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I have been playing guitar for 3-4 months and I use online tuning websites to tune my guitar. But last week, I broke a string while tuning the guitar. Then I went to shop and got new one. When I was tuning again, I broke another string again.

And now I am scared to tune my guitar. I ask others to tune for me. Its kind of tuning phobia. How to make sure that I don't break the string while tuning?

  • I agree with the folks who fear that you may be aiming an octave too high. BUT - if that proves not to be the case and you are breaking strings near the saddle (the white plastic or bone piece on top of the bridge that the strings rest on) then you may have a problem with the saddle having a sharp edge or the strings have cut a sharp groove that is now actually cutting your strings. If your strings are breaking near the ball ends and you suspect the grooves in the saddle might be cutting them, try putting graphite in the grooves to act as a lubricant. You can use a pencil lead to do this. – Rockin Cowboy Feb 9 '15 at 1:10
  • @berserk, I understand your apprehension -- but it may well just have been bad luck. However, Rockin Cowboy gives me the idea that it could be helpful to take it to a shop that specializes in guitars, for them to check out the saddle for you. – aparente001 May 9 '15 at 19:55
  • @aparente001 Well, actually it was not because of saddle. I guess I was too reckless that time while tuning. But after gaining some more experience, I am not breaking strings anymore. – berserk May 9 '15 at 23:56
  • @berserk, that's great. Are you ready to choose the answer you found the most helpful? (It could even be an answer you yourself write.) – aparente001 May 10 '15 at 0:13
  • yes, I have chosen the best answer there. I will also write one answer myself :) – berserk May 10 '15 at 9:23
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I feel your pain. This used to happen to me all the time when I started on the guitar. My problem was, even though I was using an electronic tuner / piano / pitch pipe for reference, I couldn't tell that I was way above the correct pitch - exactly what Meaningful says.

What helped me, besides just getting a better ear so I knew if I was around the correct register, was to get a feel for the tension of the string. Since you have others tune it for you, it might help to have it properly tuned, then bend the string some to get a feel for the tension. Then loosen the string so it goes flat, bend it some more so you can feel the difference, then using your tuner of choice, try to bring it up slowly to the correct pitch.

At least for me, after a while I had a good idea of how the string should feel when bending. It took longer for me to notice if I was actually above or below the target note on the tuner - that's ear training and an awesome thing to practice - ear training takes time but well worth it.

  • I will try this. By the way, is it possible that strings break frequently when get older? – berserk Feb 9 '15 at 1:10
  • That could be possible according to this article - www2.gibson.com/News-Lifestyle/Features/en-us/… – Mike Hildner Feb 9 '15 at 13:35
  • @berserk actually if you tune-up and tune-down a string rapidly, up down up down, the wire becomes brittle and can break. so after you adjust the tuning in one direction (like tighten tighten tighten) wait a little bit and let it settle, and begin very gently when you start (loosen loosen loosen) – sova Mar 19 '16 at 6:27
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It sounds like you are going over the intended pitch of the string, and end up aiming for an octave higher. This will break the string.

If you are sure the pitch is correct and the string still breaks, there might be something on your guitar that needs adjusting. Since it's an acoustic guitar this sounds less likely, since the saddles aren't of metal there. Where does the string break?

  • Its steel string. It was 3rd string (from bottom ofcourse) – berserk Feb 8 '15 at 15:30
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    Saying '3rd string (from bottom ofcourse)' in NO way clarifies your meaning. I typically use 'bottom' to mean the lowest 'pitched' string, but others use it to mean 'close to the ground when held by a right-handed player'. Plus when you say '3rd' string I assume you mean D, which is (by gravitational reasoning) third from the TOP. You may think I'm nit picking but it baffles me that people don't realize the confusion around this. Much like saying 'turn that screw/knob to the left' - it's not an unambiguous term. – Darren Ringer Feb 8 '15 at 16:22
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    @berserk - Was it the 3rd THICKEST, if so, it'll be called D. If it's the third THINNEST, it'll be G. Important , as that's how most people name them!! Bottom, as in nearest to floor, doesn't count!! Bottom, as in lowest sounding, DOES. – Tim Feb 8 '15 at 18:39
  • @Tim It was G string. – berserk Feb 8 '15 at 18:40
  • @berserk - Thanks, I know that! But - you called it 3rd from the bottom, and that ain't right. Sorry! – Tim Feb 8 '15 at 18:46
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I think you should invest in an electronic tuner which tells you if you should put it lower or higher right on the screen. The same thing happened to me when I was a beginner on the guitar.

