Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 28

Thread: E string constantly breaking

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Fresno, CA
    Posts
    6

    Default E string constantly breaking

    First off I'd like to say hello! Lurking around the forums has been a great help. I've only recently starting playing the mandolin, and as a beginner this site has been invaluable.

    Now, onto the problem. My E string keeps breaking. This is the third snap in a very short period of time (less than a month) - one of which was putting on a brand new string. I can't remember if this was the case every time, but at least two of the times (one being the most recent) the break was at the loop. I know for sure I'm not tuning it higher than it should be. I don't have much musical talent, but I've got a pretty good ear for matching notes. I had my wife sit with me last time to make sure it wasn't just me, and sure enough when it snapped she said it sounded perfectly in tune when it happened. The strings are D'Darrio.

    So, what am I missing here? Am I doing something wrong? I suspect it's an issue with the mandolin, since it is the same E string every time (the one on the very end), but maybe it's me. It's very frustrating to a poor beginner .

    Thanks for any input you can provide.

    -Jared

  2. #2

    Default Re: E string constantly breaking

    Hey Jared -

    While I have no personal experience with only one string breaking consistently, my first thought would be that something on the mandolin is weakening the string which makes it more vulnerable to wear - eventually allowing it to break and snap. I might not know what I am talking about, but maybe check the nut and the bridge, making sure that there are no sharp "burrs" or indents that might lead to heavy wear.

    As an avid fisherman, I have been told that if your line consistently breaks, it's suggested to check the eyelets - as constant rubbing could produce vulnerability in the line. I can't imagine it being too much different with mandolin - especially if it is the *same* string every time. While there is no up-down movement - like in a fishing line - the vibration of the string and it hitting on something ruff could cause it to weaken. Hope that helps...

    - James

  3. #3
    Henry Lawton hank's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    The Present Moment
    Posts
    1,927

    Default Re: E string constantly breaking

    Often the hole that is drilled in the tuning post that you put your string thru has a sharp edge. Try smoothing the edges of the hole with a small rounded jewelers file or stone. Since you may not have access to these you could use a drill bit a little larger than the hole rotated by hand to help burnish the edges as well. If you have a small wet stone to sharpen your knifes etc. you may be able to use it's edge or corners or some fine sanding paper over a pencil eraser spun by hand might do the trick. If you aren't comfortable doing this most music shops could do it for you for a small fee. Good luck with it.

  4. #4
    Registered User Malcolm G.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Montreal, Quebec Canada
    Posts
    702

    Default Re: E string constantly breaking

    Jared,

    Welcome from another forum Newbie.

    Bending the loop end too sharply really fractures the metal at the twist - I've had them snap right in my hands.

    Try buying a different brand of E string - D'Addario 11's and Thomastic Enfelds have been good to me. I bought 10 D'Addario 11s from Just Strings when I started out, as I was bustin' em like mad. Now it seldom lappens.

    Leave quite a few wraps around the tuning posts for the E and A strings (say 4 or 5) - this seems to help a bit as well.

    A trick I do when putting on mando strings is:

    Change strings one at a time so the neck doesn't completely relax. I find this works on guitar as well.
    Put on the loop end without bending it too much, pull the string over the saddle and down the fretboard.
    Put a capo around the 7th fret to keep the string from popping off the tail piece while you:
    Take care of the wrapping job at the tuner (4 or 5 wraps on the plain strings).
    Tune the new string to pitch.
    Repeat 7 more times.

    Hope this helps.

    Let us know
    Malcolm Grundy from Montreal

  5. The following members say thank you to Malcolm G. for this post:


  6. #5
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Statesville, NC
    Posts
    3,245

    Default Re: E string constantly breaking

    If it ALWAYS breaks at the preformed loop, it's VERY likely that the problem is EITHER :

    1. your technique (bending the loop) when changing the string
    or
    2. a sharp edge on the little post on the tailpiece.
    Phil

    “Sharps/Flats” “Accidentals”

  7. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Fresno, CA
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: E string constantly breaking

    Thanks for the input from everyone!

