Why Do Guitar Strings Break?
Guitar strings break, it’s just a fact of life for every guitar player. Whether while tuning, or when you’re about to dive into a solo, they always seem to break at the worst times. But why do guitar strings break? Surprisingly, there are actually a bunch of reasons why strings break. Knowing why will allow you to have a better understanding of string maintenance, and better prevention methods for the future.
Here are 5 reasons why guitar strings break:
1) Guitar strings break because they are old.
Like everything else, guitar strings age and decay. Since they are made of iron, they are susceptible to rust, which is sped up by dirt and moisture from your fingers.
Regularly cleaning them will help fight off oxidation and deterioration, but eventually you will need to replace them if they are sounding dead, or difficult to tune.
2) Guitar strings break because of rough tuning pegs.
If your strings are always breaking at the tuning pegs, then it’s pretty obvious they are the culprit.
Typically, it can be one of two things: dirt buildup, or more often, rough tuning pegs.
After regular wear and tear, the metal in the tuning pegs can become chipped, or uneven. This is referred to as a “burr”. When a burr is created, it can wear on the string, ultimately causing a break.
The simple solution for this is to take an old string and pass it in and out of the burred tuning peg. This will hopefully even out any uneven metal. Be sure to clean out the tuning peg holes as well.
3) Guitar strings break because of a dirty nut.
The nut of a guitar is that white piece that sits horizontal on the fret board. Its job to control the strings spacing, as well as distance from the fretboard.
It usually uncommon that strings would break in this area, but if they do, you know something is up.
It’s easy for dirt to build up in the grooves of the nut, and overtime this dirty creates an uneasy place for your strings to sit. Carefully clean out any gunk, and smooth down any obtruding areas. But be careful, you don’t to mess too much with this area, because if you were to file the nut down too much you can damage the guitar’s action and playability.
4) Guitar strings break because the bridge is sharp.
Bridges are a popular spot for guitar strings to break. Usually, what’s happening is parts of the bridge are too sharp, or can have uneven edges, resulting in strings breaking over and over again.
The way to solve this is take a look at exactly which string broke. You’ll most likely find a sharp edge that you can carefully file down with sandpaper or a nail file.
5) Guitar strings break because of rough fret edges.
If your strings are breaking in the area of the fretboard, you know it’s most likely a rough fret.
Run your fingers over each fret to feel if there are any spots that feel uneven or sharp. As we suggested for rough tuning pegs, carefully sand or file the area down. Eliminating any dirt buildup in the area will also help prevent breaking.
Keeping your guitar clean and well-maintained is the key to string longevity. If you find your strings are still breaking after you’ve run through our suggestions above, take a look into the strings you are using. Are they the proper gauge for your guitar? Are you tuning to an alternate tuning that’s putting stress on the strings? If so, purchase strings that are made for alternate tunings, instead of standard strings.
Furthermore, take a look at the guitar picks you are using. Do any of them have rough edges on them, or are they too heavy? Your pick can put unwanted strain on your strings.