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Thread: D'addario strings (Consistent breakage)

  1. #1

    Default D'addario strings (Consistent breakage)

    So when I first picked up mandolin I broke a lot of E strings. I'm sure we all have. Not only is the E string more likely to be the first to break from general use, but it's also more vunerable to burrs on the tuning pegs, and any sharp irregularities on the hooks. If you are down tuning and up tuning several times to try to set your intonation, you can almost guarantee the stress of releasing the tension and then tuning back up over and over will break at least one E string. This is all normal.

    My experience with D'addario strings was anything but normal.

    My local shop used to only carry one brand of mandolin strings, I believe they were Martin Brand (they came in a purple box, maybe Martin and Co?)

    I never had any issues with these strings.

    Then they stopped carrying the Martin's and starting carrying D'addario. At first, this excited me, because they only had one type of Martin strings, but there were five different varieties of D'addario strings to choose from. I bought slightly thicker strings than I normally play with, and was extremely happy with the tone. I knew I was more likely to break E strings, and the other strings would probably hold up for a long long time, so I bought some extra loose E strings (my local shop is also a repair shop, so even though D'addarios aren't available as single strings, they just break a few packs open as sell them loose for a dollar).

    When I went to replace the strings, I did everything I normally do. I replaced the strings one at a time. My intonation was already as close to perfect as I could get it without taking it to a professional, and my action was exactly where I wanted it. When replacing an E string, I always tune it very slowly up to C5, let it sit for at least an hour, and then very slowly tune it up to E5.

    I had 3 of the 4 strings I had bought break as soon as they got to D#5, and all in the exact same place. They didn't break at the tuning pegs. They didn't break somewhere in the middle of the string. They ALL broke at the "loop end". Not the loop that you put into the string at the tuning head, the loop the manufacturer makes that attaches at the tailpiece. A day later the fourth string broke.

    Now at first I thought I was doing something wrong. Maybe I was tuning up too quicky. Maybe there was an irregularity that I had missed that was cutting the string. But none of those really make sense based on where the break was. All four breaks were at the knot that the manufacturer puts into the string to form the "loop-end".

    I bought four more D'addario E strings (they were .011 if anyone is curious) and tried again. Once again, all four broke, in the exact same place and all at D#5.

    At this point I thought I must be losing my mind, or doing something wrong I just didn't know about. So I decided to google it. There were many novice mandolin players complaining about breaking E strings in ways that are normal and solvable. However I did find at least a half dozen people complaining about the exact problem that I was having (EDIT: all these post were specifically about D'addario strings). Some of these post were on here, some were on reddit, and they were anywhere from 5 years old to 6 months old.

    So I went to Juststrings.com and bough 10 ghs E strings for 76 each. They work just fine, no problems at all.

    My question is, does anyone else consistently use D'addario strings and nothing else, and have you encountered this problem? I almost want to call the manufacturer, not necessarily to complain, just to let them know they might have a manufacturering issue. I can't think of any other reason why this would happen 8 times in a row, all in the same spot at with the same amount of tension.
    Last edited by LunarCryptids; Sep-01-2020 at 6:58pm. Reason: Clarity

  2. #2

    Default Re: D'addario strings (Consistent breakage)

    I always use D'addario strings and have NEVER had this problem.

  3. #3
    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
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    Default Re: D'addario strings (Consistent breakage)

    I have consistently use D'addario strings and nothing else, and I have never encountered this problem.

    Many suggestions as to what the real problem is should be forthcoming.

    BTW, I disagree with your claim that breaking E strings is "normal."
    Chris Cravens

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  5. #4

    Default Re: D'addario strings (Consistent breakage)

    Which gauges? I was using mediums. It honestly makes me think that it was the batch or something, because the other posts I found complaining about it were very spread out over time, sporadic, and they received similar responses from people who had never had any issue.

    As for the rest of the strings, the Gs, Ds, and As, they sound beautiful. It was a noticable step up from the strings I was buying before in terms of tonality, and I am very pleased with them. I am certainly not trying to say the company is bad, they make good strings. I am just wondering if this is a common enough issue to warrant making them aware of it.

  6. #5

    Default Re: D'addario strings (Consistent breakage)

    Have you seriously never broken an E string? I'm not being sarcastic, I'm genuinely curious. For an experienced player or a professional they probably rarely break any strings. However I would still be very impressed if that were the truth.

    What I was trying to communicate is that the E string is more vunerable to the mistakes a novice might make, or the manufacturing defects of a cheaper instrument.