The phobia always comes back when I tune the strings, but now that my ears know the right tone it's easy as cake.

Just keep practicing and try to get an electronic tuner, you'll get it, and once you do, the strings wont break anymore. Basically you're tuning it wrong.

  • Well, its not like I pitched it higher than it should be for standard tuning. Like it was G string and I was setting it to G. – berserk Feb 8 '15 at 15:30
  • trust me dude, you set it wayy higher than you should have. it happens to everyone. – Daniel Feb 8 '15 at 23:01
  • Alternately, you can simply get a tuning app, many of which are free. – congusbongus Feb 9 '15 at 1:24
  • If you want to buy a tuner app or otherwise, try to buy a tuner that register's the vibration or wave in the technical jargon that's more accurate if you have ambient noise from your surrounding. I write this to you from experience. – Nachmen Jan 1 '16 at 8:52
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Meaningful's answer is correct. Trouble with a lot of tuning sites, and tuners for that matter, they will identify a note by name, rather than by actual pitch. This can mess up beginners. The old fashioned (and tried and tested) method of 5th fret against the next string is a good, slower (maybe), but safer way to do it. You need to know about it, anyway, for when the battery goes flat in your tuner, or someone 'borrows' it!That way, you will hear if the pitch is close or nearly an octave out, hopefully before the string goes snap. Of course, as In the earlier answer, there may be a problem with the guitar - or it may have been a faulty string, rare, but still possible. If it occurs again, a trip back to the shop might be on the agenda.

  • I haven't pitched it higher than it should be for standard tuning. Like it was G string and I was setting it to G. – berserk Feb 8 '15 at 15:35
  • @berserk - what we mean is it could be a G note, but an octave too high. I've seen it happen too many times. If not - plan B - back to the shop! Was it G both times? – Tim Feb 8 '15 at 16:01
  • Once G and next time, it was B. – berserk Feb 8 '15 at 18:34
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For less experienced player, it may be difficult to judge if the string sounds lower or higher than required.

The guitar book I used long time ago recommended first to adjust the tone clearly too low first and then gradually increase the tension. I followed these instructions and, indeed, it never happened for me to break a string.

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When getting close to the right pitch leave the stings for a minute before tightening.

As tension increases, adjust tuning slower.

Don't pick while turning up on new strings.

Check tuning, mute, adjust, repeat.

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Have you changed strings in those 3-4 months? If not, the simple answer is that your strings are dead. Average working life for guitar strings is maybe 2 months if you're not playing hard. The most common reason for strings to break is that they're old and fatigued.

Don't ever, ever, ever, change a single string in isolation and leave all the old crappy ones on there. All your other strings are not OK - they're just a few days behind that first one in breaking on you, and they all need changing right now. You can make an exception if it broke in the first couple of weeks - in that case either the string was dodgy or something else (e.g. the bridge) is dodgy on the guitar. Otherwise change them all.

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Your strings could possibly be really old. It depends on how often you play and what strings you have, and some other factors. The probably old if they're not shiny, and they're not the right color, or they are a little rusty. It could've been that your strings were deteriorating, and it was just a matter of time before one broke.

  • Please note that Stack Exchange is not a discussion forum, so answers should focus directly on addressing the question. I've edited your answer a bit to do that. – Matthew Read Mar 19 '16 at 5:49

protected by Matthew Read Mar 19 '16 at 5:48

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