I have a long time customer who ALWAYS seems to be a pain in the rear. He brings me A LOT of business as he is a full time guitar instructor and he plays in a popular local band. He is very good and experienced player and knows what he likes. I setup all of his guitars and he is very particular, he likes the action low but likes to bend really heavy. He plays strats and a PRS DGT.

    Here is where I ran into an issue. He gave me a sentimental Squire tele to setup. The tele appears to be in pretty good shape. The neck was straight, frets decent, upgraded pickups, and bone nut. 25.5" scale. I set this bad boy up, I had to shim the neck, and did a fret level and dress. I had the guitar playing great, or I thought I did. 

    When he came into pick it up he said he couldn't bend as easily as he thinks he should be able to. He said that he needs to be able to bend 1.5 steps without hesitation. He said he can do it with his other guitars, and he asked "why can't I do it with this?" Now the PRS is a different animal but his main strat is virtually identical in scale length and fretboard radius. He said he can do what he needs to do with the strat. I have the tele setup exactly like his strat, relatively straight relief .006, action at the 12th big E is .06 and tiny e is .42 he likes it LOW. He said he isn't afraid to go higher as long as it feels comfortable and he can bend. 

   Anyway he was here for about an hour and I changed the relief and changed the action and he still couldn't "comfortably" bend. Now 'disclaimer' I am not a great player and I don't think I could bend a 1.5steps if I tried for a week. I saw him bending and he was bending that tiny e half way though the fret board. After trying this and trying that the string BROKE! dead center in the middle of the fret board right around where he was bending 10th fretish. The strings were D'addario 10s, obviously brand new. He also said he felt like he couldn't hold onto the string. He said, and I saw, it kept slipping. Now the frets are decent height and defiantly higher than his strat, as his strat is ready for a refret. I just don't know what else to do and what else to try. He told me to put 9s on it he said he likes lighter strings but his strat has 10s on it as do the rest of his guitars.

    WHY is this tele not bending the way it should be? What else can I do? He insisted in paying up front and told me add whatever else onto if it was going to cost more. He is more than patient. He told me take my time on it and no worries... but hey I am worried! I feel like I am failing as a repairman or at least a setup man. 


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I don't know much about bending strings. I do it, but not to any great degree, probably because of the nature of my instruments and my personal style of playing. One thing I know is... Strings sometimes break.  If I break a string once in a while, be it one that I just installed or one that is near the end of service, I'm comfortable in assuming that it was a weakness or flaw in the string itself. If I break a string every time I do a particular thing, It's time to investigate my end of things. 

One broken string is meaningless, new or old, it doesn't really present any functional information other that the fact that you now need a new string. If the player broke multiple strings in an attempt to bend 1.5 steps, I'd say it was worth investigating but beyond that it's a "red herring".  It seems to me that the issue isn't a broken string. The issue seems to be the customer's perception of how the guitar feels and the discussion of "string theory" has drifted down a path of no return.

LIke I said, I don't know much about bending but I'm very interested in hearing how this turns out.   

Jeff, I owe you a Sincere Apology.

Somehow, when I began to write the last post.

I spelt your name incorrectly, though that actually wasn't at all intentional.

Although I indulged in a little humour later to make a point, the original mistake was indeed, precisely that.



If that has caused any offence.

Once again, accept my Sincere Apologises.




Here's the Absolute Icing on the Cake.

For a Moment, let's Fully Accept as Absolute Truth, the Previous Assertions.

Quote: "music wire, whilst having a higher yield strength  as required to withstand the required string tension, had exactly the same quoted modulus of elasticity as mild steel."

Quote: "two plain strings of the same diameter which may have different yield strengths will exibit the same resistance to bending."

Quote: "it is a deeply flawed suggestion to change brand rather than gauge to facilitate bending."

Quote: "Unless he is bending on the wound strings, the brand makes no difference."




If the Brand of String makes No Difference.

If it is Deeply Flawed, to suggest Changing String Brand, rather than Gauge.

If Bending occurring on the Top Three Plain Strings, makes No Difference, Irrespective of Brand.



Then in Reality.

If you Think Things Through.

There is Absolutely, No Relevant Reason, Whatever.

Not to Go Ahead and Swap Brands, because According to the Above Hypothesis.

Doing So, will Affect No Difference Whatever, to the Player, who Usually Only Bends the Top Three Plain Strings.



Can you see the Logic?

And Where any Deep Flaw, Truly Lays.

If the Hypothesis is Correct, the Player will Have Absolutely Nothing to Lose by Changing String Brand. After all, "It Makes No Difference", we are told.

However, if the Hypothesis is Wrong. Conversely, the Player will Have Everything to Gain by Changing String Brand, because they May Well Find, both Sonic Qualities and Handling Characteristics in a New Brand of String, they might Never Have Knowledge and Experience of, had they Never Tried, Something New.

Today, Strings are Cheap to Buy, and Easier than Ever to Change, with all Kinds of Cheap Manual and Electric String Winders. With the Uttermost Respect. I truly cannot conceive of any Genuinely Legitimate Reason, to "Brand" a Guitarist as "Deeply Flawed" who is willing to try, a New Brand of String, in the Active Pursuit, of a Superior Playing Performance, from their Old Kit.



For sure.

We all get a Genuine Point.

That going onto a Narrower Gauge of  Plain String.

Makes Bending Easier, but this is Distilling, Complex, Multi-Faceted Issues.

Down to a Lowest Common Denominator, Over Simplifying Matters that Involve Wider Considerations.

Why is it, for example, that many Players who Do a Lot of Bending, Specifically Prefer the Hallmark Qualities and Characteristics of Heavier Gauge 10's? Because they Often Do!

This is a very Common Phenomenon amongst Heavy Bending Players, including of course, the Very Player that is the Subject of the Original Post. How can this be, if Successful Bending Requires the Narrowest Gauge?

The Top and Bottom  of it is, that the Subject is More Involved than a Simple Single Issue and as Russ put it so well earlier: "Players exist who can pick the difference between string brands no drama at all, be it a function of string lubrication, surface polish, stiffness or drawing procedure etc - it happens and whether it's a function of a whole bunch of things or alloy content is beyond the scope of  what I can look at.  Core to wrap ratios, wind tension, core shape, string plating/coatings/lubrication, ball end anchoring  all affect the wound strings big time, but so too the plains are afflicted with differences that can be discerned."



A Wider Point.

Is Today more than ever.

Name and Brand are Important to Consumers.

They Intimately Identify With and Positively Use the Brand Image.

To be a Form of  Avatar of Themselves, Expressing their Innate Qualities and Personal Values.

And Seek Out Products that Display and Express, the Way they Feel About Themselves, and the Lifestyle they Want to Live.

All Major Manufacturers in the Music Industry, invest heavily in Marketing and Merchandising, Ancillary Products that are Lifestyle Statements.

The following is a True Story. I once worked for a Company that Spent a Cool £1,000,000 on Market Research, just to Find a Suitable Name for a New Product. It's Amazing how the most Elegant English Word, Translates Globally, across Continents, to Ultimately Mean the Precise Opposite, When Expressed in Another Language.

This is Why, at times, you will have All Encountered Products that Feature, Somewhat Odd Sounding Names, which your Instinct about is, "Why on Earth did they Name the Product That? Surely they could have Thought of a Better Name?" Well the truth is they could, but they were looking for a "Global Name", to be the Same to Advertise and Market Right Across the World. But all the Good Names, meant Something Else Entirely, usually "*&^%*", Elsewhere on the Planet. It's quite funny really.




Manufacturers Actively Tweak the Products in their Brand Portfolios.

So that in Many Respect's, they Reflect what will be Desirable Characteristics, aimed at their Targeted Consumer Demographic.

Here's just one Example, as an Analogy. Probably Everyone Here will be Familiar with the Colour "Nightfire" it's one of the Most Popular Colours of All Time.

If you were Shine a Torch in the Dark at Night on this Colour, you would see Green and Blue and Yellow, all  the Colours one would Find in a Campfire. In a Colour that to the eye in Daylight, just looks Red. It's the Art of the Colourist who Formulates the Paint.

And in Many Such Ways, Most Consumers would not even Perceive, a Quality Manufacturer goes to Great Lengths to Tweak their Products to the Uttermost, so that they Truly Reflect the Hallmark Qualities and Characteristics that the Consumer Identified with, when they Purchased a Product and Brand with a Given Title and Name.


