Guitar string names -What are the names of the guitar strings?

String

New to guitar and wondering what the guitar string names are? Then you’re in the right place. In this article you will learn:

  • The #1 secret that will help you remember the guitar string names quickly and easily. 
  • The main names of each guitar string. 
  • 2 epic songs that will allow you to master the guitar string names. 
  • The 4 steps for guitar success.

Learning The Guitar String Names 

First things first, before we learn what the strings are, we need to define how many strings are on the guitar. 

Many guitars have different amounts of guitar strings, however, in today’s article, we’re going to focus primarily on the standard guitar that has six strings. 

The guitar is tuned like this: E A D G B E. Let’s learn more about some cool ways to help us remember how guitars are tuned. 

String Names – The Numbering System

As there are six guitar strings, the easiest way to define the guitar string names is to give them numbers. Like this:

  • First string – This is the thinnest string and is the string closest to the floor. 
  • Second-string.
  • Third-string. 
  • Fourth string.
  • Fifth string.
  • Sixth string. – This is the thickest string and is the string closest to your face.

To get used to these guitar string names, do the following: 

  • Pluck the 1st string four times and as you play it, say out its name out loud.
  • Play the 2nd string four times and as you play it, say out its name out loud.
  • Play the 3rd string four times and as you play it, say out its name out loud. 
  • Play the 4th string four times and as you play it, say out its name out loud. 
  • Play the string 5 four times and as you play it, say out its name out loud.
  • Play the 6th string four times and as you play it, say out its name out loud. 

You may feel a little silly doing this, but practicing like this will help you internalise the guitar string names.

Learning A Song That Uses Just Open Strings 

Believe it or not, some songs just use each open string. The first one we’re going to learn is “Minor Swing” by Django Reinhardt. 

If you’re not familiar with that song, check out this YouTube video:

We’ll be playing the bass notes to this tune, here’s how that goes:

Minor Swing – Part 1

To begin, play the following strings like this:

  • 5th string four times. 
  • 4th string four times. 
  • 6th string four times. 
  • 5th string four times. 

Can you do it? If so, congratulations! You’ve just played your first guitar song. If you’re a complete beginner, this may take some time to get used to, but the more you practice the easier it will get.

Minor Swing – Part 2

For the second part of ‘Minor Swing’, we’re going to play the following like this:

  • 4th string four times.
  • 5th string four times. 
  • 6th string four times.
  • 5th string four times. 

Once you’ve played part 1 and part 2, now’s the time to try and put them both together. Once you can do that, you’ve done the whole song. 

Learning Guitar String Names – Creative Challenge

Once you can do the above, you could get creative and try to write your song using just open strings. Here are a few idea starters:

  • Pick a group of three strings and just use those strings to write your song. 

So for example, you could use the following groups of strings:

  • 6,5 & 4. 
  • 5,4 & 6. 
  • 1,2 & 3. 

Any combination can work! Just go for it and see what happens. 

  • Play whatever string you’ve chosen 2,4 or 8 times. 

So, for example, your song could go like this:

  • 2nd string four times.
  • 1st string four times. 
  • String 2 eight times. 

Get creative and give it your best shot! 

Learning The String Names & Guitar Notes

In the musical world, we have ‘musical notes’. Just like other instruments such as piano, violin or clarinet. 

On the guitar, there is a common way that the instrument is tuned. This is known as ‘standard guitar tuning’. The names of the guitar strings for standard tuning are as follows:

  • E – This is the thickest string, also known as string 6/6th string or the bottom string and is tuned to an E note. 
  • A – This string can also be thought of as string 5 or the 2nd thickest string and is tuned to an A note. 
  • D – This string can also be thought of as string 4 and is tuned to a D note.
  • G string can also be thought of as string 3 and is tuned to a G note.
  • B string, this can also be thought of as the 2nd string and is tuned to a B note.
  • E – This is the thinnest string, also known as the 1st string or the top string and is tuned to an E note. 

Hang on, there are two E strings?! How am I meant to tell the difference between them?

I’m so glad you asked. We refer to both E’s as ‘low’ and ‘high’. 

  • ‘The low E string’ is the same as string 6 and is the thickest string. 
  • ‘The high E string’ is the same as the 1st string and is the thinnest string.

Now you’re probably wondering, but the ‘low E string’ is placed much higher than the other, how does that make sense?

