After playing the guitar for 15 years, I can honestly say that I’ve never cut my fingers while playing the guitar.
While it’s certainly possible to cut your fingers while playing guitar, the chances of it actually happening are extremely low, with a few exceptions.
For instance, you’re more likely to hurt your fingers on the guitar strings by accidentally pricking your finger on the firm loose ends after you’ve strung them on the instrument.
With that said, what’s even more likely to happen when you play the guitar in your first months is that they might get sore due to the fact you haven’t built up the proper callouses yet to shield the nerves in your fingers from the pressure of the steel against your hands.
Truthfully, building up the calluses on your fingers for playing the guitar doesn’t take that much time at all.
In fact, I would say that it takes around 2 weeks of playing every day for an hour a day to build up the necessary calluses on your fingers that will ultimately protect your fingers from feeling a bit sore.
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As I mentioned in passing above, it is possible to hurt your fingers while playing the guitar, but it’s likely going to happen as a consequence of accidentally touching the end of the strings that are poking out of the tuning pegs on the headstock of the instrument.
In other words, you should be more worried about pricking your fingers rather than cutting them, however, if you just take your time and be mindful of what you’re doing, the chance of this actually happening is quite low, although, I would be lying if I said that I never pricked my fingers on the ends of the strings before.
After playing the guitar for 15 years, I would say I’ve done this maybe twice. So that means that there is probably a 1/100,000 chance of you doing this by accident.
You might be wondering how to minimize your chance of doing this?
There are a couple of things that you can do to avoid pricking your fingers on the strings, so what are they? One is having a teacher, but if you don’t have that, Guitar Tricks is a great place to start.
We’ll explore that in just a minute, however, I’m going to quickly run through the necessary pieces of equipment that you need that way you can effectively string up your guitar without any problems.
Necessary Gear For Stringing Up A Guitar
1) Plyers or Wirecutters
The first thing that I say that you should have is a pair of plyers.
I recommend getting a pair of plyers rather than a pair of wire cutters because plyers are more versatile, and most pairs have a little function on them where you can actually cut smile wires.
It’s typically right underneath the actual plyers.
Not only can you use a pair of plyers for your guitar strings, but you can use them for other things around the home. Every man/woman should have a pair of these bad boys – at least one pair.
2) String Winder
While this little tool (from Amazon) doesn’t necessarily stop you from pricking your fingers on the end of your guitar strings, it’s going to save you a lot of time winding the tuning knob so that you’re wrapping the strings around the peg 2-3 times.
However, assuming that you have locking tuners, Sperzel or another brand, you don’t actually need one of these because the locking tuner simply locks the string into place and there’s no need for winding the string.
This is where the time-saving function of the locking tuners comes into play.
3) Rubber erasers.
I’ve actually seen someone use these before.
What they do is they pull out the eraser of the end of the pencil, and they stick the little eraser on the end of the string so it acts kind of like a rubber stop or shield, guarding you against the prickly end of the string.
Personally, I think this is a little overkill, moreover, this might even affect the string’s vibrations, so I’ve never done this and never will. It’s a bit much for me, but maybe some people are a little more careful.
Furthermore, you really have to ask yourself if you really want to ruin six more perfectly good pencils just to avoid the risk of pricking your fingers.
How To Avoid Hurting Your Fingers On The Guitar
1) Take your time
Whenever you’re putting new strings on the guitar, just take your time, slow and easy, and make sure that you’re looking at a helpful YouTube video tutorial or article that walks you through the steps (here’s one of my articles on strings by the way).
Don’t rush through the process and be mindful of where you’re placing your fingers on the headstock after you’ve strung the instrument and it’s ready to go.
2) Wind the strings around the tuning post after you’ve strung them
If you don’t have Sperzel locking tuners as I do, you have to make sure you’re winding the end of the string around the tuning posts as much as you possibly can, usually around 2-3 times.
Make sure that you have a pair of needle-nose plyers, or wire-cutters so you can cut the end of the string off and then carefully wind the rest of the string in such a way that you avoid having the end of the string poking out.
3) After you’ve wound the string, tuck the end of it underneath the string.
What I mean by this, is that after you’ve wound the strings around the tuning peg, you can actually carefully tuck the end of the string underneath the string that way it’s not poking out.
4) Use needlenose players to make sure the ends are very short.
In other words, when the strings are set up on it, use the plyers to cut the end of it so that the ends are very short. You don’t want the residual of the string to be more than a centimeter or two long.
If they’re sticking out by an inch or more, you have a greater chance of pricking your finger on it and causing a bit of pain and frustration. Pricking your fingers actually kind of hurts, because there is so much blood and nerves at the end of your fingertips.
5) Consider getting Sperzel Locking Tuners
Locking tuners are pretty dope and I have a hard time buying a guitar that doesn’t have them.
Sperzel locking tuners, or from some other brand, are tuning machines that have a little bar inside them where there’s a little knob underneath each tuning post, and you turn the knob so that it pushes up the bar up against the string and locks it in place.
Not only are they extremely convenient, but they also save you a lot of time and energy winding the strings around the tuning post.
YouTube Video Tutorial
In conclusion, I would honestly say that, in my opinion at least, cutting your fingers on the guitar strings is one of the last things you should be worried about because they’re not dangerous which I’ve touched on before. Moreover, it’s really not that big of a deal if you do hurt your fingers.
If pricking your finger just a little bit, and causing very minor pain, is the biggest concern you have about learning a musical instrument then I would say your problems aren’t very severe.