How Safe is an Electric Guitar?

When using every electronic device, you constantly have to be careful because of the risk of an electric shock. This is especially important with devices that are used while plugged into a power outlet.

An electric guitar is generally considered to be safe for use. So far as the guitar is not too old and is in perfect working order, there is no cause for alarm. However, a faulty connection or lack of adequate grounding can lead to an electric shock. Also, older electric guitars tend to carry with them a higher risk of electric shocks than modern electric guitars.

The chances of you getting shocked while playing on your electric guitar is very slim. However, there is always a possibility of this occurring and we will look at all the

possible reasons. Also, we will discuss how you can prevent them.

Safety Of Electric Guitars

Many of us have heard the gory tale of how someone got shocked while playing their electric guitar. These shocks have ranged from mild static shocks to, astoundingly, electrocution. It can not be confirmed if many of these stories are true but this is enough reason to be wary of using electric guitars. Even more important is being careful of playing or placing such instruments around kids or even having kids learn with them.

A well-functioning electric guitar is highly unlikely to shock you under normal circumstances. Electric guitars use amplifiers to connect to a power source. These amplifiers are supposed to be grounded, which will make any extra electric currents flow to the ground rather than shock you when you touch the guitar.

With a properly grounded device in perfectly working condition, you do not have to worry about electric shocks. Outside electric shocks, another electricity malfunctioning is sparks that could damage the guitar and other appliances connected to the power in the house. These sparks are often caused by either power surges or a cut wire in the guitar or amplifier.

Many things could lead to electric shocks by your guitar and they will all be discussed in the next section. 

Causes Of Electric Shock From Electric Guitars

While it is generally safe to use electric guitars, certain unusual circumstances can lead to your guitar being shocking. You must be aware of these to mitigate the risk. Some of these causes are:

The guitar is old

If the guitar you are using is one that was made over forty years ago, you constantly have to worry about electric shocks. This is because the grounding techniques used in those times have been proven to be inadequate now. Guitars from the 1970s use a two-pronged amplifier, which is now considered to be inadequate for proper grounding. Now, modern guitar amplifiers use three-pronged plugs on the amplifier. This ensures that the device is connected to the home grounding system. Every time there is excess electricity, it will flow through the grounding system rather than to the instrument and the person playing it.

There is a faulty fuse in the guitar

The hardware in an electric guitar can lead to electric shocks. Again, this is mainly with the amplifier And other electric parts of the guitar. This hardware can be cut wires or just a faulty device that is leaking electric current to the body of the guitar. It is highly unlikely but remains a possibility.

Lack Of Proper Grounding

When the guitar amplifier is playing to the. With devices that have electricity needs, the device must be well grounded to reduce the risk of electricity running through the device rather than flowing to the ground.

The Power Source Is Unsafe

Another thing that can lead to your electric guitar shocking you is when the power outlet itself is not safe. This is often a risk when you plug your guitar into a power source you weren’t using previously, especially at new locations like shows.

One problem with this is that it isn’t easy to know if a new power source or outlet is safe or not, as even a perfectly working outlet can act up while you are using it.

Absence Of Polarity Plug Or Faulty Polarized Plug

The polarity plug is a device used to separate the hot parts of the electric current from the neutral current. They are often made of blades flatter than the other for easy recognition of both. Outlets are also made so one is wider than the other. It is therefore easy to ensure that the neutral wire of the plug connects with the neutral electric current flow and the hot wire connects with the hot electric flow. A faulty polarity Plug or an unpolarized plug increases the risk of electric shocks.

A wet guitar increases the risk of electric shock

The presence of water in and around your electric guitar can cause an electric shock. Playing your guitar around a wet surrounding increases the risk of water getting in or on the guitar. It is known that a wet electrical appliance is at a high risk of shocking and giving electric sparks.

How To Prevent Your Guitar From Shocking

When one knows all possible causes of electric guitar shocking, it is easier to postulate the ways to prevent it. Rather than waiting till issues come up, you should take precautions before anything happens. The precautions you can take are:

  • Avoid old electric guitars: The allure of having a classic electric guitar from, say, the 1950s might be high. But it is best to avoid such devices for the sake of safety. However, if you have to use a “vintage” electric guitar, contact an electronics expert to help you with the grounding and polarity.
  • Always check your power source: The power source toy mustn’t be faulty. If you only play at home, this is a very simple one as you will probably use the same power outlet all the time. However, playing at different locations brings about the risk of your connecting to a faulty or wrongly wired power outlet. Before connecting your guitar, make enquiries and, if possible, test the outlet with another device.
  • Regularly check the wires for wear and tear: Again, an unassuming look wire in your connection can have a part of it peeled off. Frequently checking all wires thoroughly is a way of guarding against electric shocks as you will be able to detect the issue before it causes any harm. This can be done by checking every time you are packing away your instruments and when you are setting them up. If in the home alone, you can make the check in weeks or even months depending on usage frequency and the probability that someone or something might have got to the wires.
  • Avoid playing near and around water: It might be desirable for you to sit by the pool or in the bathtub but an electric guitar simply isn’t suited for that. Apart from the risk of electric shock, a wet guitar is at risk of damage to one of its electronic parts.
  • Use a wireless transmitter: Using a wireless transmitter from your guitar to the amplifier ensures that there will be no current flow from the amplifier to you when you are playing.
  • Do not plug your guitar directly into the power outlet: This is another precautionary measure you can take to avoid electric shocks. By using a power strip or surge protector, you ensure that your instrument is always protected from faulty outlets and power surges. It is a very useful precaution especially if you are playing in an unfamiliar location.

The application of these precautions should be in line with your peculiar situation. Ultimately, you have to ensure that you do the best things to guard against any unfortunate accidents.

Electric Guitars With Kids

With instruments like guitars, it is always said one should be careful with how they are around children. Especially at a tender age when they don’t know much, both acoustic and electric guitars shouldn’t be placed in their reach. However, at a more advanced age, the only things to worry about are electric shocks and the occasional accident.

With electric shocks, a guitar amplifier and electric socket in working condition ensure that there will be no issues. By following the precautions laid down in the previous section, you can reduce the risks of your kids facing electric shocks to close to zero.

Still, it is good practice to always check on kids when they are playing on or near electric guitars. Adolescents can be foolhardy sometimes, so apart from talking to them about all possible dangers, you should ensure that monitoring isn’t lacking.

Conclusion

Electric guitars are generally considered safe. This is unsurprising as millions of people own and play them worldwide. However, there are always slight issues that can come up, and you have to be aware of these to avoid electric shocks. Also slightly concerning are cases of temporary hearing loss due to unusually loud guitar and the risk of a faulty amplifier causing sparks in other electronic devices.

Sourav Biswas

Music is my life and I love to play guitar so much. It's been a part of me for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a musical family, and my parents were always supportive of my passion for music. I am also a freelance writer who has been writing for over 10 years. I have written for both online and offline publications, including Amazon and Medium.

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