Today we’re going to learn not only how to remember the names of the guitar strings. But even better… you’ll learn a way to point to a string and say the name without having to think about it.
It’s important to know the names of the guitar strings so you can tune your instrument, as well as learn the notes on the fretboard. It all starts with the open strings. Once you learn the name of the open strings, there are easy ways to remember the notes from there.
First, let's start out with the number of the strings. The thickest string is the sixth string, and the highest string (and closer to your leg), is the first string. Some folks think it's the other way around, but think of it in terms of musical pitch. The term “higher” refers to musical pitch, not physical location (as in closer to the ceiling).
Names of the Strings
We start out with the sixth string which is an E. We then move on to the 5th string A, 4th string D, third string G, second string B, and the first string E. We often refer to the first string as the high E and the sixth string the low E, to avoid confusion.
A common way in which people remember the string names is by using phrases in which the first letter of each of the words is the same letter note as on the guitar string. The most common one is “Eddie Ate Dynamite Good Bye Eddie”. This method works well as a way to remember each string name from the sixth to the high E.
- Eddie (6th, thickest)
- Eddie (1st, thinnest)
Another way to help remember the string names is by going from outer strings and moving on from there. Here, the outer strings are the low E and the high E, which is a great place to start as they are both E strings. Then we’ve got the fifth and second strings, or A and B. Finally, we have the fourth and third strings, D and G. I like to use the phrase “dog gone” to remember those last two string names.
- Start with outer strings E - E
- Next inner strings A & B
- Final inner strings D & G (Dog Gone)
A Step Further
The ways to remember strings mentioned above can really help when you’re starting out. You could even come up with your own phrase or method to remember the string names in a unique way that works for you. However, the best thing to do is to know the string names as soon as you pluck or touch them. It is easier than it seems if you set your mind to it.
For years I avoided learning the name of the strings but I don’t want you to do that, as it is really unnecessary. Knowing the names of the strings is not hard and I’ve got an exercise to help you out.
String Name Game
The best way I found to learn string names quickly is to just pluck one string and say its name. You can do that on your own and make a game out of it, until it gets easy. Simply pick a string and say its name, then move on to another string randomly, and say its name. It may take a little bit at first, but it will get better in no time. You’ll start saying the names of the strings quicker and quicker until it becomes second nature.
And to make it more fun, for the last 3 minutes of the video on this post you’ll find a game I created where I pluck the string and then you have to say the name.
I’m going to pluck random strings and wait two seconds before I tell you the name. The idea is to do this exercise until you can say the string name as fast as I play it. Do this for just three minutes a day, for five days and you’ll be amazed at the results.
If you’d like to take this further, I’ve made another video in which I use the open strings as a foundation to learn the rest of the notes on the fretboard with some tricks and tips. It is easier than you think. I’ve included the link to that video below.