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.

    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
    Upstate NY
    Opposite the 4th string.
    onosson, Ian McLaughlin and Schemaman like this.
  5. lowplaces

    lowplaces Got Punch ?

    Dec 20, 2015
    Louisville Kentucky
    Always the smallest string.
    stevieg, BlueP, TinyE and 2 others like this.
  6. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    the guy's name was bill. i don't know enough to comment on the other. good luck with that first string! :thumbsup:
  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)?
    Schemaman and Passinwind like this.
  8. jw23mind

    jw23mind Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2017
    Reading MA
    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
    On violins, guitars, mandolins etc. Highest to lowest is always 1st string.
    stevieg, teh-slb and lowplaces like this.
  10. Drucifer

    Drucifer Not currently practicing Gold 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
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  11. Drucifer

    Drucifer Not currently practicing Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2009
    Houston Heights, Texas
    Endorsements: your name could be here, Mr. Sadowsky!
  12. Kukulkan61

    Kukulkan61 Inactive

    Feb 8, 2011
    Northern Arizona
    G-STRING :woot:
  13. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing.

    lowplaces likes this.
  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?
    Oddly, Lobster11 and TalHaz like this.
  16. nilorius

    nilorius Inactive

    Oct 27, 2016
    Riga - Latvia
    On a four string bass:
    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
    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
    stevieg likes this.
  19. red_rhino

    red_rhino Currently on Double Secret Probation Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2001
    Over Macho Grandé
    It's the first one I touch. ;)
  20. I like G-strings.:drool: