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I ended up breaking the high E string because using an electronic tuner and my ear, it clearly wasn't changing at all. Kept tightening the string and eventually it broke behind the nut. To look into this more I flattened the G and B strings and was wondering why the pitch wasn't changing. I looked behind the nut and see the strings are dangling while the portion of the strings that are on the fret board are as tight as before. The only thing that makes sense to me is that there is a problem with the nut, but I don't see how looking at it would help unless I took it apart...

The guitar is an Ibanez with a floyd rose.

enter image description here

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  • 2
    Do you have a locking nut? It's possible for strings to stick regular nut slots, but I can't imagine it sticking THAT much.
    – Edward
    Feb 9 at 2:48
  • @Edward I am not sure, there are three little pieces above the nut (that were loose and then the luthier fitted and tightened them so that they don't move at all). Also, the actual nut I guess has grooves where the strings go through too. He did a great job overall, and I have tuned them recently, but this time it just didn't work out I guess. I can't add photos at the moment due to email issues from my phone.
    – Derek Luna
    Feb 9 at 4:02
  • Do you know the make and model of the guitar? Does it have a vibrato bridge? (Whammy bar) Feb 9 at 5:16
  • 1
    when I started to read your post, I thought about the classic: "weird, the pitch hasn't changed, let me keep tightening the wrong string until it breaks" :) I have a guitar with a floyd rose, but it's tuned a semitone lower and each time someone holds it, they instantly try to turn the tuners and I have to rush telling them 'no no no, don't!'
    – Thomas
    Feb 9 at 11:06
  • 1
    @DerekLuna - when I set up a guitar, all the strings (not just half of them) will be locked. All or nothing. There's no point in locking half which actually may have been the case here.. But why, who knows?
    – Tim
    Feb 9 at 19:40
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The instrument in question is an Ibanez with a Floyd Rose tremolo system, which allows you to provide vibrato without changing tuning.

They have a locking nut, with three hex bolts holding the string in position. Once the nut is tightened, the tension between the nut and tuner is immaterial. It should hold tuning even when the string is broken.

For most Floyd Rose systems, there are fine tuners on the bridge that allow you to tune up without opening the locking nut.

ETA: Here is the site for Floyd Rose, which should have catalog pages which show both the versions with and without fine-tuners, as well as support pages which help with the care and feeding of your guitar bridge. Ibanez uses a variant, the Edge. I'm not sure the differences, both legal and technical, but they should be similar enough to get you through restringing and tuning.

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    The bridge is pretty far away in the photo, but you can just about make out the knobs on the fine tuners I think. Feb 9 at 17:18
  • @LevelRiverSt The picture in the question is not actually the asker's guitar, just one that looks similar. Though it may be useful to add a picture pointing out the fine tuners in this answer, in case someone does have the same type of Floyd Rose system.
    – Edward
    Feb 9 at 20:41
  • @LevelRiverSt the picture has been added to the question, not my answer, so this conversation might best go there. Feb 9 at 22:36
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If you want to tune the guitar using the machine heads, you need to loosen the three screws at the nut. They're holding the strings tight, which is why what you did happened. The top string you simply tightened from the nut to the machine head - no wonder it broke where it did. The other two, you loosened, but that only loosened them from machine head to nut. So they stayed at the same pitch.

Loosen off the nut, don't take off the bar though, just enough for the strings to slide through. Tune the guitar as normal then. There are usually some fine tuners by the bridge. Try to get those at about their central point. Tune, tighten the locking nut.

Don't touch the machine heads again, but any fine tuning can be done at the bridge end.

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