It’s the curse of every guitarist – wanna know how to prevent broken guitar strings?
There are many things that worry guitarists, but one of the most common is the fear of snapping a string in front of an audience. The painful moments that can follow such an event can be pretty traumatic, particularly if the audience has been a bit restless anyway. It’s pretty frustrating even if you’re playing a gig.
Wondering how to prevent broken guitar strings? Sometimes, you just have to write it off to chance, but there are some things you can do to help avoid it…
1. Change Your Strings!
If you’re the kind of person who just, well, ‘forgets’ to change strings, and play a guitar with strings that look like they were rescued from a long sunken ship, then let’s face it- you should expect snapped strings.
Change your strings regularly! And by that I mean every week if you gig (even perhaps before every gig), or every month if you don’t. Strings left unchanged for longer periods became corroded and are much more prone to snapping.
You can buy strings online here.
This brings me on to my next point…
2. Clean your strings after you’ve played
The main cause of string corrosion is YOU! Okay, I didn’t mean to sound quite so accusatory. What I mean is the sweat from your hands is the major cause of string corrosion.
To increase the life of your strings always wipe them down with a clean cloth after playing. Microfibre cloths, available from supermarkets, are ideal for this as you won’t get any annoying strands of cloth stuck around your strings. As well as wiping them down regularly, you could perform a “deeper” clean of your strings semi-regularly by using a string cleaner such as the one found in this Gibson Care Kit.
3. Check your nut and saddles
If you keep getting string breaks on the same string in the same place, it’s either down something you are doing when you play, or more likely a burr, or abrasive spot on your nut (no giggling at the back!) or saddle.
These are the bits when the string comes into contact with hard surfaces, and edges. As a result, it is here that strings are most likely to break.
If you do find a burr, it’s nearly always fixable, usually with a bit of sandpaper. However, if you’ve never done anything like this before, and are not confident, take it along to you local store.
4. Reduce friction
The contact points at the nut and saddle are also subject to high levels of friction. If a string ‘snags’ here when being played, this too can cause strings to snap.
Though there are specially designed, low friction nuts and saddles available, there is a far simpler solution: pencil lead.
When changing strings, a bit of pencil lead from a soft pencil applied to the grooves of the saddles and nut will reduce the friction and allow the strings to move without snagging. Be warned, however- if your nut/ saddle is white or pale in colour, it can mark, though a damp cloth is usually enough to clean it off.
Sadly, avoiding string breaks completely is just impossible, but if you follow the above, you should be able to keep them to a minimum.
Joe is a contributor for the Dawsons Music blog. Specialising in product reviews and crafting content to help and inspire musicians of all musical backgrounds.