Can A Guitar Break? How And Why Do Guitars Break?Devlon Jarrod Horne
I have dropped my guitar plenty of times on-stage and off. Luckily for me, my guitars have never broken. We can assume that’s because a guitar is a rugged instrument built of high quality. I then thought do guitars even break at all and how would they and why would they if they did.
Guitars are made from organic materials such as wood, metal, and plastic. If misused, illtreated, or deliberately smashed, hit, or dropped with force, they are more than likely to break. Different regions of the guitar are also more susceptible to breaking and a guitar should be handled with care.
Knowing that a guitar can break, let’s look at the how’s and why’s and then the parts that could break more easily. We’ll also look at the differences between a damaged and broken guitar and then finally is it worth getting a broken guitar fixed.
Can a guitar break?
We have to look at the definition of what the word “broken” means in terms of a guitar. Does broken mean you are unable to play it? Does it mean you can still play it but it doesn’t sound great? Does it mean its snapped in half?
We are going to take broken in its most literal term here. For us and this article broken is going to mean completely trashed and for all other intents and purposes, it is snapped or cracked to some degree that it is completely unplayable.
There are differences in understanding the levels of severity in terms of ruined, broken, and damaged guitars. If you would like to know more about those categories have a look at my article – Can A Guitar Go Bad? Find Out How And Why They Do!
I’ll explain briefly what the different categories are.
A bad guitar is one that is not broken but it has been neglected so much that you can not physically play it or if you can its horrible to play and it sounds horrible.
A weathered guitar has a couple of scratches and so, but it is still in good quality and more often than not it will sound great and play great. An example of this is a 1969 Fender Strat.
A damaged guitar is one that you most likely dropped at your gig or it fell and then it acquired a nice big hole in it or the headstock cracked.
Now we get to broken guitars. A broken guitar as you would expect now from categorizing the other terms is a guitar that is completely broken (snapped, cracked, parts are missing). Think of it like when you see a rock band on stage and they smash a guitar. That is what a broken guitar looks like.
So most definitely guitars can break and there are different levels of how bad a guitar can be in terms of broken. If it’s not a complete wreck then it would fall into the category of damaged. And you could perhaps get parts replaced and have it repaired. We will look at that a little later.
Let’s compare the differences between a damaged and broken guitar a little more.
What is the difference between a damaged and a broken guitar?
As we said a damaged guitar is one that would need to be repaired and a couple of parts may need to be replaced. So where is the line between a damaged and broken guitar?
Think of it like this. If it would be cheaper to go to the store and by the same guitar for a cheaper amount than what it would cost you to fix it. Then it is broken.
If you are able to get it repaired even if the headstock and neck are snapped and it is still cheaper then buying a new one, it is damaged. let’s say I dropped my 69 fender Strat and the headstock snapped right off the neck. It would still be cheaper to get it repaired than to replace my 69 Strat.
Let’s look at what the guitar parts are made of to get a better understanding of why they can break.
What are the parts of the guitar made of?
For the most part, a guitar comprises of wood for the body, neck, and headstock. Then you have various alloy metals (this is a mixture of metals) making up the other parts of the guitar like the bridge, saddles, machine heads, pickups, internal wiring, screws, and such. Lastly, you have other parts that are made of plastic such as the pickguard and nut in some instances.
Now with enough force and pressure exerted per square inch on something, it will break, and a guitar is no different. Moving on to how easily can a guitar break.
How easily can a guitar break?
Certain factors will come into play here such as what parts of the guitar are more susceptible to breaking (the weak points of the guitar). The most common weak point on the guitar will be the parts where one part of the guitar is joined to another.
The two main points where a guitar is most likely to break is by the headstock (where the headstock is joined to the neck) and then where the neck is joined to the body. These two areas are the most vulnerable on a guitar and the most susceptible to breaking.
The other two parts which are most likely to break are the neck and then the body if the body is made up of two separate pieces of wood.
It actually requires quite a lot of force to break a guitar. So, don’t worry if you drop it, 9 out of 10 times it will be fine. And if your dropping it for that 10th time then maybe you should look at what’s wrong with your hands and not worry about the guitar breaking so much.
Watch this YouTube video by Loudwire of some of the great guitar players inadvertently break and deliberately break their guitar. You will see that quite a lot of force is required.
Why does a guitar break?
The main reason why a guitar will break is if you deliberately try and smash it or you drop it and it lands square on one of the weak points of the guitar.
Those will be the two main factors why a guitar will break. A guitar would also break if a car rolls over it and for various other extreme reasons but I’m sure we can agree you won’t run into those circumstances. If you are then you better check what’s happening around you and not why the guitar is breaking.
Can a broken guitar be fixed?
More likely than not a guitar that has been deliberately smashed cannot be fixed. There will be too many pieces that need to be replaced and not even a professional luthier will be able to help you.
If you have dropped the guitar and the headstock has snapped off or the neck has dislodged from the body (any normal form of breakage) then most definitely, it can be fixed by a professional.
Is it worth fixing a broken guitar?
Again, that all depends on how badly the guitar is broken, what is broken, and how much those specific parts will cost to be replaced or how much the repair will be.
This is relative because it is definitely worth repairing a 1969 Fender Strat but not your run of the mill no-name brand bought from a pawn shop for $50s.
Getting to our conclusion guitars can definitely break although it requires quite a bit of force to do so. Dropping it will more than likely not break it or even damage it depending on how hard it fell.
If you deliberately try and smash it into a million pieces then you will get the job done because a guitar is only made from wood, metal, and plastic. Those materials are breakable.
Then lastly, sometimes depending on how badly the guitar is broken it may be worth getting it repaired and fixed depending on how valuable the guitar was in the first place. If it was a cheap guitar then there is no point in trying to repair it and your better off just getting a new one.