Changing strings is a major part of guitar maintenance, and experienced musicians do it easily. Especially if they have some tools that make changing strings a child’s play.
The most used tool is probably the wire cutter. But what happens when you don’t have any instruments but need to change the strings?
What to use when you don’t have a wire cutter
In this article, we have described some great replacements for wire cutters that you will surely find around you when you need to use alternatives.
Cutting the strings with pliers
Pliers are very similar to wire cutters but can be used for more things. With them, you can grab, twist, press, loop the strings, etc.
If the pliers aren’t sharp enough to cut the string, you can grip it with them and bend it back and forth until it breaks.
There are many types of pliers, but we recommend using smaller ones made of hardened or stainless steel.
Cut the guitar strings with scissors
Scissors are an easy solution if they are strong and sharp enough to cut through the string.
Although they will likely work for you, we will add that they are not the best choice. Even if you manage to cut the string, you’ll probably have to buy a new pair of scissors afterward.
Homemade scissors made for paper or cloth may not help you at all, and you’ll ruin them by trying to cut the hard string with them. As a result, your strings will remain uncut, and you will no longer have scissors.
How to cut strings with nail clippers
This item is surely present in every home. While it’s not the best option, it’s still one if you don’t have another tool at hand.
Even if it fails to cut the string, you can use the toenail clippers to hold it and bend it until it breaks the string.
Note that, as with the scissors, you will most likely need a new nail clipper after cutting the strings.
Cut the strings using two coins
Here’s a creative solution – use two coins to cut your string. It’s easy to do – grip the string firmly between two coins and start bending it until it breaks.
Try trimming the string with your fingers
As a last resort, you may need to use your fingers. This can be done by wrapping the string around the post 3-4 times, having it up to pitch, then bending it back and forth until the string breaks.
Do you need guitar string cutters?
Although it is a more professional instrument, we cannot discuss cutting strings without mentioning guitar string cutters.
They are a handy tool but don’t feel obligated to own one. As you have already read above, you will manage perfectly without them.
We just want to point out that if you have these on hand, you are lucky because this is the most suitable tool for cutting strings.
They do the same job as wire cutters but are also suited for cutting heavier gauge strings as well as bass guitar strings.
They are also more comfortable to work with because they fit the hand perfectly.
Some of them come with a built-in bridge pit puller and peg winder.
Step-by-step guide on cutting guitar strings
If you’re a beginner and need to cut your guitar strings for the first time, follow these easy steps:
- Loosen the strings. If you try to cut the string while it is still tuned, you risk hurting yourself.
- Use your tool to cut the string close to the soundhole.
- If you have to cut just one string, you can stop here. But if you have to change the whole set of strings, do it by two strings at a time. Restring all strings at once will relieve the neck from the tension, which can cause wood wrap.
- Unwind the bridge pins and remove the strings.
- Unwind the strings from the tuner and remove the rest of them.
After removing the strings, you can clean the guitar and install the new strings. Don’t forget to tune them.
If you play the guitar, at one point or another, you will still need to cut strings. Ideally, you will be prepared with the necessary tools. But if the situation doesn’t allow this, be brave and creative. Try our suggestions or come up with new ways to cut strings.
In any case, be careful because it’s not pleasant to get a string stuck in your hand. We know it from personal experience…
Can you cut guitar strings with a knife?
In practice, you can cut the strings with a knife, but it is not recommended. The knife must be very sharp to work, making cutting the strings dangerous. The knife can slip and cut you or injure the fretboard or headstock.
Using a pocket knife is better if you still have no other option.
Instead of cutting the string, using the knife to bend the string until it breaks is a good idea.
How far should I cut my guitar strings?
When you cut your strings, cut off what’s in the way but leave about a quarter of an inch to keep the string from slipping out.