    Quote Originally Posted by Philpool
    If it ALWAYS breaks at the preformed loop, it's VERY likely that the problem is EITHER :

    1. your technique (bending the loop) when changing the string
    I'm not sure what you mean here. The only time I have to sort of work the loop to get it over the peg's head is on the wound strings. The bare strings slip right on. As a matter of fact, I have a hard time keeping the darned things on while I'm fiddling with the tuning peg part. If it helps any this is the method I've been using (I'm having to teach myself), except my mando has pegs not hooks in the tailpiece. Do you think maybe I'm accidentally bending the loop at some point? Or have I grossly missed some major point somewhere (VERY possible )?

    or
    2. a sharp edge on the little post on the tailpiece.
    This could be. I'm at work right now - I'll make a point of checking when I get home. Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm G
    Put a capo around the 7th fret to keep the string from popping off the tail piece while you:
    Take care of the wrapping job at the tuner (4 or 5 wraps on the plain strings).
    I'm still missing something with the bend part. It's giving me the sinking feeling I'm doing something very wrong .

    The capo thing - that's a really good idea. Wish I had thought of that .

  8. #7
    Registered User Malcolm G.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Montreal, Quebec Canada
    Posts
    702

    Default Re: E string constantly breaking

    There are several types of tail pieces. Most are like the one in your referenced video - no bending.
    There are the Ashton Bailey types, which are again straight on with 8 little dowel shaped posts (I think this may be like yours) again no bending - just possibly enlarging or rounding the loops. Carefully.
    Then there are the type which have the strings hooking on over the back of the mando - back where the strap button is. These wind up with close to a 90 degree bend and are prone to breaking if you're not careful - I have a mando like this and it can be very frustrating.

    What brand and guage are your E strings?
    Malcolm Grundy from Montreal

  9. #8
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Fresno, CA
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: E string constantly breaking

    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm G. View Post
    There are several types of tail pieces. Most are like the one in your referenced video - no bending.
    There are the Ashton Bailey types, which are again straight on with 8 little dowel shaped posts (I think this may be like yours) again no bending - just possibly enlarging or rounding the loops. Carefully.
    Then there are the type which have the strings hooking on over the back of the mando - back where the strap button is. These wind up with close to a 90 degree bend and are prone to breaking if you're not careful - I have a mando like this and it can be very frustrating.

    What brand and guage are your E strings?
    You're right, mine are just the straight-on posts (with a slightly larger head to ensure the string doesn't slip over the top when tense, I suppose). I hadn't even thought about the bending type of set up... my mountain dulcimer is similar to that. Not the mando, though.

    Brand of strings is D'Addario. Not sure on the gauge. I'll post up when I get home and check.

    Thanks again for helping out the newbie. Really appreciate it.

  10. #9
    Henry Lawton hank's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    The Present Moment
    Posts
    1,927

    Default Re: E string constantly breaking

    Sorry for my post, I must have been asleep when I missed your breaks were at the loop end.

  11. #10
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Fresno, CA
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: E string constantly breaking

    Quote Originally Posted by hank View Post
    Sorry for my post, I must have been asleep when I missed your breaks were at the loop end.
    No problem. Any and all help is appreciated .

    The E string is .0115 regarding gauge, I think, if I'm looking at the package right. Also, I figure a picture is worth a thousand words...

    Here is a pic of the string and here is a pic of the tailpiece.

    Much thanks.

  12. #11
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Statesville, NC
    Posts
    3,245

    Default Re: E string constantly breaking

    Okay.
    Premise: Breaking at the loop repetatively AND you're not doing anything wrong, such as bending the loop.

    Conclusion:
    Therefore, great likelihood is that there is a sharp edge SOMEWHERE that is encouraging the string to break. Look really closely. This may be very subtle. Might take a little filing, either with a small file (might have to remove the tailpiece) or possibly with a length of wound string, just to knock off the sharp edge. Worst scenario: new tailpiece. (well, not really. Worst scenario is that you scratch up the mando while doing all this )

    Good luck.
    Phil

    “Sharps/Flats” “Accidentals”

  13. #12
    Registered User Brad Weiss's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Williamsburg VA
    Posts
    1,324

    Default Re: E string constantly breaking

    That is a cool, but odd looking tailpiece configuration, and my hunch (no more) given the break site is that those pegs have some unevenness to them. File away! There are some cool tailpieces out there that are less complex than yours, too.

