Can You Get Shocked By An Electric Guitar?


If the guitar is not properly grounded, or if the wiring in a performance venue is faulty, it is possible to get shocked by an electric guitar. The most common injury in this instance would be a mild shock, which could cause minor pain and muscle contractions.

In this article, I’ll go over exactly how this could happen, what the dangers are, and finally, I’ll offer some different options for getting around the problem.

So without further ado, let’s just get straight into it, shall we?

How Does It Happen?

The basic idea is that your body completes the electric circuit whenever you touch a grounded object, such as a microphone stand or an amplifier.

This can happen if any of the wirings between the guitar and its amplifier, either at the stage or in a rehearsal space, has been damaged or crossed somewhere along the way.

Best-case scenario: You get a mild shock.

Worst-case scenario: You get a massive shock strong enough to induce cardiac arrest or even death.

Okay, the last part is maybe a bit of an exaggeration.

The former, though? That’s definitely possible.

It’s actually recommended that metal guitar players avoid using wireless systems unless they’re playing at a venue that has been tested for electrocution safety or they could be putting themselves at serious risk.

How Can You Protect Yourself?

If the wiring in your stage setup is faulty, you should always err on the side of caution until it’s been fixed.

Here are some ways to do so:

  • Avoid using wireless systems without checking whether or not they’re safe.
  • Don’t stand directly behind speakers, to avoid the noise that causes the guitar cord to vibrate and complete an electrical circuit.
  • Always wear sturdy, rubber-soled shoes that will not allow electricity to pass through your feet into the ground.
  • Don’t stand in water, DUH, while you’re plugged in or near a microphone stand that’s been placed close enough to contact with water.
  • Don’t use your guitar while plugged in if you’re standing on metallic surfaces.
  • Try not to let the cord hang around or rest near any moist surfaces, like sinks or trash cans where people place wet items.

How To Get Around The Problem (Without Destroying Your Trusty Guitar)

If you still want to use your electric guitar but don’t feel comfortable with the safety risks of plugging in, there are certain things that can be done to get around the issue.

Here are some examples:

  • Only plug into grounded power sources. Never try to ground your own system by using an electrical outlet.
  • Use an intra-amp system, which is basically where the signal runs through a wire between one amp and another instead of being sent through the air.
  • Treat it like you treat any other piece of sensitive electronic equipment. Don’t bump it around too much, always transport it in its original case, and always put it away properly.
  • Be careful with your cords. Replace any worn patches on the protective sheaths immediately, and always unplug them by grasping the plug head itself instead of the cord to avoid damaging both parts.
  • Don’t use extension cords if you don’t have enough outlets available. They could overheat or create a tripping hazard, and they can also be a bit cumbersome to handle.

You don’t have to ditch your guitar just because you’re afraid of being zapped!

Just remember that it comes with a few risks, and always do whatever you can to protect yourself and those around you.

Old Amps and Electrical Outlets

If you’re using an old amp with an electrical outlet, it’s possible that the wiring is faulty and needs to be checked out.

Even if this isn’t the case, you should SERIOUSLY think about upgrading your amp because old amps are dangerous.

The insulation inside them can get worn down over time, which means that the wiring is more susceptible to an electric shock.

Get Grounded

As mentioned previously, the best way to avoid being shocked as a guitar player is to get grounded.

What does this mean? In short, it simply denotes the capacity of your body to conduct electricity from an electrical source safely and efficiently.

When playing music in a studio or other “normal” venue, you don’t have to worry about getting grounded by the electrical system.

However, in a venue with faulty wiring or no grounding at all, you run the risk of being shocked due to your body’s capacity to pass electricity through it.


Q: Why is my guitar giving me shocks?

A: The ground wire of the amplifier is a source of shocks from an electric guitar. A three-pronged grounded plug is required at all times. Use an outlet checker before inserting an amplifier into an unknown socket at a show. NEVER use a three-prong to two-prong adaptor.

Q: Can an ungrounded guitar shock you?

A: Ungrounded equipment is the cause of shocks from an electric guitar. Equipment with a three-pronged grounded plug will not give you a shock if it is plugged into a properly grounded outlet.

Q: Can I be shocked by my amp even though the light isn’t on?

A: Yes, this can still happen because “Ground-fault circuit interrupters” (GFCI) don’t always work as intended. You can still be shocked by a faulty or worn-out GFCI.

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