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String breaks

Postby Gary_W » Fri Jun 15, 2012 6:33 am

Hello all,

I'd appreciate some opinions on this matter. I had two string breaks at practice last night :frown:. The gig we've been building up to is tomorrow.

Never had significant string breakage problems before. I've always used D'Adarrio 10's and wiped down after playing / changed fairly regularly. The sets in question had been on just over 3 weeks and still look / sound / feel spot on. I had the D string break at the saddle end on two different guitars...... Both guitars have been aquired within the last 6 months. It was a D string at the saddle that broke on me 3 1/2 weeks back prompting the previous restring.

All of these sets were out of a bulk buy 10 pack of d'addarios. So is the likely cause:

1. Slightly rough saddles on both guitars (but if so, why the D string on all occasions? Don't think I've EVER broken a D prior to these last few weeks
2. A faulty batch of strings
3. Coincidence and get over it :)

I'm very grateful it happened last night as opposed to Saturday! Whatever the cause, they lasted a few weeks so I live in hope thet all will be well in this respect anyway. I'll actually take 4 guitars along 'just in case' though everything I have prepared for the set is based on the sounds / feel of the Les Paul clone and Tele clone in question..... I finished the night on my Strat copy and, whilst it's a great guitar, it just didn't quite feel right if you know what I mean. It's a single 1.5 hour set with absolutely no down time so there is no time for me to re-string though the chap that does the sound for us could do it if needed.......

Thanks

Gary
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Re: String breaks

Postby ef37a » Fri Jun 15, 2012 8:38 am

Does it say on the packet where the strings were made?

Let us all hope that guitar strings are not going down the same dire QC road that valves have?

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Re: String breaks

Postby 4TrackMadman » Fri Jun 15, 2012 9:16 am

Could be a bad batch or maybe high/tense action or rough saddle. I had my Kramer V break two Ds in a row and it was due to the brindge saddle getting too sharp from the string riding up and down on it. Filed it down a bit and was good to go. In your case since it was on two different guitar I'd probably attribute it to a bad string batch first, try a different brand just to see what happens. If both guitars have the same kind of bridge and your playing style is heavy on the D with a lot of vibrato and pull offs it could also just be your playing style.
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Re: String breaks

Postby _ Six _ » Fri Jun 15, 2012 9:23 am

Do you have a back up guitar at gigs? You should!
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Re: String breaks

Postby Gary_W » Fri Jun 15, 2012 9:46 am

Thanks for the replies so far

Dave - I'm not home at the mo to see what the packet says but the D'Addario website suggests that all strings are made at one of two factories in the USA. The 2nd factory opened up in the 90s so no major changes that I can see..... I've just emailed their customer support to say 'what do you think about this?'. I'll let you know the response :)

4Track - thanks for this.... It could be playing style but it's odd that it's D strings only! I suppose that (being the lightest wound string) vibrato will upset it moreso than the lighter unwound strings. That's food for thought. I've also been using slightly heavier plectrums lately (they're nothing horrific though!). I guess that is a factor here :)

Six - as mentioned, I'm taking 4 guitars to the gig when I actually only need 2..... I've always taken one spare but after last night I'm upping that to a pair..... I don't want the situation where I'm playing half the gig on my spare whilst clenching in case it goes too!!!
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Re: String breaks

Postby Jumpeyspyder » Fri Jun 15, 2012 12:05 pm

Quick thought..

Is your amp / moitoring loud enough ?
I used to regularly break strings during practice sessions with a rather noisy band because I had to really dig in just so I could hear myself.
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Re: String breaks

Postby Gary_W » Fri Jun 15, 2012 12:25 pm

Thats a good point which i hadn't considered - thanks for that. The last gig I did was problematic for this and I possibly did dig in more than usual. I didn't have string break on that gig :) But last night was no probs on levels so I don't think I was doing anything out of the ordinary.