  14. #13
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Rochester NY 14610
    Posts
    16,176

    Default Re: E string constantly breaking

    Are you breaking the same E string each time, of the two strings in the 1st course? Or is it sometimes the "outside" and sometimes the "inside" string?

    If it's the same string, and if it's breaking at the loop each time, chances are that something's cutting into the loop, which would suggest the tailpiece post. You say you don't have to bend the string loop to force it over the "head" of the post, so it's probably not that you're weakening the string by flexing it at the loop. If you had one of the hook-style tailpieces, I'd be almost sure that a sharp-edged hook was the culprit, because the hooks are just stamped out of the metal of the tailpiece, and often have sharp edges. With a post-style tailpiece, a burr or edge on the post seems less likely, but the pattern of your breakage suggests this is the solution.

    If there's no defect in the tailpiece post, you may have bought a couple sets of bad strings. The twisted loop is a weak point on strings, since there's a lot of direct-pull force on the "bottom" of the loop. I'd contact D'Addario and tell them of the problem you're having -- or else go back to the shop where they were purchased and see if they'll give you some single strings to make up for the one's that broke when you were putting them on.

    Strings breaking at the loop don't suggest a rough bridge saddle, a too-tight, binding nut slot, or a sharp edge on the tuning peg. All those are legit possibilities, but the string's more likely to break at the point where the problem is. Yours aren't breaking at the tuning peg, nut, or bridge, so I'd focus on (a) the tailpiece, or (b) the possibility of defective strings.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

  15. #14
    Registered User Tom Haywood's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    PTC GA
    Posts
    1,099

    Default Re: E string constantly breaking

    Sounds like a burr on the post. Try rubbing around it firmly with a little #000 steel wool and see if that helps.

  16. #15
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Grass Valley California
    Posts
    3,727

    Default Re: E string constantly breaking

    At this point I think it is the strings. That type of tailpiece doesn't have sharp burrs where the strings hold. It is not unusual for loops to give way or break, as there was a lot of stress induced when the loops were twisted at the factory. I would send the pics to D'Addario, they would want to know.

  17. #16
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Fresno, CA
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: E string constantly breaking

    Wonderful suggestions from everyone. Thanks again. I couldn't see a burr anywhere - but I suppose it could be pretty darn small and still cause me problems. I'll try the steel wool... this way it should get rid of anything I can't even see.

    Maybe it is just the strings after all. I'll take the advice and drop a line to D'Addario as well. I can go in for some new strings tomorrow, so I guess we'll see! Fingers crossed!

  18. #17
    Horton River NWT Rob Gerety's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Vermont - Upper Valley
    Posts
    2,589

    Default Re: E string constantly breaking

    Another thing that will cause strings to break is bringing them up to pitch and then loosening them substantially and then bringing them up to pitch repeatedly. Looking at your pictures it seems unlikely to me that that loop area is breaking because of a burr. But it also seems odd that it is only that particular string location that is having the problem. Is there any chance that you are tuning higher than pitch?
    Rob G.
    Vermont

  19. #18
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Outer Spiral Arm, of Galaxy, NW Oregon.
    Posts
    16,008

    Default Re: E string constantly breaking

    May I suggest a bit of leather behind that lower lip to bear the tension, and dampen the ringing of the section of string , before the bridge.
    may be bending the loop a bit to get the string over those guitar-ball-end-sized pins ?

    take a smoothing file to that lip edge, to insure its not too sharp.
    writing about music
    is like dancing,
    about architecture

  20. #19
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Statesville, NC
    Posts
    3,245

    Default Re: E string constantly breaking

    Quote Originally Posted by mandroid View Post
    ...
    may be bending the loop a bit to get the string over those guitar-ball-end-sized pins ?...
    Yeah. Those posts look way larger than most. It sure looks like it would take a little reshaping of the standard string loop to go over that post.
    I'm suspicious that you might be doing more bending of the loop than you realize.
    Here's a picture for posterity in case the link gets broken in the future.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Tailpiece.jpg 
Views:	262 
Size:	35.3 KB 
ID:	48384  
    Phil

    “Sharps/Flats” “Accidentals”

  21. #20
    Confused... or?
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Over the Hudson & thru the woods from NYC
    Posts
    2,387

    Default Re: E string constantly breaking

    Grasping at straws here, given all the good suggestions above, but...

