Guitar String Names
For Six and Twelve String Guitars
You really need to know your guitar string names. They form the basis for understanding, communicating, learning chords and notes on the fretboard.
Refer to the photo below as you read this page. The photo shows an acoustic guitar for right-handed players that is tuned to 'standard tuning'.
The strings of the guitar are named for the notes produced by open strings. An open string is one where you are not pressing down on any fret.
Beginning at the top of the image:
- The 1st string produces an e note. This is also the thinnest string on the guitar. Sometimes this string is referred to as the high-e. The name of the string is often shown in lowercase to distinguish it from the low-E.
- The 2nd string produces a B note.
- The 3rd string produces a G note.
- The 4th string produces a D note.
- The 5th string produces an A note.
- The 6th string produces an E note. This is also the thickest string on the guitar. Sometimes this string is referred to as the low-E since it produces the lowest note.
When you pick up the guitar, the string at the bottom of the photo (the low-E) is closest to your chin. So, all these explanations might seem backwards, or upside down. But it's easy to learn guitar string names... I'll give you a simple technique in a minute.
You really need to study the photo and get this image in your mind. As you read articles or books on guitar, this is a common image authors will refer to. In addition, when you read guitar TAB, the orientation of the notation matches this image.
Remembering the string numbers is easy. Either remember that string 1 is farthest away from you (as you hold the guitar) or that string 6 is closest to your chin.
A Simple Exercise To Learn String Names
Here's a simple exercise to remember the guitar string names. If you do this exercise once per day, for the next seven days, you'll never forget them. First, though, decide if you want to learn the guitar string names from string 1 through 6, or 6 through 1. It doesn't matter which you learn first. Just commit to learning them the OTHER way too.
Here's all you need to do... Recite the names of the strings, in order, ten times. Take a couple seconds between each. If, for example, you decide to learn the guitar string names from 1 to 6, don't think "eBGDAEeBGDAEeBG..." That's not effective. Think "eBGDAE"...(pause)... "eBGDAE"...(pause)... "eBGDAE"... etc., until you've said it ten times.
Recite the string names again the next day, then the next, for a week. Before the end of the week, you'll know them cold. Wait a week, then learn the guitar string names the other way using the same technique.
A Guitar Strings Primer
Want to know more about guitar strings? Our Guitar Strings Primer examines cores and windings, lists common string materials and the tones each produces, explains bass guitar scale length, and demystifies string gauges. We think it will equip you to purchase the right set for you and your guitar. Read it here.