String Keeps Breaking

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String Keeps Breaking

Postby matthewlee » Mon Sep 15, 2008 6:40 pm

Got a problem of the mechanical variety with my acoustic guitar. It's not a great quality one, an Ibanez V70 to be precise. It cost me about £80 ($150-160).

Having recently discovered open/alternate tunings I've been messing around quite a bit with various tunings. The other week I broke a string when tuning my third string back up to G. I restrung it and the same thing happened.

I assumed this was because of my poor attempt at restringing the thing. I took it to a guitar shop and they restrung it for me properly, I think. Thing is, the exact same string broke again when I repeated the above mentioned process.

I noticed that the tuning machine seems to be loose/wobbly. It was making a clicking sound when I was turning it before the string broke. I also noticed that the nut isn't a snug fit to the head at the bottom end of the neck.

So, I've got a few theories. I need someone more expert to try and diagnose. Is it the strings that I'm using - I tend to use lighter gauge strings? Is it the tuning machine? Is it a problem with the nut.

Any help much appreciated
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Re: String Keeps Breaking

Postby rustyslide » Mon Sep 15, 2008 10:18 pm

Where is the string breaking? at the machine head (tuning peg), the nut, between the peg and the nut, the saddle, between the nut and the saddle, or where it goes into the guitar?

They all point to (slightly) different causes.

Just to rule out the obvious, but is your tuner broken or your interpretation of it mistaken? if you try to tune the string too high, it is going to snap no matter what.
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Re: String Keeps Breaking

Postby ricochet » Tue Sep 16, 2008 3:20 am

Many tuners feel a bit sloppy without string tension on them. I'd bet the "clicking" just before the string broke was the string hanging in the slot in the nut and slipping as the tension got really high on the segment between the nut and tuner. It often makes a "PING" sound. The third string is most susceptible to this sort of breakage. Turning the tuner without the string's pitch going up always means this is happening. You can lift the string a bit at the nut with your finger to relieve pressure on the nut and help the string tension to equalize. Lubricating nuts as we've been discussing in a nearby thread helps with this, and especially if you've installed heavier gauge strings, you may need to open up the slots a bit. "Sawing" a string back and forth in the slot is often all you need to do to loosen the slot so the string won't bind (then lubing it, of course.) Make sure when you do this that you pull the string at about the angle it makes going to the tuner.
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Re: String Keeps Breaking

Postby matthewlee » Tue Sep 16, 2008 5:34 pm

The string is breaking from the machine head.

I'm not particularly technically minded, I don't have a head for stuff like this.

There's a small guitar repair shop a reasonable distance from me so I'll take it in there and see if they can figure something out. However, I don't want to look a fool by taking it all that way to discover it's something I'm doing as opposed to a mechanical problem.
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Re: String Keeps Breaking

Postby grady » Tue Sep 16, 2008 6:51 pm

When you change between tunings often, the G String will break at the Machine Head.

What I'm wondering is,

What brand and size strings are you using ??

I had the same problem once. I was using 13's.
I switched to 12's and the problem went away.

Also, some brands of strings are less flexible than others.
I find Martin, GHS and some other brands to be way too stiff.
Whereas, D'Addario strings seem to be the most flexible.
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Re: String Keeps Breaking

Postby matthewlee » Tue Sep 16, 2008 9:07 pm

grady wrote:When you change between tunings often, the G String will break at the Machine Head.

What I'm wondering is,

What brand and size strings are you using ??

I had the same problem once. I was using 13's.
I switched to 12's and the problem went away.

Also, some brands of strings are less flexible than others.
I find Martin, GHS and some other brands to be way too stiff.
Whereas, D'Addario strings seem to be the most flexible.


I asked the chap in the shop to put Martin 13s on. Whether he did or not I'm not sure as he had a packet of 12s in his hand as I walked out the shop.

I think perhaps you are on to something. I had been messing about with different tunings quite frequently. Perhaps the stuff with the machine head and the nut are just red herrings.
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Re: String Keeps Breaking

Postby grady » Wed Sep 17, 2008 5:18 am

If you're using 13's, that's definitely the problem.
Like I said, I had the same problem once.
I switched to 12's and that solved it.
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Re: String Keeps Breaking

Postby rustyslide » Wed Sep 17, 2008 1:39 pm

grady wrote:If you're using 13's, that's definitely the problem.


The size of the strings is unlikely to be the problem in and of itself; I use .013s on my flattop and change tunings all the time, with no problems. If going down a gauge removes the problem, then the strings were probably binding in the nut, causing extra strain while tuning.
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Re: String Keeps Breaking

Postby leftyguitarman » Wed Sep 17, 2008 3:38 pm

I'd be willing to bet that it's the string gauge. I'd try what Ric recommended about "Sawing" the string in the nut. I had the problem when I put 13's on my Les Paul and changed tuning often, or when I would bend the G string. I've since switched to 10's (D'Addarios, which I'm convinced are the only strings worth using) and haven't had a string break in over a year.
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