Which Way Is Up On The Guitar? – Guitar Studio
Which Way Is Up On The Guitar?

Which Way Is Up On The Guitar?

This lesson is for someone who has never played the guitar before and is an introduction to String Numbers, String Names, and Which Way is Up on the Guitar.

It seems like just about everything in music has several different names that all mean the same thing.  The guitar is no different.

The strings on your guitar have both Names and Numbers.

The “String Numbers” go from the thinnest string gauge (the string with the highest pitch) “down” to the thickest string gauge (the string with the lowest pitch) from 1 to 6.

And the “String Names” are the Musical Notes that the Strings are tuned to.

String Numbers And String Names

String Numbers And String Names

The way that the strings are numbered can be confusing because the lower sounding string has a higher number and the higher sounding string has a lower number.

For example:  The strings are numbered from 1 at the thinnest gauge string “down” to 6 at the thickest gauge string.  The reason I put “down” in quotes is because if you are holding the guitar in the position that you are actually going to play it, going from string 1 to string 6 is “physically” going up.

But when we talk about music we should be speaking in terms of “musically” up or down.

“Musically Up” will be going Up In Pitch rather than Up In Physical Direction.  So I’ll illustrate what I mean below.

Pitch Direction

Pitch Direction

Physically speaking, the Lower Pitch notes are higher up in the air compared to the Higher Pitch notes which are lower to the ground. (when moving both horizontally or vertically on the Fretboard.)

So this can get very confusing when somebody says to play “higher”.  What do they mean?

For this reason, we will go by the Direction of the Pitch.  So if we say play “higher” we are talking about a Higher Pitch Note.

So:

If I play a note on the 6th String – 1st Fret, then I play a note on the 6th String – 12th Fret, I have moved to a  “higher” fret.

If I play a note on the 6th String – 1st Fret, then I play a note on the 1st String – 1st Fret, I have moved to a “higher” string.

 

Did this help you?  Let me know by leaving a comment below.

3 Responses to Which Way Is Up On The Guitar?

  1. Great breakdown. This concept confuses tons of new guitar players. Your picture certainly clears it up for them.

  2. Cable says:

    I always use “Easter Bunnies Get Drunk At Easter” going from the thinnest to thickest string to remember the order. I usually refer to the strings as “bass” and “treble” to eliminate any confusion.

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