I must say that I do alter my picking dynamics a lot, though - my amp is a really touch responsive little thing and it almost encourages you to go down the route of 'softly softly' through to 'hit it!' as the contrasting loveliness is a thing to warm the cockles of your heart.
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Re: String breaks

Postby zenguitar » Fri Jun 15, 2012 12:37 pm

I've always found D'Addario to be very helpful. On one occasion a customer returned to me a day after collecting his guitar because the wound E had developed a kink over night. I replaced the string from my singles box and sent the damaged one and the packaging to D'Addario with a polite letter explaining that I had examined the instrument carefully and that there was no evidence of it receiving a hard knock that might have damaged the string.

It wasn't even a complaint letter, just letting them know what happened and sending the string and packaging in case that would help their quality control. I received a personal reply from James D'Addario with a replacement for the damaged string and a complimentary set.

As you have bought a box of 10 sets I would keep the packaging for the new set you have put on. So you have it available when D'Addario support get back to you, just in case it turns out to be useful.

It could be a bad batch, but I have my doubts. Both strings have broken at the saddle after a few weeks use, so that could be a set-up issue. With wound strings all the tension is taken by the core and on a wound D that core is closer to a 10 but the tension is higher than a plain 10. So it is a string that is vulnerable to wear and tear.

If the saddles are rough, they should be smoothed. Use wet and dry paper to remove all sharp edges and burrs, you need to minimise friction here and avoid sharp edges, the top of the saddle should be slightly rounded.

One last possibility, if you bought through eBay there is a possibility that they are fake D'Addarios.

Hope that helps.

Andy :beamup:
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Re: String breaks

Postby Gary_W » Fri Jun 15, 2012 12:53 pm

Thanks Andy,

I'll have a good look over the saddles over the coming days - if its obviously dodgy I'll sort tonight but I've noticed no obvious issues.... Time is not my friend prior to this gig so tonight it's going to be a case of whack new ones on and see unless something screams 'problem!'. When they have broken, part of the core stays intact but the outer windings separate and all tension goes from the string. Bit of a bugger in the middle of a song - when you get an unwound string that goes 'ping' it flies out of the way. Not ideal, but (depending on the song) you can often live. Because the tension went, it was flopping around and affecting fretting on the G string too so it was fairly obvious I had issues!

I actually bought these strings from Hot Rox in Nottingham - I went in a while back for a replacement power amp valve and came out with those too.... I didn't know fakes were out there so thanks for pointing this out!

Interestingly, a friend of mine who live about 40 miles North of me has just got back to me saying he had a brief and recent flirtation with D'Addario (normally an EB user) and he too had breaks at the saddle. I've asked for clarification but I believe it's the D for him too! If that is the case then you have to wonder about the batch as this was a new experience for him too.... As previously stated, I've used 10 gauge D'Addarios for years and never had anything but praise for them till now!
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Re: String breaks

Postby Dynamic Mike » Fri Jun 15, 2012 11:21 pm

I too rarely break strings, although I had a similar issue to you with a dozen sets of Ernie Ball 9's a few years back. They were dirt-cheap & were openly sold as having been salvaged from a storm damaged shop 'apparently' undamaged, so I knew it was a risky purchase. Funny thing was, whilst the wound strings kept snapping, the plain strings were fine. Perhaps your sets have been exposed to moisture at some time in their life? I'm not a D'Adarrio user so I don't know how they're packaged.
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Re: String breaks

Postby Gary_W » Sat Jun 16, 2012 7:50 am

Thanks Mike :)

The D'Addarios are well-packed (IMO anyway). The set comes inside a sealed plastic bag. The ball end things (I'm sure there is a tech term for it and it won't be that!) are coloured to help identify which is which.

Taking Zen's earlier point about counterfeit strings, I noticed that the bags each have a serial number. If you go on the company website you can check if they are authentic which mine are - I didn't seriously think otherwise as they were from a proper shop but at least it's excluded that from the equation!

I restrung both last night. I got one set of EB 10s from town (they only had one set left :frown: ) and stuck some of my 'bulk buy' D'Addarios on the other. I'll be taking spare strings and two spare guitars tonight so I'd like to think I've got the bases covered......

One note on the EB's - I've had a few sets in the past and they were in paper packets inside a non- sealed outer bit of plastic. They are still each in paper but now they are properly sealed inside a 'plastic foil' type material so, whilst shelf age may have been an issue for the brand before I'd imagine this has improved matters :)
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