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Affect of temperature on guitar strings  

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(@inths)
Eminent Member
Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 20
05/07/2010 5:01 pm  

Hi,

We're going through a hot spell at the moment (temperatures of 35°C and about 60% humidity). I wanted to play some tunes so I picked up my guitar and started tuning it up. I got through the 5 thickest strings without any problem but when I tried to tune up the high E.... twang !!! The string snapped just above the knut.
I have a second guitar which I leave in DADGAD tuning, so I got that one and started tuning it to standard tuning. I got through the 5 thickest strings without any problem but .... you guessed it. TWANG !!! The high E snapped just above the knut.

I was wondering if the temperature and/or humidity could have weakened the high E string? Both guitars have steel strings. I also have a classical guitar with nylon strings but I don't feel like touching that one now!!.

What do you think?


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(@notes_norton)
Noble Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 1500
06/07/2010 12:55 pm  

I don't know about the weather causing them to snap, but I do know it raises problems with intonation.

I don't think humidity affects them (someone please correct me if I'm wrong)

When it is cold, the strings contract, and when it is warm the expand. Look at the telephone/power/CATV lines strung from pole to pole in the summer and the winter, see the difference in how much they sag, and you will get a very visual demonstration of that.

I know that when things get colder (like when they turn the air conditioner up) the guitar goes sharp due to the contraction of the strings. At the same time, the sax goes flat because the speed of sound is dependent on the temperature, and the time it takes the sound to get to the first open hole of the sax determines the pitch.

So in guitar bands, I always have to adjust the sax to the ever changing guitars (sax has one adjustment, guitars six, so it is only logical that the sax adjusts.

Notes

Bob "Notes" NortonOwner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com Add-on Styles for Band-in-a-Box and Microsoft SongSmithThe Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<


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(@musenfreund)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5134
06/07/2010 2:53 pm  

I suppose it's possible though that humidity could facilitate corrosion, especially if you're not in the habit of wiping the strings down after you've been playing.

Well we all shine on--like the moon and the stars and the sun. -- John Lennon


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(@gnease)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 5058
06/07/2010 3:06 pm  

I would not expect such a radical change in string tensile strength due to elevated, yet 'livable' temps. what are you using for a tuning reference? are you positive your E is really E?

-=tension & release=-


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(@greybeard)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 5900
06/07/2010 5:07 pm  

I suppose it's possible though that humidity could facilitate corrosion, especially if you're not in the habit of wiping the strings down after you've been playing.
Try playing a guitar in a Bangkok music shop - the strings are all black through corrosion.

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?Greybeard's PagesMy Articles & Reviews on GN


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(@notes_norton)
Noble Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 1500
07/07/2010 1:36 pm  

I suppose it's possible though that humidity could facilitate corrosion, especially if you're not in the habit of wiping the strings down after you've been playing.

Corrosion, definitely. I played an outdoor gig in Florida for a year and a half at a yacht basin on a salt water lagoon a quarter of a mile from the Atlantic Ocean (and will be going back in October).

I normally change my strings once a month. By the end of the month playing that gig, the unwound strings are brown, and yes, I wipe them down after every play.

In fact, I modded a bottom-of-the-line ESP/LTD EC-50 to bring to that gig because I didn't want the salt air getting inside either my Gibson ES-330 or my Epiphone Casino. I replaced the pickups with GFS Mean 90s, modded it for 1 vol and 1 tone control, installed a Big D Varitone in the open hole left by the removal of one of the volume pots, and put my duo's logo on it.

I've played it outdoors in the 60s (winter) to the 90s (summer), got caught in thunderstorms (we're under cover but the wind blows and we cover with a blue tarp), and definitely have seen the result of temperature on intonation, but I've never broken a string due to the weather. That of course doesn't mean it won't happen in the future.

Insights and incites by Notes ♫

Bob "Notes" NortonOwner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com Add-on Styles for Band-in-a-Box and Microsoft SongSmithThe Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<


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(@trguitar)
Famed Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 3711
07/07/2010 2:28 pm  

I've played it outdoors in the 60s (winter) to the 90s (summer)

I hate you! :mrgreen: :lol: Just kidding. My daughter lives in Florida. It is a beautiful place and I may move there one day yet.

"Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard,grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em."-- The Webb Wilder Credo --


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(@inths)
Eminent Member
Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 20
07/07/2010 7:20 pm  

I would not expect such a radical change in string tensile strength due to elevated, yet 'livable' temps. what are you using for a tuning reference? are you positive your E is really E?

The first guitar is an electric-accoustic with built-in tuner, for the second (and the classical) I use an electronic tuner. Both tuners are set for A=440 Hz (or is it 400? i forget... anyway, the standard factory setting).

If just one string had broken, I wouldn't have thought anything of it but for 2 strings to go (and the same one too)...

I never wipe the strings after playing. Since I'm still learning, I don't exactly work up a sweat when I'm playing. Do you think just the acidity from the skin could affect the strings?

Perhaps my wife sabbotaged the guitars to stop me spending so much time with them... :wink:


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(@blue-jay)
Noble Member
Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 1646
07/07/2010 8:39 pm  

... and there you have it. They make commercials about that sort of thing. :shock:

I don't think that acidity would affect the strings above the nut. But I find that body heat affects any guitar, the neck and strings especially. I've noticed with me, and others too, that we can warm a guitar with our own temperature and put it out of tune, and if that wasn't enough, to have to keep on tuning as we go on, and with even short breaks, flipping pages, whatever. So, IMO, heat really gets to the tuning of a guitar, and sometimes to the attitude of the neck.

Like a bird on the wire,like a drunk in a midnight choirI have tried in my way to be free.


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(@inths)
Eminent Member
Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 20
09/07/2010 7:00 am  

I just replaced all 6 strings on one of the guitars.... ONG what a mess !!!
I watched videos on how to do this before trying. The presenters make it look so easy and the strings are always neatly wrapped around the pegs. Not so when I try it (total mess)

Maybe I'll do better with the next guitar.


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