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I have a takamine g350 acoustic-electric guitar (not that it really matters for this quesiton), and my strings tend to break every two or three weeks. I do like to experiment with different tunings, so I'm tightening and untightening the strings constantly. Also I think my fingers are very acidic, and my strings corrode seemingly very quickly (little brown spots, rough.... sound like corrosion?). Is there any type of string I can use/techniques I can put into practice that will help with the breaking of my strings?

Thanks!

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Big question is: where are the strings breaking? If it is the retuning, the break should be at the tuner and acid finger should not be an issue. Either way, strings should last you much longer. –  VarLogRant Jul 30 '12 at 10:40

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

There are many possible breakage vectors, and where the string breaks is a good indicator of your problem.

If the strings break at the tuner or maybe at the nut, then this is an indicator that metal fatigue is killing your strings. It'll be a while at $6-10 a string set makes it worthwhile to have a second guitar for alternate tunings, but it might be something to think about. Related question: Is the string that breaks most often a G B or E string?

If the string breaks at the bridge, then you have a burr on the bridge or something, and this would take a luthier to fix. From your description, that seems unlikely but possible.

If your strings break somewhere in the middle, like over the soundhole, that's looking at something else.

I really think your acidic hands have little to do with your string breakage, but acid hands are a known phenomenon and can have an effect on string life. This has been discussed here before and there are many high-quality brands of coated strings.

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The string that breaks most is the G. In fact, it's pretty much the only one that breaks regularly. I'll check out the link, I'm thinking that' most of the issue here. It's breaking right at the tuner every time, and there's nothing sharp at all (at least from what I can tell) –  nathpilland Jul 31 '12 at 15:33
    
The core of a G string is often as light as the E string or lighter. I used to have problems with the G string for another reason. Being the G string and breaking at the nut, I'm definitely thinking this is a metal fatigue issue. If you're going through strings like that, I'd think twice about going to Elixirs or other coated strings. In the short term, you can get a bunch of strings the same gauge as your wound G and keep from having to swap out the whole set every two weeks. –  VarLogRant Jul 31 '12 at 18:27
    
Well that explains a lot... I'll keep this in mind. Thanks! –  nathpilland Jul 31 '12 at 20:16

If you're changing tuning frequently, then it's possible that the breakages are due to the repeated bending of the strings up near the tuning pegs; just like breaking a paper clip by bending it back and forth.

I try to minimize the tuning changes by organizing my practice time like

  • Day 1: standard, then, open-G
  • Day 2: open-G, then standard and so on.
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This is how I practice when I do change tunings frequently, but this is definitely a good point. Any tips on strings that might help with corrosion? –  nathpilland Jul 27 '12 at 22:04
2  
@nathpilland Check the other questions here about string breakage. Many people recommend 'coated' strings. I recommend a less-reactive metal for the wrapping (nickel). –  luser droog Jul 28 '12 at 4:07

If you still have the stock plastic saddle and nut, have a luthier replace them with something more 'slippery'. There are several choices like graphite or bone that significantly reduce friction on those stress points.

Wiping down the strings with a clean cloth is a common way to maintain strings. Give them a quick pass with the cloth every couple of songs. If they are dirty beyond cleaning with a cloth, they should be changed.

You don't mention how often you change the strings. I put a fresh set before any gig or every 10-20 hours of playing whichever comes first. This is probably the best way to keep your strings clean.

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I'll try this. Maybe it well help my strings last a little longer. Typically I change the strings when they sound dull or if one breaks. This is usually around 20 hours of playing from what I can accurately guess. Also, how much would a new bridge cost like the one's you mentioned? Bone sounds expensive (but awesome) –  nathpilland Jul 31 '12 at 15:34
    
@nathpilland If you find yourself a local luthier, they will be able to give you accurate pricing. I would assume a setup would be between $50-$75, That should include saddle and nut work/adjustments. If you buy a new saddle and/or nut, the luthier should only add a little bit to the labor cost. Bone is not as expensive as you might think. [link] allparts.com is a good place to price out parts. Many luthiers will order their parts directly from allparts anyway. EDIT: Looks like a bone saddle can be had for under $10. –  B0nk3r Jul 31 '12 at 17:08
    
I looked on the website, bone seems to be cheaper than the others. Is there a reason for this/are the others (graphite, tusq, etc.) better in any regards? I don't mind spending an extra $5 to get something that is higher quality –  nathpilland Jul 31 '12 at 17:54
    
@nathpilland Anything but plastic is fine. Some players claim to hear or feel the difference between materials. It's really a personal preference. Bone is traditional. Plastic is the new standard material that is put on less expensive guitars. Graphtech, tusq, etc... are all good quality and there is no reason to think one is better than the others. I prefer bone on my acoustic guitars. –  B0nk3r Jul 31 '12 at 19:12

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