The Innate Qualities Inherent to Specific String Types and Brands are No Exception.


And Why Certain Players are Attracted to Very Specific Products.


Whose Properties Facilitate their Playing Style.



Quote: "One thing I know is... Strings sometimes break."



One of the very first things.

I was taught when I began my Working Life in the Music Industry.

By a Professional of Very Long Standing from the Early 1930's, was the reasons Guitar Strings Break.

I was told it was usually because of the Lack of Experience of the Player, their Force of Attack and General Lack of Finesse and Consistency of Strumming Methodology.

Secondly, and Particularly Important in Days, when Wide Vagrancies Existed Between Brands, and there was a Lack of Manufacturing Consistency; was that it was the result of using Cheap Strings, some Popular Brands of which, wouldn't Last.

Thirdly, it was the Result of a Faulty or Worn String, or equally a Fault or Wear at a Friction Point of Contact, between the String and a Hardware Component, utilised on the Instrument. When I began Playing I would Regularly Breaks Strings. Today it happens so  infrequently that it Genuinely Takes Me by Surprise.


But thank you.

For your assistance in helping me "drift down a path of no return".

Involving Fond Memories of Great Mentors and Authorities of The Music Industry, Long Gone from this Earth, but still, Warmly Cherished in Memory.




Back to Luke's original question

My Maple neck telecaster was due for a string change

It had 10 gauge D'addarios about 6month old -10,13,17 plains

I tried to bend the high E on the 10th fret 1 1/2 steps (3 semitones) from D to F

It did not break but was certainly not comfortable, next to impossible for my fingers, had to go right to the centreline

I had a set of Ernie balls on hand 10,13,17 plains

Same displacement, same resistance no easier

My conclusions are that you should just go with 9's since your customer is wanting to do that.

Thanks for the info Jeff. Yea I'm going to do 9s because that's what he wants on it, I am also going no to try some of the other tricks you guys have mentioned. For the purposes of the discussion I may put some 10s on it after the other adjustments to see how much of a difference that makes and then put the 9s on it and document my findings. I'm hoping to start on this tomorrow. I moved it to the top of my list because of everyone's feedback and desire to see the finished result. Thanks everyone for the encouragement and knowledge.

'Quote: " Thanks everyone for the encouragement and knowledge.



That's what its all about!

I'm always Learning or Relearning something here.

So a Very Big Thank You to Everyone that freely Contributes their Views.



Quote: "My Maple neck telecaster was due for a string change

It had 10 gauge D'addarios about 6month old -10,13,17 plains"

Quote: "I had a set of Ernie balls on hand 10,13,17 plains

Same displacement, same resistance no easier




This comment doesn't surprise me at all.

And there are two very good reasons for me adopting that attitude.

The first is: It is widely reported by Guitarists that try both Brands, that some Players find them Identical and Others, Completely Different.

So in that respect, these personal experience comments are no different to many other forms of ABX perceptual tests, where Wide Variability's are a Recognised Feature of Life.



As to  my second point.

Being Factual. I certainly know it's true that Sterling Ball owner of Ernie Ball Music Man is Very Good Pals with, Respects and Admires, Jim D'Addario.

Following EBMM as I do, Owning and Recording with a number of their Basses, I am correct in writing the following: As I recall, Ernie Ball Produce their Own Strings, using Raw Wire from Mape's and have at periods, used Plain Wire from D'Addario.



And if you speak to Tammy at Mape's.

She will tell you that Mape's supplies Music Wire to:

GNI Music.




J. D'Arrario.





Ernie Ball.



Black Diamond.

Dean Markley.

and Vincy.



As I stated Earlier, there are Other, Music Wire Suppliers, and these obtain their Music Wire, from Specialist Mills.

Consumers experience a Branded Product and imagine that everything about it is always the same. That isn't necessarily true, as their Suppliers can be Changed at any time for a Variety of Reasons.

In my own Manufacturing World, we try to ensure that for High Runners, there are at least Two Alternative Suppliers at All Times. Quality Problems are Avoided, as if experienced, we could Quickly Switch.

