One of the worst nightmares of a guitar player is to have a string break during a performance. That apart, if you’ve been playing the guitar long enough, then guitar strings breaking at some point is but inevitable. While nothing can be worse than the sound of the guitar string snapping, you can only hope it doesn’t happen during a live performance. So what can you do to prevent such a situation? Well researching a bit about the subject can help you diagnose the problems. With just a few readjustments and enhancements to your set up, you can prevent it from happening repeatedly. So why do guitar strings break? Here are the top 5 reasons:
If you are experiencing the same string breaking constantly, it’s time to look closely at the place, the strings are breaking. If it keeps happening a little way above the ball end, it could be that your bridge is causing the breakage. Of all the locations where guitar strings break, the bridge is the most commonplace. At times, mainly new guitars come with very sharp saddles. If you find this to be the case, use a tiny bit of sandpaper or a file to smoothen out the bridge where the string sits.
If it isn’t the same string that is breaking constantly but it's at the same spot, and if that spot is closer to the neck of the guitar, a rough fret edge could be causing the problem. If you have noticed that your strings are breaking in between the neck and the bridge, take a closer look at the frets and check for burred edges. If you find any, use the same technique given above. Use sandpaper or a file to smoothen out burred edges. Given that most guitar frets generally are nickel silver, you do not need to use too much force on them while smoothing them out.
Now, if you find that your strings are breaking closer to the nut it means that there is a problem on top. There are usually two reasons why nut can lead to breaking strings. The first being that dirt has gathered in the nut slot and the second being that the nut has been worn out by strings that were heavier. Which is why it's always best to clear the nut slot of any grime or dust that may have got in while restringing. During string changes, it may be a great idea to use nut lubricant also called nut sauce as it not just cleans up nicely but also improves tuning stability. Again you can also use sandpaper or a file to smoothen down the nut a bit or remove sharp edges that could have been created by changing between string gauges. Do this only if you feel they are responsible for string breakage.
Locating the point of breakage is vital. So if you happen to find that your guitar strings are always breaking near the tuning posts, you’ll need to pay greater attention to your tuning posts. While it is a very rare occurrence, even new guitars can come from the factory with their tuning posts having burred edges. Likewise, burred edges on tuning posts can also happen over time. The best way to remedy this is to use an old thick wound string and put it through the string hole using a circular motion. As it is against the edges it smoothes out any offending burrs.
Finally, guitar strings are made in a way to hold a lot of tension. That is why if you encounter repeat string breakage there could be a mechanical problem with your guitar. However, if you do alternate tuning using standard strings then you know that you are forcing a few strings to hold higher tensions than they were meant to which could result in string breakage. Your best bet in this case would be to use the right strings when tuning.
For more information on how to maintain and take care of your guitar, you can also see this video by our Music Pandit - Guitar Instructor, Sherin Winstent below: