Nickel has many properties including corrosion resistance, strength, ductility, toughness and aesthetic lustre and makes an ideal material in the manufacture of musical instruments.
Musical instruments can be made with nickel-containing alloys (brasses) or with metal parts that may be plated with nickel or chromium on top of nickel. Certain strings on electric guitars and cellos may also be nickel-plated.
When in direct contact with the skin for prolonged periods of time, nickel can cause an allergic reaction amongst individuals already allergic to nickel or can lead to the development of an allergy to nickel. Thus there is a risk of contact dermatitis when, for example, fingers or lips are on nickel-plated keys or mouthpieces for long periods of time.
This advisory note seeks to provide advice to manufacturers and consumers buying and using musical instruments that contain nickel-plated surfaces, which are likely to be in direct and prolonged contact with the skin.