Why Do My Guitar Strings Break When Tuning?


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If you’re a guitarist and tuning your guitar, then you might have experienced the frustration of snapping strings. After years of usage, the slots can become misshapen and/or filthy with grit and grime. All of these elements might contribute to string breakage at the nut.

In this blog post, I’ll discuss what factors lead to string breaking and how to avoid it!

So without further ado, let’s just get straight into it, shall we?

Why Do My Guitar Strings Break?

We have all been there, whether it’s a string breaking as you’re trying to tune up or even during usage.

There are multiple reasons why your strings can snap, let’s take a closer look at 4 common reasons why your guitar strings break.

1. The Bridge is too sharp

If your bridge is too sharp, it’s going to catch the strings and cause tension. The more you turn the pegs in order to tune-up, this will increase string tension which can weaken or even break a string.

The remedy for this would be filing down any sharp bits on your bridge/ saddle area with an emery board (or fine-grit sandpaper) until the bridge is nice and level with your guitar strings.

It’s important to note that you should only file down the sharp bits of the bridge/saddle, so not too much!

This can take time, but it’ll be worthwhile in order to avoid breaking a string while tuning up or even during use.

2. Rough Fret Edges

Another reason for string breakage can be caused by rough fret edges.

Frets that have been misaligned or are too high will cause friction as you slide your hand up and down the neck of your guitar, which makes strings more likely to snap.

The remedy is super easy! Just use fine-grit sandpaper (600 grit or higher) and rub the rough edges down until they are smooth to touch.

Also, make sure you don’t use too much pressure when sanding your frets down – this could damage them further!

It’s always good practice to regularly maintain your guitar by doing a general tidy up and giving it a proper clean with some soapy water and a soft cloth.

This will prevent dust, dirt, oil/sweat build-up which can all cause your strings to snap more easily! Keep your guitar clean people 😉

3. The nut is dirty or worn

On a similar note, if the slots on your nut are worn down or dirty then this could cause string breakage.

The same method that I mentioned above for rough fret edges can be applied to clean up and smoothen out any sharp bits of dirt/grit from the grooves in your nut.

It’s a good idea to clean the nut when restringing, especially if there’s any dirt or grime in it.

If your nut is worn then you’ll have to replace it.

4. Using the wrong strings

Guitar strings are designed for specific gauges and guitar scales, so if you’re using the wrong ones chances are they’ll snap.

The last thing you want to do is buy a new pack of strings just to find out that your brand-new set doesn’t fit on your guitar properly!

So make sure that when buying strings you pay attention to the guitar scale and gauge.

You can find this information on any pack of strings, it’s usually written in tiny numbers somewhere on the packaging.

If you’re still unsure then just ask someone at your local music store or look for some reviews online.

This should hopefully help to prevent string breakage when tuning!

How do I stop my guitar strings from breaking while tuning?

As mentioned above, strings can break while tuning for a number of reasons.

The top string is thicker than the bottom one, causing it to stretch more and weaken faster under tension (and also requiring you to tune up higher).

Delicate guitar strings will always be at risk of snapping when abused by over-turning, and they do not like heat (which is why we should never leave our guitars in the car on a hot day).

Strings can also snap if you allow them to wear out before changing them.

It’s important to change your strings at regular intervals: usually after 3 months of daily play, or sooner depending on how much you play and how hard you play.

So how do you stop your guitar strings from breaking while tuning? You do this by changing them regularly, taking care of your guitar, and not being too heavy-handed with the tuning.

Why do guitar strings break when tuning down?

Strings break because you’re utilizing the incorrect ones.

However, if you use standard strings in an alternate tuning, forcing some to sustain greater tensions than they were designed for, a string may easily break. The ideal solution is to always utilize suitable strings.

If your guitar came with light strings, and you decide to tune it down by a half step or more, then this will put tension on the guitar that it may snap.

The solution? Use heavier gauge strings!

Is it normal for guitar strings to break?

Yes, string breakage is normal for guitar strings.

It’s typical for guitar strings to break throughout their life cycle. However, this is sometimes the first indication that something is wrong with your guitar.

If your strings occasionally break, you have nothing to be concerned about. But if this happens frequently, it’s a sign that you should visit a luthier.

If your guitar’s strings are breaking when you’re not utilizing the correct gauge of string, then it is something that can be changed.

You want to make sure you are using the correct size of guitar strings, otherwise, they will constantly snap.

What do you do when your guitar string snaps?

The first thing you want to do is to keep calm and don’t rush into changing the string.

When your guitar string snaps there are a few things you want to check before replacing it completely.

Is your neck bowed? If so, place something heavy on top of the headstock for about 24 hours until the bow has gone away. Once that happens you can proceed to change your string.

Is there rust on the strings? If so, you are going to want to replace them as soon as possible because they’re not working properly anymore and will snap at any moment if they have already snapped once before.

Check all of the other guitar strings for damage or rust too while you’re at it!

How often should guitar strings break?

As mentioned above, most guitar players should expect to change strings every 3 months.

If you’re a beginner and do not play as much, then you don’t need to change your strings as often.

Just remember to check all of the other things mentioned above before changing them!

Both new and old guitar strings should be checked for damage whenever they snap.

FAQ

Which guitar string is most likely to break?

The D is a wrapped string that is more prone to break than a solid one. It has thinner wire than the other two bass strings and is under the greatest tension of the three strings. It receives more use than the other 3 because it has less stretchability.

Does it hurt when a guitar string breaks?

When a string breaks, the end of it may fly into your face with force and that can hurt/sting. You should always wear eye protection when you’re changing strings or tuning to prevent anything like this from happening again!

Can guitar strings cut you?

While it’s certainly possible to cut your fingers while playing guitar, the probability of this happening is quite small, with a few exceptions. It is very unlikely that a guitar string will cut your fingers as they are too thin to do any real damage.

Should you replace all strings if one breaks?

If you break one string on your guitar, then it’s best to replace all of them (especially if the set is old and rusty.)

This is because after a single snap there could be problems with the neck that require attention. When changing strings, keep an eye out for signs of trouble with the frets or tuning heads too!

 

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