There was a period, when Jim D'Addario, supplied Strings for Ernie Ball, though I also have it in my mind, that it simply involved the Plain Strings. So it could well have been just their own Mills, Core Wire and Plain Strings.

The Salient Point being that D'Addario is the Only String Company, Manufacturing its Own Wire. They have Two Specialist Wire Mills, in Conn. and Mass. One for Cores and Plain Steel and the other for Chemically Coated Strings.

Ernie Ball Strings were located in San Luis Obispo, in what used to be one of California's Oldest Spanish Communities, half way between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Its where Ernie Ball is buried, and where the EBMM Instrument Factory resides.

Now it may well have been the case, (and from what Sterling Ball mentioned, I seem to remember it was) that when the String Operation, was moved right out into the Desert, that it was both desirable and necessary, to provide continuity of supply, by virtue of Out Sourcing some level of the Production to D'Addario, though it might have been simply that they supplied the Cores and Plain Strings. Continuing Cooperation would make Good Business Sense.



The Essential Point is.

Even if Ernie Ball Strings and Others utilised D'Addario Plain Wire.

It does not necessarily follow that the Detailed Specification of Plain Strings are Exactly Identical.

For that to be true, (and it being an unassailable fact that Mape's, Supplies Music Wire to ALL Those Manufacturers stated above), then the Strings of All those Brands would be the largely the same.


I do think any Guitarist.

That had actually utilised a Wide Range of All these Strings Brands.

Would find that to have Any Sustainable Truth in it Whatever, and had easily detected a Wide Variability in Tonality and Many Significant Quality Parameters.


Here's Jim D'Addario, to Shed some Further Light.


"This is Jim D'Addario here. . . .I find these threads very interesting. Unfortunatley there is a lot of myth and fantasy in some of them.

I can share with you that D'Addario is the largest manufacturer of strings in the world right here on Long Island. We have 800 employees in NY making strings and Evans drumheads.

We produce 550,000 strings per day and devote ourselves to maintaining high quality standards. We have never purchased a string from anyone.

Yes there are only a handful of major string manufacturers and many of them including D'Addario make strings for other brands that you may play and love.

Many brands that out-source their strings from other manufactuers do have their own specifications so all strings are NOT THE SAME.

It is true that prior to marketing D'Addario as a brand our family business was known as Darco Music Strings. We sold the company to Martin Guitars in 1969.

All D'Addario strings are made in the USA. Some major brands import strings. You should check your country of origin when buying.

D'Addario is also the only company that makes its own wire. We have two wire mills, one in Conn. and one in Mass. that make super high quality, specialized wires just for string making. One makes our core and plain steel wire and the other coated EXP wire."



Jim D'ddarios comments.

Highlighted in Bold, explain why I wrote:

"In Many Such Ways, Most Consumers would not even Perceive, a Quality Manufacturer goes to Great Lengths to Tweak their Products to the Uttermost, so that they Truly Reflect the Hallmark Qualities and Characteristics that the Consumer Identified with, when they Purchased a Product and Brand with a Given Title and Name.

The Innate Qualities Inherent to Specific String Types and Brands are No Exception.

And Why Certain Players are Attracted to Very Specific Products.

Whose Properties Facilitate their Playing Style."


Purchase Strings that Best Suit.

The Guitar and Player.




I apologize that it took me so long to get back to you guys.

Here is what I did:

Decreased the string break angle by making the shim thinner.

I added a little more fall away and did a compound radius to 10" I know its not much but I didn't want to go too flat.

I tried to shine up with the finish on the fretboard and make it smoother. the finish they use on those necks is kind of hard to buff, its a soft satin type finish I am not exactly sure but I couldn't make it much smoother. I may consider rebuffing it using compounds.

I strung it up with 9s Ernie Ball.

I also decreased the string break angle of e and B behind the nut by putting a washer under the string tree.

I lowered the pickup height a little too.

All this with very little difference. I have not asked the owner to come over yet as I am still contemplating what else I can do. I also feel like I am over analyzing it which may skew my opinion of how it feels.

By the way before I strung it up with 9s I set it up with 10s and after a bunch of attempts at trying to bend the damn ball POPPED off the end of the e string.

I'll get some measurements of everything when I get home tomorrow. I just wanted to try and get this thread back on track. thanks for all of the info on strings.


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