Do you know all the guitar string names? Learning them is one of the first steps every guitarist should take in mastering their instrument. This lesson will cover what those names are as well as a few ways to remember them to make learning the rest of the fretboard notes much easier.
The strings on a guitar each have their own name that corresponds to their note. So, starting from the top (thickest string) to the bottom (thinnest string) the guitar string names are E – A – D – G – B – e. These names and notes are assuming the string is on the guitar and in open/standard tuning. If the string is retuned, the notes will change but the string name will stay the same (for clarity and ease of discussion).
Guitar String Names
Learning your guitar string names will make it much easier to find the notes of the guitar when you start building chords and learning scales (and eventually guitar solos!) Let’s dive into how we name the strings and a few easy ways to remember their names.
How many strings are on your guitar?
For the scope of this lesson, we will only be discussing a standard guitar. Other instruments such as bass, ukulele, banjo, etc may have a different number of strings with different names. Today we will only be covering a typical 6 string guitar.
How to number your strings
As we said, a standard guitar is also known as a 6 string. That is because, obviously, it has 6 strings. One of the easiest ways to find the correct string to name is to number them first. That way, no matter what your tuning is, you can always know what string you are talking about.
When numbering our strings, we start at the top string, as if we are holding the guitar in playing position, and work our way down. From the thickest string to the thinnest they are numbered:
Standard String Tuning
Now that we have our strings numbered we can start giving each one of them a name. Using the same pattern as numbering, we start at the top string (6) and go in order to the bottom string (1). The string names are:
- E (6)
- A (5)
- D (4)
- G (3)
- B (2)
- e (1)
*note: we always write the high e string (1st string) as a lower case e and the low E (6th string) in upper case to avoid confusion.
These are also the notes that will ring when these strings are played in open tuning.
What are open strings?
Open strings are when you pluck a string and let it ring out without mashing the string down to the neck, or fretting the string.
How To Remember Your Guitar String Names
Now we know what numbers are assigned to each string as well as what letters/notes are used in the name. For some, that may be enough to remember the string names. If not, here’s another way you can cement them into your mind.
Make acronyms or funny sentences
It might sound silly but making up a stupid or funny sentence is a great way to remember string names. In fact, this method is backed by science. It’s called a mnemonic device and has proven to aid in the memorization of lists, musical notes (a music staff is Every Good Boy Does Fine and FACE), and even the colors of the rainbow (ROY G. BIV red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet).
Use your imagination and come up with a mnemonic device for your guitar strings. Here are a few examples:
Feel free to add in small words to help them make more sense, like:
- Dancing (at)
Alternate tunings can be a little tricky and confusing with string names. When you retune a string, it changes the name of the note but not the name of the string. For example, in DADGAD tuning the low E string is tuned to the note D but is still named low E.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few questions we ran across while covering this topic.
Q1. Are the string names the same on all types of guitars?
The string names remain the same whether or not you are playing an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar. With any type of guitar the string names are E – A – D – G – B – e.
Q2. What are the string names on a bass guitar/ukulele/banjo/mandolin/Violin/Fiddle/etc?
Strings alone do not a guitar make. Just because an instrument has strings does not mean that it is necessarily a guitar. However, some of these instruments share similar qualities and are closely associated with the guitar. The number of strings and string names vary depending on the instrument.
- Bass guitar: E – A – D – G (4 string) & B – E – A – D – G (5 string)
- Ukulele: G – C – E – A
- Banjo: G – D – G – B – D
- Mandolin: E – A – D – G
- Violin/Fiddle: E – A – D – G
Q3. What are the other notes on the guitar?
Using the string names, you can follow the major scale and find the remaining notes on the guitar.
- e – F – F#/Gb – G – G#/Ab – A – A#/Bb – B – C – C#/Db – D – D#/Eb – E
- B – C – C#/Db – D – D#/Eb – E – F – F#/Gb – G – G#/Ab – A – A#/Bb – B
- G – G#/Ab – A – A#/Bb – B – C – C#/Db – D – D#/Eb – E – F – F#/Gb – G
- D – D#/Eb – E – F – F#/Gb – G – G#/Ab – A – A#/Bb – B – C – C#/Db – D
- A – A#/Bb – B – C – C#/Db – D – D#/Eb – E – F – F#/Gb – G – G#/Ab – A
- E – F – F#/Gb – G – G#/Ab – A – A#/Bb – B – C – C#/Db – D – D#/Eb – E
Now that you know what to call your strings, you can move on to learning all the notes of the fretboard as well as chords.
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