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How much tension to break an "E" string????

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Texan, Mar 11, 2011.

  1. Texan

    Texan 667 Neighbor of the Beast.

    Aug 15, 2004
    Houston, TX
    Have you ever wondered how much tension it takes to break an "E" on a bass (Ultimate Tensile Strength)? Here are the results...(Yes, I was bored this morning in the lab...)

    It took 162.13 ft/lbs to break a .105 steel core E string.

    And yes, I am a Geek:D

    Attached Files:

  2. boynamedsuse

    boynamedsuse Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2010
    Interesting. Of course, the strength depends much more on the materials and cross section of the core than the diameter of the string. I am guessing that the strength of a G string would be similar if it used the same core. :ninja:
  3. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    Is the core the same in all the strings in the same set?
  4. Texan

    Texan 667 Neighbor of the Beast.

    Aug 15, 2004
    Houston, TX
    True, the core wire is .022", the core size of the G is .016", so I'm guessing that it will break at 90-110 ft/lbs. I'll test it if I get a chance, I'm curious now.

    As a control, I may strip the wires to the bear core to findout if the wrap adds any strength.

    Being that we have no idea what grade the material is and that the it's most likely cold rolled, which would increase brittle factor...now I want to experiment more!!!
  5. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    But you're doing a straight pull. Given the way the string bends over the bridge, over the nut, around the tuning peg, and the fact that it is plucked perpendicular to the length of the string, I'd say your test doesn't accurately reflect all of the weaknesses in the string.

    Moar tests!
  6. mkandolf


    Nov 21, 2007
    Saint Clair, MI
    Dangit!!! Now I want to go out and get in trouble in the lab here!!! :ninja:
  7. Texan

    Texan 667 Neighbor of the Beast.

    Aug 15, 2004
    Houston, TX
    True, but I don't have a fixture that will simulate that. We could guess that the saddle would create a "high tension area" and as a result, it would break at lower tension. But I could be wrong. The plucking vibration could weaken the saddle and nut contact areas, but i'm guessing that would require more tension than the neck could stand and lots of movement, not plausible in normal, even rough aggresive playing.

    FYI, the G .016" core broke at 93.28 ft/lbs.
  8. knuckle_head

    knuckle_head Commercial User

    Jul 30, 2002
    Owner; Knuckle Guitar Works & Circle K Strings
    If it's safe to do you can incrementally up the tension and, in the playing position, use a pick to simulate playing.

    Thinner strings give out readily as you approach 60 pounds - and to me, anything much beyond 45 pounds is uncomfortable to play.
  9. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    Better yet, build a standalone device that holds a pick and moved back and forth across the string with a light-gauge pick.

    I bet it could be done.

    I also have some older strings if you'd like to use them to test further.
  10. ixlramp


    Jan 25, 2005
    Is 93.28 ft/lbs equivalent to a tension of 93.28 pound-force? I don't understand the unit :rollno: ;)
  11. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Can you put a pickup under the string and record the audio? I'd like to hear that.
  12. slingbob777


    Apr 15, 2012
    sooooooooooo, i came here looking for a breakdown of the difference between guitar and bass in ft lbs (while playing) and found something that has really piqued my interest!!! so i joined lol and btw, back in 97, i broke my e string while playing black velvet about halfway through the song...everything dropped about a quarter step and i had one hell of a time finishing. the strings were a couple months old and i play with a pick fairly aggressively but i dont really pick hard, it's mostly hammerons and pull offs which im sure takes its toll but that is the only e ive ever broken on a bass so i assume it was flawed or weakened.
  13. I only wear steel core steel wrapped G strings. :ninja:

    Someone had to do it.
  14. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    What was the tension at pitch?

    What kind of string was it?
  15. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    I can't tell from the pic...where did the failure occur?
  16. mc_muench


    Sep 28, 2010
    Milwaukee, WI
    I must have hulk hands to have broken 4 E strings while playing...
  17. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    I realize your question is a year old and you might not see this answer but the unit is pounds (as it clearly says on the computer screen if you click on the photo) as one would expect. Evidently the OP is not so much a geek as a geek-in-training if he cannot get the units right! ;) Or maybe he is a car guy and is just in the habit of using ft-lbs which is a unit of torque or energy, not tension. But even in that case it is ft-lbs not ft/lbs. I can identify with your confusion....

    If you look at the Circle K string tension charts the wound bass strings stop at about 60 lbs tension. I think that is close to the practical limit given the sharp bend at the tuning post. The only bass string I've broken was a G string that I was trying to tune up to A# and it broke right at that bend just before I got to A#. It was a 0.045 Fender flatwound string and while the Circle K chart is not gospel, only suggestive, for other brands and styles of strings it would have been off their chart at that frequency. I should have checked that before I tried tuning to A#, eh? :D

  18. ixlramp


    Jan 25, 2005
    Thanks, just looked at the photo. 162 lbs for an E and 93 for a G seem surprisingly high, but then it is for a straight pull without bends and instantaneous tension spikes due to playing.
  19. GC34


    Nov 25, 2012
    Interesting resuit. Boy that's an octave above standard. You can tune a low e bass string an entire octave. A .053 guitar low e string takes about 75 pounds of tension to break. How much tension does it take to break a low b .0130 string? I would estimate 200 pounds. Also have you tested other bass strings?
  20. I think you'd be right. Strings always break either at the bridge or where they wrap around a tuning peg, never along the straight section IME.