How Many Strings Does a Guitar Have?

Guitars are a widely known musical instrument that plays a key role in various types of music. Whether it be country and rock or jazz and pop, you name it. Almost every genre has a use of guitar in the music. People love music that has a good guitar in it.

Stringed instruments have been known to be around for over thousands of years. It is actually believed by historians that guitars may have originated in the early 1500s in Spain and it is thought to have four strings, much like a ukulele. However, as time passed on, more and more people started playing and making the instrument.

Soon enough, there was a fifth string added so the players would have more notes to play and somewhere around the 1700s the sixth string was introduced, expanding the range of the guitar even more. That’s the more widely known and loved more popular version of it today.

How Many Strings Does a Guitar Have?
Photo credit: Jefferson Santos

On the topic of strings, it is true that not all guitars consist of six strings. In the early times guitars started off with just four strings. In today’s world there are actually a wide range of guitars available and a lot of them actually have more or even fewer strings.

So how many strings does a Guitar actually have?

The guitar that you are most likely to have will have six strings, which is the general standard guitar. Six string guitars are often the most affordable option as well as the ones that are more widely available. Although, just because there’s a general standard for guitars it doesn’t mean that all guitars have the same number of strings on them.

It thus makes the question, “How many strings are there in a guitar?” more complicated to answer properly. Simply put, there’s a wide variety of guitars out there and we’re going to take a closer look to find out more about them.

1. Customary Guitars

As mentioned earlier, a customary guitar is your regular and more common six stringed guitar. Each of the strings corresponds to different notes on the guitar and they also vary in thickness. When it is lined up on your guitar, the chords range from the thickest to the thinnest.

The low E string is the thickest string. It is the string that is the very top wire on your fretboard when you are holding the guitar. The A string is the next thickest and lowest string. When all the strings on your guitar are lined up they represent an E, A, D, G, B, E. However the very last, thinnest string, the E string is a higher note E.

Your standard guitars, whether it be electric or acoustic, both come with six strings and the material that your cords are made up of depend on your guitar. Although, steel and nylon are the most common ones, so you’re more likely to find those in your guitar.

2. Bass Guitars

The bass guitar is an instrument of its own. It’s an unique instrument that resembles the design of a guitar but it has its own unique way of playing and its own unique sound, which are of course, different from the standard guitar.

Generally the standard for bass guitars is four strings. It is however possible to find five or even six string bass guitars, that is if you are looking for an even lower, higher or fuller range of notes. Having more strings essentially means that your bass can provide you with more variations in pitch and tone.

You can still find bass guitars with even more strings, but the four, five and six string bass guitars are the most common types out there.

Seven string Electric Guitars

Another really unconventional guitar that offers you the use of seven strings in the form of an electric guitar. The added extra string is a B note that is below the low E string. It essentially brings your guitar’s range to reach lower sounds.

Eight string Electric Guitars

With an added eighth string to the electric guitar, we are more or less hovering over the border of custom made guitars.

How Many Strings Does a Guitar Have?
Photo credit: Simon Weisser

An eighth string is added sometimes for the guitarist to achieve a more full range of notes. The most common way of tuning an eight string guitar would be by lining them up from the top by F sharp, B, E, A, D, G, B and the last E string. Some musicians do however have instruments consisting of both guitar and bass strings made for them. This is to eliminate the constant switch between your electric and bass guitars.

12 string Electric Guitars

The 12 string electric guitar is a straightforward but exciting instrument. What it actually is, is just two six strings attached to one guitar. They are most of the time tuned to the same notes just at varying octaves. For example, the notes are still, E, A, D, G, B and E. The second set of the strings are also tuned to the same notes but at a higher octave, however, the last two cords are tuned to the same B and E as the regular ones. It sounds as though the guitarist is playing multiple guitars at the same time.

It’s not that hard to master if you have a good grasp over the conventional guitars.

12 string Acoustic Guitars

It is tuned and it also functions almost the same way as the 12 string electric guitar. It is mostly for practiced guitarists looking for a fuller sound from their guitars.

The guitarist needs to be pressing down on at least two cords with a finger simultaneously while playing it.

Final Words

There are many types of unusual and unconventional instruments out there that may be hard to get the hang of and master. However, if you’re confident in your skills it can be a really fun and exciting experience that will definitely add to your music. 

You may also like to read: Ukulele vs Guitar: Main Differences and Which Is Easier to Play.

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