  7. #6
    Registered User John Rosett's Avatar
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    Default Re: D'addario strings (Consistent breakage)

    I think that, in 40+/- years of using D'Addario mandolin strings, I've had 2 that slipped at the loop end and broke. I used the J74's up until a couple of years ago, then switched to the J73's. I honestly can't remember the last time I broke a string on the mandolin.
    "it's not in bad taste, if it's funny" - john waters

  8. #7

    Default Re: D'addario strings (Consistent breakage)

    One of the 8 that broke "slipped" the way that you describe, but the rest were just clean breaks.

  9. #8
    Notary Sojac Paul Kotapish's Avatar
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    Default Re: D'addario strings (Consistent breakage)

    I've been using D'Addario strings for 40 years or so, too -- lots and lots of sets in a really busy year of gigging. I have had some bad batches on rare occasions. I typically buy 10 sets at a time, and there was one box of EJ75s roughly eight years ago where almost every E string in the box slipped at the "noose" on the loop end where it goes on the tailpiece. I contacted D'Addario and assured them that this was no scam -- responded to a few questions from one of their reps, send some digital photos of the breakage, tailpiece, etc. They replaced all of the broken ones quite promptly and threw in a few sets, too, if I recall correctly. I got the sense that they'd had some other complaints about that issue at the time and that maybe they'd had a problem with one of their winders.

    Has not been a problem in recent years, but I always keep a bunch of .0115 singles in the case.
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  10. #9

    Default Re: D'addario strings (Consistent breakage)

    This is kind of the impression that I got when I found other posts with the exact same complain. This seems to be something that happens extremely rarely, but it is good to know that they seem to be somewhat aware of the issue and willing to correct it.

    As far as contacting them for some kind of refund, I personally wouldn't bother with it. My main concern is whether or not they were aware of this being an issue, and from your anecdotal experience it seems that they are.

    I have only being playing for about 5 years, and while I wouldn't consider myself to be a novice when it comes to mandolin, I still have a lot to learn. Every other time I have broken a string it has obviously been a result of user error. I try to keep an extra set at all times just so I don't have to run to the store if I do break a string, but it is a much less common occurrence than when I started. I have gotten a lot of good advice on this forum and others.

    I think your conclusion that they might have had an issue with one of their winders is probably accurate. I have no clue what the string manufacturing process looks like, but I imagine that if it were a bigger problem then it would effect the other strings as well. That's just a guess though, I'm basing that off of nothing.

  11. #10

    Default Re: D'addario strings (Consistent breakage)

    If there is no issue from the ones you purchased at Just Strings, is it possible the ones you bought elsewhere are the counterfeits that D’Addario was pulling his hair out over a few years ago?
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

  12. #11

    Default Re: D'addario strings (Consistent breakage)

    Oh the ones from juststrings weren't D'addarios they were GHS. I think I said that in the original post but it's easy to miss. D'addario only sells full sets if you buy online, unless there is another site I'm not aware of where you can get them as singles.

    I am going to continue to buy D'addario in the future, because like I said earlier, I really do enjoy how they play, and I am able to notice a tone difference that I also enjoy.

    And now I have a bunch of back up . O11s in case I do get a bad batch again, which from what I've heard here and on other threads should be extremely rare.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: D'addario strings (Consistent breakage)

    In almost 20 years of playing guitar and less time playing mandolin; I have broken one guitar E string through playing when I was very young.
    If I were breaking strings regularly Id reevaluate my right hand technique, if there was no issue there then Id look at my left hand.

    If you have problems with daddario email their customer service. Ive had great experience with them. I had a faulty batch of strings a while back. Similar issue and they sorted everything out.

    Hope your issue gets sorted out.

  14. #13
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: D'addario strings (Consistent breakage)

    D'Addario is an excellent company and I have been using their strings on various instruments for decades. Many years ago I broke a brand new string on my guitar. I contacted them and their R&D dept guy told me to send the string or strings with the problem. They were very interested to find out whether they needed to improve their manufacturing. IIRC they sent me a new replacement string plus a new set. I highly suggest you contact them directly and talk to their quality control person.

