Understanding Guitar Notes: A Guide For Beginners

Guitar notes are the building blocks we use to play all chords, riffs & solos. Having an understanding of guitar notes is essential knowledge for guitarists. šŸŽø

In this free guitar lesson you will learn:

  • The notes of the guitar strings and fretboard.
  • The difference between guitar notes and guitar chords.
  • The notes of the musical alphabet.
  • The difference between ‘sharps‘ and ‘flats‘.
  • 3 useful tips to help you navigate the fretboard fast

Let’s dive straight in!

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Guitar String Notes (Standard Tuning)

There are six strings on a guitar.Ā Each string has a nameĀ AND a number.

  • The thickest string is called the 6th string. In standard guitar tuning, this is tuned to E. We often refer to this as the ‘low E string‘. This is the deepest/lowest guitar note you can play.
  • The 5th string is tuned to A, so it’s usuallyĀ referred to as the A string.
  • The 4th string is tuned to D, so it’s usually referred to as the D string.
  • The 3rd string is tuned to G, so it’s usually referred to as the G string.
  • The 2nd string is tuned to B, so it’s usually referred to as the B string.
  • The 1st string is tuned to E. This is the thinnest of all the strings. We often refer to this as the ‘high E string’.

Guitar String Notes

How to remember the guitar string notes

The easiest way to remember the guitar string notes is to use a mnemonic:

  • Elephants
  • And
  • Donkeys
  • Grow
  • Big
  • Ears

Or my personal favourite…

  • Eddie
  • Ate
  • Dynamite
  • Good
  • Bye
  • Eddie



Try and make a mnemonic yourself. (The sillier it is the better; that will make it more memorable.)

So one last time, here are the ‘standard tuning’ guitar notes (shown here overlaid on an acoustic guitar):

guitar notes


These notes are exactly the same on acoustic, electric, classical and semi-acoustic guitars.

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Are there other guitar tunings?

Yes, there’s quite a few, but ‘standard tuning’Ā is the way most guitars are tuned.

While there are other ways to a tune a guitar that change the guitar notes, it’s best to avoid alternate tunings while you’re a beginner.


Stick with standard tuning for at least the first 6 months of your guitar journey.

If you switch to an exotic alternate guitar tuning, the chord shapes all change. That’s not much fun for a beginner. Let’s keep things nice and simple! šŸ™‚

montage 3

What’s the difference between guitar notes and guitar chords?

It’s pretty easy:

  • Notes are the smallest unit of musical language.
  • We group notesĀ together to form chords.

Some of ourĀ studentsĀ find this analogy helpful:

  • Notes are like letters.
  • Chords are like words.

To form a chord, we need to group some notes together.

Let’s look at some examples:

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