We all know for a fact that playing the guitar is addictive! Many novices in the guitar-playing world have a belief that handling guitar strings is extremely challenging, not only in regards to playing them but also for other chores such as tuning. Does it hurt when a guitar string breaks? Read on for more relevant details!

Horror movies often portray scenes of strings breaking into somebody’s face (such as in The Haunting, in which a lady tugs some piano strings, and one of them lashes at her face, forcing serious injuries). Although this was a piano string, we could guess that this scene may realistically occur in the case of guitar strings.

More often, the strings won’t hurt you. They might sting a bit, but nothing significant. It may hit part some parts of your body. Yet, it would be really scary if the string would snap and will hit you directly in the eye. It’s not common, but it happens. 

Are Guitar Strings Dangerous?

They are not treacherous, commonly speaking. Even if we don’t reject the fact that misfortunes could happen, they are often extremely rare and should not occur in the vast majority of instances.

Undoubtedly, one should tread with caution when performing some actions. Those can be changing or tuning a guitar, yet it’s not something to be highly frightful about. Ensure you understand when to stop using pressure to a string, and you should be alright.

There are also some occasional damages provoked by strings. Some of these “damages” are practical for your guitar playing (like the growth of calluses). Yet, in extreme cases, some may need first aid protocols or even surgery.

Anyhow, let’s reveal, in detail, some of the most known risks that are associated with guitar strings:

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Whipping

When strings are corroded, there is a fair stake that they may snap during playing. The likelihood of them inducing damage is very low, and, at most, you could experience some whips on your hand. If you hold your face too close to your strings, you could participate in more serious injuries.

Nevertheless, if they snap from regular playing, it’s very far-fetched to reach too far, as a guitar string lacks the elasticity to render extensive damage to your skin, hand, or body.

When tuning a string, you can also use too much pressure, and in a brief timeframe. This can be risky if the string is new, as it often has more elasticity than an ancient, rusty string and provokes a more destructive whipping effect as a reaction.

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There Is More to This

The above is also established by the truth that new strings are more resilient. They take more time for going into a straightened place after their packaging.

Moreover, they have more thickness and have not been stretched above their resistance point. The whipping result will be more severe as the strings go back from their “abnormal” straight position to their used resting position.

Truthfully, one should not overlook the impacts of abusing your strings. Some famous guitarists have a knack for portraying stunts on stage that could be risky for unskilled guitarists to try. Playing the strings with uncommon things such as coins, violin bows, or even bottles will pose a risk of snapping and, therefore, hurting the player.

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Unwanted Cuts

What about guitarists who have not developed hard calluses on their fingers? For them, guitar strings, especially heavier-gauge ones, can produce incisions or soreness on the fingers.

This may also occur to guitarists who have not played their instrument for a long time and fake to jump back to their everyday riffing. The fingertips won’t have the vital resistance to pull those “licks” as evenly, and they will start to hurt.

Also, consider the strings have rust on them, even though it may not be enough to affirm a tetanus shot. Then, the fingers will hurt immensely. Also, you will not be permitted to play or do many other chores for some time.

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Pricking

Each time you link strings to a guitar, loose ends will protrude from the tuning pegs. These ends are sharp and could cause damage if the guitar is not properly managed.

If the end is too prolonged, you may involuntarily push pricking harm to yourself or other individuals near you. 

If the end is, on the flip side, overly short, you are presumably safe from random pokes when playing the guitar but may encounter issues when handling the tuning post, as these limitations tend to be sharper and stronger, pushing more intense pricking.

More often than not, you may get pricking harm after a guitar string snaps and ends up in your eye, or other sensitive parts of your body or face, as remarked above.

Toxicity

Another problem some have is related to the toxicity pertaining to the strings’ build material. Yes, heavy metals used for the core wire and the winding are generally toxic in a certain state. Yet, this metal will not be absorbed by the skin in a significant way.

At most, it might cause a person to develop allergies to materials such as nickel, chromium, or bronze over time. People who are already allergic to these metals could possibly have their allergies triggered upon fretting and plucking one of these strings on guitars.

With that in mind, some of the actions done by some artists, such as evident licking the strings, should not be imitated. Similarly, you could get ill with all the contaminants that stick to strings.

They’re played with and exposed to the outer things. Again, heavy metal comprising the string can be absorbed better through your saliva during the string’s decay process.

Guitar Strings Safety advice

Yes, we’ve already noted that there are no substantial risks in handling the strings. Yet, there are always some preventative approaches that are very timely to follow to avoid potential hazards.

We’ll be outlining these safety tips to follow to control any harm resulting from guitar strings. Let’s take a look at some of them down below!

Tip 1: Secure Tuning

Don’t fuss with your tuning. Strings, especially new strings, benefit from slow fastening as they modify to the tension wielded by both the neck and the bridge. This truly goes without saying! When you turn the tuning peg too quickly, you will move the string and force it to rip.

Strings ought to “break in” accurately to adapt to their new position in relation to the guitar. This is essential to support new strings with adjusting stability. There are methods to accelerate the procedure, such as manual extension (which consists of drawing the string up for a while in specific places).

Whichever technique is used should be done in restraint to not put the strings under excessive pressure and push them to break.

Six guitar strings that didn't break, on an acoustic guitar.

Tip 2: Tuck & Clip The Ends

To stop getting stung by the pointed ends of a hooked guitar string, consider the subsequent actions:

  • If the endings are too long, with the possibility to hurt yourself at a length or others around you, you should presumably clip the strings utilizing pliers or wire cutters.
  • Moreover, you can tuck the leftover end of the string under the tightened strings in order to avoid the pointy ends to be exposed.

Tip: Note that keeping your guitar in a case or employing a handmade guitar strap is highly beneficial, for sure.

Tip 3: Check Tuning Pegs, Frets & Truss Rod

Sometimes strings can break during tuning, even when one is careful. This might be due to sharp fret edges. Inspect your frets periodically, as they can form dents with frequent use and can potentially break strings while playing or tuning, with the consequences it may yield.

If you see that strings often break around the head, inspect the tuning pegs for any sign of metal burr. It’s useful to do periodic checks on them as a preventative measure.

Ultimately, truss rods may be also tightly adjusted. This could make extra tension on the strings. This is decoded by slightly counting “ease” to the neck, and turning the truss bar nut counter-clockwise.

Tip 4: Avoid Affixing Old Strings

Particular guitar players are drawn to save old strings for a showery day. If you have a sparse set of ancient strings, check for any indication of rust or decay. When strings oxidize, they lose their solidity or consistency, making them inclined to break more easily.

Apart from any danger of string-whipping, rusty strings can deliver cuts on the fingertips because of the surface being too rugged and erratic. This usually occurs when sliding across the frets.