The short answer is this, we don’t refer to the guitar strings in terms of physical height, we refer to them in terms of pitch. This can be confusing as the topmost string is the lowest in pitch and vice versa. Here’s how we define each string:

  • The low E is the lowest open note and the high E is the highest open note. 

Now we’ve discussed the differences between the two E strings, let’s now look take a look at what our strings have become:

  • ‘Low E’ – (Thickest string & Lowest note).
  • ‘A’ string. 
  • ‘D’ string.
  • ‘G’ string. 
  • ‘B’ string.
  • ‘High E’ string/1st string. (Highest note). 

Memorising The Strings 

Learning the names of the strings can be difficult for beginners. A great way to help us remember the strings is to think of a memorable phrase. This is done by using a word that references each string name:

Here are some fun ways of learning the string names for standard tuning.

  • Eddie.
  • Ate.
  • Dynamite.
  • Good.
  • Bye.
  • Eddie.

Or:

  • Elephants.
  • And.
  • Donkeys.
  • Grow.
  • Big. 
  • Ears. 

If you’re feeling creative, you could come up with your own. Remember, the sillier each word is, the more likely you’ll be able to remember it.

Learning Your Second Open String Song

Just like when we learned ‘Minor Swing’ by Django Reinhardt, another great tune that uses each open string is: ‘Chasing Cars’ by Snow Patrol. 

Here’s how to do that:

  • Pluck the A string 8 times. 
  • Pluck the E string 8 times.
  • Pluck D string 8 times.
  • Pluck the A string 8 times.

Again, playing the open strings in this way won’t sound ‘exactly’ like the main tune, however, these are the bass notes and will work!

What are the bass guitar string names?

Bass guitars feature four strings instead of six like a regular guitar. The main difference between these strings is that they are tuned a full octave lower than standard tuning. 

The strings are tuned as follows: E A D G. 

What about other guitar notes?

Once you have become comfortable with the names of the strings, you may want to start learning the notes on the fretboard. 

This can be a daunting challenge but is well worth investing some time into as it will make you a better guitarist. 

Here’s an image that gives you all of the guitar neck notes on all of the frets:

Are there any other tunings?

Yes, many tunings are different to standard guitar tuning. These are known as alternate tunings and are lots of fun. Here are some of our favourites:

  • DADGAD – This is great for acoustic and folk music. 
  • Open E – EBEG#BE – This is great for slide playing and blues music. 
  • Drop D – DADGBE – This is great for metal music and is used frequently by bands like Rage Against The Machine, Tool and Green Day. 

If you’re a beginner, we recommend staying away from alternate tuning and sticking to standard tuning. 

Okay, I’ve learned the guitar string names, what’s next? 

Here are the five next steps of your guitar journey, let’s go!

Step 1 – Learn The Parts of The Guitar

Once you’ve learned the guitar string names, the next step is to learn the parts of the guitar. The main guitar parts are as follows:

  • Guitar body. 
  • Soundhole. 
  • Fretboard. 
  • Frets. 
  • Headstock.
  • Neck.
  • Tuners. 

You can see these labelled clear on this image:

Step 2 – Learn How To Tune Your Guitar

When you first start playing the guitar you must know how to tune your guitar. This is done by turning the tuning pegs of the guitar until they reach the right pitch.

It doesn’t matter how good you are, if your guitar isn’t in tune, you will never sound good.  

To learn more about how to do this, check out this epic video by Marty Music on YouTube. 

Step 3 – Learn Easy Chords

In guitar terms, chords form the foundation of most music. Here’s a list of some great chords that are essential to learning when first navigating the fretboard.

  • E major.
  • A major. 
  • D major.
  • G major.
  • C major.
  • E minor.
  • A minor. 

Step 4 – Learn Songs That Use These Chords

The quickest, easiest and most effective way to learn guitar is to play chords from your favourite songs. Here’s a quick list of songs that use the above chords:

  • ‘Love Me Do’ by The Beatles. (G, C & D).
  • ‘Stand By Me’ by Ben E King. (G, C, Em & D).
  • ‘Hound Dog’ by Elvis Presley. (A,D & E).
  • ‘Songbird’ by Oasis. (G & Em).

If you don’t like any of these guitar songs, a quick google search will help you find some that you like. 

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