The guitar is a member of the lute family and there have been numerous renditions of these strings Instruments through-out history. We can trace iterations of these instruments all the way back to 3100 BCE to the Tanbur. The guitar we play today is a far distant descendant of ancient lute interpretations that has survived the test of time.
So our version of the Lute, what we call a Guitar, has 6 strings. These strings are E-A-D-G-B-e. From E to A is what’s called a perfect fourth; the same is for A to D and D to G. From G to B is a perfect third and from B to E is another perfect 4th. Not all instruments are sequenced like this, actually many other popular instruments over the last 1000 years (violin, cello, mandolin) have been sequenced to have perfect 5ths between each string.
E-A-D-G-B-e | The Guitar’s Strings
The topmost bass string, the thickest or heaviest gauge string, is the E string. The very little string on the bottom is an E-string as well. The strings are two octaves apart.
Going down the strings, the next string after E is A. The A string is a lighter gauge, so it’s not as thick as the E-string. Following just under that is the D-string. You may come to know these three strings as the ‘bass’ strings. They are low, hearty, strings that give your music depth! If you’re playing an acoustic guitar, the top 4 strings (when they are new) are often darker than the bottom two strings because they are made from a different material.
Following next is the G-string. If you have a traditional headstock (the part of your guitar where the tuning pegs are) then this string goes to the tuning peg at the very top bottom side of the headstock. This string is, again, lighter. Just below is the B-string. If you strum slowly down the strings, you’ll notice that it sounds a little different once you hit the b-string. That’s because every other string is a perfect fourth while the transition from the G string to the B string is a perfect third.
The final string, the one closest to the ground, is an e-string. This is the lightest gauge string on the guitar and is known as the highest treble string.
From the top of the headstock, we have our 3 low bass strings: E – A – D
On the bottom side of the headstock, we have our 3 treble strings: G – B – e
There are plenty of great acronyms out there to help you remember the names of the strings. One of my favorites is:
Another sure way to learn the names of the strings is to tune your guitar regularly. Check out the tuning page to learn a few different ways to tune your guitar and best of luck on your playing! Get inspired and have fun!