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Why Guitar Strings Break and How To Prevent It

Last Updated: August 16, 2016 / by Joseph Evans



It’s said that one of the most common mechanical problems guitarists face is string breakage. There is nothing like worrying about your string snapping in front of an audience to keep you up the night before.

Sometimes strings break by pure chance or bad luck and there is nothing you could have done to prevent it. But here are some common causes for why strings break that might help you avoid disaster in the future.

Changing your guitar string regularly will prevent them from breaking.

Change Your Strings

One of the most common causes of strings breaking is that they are just not changed often enough. If you play guitar regularly it’s a good idea to change your strings almost every month, depending on the quality of the guitar strings, of course.

If you play gigs then you should try change them every week or preferably each time before you play a gig. Playing with old guitar strings is just asking for trouble.

Clean Your Strings

Try to remember to clean your strings each time after you have finished playing your guitar. The most common cause of string corrosion is the playing/strumming itself. Whether you use your fingers or a plectrum, strumming the same chords over and over will start to wear the strings down. Wiping down your strings will prevent them wearing down and make them last longer.

It might also be a good idea to make sure your hands are clean before you start playing your guitar. If you are serious about preventing your guitar strings from breaking then warm and greasy hands after you just had a burger may not be such a good idea either.

Use The Right Strings

Be sure that you buy the right strings for your guitar. The wrong stings will just not last as long.

Your guitar has been made to hold a lot of tension, and if your strings keep breaking there may be a mechanical problem with the guitar or the strings you are using. Consider how you tune your guitar.

If you use alternate tuning with standard strings, it’s quite likely that the strings will take the strain and eventually snap. Make sure you sue the right guitar strings for the right tuning method. If you know that you need to tune a guitar string tighter than normal for a higher pitch, consider getting a custom set of strings that suits your playing style.

Check Your Nuts and Saddles

Have you noticed that your strings keep breaking in the same place? It could either be a burr or whirring sound, your nuts could be dirty, or your saddle could just be too sharp. This is because, when your strings constantly come into contact with hard or sharp edges, they will wear down faster in those places.

If you notice the guitar string breaking near the tuning posts, it can be that they may be burred. Try to find an old wound string (a thick one) and work in in a circular motion through the string hole against the edges to help smooth out any burrs.

It’s also a good idea to clean your nuts every time you restring your guitar. This will help prevent any dirt and grime from settling there. When you do, have a look to see if it needs to be filed down of any sharp edges that may have surfaced from switching between string gauges.

Smooth Out Rough Fret Edges

Check that your saddle isn't too sharp. It may be the cause of your strings breaking.

If it’s not the same string that keeps breaking but they still seem to break in the same place, it’s quite likely that you have a fret edge that is too rough. Examine your frets (between the bridge and the neck) to see if anything looks rough or sharp.

If you still can’t see anything try to feel around the area with your fingertips to see if you can pick up anything. If so, then smoothing it out with sandpaper should do the trick. 

Get Your Guitar Checked

If you are unsure of what is causing your strings to break or you just don’t want to tamper with your guitar, take it to your local store or to the place you bought it from. You will most likely be able to find someone that can do it for you there.

Also, consider the age and quality of your guitar, it will give you a better idea if it’s just a factory fault or if you need to get it replaced.

If you want your guitar and your guitar strings to last then you need to take care of them. Any musical instrument can be tricky on the best of days, and consistent care and treatment of your strings will help them last longer.


About the Author: Joseph Evans

My name is Joseph Evans and I am a guitar playing, freelance writing, online teaching music lover based in Seattle, WA. Growing up in a musical family naturally lead to obtaining my Bachelor of Music (BM) in Composition & Music Theory degree, after which I taught and traveled my way across Europe for 7 years before returning back home to settle in beautiful Seattle. On a typical day, you would find me playing my guitar, pottering around in the vegetable garden, going on long hikes, reading and/or writing.


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