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.
Peghed Tuner Installation
Professional installation is strongly recommended. Please read instructions completely before starting.
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. The outside diameter of the thread tapers from approximately .305” to .318” (8mm) and the overall length is about 2” (51mm). They are designed to thread into a 5/16” (.312”dia.) tapered hole. (Bass pegs measure .375” to .400”)
For proper fit, the existing tuner holes in the Fluke and Flea ukuleles need to be slightly enlarged. Holes must be reamed or filed to a maximum of .323” dia. tapering down to the existing .312” (Timber Bass pegs require a .375” hole, tapered with cello reamer) Dry fit the peg by screwing it in and out until it penetrates close to the proper depth. We usually try to install to a depth where the threaded housing is flush with the inside of the headstock.
A medium or high viscosity (toughened) super glue works best. Check the fit by screwing the peg in gently and removing it. Then apply glue to the thread and screw in carefully but quickly.
Do not use pliers for installation - the body is thin anodized aluminum that scratches easily. Do not use the knob as a handle when tightening. Grasp the shank with a piece of rubber or leather to improve grip. There is no need to over tighten, just screw in until the taper binds in the mounting hole.
The internal mechanism is designed to brake more fully when the pegs are lightly pressed in while rotating, and turn more freely while the peg head is gently pulled outwards. This allows adjustment of the friction and braking force.
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.