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Breaking a string at a concert

Old 10-09-05, 01:38 AM
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Breaking a string at a concert

I have been to oooh so many concerts in my time, and today was the first time a musician ever broke a string while playing --Dave Grohl - Cleveland, OH -- I was shocked to tell you the truth. I've been to a lot of shows and I've never seen a band member break a string (I might have been to concerts that had a musician breaking a string but he never mentioned that he did..in this case, I had GA front row seats so i watched it pop off and he made a joke to the crowd that his string broke). Which musicians have you seen/announced to the crowd that they have broken a string???
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Old 10-09-05, 02:04 AM
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I haven't seen anyone actually announce it but I've seen many strings break in concert. The most memorable was Neil Young ripping into his electric guitar until multiple strings hung loose from it.
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Old 10-09-05, 05:37 AM
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saw this all to often back in my traveling days on thre road. Some guys go through 3-4 guitars a night this way...bust a string, hand off an new guitar and get to work on the old one...and so on.
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Old 10-09-05, 09:11 AM
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The most entertaining example I can think of is when I saw Mogwai and the band's lead broke a string during their last song. He then ripped out every other string except one and continued playing that guitar for the last ten minutes of the show with just the one string.
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Old 10-09-05, 03:56 PM
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I was at a bluegrass festival and saw a guitarist broke a string. He held out the string to show it to the audience, grinned, turned both ways to be sure everyone saw it, and kept playing hard and fast.

The next day another guitarist in another band broke his string and he didn't play it up to the crowd. He didn't even slow down when a second string broke, and they were playing fast. I thought that was a lot more impressive way to handle it.
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Old 10-09-05, 10:18 PM
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I was at a Nada Surf concert in Boston last night, and the bass player, Daniel Lorca, broke a string while playing towards the end of the show. Didn't stop him one bit, either, he just went with it and kept on playing til the end of the song.

I've seen it happen plenty of times before this, though.
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Old 10-09-05, 10:29 PM
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One of my favorite musicians is Stuart Davis. Just so you know he's not very well known, generally plays coffee houses with a fairly minimal amount in attendance. As a result, no roadies or things like that, he has 2 guitars and he constantly retunes them on stage.

With that said, Stu has some of the most entertaining string breaking moments I've seen.

At one show he was playing "Sugar Bullets," which goes "Pull that pistol, tease that trigger / make those missile blow up bigger" He had the greatest recovery. During this line he goes "Pull that Pistol, (SNAP) break that G-string, but keep on keep on singing" He then ended the song and restringed it. Then started back up.

Another night he was playing a fast paced song, and in the middle of it, one string snapped. So he ripped out all except for one, and finished the song with the one string. Then he grabbed his other guitar, set the broken one in the corner, and randomly threatened the good guitar throughout the night. He told it "That guitar was mean to me, and now look at what happened to it!"
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Old 10-09-05, 11:46 PM
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One of my favorite musicians is Tab Benoit. He's a New Orleans blues artist who I've had the pleasure of seeing live three times. He normally plays smaller clubs but he tours a lot and puts on an amazing live show.

One thing about Tab is that he plays HARD. I heard an interview with him where he said he plays so hard that his ripped off his fingernails when the string slipped a bit.

He also bends the crap out of strings, which means he's prone to breaking them... often. He has a roady who spends 75% of his concerts restringing one of his three guitars... he needs three specifically for broken strings. For reference for my non-guitar friends, I'm including a picture of what strings are what notes - the strings go from left (thicker) to right (much thinner):


One night in a club in Bryan where during one song he broke his high E string about 20 seconds in. No problem, he just moves up the neck a bit without a pause. About a minute later he breaks his D string. Doesn't even miss a beat, but you can tell he's trying to think up new soloing patterns. 30 seconds later his G string pops. His final solo is unsurprisingly sparse by Benoit standards but it still sounds great even though he's forced to use all sorts of strange chord shapes much higher in the neck than he normally would. He finishes the song turns to the audience with a sheepish grin and says in his Louisiana drawl "It gets a lot harder when you've only got three strings." Fortunately his fixed bridge tele doesn't go out of tune too much with three strings missing.

Last edited by Mordred; 10-10-05 at 03:56 PM.
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Old 10-10-05, 03:43 PM
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Steve Poltz can break a string in the middle of a song, get a new one, string it up, tune it and finish the song all while singing the song!

Seen many, many, many strings broken on stage. Sometimes all 6 strings broken! Seen a few bass strings broken too. No big deal.
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Old 10-11-05, 12:56 AM
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I'm sure I've seen it happen before, but perhaps didn't notice or perhaps the guitarist just carried on as if it hadn't happened.

There's one I've HEARD...on Steve Vai's "Alive in an Ultra World". On the song (which I should point out is essentially a dual between piano and acoustic guitar) "Devil's Food" (track 5), at about 2 minutes 50 seconds into the song you can hear a string break. The band continues to play and noodle about as the crowd audibly reacts to it, and Vai says:

"Now let me tell you something, I'm going to finish playing that song. And my trusty Austrian assistant Thomas Nordik is going to change the string, and once again I will show you how good my band is."

The piano player asks "Hey Steve, can I play that one line that I just screwed up before?"

Vai: "Yes you can play that one line that you just screwed up because we're recording, and with today's technology, I can cut edit paste and hey maybe even put San Diego in here."

They proceed to redo the line, and for the next few minutes they proceed to improv with Vai sort of vocally conducting the band, asking for a roll on the snare etc. All very amusing stuff. Once the guitar is restrung and returned, they finish out the song.
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Old 10-11-05, 03:29 AM
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last night at the bloodhound gang was tghe first
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Old 10-11-05, 06:19 PM
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I saw Michael Penn over the weekend and his G string broke. What made it odd was that he did not have a backup guitar, and the pack of strings he had - surprise - had no G string. It was nice though, as he told a few stories about his music as he was given another string. The keyboardist he had with him played a sort of Jeopardy music which he was putting the string on and tuning it.
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