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breaking strings

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Rugaar, Mar 21, 2009.

  1. Rugaar


    Apr 11, 2007
    Last weekend I broke the E string on my Fender Classic 50's P and last night I broke the E on my Squier CV 50's P. Both strings broke at the same spot--the point where they break over the bridge. I was using Fender 9050ML on both and they were approx 6 months old. I play fairly aggressive country rock but nothing too wild. These are my 2 primary basses but it's not like I'm a gigging pro on the road 5 nights a week. Both basses have their stock bridges and I'll check for burrs before installing the new strings.

    Am I just wearing the strings out and they're breaking? Do Fender strings have a tendency to break like this? I've got some D'Addario Chromes (.050-.105) ordered (thought I'd give them a shot since they get so many good reviews) but it looks like I need to order another set now. Maybe I'll order a couple extra E and A strings as backups, too.

    Any thoughts or suggestions? Thanks.
  2. Coelho


    May 10, 2006
    Astoria, NY
    I really don't understand this. I've been playing for more than 20 years and I never had a string break on me. I've had blisters in my fingers, blood coming out, but the strings never break on me.
  3. Flats don't like to bend, especially the larger gauge ones. I suggest having a look at your action adjustments, as they relate to your bridge and neck joint. If you need to have your bridge saddles adjusted quite high to get the action where you want it, this makes the strings bend quite sharply, increasing the chances of breakage. So, maybe there are shims in the neck pockets of your basses, this is very common. If you remove them, you will need to then lower your bridge saddles, decreasing the bend angle there, and that is key.
    Or perhaps your truss rod adjustment has the neck in a too-flat state--this will force you to crank up the saddles as well. Maybe adding a bit of relief, combined with lowering the saddles, will get you where you want to be.
  4. p-bass

    p-bass Guest

    Feb 17, 2008
    First,check your bridge and make sure that is not the problem. I have never been too crazy about the quality of Fender Strings,just my opinion. The D'addario Chromes are great strings and I have never had a promblem with them. I have kept D'adarrio Chromes on for two years and never broke one string. Steve
  5. 18eranaRic

    18eranaRic Banned

    Mar 7, 2009
    Malibu, USA
    get a proper setup by a tech that is capable of more than cleaning and string changing, my best guess is that the "break-over" angle of the bridge saddles is to "sharp". not sharp like a knife, but just too acute of an angle.

    is that a string-through the body type?

    the slots on the saddles may be too narrow for your strings, can be filed open a tiny bit more, as another option (again, by a tech with VERY specific tools)
  6. 18eranaRic

    18eranaRic Banned

    Mar 7, 2009
    Malibu, USA
    I'm very sure it's not the string brand or type, it's dialing in the bass to the strings you want that is the issue.
  7. BullHorn


    Nov 23, 2006
    I once broke a D string, when I accidentally tried to tune it to one octave higher D, lol. Other than that, seems impossible. Maaaaaaaybe a G string when popping aggressively, but even that seems rare.
  8. I had this problem years ago with my Ibanez RB850. It was alway the E string right at the bridge. I spoke to a luthier, and he suggested that maybe I had a tiny metal burr on the saddle (sometimes you can't see it, but you may be able to feel it). In any case, he suggested that I take either a small round metal file or an old roundwound E string, and file the saddle lightly (you just want to smooth out the burr, not gouge your saddle). I opted for the roundwound string method, it worked and I never broke another string on that bass.

    I know they don't use saddles on the Fenders, it's more like threads, with the string resting on top, which is a little bit more difficult to file (you don't want to flatten the ridges, as they keep the string in position). But it still might have a burr, or maybe it's just a bit sharp where the string sits. It doesn't take much to nick the string and there's a lot of pressure and tension right where the string crosses the bridge.

    If you're not into doing your own troubleshooting, any good tech or luthier will be able to sort you out.
  9. Rugaar


    Apr 11, 2007
    Neck is relatively straight. Action is set per Fender recommendations. The E in these pics is one I pulled off my daughter's bass for temporary use. The A/D/G strings are Fenders. To me they look like they've got a pretty sharp break across the tops. Think that might be part of the problem? The saddle adjusting screws are flush or just below the tops of the saddles. No shim in the Fender neck pocket but I haven't checked the Squier.


