How to Avoid Breaking Guitar Strings

tips for stringing a guitar

Breaking guitar strings can be such a nuisance if you don't know what you're doing, read this beginner's guide for tips on how to avoid breaking guitar strings.

If you're a right handed or left handed guitar player, you know it's a matter of time before breaking a guitar string. No matter if you're playing a groovy riff or shredding a solo, breaking a string can put a damper on your playing.

The worst is when you break a string while performing. You're playing perfectly, enticing the crowd and rocking out -- when all of a sudden your string pops.

You have to sneak around the side and replace that string while hoping no one notices.

Whether you're a guitarist or bassist, there are some best practices when avoiding breaking your guitar strings. Read this advice for long-lasting strings.

Why Do Guitar Strings Break?

Breaking strings is the bane of every guitarists' existence. Whether you're jamming in your room or playing a major show, a broken guitar string can ruin your performance.

There are several reasons why strings break, and these will help you solve why your strings are breaking.

  • Your bridge is too sharp
  • Rough fret edges
  • Dirty or worn nuts
  • Burred tuning posts
  • You're using the wrong strings

Depending on your guitar, you may need some slight maintenance. But sometimes, your guitar needs to undergo repair.

Wind Your Strings Properly

One of the main reasons why strings break is because of improper winding. Think of it this way: your bass or guitar teacher taught you different playing techniques. But did they ever teach you how to properly wind your strings?

When winding your strings, allow for 3/4 of a turn around on the tuner post. This ensures the string's tension doesn't terminate at a kink. When the wire is kinked, it puts strings at a disadvantage. The wire becomes weak and prone to breakage.

No matter what guitar style or tuning you play, using this winding method ensures your strings will stay properly.

Saddle and Bridge Condition

Is the saddle and bridge on your guitar in working condition?

If both are in bad condition, this could determine the longevity of your strings. For example, the saddle is prone to developing burrs. This damages the strings so they break quickly.

The bridge also endures some tension.

As your guitar ages, the metal on the bridge surface oxidizes, develops burrs, and develops other imperfections that take away from a bridge's smooth surface. This issue affects both the strings and the tuning.

If this is the issue with your guitar, you'll need more than just new strings. You'll need to visit a professional luthier to repair your guitar. If your guitar is cheap or crafted incorrectly, you'll need a new guitar.

Nut Condition

Another guitar issue that determines the life of your guitar strings is the nut condition. The biggest issue is when the nuts bind. This not only causes shortened string life but bad tuning.

Nut binding causes more stress on the strings, which causes them to break and produces the incorrect tone.

If you constantly struggle with string breaking, check the nuts.

Make sure they are the appropriate size and they're smooth. If there are any issues with the nuts, take your guitar to a luthier. If you try to fix this issue DIY, then you risk ruining your guitar.

Clean Strings

Are your strings clean? This is an easy fix to prevent breaking your guitar strings. After you play, get in the habit of cleaning your strings.

When gunk and debris piles on your strings, the metal oxidizes. This makes the strings more prone to breaking. This also affects your guitar's tone. Besides, you're touching all of the bacteria on your strings. Gross!

How do you clean your strings? Use a polish cloth and do a quick wipe down. Guitar and string brands also sell specialized string cleaners to really do a thorough cleaning.

The Picks You're Using

Different picks contribute to the health of your guitar strings. Heavier picks run a higher risk of breaking your strings. But in general, worn down picks can break your strings.

When you use a pick too much, the pick develops a sharp point. This leaves cuts in the string, causing it to break easier. Always check your picks and make sure they're not too sharp. If you find a sharp pick, throw it away.

Constantly get in the habit of buying new picks or buying picks in bulk. While this may be annoying, your strings will last a lot longer.

Do you play bass? Get in the habit of playing with your fingers instead of playing with a pick. This decreases the change of string damage.

Stretching Your Strings

Do you stretch your strings?

You may look weird stretching guitar strings, but this process helps strengthen your strings. Stretching your strings helps ensure your tuning is stable. This process also helps strings settling into the nut and saddle.

Stretching also increases your string's strength. This makes your stringless prone to breaking from friction or a sharp edge. But be sure to not overstretch. This can actually cause your strings to break or sound duller.

How much is overstretching? You want to stretch the string until it gets the tone right.

Prevent Breaking Strings

When your guitar strings break, it's normal in the life cycle of strings. But sometimes, this is the first clue there's something wrong with your guitar.

If your strings break occasionally, you have nothing to worry about. But if this happens frequently, it's the first sign you need to take your guitar to a luthier. If you try and fix your guitar DIY, you run the risk of ruining your guitar.

Otherwise, some simple maintenance and using the correct strings will decrease the likeliness of breaking strings.

Are you a left-handed guitarist or bassist? Don't struggle with the guitars a righty uses. Take a look at our catalog.

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