Take the 2-minute tour ×
Musical Practice & Performance Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for musicians, students, and enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I'm not sure if it's even possible for the string to break based on how it was installed. The only reason I can think of is that it was installed on a loose tuning peg, which it wasn't (I made sure to slightly tighten the extra-loose ones).

I'm a beginner guitar player, so the other issue that I can think of is that I'm playing incorrectly. The song I've been learning after re-stringing my guitar is "Layla" by Eric Clapton, which involves a lot of bending. I'm sure it contributed, but one week shouldn't be enough to break the string, right?

And I should mention that they are cheap strings: they're called "Ernie Ball" strings. However, I think they are the same kind that were already on the guitar when I got it about six months ago, and I haven't had to re-string the guitar until this one time (when the D string broke a few weeks ago).

Is this common? If not, what are some issues I should watch out for?

Thanks for taking a look!

share|improve this question
1  
Similar Question (It's about nylon strings, but we didn't know that at first.) –  luser droog May 2 '12 at 6:08
    
Could you please mention : - how many hours a day you play - where exactly your string broke at (near a fret ? at the end ?) - which E string is it about ? The 1st or the 6th ? –  Skippy Fastol May 2 '12 at 12:15
    
Sure: that week I played about an hour or two a day. The string broke near the thirteenth fret (where the bend is), and it was the high E string. –  Hassan May 2 '12 at 16:04
    
Sorry the "high" string was already in the title :). I would definitely put the break on a flawed string. Strings just do not break like this. Especialy in the middle ... where the bendling radius is at its lowest when you press or pull it. –  Skippy Fastol May 2 '12 at 16:05
1  
One broken string is not a pattern. Once you have to replace it a few times, should that happen, you'll get a sense of what the issues are. –  VarLogRant Oct 10 '12 at 22:21
show 2 more comments

5 Answers 5

up vote 10 down vote accepted

With a top E, there are a number of things which could do this, but the most likely if this is your first time stringing the instrument is that you damaged the string on installing it - for example if it slipped at all when you were tightening the tuning pegs you may have the part of the string that was on the edge of the peg now between the peg and nut - with tension on it this will be weaker than the rest of the string.

Alternatively, any sharp edge at bridge, nut or even a worn fret could do this. When you do the high bend, are you pressing hard, grinding it along the fret?

Or did you just tune it too high? Worth checking if you are new to this.

The thinner the string, the easier it is to snap - what gauge are you using? A .008 is quite weak, whereas a .010 is quite strong.

Ernie Ball strings are generally well regarded, so as long as they are new I'd be surprised if it was a string fault.

Have a look at where it snapped - this can help you diagnose the issue.

share|improve this answer
    
I don't think I tuned it too high, since I used my computer to tune it. However, I suspect you're right about the sharp fret. Yes, I do press hard on the string and push it up when I bend it. And it did snap near the thirteenth fret, where the bend is in that song. –  Hassan May 2 '12 at 16:07
    
running a soft pencil in the grove on the nut can help lubricate that safely. You can also get a fret burnishing tool. But given your diagnosis I'd be tempted to take it back to the shop, explain the problem, and ask them to dress the frets. –  dumbledad May 10 '12 at 7:18
add comment

Yes, there are issues involved in the way the guitar is set up and calibrated that can impact breaking strings.

But most importantly, beginning guitarists frequently break strings because they play with too much force. Don't worry. This requires practice. You need to develop enough technique to know how not to strike the strings too hard, and how to hold and use the guitar pick.

Second, there are many different gauges of strings you can purchase and put on your guitar. Lighter, thinner strings are easier to bend, but also easier to break. Many guitarists prefer heavier strings because they produce a stronger tone in addition to being more durable and harder to break. But they also require more strength in the left hand to make them bend, and you have to practice frequently to build up this strength.

Many professional electric guitarists put a complete new set of strings on their guitar every night. Most guitarists can't afford this (and it seems kind of wasteful). Some guitarists, particularly those that use the lightest gauge of strings, however, insist that the strings they play have to be new and bright all the time.

But everybody breaks strings every now and then, even the best of the pros with the best guitars.

You will always be subject to strings breaking. You should have an extra new set of all six strings with you at all times (maybe two sets), and you should get good at changing your own strings quickly. It's part of being a guitarist.

share|improve this answer
    
Awesome answer, thanks! –  Hassan May 2 '12 at 16:04
    
@Hassan : as all Wheat Williams answers ... He beats us all. –  Skippy Fastol May 2 '12 at 16:10
add comment

One issue to be aware of is what string gauge your guitar is setup for.

The first time I had to replace my strings, I bought medium gauge, thinking it didn't matter too much. I ended up breaking a string every 2-3 weeks for a while. I eventually figured out that the nut was the problem. It was setup for very light gauge strings, meaning the grooves were very narrow. It was putting too much stress on the medium strings, causing them to fatigue and break very quickly at that point.

I widened the grooves myself using a craft knife, and the problem went away (although the nut didn't look very good after that!) Using a more appropriate string gauge is arguably a better solution though, depending on the tone you want.

The reverse situation can cause the same problem as well. If the nut is setup for a considerably heavier gauge than you're using, then the strings can slide around sideways in the grooves and wear down.

share|improve this answer
add comment

You can buy 6 E strings in a pack as the 6th string, the E string is the easiest to snap. I have never broken any other string and I bend with the best. lol.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Sometimes strings just break-- whether they are brand new or a month old. Sometimes they break and others will last a year. A helpful tip would be to buy your strings by the two. Also, always remember you get what you pay for.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.