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Help! Top E Problems

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by webego, Mar 9, 2019.

  1. webego

    webego New Member!

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    Hi all,

    Would appreciate any pointers on what might be my problem. I have a mid 90s MiM strat which I've had for a while (and modded pickups, bridge, etc). I have been playing a lot more recently (2 - 3 hours in the evening) and focusing on blues so a lot of bending. However I seen to be getting through top e strings like there is no tomorrow! Initially I had a few breaks within a couple of days all at the same point on the neck (4th fret). I was at the time doing whole tone bends at the 7th fret with a bit of vibrato on the 5th. I put this down to maybe a rough fret although couldn't feel anything. As the neck is around 25 years old, the frets are all pretty worn and so not enough left for a redress. A refret costs more than a replacement neck from Fender so I bought and fitted the new neck. I completed the setup (torq nut, neck relief, action, intonation) and all seemed good in the world. Tonight, I've just been practicing some blues again for about an hour when, sure enough, my top e snaps again! :mad: This time however at the 6th fret. Again I was doing whole tone bends at the 7th.

    Now, as this is a new neck and again I can't feel anything there, I'm starting to think this must be my bending technique at fault. I have noticed that sometimes when bending with my ring finger, my backup middle finger is in different positions. Sometimes it is tight up behind the ring finger on the same fret, sometimes there might be a little gap and it is sitting on top of the previous fret wire, and sometimes it is on the previous fret behind the wire. My index finger also gets in on the action too but not sure how much pressure I am applying with this. I'm curious now if I am over stressing the string with the middle finger either directly rubbing it on the fret wire or stretching it over the previous fret with my middle finger one side and the ring finger on the other (if that makes sense).

    Any pointers anyone? How do you position your middle finger when supporting your ring finger in bends? Can this be a cause for snapping the top e string so many times over a few days and on different necks?

    BTW I am using GHS GB-DGF David Gilmour Boomers so the top e is a .010
    In case it makes a difference I have a Callaham Vintage S Model Strat Bridge Assembly at one end and a Torq XL nut, new style string guide and locking tuners at the other.

    Thanks for or help you can give. I'm off to see if I can buy bulk pack of single strings from somewhere while I await your advice.

    G
     
  2. Guitarmageddon

    Guitarmageddon Squier Freak Strat-Talk Supporter

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    I had GHS strings break like crazy on me too, try D'Addario......I don't think it's technique unless you're wearing a ring or doing something to cause excessive string stress....

    How much of a bend are we talking though? a full step? more?

    When I bend, it's with a single finger, I don't use any others for 'backup'.....

    Welcome to the forum!
     
    StratGuyBri likes this.
  3. Smylight

    Smylight Strat-Talker

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    For bulk single strings, try juststrings.com

    I used to break a lot of D strings when I was using Ernie Balls. I've switched to full nickel (whatever brand I can get cheapest) 20 years ago and it stopped. I have no idea why, it just stopped. :) not very helpful to you, but it seems to indicate build differences do matter sometimes.

    But as an aside, and far more useful for you... a few years ago I bought a whole batch of GHS Gilmours, both sizes (.0095s and .010s) as I routinely switch between Gibsons and Fenders all the time. They were conditioned in plain paper bags, so by the time I'd used a dozen packs or so the remaining had started getting oxydation marks all over them where the strings coiled over themselves.

    That might be your problem. I had to scrap about 10 sets of the buggers... and never bought any of those again.

    Hope that helps.


    Pierre
    www.torvisse.com
     
  4. 3bolt79

    3bolt79 Senior Stratmaster

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    I used to use GHS, and they feel like very stiff, brittle strings. They would break on me all the time on the high E. As guitarmageddon said, try D’Addario. I used them on my Floyd Rose equipped guitars, and they last the longest of any strings I’ve ever used. They don’t break easily. The GHS seem to suffer metal fatigue really quick to me. I’ve also used Ernie Ball with good results. Same with Curt Mangan. Good results.
     
  5. jball85

    jball85 Strat-O-Master

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    When I break a string, I either haven't changed them in months, or in the case of continuous breakage, 99% of the time it's usually a bridge/saddle issue. Check over the saddles for burs, they can be easy to miss. Teeny tiny burs that aren't readily visible can pop a string in no time. I suppose check the nut and frets as well.

    One should be able to man-handle any string without fear of popping it in half.
     
  6. Smylight

    Smylight Strat-Talker

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    Agreed, but in this case the OP complains about strings breaking up on him in the middle of the neck.


