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1st string breaks when using a capo on second fret?

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Jul 11, 2020 - 2:38:51 PM
Players Union Member

Alegria

Norway

252 posts since 9/27/2014

I have had this happen two times in less than two weeks. The first time I was tuning up from C# to D with the capo on, so D# to E. The string broke and I just figured I was not paying attention and tuned way too high.

The second time was just now. I was playing in double D ad I had to retune the first string every other minute. After a couple of tunings I realised something was wrong so I got out the tuning app and played the string softly, watching it fall half a semitone within a minute. I tuned up again to try again, and then the string snapped.

What's going on here?

Jul 11, 2020 - 4:46:17 PM
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23 posts since 7/23/2014

I don't have a solution for you but I recently had two strings "pop" at the twist near the loop. They didn't snap, but were rendered useless.

One string happened slowly. The string kept go flat until the twist at the loop finally came apart. The second happened when I was tuning up from D to E on the first sting while using light gauge strings. The twist just popped.

Jul 11, 2020 - 5:09:15 PM
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Players Union Member

Blackjaxe47

Canada

1535 posts since 6/20/2014

It has only happened a couple of times to me but it was always at the tailpiece. The twisted loop just snapped. I looked carefully at the little tab that the string hooked onto and could not see any sharp corners but not satisfied I took a thing shim and wrapped 400 grit sandpaper around it and worked it back and forth several times and also rounded off the edges.
Much like yourself I noticed that when tuning to pitch I was looking at my electronic tuner and seen it drop just before breaking. So was it a bad set of strings, I think it was but after working on the tailpiece a bit and and a new set of strings it has never happened again.

Jul 11, 2020 - 6:01:40 PM
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1275 posts since 7/12/2004

Put the string back together on the banjo to see where it snapped. The usual spots are the post the loop fits around, the spot where the string leaves the tailpiece, the bridge, or the nut. If this is happening regularly it's probably at the same spot every time, and that spot probably needs a little attention with a file or fine sandpaper.

Or, it could be a bad set of strings. Buy a set from another brand and see if it still happens then.

Jul 11, 2020 - 6:23:16 PM
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1599 posts since 6/2/2010

You need to buy another brand of strings. This has happened to me before. As you are tuning the loop is probably unraveling slowly until it finally lets go.

Unfortunately I can't remember what brand it was but once I switched I never had that problem again.

Jul 12, 2020 - 1:20:33 AM
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4867 posts since 5/14/2007

How tight was the capo?

I've always found tuning with a capo on to be a little dodgy anyway. OK with little tweaks, but not going between tunings.

Edited by - John Gribble on 07/12/2020 01:22:43

Jul 12, 2020 - 5:20:38 AM
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AndyW

UK

525 posts since 7/4/2017

I know this doesn't sound like it could be a fix, but I had a problem with 5th string breakage on a Banjo with a duff tuner that wouldn't hold well even with the screw tightened. A new tuner solved the problem.

Jul 12, 2020 - 12:08:54 PM
Players Union Member

Alegria

Norway

252 posts since 9/27/2014

The string snapped between the first fret and the nut, both times. What could be the reason? I am not tightening the capo very much, I know I have had it tighter on other banjos. This one is just a few weeks old.

Jul 12, 2020 - 2:58:22 PM
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7382 posts since 8/28/2013

Where was the capo? Fist fret, sacond fret third fret?

I'm with John Gribble. Re-tuning with a capo on is "dodgy." Tuning while a string is clamped down, even lightly, will put uneven stress on the string. (It's the same as having a string that sticks in a tight nut slot.

Jul 12, 2020 - 3:28:35 PM
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1275 posts since 7/12/2004

quote:
Originally posted by Alegria

The string snapped between the first fret and the nut, both times. What could be the reason? I am not tightening the capo very much, I know I have had it tighter on other banjos. This one is just a few weeks old.


That's a really unusual place for a string to break, since there's nothing touching it at that spot. Halfway between the nut and the capo? And it happened more than once there? It makes no sense.

I'd try a different brand, and possibly a different gauge, to see if anything changes. Try a half gauge heavier and see if that stops the breakage.

