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Open Guitar Strings in Music Notation

As we start our music notation reading journey, we can consider the open strings as points of reference. We will fill in the gaps and expand above the high e.

open guitar strings in music notation
Here are our "fence posts". We will fill in the gaps and expand above the high e.

Try saying each string name and information about the note head location while playing the open string. As the string is articulated, such as the Low E string, say "this is string E, the lowest string, it is written as the note head in the minus four space, the space beneath the 3rd ledger line beneath the staff. It has 3 flat hats and if I draw a vertical line, it looks like a capital E." We see the note-head location in our minds and link it to a specific string address. And we practice...

The Trebles

Four at a Time

open string exercise trebles four at a time
The high 3 guitar strings are the "treble" strings.

Twice, Then Once, Then Together

Treble guitar string exercise, twice, then once, then together.
Treble guitar string exercise: twice, then once, then together.

Treble Bouncing

Bouncing around on the g, b, and e guitar strings in notation.
Bouncing around on the g, b, and e guitar strings in notation.

With a Mini-E minor Chord

playing on the e minor chord, half notes and dotted half notes
The hollow head note is a half note - it gets two beats in 3/4 time. The dots add a third beat (dot adds half the value of the note, so a dotted half note gets 3 beats in 3/4 time - fills the measure).

Double Stops

double stops on e minor chord
Double stops are playing two tones together. We end with a triple stop.


And now the "bass" strings. They are the 6, 5, and 4 (E, A, and D).

Twice, Then Once

quarter and half notes on the bass strings
A half note fills the measure in 2/4.

Low Opens

open e a and d string exercise
E, A, and D! You got this.


Mixing all the open strings and with 8th notes.

Easy Fingerpicking Arpeggio

simple arpeggio exercise with moving bass line
pima = thumb, index, middle, "ring". Bass line changes while treble strings stay the same.

Duet One

open string guitar duet
Learn both parts.

Duet Two

open string guitar duet two
Again, learn both parts.

Moving forward with our system, knowing these open strings will assist with learning the whole board.