How Many Strings Does a Guitar Have?

If you are thinking instruments that have a different number of strings can help produce different sounds then you are right! The violin, viola, mandarin, guitar, sitar, and other stringed instruments have you seen they each have a different number of strings?

Not to mention their sizes vary depending on their number of strings too. If you think guitars fall into the class of 6 stringed instruments, then you are mistaken. Guitars vary in string number and sound quality as well. If you want to know how many strings a guitar has, then check out our article. We have discussed all it in detail.

Types of Guitar

You all must know there are 3 main types of guitar acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and bass guitar. And there is a combined extension of electric and acoustic guitar that is the electro-acoustic guitars.

Each of these guitars varies in string number and produce a different type of sound. They have different musical roles and are used in different musical genres.


Photo credit- MusicRadar

String Numbers

In this section, we will be discussing each type of guitar and its associated string numbers.

Bass Guitars:

Unlike conventional guitars, bass guitars are different in terms of their function and the type of music they play. Bass guitars are used as a bridge between the main guitar and the drummer.

Bass guitars have the lowest pitch. It has the same string composition as the other two types of guitar but has a longer scale length and neck. Bass music has a low frequency range starting from 16 to 256 hertz.  Bass guitars have 4 to 32 strings on them.

4 String Bass Guitars

Most bass guitars come in 4 strings, and their standard tuning notation is E, A, D, G. Four string bass guitar is the least complicated among all the other string types. It has frets that help it to locate the correct pitch, and its four strings are large and easy to play.

5 String Bass Guitars

If you are looking for a bass guitar to play heavier genres, like rock and metal you would need 5 string bass guitars for that. 5 string bass guitars allow guitarists to reach lower notes without the need to additionally tune it for playing the rock genre.

It has an extra lower range, starting from the fretted lower E to low B which is chest imploding. It can be tuned by adding low string B to E, A, D, G or by adding a high string E to the A, D, G, and C

6 String Bass Guitars

All 6 string bass guitars keep a B note from the 5 string guitar and add an extra C note above the G string.  6 string bass guitars are used by most jazz players. Most solo bass performers play it too, especially for complicated riffs.

Compared to the 4 and 5 string bass guitars, 6 string bass guitars have much narrower spacing and a wider neck area. It is wider and a bit larger and has enough space for your hands to strum the strings.

7 String Bass Guitars

You may have heard of 7 string acoustic guitars but not bass ones. 7 string bass guitars are rare, not many people use them, but they do exist. They are tuned in the notation B, E, A, D, G, C, and F. If you can play a 6 string bass guitar, you will also be able to play a 7 string one. 7 string guitars have a wider fretboard and may look hard to play, but isn’t.

8 String Bass Guitars

8 string bass guitars are the same as 4 string ones, they are used to cover thicker notes and play in a wider frequency range. They are tuned in octaves to produce a natural and smooth chorus melody to the song. It is used to play songs with higher pitch and volume in tune with other instruments.

9 String Bass Guitars

With the addition of each string, the fretboard and the neck of the guitar keep getting bigger and wider. 9 string bass guitars have a comparatively wider neck. However, it does not have much tensile strength, it tends to snap and break if too much pressure is applied to it. A 9 string bass guitar can produce incredible music. You can both high and low pitches and play in a wide frequency range.

12 string bass guitars

It is the same as the 4 string guitar but has additional 3 courses of strings attached to it. It can produce a loud sound and is tuned as eeE-aaA-ddD-ggG, with one string of every course tuned in correspondence to the four-string guitar, and the rest two tuned to the octave.

Electric guitar

You must have heard how an electric sounds. Electric guitars need additional amplification so that it can be heard during a live performance at high volume. It uses several pickups to convert string vibration into electrical signals which produce sound.

The sound of an electric guitar can be littered electronically or shaped to attain wide range of timbres and different tonal qualifies.  Its outlook, shape, and sound quality are very different from that of the other two types, bass and acoustic guitar.

6 string electric guitar

Most electric guitars contain 6 strings and come directly from their manufacturing company as 6 stringed. However, each guitar brand decides on its number of strings, some have 7, 8, or even 12. 6 string guitars have the powerful progression of a chord that can steal any show. It also has to produce classical note run and can also be played solo.

7 string electric guitar

7 string electrical guitars fall into the unconventional type. It has an additional string and helps guitarists produce a lower sound, instead of a higher one. The addition of an extra string helps to add a B note below your E note that is low.

8 string electric guitar

It is very hard to find 8 stringed electric guitars in the stores. You will have to either get these customized or find out a brand that sells 8 stringed electric guitars. Addition of an extra string to a 7 string guitar helps to create a heavier and fuller sound range. Guitarists can tune their 8 string guitar to an F sharp, then to a B, E, A, D, G, and B.

Some people also customize their guitars by adding both bass and classical guitar strings to an electric guitar making it an 8 stringed one. It might sound bizarre, but it does prevent you from switching from bass to electric while playing.

12 string electric guitars

Electric guitars with 12 strings are exciting to play, fun, and straightforward. 12 stringed electric guitars are tuned to the same note and each of the strings is stacked on top of each other.

The octave of first set of strings follow a tuning pattern of E, A, D, G, B, and E. the second set of strings, however, are tuned to an octave that is higher such as E, A, D, and G. The last two strings in the second set are tuned to the same E and B note as regular ones.

The sound quality produced from a 12 string electric guitar is very thick and has an echoing effect. It also produces a ringing and a fuller sound, as is many guitarists were playing the 12 string guitar at the same time.

Many people think 12 string electric guitars are hard to play, but if can play the 12 string acoustic one, or the 8 string electric guitar this will not be tough either.

Acoustic guitar

You will find that most acoustic guitars come as 6-strings and 12-strings. Both the types follow the same rule as the other two bass and electric. Unlike electric guitars, acoustic guitars cannot rely on amplifiers or pickups to help enhance the sound quality. Thus the strings of acoustic guitars have a larger impact on their sound quality.

The manufacturers of acoustic guitars label their string gauges as heavy or extra light. If you choose an acoustic guitar with light string, you will find the strings are easier to play. They also allow you to fret and to bend notes easily. However, they are prone to damage and can break easily.

Heavier gauge strings are hard to play compared to the light ones. As they require more pressure to fret and to bend notes. Heavy strings reduce the volume of the sound and help to sustain.

Bottom Line

Now that you have read this article, you should know how many strings a guitar has. Pick which type of guitar you want to play, then choose how many strings u want in your guitar. Always keep your strings clean as the secret to a nice warm sound is a set of neatly cleaned guitar strings.

You may also like to read: What are Guitar Strings Made of?

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