Jul 12, 2020 - 3:32:53 PM
Players Union Member

Alegria

Norway

252 posts since 9/27/2014

The capo was on the second fret. I can't make sense of it. Only explanation I can imagine is that the capo was so tight the string was effectively pulled between the nut and the capo? But that doesn't explain the continous drop in pitch and retuning?

Jul 12, 2020 - 3:49:48 PM
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155 posts since 6/24/2019

Was the 1st string a .009" ?

And is the break very near the nut ? ( I know you said between the nut and first fret but how close to the nut is it breaking ?)

Edited by - Hugh Walter Jennings on 07/12/2020 15:53:07

Jul 12, 2020 - 3:57:39 PM
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1599 posts since 6/2/2010

I re-tune all the time with a capo installed and have never had a string break because of the capo.

What is the scale length of the banjo you are having the problem with?

Jul 12, 2020 - 4:39:39 PM
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155 posts since 6/24/2019

The first thing I would do, and only takes a couple of minutes, is take the proper size file and make a couple of passes on the string slot.

- if the slot is very near binding, the downward angle of the string to the second fret might be enough to cause it to bind and break right at or just passed the nut on the fretboard side while tuning up

- if the breakpoint on the nut slot has too sharp of an edge, that, coupled with the downward angle of string capoed at 2nd fret, can cause a break while tuning up... especially if the ramp of the string slide is too steep and the string is only touching the nut at the break point itself...

So, yes tuning up while capoed on the first couple of frets can reveal a string shot issue. Whether that is true in this case or not we will have to see.

Jul 12, 2020 - 5:27:02 PM
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155 posts since 6/24/2019

quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

... I'm with John Gribble. Re-tuning with a capo on is "dodgy." Tuning while a string is clamped down, even lightly, will put uneven stress on the string. (It's the same as having a string that sticks in a tight nut slot.


Absolutely

And the breakpoint of the string slot bears the brunt of the stress. 

Edited by - Hugh Walter Jennings on 07/12/2020 17:28:45

Jul 13, 2020 - 2:54:23 AM
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Nickcd

UK

216 posts since 1/28/2018

quote:
Originally posted by Loud_Inn

I don't have a solution for you but I recently had two strings "pop" at the twist near the loop. They didn't snap, but were rendered useless.

One string happened slowly. The string kept go flat until the twist at the loop finally came apart. The second happened when I was tuning up from D to E on the first sting while using light gauge strings. The twist just popped.


If the string breaks near the loop or the loop comes apart - you can re-twist a loop and continue using the string provided you have left enough excess string at the tuning peg! 

Jul 13, 2020 - 7:11:56 PM
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RevD

USA

107 posts since 4/8/2019

I think as mentioned above, the nut, wouldn't the string break (between the frets) maybe be back further if its under tension?

Edited by - RevD on 07/13/2020 19:12:55

Jul 14, 2020 - 4:09:25 AM
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2671 posts since 12/4/2009

Hello,

Breaks with strings leave artifacts.

If the string at the post falls apart, either the string is bound up by crossing or the post hole has a burr. I use the Bill Baker string method. I don’t lock my string to the post. I load from the bottom to the top. This allows the string to become a compression spring. Compression springs work with string bending.

If the break is at the nut, then check the nut slot for a sharp edge or too narrow. We don’t know the nut material. Some are metallic.

If the break occurs at the capo, check the surface of the capo. Somewhere between the leading and trailing edges is a high friction area. We don’t know what type of capo being used. Metal capos do exist. Friction resistance is real tough when disparate metals rub.

Check the area between the 1st and 2nd frets. If we wash our hands before playing our instruments, then fretboard cleaners would not have to be considered. Sticky fingers leave sticky residue on the fretboard. 

As mentioned, thin strings don’t like heavy friction resistance. They also are susceptible to rough frets. Check to see if the frets need to be resurfaced and level.

Strings will break. I used to use a specific brand that broke 1st and 5th strings regularly. I soon went to an optional brand. The problem went away.

Edited by - Aradobanjo on 07/14/2020 04:13:31

Jul 15, 2020 - 5:48:26 PM
Players Union Member

Alegria

Norway

252 posts since 9/27/2014

quote:
Originally posted by Kentucky Charlie

Was the 1st string a .009" ?

And is the break very near the nut ? ( I know you said between the nut and first fret but how close to the nut is it breaking ?)


