A friend of mine has an older (10 to 15 years) flat top 6 string acoustic guitar. Looked and sounded like it had the original strings. Thought I'd do him a favor by replacing them. Loosened up the strings carefully and equally. Gently tried to pull the low E pin out with just my thumb and finger and the head snapped off the pin! I felt terrible. We were at his house, in a tiny town that houses no music store (I got the strings from a music store over an hour away, before I broke the pin). Never ever had a this happen before!
I thought the best thing was to take it to a shop to change the strings since I'm not sure the best way to extract the broken off part of the pin (I couldn't get it to budge when pushing against it with a small wood block from the inside) and remove/replace the remaining ones without breaking them, too.
Have any of you repair guys seen this? Do the cheap plastic pins just age and get brittle? Do you use any kind of penetrant to loosen them up in cases like this? Thanks!