Can You Cut Guitar Strings with Scissors? 5 Essential Tips for Safe Removal

As a guitarist, at some point, you might need to cut your guitar strings, especially when you’re changing them. You might wonder if using scissors can be an efficient way of cutting these strings. In this article, we will explore the possibility of using scissors to safely and effectively cut guitar strings.

Understanding the materials involved is crucial when determining whether or not scissors can be used to cut guitar strings. Guitar strings are made of different materials such as steel, nickel, and even nylon for classical guitars.

Scissors, on the other hand, are typically designed for cutting softer materials like paper, fabric, or even hair. However, using other types of scissors may work, depending on the type of guitar strings and the sharpness of the scissors.

It is essential to recognize the risks and safety concerns involved in using scissors to cut guitar strings. Although it may seem like a simple task, it’s important to ensure that the proper technique is followed to avoid damaging your guitar or harming yourself.

Scissors may not be the most suitable tool for cutting guitar strings, and specialized tools such as wire cutters or specific guitar string-cutting pliers could offer a safer and more efficient way to complete the task.

Key Takeaways on Can You Cut Guitar Strings With Scissors?

  • Scissors can potentially be used to cut guitar strings, but their effectiveness may depend on the sharpness of the scissors and the type of guitar strings.
  • Prioritizing safety while cutting guitar strings is crucial to avoid damage or injury.
  • There are alternative, specialized tools like wire cutters and guitar string-cutting pliers that can offer a better solution for cutting guitar strings compared to scissors.

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Understanding the Materials: Scissors and Guitar Strings

As a guitarist, maintaining your instrument plays an important role in producing high-quality sound, and changing guitar strings is a fundamental aspect of guitar care. Using the right tools and techniques for cutting guitar strings can affect the result and longevity of the strings.

In this section, I’ll discuss the materials involved: scissors and guitar strings.

First, let’s talk about scissors. The common household scissors usually have sharp blades made of stainless steel, which are designed for cutting through thin materials like paper and fabric. When considering scissors for cutting guitar strings, it’s crucial to ensure that they are sharp and in good condition.

Dull or rusty scissors might not cut cleanly through the strings and may cause them to fray or even damage your guitar’s hardware.

When it comes to guitar strings, there are two main types: steel and nylon strings. Steel strings are commonly used in acoustic and electric guitars, while nylon strings are used in classical guitars. Both types of strings have different properties, and this affects the ease with which scissors can cut through them.

Although most scissors are capable of cutting both steel and nylon strings, some extra caution is needed when cutting steel strings, as they may be more challenging to cut due to their strength and stiffness.

The alternative to using scissors for cutting guitar strings is a dedicated string cutter or wire cutter. These tools provide a clean and precise cut, making it easier to snip through even the toughest strings. Many guitarists prefer using string cutters because they are designed specifically for this purpose, which means there is a lower risk of damaging the strings or the guitar.

I would strongly advise against trying to cut Guitar strings with scissors as apart from anything else, this could blunt the scissors, and they are not designed for this task.

These days, there are all sorts of string cutters and even 3 in 1 cutters that have other handy tools attached.

The above cutters also include a “string puller” for acoustic guitars and a string winder – a really handy 3 in 1 tool that also means if changing acoustic guitar strings, you can simply pull the bridge pins out and not have to cut the string at all.

Cutting your guitar strings is an easy task when you follow the proper steps and use the right tools. The key to success is to loosen the tension of the strings completely before attempting to cut them. This helps to prevent damage to the guitar and makes it safer for me as I cut the strings.

In summary, while scissors can be used to cut guitar strings, it’s essential to use sharp and well-maintained scissors and to first loosen the tension of the strings. If you are not confident using scissors or want a more precise tool, a string cutter or wire cutter can be a better option for cutting your guitar strings.

Risks and Safety Concerns

When cutting guitar strings with scissors, there are certain risks and safety concerns that you need to be aware of to avoid damaging the guitar or causing injury to yourself.

First and foremost, ensure that the scissors are sharp and of good quality. Dull scissors, such as children’s safety scissors, are not suitable for this task as they may not cut the strings properly and increase the risk of damaging the guitar or injuring your fingers.

