Learning to play the guitar can be overwhelming at first. But it’s quite rewarding being able to play your first few chords and make beautiful sounds.
But in order to do so, first we need to start with the basics. And that is to learn the guitar string names, and their order.
On a guitar tuned to standard tuning, the names are as follows:
- E – 1st string (Smallest)
- B – 2nd string
- G – 3rd string
- D – 4th string
- A – 5th string
- E – 6th string
The First is your Smallest. From there we work up numerically until we reach the largest, which is the 6th.
Guitar String Notes
The first thing to consider is that the guitar string names are notes!
Each string, when tuned correctly, will have a certain pitch. The pitch of a note is measured in Hertz (Hz), which is a measurement of frequency.
So when you pluck a string on your guitar, the sound you hear is a result of the vibration and a frequency is produced.
In music, a frequency has been given an identifier, which is a note. So if we were to look at the frequencies of the names, or notes, we would find:
- E – 1st string (smallest) – 330 Hz
- B – 2nd string – 247 Hz
- G – 3rd string – 196 Hz
- D – 4th string – 147 Hz
- A – 5th string – 110 Hz
- E – 6th string (largest) – 82 Hz
And so what we see here, is when you pluck the “A” or 5th, a 110 Hertz frequency is produced. And in music, we call this frequency an “A” note.
Yes, the 1st and 6th are both “E” notes, but are different frequencies. This is because one string is an Octave higher than the other.
But we won’t go too deep into this. For now, don’t worry too much about it, you will learn about octaves as you progress in your journey!
Guitar String Numbers
While each string on the guitar has been numbered, this will only really be relevant for you when you begin to experiment with different scales.
When you decide on playing in a certain tuning, whether it be standard or another, the strings should be referred to as notes and not their numbers.
This will really help get your mind focused on memorizing the notes instead of the numbers.
While the number is important, the note is far more, and starting with this mentality will help with memorization.
Memorizing Guitar String Names
Memorizing the string numbers is easy, the notes on the other hand are not. This will require another method, and one that has helped many other players get started, I recommend coming up with a phrase that will remind you of the notes!
It has helped many players, including me, to remember the guitar string names in order, and it’s highly effective.
Now it doesn’t have to be the phrases I recommend, but try and put together something that you will remember.
A couple of my favorite rhymes or phrases that have helped to remember the notes, starting with the largest “E” are:
- E – Eddie (Large String)
- A – Ate
- D – Dynamite
- G – Good
- B – Bye
- E – Eddie
- E – Eventually (Large String)
- A – All
- D – Diligent
- G – Guitarists
- B – Become
- E – Experts
And that will be you! So keep practicing!
If you prefer to start with the smallest and work your way to the largest, then this phrase can be helpful:
- E – Easter (Small String)
- B – Bunnies
- G – Get
- D – Dizzy
- A – After
- E – Easter
- E – Every(Small String)
- B – Boy
- G – Gets
- D – Donuts
- A – After
- E – Eating
Or create your own, something that will help you remember the string notes!
How to Remember Using Additional Mnemonics
If one of the Mnemonics above don’t do it for you, there are a ton more that may help you! Simply select the one that resonates with you and work with it. Below we have gathered them all up for you to look over.
- Eddie Ate Dynamite, Good Bye Eddie
- Every Apple Does Good Being Eaten
- Eat Apples Daily Grow Big Ears
- Every Acid Dealer Gets Busted Eventually
- Elephants And Donkeys Grow Big Ears
- Even Average Dogs Get Bones Eventually
- Eat All Dead Gophers Before Easter
- Eat All Day Get Big Easy
- Elvis Always Dug Good Banana Eating
- Every Amp Deserves Guitars/Basses Everyday
- Eric And Dave’s Guitars Beat Everyone
- Every Amateur Does Get Better Eventually
- Eat A Dog, Get Big Ears
- Every Apple Does Go Bad Eventually
Why This Guitar String Order?
You may have at some point wondered why the instrument is tuned this way. What is it that has created this tuning configuration in the first place? And who decides such a thing?
