Can Guitar Strings Cut Your Fingers? (Here’s What to Expect)

Today I am going to talk about whether guitar strings can cut your fingers.

Years of guitar playing, including as an instructor and professional Jazz artist, have taught me how to be careful and avoid injury while playing.

There certainly are some things that we have to watch out for as guitar players, so let’s go over some specifics so you will know how to play safely.

Can Guitar Strings Cut Your Fingers?

It is unlikely that guitar strings will cut your fingers. One exception is if you poke your finger on the tip of a string near the tuning peg. Another thing that can happen is you can separate your fingernail from your finger tip while bending a string. Both of these situations are painful but not serious.

Now, if you are thinking about this question, then you may have a particular situation in mind. So, let’s walk through some potential causes of finger cuts on the guitar, to hopefully give you some clarity.

Potential Causes of Guitar Finger Cuts

Here is a list of ways you can cut or hurt yourself if you are not careful. Later on, I’ll tell you how to avoid these mistakes.

And before we dive deeper, I should mention that I am NOT a doctor, so if you’re having real health issues, then you really should consult your physician.

With that said, lets continue on to the potential causes of guitar finger cuts:

1. Touching Sharp String Ends (Near Tuning Pegs)

The end of each string is usually very sharp. If your hands are near the tuning pegs. It is easy to poke your finger.

Guitar headstock with tuning pegs and tips of strings

If you do poke your finger, you will likely see a dot of blood. Wash your hands and take a break from playing if the poke is on a playing finger. That finger may be sore for a day or so but will heal on its own.

2. Bending

When you bend a guitar string, the pressure of the string may pull your fingertip away from your fingernail. Although this is not technically a cut, it hurts like one.

If this happens, let the hurt finger rest. If you want, you can use tape or a bandage to keep pressure on your fingernail. This is not necessary, but may help you heal faster.

3. Changing Strings

Strings can snap when you try to change them. I have never been cut by a string when it broke, but it does sting if the string snaps against you.


4. Sharp Frets

Before playing any guitar it is wise to check for any sharp frets. Heat and humidity can cause frets to dislodge leaving sharp metal exposed. If your guitar has this issue, take it to a guitar shop for repair.

5. Aggressive Slides on Small Strings

It is unlikely that sliding along the strings will cut your fingers, but it is not impossible. Sliding along the strings is a common guitar playing technique and should not hurt you.


How to Avoid Guitar Finger cuts

1. Touching Sharp String Ends (Near Tuning Pegs)

Some guitarists like to leave a longer tip at the end of the string, then wind the excess amount into a spring-like coil. If the end of the string is coiled it is much less likely to poke your finger.

2. Bending

When you bend, make sure that the string is pushing in against your finger tip, not down and away from your finger nail. This way your fingertip will not be pulled away from the nail.

3. Changing Strings

Make sure you start by lowering the string tension by detuning the string with its tuning peg. String snap largely because of the high tension of the strings so its makes sense to start by loosening them.

4. Sharp Frets

Check along the neck where the fret meets each side of the fretboard. If the guitar has one or more sharp frets, don’t play it! One time, I noticed light cuts on my fingers and it took me a while to figure out that this was the problem!

5. Aggressive Slides on Small Strings

Strings should not cut your fingers unless your hands are rough or dry. Use hand lotion regularly if that is a problem for you. Wash your hands between applying lotion and playing your guitar.

Other Potential Guitar Injuries

In addition to the above, you may run into some of the below injuries when playing guitar:


Tendonitis is the inflammation of tendons. For guitarists, the tendons of the forearm are most as risk. To avoid this, add some warm ups, stretches, and massages to your practice routine. If you are a serious guitarist, who plays for hours, you should think like an athlete preparing for an intense workout.

Also, be aware of the other ways you use your hands, arms, and tendons. Activities such as typing and cell phone use can contribute to tendonitis as well. Give your hands a break during long practice sessions and between playing and other activities that use the same muscles.

Neck Strain

If you look down at the neck of your guitar for extended periods of time, you should keep in mind that this is not a natural position for your neck and you may be straining yourself.

As soon as you can, start practicing while looking straight ahead. Look at the fretboard only when absolutely necessary. This takes time to develop (it will be hard at first) but your neck will thank you. Also, as a musician it is important to rely less on your eyes and more on your ears!

Sore Back

A sore back can also be a symptom of playing guitar. The two main factors here are the weight of the guitar and posture. Certain guitars (usually solid body electric guitars) are known for being uncomfortably heavy. Especially if you will be standing for a long concert, recording session, etc.

If this becomes a problem, one thing you can do is experiment with different lengths of your guitar strap. Having the guitar at a different height can do wonders for your posture and playing!

Many rock and metal guitarists hold their instruments detrimentally low. If adjusting your strap doesn’t relieve your problem, try a lighter guitar. Your back will thank you!

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