It’s important to unload the tension from the guitar string before attempting to cut it. You can achieve this by winding the tuning head in the direction that decreases string tension until the string no longer holds a note and flops around freely. This will prevent the string from suddenly snapping and potentially causing injury.

When cutting the strings, be careful with the angle at which you are holding the scissors. A wrong angle may cause a slip and accidentally cut other parts of the guitar, such as the nut, bridge, or fretboard, leading to costly repairs. Additionally, if you’re not careful with your fingers and their positioning, you could risk injury or even a painful cut.

To provide further safety while cutting guitar strings, consider wearing protective gloves or wrapping your fingers with a cloth or tape. This will help minimize the risk of accidental cuts, as guitar strings can be sharp and cause injuries if not handled properly.

While cutting guitar strings with scissors is possible, it’s not without its risks. By following these safety precautions and being mindful of the potential concerns, you can minimize the chances of damaging the guitar or injuring yourself during this process.

Standard Tools for Guitar String Cutting

When it comes to cutting guitar strings, there are several standard tools to get the job done effectively and safely. Of course, wire cutters or string cutters specifically designed for cutting guitar strings are the go-to options.

These are tools created with the sole purpose of cutting through guitar strings with ease, and they often come with additional features like a pin puller or string winder for added convenience. However, in case you lack these tools, there are other options available.

One such alternative tool is a pair of pliers. Needle nose pliers, cutting pliers, or side cutters can all be utilized to cut through guitar strings. To perform the task, simply grip the string where you want to make the cut and twist it until the string breaks. Pliers are versatile tools that are easily accessible and can be found in most households.

Another option for cutting guitar strings is using nail clippers or toenail clippers. While they might not be as effective as wire cutters or pliers, they can still do the job in a pinch. For this method, position the clippers around the string and press down firmly to sever it. However, be cautious when using smaller nail clippers, as they might not be strong enough to cut through thicker strings.

If you don’t have the above tools, you can also use a pocket knife or a small saw to cut guitar strings. These cutting tools should be sharp and precise in order to avoid any damage to the guitar or tuning pegs while cutting the excess string. Although not recommended as a primary cutting tool, they can surely get the job done in the absence of more suitable options.

Procedure for Cutting Guitar Strings

First, unload the tension from the guitar strings, which ensures a safer and more straightforward cutting process. Do this by winding the tuning post to decrease the string tension until the string no longer holds a note and flops around freely.

When the string tension is low enough, remove the string from the tuning post and bridge. For acoustic guitars, you may need to remove bridge pins that hold the strings in place. Procedure varies depending on the guitar type.

Once the old strings are off the guitar, get ready to attach the new strings. Insert them through the bridge, ensuring they are the correct length for your instrument. Pulling the string towards the guitar’s headstock, align the hole in the tuning post with the string.

To cut the guitar strings without wire cutters, here are a few options:

  • Scissors: With a sharp pair of scissors, carefully snip the string close to the tuning post, ensuring there’s no residual length that could cause injury during tuning. You may need more force to cut the thicker bass strings.
  • Pliers: Using pliers with a cutting edge can be another effective tool for cutting strings. Place the cutting edge close to the tuning post and apply pressure until the string breaks off cleanly.

After cutting the strings, wind them up to the proper pitch, making sure they’re securely fastened to the tuning post and bridge. Finally, double-check the string tension to ensure optimal playing conditions.

Considerations When Cutting Strings

When it comes to cutting guitar strings with scissors, there are a few important points to consider. As someone who often deals with guitar maintenance, I’ve found that using the right tool and following the best practices can help maintain the performance and longevity of my instrument.

First and foremost, it’s essential to use sharp scissors that can cleanly and easily cut through guitar strings. You can use kitchen scissors or barber’s scissors, as these are typically sharp enough to get the job done without damaging your instrument’s strings.

Still, some individuals prefer using wire cutters specifically designed for this task, which can offer more precise cutting.

It’s also crucial to unload the tension from the guitar strings before cutting them. Winding the tuning head in the direction to flatten the string’s note decreases the string tension until it no longer holds a note and flops around freely. This helps ensure safety when handling the strings, as well as prevents any potential damage to your guitar.

