of sandpaper. Again its best to mask the wood around the bridge to avoid scratches. The string can be snug in the slot but should seat fully to the bottom of the slot.
Peghed Tuner Installation
Professional installation is strongly recommended. Please read instructions completely before starting.
Our standard uke and violin peg is 1.83” (46.5mm) long and the outside diameter of the thread tapers from approximately .310” to .330” (8mm). They are designed to thread into a 5/16” (.312” to .315”) diameter tapered hole. Pegheds sets include both right and left hand threads. The right hand thread is for the bass side (strings 3-C and 4-G), and the left hand thread is for the treble side (strings 1-A and 2-E). They should thread into the neck in the direction that lowers the pitch of the string.
If your soundboard develops a concave "belly" do not be alarmed
Tops distort because of the constant string tension creating torque on the bridge usually creating a belly between the bridge and sound hole. There is a fine line between over building the top with thick wood and heavy bracing - this results in a very durable and stable instrument but will compromise sound quality with a restricted top. The solid koa wood is most unpredictable since the grain is so variable, with the more pronounced and irregular grain tops showing the most distortion. Over time the instrument should stabilize and in most all cases, the action and intonation are unaffected.