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Two weeks ago I spent a decent amount of cash and time replacing all the strings on my guitar. They were getting rusty and sounded dull. Since then I've been playing about two hours a day, all going well. But just yesterday the low E string snapped. Of course I could change it but isn't 2 weeks a too short time? Could it be something with my playing, my guitar, or the strings themselves?

FYI I had been playing 'Spit out the bone' by Metallica, which has a LOT of tremolo picking on the low E. This would have led to greater wear, tear and stress on that string, but is it still OK to be getting through a brand new string in 2 weeks? I'm mainly concerned because I'm 15 and there is only so much I can spend on buying strings, so being economical is important for me.

I would be really thankful if someone could tell me if wearing out strings this fast is normal, and how I can possibly increase their longevity.

  • Where along the string did it break? This can highlight whether a problem with the nut or bridge is the cause. Also, what kind of guitar are you using? – Bob Broadley May 27 '17 at 10:51
  • @BobBroadley I broke it along the place where the pickups are (where the plectrum hits) – Udit Dey May 27 '17 at 13:07
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Playing a couple of hours each day, guitar strings should last longer than 2 weeks. But, light gauge strings may not last as long as heavier strings, and vigorous playing may take a toll on these.

Sometimes when strings are replaced, you may not get a full wrap at the string post; this causes extra stress at the point where the string threads into the post, and this can break rather quickly. Or sometimes you may get a kink in the string during installation; this kink will be a weak point that may break sooner.

You can extend the life of your strings by wiping them down after every playing session with a clean rag; this will slow the appearance of oxidation on the strings, and keep them sounding more lively longer. If you have enough extra string wrapped around the posts, you can remove the strings and boil them to clean them. You may be able to do this once or twice, and it will make them sound remarkably brighter if they are starting to sound dead. It is a little tedious, but when you need to save money....

Of course, try to avoid kinking the strings each time you install them. Make sure that the strings are seated properly at the saddles, and make sure that you have good wraps at the posts. If you remove old strings and boil them, look for places where the strings are worn; strings with worn wrappings probably need to be replaced.

  • Why do you say thin strings won't last as long as eavier strings? I use .008s, which won't be as tight, thus under less tension, with more give. Can't remember the last one I broke, years ago, and on a couple of guitars the strings have been on for a year or two, not rusty, in tune, still very playable. – Tim May 27 '17 at 11:00
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    @Tim-- I haven't played on strings that light in a long time, but my recollection is that they did not handle wear from frets as well as heavier strings. Light strings never seemed to handle vigorous strumming as well as heavier strings to me. – David Bowling May 27 '17 at 11:08
  • I'd have thought heavier strings would wear the frets rather than vice versa! Never had problems with ultra-ultra-light gauge, used them for over 30 yrs. Perhaps I'm a bit kinder than some in my playing! – Tim May 27 '17 at 11:14
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    @Tim-- Not wearing the frets, but wear on the strings. Strings that have seen a lot of action get wear spots in the windings, sometimes wearing all the way through, at the frets. This also happens to unwound strings; less string to wear through on lighter strings. I am sure that breakage has to do with the player too. I use .013s on my archtop electric, and when I pick up a guitar with .008s, it feels like there is nothing there! – David Bowling May 27 '17 at 11:28
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    @Tim-- I guess I think that light strings are less forgiving than heavy strings as far as player technique is concerned when it comes to breakage. But the more important points wrt breakage in my answer were about proper installation, avoiding string kinks, etc. – David Bowling May 27 '17 at 11:36
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A lot more info is needed: make of guitar, gauge of strings, standard tuning? Type of pick, height of action, where along the string was the break. All relevant facts.

With so many unknowns, it could be a faulty string - I've known a couple from the same batch break as soon as they were up to pitch.It may be a sharp spot at the nut or saddle. It may be you could use some lighter strings. It could be that you need to tame your picking down to a frenzy. All guesswork till we have more info.

To stop strings rusting, wash hands before playing; wipe down after playing; store guitar in dry room; use fast fret or such like. Although it may just be your sweat reacts badly with the string material.

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Unless you are using a metal pick, there is no way that a low E should be snappable in 2 weeks of use.

So you must have had a faulty string, or had accidentally kinked it when installing it. Incredibly unlikely for that to happen again, so I'd suggest just fitting a new string.

  • Nope. Not using a metal pick. Using a D'addario Duralin 0.6 mm pick – Udit Dey May 27 '17 at 14:49
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Short answer with nothing much to substantiate my theory except experience, however...

Breaking strings at the picking point is a sure sign you're picking too hard & with a bad 'release' technique.
I'd guess way too much of the hard flat of a hard inflexible pick would be the worst for that. If you're too heavy on it, there's no forgiveness in the pick itself to compensate for your style of attack.

I'd drop to a lighter pick, I'd even go so far as to suggest a thin nylon pick, which are especially kind to strings - as that's an easier way of reducing the strike 'power' without having to relearn your technique overnight.

Long-term, I'd suggest re-learning your technique.

The first time you break a string during a gig will be the point at which it was too late to do either.

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