# Which String is the "First" String?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Schemaman, Jun 2, 2019.

1. ### Schemaman

Jun 16, 2018
I was following a Fender article on setting up basses (How do I set up my bass guitar properly?) and they reference the "first" string. Being a computer guy I have trouble with undefined variables - can somebody tell me what the "first" string is on a four string bass? I can make the case for the E or the G string since the E is the first string I see when I look down, but the G string could be the first string because it's the highest pitch, but I am not sure what is meant here. Who knows? I googled to see if "first" was defined anywhere else and found that some people referenced E and others referenced G as the "first" string.

If I knew more about the topic, I could possibly figure it out from context . The closest clue I think I have is that they reference a second string at .060 "...For example, if the second string is .060" (1.5 mm), you would move the second-string saddle back...", which I am guessing could be a D string in which case the "first" string would likely be the G string. I feel like I am over-complicating this somehow or just completely missing something in which case I will stand in the corner for 5 minutes and practice C Major scales at 40 bpm.

Last edited: Jun 2, 2019
2. ### Nashrakh

Aug 16, 2008
Hamburg, Germany
In the Fender article, the first string must be G because later on, it says "For five-string basses, cut the fifth string[...]". Five string basses have a G string like fours, they add a B string. Since fours always have Gs and assuming they order the strings in either ascending or descending fashion (diameter), it would follow that the fifth string (B) must be next in order to the second-biggest diameter, thus E, which is #4.

So:
1 G
2 D
3 A
4 E
(5 B)

What you'll notice is that it looks like the beginning of a TAB transcription.

However, there's no standard to this. Around here most call the E string the first, but whenever possible I would call the string by its pitch and not some undefined number. As you see, it already gets messy if you go beyond 4. Around here, you'll also find 6 or 7 string basses, that'd be pretty hard to fit into.

3. ### Schemaman

Jun 16, 2018
That makes sense to me too - thanks! Reading that article made me feel like I was doing one of those, "Train A leaves Chicago travelling 60 miles an hour, Train B leaves New York travelling 47 miles an hour. Who is the bus driver and what is the Azimuth of Saturn relative to Earth's equator during the mid-point of the Vernal Equinox?" kind of questions. Thanks again for helping.

4. ### rickster4003

Feb 15, 2013
Opposite the 4th string.

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5. ### lowplacesGot Punch ?

Dec 20, 2015
Louisville Kentucky
Always the smallest string.

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6. ### JRAmy words = opinionGold Supporting Member

the guy's name was bill. i don't know enough to comment on the other. good luck with that first string!

7. ### lz4005

Oct 22, 2013
It's an incredibly dumb way to refer to strings. Thinnest and thickest, or even closest to your feet/closest to your head would be better.

Same thing happens when people talk about "higher" frets or strings. Are they talking about pitch (they should be) or distance from the floor (a mistake new players often make)?

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8. ### jw23mindSupporting Member

Jan 16, 2017
It's a BASS, so the first string is the LOWEST (pitch). Or is the G (on a 4-string) the lowest (height)? LOL

jd56hawk likes this.
9. ### Tommyc

Nov 11, 2015
Midwest
On violins, guitars, mandolins etc. Highest to lowest is always 1st string.

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10. ### DruciferNot currently practicingGold Supporting Member

Apr 20, 2009
Houston Heights, Texas
Endorsements: your name could be here, Mr. Sadowsky!
The first string on guitar or bass is the highest one in pitch.

Last edited: Jun 3, 2019
11. ### DruciferNot currently practicingGold Supporting Member

Apr 20, 2009
Houston Heights, Texas
Endorsements: your name could be here, Mr. Sadowsky!
12. ### Kukulkan61Inactive

Feb 8, 2011
Northern Arizona
G-STRING

13. ### PassinwindI know nothing.Commercial User

Dec 3, 2003
Columbia River Gorge, WA.
Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
14. ### grinx

Mar 24, 2003
Raleighwood, NC
God Bless
even the easy questions aren't easy

BooDoggie likes this.
15. ### Guitalia

Jun 7, 2008
Baltimore, MD
And while we're on the subject, which is the "front" pickup, and why?

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16. ### niloriusInactive

Oct 27, 2016
Riga - Latvia
On a four string bass:
1-G
2-D
3-A
4-E
I don't really see any problem in numbering string but knowing the pitch, you have problems with.

EatS1stBassist likes this.
17. ### southpaw723

Oct 20, 2013
Pittsburgh
If you’re describing how to play something do you say “go up” if you’re starting at the E string then to the D? I know directionally you’re going down but from a pitch standpoint it’s “up” lol this confuses people sometimes

18. ### OptimalOptimus

Jan 4, 2019
read music and no one will be confused

19. ### red_rhinoCurrently on Double Secret ProbationGold Supporting Member

Jan 26, 2001
Over Macho Grandé
It's the first one I touch.

20. ### Thumpin6stringSupporting Member

Apr 25, 2013
Shoals Indiana
I like G-strings.