Strings breaking --- What good is a 3 string guitar if it only has 2 strings?

Need a little help group. I started off using small eyelets as string guides. 1st stringing went fine once i moved to the Southbound Acoustic Light Gauge. Then I opted to remove the middle eyelet and run a small bolt thru the 2 eyelets so that I could better adjust string spacing.

  • All goes fine until I string the high (bottom) string....boing!  Again and again.  My Gauges are .42 .30 and .22. I even ran over to Guitar Center and bought 3 more wound .24. Every time I get the higher octave g close to pitch, it snaps. I tried a brand new set of Gitty strings as well.   It is breaking about 1/2 below the turner. (Pics attached were before I moved to the bolt string guide.)

  • Btw...the strings are bronze phosphor wound ... the Guitar Center strings were wound steel Ernie Balls. .24 
  • Below Larry Cuddy kindly suggested I might be an octave too high....However when I first strung it  and it tuned up, the Low G sounded just right and matched the sound on YouTube videos. When I put the High g and tightened it up, when it first hit G on the tuner, it sounded almost exactly like the Low G (top string).  So I went around the block on more time. I will try to back off the top G and see if I can drop it a full octave and still have tension.  Right now it seems right though.
    • Larry Cuddy

      Sounds like you are one octave to high to begin with, try to loose the strings and start with the high string (small one) and see if that helps.

  • Signed....desperate to play.

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Hi Jim, I saw your question on the main page section but did not know how to respond there, glad you posted here.

So....what Larry said is proberebly correct. Strings are gauged to work within a certain range of their intended tuning/pitch, eg: an high "E" string at say 12g will go lower of course but can become too loose and lack volume.

On the other hand it can go higher up to "G" or "A" for instance, but will break when trying to reach the next "E" which is in the next octave, the string is too thick to stretch that far.

I feel the string you are using as a high string is too thick so will break when too high above its intended pitch [what it says on the packet.] It could be breaking at the hole in the tuner post, sharp edge and excessive tension.


Thanks Taff. The strings are from CB Gitty and I had them on before the if the gauge is wrong then why are they packaged that way. The first set worked great and a buddy, who plays 6 strings, beat on it hard with no issue. Then I made an adjustment which I think I will revert back. Orig the strings went thru the eyelet then up over the bridge. Now using the bolt, which gives me more lateral movement of the strings, brings the strings lower before going up and over the the thickness of the machine bolt. So maybe that has created too much additional tension. But I have seen dozens of build pics with this method, which is why I am so confused. When I doubt, back it out. :-) I will try to lessen the angle before the nut.
Thanks for your input. I will respond with the results.

If you are tuning something like G2 D3 G3 and have a 25" scale you are pulling around 28 lbs tension on the high G string. That's not normally break tension, but is a good bit higher than you actually need.

As for tuning to the wrong octave, don't think it doesn't happen. I've done it more than once.

If you have a smart phone, you can download (free) a guitar tuner app that shows not only the note but the octave you're tuned to. Comes in handy for first time tuning.

Let us know hat you find.

Ooops, sorry to mislead you Jim, I must have misunderstood your post.


Well I went back to the eyelets and went to my last set of strings from Gitty before I reload. The gauges are .42 - .30 - .09. These were the very first strings I ever loaded on this build. Light Gauge Acoustic with the 2 lower strings wound nickel and the top string steel. I was able to get it tuned but have to say it doesn't work for my ear. Sounds very thin and weak. The .09 g string is very loose but dialed in to g. If I pluck the string out it gets a bit of string buz off the frets. The heavier gauge set (though still "Light") had a much fuller sound and better action feel. I've lost something in the entire set up and will go back to the 42-30-20 or maybe Med weight strings. More to come.

Checkout my guide to tuning your guitar - tuning  to an octave above is the most common cause of string breakage in my experience.

Make sure your not over tuning the strings and check all places the string come into contact with(tuner holes, nut, retainers, bridge, stop tail/tremolo/ferrules) for any sharp edges or burrs.

Where are the strings breaking in relation to the guitar? Near the nut? Tuners? Bridge? that gives you a clue as where to look for sharp edges and burrs.

What are you using to tune your guitar?


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