The guitar is tuned to a series of fourths and one major third. This is quite different from other stringed instruments that have been tuned in fifths.
There are a few reasons for this. The main consideration is the number of notes available across all strings with the guitar tuned in fourths. Chords are easier to play and include more, making them more musical as well.
Another reason is the longer scale length on the guitar (25 inches) as compared to the violin (17 inches). It would be harder for your fretting hand to connect all the notes in many chords if the strings were tuned differently.
And while you can tune the instrument anyway which way you like, this configuration also makes it much easier on your wrist. Especially with the way we hold the instrument in our lap or hang it from our shoulder.
Top String To Bottom
As you learn how to play the guitar, there is one thing that usually confused beginners when the top and bottom strings are mentioned. Some people will describe the bottom as the one that is physically closest to the floor on your guitar. Others will call it the largest, which produced the lowest sound.
The correct way to look at this is to call the top string the one that makes the higher sound, which is the smallest.
The bottom string will be the one that makes the lowest sound or is more bass heavy. That is the largest string. It should be based on the pitch and not the actual location.
Most teachers will address the strings this way, which is correct, while some others do not. When you are dealing with this topic, you will have to verify what they mean.
But for your own knowledge, you are best to start referring to the strings in this manner, as it’s correct and should be universal.
Guitar String Names and Tuning
The guitar is a very powerful tool and can stretch us as musicians more than we ever thought! While we use standard tuning as our go-to for comfort and ease of use, there are many others. Now I don’t want to go too far into this as I want you to focus on standard tuning, but it does deserve a mention.
The guitar can be tuned in many other ways. Just lowering the entire pitch from standard will change what you are capable of musically.
Most players like to use what’s called “Drop D” which simply lowers the 6th from E to D.
This is popular for heavier music like metal and hard rock and is quite common.
It would look like this on the guitar:
- E – 1st string (Small String)
- B – 2nd string
- G – 3rd string
- D – 4th string
- A – 5th string
- D – 6th string
This allows you to bar the 4th, 5th and 6th to form a chord and is very powerful.
It also opens up some other great-sounding chords for many music types and is quite fun to play.
So once you have mastered standard B, and are comfortable with it, you can explore others. Some of your favorite music might just be using a popular alternative like C sharp, for example. And this will give you even more musical options!
The bottom line here when working on memorizing the guitar string names in order by numbers and notes is to make it a priority!
This is fundamental in learning the guitar. But keep it simple, focus on standard tuning, and keep at that for as long as you need before moving on.
You don’t want to get overwhelmed by taking on too much at once.
Find some phrases that will help your techniques.
In the end, each person simply needs to find the best approach for their learning that can help memorize guitar string names in order.
But work on learning how to do so if you are not quite there yet. This is another fundamental that will be better learned in the beginning.
Guitar String Name FAQs
Here you will find some of the more frequently asked questions.
What is the easiest way to remember guitar strings?
The easiest way to remember the guitar string names is to use a Mnemonic. This can be a simple one like Eddie Ate Dynamite, Good Bye Eddie, or Every Apple Does Good Being Eaten. You can even make up one of your own that is easy to memorize and apply to the guitar notes. This way, you can easily recite the Mnemonic when recalling the string notes in standard B.
Why are there 2 E Strings on a Guitar?
First, we need to look at why a guitar has the notes it does. The guitar is set up to be tuned in a series of fourths and a major third. It works out in this manner:
- E to A is a Fourth
- A to D is a Fourth
- D to G is a Fourth
- G to B is a Major third
- B to E is a Fourth
By arranging the guitar this way, it allows for easier chord fretting as well as providing more notes across the strings available. If the string notes were arranged differently, we wouldn’t have the convenient chord positions that we do today. It would be much more difficult to use and barre chords.
We also might not have as many notes available across the strings, which would be a shame as some great leads are written using these notes.
And so the reason that there are 2 E strings on a guitar is simply because of the way we arrange the notes for B standard. And because musical notes begin with A and end with G, they will eventually have to start over again when moving up or down octaves. Each of the 2 E strings are two octaves apart as a result.