I have recently worked with a guitarist who plays in a band that tours a lot. Now he claims that he breaks more strings when I change them, because I use an electric screwdriver with a peg winder attachment. That's what he's been told by other tech he met while on the road.

I don't know what am I missing here? The only thing that can happen is that the nut on a die-cast tuner will go loose when winding up. With some cheap tuners the post can rub on the nut and in turn loosen it. But I know this is something that happens with regular tuning too and I know I am not the first one to figure this out. You just need to double-check it.

Any ideas on what else could pose a problem by using a simple cordless machine that only goes up to 280 rpm? Do you think that winding by hand is superior to a cordless screwdriver?

I am completely confident that cranking by hand or by machine only does one thing - it gets the string on that d*** guitar, that's all. I really don't see a point here, the screw and gear turn and the string gets wound up. One is a bit faster that the other, that's all.

Sorry guys for an emotional outburst, but this one really takes the cake.


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Hi Luke.

There are a number of factors the O.P. mentioned that makes it impossible to provide further diagnosis.

1. The guitar is not on his bench.

2. The "diagnosis" is technically invalid as it comes from an "unknown source", being: the guy's OTHER tech who may or may not be either an expert touring tech, a sub-novice OR a hack. We just DON'T KNOW. His lame diagnosis of the cause of breakage makes me lean toward the latter.

and, from my earlier post: #3....

" I'd love to hear from his "other tech" as to how he came up with this diagnosis. Without that, it's all just baseless jabbering."

There truly is NOTHING in any of the posts that would allow anyone to diagnose a phantom problem, most likely caused by a "metaphorical pissin' contest" the mystery tech started between the O.P. and his customer.

I hope that assuages your call for more action in this matter, because it simply cannot be done. 

Given the last post before this, it appears as if the thread has headed WAY off course.

The bottom line: The "other tech" is full of B.S.  Why? It will NEVER be known.

Short of hiring someone gifted with remote viewing, our work is done. We'd like to help more... of course.... but without evidence, we can't build a case. Or said a different way: without the guitar to work on, we can't work on the guitar.

If Tad provides us with several angles of highly detailed close-up  pictures of the subject instrument and each string's contact points, we'd at LEAST have something to look at to aid in a 'diagnosis & cure'. Otherwise, IMO.. we're done with this thread.

Sorry guys for late replies, I had a leak in my water heater and I had to deal with 50 gallons of water each day in my basement.

His string break is just sweat induced trauma. With the humind and hot summer we had here, the D string in particular has become problematic. That's because the D string is the thinnest wound string, both the core and the winds are very thin. I know some local guitarist who have really sweaty hands and it happens on D strings a lot. The string literally rusts (usually behind the bridge, so if it's a trem guitar, you might not even notice it without removing the strings) just in one night.

I will get the guitar soon, the trouble is that guitar is out of EU zone in Bosnia and it's not as easy as driving it across the borders :) But that's not my concern. We have since talked about the issue, I was a little mad at him, he is a good friend, I'd say, but I don't like when people take other people's misinformations for granted.

Thanks for the update, Tad.

"but I don't like when people take other people's misinformations for granted".

I completely agree with your point of view. It's a common occurrence.

With the new wave of 'shade tree repair hacks' emerging around the world (thanks to misinformation TOO EASILY available on the interwebs), we must prepare ourselves for more of it in the future.

It sounds as if the solution is simply: Change your strings each gig. Wiping down his guitar after each session will also help delay the onset of rust on the bridge saddle. Simple GOOD, ROUTINE AND REGULAR preventative maintenance.  A change to stainless steel alloy strings is another good suggestion.

Have a great rest of the week :)

Hi Ned.

"Is breaking strings really all that common that some people accept it as just part of playing?". 

The answer is a resounding YES. The only acceptable reason for this is ignorance on the part of the player.

Not to be mean, but there are A LOT of willful idiots out there. Fortunately, we rarely see them at our counters as they could generally care less about their string breakage. These guys are NOT real musicians but folks who care more about 'posing' than being a skilled musician. We used to call them "Lead Singers". ;) They make up the majority of instrument buyers nowadays... and probably always have.

Adding just a pinch of seriousness to this reply, the most common MECHANICAL cause is a burr or other irregular contact point in the string's path (bridge saddle, nut,tuning key, a dink on the fret...etc.).  These are easily identified & fixed.

