Guitar String Names 101 – Everything You Need To Know

Have you just begun your journey with the guitar? Need to learn the guitar string names?

As a beginner guitar player, learning the names of the guitar strings should be at the top of your list of things to do.

Learning the names of the open(unfretted) strings is one of the most important things you can do! Completing this task will set you up for future success with the guitar.

Many of the things you will learn as you progress will build upon you knowing the names of the open strings.

So, “How do I learn the guitar string names?” you might ask. There’s no need to look elsewhere. This guide has what you need!

In this post, you will learn the string letter name as well as the number name. Yes, you can name them in two different ways.

But don’t worry, it’s not complicated. We will assume going forward that your guitar is tuned to standard (A440) tuning. If you don’t know what A440 is, then have a look at this

We will also assume that you are using a standard six-string guitar. 

The naming convention will be the same for a twelve-string guitar. 

A Little Refresher Before We Start

Before we get started, we will go back to look at some basics. We name notes after the first seven letters of the alphabet. A, B, C, D, E, F, and G.

On the keyboard, these would be the white keys.

These seven notes are called Natural Notes. Natural notes are notes that contain no “accidentals”.

That’s a fancy way of saying they don’t contain any sharps or flats. We only use natural notes to name the open guitar strings.

The guitar has only six strings. No accidentals are used in naming the open strings in standard tuning.

If you have never heard the term “accidental”, then you might consider reading up on this article.

Two of the guitar strings have the same letter name…E. So we only need five letters (E, A, D, G, and B) to name all the strings on a guitar.

Guitar String Names: A Number and a Letter

The guitar strings themselves have two names. They have a number name and a letter name. To get started let’s begin with the number names of the strings.

The guitar strings are numbered 1-6. They start with the bottom (skinniest) string going up to the sixth (fattest) string. 

Now that you’ve got the number names in your head, let’s move on to the letter names. 

We use the first seven letters of the alphabet(A, B, C, D, E, F, and G)to name notes. For the open strings of the guitar, only five of the letters are needed…A, B, D, E, and G.

guitar letter names on fretboard, guitar string names

There are some things to know that can help you remember the string names.

Notice that string 1 and string 6 have the same letter name. They are both E. We call string 1 the high E. It is higher in pitch.

We refer to string 6 as the low E. It is lower in pitch.

The fifth string is A. 

Consider the following phrase. Ed-Guh- Buh. Where Ed = EAD, Guh = G, and Buh = BE.

Ed Guh Buh = EADGBE

String 1. E (High E)

String 2. B

String 3. G

String 4. D

String 5. A

String 6. E (Low E)

Memorizing the Names

It is very important to memorize the letter names and number names as quickly as you can.

A good way to do this is to pick one string at a time and say its name aloud as you play each string. 

Start from the top string (low E) and play each string. Say the letter name out loud as you play each string.

Next, try starting from the bottom string (high E) and going up through the strings similarly.

Do this every time you pick up your guitar. Continue the exercise until you are comfortable with the names of all the strings.

In addition to the previous exercise, think about the following phrases. They may prove helpful in memorizing the names.

Pick your favorite and say it over and over!

  • Edgar And Donna Got Busted Eloping
  • Elephants And Donkeys Grow Big Ears
  • Every Adult Dog Growls Barks Eats

Conclusion

Most of the time, when learning guitar, you will likely refer to the string by its number.

The number names are just faster to pick up on. They are also more useful if you are learning Tablature.

I would encourage you to put just as much emphasis on the letter names as well, especially if you intend to learn music notation at any time.

After learning the string names, the next step is to learn the notes all over the fingerboard.

Check out Guitar Notes in First Position – The Best Quick Guide.

I hope this article helps you increase your understanding of guitar string names.

Many people learn these basics of the guitar faster through a structured method book.

Younger students may find “Guitar Method” book 1 by Hal Leonard the most helpful. If you are looking for a college-level method book “Mastering The Guitar” by Mel Bay is among the best.

For helpful tips on how to make your guitar practice more productive, check out this blog post.

Bookmark this page for easy future reference. And don’t forget to share this article or leave a comment. I can’t wait to hear from you!