Locating the source of the breakage
Determine where on the guitar the string is breaking, then click the matching description below for information on how to fix the problem:
- String is breaking at the tuning machine (key) shaft
The 3rd string (G#) is usually an .010, .011, or .012. These strings require EXTRA winds around the post to get the string further away from the hole in the shaft. This hole almost always has burrs or a sharp edge at the hole from the plating. Some are inside the outer edge and hard to reach. It is easier to add extra windings than to remove the burr.
You should also check the shaft itself for burrs. If any burrs are found, use steel wool to remove them.
- String is breaking at the rollers on the key head
A. Rollers must be able to turn freely to ensure accurate return of raises and lowers, as well as not causing string breakage by DRAGGING the string back and forth over the roller's surface
Test for drag using your finger to move the roller. If drag is noticed, oil the roller shaft by either removing the rollers and shaft or dropping some oil on the exposed part of the shaft on either side of the roller.
B. Check the shaft itself for burrs. If any burrs are found, use steel wool or sand paper to remove them. Re-oil the shaft, mount the rollers on the shaft, and replace the completed sub-assembly on the guitar.
C. Check the roller for damage where the string contacts the roller. This is rare; but may occasionally happen. Contact your builder and replace the roller with a new one.
- String is breaking at the control finger on the changer
A. Check the control finger for burrs, rough spots, or grooves. Use a Q-tip, as well as good lighting, and a magnifying glass to see if any of these conditions exist.
On aluminum control fingers (the most common type), you can remove most of these conditions using steel wool and Simichrome polish.
Deep grooves and burrs will probably require refinishing the finger using 300-600 wet/dry sandpaper. Check out the video Resurfacing the Changer Fingers for information on how to refinish the finger.
WARNING: Do NOT polish anodized aluminum or chrome-plated control fingers. You will ruin both of these types of control fingers if you do either of these operations.
B. Use a string with a SHORTER winding around the ball. Longer winds tend to break more often.
C. Use a different brand of strings since "bad strings" tend to run in batches.
D. Make sure the changer is moving freely throughout its entire range of movement. You should disconnect the spring(s) to check out this problem. If you find a spot where the movement is slowed down by friction or seems to "catch", lubricate the changer by working in the oil while moving the affected finger(s).
Tips for preventing 3rd string breakage
A few tips for preventing 3rd string breakage at critical times:
- Change your third string after 8-10 hours of use (two 4-hour gigs).
- Use a rag and clean the grease and dirt off the changer's control finger surface every time you change strings.
- Polish and clean the changer's control finger surface with Simichrome or other metal polish every 2nd or 3rd time you change strings.
- Make sure the "barb" at the end of the wire wrap is facing away from the finger. This will prevent scratches and gouges form forming in the control finger.