Tech Tip:The Attack of the Killer String!

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Lori Casey; Toronto, Canada


Q: My first string has broken twice since I got my first guitar and now I'm completely scared out of my mind to tune! But really... it's not funny. It's like being afraid to die... like I mean SERIOUSLY FRIGHTENED!!! The last time it broke it whipped my hand so hard it cut me. How can I stop my strings from breaking?


A: WOW—sounds like you had a real bad experience with that string. Here are some things that will help you break strings less often.


Many beginners tend to tune a string too sharp; this causes the string to break fast and hard. When tuning, turn the machine head slowly and try to use a pitch-matching system. If you have trouble hearing the pitch, get someone to help you.


Here is something else you can check for if you are breaking the same string over and over:


Sometimes the friction of the string moving on the bridge saddle develops a sharp burr that cuts into the string and makes it break quickly. I know this because I had this happen a few times and the first time I think I broke 15 fourth strings in a row!!


Here is the cure: find a fine metal file (I used my sister's nail file) and while the string is off, file the groove slot on the bridge saddle. Don't go too crazy; just a light filing will do the job.


Hope this helps!


Yours in Music
John McCarthy
Rock House