13 February 2009

Elixir String Breaks

Three weeks ago I wrote about changing guitar strings. At that time I changed my acoustic strings for a set of Elixir "long life" strings to test how well these strings lasted compared to the Martin strings I usually use.

Well, the strings had been holding up quite well until yesterday. Yesterday when the G string broke about 3 cm from the bridge as I strummed an Em7 chord in Wonderwall by Oasis.

It was rather a disappointment. I've never had an acoustic guitar string break on me before.

Now it might just be that I got a duff string, but this incident does nothing to inspire my confidence in these strings, certainly not at more than twice the price of normal strings.

Other than the broken string I was fairly happy with the Elixir strings. They had kept more shine and played more smoothly than my usual Martin strings after the same amount of wear.

They retained a new string sound too, after three weeks of use. On some songs they sound a little strange to my ears, a bit too bright and sparkly for my taste. But overall they had performed very well.

I did a bit of investigating to see if breakage is a common problem with these strings. I came across this thread in the Chordie forum.

"Anyways, I've been playing with Elixirs for years. They are the best...and most expensive. But you'll recoup the extra cost by not going through as many strings as they do last a lot longer. I prefer the polywebs as they last longer than the nanowebs and I've heard of and experienced breakage issues with the nanowebs (g strings seem to always break)."

Hmm, sounds uncanny. I don't know if the strings I had were Nanoweb or Polyweb; the box is long gone. I took a look at the Elixir web site to see if the box colour would identify my strings, but both have the same colour box.

The web site explains the difference between the two types of strings, though.
"What's the difference between NANOWEB and POLYWEB coatings?

The difference between our coating 'flavors' is found in the tone and feel of the strings. NANOWEB coated strings sound and feel like uncoated strings – they are bright and lively, and the coating is so micro thin that you can barely tell it’s there.

POLYWEB coated strings have a balanced tone and smooth response – they sound like strings that have been 'played in'. In addition, POLYWEB coated strings feel comfortably smooth and help reduce finger squeak."

I'll be checking the type of the string that broke on my next visit to the music shop. In the meantime I'd love to hear about your experiences with Elixir strings.

Is this kind of breakage a common problem or was I just unlucky? Which string type's sound and feel do you prefer? Share your view in a comment, simply click the "Post a Comment" link below.

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5 comments:

graphtechkelly said...

How about changing your saddles instead. I work for Graph Tech Guitar Labs and our String Saver Saddles for Acoustic Guitars might be the answer for you. Part number
PS-9110-00 Here is the link if you want to check it out

http://www.graphtech.com/products.html?ProductID=268&CurrencyID=2

Dave Jacoby said...

A while ago, I got a set of Fender acoustic strings, which nearly immediately went south on me. I found the quality assurance address (email) for Fender, then wrote them, saying how disappointed I was in their product. They sent me three replacment sets. I blogged it. And I suggest that you do the same. Hey, what's the worst that can happen? They don't replace the string that broke.

I had a set that I kept on my #2 acoustic for years. The G string should not pop after three weeks if you're picking right. I used to play hard with a metal pick and would carve up my windings. I once went Elixers with that setup, and the goretex went shedding like snakeskin. I eventually went to an unwound G because I got tired of changing the G string. But they still lasted more than three weeks.

And dude, I keep my string wrappers just for this reason. There's lots of room in the gig bag.

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Gary Fletcher said...

Graphtechkelly - Thanks for the hint, but I don't think the saddle is the problem. The string snapped away from the saddle.

Dave - good idea, I'll try to find five minutes to send a letter. I'll update the post with any results it gets.

Stephen Canfield said...

This is a common problem with Elixir guitar strings. There are numerous forum postings about the string breakage problem. I hope that Gore comes up with a solution...

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