Don Parkhurst jr

I'm a Conservatory trained musician and guitar instructor who specializes in the Hard Rock / Metal genres. ...

Fundamentals/Lesson two ( Names of open strings)

Let's now move onto learning the musical alphabet and the names of the open strings. This is the first step into the journey of complete mastery of the fretboard. We need to have the ability to quickly find any note on the neck in order to reach the level of musicianship it takes to acheive this goal.

In these lessons we will slowly build upon what was learned in the previous lesson and slowly, step by step we will continue until you are able to find any note on the neck almost instantly.

Let’s start by learning the musical alphabet!

Now that you know the different parts of the guitar let's start taking a look at the actual notes on the neck! The first thing we need to do when starting out as a guitar player is to learn the names of the strings on the guitar. If you already know this stuff then you are ahead of the game. I would suggest reading through all of this anyways. You may find something you missed along the way. Let's start by learning the musical alphabet.

So here is the musical alphabet!


That’s it! A to G. There is no h,i,j,k etc… The alphabet just repeats itself again after G.

A B C D E F G A B C etc...

Why do you need to know this? Well because these notes are the building blocks of music just the same as the letters of the alphabet in the English language are the building blocks of words and sentences.

As we progress through the levels learning the notes will become more and more important. For now just memorize this and we’ll move along. I know it will be hard and it will take you days, maybe even months to master this but slug through it! Sorry, I know I’m being a little silly here! Nothing wrong with having a little fun!

So now that we know the musical alphabet lets apply it to the fret board. The first thing we want to know is the names of the open strings. Take a look at the diagram below!

Notice no m’s or z’s in the diagram! Only letters from the musical alphabet. These letters are now going to be referred to as notes. When we hit one of these notes it sounds out a pitch. If we hit another G for example somewhere else on the neck it will sound the same except maybe a little deeper or brighter sounding. As we move along we will learn these notes in different parts of the neck but lets learn these first!

Let’s learn a sentence to help with memorizing the names of the strings.

Eddie  Ate  Dynamite  Good  Bye  Eddie

Just take the first letter out of each of these words and you have the names of the open strings!

If you memorize this sentence you will always remember what the names of the open strings are!

We also need to assign a number to each string. If I said I wanted you to play the first string which one would you pick? If you said the skinny one you would be right! If you said the fat one then don’t worry. A lot of people guess the same string. It’s natural to pick this one because it’s the string up top closest to you. Take a look!

So now lets run down the strings from the 6th string to the 1st. First play the 6th string and say the name of the string. This string is the low E string. The fat string! Why do we call it the low E? Because it has a low sounding pitch. If we play the other E string we would be playing the high E string. The reason? This is because, as you most likely guessed, it sounds out a higher sounding pitch. Let’s run through the strings now.

6th string- Low E
5th string- A
4th string- D
3rd string- G
2nd string- B
1st string- High E

First go ahead and look at the example above but then try doing it by memory! Use the sentence you memorized to help out!

Some teachers like to teach the strings starting from the 1st to the 6th string instead of the 6th to the 1st string. Either way works! I learned it this way so I like to teach it in the same way. The end result of both methods will be the same.

One last thing! Make an investment into a guitar tuner. There is nothing that will kill your inspiration more then a guitar that is not tuned. No matter how perfect you may play an exercise or piece of music it will sound horrible if the guitar is not in tune. So get yourself a tuner!

Now watch the video and I'll demonstrate all this for you!


This would be a lot easier to

This would be a lot easier to remember if the mnemonic (Eddie Ate Dynamite, Good Bye Eddie) went in the same direction as the string numbers (1,2,3,4,5,6) instead of backwards! ~e

Reading Left to Right

While I love the mnemonics for reading the strings from 1 to 6, I find it easier to memorize them the way Don teaches them, simply because reading from left to right comes naturally to an English reader, unlike reading from right to left in Middle-Eastern languages or top to down in East Asian languages.

Another reason for progressing from 6th to 1st strings is that the notes seem to be climbing from a deep notes to higher ones. :)

Yes this would be easier but

Yes this would be easier but unfortunately I can't change the numbering order of the strings. Just make up one of your own starting with the high E and ending with the low E.

Here is another reason why I

Here is another reason why I think it's a good idea to learn the strings from the sixth to the first string.

When learning your power chords,bar chords, scales etc... you usually learn them starting from the E string followed by the A string and then the D string. So when looking at the strings it's pretty natural to think E followed by A and D. Not that you can't learn things in a different way but this is the way I've always been taught and the way I teach all my students.

Now this is an instance where the importance of the order you learn the strings is not really incredibly important. If you learn the strings better starting from the 1st to the 6th then by all means go for it! Whatever way works best for you is the correct way!

This is only the first couple lessons. In the next few weeks I'll be adding more which will slowly teach you to find any note on the neck almost instantly. No more counting up each string every time you need to find a note! Stay tuned!

Mnemonic for strings 1 through 6

I can see that it might be good practice to learn the strings from 6 to 1. After my first comment, however, I felt challenged to come up with a mnemonic for the strings going from 1 to 6. I couldn't come up with a good one on my own but I found the following suggestions on the web. I like the second one best. Feel free to use or ignore them as you wish... :>)
Every Body Get Down And Exercise
Even Budding Guitarists Deserve Applauded Efforts
Every Bunny Gets Drunk After Easter
Every Banana Gets Digested After Eating

That's good! Whatever works

That's good! Whatever works to help you memorize the names of the strings is great. After awhile you'll know them without even thinking about it.

Sometime this week I'll have the next lesson ready. It'll be the very beginning of memorizing all the notes on the neck. We'll start with the notes on the E string and move on until we have all the strings mastered. By the end you'll be able to find any note on the neck in a matter of a couple seconds!

I also have a free session on my site called the drum sessions which is a collection of drum beats ranging from 45 bpm to 220 bpm. This works great when you are trying to work on a song,practicing a lick or anything else that is tempo based. You start at a slow beat and slowly build up until you hit your target speed. If you are interested in checking in out just log onto my site and you'll see the link on the first page.

Otherwise check out the next lesson later this week! If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask!