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I’ve been playing guitar for 30 years and probably haven’t broken a string for the past 20. However my G string consistently wears out much faster than all other strings; the wrap wears on the frets from bending and the tone and resonance of the string suffers noticeably. I’m not a frequent string changer, obviously, and actually prefer the tone of aged strings to that of fresh ones. Some times the wrap will actually break and the string will then buzz. Not optimal. Nowadays, when I start to feel little bumps over the frets of the G string, I know it’s almost toast, and I’ll change the whole set. Generally I use phosphor bronze 12s.

I’ve considered loading up on extra G strings, although I’ve never tried to buy single strings and I’m not sure how available they are. Plus I’m not sure how well the fresh G will sound next to the other aged strings.

Another consideration would be to use an unwrapped G string, something I’ve never tried. This might actually also benefit the aforementioned bending, but I’m not sure it would be sonically optimal for rhythm playing.

I’d like to know if anyone shares this dilemma and what your solution to it might be.

Addendum: A minute or so of this will show how much of a workout that string often gets.

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    Guitar strings are practically free. Just replace them often. (by way of comparison, a new set of strings for my cello runs around $300 US) – Carl Witthoft Apr 15 at 13:35
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    The problem is not the coin. It’s the strings settling in to sounding good (to me) and one string breaking down consistently faster than the others. Like if one tire on my car wore out before the other three, I’d want to figure out how to fix that. Of course I could ignore the problem and rotate the tires, but I can’t rotate guitar strings. – wabisabied Apr 15 at 18:21
  • What guitar is it? Perhaps the frets need a fettle. – Tim Apr 15 at 18:40
  • @Tim It’s a Larriveé D-2. Probably wouldn’t hurt, but when I run my thumbnail over each fret under G string, I don’t detect any burrs. – wabisabied Apr 15 at 20:56
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Going for a plain G was my first thought. Its sound will be different - it's going to be a Marmite moment.

You don't say where on the string it breaks down, but if it's a particular fret wire, that may need a fettle. If it's all over, then I suspect you, like so many of us, are pressing too hard. It's an unconscious thing, and often needs addressing, as it has no advantage, and several disadvantages.

If you're bending and wobbling the G string a lot in your playing, and don't like a plain G (of whatever gauge), then it might well be that you resign yourself to changes more often. Strings are, after all, sacrificial, for the wont of a different term!

Yes, individual strings are readily available. I've used a hybrid set for 40+ yrs, and can only make it from individuals. So I'll buy 10x .022, at a time, for example. Slightly more expensive, but not as much as buying two sets, and not using all the strings from them.

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  • Going unwound is certainly worth a try. I probably do press harder than I need to at times, but the string breaks down to some degree over every fret from 5 to 14, the area of the neck where bends and vibratos happen most when I’m playing acoustic. Good to know individual strings are available, I will see what I can find. – wabisabied Apr 15 at 18:29
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Based on positive consumer reviews regarding longevity, I’ve ordered a few sets of coated strings to try out. Will report back with results.

EDIT: After trying a set of coated strings, I can report that longevity is better, but G string still breaks down before the others. Plan moving forward will be to continue buying the coated strings along with a couple extra G’s per set.

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