  10. 18eranaRic

    18eranaRic Banned

    Mar 7, 2009
    Malibu, USA
    sweet, thanks for the pictures! i'd say just take it to a tech with the proper tools to drop a file into the saddle slot. the files are quite specific, so be sure your tech has what it takes.

    shouldn't be more than $25.00 labor.

    once a bass is set right, it's set and so much more fun.
  11. 18eranaRic

    18eranaRic Banned

    Mar 7, 2009
    Malibu, USA
  12. svenbass


    Dec 12, 2002
    I've been playing pro for many years and the only strings I have ever broken were flatwound E's, right at the bridge- it's happened twice in 22 years. Both were LaBellas. I'd say that it's probably more coincidence than anything else. I have a pretty heavy hand as I also play Upright, so they took a good beating on a regular basis. I recently started using Fender 9050ML's because they were cheap, and wanted to save my 9 year old LaBellas for recording sessions. That said, it is probably a good idea to have someone look over the bass just to make sure everything is in order.
  13. GianGian


    May 16, 2008
    How old were the strings?? I usually break them after 1 year or so. I only change the strings when they break.
  14. Based on your pics I would wager that the problem is definitely the break angle. The simplest way to fix it is to place a metal shim under the bridge, then lower the saddles.
  15. rarbass


    Jul 3, 2008
    How often do you change your strings?:ninja:
  16. Coelho


    May 10, 2006
    Astoria, NY
    Once a year probably
  17. rarbass


    Jul 3, 2008
    It amazes me that you've never broken a string...
  18. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    Although I deleted the images in the quote, they are pretty good. Thanks.
    IME, your break angle looks pretty typical. The E that you put on should probably be pressed down to give a better witness point at the break on the saddle. Otherwise, you are going to have funky stuff going on with the intonation. You can decrease the break angle on the saddles by relocating the bridge back towards the lower bout by about the distance of travel left on the properly intonated G string. I have used this mod on a number of basses with very good results in a number of aspects. But, you have to be pretty careful not to overshoot or the G can no longer be intonated. Perhaps, a task for a good luthier to do for you.

    As I have posted in the "Boiling Strings" and other threads, you are correct that damage and breakage nearly always occurs at the saddle break point. The string core is hardened steel, and the deformation at the break point causes damage to the core that affects elastic vibrations and strength of the core.

    I assume you pluck pizz with your right hand fingers? If so, the breakage is occurring when you are playing notes hard on the A string and the force of the pluck is being absorbed on the E string.

    First, you should be able to reduce the breakage by refining your technique to pluck a little less vigorously. I fully respect that this can be part of a players individual technique; but, at some point, you have to lighten up a little and let the amplifier do the heavy lifting. IME, this is a sign of opportunity for improvement in technique. But, it can happen more easily with old strings especially due to micro-crack propagation in the core at the break point.

    IMO, it is a little surprising that this is happening on your E string, because the D string is weaker and tends to take more of a beating when plucking the G. But, in any case, your experience is normal; and there are a few ways to work around it. Also, different strings with different core metallurgy may behave better for you; but, the issues are normal, and will still be happening.

    Hope this helps.
  19. Rugaar


    Apr 11, 2007
    Thanks, bucephylus. (and all others, too)

    Normally I press on the string to give it a good witness point when installing them but I just threw that E on as a temporary fix until I get it restrung. I'll put it back on my daughter's bass when I'm finished with it and it had a decent witness point on her bass.

    I've snapped 3 E strings now and 1 A in the past few years but never a D, probably because I don't spend much time playing my G string. I do tend to hit my strings a bit hard sometimes, especially when using a pick. (maybe 20% of our songs) I've always played fairly aggressively, going all the way back to my drum and guitar playing days when I was a kid. I'll try to work on my technique but I'm not sure how many new tricks this old dog can learn.

  20. Mr. Ray

    Mr. Ray

    Feb 20, 2009
    Even though you do not have burrs on your saddle, strings can still break over time. Try Graphtech graphite saddle they work great and give you that little extra protection, especially on tape and flatwounds. Hope this helps.

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