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“I’ve only had my guitar for a few days now, and I just broke a guitar string–the thinnest one–while I was tuning. My strings were basically brand new, so it seems like a waste to change them all. Can I just put on one new string or do I need to put on a whole new set? Can I buy just that one string?”
Thanks for the question Jason! You’re not the first to ask this, so let’s turn this one into a blog post for everyone’s benefit.
Breaking strings sucks–especially when it happens while tuning and it’s doubly frustrating when it’s a brand new set of strings. It’s just one of those things you’ll have to get used to as a guitar player, because it happens to all of us from time to time, regardless of how long you’ve been playing.
Single Guitar Strings to the Rescue
String breakage is an annoying fact of life for guitarists. So, it’s a good idea to keep a good stash of extra single guitar strings on hand–mainly the lighter gauges: the high E, B, and G strings.
So, to answer your immediate question, no, you don’t have to change all of the strings whenever you break just one. You definitely don’t want to change them all if it’s a brand new set.
You can buy single strings.
The downside is that they’re a bit harder to find, and they tend to be more expensive when bought separately like this. The key is to look for multi-packs of single guitar strings (more on that below) to get a better price.
Where to Buy Single Guitar Strings
Single Strings on Amazon
Of course, you can find just about anything on Amazon these days, and single guitar strings are no exception. However, to reiterate something I said before: look for multi-packs (packs of 2 or more strings) of the brand and gauge you’re after. Buying just one single string by itself is usually too expensive to justify.
Since I don’t know what brand of strings you use, and I also want to make this article useful for anyone who might be reading it, I’ll post a few direct links here to single string packs on Amazon. I’ll link to the lighter gauges, since that’s what people tend to break.
These may not be the actual brands or gauges that you need. This is not meant to be a complete or exhaustive list of single guitar strings. My goal here is to at least give you an idea of what to shop for and where to look:
Single Strings at Guitar Stores
Most guitar stores keep single strings on hand, however, they don’t normally sell these singles as an actual ‘product’ per se–meaning you won’t find them on the wall with all the other packs of guitar strings. However, if you ask the sales staff politely, they may sell you a few of the singles they have stashed away. If you’re really lucky, they may just give you 1 or 2 for free–especially if you bought your guitar or other merchandise from them.
Single Strings at Other Websites
Of course, Amazon isn’t the only game in town if you’re needing single guitar strings, so check out these websites too. I’ve ordered from these two companies and had a good experience with both. Be sure to compare their prices with Amazon to see which one might have the best price on the strings you need:
There are other online string retailers that sell single strings, but I’ve not personally used them so I’m not confident listing them here. If you just search google for “single guitar strings” or “guitar strings” you’ll undoubtedly find them. If you order from a website I haven’t listed here, leave me a comment down below and let me know what your experience was with their prices, shipping, and customer service.
Caution: Don’t Overpay for Single Guitar Strings
Last thing, and I can’t stress this enough…
If you’re a brand new guitar owner or generally inexperienced at buying strings, it’s easy to unknowingly overpay for singles. There are some merchants on sites like Amazon who, for reasons I can’t understand, put astronomical prices on single strings. Here’s is my rule of thumb when I’m shopping for singles online:
Treble strings such as the high G, B, and E strings: I refuse to pay more than about $1.50 per string.
Thicker bass/wound strings such as the low E, A, and D strings: I won’t pay more than about $2.50 per string.
Now, your mileage may vary, as the brand and gauge of string that you’re buying will factor into this. So, when you’re shopping online for… say… some high E strings, watch out for completely ridiculous prices such as $6 (or higher) per string. If you buy a multi-pack of single guitar strings, simply divide the number of strings in the pack by the total price to find the per-string cost. If the per-string cost is higher than about $2 – $3 you’re probably overpaying and should shop around for a better per-string price.
Single strings will always be a bit more expensive, per-string, than just buying a complete set of guitar strings, but they shouldn’t be unreasonably high.