Last Updated on December 29, 2023 by AG
When it comes to guitars, there are many different builds and designs available, each with its unique features and characteristics. One aspect that can greatly vary between different guitar builds is the number of strings they have. So how many strings does a guitar have? In this article, we will explore the different guitar builds that are available and how many strings they typically have.
The guitar has six strings, at least the most common type, that everyone thinks about when talking about guitars. That’s why this type is also called a six-string guitar.
You may have guessed, if this one is called six-string guitar, then there are also guitars with different string counts. This would be mainly the seven-string, eight-string, and twelve-string guitars and then there are some oddities and custom instruments that don’t fit in those categories, such as the harp guitar and double neck guitar or even multi-neck guitars. And then there are also bass guitars that cover the lower notes, which come with four strings, five strings, and as six-string basses.
In the following, we will take a closer look at the mainly found guitar types, including different string bass guitars, how many strings they have, the common tuning, and in which genre they are used.
What Different Types of Guitars Are There?
Before looking at the different guitars it is also to be noted that while every string electric has steel strings, acoustic guitars can have steel strings, but not all guitars do. While early guitars had gut strings, a modern guitar for the classical genre has now nylon strings. What all guitars have in common is that starting from the first string at the top the strings have increasingly higher pitch going downward.
1. The Six-String Guitar
First, let’s take a look at the most common guitar build. This is the standard build that most people are familiar with and it features six strings.
Usually, the six guitar strings are tuned E, A, D, G, B, and E (from lowest to highest pitch)- this is called standard tuning (if you are interested in different tuning styles look here). The range of the six-string guitar is typically from around 82 Hz (E2) at the low e string to 1318 Hz (E7) at the sixth string.
Use and Styles
Guitars with six strings are versatile instruments that can be played in many different ways. They can be strummed, picked, fingerpicked, and played with a variety of techniques such as slides, bends, and hammer-ons. Because of these guitars are so versatile, they can be used for a wide variety of music styles, from rock and pop to country and blues. They are also the most popular choice for beginners as they are easy to learn and play.
Guitars with six strings can be found as acoustic and electric guitars. Acoustic guitars are played without amplification and rely on the sound of the vibrations of the strings resonating through the body of the guitar to produce sound.
The electric guitar, on the other hand, uses pickups to amplify the sound of the strings. This allows them to be played at louder volumes and with a wider range of effects.
2. The Seven-String Guitar
Next, we have the seven-string guitar. This build adds an additional string for the guitar player to use, typically a low B string.
This additional string allows for a wider range of notes to be played and opens up new possibilities for guitarists. So we have the standard EADGBE tuning of the regular guitar with an additional B note as the thickest string.
Use and Styles
The seven-string electric is often used in metal and jazz music, where the extended range compared to a standard guitar can be particularly useful for creating complex chord voicings and playing extended-range soloing. It is also used by some classical guitarists for repertoire that requires a low B.
The seven-string can be found as acoustic and electric guitar, just like the standard guitar. It’s worth noting that playing this kind of guitars can be more challenging, as it requires a different technique and skill set. It’s also important to keep in mind that not all guitar music is suitable for all string configurations and not all guitarists are comfortable with more than the six strings they are used to.
If you are looking for guitars with seven-strings you can find some here, to pick from.
3. The Eight-String Guitar
The eight-string is another variation that adds two strings to the standard guitar, usually a high and low string. This build is not as popular as the guitars mentioned before, and it can be difficult to find musicians who can play it, yet extended range guitars can be used beautifully to create complex chord voicings.
These string instruments have two more strings than regular guitars, adding (to the standard strings tuned E A D G B E) an extra C or an F as the lowest string, their thinnest string being a C or an F#.
Use and Styles
eight-string electric guitars are mostly used in extreme metal and experimental music genres where an extended range is needed.
The eight-string acoustic is used in contemporary classical music, where the extended range can be particularly useful for creating complex chords and playing extended-range solos.
And both the electric guitar and the acoustic can be found in some experimental and avant-garde genres, with the need for extended range guitars, providing a unique sound and opening new possibilities for expression.
Playing an eight-string can be more challenging than a standard guitar, as it requires a different technique. As mentioned before, not all music is suitable for eight-string guitars, and not all guitarists are comfortable with that many strings.
Click here if you are searching for one.
4. The Twelve-String Guitar
Twelve-string guitars are also a less common build that feature six pairs of strings, with each pair tuned to the same note but at different octaves. The twelve strings create a unique sound which is characterized by a rich, full tone.
The tuning of twelve-string guitars is typically the same as of six-string guitars, with the pairs of strings tuned to E A D G B and E, but the addition of the extra strings creates a fuller, more complex sound.
The twelve-string guitars are often used for strumming accompaniment and fingerpicking, where their rich, full sound can provide a lot of depth and texture to the music.
Use and Styles
Guitars with twelve strings are often used in folk and country music and can be found as acoustic and electric guitars. It’s worth noting that twelve-string guitars are not as versatile as guitars with six strings and are only used in some specific genres.
Playing twelve-string guitars can be more challenging than six-string guitars. The additional strings can make it more difficult to form chords and play individual notes, and it’s also important to be careful not to accidentally mute or dampen the higher-pitched strings when playing the lower-pitched strings.
Again, not all music is suitable for a twelve-string guitar playing it. Playing a twelve-string guitar can be challenging due to the increased number of strings, but it can also be very rewarding for those who master it.
The Bass Guitars
Like most string instruments, guitars come in different forms to cover a wider range of the scale. Bass guitars cover (like the name indicates) the bass notes. Like with guitar strings, bass strings are also to be found as nylon strings (for acoustic basses), but metal strings are used more often.
Because its name is often shorted to bass, not everyone would think of it when talking about guitars. So let’s not forget them in here.
The four string bass is the most common type of bass guitar, so you could also call it the standard bass. It features four strings tuned to E, A, D, and G. Next to the four string electric there is also an acoustic version, with a hollow body.
Like acoustic guitars the acoustic basses are designed to be played without amplification. They are often used in folk, bluegrass, and other acoustic styles.
The electric four string bass is used in a wide range of genres, including rock, pop, funk, and jazz.
Five-string bass have the standard E A D G strings with the fifth string being an additional B (below the low E string), providing extended range and depth. Like with the four string version it is available as five string electric and acoustic bass.
It’s commonly used in metal, progressive rock, and jazz.
Six String Basses
This string bass has the same number of strings as common guitars, but in contrast to the most guitars with six strings they are tuned differently. With an added high C string to the BEADG of the five string bass, we talked about before.
Therefore, this bass provides even more range and versatility. It’s often used in jazz, fusion, and progressive rock.
The Fretless Bass Guitar
And last but not least I want to mention bass guitars, that aren’t different because of the number of strings, but because of the missing frets, they can be found with all numbers of strings we talked about.
Instead of frets, this bass has a smooth fingerboard, allowing for a wider range of pitch and more expressive playing. It’s commonly used in jazz, funk, and world music.
Summary – How Many Strings Does a Guitar Have?
So the question that at first seems easy to answer isn’t that easy in the end. How many strings does a guitar have? It varies more than you would think.
The number of strings on a guitar greatly affects its sound and playability. And therefore the style of music you can use it for.
Whether you are a beginner looking for a six-string guitar or a professional musician looking for the extended range of a seven- or eight-string guitar, or a bass player, there is a unique instrument out there for every musician.
So, if you are on the look for a new guitar: take some time to consider your playing style and preferences and then find a guitar build and the number of strings that fit you.