When changing and cutting guitar strings, always keep in mind not to remove all of the strings at once. Doing so can relieve the neck from the string tension, possibly causing wood wrap and impacting your guitar’s performance. Instead, follow experts’ advice and cut and replace two strings at a time, taking the opportunity to clean the fingerboard in the process.

Lastly, it’s essential to be cautious while cutting strings, particularly near the guitar’s body or bridge. Accidental slips could result in scratches or damages to your instrument. By working slowly and patiently, you will ensure the process is smooth, efficient and safe.

Alternatives to Using Scissors

In addition to scissors, there are other tools that can be effectively used to cut guitar strings. One of the most popular options is using wire cutters. They’re specifically designed for cutting through various types of wires and are perfect for cleanly trimming your guitar strings.

Another alternative is using nail clippers or toenail clippers as a makeshift guitar string cutter. Although not as efficient as wire cutters, they can get the job done if you don’t have any other options at hand. Just make sure the clippers you’re using are strong and sharp enough to cut through the strings.

Cutting pliers, including needle-nose pliers, can also be used to cut guitar strings. To use this method, grip the string tightly with the pliers where you want to make the cut, and gently twist the string until it breaks. This alternative is quite handy, especially when you don’t have any cutting tool explicitly made for guitar strings.

In some cases, you might consider using a small saw to cut the strings, particularly if you’re dealing with thicker strings such as those on a bass guitar. However, I would only recommend this method if no other alternatives are available, as a saw might damage your instrument if not used carefully.


It’s possible to cut guitar strings with scissors, but there are a few important considerations to keep in mind. First and foremost, I recommend using a sharp pair of scissors, as dull blades can prove to be ineffective and potentially damaging to the strings.

When cutting a guitar string, it’s essential to fully unload the tension from the string beforehand. To achieve this, typically wind the tuning head in the direction that flattens the string’s note, decreasing string tension, until the string no longer holds a note and flops around freely. This not only makes the cutting process easier but also ensures safety while handling the strings.

Furthermore, it’s best to cut guitar strings close to the machine heads, keeping in mind to leave enough length to avoid injuries to your fingers when tuning.

In the absence of side cutters or specialized tools, a trusty pair of scissors can get the job done, granted that proper care and technique are employed. Lastly, always remember to exercise caution and avoid applying too much pressure when cutting guitar strings, as this may cause the string to fray or break prematurely.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can scissors damage guitar strings?

Yes, using scissors to cut guitar strings can potentially damage the strings if not done carefully. Moreover, scissors may not be the most effective or safest tool for this purpose. Guitar strings are made of strong materials like steel, nickel, or bronze, which could cause damage to the scissors’ blades over time.

What is the proper way to trim guitar strings?

The proper way to trim guitar strings is to first loosen the tension by turning the tuning peg until the string is slack.

Once the string is loose, it’s safe to cut the string close to the machine head, but leaving enough length to prevent injuries to your fingers when tuning. You can use side cutters or specialized tools specifically made for cutting guitar strings.

Are nail clippers effective for cutting guitar strings?

Nail clippers can be effective for cutting guitar strings, especially if you’re in a pinch and don’t have any other tools available. However, they might not be the most efficient or comfortable option, as they are designed for cutting through softer materials like nails.

What tools are specifically made for cutting guitar strings?

There are specialized tools made for cutting guitar strings. These tools often have built-in wire cutters and are designed to fit comfortably in your hand, providing you with better grip and control. Some options include guitar string cutters, cutting pliers, and precision wire cutters.

How to safely cut guitar strings without injury?

To safely cut guitar strings without injury, always start by fully unloading the tension from the string. This can be achieved by turning the tuning peg until the string is loose and slack.

Use the correct tools, such as side cutters or specialized guitar string cutters, and cut the string carefully while keeping your fingers away from the cutting edge. Remember to leave enough string length near the machine head to avoid finger injuries while tuning.

Is a guitar string winder and cutter a worthwhile investment?

A guitar string winder and cutter can be a worthwhile investment if you frequently change your guitar strings or own multiple guitars.

This tool can speed up the string changing process and make it easier, as it combines both a string winder and a cutter in one handy device. However, if you rarely change your strings or have a limited budget, separate string winders and cutters or alternative tools can still be effective.

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