One of the first things every guitarist needs to remember is the name of the strings. Knowing them will take you just a few minutes, but retaining their names, even if someone asks you in the middle of the night, may take a couple of days, but it will help you develop further as a guitarist.
This is a step forward to tuning your guitar by yourself, but it is the first step in knowing all the notes on every string, and that is a crucial thing in becoming a good guitarist, which will lead you to connect the chords and scales to those notes.
In this article, we’ll show you the best way to memorize the names of the strings on a standard acoustic or electric guitar, and on bass also, through a simple technique called mnemonics.
Grab your guitar and follow the instructions in this article, and in just a couple of days, you’ll have those six strings, or four if you are a bassist, memorized for the rest of your life.
You need to take this essential step to become a guitarist, so don’t skip it, even if it looks dull. You’ll need this knowledge. Read on to figure how to remember the strings on a guitar.
Let’s start by establishing the names of the strings. There are six strings on a standard acoustic or electric guitar. From the thickest to the thinnest one, their names are E-A-D-G-B-e.
The thinnest, or the top e string, is also referred to as the first string, while the thickest, bottom E string is the sixth. So, counterintuitive, since you count the strings so that the first string is the one that is closest to the floor while you are standing with your guitar.
Another thing we need to establish early on is that the first and the sixth string are tuned to the note E, but there is one major difference between them, and that is the pitch. The simplest way to explain the difference between the two is to say that the bottom E string is bassier while the top e string has a much higher pitch.
Since we aren’t here to learn music theory, at least not yet, let’s move on to the techniques that will make it easier for you to memorize the names. We need to learn the names of the strings first, and we’ll use mnemonics in that process.
This is an effortless technique developed for faster-memorizing information formed around acronyms or simple phrases. This will be especially beneficial to visual learners.
Mnemonics can help you learn the string names, and it is up to you to pick one or several acronyms and repeat them every day. You don’t need to overdo it once a day, for example, and if you do it every day, you’ll know all the string names within a week.
You can make up your own acronyms to help you remember the string names faster. They should be fun, catchy, and simple phrases that can easily get stuck in your head. The only rule is that the first letter of every word in the phrase should correlate to the name of the string. So, take the order of the strings we already determined E, A, D, G, B, e, and find the best suiting acronym.
But, to make things easier for you, we created this list of tried and tested acronyms that already helped numerous guitarists worldwide remember the name of the strings.
Let’s not forget the up-and-coming bassists that can also use this technique to remember the names of the bass strings. The standard bass has only four strings, but the tuning follows the same principle as the guitar. On the bass guitar, we have:
Same as with a standard guitar, we compiled a list of mnemonics you could use to memorize the names of the strings on your bass guitar.
So, why do we tune the guitar in this order? The answer is pretty simple if you are familiar with basic music theory, and it lies in the perfect fourth.
Instead of the usual way of tuning to perfect fifths that some classic instruments like the cello or the violin use, the consensus is that the standard guitar tuning, or the E standard tuning, is in perfect fourths.
How does this work? We take the first, thickest string and tune it to the E note. This is our starting, main, string, and the note we are referring to as the root. We won’t get too deep into this, but we’ll simply lay out the intervals between the strings. This is when the music theory is necessary to understand the relation between the notes.
We tune every next string to the perfect fourth of the previous string, except the second string, or the B string, which is the major third interval from the third (G) string.
Let’s make a list of the relation between the notes for you to understand these relations better.
Mnemonics will be beneficial to every new guitarist or bassist. Repeat them every day over a course of a week, and you’ll notice the results the next time you tune your guitar without looking for the names of the string first. And remember, with great lessons and patience, Every Amateur Does Get Better Eventually.
Hi, I'm Duncan, the owner, creator, and head writer for InciteMusic.com
I have been a touring cover musician and a teacher for the last 10 years and take helping people to achieve their musical goals very seriously.
On this website, we try to provide the best reviews possible by actual working musicians so you can find gear, lessons, and software to help you perfect your craft.
Check out the link to our about page in the footer if you would like to know more.