Learn about all the parts of a guitar. Its important for serious guitar students to know more about guitars and how it makes music. Knowing the various parts of a guitar and their various function will help you fix glitches and get the best possible sound from your guitar. Take a look at the individual parts of a guitar and their functions. Also find guitar parts diagram and videos with clear breakdown of both acoustic and electric guitars.
Table of Contents
Parts of the Guitar
There are so many different kinds of guitar like classical, electrical etc, each having a different construction and components. However, there are some parts that are common amongst most of the guitars. To know to play a guitar or even to understand it well, it is important that you know its basic parts.
A guitar is a stringed (generally 6) instrument that is played with fingers or a pick. It consists of a body and a neck, to which the strings are attached. Now, let us look at some of the important parts of the guitar in detail.
The neck holds the strings, tuners, nut, frets and fretboard. The neck is where you play all the notes (by fingering, tapping and other ways). The design of the neck has an impact on the play-ability of the guitar.
The neck of the guitar is usually either bolted or glued to its body. The neck part consists of frets, truss road, tuners, fret board and headstock which are all fastened to a long extension made of wood. Usually the wood on the neck and the fret board are always different from each other. You can determine the quality of the guitars quality by checking its firmness or stiffness.
The neck region of the guitar consists of the following parts:
Headstock / Head
The headstock is located at the neck end of the guitar which is farthest from the body. It holds the tuning gears that the strings are attached to. The tuning gears, or tuning pegs as we alternatively call it, is used for tuning the guitar. The design of the head determines the placement and design of the tuners also.
You will find the nut at the joint where the headstock meets the fretboard. The nut holds the strings in place on the neck.
It is a small strip made up of plastic, steel, brass, fossilized mammoth bone or other hard metals (bone is better). The nut is important for tuning of the guitar. It must be cut accurately; else it contributes to tuning problems due to string slippage or buzz.
You will find the fretboard is usually made of rosewood and is glued to the neck of the guitar. Fretboard is a piece of wood which has many frets embedded in it and is also called as fingerboard. It is on the top of the neck of the guitar. In classical guitars, the fretboard is flat, whereas in acoustic and electrical guitars, the fretboard is slightly curved.
Frets are metal strips, made of either nickel alloy or steel placed on the fretboard. It is placed in such a way that it divides the scale length on the basis of a specific mathematical formula. Standard guitars have 19 frets while the electric guitar has 21 – 24 frets. The frets determine the tone, when you press the strings to the fingerboard between the frets or pluck or strum it, you get a tone.
All guitars have strings. Most guitars have 6 strings, but some have more. The more strings the more sonic possibilities. More expensive guitars use better wood and its top quality craftsmanship make a lot of difference to the sound quality.
You will find guitars with various numbers of strings, four, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven etc but a standard guitar has six strings. Modern guitars use strings made of metal, polymers or plant and animal product materials.
Be it any type of guitar, the resonance of the wood structure of the body affects the sound produced by the guitar.
The body of an acoustic guitar consists of :
The upper bout is the upper part where the neck connects to body and it also includes the sound hole. At times, due to the large body of the guitar, it becomes difficult to use any frets above the 12th but if the guitar has a cutaway, it gives an easy access to the frets.
The sound hole is where all your sounds come out from.
The lower bout is where the sound and the depth of the sound is generated. You will find that they come in different sizes as per the type of guitar.
The body of the guitar usually made of tonewoods such as spruce and red cedar in an acoustic guitar determines its overall sound quality. However, in an electric guitar, the body is made of maple, basswood, ash, poplar and mahogany etc.
In an acoustic guitar, the bridge enables the transfer of vibration from the strings to the sound board causing a vibration inside the soundboard thus amplifying the sound produced by the strings. The bridge holds the strings in place on the body of the guitar.
The way the bridge is attached, affects the sustain (how long the notes sound) and sound quality of the guitar.
Pickups help in amplifying the sound. Most guitars have at-least one and maximum of 3 pickups.
To make the sound of the guitar louder, acoustic guitar has a resonance chamber and the electric guitar has pickups.
Electric Guitar Parts
Acoustic and Electric may look very similar; for instance, they all have neck, frets, 6-strings, but they have some small differences too.
- The shape/design of the head-stock may differ (an electric may have all the tuning pegs on one side).
- An electric guitar has picks (one, two or more) that produces the sound (sound on an acoustic is generated from the sound-hole).
- An electric guitar also has volume and tone control, a selector switch (to choose which pickup you want to use).
- Then there’s something called the whammy bar, which lowers or raises the pitches of the strings (sort of a wow thing).
- Then there’s a jack for the guitar cord to connect to an amplifier
Beginning Guitar Lesson: Videos Showing the Various Guitar Parts
It all begins with the first guitar that you buy! You just want to lock yourself in your bedroom for days, and learn the songs of your favorite singers/bands.
That’s how most get started. So its a good idea to keep handy all the material that will help you learn basic guitar chords, strumming, basic scales, plucking, basic chord pattern songs. It also helps to know about guitar-tuning and things like taking care of your guitar.
The point is that you need to have easy access to guitar lessons, so that you can devour them when you’re ready to put in the efforts. Of course, that doesn’t mean you just do a crash course for 2 months and then don’t practice at all for the rest of your life. You have to keep on practicing but you could grasp a lot in the first 2 months (if you’ve time on your hand).
You can understand the basics of the guitar and learn to play the guitar using videos.
Here’s another video showing the various guitar parts:
There are also several free software/lessons available online that can be accessed using just your guitar and a computer/smartphone that can help further your guitar learning.
There are many adults who take music lessons as a pre-teen, learn to play and read music, but then stop practicing as they get older (happens with almost everybody). So if you are keen to get started again, this video (Guitar Parts – Learning Guitar for Beginners) is a great help.
To learn about the guitar, understanding its parts is very important. Every guitar, be it acoustic or electric have more or less the same parts except a few variations here and there. The guitar can be largely divided into the neck portion and the body portion for easy understanding. Apart from the ones mentioned above, there are other parts like, pickguard, saddle, whammy bar, guitar strap etc.