One of the first tasks any beginning guitar student must master is learning the names of the notes of the guitar strings. This not only makes you more familiar with your instrument, but is the starting point of making music on the guitar. There are a number of methods which can help you remember the string names--choose the method that works best for you.
The Five Guitar Strings
The open strings of the guitar are the notes you hear when you strike the strings without pressing them against any of the the frets on the guitar’s neck with your left hand. The sixth or bottom string, which is the thickest, is the low E. The guitar’s notes go in ascending order beginning with this string. Continuing in order from the low E string is the fifth string, A; fourth string, D; third string, G; second string, B; and first string, E. The first and last strings both play the same note--E--but their sound is different because they are two octaves apart. The sixth string sounds much lower than the first string.
When you are first learning, sometimes the best method is simple memorization. Start-Playing-Guitar.com recommends reciting the names of the strings in order ten times, once a day for seven days. It is important to pause between each repetition as you say the strings in order, for example bottom-up “E B G D A E”. This helps cement the string names in your brain.
You may want to use the string names as an acronym to create a mnemonic device, in which the letters make an easy-to-remember phrase. Nate Savage at GuitarLessons.com recommends using the mnemonic device Eat All Day Go to Bed Early for remembering the guitar strings. Here are some others, suggested in AcronymFinder.com: Eddie Ate Dynamite Good Bye Eddie; Every Apple Does Go Bad Eventually; Elephants and Donkeys Grow Big Ears. Making up your own mnemonic device can be fun and has the side benefit of helping you learn the strings quickly.
Intervals of Fourths
It is also helpful to remember the intervals between the notes of the open strings. An interval is the distance between one note and the next. With one exception, the guitar’s strings are in intervals of fourths, so reciting the 7-note musical scale, A B C D E F G A and so on, can help you remember the string names. For example, start with the low E string and count up four notes (E F G A), and there you are at the A string. Count up four again (A B C D)--there’s your D string. Again count up four (D E F G) and you are at the third or G string. Now comes the one exception to the rule of fourths. As you count up from G (G A B), you will see that the interval between the third string and second string is a third, not a fourth. Finally, count up four notes from your B string (B C D E), and you have arrived at the high E or first string.
If you are really having trouble remembering the names of the strings, you can purchase temporary decals to place on the fretboard of your guitar. This note marking system is available from a variety of online suppliers including FindANote.com.