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Can Guitar Strings Cut You? Different Types of Strings

Learn the the different types of strings for guitars

by Susan Montgomery

Guitar strings are generally not designed to cut you or cause you harm. However, they can cause injuries if they are mishandled or if certain conditions are met, like high tension. It’s important to know what your options are for strings so you’ll always be putting on the right strings for you and the guitar. Let’s take a look at the different types of strings and some special considerations when it comes to injuries or harm. 

Strings for Acoustic Guitars

Choosing the right guitar strings will affect tone, playability, and overall performance. Steel strings are important in acoustic guitars. There are three main types of steel strings: Phosphor bronze, brass (usually called bronze or 80/20 bronze), and compound strings, also known as silk and steel strings. 

Phosphor bronze strings have a steel core and are wrapped with phosphor bronze. This gives off a warm and bright sound that works well for many genres. 80/20 bronze strings have a steel core with 80% copper and 20% zinc winding. They are suited well for folk, bluegrass, and any genre where a bright tone is wanted. These have a much shorter lifespan compared to phosphor bronze strings and sometimes the sound quality declines quickly as well. 

Silk and steel strings have a steel core with silk winding. They are known for having a soft and mellow tone and are under less tension than other string types. This is ideal for fingerstyle playing since they are more gentle on the fingers. 

Strings for Electric Guitars

Strings must be made of metal for the pickups to transfer the vibrations to the electrical signal in an electric guitar. Electric guitar strings are usually made from steel and the three lowest strings are plated in nickel, which are the most common type of electric guitar strings. Nickel-plated strings provide a bright tone, versatility, and durability. These are good for playing rock, jazz, and blues. If you like to play heavy metal or rock, you may want to try pure steel strings. They will be harder on your fingers, though. 

Electric guitar strings can sometimes be made of other metals like cobalt or copper, but they are usually more expensive. 

Strings for Classical Guitars

When choosing classical guitar strings, it’s important to consider several factors like sound quality, feel, genre, and any specific requirements of your guitar.

Nylon strings are used in classical guitars but there are different kinds with each providing different benefits. Standard or normal tension strings are used the most. They have a comfortable feel, especially for beginners. Any classical style of music will sound great with these. 

High tension nylon strings put greater tension on the neck of the guitar. While the sound is louder, it does require more finger strength. This is good for genres that require a lot of power, like flamenco. Lower tension nylon strings exert less force on the guitar neck. This provides a very soft and mellow sound. Hybrid strings combine carbon and nylon. The tone is balanced and warm, while the carbon adds a layer of brightness to it. 

Caution and Patience

It’s important to use caution and sometimes patience after putting on new strings. They may need time to settle into their new home before playing a lot. Always follow the directions for your strings and guitar to avoid unnecessary mishaps. It’s important to change strings as often as you need to and keep your guitar maintained well. Be sure to wear safety glasses to avoid any eye injuries when changing strings.

The Terry Carter Music Store has a huge selection of guitar strings and new ones are always being added. If you have questions about your specific guitar and the strings that would be ideal for your style of playing, you can always reach out to the folks at the Terry Carter Music Store. They are extremely knowledgeable and can point you in the right direction if you have a special situation or can’t decide which would be best. Sometimes, there is a little trial and error involved.  


Once you get your guitar strings on and are ready to rock, Rock Like the Pros has courses and lessons to help you. Have fun while learning solid fundamental techniques and skills. The Community Forum is always open and you can ask questions and get advice. You can become a Premium member on a monthly or yearly basis. The Rock Like the Pros YouTube channel has a wide assortment of videos on how to play guitar as well as song tutorials, challenges, and guitar reviews. 

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