General Question

zarnold's avatar

Why does the same string always break when I tune/play my guitar?

Asked by zarnold (690points) June 24th, 2009

The G (4th) string of my guitar tends to break much more than the other strings of my guitar (I think this is the 4th time in a couple of months). Sometimes it happens while I’m tuning the guitar, and other times when I’m playing it. I’ve looked at ‘how to string a guitar’ guides online and I still can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong. Is there some common mistake people make? Thanks!

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22 Answers

phoenyx's avatar

self edit

DeanV's avatar

Is the action on that string any higher or lower than any of the other strings? Any fret buzz? Acoustic or electric?

Not going to make g string joke until a real answer is posted…

Tink's avatar

Is it put on too tight?
Edit: I think this is serious guys!

DeanV's avatar

It’s serious. It’s actually kinda common on some brands of acoustics.

Tink's avatar

Do you use the same brand when you replace them?

Harp's avatar

Is the break always at the same location? Where?

Tink's avatar

We need more details

DeanV's avatar

For immediate suggestions without any more information:

1) Use lighter gauge strings.
2) Change the bridge pin (on an acoustic)
3) Sand a little bit of the bridge by the pinhole (on an acoustic)

But don’t do them all at once.

WhatEvil's avatar

Could be that it’s tuned too high. If you’re not using a tuner of some sort and just tuning it so that all of the strings are matched to your low E, this has a tendency to creep higher and higher over time until the strings are so tight they’ll break easily. You could also have a rough edge on the nut or the bridge that needs sanding down.

Randy's avatar

Yeah, a little more info on your gear would be helpful in this situation. Especially things such as brand guitar and strings, any modifications that have been done to the bridge/tuning pegs/tail piece/nut, type of music you play/methods you use/types of picks and maybe even a step by step stringing process that you use. If it’s something your doing, I’m sure we can figure it out.

sandystrachan's avatar

What bridge do you have ? What guitar you have? what gauge string you use?
Chances are the little area the string and bridge meet is a little sharp , 0000 guage wirewool will work a treat same for if its at the tuning heads . If its at the nut depending the material you need to sand it a little and rub pencil lead in the grooves.

applesaucemanny's avatar

wait a second…you said G (4th string) the fourth string is actually the D string could that be it?

sandystrachan's avatar

@applesaucemanny Some people count the otherway if they don’t know much about guitar , or they have a bad teacher .

minolta's avatar

could be the peg, could be the bridge, or could just be bad strings.

Jack79's avatar

@applesaucemanny may have a point. G is the fourth string if you count them the way you’re looking at them (closest to furthest away) and it also makes musical sense (it’s the 4th as you go up the tones). If you put a string in that position that says “4” on the label, that will actually be a D, which is pretty weak to start with, and will break easily.

Ds are generally problematic, so even if you’re counting right and put the D on the 4th (counting “normally”, ie going up the guitar), it can easily break. Especially if you accidentally think it should be tuned as a G.

People have mentioned a high (or simply sharp) bridge. Does the string break there? Is it frayed? Or does it just snap?

Some strings also break at the key. When I restring a guitar, I always wind the string a few times around the key first, then put it in the hole. That gives the string some elasticity at that point, and it doesn’t break as easily. I hope you understand what I mean.

The next step is to actually pull the strings (really hard) and then tune them up to their tone (it doesn’t have to be exact, they’ll go out of tune in a second anyway). I pull them again, warm them up, play a few seconds, then pull at different points, then tune again. I repeat this process 3–4 times until the note stabilises. It’s also a way to check the string. If it’s going to snap, at least it will snap now and not during a concert. And it saves you from tuning after every song, which is what most people do with new strings.

I hope some of this helps, but start by checking you’re putting the right strings in the right place. Remember 1 is the really thin E that goes at the bottom, 6 is the thick bronze one at the top.

applesaucemanny's avatar

@sandystrachan true but, you’ll never know

zarnold's avatar

I’ve used martin medium, medium SP and light strings and all of them seem to have this problem. The guitar is a 4 year old Ibanez Artwood dreadnought (just acoustic). The string always breaks just below the key (not in the wound part).

Also, sorry for the confusion – it is the G string; I was counting from the low E up.

applesaucemanny's avatar

@zarnold oh okay
yeah I hate it when my g string snaps on me
how often does this happen?

DeanV's avatar

Yup. That’s what I kinda thought.

Try first using lighter gauge strings.
If that doesn’t work, switch your bridge pin.
If that doesn’t work sand down the pinhole a little where the string exits. But be careful with that. Don’t sand so much off that the pin pops out, though.
If that doesn’t work take it to an expert.

G strings (on guitars) suck because as big as the diameter is on the outside, the actual core wire is pretty thin. They certainly don’t last long when in contact with even a small sharp edge.

Jack79's avatar

oh also now that dverhey mentioned that, you can get Gs that are not wound, they’re just very thick steels. But they don’t sound as good after a while.

sandystrachan's avatar

My strings never snap , not on my Floyd rose, my kahler nor on my fixed bridge. It’s all to do with how i set them up , they could be the cheapest thinnest string and still not snap .
And they sound just as bright as the day they were installed , are you able to send a picture of the headstock and bridge ( strings on ) i will share with you the secrets! .

zarnold's avatar

@sandystrachan: cool, I’ll see about posting a picture then. Thanks!

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