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  • Ever broken a bass string?

    I've been playing bass since I was in high school, and in all that time, I think I've only broken one string. How about you? Ever had one break? Which string was it? Was it at a gig or... ? What were the circumstances?
    **********

    "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

    - George Carlin

    "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

    - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

    "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

    - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

  • #2
    Yes, on the last song of a gig. It was the A string on my 5 string, and luckily it was easy enough to work around it. The string broke when I went to touch up the tuning, and I thought it was odd that I was turning the key without getting any results.

    The culprit was the failure of a cheap tuning head - it basically broke internally, and I think the shock broke the string right at the bend where it goes into the head. I had some spares, so the only expense incurred was a new set of strings.
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    • #3
      Several times. Always at gigs.

      Back in 1979 or so, I was playing in my second professional band. I had just taken delivery of my new custom Ric 4000, strung with the latest innovation in bass strings, the kind where the naked core goes over the bridge. Turns out that naked cores are much more susceptible to small rough spots on the bridge saddles. Seems I broke a string almost every night, once two strings in one set. Hard to compensate with only two strings, but I managed. The rest of the band didn't notice.

      Since then, I've gone back to regular strings. I also stopped playing professionally, for the most part, and broken strings were a thing of the past for me. Again, for the most part. But back in my pro days, bass strings were very expensive, $25 a set, sometimes more. And that was 35 years ago. So I took to washing my strings to prolong their life. I'm doing laundry anyway, right?

      Fast forward to the present decade. Still poor (or poor again, take your choice), still washing my strings. Playing a gig on the coast, for the Oregon Grass Seed Growers Association. My E string breaks on the second song! Remember, I haven't broken a string in 35 years. Spares? Who needs 'em? So there I am with a 3-string bass. What to do? One of the guitarists has a heavy gauge E string that's long enough to put on. But it's a guitar string. so I put it on and tune it to guitar E, an octave higher, and play the gig with what feels like a ukulele bass! Sounded a bit weird, but it worked.

      A week later, I'm telling this story to another band I play in, and they're asking, do you have spares now? Oh, come on, I say. One string in 35 years? What's to worry? So about half way through the last set, my A string starts to go flat. That's odd, but I tune it up. It goes flat again. I tune it up again. It comes off in my hand! Again, no spares. We finish the song, and I spring into action! Turns out it has broken at the right angle at the tuner, so there's a little bit of string left from the wrap-arounds. I cut off the broken bit, stick the end into the tuner, and start tuning it up, all while the bandleader is doing the intro for the next song, oblivious to my predicament. He starts the song, I'm still tuning. I don't come in on cue, and he finally looks over to see what's going on, just as I'm about ready. I come in at a tasteful spot, and the band plays on. The audience hasn't a clue.

      I'm still using that now-shorter string. It has only about a half a wrap around the tuning peg, but it seems to be working. I do have spare strings, though. I don't fancy getting caught that way again.
      "The Web puts all of the world's knowledge at our fingertips; unfortunately it's mixed with all of the world's bull****************."
      -- Bob Parks

      "A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it."
      -- Oscar Wilde

      "No man dies for what he knows to be true. Men die for what they want to be true, for what some terror in their hearts tells them is not true."
      -- Oscar Wilde

      "It is a trap of history to believe that eyewitnesses remember accurately what they have lived through."
      -- Theodore White

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      • #4
        Since I'm a guitarist rather than a bass player, only once. I was working on my bass and I'd loosened the strings. When I went to retighten them the D broke at the tuning post. Fortunately, Juststrings.com sells individual flatwound bass strings and I was able to replace it without buying a new set.
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        • #5
          yeah, I broke a few A strings on one bass I have, it always broke at the bridge. I was very aggressive then
          Dillybar 13 july 2008.
          "I do not expect you to lift one of your lazy fingers to find the proof that I am right."

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          • #6
            I've broken plenty of guitar strings, but never a bass string. Back in the mid-80's I was 3 rows from the stage when the bassist for The Moody Blues broke one. He didn't skip a beat!
            HCBF Mesa Brigade Member #2

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            • #7
              I've had it happen a few times on both old and new strings.

              I had the problem most often trying to wind long scale strings on a short scale bass so the cause of the break was in fact my own fault.
              Proper length strings have a taper or even felt thread wrapped around the tuning peg ends. This insures the core is being pulled on when you tighten the string. I have been able to get longer scale strings on a short scale bass by unwrapping some of the winds on the end then using CA on the end. Before I used that trick the hardened steel core wires would snap when the string was bent on a 90 degree angle.

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              • #8
                First gig, first song. It was "I Just Want to Make Love to You" by foghat...E string broke about the 2 bar. I had a backup bass...I will never play without one.
                Well, I'm not sure how much I can respect any man who takes Lug seriously - King Kashue
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                • #9
                  A backup bass at your first gig? Must be nice to be rich.
                  "The Web puts all of the world's knowledge at our fingertips; unfortunately it's mixed with all of the world's bull****************."
                  -- Bob Parks

                  "A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it."
                  -- Oscar Wilde

                  "No man dies for what he knows to be true. Men die for what they want to be true, for what some terror in their hearts tells them is not true."
                  -- Oscar Wilde

                  "It is a trap of history to believe that eyewitnesses remember accurately what they have lived through."
                  -- Theodore White

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by isaac42 View Post
                    A backup bass at your first gig? Must be nice to be rich.
                    The bass I broke a string on was made in my high school's woodshop...the backup was a Pan SG knockoff.
                    Well, I'm not sure how much I can respect any man who takes Lug seriously - King Kashue
                    Sucking like that is a gift. You couldn't recognize the genius of Suck if it sat on your face and farted. -S400
                    You don't fix Lug's posts. Lug's posts fix you. - MrJoshua
                    You can be my HCBF boyfriend forever. - Sugarskull

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      That's two more basses than I owned when I played my first gig.
                      "The Web puts all of the world's knowledge at our fingertips; unfortunately it's mixed with all of the world's bull****************."
                      -- Bob Parks

                      "A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it."
                      -- Oscar Wilde

                      "No man dies for what he knows to be true. Men die for what they want to be true, for what some terror in their hearts tells them is not true."
                      -- Oscar Wilde

                      "It is a trap of history to believe that eyewitnesses remember accurately what they have lived through."
                      -- Theodore White

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by isaac42 View Post
                        That's two more basses than I owned when I played my first gig.
                        When I had no bass, I simply sent the butler out to purchase one for me. Problem solved!
                        Well, I'm not sure how much I can respect any man who takes Lug seriously - King Kashue
                        Sucking like that is a gift. You couldn't recognize the genius of Suck if it sat on your face and farted. -S400
                        You don't fix Lug's posts. Lug's posts fix you. - MrJoshua
                        You can be my HCBF boyfriend forever. - Sugarskull

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by lug View Post

                          When I had no bass, I simply sent the butler out to purchase one for me. Problem solved!
                          HCBF Mesa Brigade Member #2

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by isaac42 View Post
                            Several times. Always at gigs.

                            Back in 1979 or so, I was playing in my second professional band. I had just taken delivery of my new custom Ric 4000, strung with the latest innovation in bass strings, the kind where the naked core goes over the bridge. Turns out that naked cores are much more susceptible to small rough spots on the bridge saddles. Seems I broke a string almost every night, once two strings in one set. Hard to compensate with only two strings, but I managed. The rest of the band didn't notice.

                            Since then, I've gone back to regular strings. I also stopped playing professionally, for the most part, and broken strings were a thing of the past for me. Again, for the most part. But back in my pro days, bass strings were very expensive, $25 a set, sometimes more. And that was 35 years ago. So I took to washing my strings to prolong their life. I'm doing laundry anyway, right?
                            I've heard of (and even tried) boiling the strings with a bit of baking soda in the water, but you washed your bass strings... with your laundry??? I have to admit this is the first time I've ever heard of that approach. Does it actually work? Do you recommend Tide or Gain detergent?


                            Fast forward to the present decade. Still poor (or poor again, take your choice), still washing my strings. Playing a gig on the coast, for the Oregon Grass Seed Growers Association. My E string breaks on the second song! Remember, I haven't broken a string in 35 years. Spares? Who needs 'em? So there I am with a 3-string bass. What to do? One of the guitarists has a heavy gauge E string that's long enough to put on. But it's a guitar string. so I put it on and tune it to guitar E, an octave higher, and play the gig with what feels like a ukulele bass! Sounded a bit weird, but it worked.

                            A week later, I'm telling this story to another band I play in, and they're asking, do you have spares now? Oh, come on, I say. One string in 35 years? What's to worry? So about half way through the last set, my A string starts to go flat. That's odd, but I tune it up. It goes flat again. I tune it up again. It comes off in my hand! Again, no spares. We finish the song, and I spring into action! Turns out it has broken at the right angle at the tuner, so there's a little bit of string left from the wrap-arounds. I cut off the broken bit, stick the end into the tuner, and start tuning it up, all while the bandleader is doing the intro for the next song, oblivious to my predicament. He starts the song, I'm still tuning. I don't come in on cue, and he finally looks over to see what's going on, just as I'm about ready. I come in at a tasteful spot, and the band plays on. The audience hasn't a clue.

                            I'm still using that now-shorter string. It has only about a half a wrap around the tuning peg, but it seems to be working. I do have spare strings, though. I don't fancy getting caught that way again.

                            Great story - thanks for sharing Isaac!
                            **********

                            "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

                            - George Carlin

                            "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

                            - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

                            "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

                            - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Phil O'Keefe View Post
                              I've heard of (and even tried) boiling the strings with a bit of baking soda in the water, but you washed your bass strings... with your laundry??? I have to admit this is the first time I've ever heard of that approach. Does it actually work? Do you recommend Tide or Gain detergent?
                              Tide works well, but it can be difficult to get them properly dry afterward. Gain is excellent if the strings have been losing volume, but can make them too loud if used repeatedly.

                              But seriously, yes, with my laundry. After all, I was on the road, living in motels. I had no pots pans or a stove, so I couldn't boil them. But I did have to do laundry, and there are laundromats everywhere. And yes, I find it works well. Being cheap and having very little income, I still do it.

                              Great story - thanks for sharing Isaac!
                              You're welcome. I have more than a few road stories.
                              "The Web puts all of the world's knowledge at our fingertips; unfortunately it's mixed with all of the world's bull****************."
                              -- Bob Parks

                              "A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it."
                              -- Oscar Wilde

                              "No man dies for what he knows to be true. Men die for what they want to be true, for what some terror in their hearts tells them is not true."
                              -- Oscar Wilde

                              "It is a trap of history to believe that eyewitnesses remember accurately what they have lived through."
                              -- Theodore White

                              Comment













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