Fingers, Frets, and Strings

Before you can dive in to playing the guitar you should understand how your fingers, the guitar strings, and the guitar frets are numbered. These may seem like simple topics, but it is important for you to know which finger to put on which fret. Let’s get started


When I talk about finger numbers I am talking about the fingers on your left hand if you are right handed and the fingers on your right hand if you are left handed. Your index finger will be called your 1st finger, your middle finger will be called your 2nd finger, your ring finger will be called your 3rd finger and your pinky will be called your 4th finger.

Next is the numbering system for the strings of the guitar. This is the opposite of what you might think. Most people think that the thickest string is the first string. It’s exactly the opposite. The thinnest string is the first string. The second string, third, fourth, fifth, sixth follow from there. That’s not really hard. You’re just going to want to be aware that the thinnest string is the first string, and the thickest string is the sixth string.

Frets are the metal strips that are mounted on the fretboard of the guitar. The fret closest to the headstock of the guitar is the 1st fret. If you put your finger right behind this fret you would be playing on the 1st fret of the guitar. Move a finger up one fret to play the 2nd fret and so on. Make sure you know how to number your fingers and frets before moving on to the next guitar lesson in the Beginner Guitar Quick-Start Series where you will learn the parts of the guitar.

This Lesson Has 16 Comments

  • Tony says:

    Just an FYI according to the diagram it looks as if the the 1st string is the fattest string and the 6th string is the thinnest. Thats how I read the diagram. It even shows the string being thicker (bold) as string number 1.

  • Julia R says:

    My finger keeps touching neighboring strings on the fret board which makes then have this kind of buzz sound

    • John says:

      One has to REALLY arch yer fingers to ensure neighbouring strings aren’t simultaneousely contacted.
      Yes, you’re right IT IS hard.


  • Carlos Bautista says:

    Umm Hey Nate …do u have a vid that teaches all chords??

  • Sierra says:

    Hey Nate! In this video, you said that the first string is the one furthest away from you. I am left handed, so does that mean I need a left handed guitar?

    • Nate Savage says:

      Hey Sierra, Left handed people sometimes play right handed guitars. It really depends on what works for you. I would try playing a right handed guitar and try playing a lefty too. See which one feels more natural for you. :)

  • Sierra says:

    Thanks Nate! haha my right handed friend was trying to help me and just got really confused, so I decided to try your site. it has been really helpful! thanks again!

  • Abhay dhiman says:

    Nate thxx I’ m continuously watching ur lesson for further I ‘ ll be asking u and once again thxx bro

  • felicia bell says:

    Hi Nate,
    Call me crazy but I recently saw a show on Nile Rodgers, and all of a sudden I want to play the guitar I’ve ran across your website which looks great…I am left-handed as far a writing goes but I feel weird trying to Fret with my left hand while fooling around with a friend’s guitar but when I purchased my first guitar I’m going to giveit a shot again

  • JLo says:

    FYI; Audio works but no Video on lesson 3

    Thanks for the free lessons!

    • Nate Savage says:

      Hey JLo, What internet browser are you using? Sometimes un-updated IE can be troublesome for newer video tech.

  • dhang says:

    im about to start to learn how to play using your video.. thank you so much.. I really hope I will learn fast..

  • Izzy says:

    Hi Nate,
    I’m a student and am using the school’s guitar during music class. It’s really hard for me to push down the strings all the way (I am using a nylon string) and the sound is really twangy.


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