    I rarely, if ever, break strings on my mandolin—guitars are different and I often do break strings since I have a heavy right hand for rhythm guitar. I would have your mandolin looked at by a competent luthier who know mandolins. Maybe there is some small thing that is causing the problem.
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  15. #14

    Default Re: D'addario strings (Consistent breakage)

    When I mentioned breaking E strings on mandolin being "normal", I should clarify what I mean. Like I said, when I started out I broke a lot of E strings. This was because I didn't know how to string a mandolin, i didn't know how to set action and intonation, I didn't have proper right hand technique (I still have a pretty heavy right hand when I get really into a song), and I was generally just very inexperienced. I also didn't have any control over the humidity in the room where I stored my mandolin, which would often make it sharp instead of flat when I went to tune it.

    I have fixed most these issue.

    In my first year of playing I broke maybe 4 or 5 strings. In the last four years I had only broken one. Then in two weeks I broke 8 in a row, so that was weird for me. In my original post when I said that breaking E strings was normal, what I meant was it is a common problem among beginner players. There is a handful of things you can do wrong on both the setup and technique side of things can lead to you burning through strings, but for the most part it is something you grow out of. Common, but easily remedied by knowledge and experience.

    With the new GHS strings (which are on the cheaper side) I have had no issues at all, so I really don't think it's my instrument. It's not the fanciest, but it's solidly built, and if it the problem were the instrument I would expect that it would keep happening. And while breaking strings used to be something that was caused by my technique, I know this can't be the case because I never actually played on them.

    As far as contacting their quality control department, unfortunately I didn't keep the strings or the box, so I would have very little information to provide them with. I will for sure do that if I ever have this issue again, especially knowing that they take this sort of thing very seriously.

    As far as guitar goes, I have never broken a ball-end string before, but I don't exactly play guitar. I have an electric mandola that takes custom-gauge ball-end strings, but the tension on those is so much lower, they will most likely last years.

    Also I should point out that a lot of the issue that lead me to breaking lots of strings early on in my playing could be avoided by having a proper teacher. When you are figuring stuff out on your own, you're just a lot more likely to mess it up. I imagine that anyone who learned how to setup and play a mandolin from another person from the beginning probably didn't run into the same issues I did.

  16. #15

    Default Re: D'addario strings (Consistent breakage)

    I'm happy to be corrected, but I don't feel like breaking strings as a beginner is normal. My right hand has all the finesse of a potato cannon and I haven't broken a string on any of my 3 mandos in my two years of playing them regularly. I have never in 35 years let a string rest for an hour halfway to pitch. I wonder could your tailpiece have some kind of issue where only by jumping through hoops with your technique you are able to keep them from breaking, and if you get a string on the medium to low end of normal tolerances it will break? Like it is too sharp at the hook or something? I'm not saying the strings couldn't be a bad batch or whatever but it seems odd to me that you are breaking so many strings.

  17. #16
    Registered User Drew Egerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: D'addario strings (Consistent breakage)

    I actually had this problem with a few packs of D'addario J74's probably over 10 years ago. If I recall correctly, I think we contacted their customer service and they sent me a few free packs to make up for it. Have not had the problem since.
    For me, it wasn't BREAKING, but coming unwrapped at the loop.
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  18. #17

    Default Re: D'addario strings (Consistent breakage)

    Well, I would ask, who taught you to play mandolin? How did you learn to string a mandolin? Did you take lessons? You say you started playing 35 years ago, well before the internet went mainstream, so I assume you had some guidance. Even if you started playing mando 2 years ago, I might assume you had musical background and access to people who knew what they were talking about.

    This is not everybody's experience, and as a new generation is trying to learn to teach themselves new skills using only resources available on the internet without the ability to ask questions if they don't understand something, it might take a little longer to figure out. So that could be one explaination.

    Also the information available, even on this forum, is inconsistent. When I first started looking into why my E strings were breaking 5 years ago I was told it was because I wasn't letting them rest properly. Now you are saying that is a somewhat ridiculous practice, and unnecessary. So you can see how it can be difficult to figure out how to properly set up and play an instrument when so many people have conflicting ideas about what proper procedures are.

    I have seen people get into arguments about which way to thread a string through the post, it's difficult to navigate.

    So if it will get everyone off my back about whether or not there is something wrong with my instrument, even though I have said there is nothing wrong with my instrument, I will explain exactly why each string broke.

    The first two broke because they were not threaded through the post properly. I had to use a YouTube video to figure out how to string a mandolin, and I did it wrong the first time. They slipped off the post quite violently, and snapped at different places, but both somewhere in the middle of the string.

    The next two broke when I was trying to adjust my action for the first time. Nobody told me, and it didn't occur to me, that I should loosen my strings if I was going to make any bridge adjustments. I raised the action with the E strings at full tension, and they both broke, again in the middle of the strings but at different points.