It's not very near the nut. I believe it must have been somewhere in the middle, maybe closer to the capo. 

 

The string was 0.010. I have put the same string on again, will try with a different capo. If it happens again it's probably nut or fret like mention here in the thread? The banjo is brand new. Is this a warranty issue? If I try to repair it myself, might I risk breaking the warranty?

Jul 15, 2020 - 5:49:33 PM
Players Union Member

Alegria

Norway

252 posts since 9/27/2014

Scale length is 23-3/16. It is a CC Carlin 12"

Jul 15, 2020 - 7:47:05 PM

155 posts since 6/24/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Alegria
quote:
Originally posted by Kentucky Charlie

Was the 1st string a .009" ?

And is the break very near the nut ? ( I know you said between the nut and first fret but how close to the nut is it breaking ?)


It's not very near the nut. I believe it must have been somewhere in the middle, maybe closer to the capo. 

 

The string was 0.010. I have put the same string on again, will try with a different capo. If it happens again it's probably nut or fret like mention here in the thread? The banjo is brand new. Is this a warranty issue? If I try to repair it myself, might I risk breaking the warranty?

 

 


Well, My only guess is the string slot. If you don't feel comfortable filing the slot a bit, just don't tune up in pitch with the capo on it. Tune first, then capo.

It's just hard to tell without seeing it. But I think it's the string slot.

Jul 16, 2020 - 4:46:29 AM
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28 posts since 6/30/2020

quote:
Originally posted by Aradobanjo

Hello,

Breaks with strings leave artifacts.

If the string at the post falls apart, either the string is bound up by crossing or the post hole has a burr. I use the Bill Baker string method. I don’t lock my string to the post. I load from the bottom to the top. This allows the string to become a compression spring. Compression springs work with string bending.

If the break is at the nut, then check the nut slot for a sharp edge or too narrow. We don’t know the nut material. Some are metallic.

If the break occurs at the capo, check the surface of the capo. Somewhere between the leading and trailing edges is a high friction area. We don’t know what type of capo being used. Metal capos do exist. Friction resistance is real tough when disparate metals rub.

Check the area between the 1st and 2nd frets. If we wash our hands before playing our instruments, then fretboard cleaners would not have to be considered. Sticky fingers leave sticky residue on the fretboard. 

As mentioned, thin strings don’t like heavy friction resistance. They also are susceptible to rough frets. Check to see if the frets need to be resurfaced and level.

Strings will break. I used to use a specific brand that broke 1st and 5th strings regularly. I soon went to an optional brand. The problem went away.


+1 This is excellent information! 
I would be inclined to to point to the nut slot as the culprit. The capo changes the angle of the string in the nut slot and if tuning with capo installed, a sharp edge on the nut could irritate and weaken the string. It's also possible that the nut slot is too tight to begin with, so even without the capo it has damaged the string and adding the capo exasperates the situation to the point of breakage. Put some graphite in the nut slot and see if you fare better. 
You can rule out the capo causing the damage by flipping it over and reinstalling to provide a different surface of the capo against the string. 

Good Luck,

Mike

 

Edited by - Pick-A-Lick on 07/16/2020 04:47:48

Jul 16, 2020 - 9:19:55 AM

AndyW

UK

525 posts since 7/4/2017

With that scale length do you really need a capo??

Jul 17, 2020 - 1:36:39 PM
Players Union Member

Alegria

Norway

252 posts since 9/27/2014

Now I spent 30 minutes playing with the new string on and it broke while tuning up from C to D. This time it broke above the nut. I am afraid to do any changes because the banjo is brand new. I have contacted the dealer to hear if it will affect my warranty.

I did not use a capo this time by the way. 


Andy, do you mean I could just tune up the strings instead?

Edited by - Alegria on 07/17/2020 13:37:25

Jul 17, 2020 - 3:18:11 PM

AndyW

UK

525 posts since 7/4/2017

Yes. At just under 24 inch surely your banjo is a so called 'A scale', and would not only comfortably tune to A or DD with no capo, but would sound best in such tunings.

Jul 18, 2020 - 12:17:54 AM
Players Union Member

Alegria

Norway

252 posts since 9/27/2014

I don't know what happened, but I have given the wrong measure. It's 26, not 23. It is this banjo here goldtonemusicgroup.com/goldton...fications

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