So I am a super noob to guitar. I play piano mostly. I recently restrung my dad's old classical guitar (nylon string). I am looking at the tabs for a song and the strings are going like "E-B-G-D-A-E" like what is that ? I thought it was E-A-D-G-B-E ?! so confused this is the link btw. Thank you ! http://www.guitaretab.com/j/jung-yong-hwa-of-cn-blue/300154.html

  • 1
    You are looking at the note names of the strings in both forward and reverse order. 1 through 6, and 6 through 1.
    – user1044
    Dec 5, 2012 at 4:46
  • Imagine: you're holding a guitar playing and you want to look at the strings to make sure your fingers are in the right spot. From this angle the high e is on the top with b under it (second from the top).
    – WSkid
    Dec 5, 2012 at 5:46

4 Answers 4


When you hold a guitar the fretboard looks like that:

Guitar fretboard from guitarist's point of view

The thickest string at the bottom and the thinnest at the top. Some people prefer to represent chord diagrams in this way, other people prefer to represent chords as they can see the fretboard in a mirror on the wall. It is only a personal preference.

  • Just to be clear : Thickest string nearest ceiling (or your chin), thinnest nearest floor.. bit confusing to call the one nearest the floor the "top" one, but it kind of feels that way when you hold the guitar Oct 1, 2014 at 8:57

Another way to remember which side is up on a tab staff: just like on a normal staff the higher notes are on top.


In tab notation the most thin string on guitar (also called the 1st string - in the standard tunning this is the E-first string) is presented on top line and then next strings down to the 6th string - also E in standard tunning on the bottom.

Sometimes you can find different note names next to the tabulature lines, and that means tabulature is written for non standard tuning. The so called DAGDAD tuning is quite popular, and you can work it out yourself :) which strings should be tuned to which pitch.

  • Might be an established practice in some circles, but in others, like rock music, it's a very unusual ordering. Can you specify in which kind of tabs you see this happening all the time?
    – ZJR
    Aug 19, 2016 at 12:40

Try playing Spanish or Italian baroque tabs. They put the highest string on the bottom, as though you were looking at the strings in a mirror. French tabs of the same period are more like modern tab, with the highest string in the top. Switching from one to the other is a bear! But I would guess that modern tab just puts the highest string at the top as a way to imitate regular notation. It's easy to get used to -- higher notes are higher on the staff.

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