    Pierre
    www.torvisse.com
     
    JustABluesGuy likes this.
  7. webego

    webego New Member!

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    Wow, thanks for all the input. Yes, the breaks are always the fret behind that which I am bending. So bending at the 7th causes a break at the 6th more or less. I still have a few packs of the GHS (several now without top e strings!) so I have ordered a five pack of D'addario High Carbon Steel PL010 to plug they gap. Assuming the tone isn't massively different from the rest and these last longer than the GHS .010s I'll soldier on till I've finished off the GHS stock. Which D'addario strings would you recommend when I get around to buying full sets?
     
  8. jaybones

    jaybones Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

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    As per your question about fingers and bending, I generally place my reinforcing finger comfortably behind the finger doing the bending.

    Although I've got pretty strong hands and can do full step plus bends with my pinky without reinforcement.
     
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  9. johnnymg

    johnnymg Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

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    IMO, the problem you're having is very likely NOT from GHS strings. I find they last way longer than the other big brands. JMO.

    I suspect your problem is incorrect technique. Perhaps the action is too low and you're mashing the string into the frets while bending. Ask me how I know............ :whistling: Try raising the action.
     
    TN703800, JustABluesGuy, Yves and 2 others like this.
  10. AlexJCRandall

    AlexJCRandall Senior Stratmaster

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    Has the new neck had the fretwork done??? Like crowning and polishing??
     
  11. webego

    webego New Member!

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    I am still curious if my technique has something to do with it. But why would the action cause breaks behind the fretted bend?
     
  12. webego

    webego New Member!

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    The new neck has had any work done. Installed from new and (now thinking naively) thought that would be good to go.

    As it happens I have a bunch of tools on their way this week to work on another guitar including a notched straight edge, a 16'' fret levelling beam, a fret rocker and a fret crowning tool. So I plan to have a look at the new neck too. I'll set the neck straight again and see if the frets are level.
     
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  13. johnnymg

    johnnymg Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

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    Assumption here: You're probably bending the string with 3 fingers and hence putting a lot of string-fret pressure on fret "behind" the fretted note.

    Do you know what the action height is for the high E string at the 12th fret?

    Caveat: Have you verified that the frets are smooth and hence not catching the string?
     
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  14. webego

    webego New Member!

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    It is around 1/16, maybe a little less but nothing excessive. My initial thoughts as mentioned above are the same as yours, i.e. that maybe my technique it too hard or I am over stressing the string depressing it over two frets whilst bending. I must also say that until recently I guess I have been bending with my fingers. I have only recently been trying to remember to pivot on the thumb. I guess when I get more used to pivoting, I should have a more lateral movement across the top of the frets with just enough downforce to sustain the note?

    Maybe it is just a combination of all the above. This weekend should give me some insight into the new neck. In the mean time I've put yet another GHS top e string on so I'll concentrate on improving my thumb pivot on bends and see if it lasts longer than the others.

    Still interested in which D'addario strings you guys would recommend? Always worth experimenting with tone anyways regardless of these issues right?
     
  15. Guitarmageddon

    Guitarmageddon Squier Freak Strat-Talk Supporter

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    When bending notes, you bend only a certain amount on the string, to achieve a certain pitch....1/2 step, 1 step, 1.5 steps etc.....if you're just bending as much as you can bend....they're going to snap.....is that what's happening or?

    I'm starting to think D'Addario will not fix your issue.....just trying to help solve it.
     
  16. Stratoskater

    Stratoskater Most Honored Senior Member

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    I routinely bend with three fingers on the strings. I use 10’ (Ernie ball or dadario) and haven’t broken a string in many years.
     
  17. webego

    webego New Member!

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    No, I'm not just bending as far as I can. I'm bending to pitch, as you say 1/2 step, 1 step, 1.5 steps. I just refer to the units differently i.e. semi-tone, whole-tone, etc.
     
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  18. webego

    webego New Member!

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    Which range? Plain Steel, Nickel Wound, XL, NYXL, etc?
     
  19. Guitarmageddon

    Guitarmageddon Squier Freak Strat-Talk Supporter

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    all unwound strings are plain steel for the most part....nickel wound is only for the thicker wound strings....or nickel plated steel, same thing.....unless they have a coating on them, they will all be the same.....
     
  20. Stratoskater

    Stratoskater Most Honored Senior Member

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    Pure nickel, Ernie Ball Rock n Roll or Dadario pure nickel xl.
     
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