The other major cause is incorrect, poor or bad playing technique that stress strings beyond their design limits.

The first set of causes are easily diagnosed & corrected. The latter has been discussed many times before and telling a customer that they.. well, here's how it goes..

The tech says: "You may wish to review your technique and make appropriate changes in your playing in order to minimize this problem."

The customer hears: "You suck".

In that model, the customer's attitude regarding the IMPLEMENTATION of the good advice is what will improve or stagnate the situation. It's a 'sticky wicket' ... whatever that is ;)

A 3rd and oft encountered reason is that most players don't know how to properly string-up a guitar. User errors made during a string change is more common than playing technique issues.

There are other causes, of course, the MOST frequent being strings that SHOULD have been changed weeks, months or years ago.

How many broken strings a technician 'sees' depends upon the styles of his/her clientele. Here are a few of my completely unscientific and empirical observations:

Performers of pop music break few strings. It's not a physically demanding style for the guitar.

Players of Metal music break strings and it's usually associated with floating trem adjustment issues. Those cats are all about and have impeccable technique.

Blues guys often break strings because they're just too damn poor to buy new strings.

Hard rock guys break lots of strings because the music IS physically demanding upon the instrument. Because of this fact, they treat their touring tech's like deities... as they should. :)

Thrash players? Oh man, that's too long of an explanation. Suffice it to say that they should just become professional wrestlers.

TRADITIONAL Jazz guys NEVER break strings. They're the "engineers" of the guitar world and treat their instruments VERY well.  Just ask their wives & girlfriends. They're jealous.

Country guys break strings but "play around the break'. They play so fast & clean that often no one notices the broken string.

On the acoustic side......

Fingerstyle and light strummers don't break strings, again, because the style is not physically demanding.

Hard strummers break strings usually because of an iron fist approach to their playing. Go to any "Open Mic." for a practical demonstration.

Bluegrass players break lots of strings. If they don't, they're not giving it their 'ALL'.  Those cats are AMAZING.

You get my whimsical gist, right?

We also have to remember that strings are consumables and require changing on a regular or 'as needed basis'.

I begin each gig with fresh strings on ALL my guitars on an 'as needed basis'... for my peace of mind.. I haven't broken a string in over 30 years. That can be ONLY attributed to nothing but PURE LUCK :)

There's no panacea for string breakage.

Take care & have a great week, Ned :)

Paul. I needed a laugh today and I got it. Thanks.

 I've known several people that subscribe to the idea that broken strings are just part of playing. I never thought any of them to be a particularly good player and they never exhibited any ability to "play around it"... though some of them seem to think they can.

In my opinion, they were/are trying to play beyond what they or the instrument is capable of delivering. Most of the conversations I've had on the subject, with people that were not in the beginner class, were a waste of time at best.   

I don't break strings while play unless the string is faulty. WHEN I break a string it is ALWAYS part of a newly installed set and usually happens within the first hour or so of playing. I used to change them, beat them into submission and tune it again before putting it away.  Now I like to play in a new set of strings to get them beyond the first stretch and to help insure that I don't have a broken string waiting to happen on stage.  (Can you tell I don't play "on stage" very often?)  I haven't had to try to "play around it" for many years now, which is something of a good thing because I never learned that particular trick. The trick I've discovered to compensate for my lack of "playing around it" skill, is to not break a string in the first place.

Maybe, someday when I get around to actually owning an electric guitar with extremely light, slinky strings, I'll learn how to really bend those strings and THEN "play around it". I bend strings now but I"m too lazy to bend them enough to break one. I just know an electric guitar will inspire me to really " bend it with Bec... ah... Von" which I'm sure will bring on an enhancement of my "playing around it" skills.  

BTW, I got a big kick out of your rundown but the blue's players put me away. I've been chuckling about that all morning.  Now I know why so many of my "blues player" friends play those old Harmony and Kay built guitars that have the "patina of untouched authenticity". I'm talking, of course, about the "no gap at the heel, it can't be real" crowd, not those pansies playing guitars with an action below half an inch.  Now I understand. It's not about the guitar,,, they're just broke.

Well, there I go again, laughing at the misfortune of others. Sure hope I'm not offending any of our fellow fora members because I really don't mean to be mean but sometimes  a thing is just funny.

I've used this one for years, never had a complaint or problem with it. The speed of it takes a little getting used to.


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