    Are you sure that the end post is firmly seated in the base of the tailpiece? If it's even slightly loose (and it may not feel loose to finger pressure), it could lean forward under tension and thus cause the string to bend sharply (at least relative to no bend) where it crosses the upper edge if the groove.

    Or could the angles be such that, under tension, the string crosses on the lower edge of the groove?

    If either were true, some rounding of the groove edge, like at the 10:30 and 1:30 o'clock positions where the string crosses, might do the trick.

    Or maybe there's an edge burr at one of those positions (rather than at the highly-suspected BASE of the groove in the 2:30 to 9:30 area) that's catching the string even with no leaning of the post?

    As I said: grasping at straws!
    Last edited by EdHanrahan; Dec-16-2009 at 1:06pm. Reason: learning how to read a clock!
    - Ed

    "What our group lacks in musicianship is offset by our willingness to humiliate ourselves." - David Hochman

  22. #21
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Fresno, CA
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: E string constantly breaking

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Gerety View Post
    Another thing that will cause strings to break is bringing them up to pitch and then loosening them substantially and then bringing them up to pitch repeatedly. Looking at your pictures it seems unlikely to me that that loop area is breaking because of a burr. But it also seems odd that it is only that particular string location that is having the problem. Is there any chance that you are tuning higher than pitch?
    I'm reasonably sure I'm not, but I am a novice, so take that for what you will! This last time I had my wife sit down with me and make sure I wasn't tripping. I'm as sure as I can be, as a beginner, that it was right where it should have been. In any case, I've just bought a tuner, so if that was the problem then it should be solved now

    Quote Originally Posted by Philphool View Post
    Yeah. Those posts look way larger than most. It sure looks like it would take a little reshaping of the standard string loop to go over that post.
    I'm suspicious that you might be doing more bending of the loop than you realize.
    Here's a picture for posterity in case the link gets broken in the future.
    Actually, for the bare strings, it's hard to keep them ON the posts while messing with the tuning peg they slide off so easy. The wound string can require a little gentle working to get them on.

    I've just put on a new E string. So far, so good. Maybe I was just unlucky. I got an identical set of D'Add's and it seems to be OK so far. I did give it a quick rub with some steel wool and will be adding a leather piece, as suggested, next time I swap out the strings. Thanks a million!

    -Jared

  23. #22

    Default Re: E string constantly breaking

    New to mandolin and am restringing after the number 1 string broke (they are the original stings that came on my lower priced mando). Having two left hands, I thank you for the capo on the 7th fret suggestion. This should also help with restringing my guitar.
    Thanks to Mandolin Cafe for the forums too.

  24. #23

    Default Re: E string constantly breaking

    With a lower price mando, look closely at the holes in the tuner shaft. As was stated eleven years ago, they can have sharp edges. Another thing a newbie should know is to bring the e strings to pitch very slowly. Slower as you reach e. Then when you are learning to set your intonation, you have to slacken the strings some to adjust your bridge placement. E strings can only do this a limited amount of time before they are going to break. Buy half a dozen single E strings. They come in handy. Then get Rob Meldrum's free E book on mandolin setup.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  25. #24
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    S.W. Wisconsin
    Posts
    5,441

    Default Re: E string constantly breaking

    I always make sure to have 4 wraps around the post for plain strings.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  26. #25
    Mandolin & Mandola maker
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Bega NSW, Australia
    Posts
    1,193

    Default Re: E string constantly breaking

    What is the scale length? Someone once asked me the same question, why are the E strings breaking? Turned out he was stringing up a mandola to mandolin pitch with mandolin strings. Longer scale length and the E strings will break first.
    Peter Coombe - mandolins, mandolas and guitars
    http://www.petercoombe.com

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •