I am translating a guitar part into lilypond. The string numbers (the ones that show up inside a circle) are showing up on top of the staff.

what it looks like in lilypond

Is it possible to force lilypond to write them under the staff.... or next to the note head?

what I am aiming for

2 Answers 2


In order to place the string numbers below the notes use

\set stringNumberOrientations = #'(down)

See String number indications in the Lilypond Notation Reference.

It's also possible to set the number to the right or left of a note. For more information, see Fingering instructions, specifically the fingeringOrientations property.


If you want to get the string numbers to the right of the note heads use \set stringNumberOrientations = #'(right). This only works for notes in a chord event though, so instead of doing a2\0 you’d need to do <a\0>2.

Side note: Your excerpt strongly looks like Tárrega’s Recuerdos de la Alhambra, am I correct? I did type this thing into LilyPond some time ago (although it is missing some cleaning and formatting) because I prepared some notes for playing this on electric bass: https://petzel.at/TARREGA.pdf

  • I am considering (not seriously yet.... but the thought has crossed my mind, at least) to sit down to hack lilypond to have a classical guitar mode so not to have to write so many quirks to get what we want.... well, I am not there yet in terms of getting what I want but still.
    – eftshift0
    Commented Aug 15, 2022 at 19:06
  • @eftshift0 Will clean it up and provide the ly source the next days. I’m just very busy with work currently.
    – Lazy
    Commented Aug 16, 2022 at 21:08

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