    The fifth string broke while I was trying to figure out how to adjust for intonation for the first time. For someone with a good bit of experience, intonating an instrument shouldn't take that long. However, having absolutely no idea what I was doing, and trying my best to follow YouTube videos from guys who barely spoke English, I gave it a shot.

    In the process of intonating, one will usually down tune their strings so they can move their bridge around, set it properly, and then tune back up to pitch. Sometimes if you don't nail it the first time you will have to do this twice. Having absolutely no idea what I was doing, I down tuned my strings, and then tuned them back up to pitch about 7 times before I got the intonation correct. The stress this put on the string broke the fifth one.

    Over the next four years I only broke one other string, and it was the partner of the one that broke during the intonation process. It held up for about two years even though it's partner gave out well before that.

    My mandolin does not have hooks on the tailpiece, it has round pegs. Outside of the described scenarios I haven't broken a string until I had these 8 D'addarios break all in a row.

    I was excited about the new brand at my local shop, and wanted to try a higher gauge string. I switched out all 8 strings one by one. The only reason I bought 2 loose E strings is because I knew I had made mistakes in the past when I tried new things, and I had never restrung an entire mandolin in one go, only replaced strings that needed replacing. After all four broke, it seemed like a no brainier to buy four more just to test them out and see if it was me or the strings.

    All four broke, all in the same place. I changed the brand and nothing else, and they work fine. I feel confident saying it is the strings in this case.

    I do want to say something else in regards to this situation, an this will probably be my last post on the thread, maybe the forum as a whole.

    I understand that for the most part the people who replied to this are attempting to trouble shoot a potential problem. That's cool, more power to you. However, almost everyone has asserted in some way or another that I am doing something wrong in this situation, and frankly it's a bit insulting. I have tried to go out of my way to politely explain why somebody, especially with no experience playing mandolin, might break an E string easier than any other string. I have also explained that this is not something that happened to me anymore. Everyone wants to get on their high horse though, claim they have never broken any strings, and try to figure out either what is wrong with me or my instrument.

    I understand that it comes from a place of wanting to help, but you gotta understand that at a certain point you gotta just take somebody's word at face value and quit trying to analyze them. This thread is not about why a beginner mandolin player might potentially be more likely to break an E string. That is not the topic. But it seems like all anyone wants to talk about. Make a different thread. Seriously, if that's what you want to take about just make a different thread.

    I wanted to know if anyone else had this problem before, and yes, they have. I wanted to know if the manufacturer is aware of this. They are, and also apparently have a swell customer service and quality control department. Cool. Asked and answered. That really should be the end of the discussion.

    This has gotten so off topic simply because of an off handed remark I made that wasn't even related to the issue at hand, just background flavor of what my prior experience was.

    Also, I want to point out that the only other musician here who gigs said they carry around extra .0115 singles, and they buy 10 sets of strings at a time. If breaking mandolin strings is so incredibly rare, and none of you have done it, why is the only professional musician who replied to this need all those strings?

    I have participated in many internet communities that are extremely positive and encourage growth, progression, and sharing knowledge. It seems like you guys are so close to being that, but you just can't help yourself from trying to push someone random down by insisting they are doing something wrong, and you know how to do it right. Okay, I get it, y'all are better than me. Is that what you want to hear?

    I know I'm stupid. I don't need to get on an internet forum to have it implied to me, I can't just look in the mirror thank you very much. But maybe y'all should do the same, because I may be uneducated, but at least I don't talk down to people.

    Do you understand how you come across to someone exploring the community?

    Lemme just line it all up for you so you can see what i see:

    "I always use D'addario strings and have NEVER had this problem."

    "BTW, I disagree with your claim that breaking E strings is 'normal.'"

    "I honestly can't remember the last time I broke a string on the mandolin."

    "In almost 20 years of playing guitar and less time playing mandolin; I have broken one guitar E string through playing when I was very young.

    If I were breaking strings regularly Id reevaluate my right hand technique, if there was no issue there then Id look at my left hand"

    "I rarely, if ever, break strings on my mandolin... I would have your mandolin looked at by a competent luthier who know mandolins"

    "I'm happy to be corrected, but I don't feel like breaking strings as a beginner is normal. My right hand has all the finesse of a potato cannon and I haven't broken a string on any of my 3 mandos in my two years of playing them regularly"

    "it seems odd to me that you are breaking so many strings"

    All these points had already been addressed. Everything that needed to be said had been said. And yet here I am at 4:31 am trying to defend myself to people who obviously just aren't reading what I am writing, or don't believe me even though other people have backed up my experience.

    There is really no reason for me to engage with this community any further, and even though I tried to give you each individually the benefit of the doubt, and reply in good faith, as a group this has been an extremely negative experience for me. I will not be returning here.

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  20. #18
    Registered User Nancyf's Avatar
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    Default Re: D'addario strings (Consistent breakage)

    I've almost always used J73 or J74s. I went through a spate of E string breakage a year ago or so (for the first time), but when I took my Collings into the shop for something else, I had them look to make sure there wasn't something on the instrument that was causing it. He showed me how he strings the instrument, and my mistake was that I had been making a sharp bend in the string as I wound it to anchor it in place - which is ok for the larger strings, but not for the E. I now keep the string in a loose circle as I tighten it and have had no problems. I was following some popular video method of stringing (can't find it now) that had always worked for me, now I don't use that sharp bend to keep it in place. Good luck.

  21. #19

    Default Re: D'addario strings (Consistent breakage)

    I am sincerely sorry if I offended you, or if what I said discourages you from interacting with the forum. I am "someone random" here as well. I thought you were blaming your technique and thought perhaps it could be the tailpiece. Of course it's nearly impossible to diagnose a problem at a distance. My idea and comments were meant to be helpful (and self-deprecating rather than insulting), and I hope you will continue to give the forum a chance.

  22. #20
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: D'addario strings (Consistent breakage)

    search the forum for, "Ask us anything". D'Adderio started that thread for us to ask them anything.

    I use D'Adderio EXP 74cm and seem to like them. I'm not that guy who fusses over strings. Mostly I fuss over finding the time to play!

    I do look at slots, nuts, and other such stuff when I have such problems.

    I use a locking wrap on the string post - always have. Many folks think that's stupid - don't care!

    I read your post above and can appreciate the point you are making. That said, this forum is a bunch of good folks.

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    Default Re: D'addario strings (Consistent breakage)

    Quote Originally Posted by fatt-dad View Post
    search the forum for, "Ask us anything". D'Adderio started that thread for us to ask them anything.
    f-d
    D'Addario also posted they no longer had the time nor resources--nor interest-- to answer questions posed here so that discussion is only good if there's something posted that addresses the original question. Asking questions of them here won't get anyone an answer.

    I could go into a long and detailed statement about changes observed not just by myself, but others in the industry at said company, but won't. Those observations are not solely mine and include current and former employees, other string manufacturers and current and former business partners. It's a very small world and everyone knows each other. To make a long story short, and this is just my personal opinion, the D'Addario I knew and used the products of for well over 20 years has ceased and the nearly 15 yr. relationship the Mandolin Cafe had with them ended earlier this year. It's a different organization. I moved on to other brands which was an eye opener, and glad I did. I suppose someone there could dismiss this comment as sour grapes on my part, but employees there, current and former say the same.

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  25. #22
    Expert on my own opinion Bogle's Avatar
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    Default Re: D'addario strings (Consistent breakage)

    You have some valid points Scott and in addition, folks on the Cafe may be unaware that D'Addario has entered the PPE business this year as a domestic manufacturer/seller of transparent face shields. I've been in the medical supply business for many years and know firsthand about their nationwide marketing blitz with these. I'm sure that a large part of their overall efforts are being focused in this rapidly growing marketplace.....lots of dollars to be made.

  26. #23
    Administrator Mandolin Cafe's Avatar
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    Default Re: D'addario strings (Consistent breakage)

    I had heard that and applaud their effort, have no problem whatsoever with them going that direction. My opinion and that of many in the industry, including their own current and former employees, has nothing to do with this as far as I'm aware.

  27. #24

    Default Re: D'addario strings (Consistent breakage)

    Sorry to the OP if they are offended, was certainly not my intention.
    Not doubting the OP at all, just have never had the same experience with D'addario E strings.
    I HAVE had another brand consistently pop the loop on E strings though....it happens. Raised the issue with the manufacturer and was fairly compensated.

  28. #25
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: D'addario strings (Consistent breakage)

    I had some trouble with A and E string breakage, back when they were called J74s. Turned out at the time there were some Chinese string copies that were circulating. My retailer replaced my string sets and I have never had a problem since.

    I really stocked up on EJ74s, 73s and 75s, a while back, so it will be a while before I have any experience to report about anything recent at D'Addario.
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