Can a Guitar String Snap and Hurt You?


acoustic guitar | Sandy Music Lab

A guitar string is usually made of tough materials like steel, copper, or a steel alloy wound around a steel cable. Some people think that it can potentially snap and hurt them. But is it possible for a guitar string to snap and hurt you? 

A guitar string can snap and hurt you. The thin steel cable is often under a lot of tension and will occasionally break and lash out in any direction. Fortunately, the chances of that happening are pretty low. Always take precautions to prevent injuries by snapping guitar strings.

This article will debunk a few mysteries behind why guitar strings snap — and hurt people — and how to prevent you from becoming a victim. Read on to the end of the article for more actionable tips on how to prevent guitar strings from hurting you. Let’s get started.

Why Do Guitar Strings Snap?

Sure, guitar strings are made of tough metal and designed to withstand lots of tension, but they occasionally snap at the worst possible moment. But what makes a guitar string snap in the first place?

Guitar strings snap due to continuous contact with sharp, rough fret edges, bridge, and tuning posts. They also snap under excessive tension or after years of use, where frequent tuning gradually wears the string’s tensile strength. 

When a guitar string snaps, it behaves like an ordinary string and may fly out in any direction. However, the chances of a flying string hurting you are quite low. Nobody wants to fix a guitar string all the time, leave alone get hurt by one. By studying why guitar strings snap in the first place, you can find a way to prevent it from happening.

Here are a few reasons why guitar strings snap:

Your Guitar Strings Are Old

Old guitar strings are vulnerable to several issues ranging from degraded music quality, dirt accumulation, inaccurate pitch, and snapping in the middle of your performance. If you’re attentive to your equipment’s performance, you must have noticed the difference between a new and old guitar string.

New strings sound sharper as they bring music to life. However, they tend to lose tension as you constantly pull and release them during practice and actual performance. Some people also forget that guitars require regular cleaning and utmost care for the best performance. They store their equipment in poor dusty, damp garages, which only speeds up the guitar’s shortening lifetime.

As a result, old guitar strings are always more likely to snap. If you’re still using old guitars and they don’t sound good at all, now might be the right time to switch to new ones. Look for any signs of corrosion, accumulated dirt, or visibly worn-out tuners. Visit your local guitar store and get your guitar restrung when the need arises.

Guitar strings are sold in different price ranges. Avoid buying cheap ones with low quality. By buying higher-quality guitar strings, you ensure you won’t need to change your guitar strings too often. Also, you won’t risk your guitar strings breaking in the worst time, like when performing on stage or practicing songs with friends.

Your Guitar May Have a Rough Edge That Eats the Strings

A stiff, sharp metal surface can weaken the strength of your guitar strings, especially since they keep rubbing over each other repeatedly. Guitar strings hover slightly above the frets. While playing, the strings and frets come into contact repeatedly, meaning if there’s a rough edge on the fret, it can eat away the string until it finally snaps.

Look for any rough or sharp edges on your frets and bridge. Use a small file or sandpaper to smoothen out the fret and bridge edges. While you’re at it, avoid sharpening these edges further. Slowly smoothen out each fret lightly and avoid touching the strings.

You’re Putting Too Much Tension on Your Guitar Strings

Guitar strings are designed to withstand a lot of stress but overdoing it will only do more harm than good. Many people often make a mistake and turn the pegs way too much to get better-sounding notes. And doing this puts a lot of tension on your guitar.

Use a tuner to guide you whenever your guitar goes out of tune. Doing this should prevent you from over-tightening your strings. Try not to over-tune your guitar since the strings may not be able to handle the excess tension.

I’ve included the video below to guide you on how to tune your guitar properly:

Can Guitar Strings Hurt you?

Guitars are excellent instruments. They bring out defined tones and sound great for vocal performances, live events, and much more. However, one needs to be careful when playing to avoid damaging the guitar strings or hurting themselves.

Guitar strings can hurt you when they snap, depending on the force exerted on the string. Although this isn’t common, putting too much tension on a blemished wire can result in injury. Otherwise, guitar strings will only bruise your fingers after long practice, more so if you’re not used to it. 

A guitar string hurting you is a point of concern but not a cause for panic. As long as you keep your eyes far away from the strings while tuning it and take good care of your guitar, you need not worry about getting hurt. 

How To Prevent Guitar Strings From Hurting You

Guitar strings are most likely to hurt you when playing. The hard steel strings are often unforgiving to new guitarists who haven’t had much practice. Knowing how to prevent and relieve pain when guitar strings hurt you is a great deal in developing your new hobby.

Take a Break After Long Practice Sessions

Sometimes we all get a little too carried away with something, and playing on a guitar isn’t different. If the performance went on well, most guitarists would feel the urge to go on and on. But we strongly urge you to ease back on the strings for a while.

A break after a long practice session takes away the stress on your fingers. It also lets the calluses form. Calluses are tough coats on your skin that protect your fingers from regular friction. This extra layer of skin protects you from excessive friction.

Use Lighter Gauge Wires Because They’re Easier To Play

You don’t want to strain your fingers when playing. Thick gauge strings aren’t very likely to snap but can gradually bruise your fingers, especially if you’re new to stringed instruments. Most people tend to use the original strings their guitars came with. However, these, too, can bruise your fingers before the calluses form.

Switch to lighter strings. Light gauge strings are easier to play since they require little pressure. A . 010 gauge string can be a good place to start; once you’re used to it, revert to the original strings your guitar came with.

Note that the string gauge affects the quality of sound. Thicker wires have good bass but are harder to push down, while thinner wires aren’t that good at bass production. In short, using lighter strings means sacrificing bass, but that’ll be compensated by your fingers not getting bruised more often.

Practice Before the Actual Performance

A little warm-up goes a long way when preparing for the actual performance. It prepares your mind and body for your performance. In fact, you need not practice too hard to get used to the tension.

Taking at least 10 minutes to warm up can really bring up your game and, at the same time, prepare your fingers for the tension. Build up a habit, and dedicate a little time to get your fingers used to the strings. But again, don’t overdo it. Once the pain kicks in, stop and take a short break.

Use Finger Caps

If nothing seems to work, get yourself some finger caps and use them every time you play. Hopefully, your fingers can adapt to the pressure of thinner guitar strings with frequent practice. The finger caps should soon allow you to enjoy playing your songs without them.

Should the pain completely bar you from playing for a long time, do some first aid treatment and take some mild, pain-relieving medication to ease the pain. You might also want to consider going on a slightly longer break to let your fingers heal and the calluses form.

Final Thoughts

Guitar strings have hurt many people, depending on who you ask. However, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll snap and hit you in the eye unless you put your guitar too close to your face.

To prevent getting hurt in case your strings snap, do the following:

  • Don’t put your face too close to the strings while tuning.
  • Smoothen out any rough edges on your frets and bridge.
  • Don’t tighten the strings too much.
  • Replace old strings with new ones for safety and performance purposes.
  • Get your guitar checked the moment you see any signs of damage.

David Sandy

Hey there! My name is David Sandy and I'm the founder of Sandy Music Lab. I've been playing guitar for several years now and created this site to be able to share and explore music with others. Check out my recommended guitar gear!

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