Tech: Avoiding String Breakage

Written by Joe Mahoney Posted in: Tech on February 24, 2011

Pwang!! There it goes. Another string has popped and nearly severed my finger. Alright, not really but if you play guitar you're all too familiar with that frustrating feeling. String breakage is one of the most annoying cards dealt to a player by their guitar or bass. Many have set out on the journey to find different strings that last longer, play better, and sound so beautiful it brings tears to their eyes, but the trial and error process is a tough one.  Yes, many manufacturers brand their packaging to tell the consumer their strings products last longer, look great, and sound even better, but that doesn't change the fact that it's not your go-to string.

If you're like most guitarists who are loyal to the same string, only one string will do, so you need to take a look at how to prevent string breakage by manipulating other aspects of your setup rather than buying a different make of strings. 

A guitar string has many points of contact during its journey from beginning to end, starting from the bridge, over the saddle, up the fret board, over the nut, through your string trees (depending on guitar) and terminating at the tuning peg. Each contact point is an area where a string may snap, though the string trees (mechanisms designed to hold strings lower on the headstock to be sure they're wound straight around the tuning pegs) are especially bad news. On lower end models, such as a Fender Stratocaster made in Mexico, the string trees hold the string almost directly against the wood of the headstock, creating an angle that's a danger zone for string breakage. This is easily fixable with a fantastic product from Graph Tech called Black Tusq XL String Trees.


Graph Tech string trees are tall, relieving a large amount of stress from the strings passing through, and are particularly advantageous because of the softer metal characteristic of graphite. These easy do it yourself replacements allow strings to move and breathe more, preventing the friction that's often the breakage culprit. Check out some of the other products made by Graph Tech like nut replacements, saddle replacements, and bridge replacements, all of which are built to enhance harmonics, increase playability, and to prevent string breakage. Most Graph Tech gear can be found at local music shops or on their website. If you have experience with any of them let us know in the comments!

- Joe

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