How are your strings numbered?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Funkee1, Dec 29, 2013.

  1. Funkee1


    Jul 19, 2002
    This is a strange question, but the reason I am asking is I am getting a pretty severe kicking around on another bass forum that shall remain nameless.

    I number strings from the highest- 1 to the lowest-5. I've always done it this way. It's in every method book I have ever seen, for bass or guitar, or even violin or viola.

    It's also on every package of strings I have ever purchased.

    However, I mentioned this on the non- mentioned forum, and got told by several members they do not know anyone or have ever played with anyone who referred to the strings this way. They say everyone they know calls the lowest string 1!

    When I suggested this was akin to not knowing what traffic lights mean, they jumped all over me.

    Am I the only one who knows this, and thinks it's kinda silly NOT to know it?
  2. Hamlet7768

    Hamlet7768 Here to chew gum and rock. Still have gum.

    Jun 5, 2011
    I call them by note. If I was using drop-tuned bass (ie DADG) I would use "low D" to clarify.
  3. u84six

    u84six Nobody panic, the bass player is here! Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2006
    You have it right, they have it wrong.
    nicopiano likes this.
  4. bolophonic


    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    I call them "my E string," "my A string," "my D string," etc. Sounds like a giant waste of time to argue about assigning numbers to things that already have very specific names.
  5. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    Even your question raises questions about which convention is "correct." By highest, do you mean pitch or location relative to the floor?

    See the problem?

    For every discussion I have ever had in 33+ years of playing stringed instruments, the convention has been based on the pitch of the string. Your thickest string is your first string and your lowest string. Later, rinse, repeat.
  6. mimaz


    Mar 1, 2005
    Wheeling WV
    Endorsing Artist: Crook Custom Guitars
    How are your strings numbered?

    And a 1, and a 2....

    Thomas Kievit likes this.
  7. u84six

    u84six Nobody panic, the bass player is here! Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2006
    Actually, using the number system is more efficient than assigning them notes. People tune differently. The industry uses 1 through N starting from right to left when looking at your neck upright (or left to right if you're a lefty). Like the OP said, this system is used in almost every guitar book and also in string packs.
  8. megafiddle


    May 25, 2011
    For guitar string sets, I have always seen the highest pitch E string called '1',
    the B string '2' etc. Martin and D'Addario for example, labels their strings this way.

    I have not seen Fender number their strings on any recent sets I bought.

    But I have never seen the lowest pitch string in any set called '1'.

  9. tjh

    tjh Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2006
    nope ...

    ... in musical usage 'up' and 'high/er/est' is always referring to pitch ...

    ... unless you are talking to somebody that doesn't know that ... ;)

    ... and the highest pitch string is always 1 and then 'downward' by pitch sequentially
    DiabolusInMusic likes this.
  10. Milk


    Sep 16, 2013
    Montreal, Canada
    I refuse to believe that more than one person on another bass forum thinks the E string is the 1st string. This is a basic thing that everyone either learned the first time they looked at tabs or bought a strings set.
  11. Funkee1


    Jul 19, 2002
    That's what I said, and was told it didn't matter, and that I was being a jerk for suggesting everyone should know this!
  12. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    So you agree with me, yet refute me. My point was that the OP did not specify whether his use of "highest" meant by pitch or orientation to floor. So, it was not possible to tell whether his experience on another forum was correct or incorrect.

    Thus, "the problem" I cited.

    But I did screw up in that the thinnest string is 1, and on down. Too late and all that.
  13. Funkee1


    Jul 19, 2002
    Pitch. I'm sorry if that wasn't clear.
  14. hotbass57


    Nov 27, 2011
    +1 on calling them by their note names G, D, A and E. Or if ur a Multy stringer. Have never called them any other way.
  15. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    EADG. Numbers only confuse things.
    Einherjar likes this.
  16. Dave Curran

    Dave Curran Lilduke

    Jul 27, 2013
    3rd string, second fret is.....

    4th string, 12th fret is...

    Yeah thats how I learned to put positions to notes.
  17. mmbongo

    mmbongo Chicken Pot Pie. My three favorite things!! Supporting Member

    I don't personally call them by numbers, but by note.

    But, every package of strings I've ever seen has the smallest diameter string as #1, and the largest as #4 in a 4 string, or #5 for a 5 string.

    So, the OP is correct.
  18. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    It's always helpful when trying to create confusion to refer to things which are plural as 'the.'

    My first guitar was a 12-string. 'The' "first string" is -2- strings at the same pitch...

    Yeah - I always saw the high 'E' referred as "First String." (Note that the high E is -not- the highest-pitch string on a 12-string. The G-octave string is...)
  19. pfox14


    Dec 22, 2013
    Highest to lowest 1 -4 or 1 - 5 is absolutely correct. Same on a guitar. The other forum members sound like idiots.
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