How do i avoid string breakage during setup/adjustments?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by CatSquare, Mar 23, 2014.

  1. CatSquare


    Mar 7, 2014
    If I make too many adjustments while setting up my bass, the strings tend to break. Am I doing something wrong here? All the guides I've read say the same basic thing: string your bass, tune to pitch, check your action, adjust the truss rod/saddle height accordingly, then repeat the tune, check, adjust cycle as needed.
    I find that any more than a few rounds of trial and error in this department with snap my strings at the tuning keys - how am I supposed to find the right combo of neck relif and saddle height if i can only adjust them a few times before I lose the string?
    I don't want to flush another $30 down the toilet.
  2. Check you edges and surfaces. It the strings are breaking at the tuner post, you need to relieve (chamfer) and polish the edges of the slot or hole that contacts the string.

  3. CatSquare


    Mar 7, 2014
    I guess "break" isn't quite the word; the strings kind of unravel. It might be the same thing with the same cause. The string-holes cut through the pegs (is there a better word for this feauture?) don't seem particularly sharp, but they aren't chamfered either -- I'll look into relieving them. Thanks!
  4. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    If the outer winding is unraveling, you know you need to Bend the strings BEFORE you cut them?. Figure out how long you need, hold the string there and bend it to a sharp 90 degree. Snip the string a couple inches past the bend.

    Round core strings are the worst for this. First time I tried DR sunbeams my E unraveled even though I bent it first. My D let go a short while later.
  5. CatSquare


    Mar 7, 2014
    I have always wound the string once or twice around the peg, threaded it through the hole, and let the tightening of the key do the 90 degree bending for me.

    If you bend it first, won't there be too few wraps on the tuning peg once you tune to pitch? I thought the goal was ~2.5 wraps.
  6. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    Do you cut your strings?
  7. squirefan


    Nov 22, 2009
    Lansing, Ks.
    I think he meant like this (if this makes sense to you...just a quick drawing in 'Paint').

    Stick the cut end into the peg, then wind the key to take up the slack.

    Untitled.jpg (24.7 KB)

    Attached Files:

  8. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Good pic! Cut the string ~1/2" past the bend. This will provide just enough of a "nub" to insert in the tuner post hole.

    Also, make sure the string length matches the bass scale (34", 35", etc). This designation varies manufacturer to manufacturer...check their website for the correct set. A too-long strong will allow the full thickness wrap / winding to hit the tuning post and may lead to premature failure.

  9. CatSquare


    Mar 7, 2014
    Oh okay, that makes sense.
    I think I may have been stringing my bass wrong since day one. Thanks guys, and thanks for the visual aid too.
    Helpful forums these.
  10. squirefan


    Nov 22, 2009
    Lansing, Ks.
    In case you didn't know, as you wind the string make sure that it is winding down the post (toward the face of the headstock). That will create an angle going up toward the nut to hold the string securely in the nut slot.
    Also, make sure the string is on the inside of the posts (toward the center of the headstock).
    There are plenty of pictures of headstocks on here to see what I'm talking about.
  11. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Do a search on how to string a bass. There are plenty of threads explaining it.
  12. CatSquare


    Mar 7, 2014
    I know you want the string to wind down the tuning peg, and I know you want a straight line from the nut to where you insert the string on the peg.

    I'm thinking my problem might be that I've always tried to pre-wrap the string around the peg such that when i finally get to turning the key, it only takes a few turns to get the string tight and to pitch. Could it be that this creates uneven "pockets" of tension which stress abnormally and cause breakage?

    I don't know, I'm going to just hope for the best when my replacement string comes in. Last night I cut my E string to length before realizing it was really my D string, which needed to be about 4" longer. So pissed at myself for that.
  13. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    That puts severe twists in the string when you do it that way. I'd say that is indeed the problem. It might take longer, but putting the string on correctly (letting the tuner do the winding) is way better for the string.
  14. CatSquare


    Mar 7, 2014
    Thanks for chiming in on this.
    I have been doing some adjustments with strings strung the right way, and haven't snapped anything yet (truss, bridge, neck shim), so hopefully we're both right.

    on the subject of twistage: does it make sense to leave the back end of the string loose in the saddle so it can spin as the string gets tightened?
  15. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    I'll chime in: yes it does make sense. I usually even get them to pitch loosen them and let them unwind behind the saddles.
  16. CatSquare


    Mar 7, 2014
    excellent, definitely will do that!
    thanks again!