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The Parts of a Guitar

Guitars can be classified into 2 main categories, acoustic and electric. While you play them in similar ways, the style of their composition is quite different. Below is a guitar diagram that details some of the parts on both.

The Parts of a Guitar

1. The Headstock

The focal point of the tuning system, headstocks come in two distinctive designs. The square headstock has three tuners on either side, whilst Fender style instruments have all six tuners on the left.

2. Tuner

There are six tuners—one for each string. They are used in guitar tuning to tune strings to their proper pitch. Each tuner consists of a nut and cog to tighten or slacken the string. Also known as machine heads.

3. Nut

The nut keeps the strings in position as they leave the head, by way of six small grooves. If you own an expensive guitar the nut will probably be made of ivory. If you’re a conservationist or just an economist it’ll be plastic.

4. Frets

Frets are wire inserts which mark the points on the neck where you pass each string to make different notes. They are normally made of nickel alloy, hammered home.

5. Fretboard

Generally made of rosewood, the fretboard is glued to the neck. It’s usually decorated with tortoise shell or plastic inlays which help you to see where you are on the fretboard.

6. Strings

The strings are the lifeblood of the instrument, and a poor or worn set can make even the most talented player sound bad. Generally constructed from alloy, strings very in thickness from the bottom (the thickest) to the top (thinnest). The three bass strings are wound to give them depth, whilst their skinny counterparts are simply tensioned alloy wire. Strings are measured by gauge—the lower the number, the thinner the string. It’s important to select a set suitable for your guitar, whether electric or acoustic. The two aren’t generally interchangeable.

7. Pick Guard

Located next to the sound hole (on acoustic guitars) or pick-ups (on electric guitars) the pickguard protects the main body of the instrument from pectrum scratches and finger marks.

8. Soundboard

The acoustic guitar soundboard is the top piece of wood on the main body. The sound hole is cut into it.

9. Pick-Ups

Pick-ups transmit the string sound from the guitar to the amplifier by way of an electric lead. In reality, pick-ups are no more than miniature Microphones. You can in fact talk into a guitar pick-up and your voice will be broadcast through the amp.

10. Bridge

Acoustic and electric guitar bridges come in all shapes and sizes, but their purpose is the same. They adjust the pitch, harmonics and string height. The classic set-up is the retaining tailpiece, and individual bridge, which is adjustable on electric models as you can see below in the guitar diagram. Modern acoustic and many electric guitars have a one-piece bridge set-up, which eliminates the separate tailpiece. The bridge on a acoustic guitar is slightly offset to achieve perfect harmonics, whilst the electric counterpart has a series of independent mechanisms, one for each string. These are adjusted with a small screwdriver, until the pitch is correct.

11. Volume And Tone Control

Once your guitar is plugged in, and you have turned your amp on, you will be able to adjust volume and tone by the collection of knobs generally positioned to the right side of the bridge.