Instructor: Julian Acosta
Julian understands the aspects of music and the importance of the steps necessary to connect with music. He studied music at the University of Texas and has taught ukulele, piano, guitar and voice since 2009.

Guitar Frets, Fingers, and Strings (with Examples)


Welcome to video three in the Beginner Guitar Quick-Start Series. In this lesson, we’re going to go over the 3 numbering systems for the guitar, including the system to use for your fingers, the frets on the guitar, and for the guitar strings.

This lesson may seem very easy to you, but it’s an important lesson. Knowing these systems inside and out makes all of your future guitar lessons a lot faster.

What is a Guitar Fret?

The frets on a guitar are the metal strips that are positioned along the fretboard (the arm of the guitar). The metal strip closest to your guitar's headstock is called the first fret. From there, you continue counting the frets from the first fret to through to the remaining number of guitar frets.

Guitar Frets

How many frets are on a Guitar?

19 frets

Standard guitars have 19 frets and electric guitars between 21 and 24 frets, although guitars have been made with as many as 27 frets. The pitch of each consecutive fret is defined at a half-step interval on the chromatic scale.

Guitar Fretboard

Frets are laid out to accomplish an equal tempered division of the octave.

Guitar Finger Numbers

When you begin reading guitar tabs, sheet music and scale and chord diagrams, it'll be important to know which fingers to use at any physicist time. It's pretty simple to remember that the first finger is your index finger, the second finger is your middle finger, the third finger is your ring finger and the fourth finger is your pinky.

guitar finger numbers

Very rarely, you'll see a "T," which indicates you should fret the string with your thumb. For most chords, though, "1" through "4" are all you need.

Guitar Strings

On the fretboard, the guitar strings range from the thickest string that's closest to you to the thinnest string that's farther away from you while holding your guitar. It can be a little confusing in the beginning but just keep in mind that the first string is actually the thinnest string located nearest the floor rather than the thick one that is located nearest to you.

Guitar Strings

Putting the Frets, Strings and Fingers All Together

Once you have a better understanding of your guitar frets, guitar strings and finger positions, then it's easy to put it all together and play a tune. If you're watching a video lesson or reading a guitar tab, everything will start to become second nature.

For example, when you need to put your finger on the first fret, you'll put that specific finger on the first fret and behind the thickest string. For the fifth fret on finger one, you'd put your index finger on the fifth fret and behind the thinnest string.

Over time, and with lots of guitar practice and testing yourself, you'll find that you're well on the way to using the 3 number system with ease.

When the guitar numbering system is used properly, progression through the remaining videos in this course results in faster learning that is much more enjoyable.

That way, you won't get frustrated and quit before you've really had the chance to dig into the next video lessons about the parts of a guitar and guitar notes followed by strumming your guitar and learning how to strum it.

Next Lesson:

Parts Of A Guitar

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