The 9 Not-So-Ovbious Reasons Why Guitar Strings Break
As a guitar player, you most likely have experienced the breaking of guitar strings. Moreover, this usually happens at the worst possible moments when you probably are doing a live performance. So what causes guitar strings to break?
Normal wear is the most common cause why guitar strings break, and if your guitar strings break in the same position often, you need to have it checked. Usually, the most common cause of guitar strings breaking is irregular and abnormal wear of the strings in certain positions. Here are some of the most common reasons of why guitar strings break.
Rough fret edges
The fret edges should be the first place you look for a problem in case you realize that the guitar strings often are breaking at the same spot. Thus, if the spot where the strings are breaking is close to the neck, then a sharp fret edge may be the reason why you frequently experience this issue.
Additionally, if they break mid-way between the neck and bridge, you should carefully inspect the frets to see if you can see any blurred edges. After your guitar strings break, use the string’s broken edge to locate where it exactly happened before taking it out.
By simply examining the frets, you can quickly identify where precisely the string has broken hence helping you establish which fret edge is causing the damage.
Burred tuning pegs
If you notice your guitar strings often break close to the tuning posts, these tuning posts are most likely the reason why. Guitars seldom have burred edges which usually cause breakage after leaving the factory, but these burred edges can start forming as time passes.
To remove these burrs from your guitar, you should use a tiny and round needle to file the pegs carefully and following that up with really fine sandpaper.
Furthermore, you can use old wound strings, with a thicker one more preferable and work it in a circular motion through the string hole against the edges to smoothen the offending metal burrs.
Using the wrong strings
Deciding which string gauges you should buy can be confusing since especially if you still are an amateur. Guitar strings ordinarily come in different gauges and using them incorrectly can result in strings breaking.
It is crucial to ensure you always use the right gauge for a specific pitch which the guitar string is intended to be used. Therefore, making use of standard strings for alternative tuning causes the guitar strings to hold a greater amount of tension than they can handle, subsequently causing them to break.
To avoid this, always use guitar strings which are up to the task and by doing this, you will experience less string breakages.
The Nut Is Either Dirty Or Worn Out
Do your guitar strings often break close the nut? If so, the nut is most likely the cause of all these repeated ruptures. Guitar nuts usually break due to two main reasons, and these are;
- A worn-out nut
- Accumulated grime or dirt
If the guitar strings are breaking because of a worn-out nut, you should smoothen it out either using very fine sandpaper or a tiny file. Doing this will help get rid of the sharp edges which could have developed because of changing string gauges.
To prevent your guitar strings from breaking due to dirt, you need to clean the dirt that typically accumulates around the nut. You should do this when you are restringing your guitar, and by doing this, your guitar will remain clean.
Moreover, you should consider using nut lubricant or sauce when changing guitar strings as this improves your tuning stability.
The Bridge Is Too Sharp
The bridge is the most common suspect for the breaking of most guitar strings, and in other instances, strings tend to break around the guitar’s ball end. This is worse when you have tune-o-matic bridges plus in other cases, particularly when dealing with brand new guitars, the saddles tend to be too sharp.
If the bridge is the problem, use very fine sandpaper or a tiny file to smoothen the bridge where the string is positioned. You can also make use of a used string to rub the bridge to make it smoother, but this is not as effective as using a file or sandpaper.
The frequency which the guitar string has been tuned constantly tuning your guitar does not cause it any damage but might cause the guitar strings to get destroyed eventually.
This is because loosening and tightening the guitar strings often causes the tension strength to reduce, thereby making them more susceptible to breaking, and this is known as the fatigue phenomenon.
It is because of this that retuning or tuning your guitar strings frequently tends to be detrimental compared to not tuning them over a prolonged duration. Therefore, it is advisable to try stay in one tuning to keep your guitar consistent.
If you can afford it, a great idea is to have one guitar for a specific tuning that way you save the constant tuneup and time.
Tightening The Guitar Strings Too Much
Guitar strings are usually somewhat brittle and over-tightening them while you are tuning them can cause them to break. Tightening your guitar’s tuning pegs places more pressure on the strings, subsequently making them produce a greater pitch.
Most new guitar players make the common mistake of tightening the tuning pegs excessively especially on higher strings. Because of this, too much tension is placed on the guitar strings, consequently causing them to break.
An easy fix to this is to simply buy a guitar tuner and keep using it until you are comfortable to tune with your ear.
You Are Making Use Of A Thick Guitar Pick
Two main aspects of a guitar pick usually result in the quick wearing out and eventual breaking of the guitar strings. These two aspects are sharpness and thickness of the guitar pick. The use of bulky and sharp picks in some cases lowers the lifespan guitar strings.
Some guitar players sometimes prefer heavier picks because it allows them to place more force on the strings thereby get more tone from them. Nevertheless, doing this puts too much pressure on the guitar strings and might cause them to break.
Furthermore, guitar picks wear out faster when using thicker guitar picks, thereby causing them to have dents and nicks. As time passes, this continuous wear on the guitar strings causes weak spots to show and these are the points that are more susceptible to breaking.
Thus, if you prefer playing thicker guitar picks, you should then plan to change your guitar strings more frequently as there is no other way around this.
Your Guitar Strings Are Ancient
Guitars just like wine get better the more they get older, but this, unfortunately, does apply with guitar strings. As your guitar strings get old, the intonation and tone change making the subsequent sound quality horrible to listen to.
Your accumulated dead skin usually cause this, in addition with dirt, oils and sweat found naturally on your fingers and hands. All these factors combined, result in strings that produce a sound which is harder and duller to play as well as more prone to breaking.
If you want to avoid this problem, you should buy a brand new set of guitar strings, especially if the current ones are very old.
Consequently, you will get to experience a huge difference when playing the new strings since the tone is brighter and a joy to listen to. Additionally, new guitar strings are much easier on your fingers and stay in a tone much better.
You Are Bending The Guitar Strings Using The Wrong Technique Or Too Hard
Bending is a cool technique until the point your guitar strings start breaking as a result of it. This usually happens because you bend the strings using the wrong method or excessively.
Additionally, if you notice the strings often are braking at the same spot, it might be caused by a sharp edge or burr which leaves a weak spot on the guitar string.
Bending your guitar string at these weak spots makes it prone to breaking. Therefore, make sure you check the nuts, the fret as well as the bridge as these are the areas on the guitar string that often break.
However, guitar strings breaking due to bending only happens when using the B string or E string as these two are usually the guitar’s thinnest strings. If you often break these strings, you should then consider getting a gauge that is thicker since thicker strings can withstand higher tension thus less likely to break.
If you often are experiencing issues with your guitar strings breaking, you now have a better idea as to some of the common causes as to why this happens.
You also will save yourself the embarrassment of the strings getting damaged while you are performing since you will be able to notice the weak points in advance.
Additionally, if the damage repeatedly happens on the same spot, you should first address the underlying issue to avoid continually having to repair the guitar strings.
Having read this article, we hope you now are better-placed to know the cause guitar strings break and how you can avoid it happening frequently.