Maintenance & Repair, Questions

What To Do If You Cut A Guitar String Too Short? [FIXED]

Written By :Andrew Siemon

Every guitar player has inevitably experienced this at least once in their life but when I think about it, I wonder how a person even gets there in the first place considering it has been so long since I’ve made the mistake. That said, I can think of one way that a person could find themselves in this position.

I think the number one reason why people cut their strings too short is that they’ve mistakenly cut the string before they’ve wound it on the tuning peg which is a huge mistake. If you’re stringing up your guitars like this, the measurement has to be exact otherwise you’ll probably make an error. What happens if you do though?

If you cut your guitar string too short, the best option is to go to the store and buy a new one considering single strings are often very inexpensive. If you don’t have a store near you, many online retailers also sell strings but usually as full packages which are also inexpensive.

This is one of those issues where taking the time to find the solution just isn’t worth it considering it’s so cheap to get a new string. That said, not everyone will have a store near them or maybe it’s too late at night and you can’t go out and buy a new one.

What Happens If You Cut A Guitar String Too Short?

Buy A New String

Single Guitar String Elixir  - What To Do If You Cut Your Strings Too Short.jpg
Normally guitar shops will carry single strings but they won’t be high-end brands like Elixir (here are my thoughts on Elixir)

If you cut a string too short, the most economical solution is to just a new one as I said earlier. Some users here on ultimate-guitar, for example, jokingly suggested duct tape but most agreed that the best way to handle this issue is to just buy a new one.

There may be some cases however where a soldering gun like this one could come in handy, like if you just wanted to attach a ball-end to the end of the string, particularly where the string is fed in through the body and the bridge.

Use A Different Gauge String

That said, another thing that you can do is use a different string (the wrong string) if you have any left laying around. For example, I currently have a much heavier string than the string on my PRS SE Custom 24.

But I didn’t do that because I cut the string too short – it was a solution to the fact that the slots on the nut were cut slightly too wide on just one slot, which I think was a mistake I had made a few years ago when I was carving out the nut for higher gauge strings.

In a similar vein, another thing that you could do is take a string from a different kind of guitar like an acoustic guitar, or you could take a guitar string of a similar gauge from an acoustic string set.

Using acoustic guitar strings on an electric guitar isn’t going to sound the best, but it could be a temporary solution. If the guitar string is old and you want to freshen it up, you could try boiling it using my guide.

Break Out Your Soldering Gun (This Might Not Work)

I imagine there are some people out there who can solder strings together or come up with some type of contraption that can fix a guitar string with a soldering gun. I’ve never done something like this before, but I imagine there is someone who has done such a thing.

Tying the Strings

My Nylon String Guitar - What To Do If You Cut Your Strings Too Short.jpg
My nylon string guitar. Maybe nylon strings could be tied together using the same kind of idea.

Another thing that could be possible is figuring out a way to tie strings together using some kind of fabric. In other words, maybe there would be a way to extend the ball-end side at the end of the string with a fabric tie or contraption of some kind.

I know that nylon guitar strings must be tied, for instance. I imagine it’s possible to tie a nylon string onto the ball end of the guitar string where it’s fed into the bridge. This would have to be done with great care though because you wouldn’t want it to come loose.

This could give a person the extra 2-3 inches they need to extend the string far enough. I imagine this is possible as well, but as I said, I wouldn’t bother with these last two solutions because I just have a massive bag of guitar strings waiting for me at all times, which brings me to my next point.

Buy Guitar String Bundles So You Always Have Extra

Bag of Guitar Strings (2) - What To Do If You Cut Your Strings Too Short.jpg
This bag is packed with all kinds of strings

As I just said, I have tons of guitar strings waiting for me at all times at home. You can see what it looks like in the image shown above. You can buy inexpensive bundles of guitar strings. In some cases, you can even buy bundles of ten packs or more.

Once you’ve gotten into guitar playing and you love it to death, spending extra money on accessories like this is a great thing to do. It’s kind of fun to have multiple types of strings lying around as well.

How To Avoid Cutting Strings Too Short in the Future

Wind then Cut - What To Do If You Cut Your Strings Too Short.jpg
Cut the strings AFTER you’ve wound them

The best way to avoid cutting strings too short in the future is to string them up, wind them, and then cut them rather than cutting the strings in advance. Some people cut the strings in advance for some strange reason, maybe to avoid having the stray strings dangling at the end and scratching things up.

I’m not entirely sure why someone would do it in advance. There have been situations where I think I’ve inadvertently scratched the finish on the headstock as a result of being a little too careless with the end of the guitar string.

If you did decide to cut them in advance, for whatever reason, you would probably have to measure them out with an exact measurement, like with a tape measure. I use this tape measure as it seems to do the trick.

When it comes to buying one of these, I never cheap out because it’s one of those tools that can’t or at least shouldn’t be bought cheaply, unless you only want to use it.

Andrew Siemon is the principal creator for, a website entirely devoted to all things guitar. From repairs, music theory, chords, and improvisation, to recording at home. I've been doing this for 20 years and I've got another 50 in me.

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