Fretwork: Guitar String Numbering

(1) Conventional numbering for guitar strings is from high to low. In standard tuning the strings are numbered:

E = 1

B = 2

G = 3

D = 4

A = 5

E = 6

(2) Guitar tuning, on the other hand, is described inversely to string numbering, as follows:

6 = E

5 = A

4 = D

3 = G

2 = B

1 = E

(3) If you have the leisure and inclination, reflect for a moment on how perversely clashing these two conventions appear to be. Not to mention that, when you strum a guitar, your thumb or pick typically travels the strings from low to high, and when you look down at your instrument the low string is closest to your nose and the high string closest to your crotch, which consensus tends to recognize as a top-down orientation.

[Roger Edward Blumberg, at, makes a case for reversing traditional string numbering to match the tuning sequence.]

(4) With misgivings, I’ve elected to stick for the moment with the traditional goofy system for fear that it permeates extant guitar literature that I may have occasion to consult. I’m not credentialed in any way for this type of decision, but it’s necessary for what follows to state the stance.

(c) 2019 JMN.

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day, and watch Netflix and Prime Video for entertainment. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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