Guitar Strings Order: Names & Easy Memorisation Techniques

order-of-guitar-strings

It can be quite overwhelming when you first take the plunge to learn guitar.   But being able to play your first few chords and produce lovely sounds is quite satisfying. But in order to achieve it, you must be familiar with the ordering of the guitar strings.

Guitar Strings Order? Memorizing guitar string names is easy when you know a simple Rhyme. This way, you can recite the guitar strings order, and you will never forget! 

Lets jump right in and learn the names and order of the guitar strings…

1. The Order Of The Strings?

Before we start, it is important to note that the order of the strings is determined by the tuning you wish to play. As a beginner, and wanting to learn basic pop songs, we will tune our guitar to standard tuning

Standard tuning is also the same for both electric and acoustic guitar.

Standard Tuning

  • Low E String – 6th string (Thickest)
  • A String
  • D String 
  • G String
  • B String 
  • High E String – 1st string (Thinnest)

High E is the thinnest string. From there we work up (ascending up) the fretboard  numerically until we reach the Low E (thickest string). 

As standard tuning is the first tuning everyone learns, we can use this as a reference, when our guitar is tuned to a different tunings. Don’t worry, later on in this article, we will discuss the different types of tunings and how to understand their ordering.

2. The Names Of The Strings?

Now that you have seen the ordering of the strings, you have probably caught on that each string represents the note that it’s tuned to. 

order of guitar strings

However, there are two main distinguishing features that determine the guitar string names. The first represents the note the string is tuned to, and the second represents the pitch of that string. 

For example, the high E string resonates at a E note, but also resonates at a Higher E pitch.

Yes, the 1st string and 6th are both “E” notes. However, the Higher E string resonates at a higher frequency as compared to the lower E string. In music theory this is called an octave – which basically means two of the same notes played together at different pitches. 

This is very important when constructing chords because even though these octaves technically produce the same note, musically they completely change the nature of a melody and feel of the chords.

3. Frequency Of Which Strings Resonate

Each string resonates a different frequency. As discussed above, this is determined by pitch. Pitch is measured in Hertz (Hz), and your guitar tuner will measure the Hertz to determine what note is resonating. 

For Example: 

  • The Low E string resonates at 82 Hz
  • The 5th string resonates at 110 Hz
  • The 4th string resonates at 147 Hz
  • The 3rd string resonates at 196 Hz
  • The 2nd string resonates at 247 Hz
  • The High E string resonates at 330 Hz

As you can see from above when you pick the high E string it is resonating at 330 Hz, whereby generates a sound that we identify as a E note. 

4. What’s The Correct Terminology Of Guitar Strings

Although the guitar’s strings are numbered, you won’t communicate this with other guitarists or band members. If learning chords, scales or guitar music theory you should refer to the strings as notes (rather than their numbers). The numbers are better to help you understand the strings whilst learning, but as we progress beyond this it’s better just to call them by their note.

It is also more practical to memorize the notes instead of the numbers. While the number of the string is important, the note will provide more information to your band members. 

5. What’s The Easiest Way Memorise Guitar Strings? 

Its can be difficult to memorise the notes and the order of the strings. The easiest way to memorise guitar strings is to use rhymes.

A simple rhyme will help our brain remember. Remember, the order of the strings is E A D G B E – So starting with Low E: 

  • Eddie Ate Dynamite, Good Bye Eddie

If you want to be creative you can create your own. 

6. Why Are Guitar Strings Named This Way?

You may be wondering why a guitar is tuned this way. Which is a good question! What was it that originally caused this tuning configuration? And who makes such decisions?

The guitar strings are tuned in fourths and a third. A fourth is a musical interval that spans five semitones. A thirds spans four semitones.  Let’s look at this below, starting with the Low E String… 

  • Low E – [E to A] – Perfect 4th 
  • A – [A to D] – Perfect 4th 
  • D – [D to G] Perfect 4th 
  • G – [G to B] – Perfect 3rd 
  • B – [B to E] – Perfect 4th
  • High E

So, the main reason why a guitar is tuned this way is simply because is makes chords easier to construct and gives you the ability to fret notes and play. As well as, making notes from scales easily accessible.  

7. Why are there 2 E Strings on a Guitar?

We must first examine the rationale behind the notes on a guitar. The guitar is tuned to a major third and a succession of fourths (as discussed above). 

The guitar is set up in this way to make the notes easily available across the fretboard so that we can fret chords and scales easily with our hands. The practical chord positions we have today wouldn’t exist if the string notes were organised differently. Barre chords would also be much more challenging to employ.

Therefore, the arrangement of the notes from A to G, travelling up or down an octave eventually requires us repeating ourselves but an octave higher (if travelling up the scale). As a result, there are two octaves between each of the two E strings. 

8. Bottom String Vs. Top String

There is one thing that typically confounds beginners when the top and bottom strings are addressed, when learning how to play the guitar.

Some people will describe the bottom string and top string incorrectly – they will mistakenly mix up the lowest string as being the string that is physically the closest to the floor (when the guitar is sitting on your lap). And, the highest string being close to the sky. 

But, remember the guitar string gets its name from the pitch it produces, not where it is situated on the guitar. 

I personally always use the terminology lowest and highest, instead of bottom/top as this is a better representation of what pitch is being produced. 

9. Tuning Arrangements

As discussed at the beginning of this article, I mentioned that the strings get their names due to what notes the strings are tuned to. 

Below, i will discuss more tunings which will consequently change the names of those strings. 

Standard Tuning

  • Low E String 
  • A String 
  • D String
  • G String
  • B String 
  • High E String 

It is important to note that as stand tuning is the first tuning every guitarist learns, we can use this as a reference for other tuning. 

Drop D  Tuning

  • Low D String
  • A String
  • D String 
  • G String
  • B String 
  • High E String 

Drop D tuning just means that we drop the low E string a full tone (2 semitones) to a D note. In this tuning we can also play bar chords easier.

Half-Step Tuning

  • Low E♭ String 
  • A♭ String 
  • D♭ String
  • G♭ String 
  • B♭ String
  • High E♭ String 

Half-step tuning means that every note is drop a semitone. You will notice the flat cymbal (). This indicates the pitch of the note is dropped a semitone. Guns and Roses are most famous for using this tuning.

C Standard Tuning

  • Low C String
  • G String
  • D String 
  • A String
  • E String 
  • High G String  

Half-step tuning means that every note is drop a semitone. Guns and Roses are most famous for using this tuning. You will notice the flat cymbal (). This indicates the pitch of the note is dropped a semitone. 

Conclusion

There are always different hacks to help learning guitar theory, and memorising guitar string names can be easily done with a rhyme using standard tuning. We can then translate other tunings from our knowledge of standard tuning. For example, by just dropping the pitch of the low E string by a tone will result in “Drop D” tuning – which simply lowers the sixth note from E to D. This is quite popular with stronger songs like metal and hard rock.

RitchieRich

I have been playing guitar for over 15 years and have come to learn the "tips" and "tricks" of how to overcome some of the most difficult barriers when it comes to your guitar playing; some of which most people never overcome. Im confident that with my help coupled with your inspiration and passion for music you can overcome these too!

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