Guitar lessons for beginnersWhy Guitar Strings Break

Why Guitar Strings Break
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Many times, new guitarists purchase a guitar, take it home, and play it for months (or years), on the original set of strings. Then one day, they’re strumming along, and…snap!

Often, that first experience of breaking a guitar string can verge on the traumatic. Like something on the guitar itself has broken and is damaged.

The truth is, strings are meant to break. They have a limited lifespan and beyond that, can become fairly useless in terms of tone.

When a guitar string does break, it can be the result of a number of issues including age, gauge, brand, quality and mechanical problems.

Age

In the majority of cases, strings will break because they are simply too old. They have outlived their usefulness and they pop. One way to avoid this is to change strings with regular frequency. A casual player might change strings once a month, while a pro may put on a new set for each gig.

Gauge

In theory, you should be able to put any gauge, or thickness, of strings on any guitar. But the reality is that some gauges of strings are more suitable on a particular guitar than others.

This is because every guitar is different and unique in the way they are put together. As a result, a guitar might “feel” better with one gauge of strings over another. Some guitars just play better with a set of light gauge strings then they do a medium or heavy set, and finding the right gauge match for your particular guitar can reduce the amount of string breakage.

Brand

Everyone eventually gets used to a certain brand of string that they become comfortable with. Finding that perfect brand is largely a matter of trial and error for the guitarist – and comes down to personal preference. But it’s also the same for the guitar.

Your guitar may have its own “personal preference” of string brand, and you will find that, just like string gauge, one brand of string may last longer and play better than another.

Quality

We all want to save a buck, and sometimes that means trying some “off-brand” strings that are sold at a discount. Quite frankly, some of these are crap and will break so often that the hoped for savings end up costing more in the long run with more frequent string changes.

Mechanical Problems

When strings are breaking on a more than regular basis, it can often be an indicator of a mechanical issue with the guitar itself.

When this happens, pay attention to “where” on the string the break is occurring. If the string is consistently breaking at the bridge, then there may be a “burr” on the bridge saddle that is causing the break.

If it is breaking at the nut of the guitar then that could indicate that the nut groove is too tight and is “binding” the string causing friction.

Either way, an easy fix can be performed by a qualified tech at your local music store.

The main thing to understand about guitar strings is that they are not a permanent part of the guitar, like the bridge, tailpiece, tuners or nut. Strings are a useable product that has to be renewed occasionally – just like the oil in a car.

So if you’re still playing the original set of strings that came on your guitar, be prepared for a break at any moment – but better yet, go ahead and put on a fresh set.

Your fingers will thank you, your ears will thank you, and so will your guitar!

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