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How Many Strings Does a Guitar Have?

Most guitars consist of six strings. The modern guitar developed from earlier stringed instruments like the lute. By the 16th century, the ADGBE tuning (same as the top five strings of the modern guitar) was commonly used. Following constant experimentation and technological advancements, the body and design was modified to improve volume and tone. Around mid 1800s, the modern six-string classical guitar design was born with six strings and EADGBE tuning.

Why EADGBE? The short answer is that the standard tuning is the most practical and comfortable way for your hands to play both chords and melodies, a conclusion reached centuries ago.

A Balancing Act

The standard tuning system balances several factors:

  • Playing chords: How easy is it to play groups of notes?

  • Playing melodies: Can melody lines be played without stretching too much?

  • Use of open strings: How many keys and chords can use open strings?

  • String flexibility and tension: How well can you bend the strings and how much tension is on the guitar body?

If the guitar was tuned with larger intervals between each string, it would be difficult to play chords. Tuning it to smaller intervals would enable you to play melodies but not simple chords.

The Easiest Way to Begin Memorizing Guitar Notes and Strings with Acronyms

The six strings of a guitar can be thought of in descending or ascending order. The thickest string is called the 6th string. In standard guitar tuning, this is tuned to E and is often referred to as the "low E string," meaning the lowest note you can play. Then moving down the fretboard, the 5th string (the A string) is tuned to A, the 4th string (D string) is tuned to D, the 3rd string (G string) is tuned to G, the 2nd string (B string) is tuned to B and the 1st string (high E string) is tuned to E.

One of the most frequently used tricks to remember string names is to create a memorable phrase where the first letter of each word stands for each of the guitar string names.

Starting with the thinnest, or 1st string, the order would be E-B-G-D-A-E. Here are a few sample phrases to get you started:

  • Easter Bunnies Get Dizzy At Easter

  • Every Boy Gets Dinner At Eight

  • Elvis’ Big Great Dane Ate Everything

Or, start with the thickest string, or 6th string, and moving to the 1st string. Here are a few sample phrases for E-A-D-G-B-E:

  • Eat All Day Get Big Easy

  • Every Amateur Does Get Better Eventually

  • Eddie Ate Dynamite Good Bye Eddie

To really make it stick, make up a phrase of your own. It doesn’t have to be great, it just needs to be memorable. The crazier or more unusual the better.

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Memorizing the Fretboard

The fretboard, otherwise known as the fingerboard is where you will shape these notes. It is a is a thin, long strip of material, usually wood, laminated to the front of the neck with the strings running over it between the nut and the bridge. Where you press down on the individual strings on the fingerboard changes the vibration of the string, which changes the pitch.

Learning where the strings are on the fretboard will help take your practice to the next level.

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