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by Jason Steele

Before you begin learning all of the notes on your guitar you need to know how the guitar is set up. The notes on the guitar get higher/lower by moving a couple of different ways, so let’s first take a look at the open strings of a guitar.

Open Strings

There are six different strings on a guitar. At this point most of you might already know the names of these strings. In case you don’t you should first look at the strings in terms of size. You’ll see that the biggest string (no matter if you are a right or left handed player) is closest to your chest and that the smallest string is closest to your legs.

Playing any one of these strings by picking the string (without pushing that string down on a fret) is called an “open string”. When you pick the string while pushing down a fret it becomes a different note.

The biggest open string is called “big E” or the “6th string” and produces the lowest note of the guitar. I prefer to organize all six strings from lowest (biggest) to highest (smallest) (which are identified in that way here) big E (6th), A (5th), D (4th), G (3rd), B (2nd), and little E (1st) – the smaller the string = the higher the note. Each string can be identified by using either a letter or a number.

The diagram below will help with the identification of your strings and also show you how your open strings relate to the piano.

Learn Your Neck: Guitar Overview

Moving Up and Down the Neck

Going up and down the neck refers to direction you move when going from one note to the other on the guitar. Let’s begin by getting your bearings as to which way is up and which way is down. When moving from a lower fret (located near the nut and tuners of the guitar) to a higher fret (towards the body of the guitar) you are moving up the neck and vice versa. I prefer for you to think of it this way because the notes get higher as you move up the neck and get lower as you move down.

Learn Your Neck: Guitar Overview
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