Everything You Need to Know About All the Parts of a Guitar

Everything You Need to Know About All the Parts of a Guitar

For starters, music has always been a realm of sophistication with its unique language. But the thing is, once you grasp a general knowledge, then it will become a child’s play. 

Take guitar for example, a tailpiece or a strap button may sound strange to you during your first moment of touching a guitar. So you must be looking for a guide, which should be as simple as possible, and here it is. 🙂

1. Head-Stock

At the top of the guitar you will find the headstock. The headstock is at the end of the strings, where you can tune your guitar. A headstock is the part of a guitar that helps anchor the guitar strings at the top end of the guitar. The headstock is the term which describes the part of the guitar that holds the tuning machine nuts (which are used to adjust the pitch of the guitar strings), Nut and Trust Rod.

The headstock plays a vital role in how the guitar functions. The main function of a headstock is to provide stability. It is a solid foundation for firmly holding the pegs under a high amount of tension at the top end of the guitar.

There are many different types of headstocks all serve a slightly different purpose. You can read a post i wrote which talk about all three main types of a headstocks.

If you want to learn about the head stock in great detail then please check my post i wrote about everything you need to know about head stocks.

2. Tuning Machine Heads

Also known as being TUNERS/ TUNING PEGS/ MACHINE HEADS.

Your guitar is tuned from a device that is mounted on the head-stock. This device has  many names based on its look and function. It is made up of many parts that make the function properly.

Even though the tuning machine is very small, it is also very complicated in its design. Below, I have covered this topic in grave detail so be sure to check out more of my articles on this topic.

  1. What Is A Tuning Machine Nut On A Guitar?
  2. What are the tuning knobs of a guitar called?
  3. All The Different parts on a tuning machine
  4. the different types of Tuning Machine Nuts
  5. Why is my tuning machine head coming loose?
  6. 10 Common problems with a guitar tuning nut
  7. How To Choose Replacement Tuners For My Guitar?
  8. What Are The Best Guitar Tuning Pegs?

Overall, the flat, so-called ‘key’ part is attached to a peg, wound by the string. The pitch can be adjusted by loosening or tightening the strings, which leads to changing the tension of the strings.  

3. String Trees

The string trees are the component that fix onto the headstock and apply a downward pressure on the strings.

This is an essential component for guitar with a flat head stock such as the fender design.

You can learn more about string tree here…

4. BODY

Women have their curves, and guitars do. The body, I presume, could be illustrated as the curvy bits of a guitar, which will “lie” upon your body when you play, and stay behind the strings when being strummed. A hollow body is quite well-known for acoustic guitars, and on electric ones, it can be hollow, semi-hollow or solid. 

The larger the body the more bass the sound will have. You can use the body as a percussive instrument to enrich your acoustic performance; tap your hand on the wood or your pick on the pick board in beat with the music to get the audience clapping along. 

5. NECK

We cannot call a guitar a real guitar without its neck, which is a long thin piece of wood that need gripping with your left hand (or the other one for the left-handed individuals) and function as a basement for strings to be pressed down. 

6. FINGERBOARD / FRETBOARD

Lie upon the neck is the fingerboard. It is directly underneath the strings. In order to get certain and precise notes, the board is shaped and marked so that strings can be depressed at certain points. 

7. FRETS

Frets are the raised bits of wire that can be observed along the fretboard’s width. Generally they allows strings to be ‘shortened’ by pressing down behind them. The lengths will decide the exact half notes. 

It allows the player to find the exact note easier without having to memorise the exact position as fretless instruments such as a violin. Some guitars are fretless and many guitarists especially jazz players prefer a fretless neck. If you want to see what a fretless neck looks like, just think of a violin and cello. Frets help with precision; fretless necks enable the player to play with the tones a lot more.

8. INLAYS

The inlays are ornamental markers set into the fretboard. And we all know a guitar is a piece of art, so the decoration may be simple as dots indicating 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 12th or artistic depends on the its owner’s taste. 

9. TUNERS/ TUNING PEGS/ MACHINE HEADS

On the headstock, there are bits which can be twisted to tune your guitar. The flat, so-called ‘key’ part is attached to a peg, wound by the string. The pitch can be adjusted by loosening or tightening the strings, which leads to changing the tension of them. 

10. THE NUT

At the point that the neck joins the headstock, the strings run through a slotted piece of wood, plastic or sometimes other materials. This is called the nut.

The nut is designed to differentiate the playable part of string (the bit that vibrates when strummed) ends. (or start, in some cases you wanna play it like Walk Off the Earth :D)

Some of them are made of plastic, if it’s a handmade traditional guitar the tuners and tuning nuts may be made of wood. The most common material is metal for most guitars (steel strings) in the medium price point. Be careful not to knock the tuners and nuts when you are moving around as it will detune your guitar.

These are very commonly overlooked parts of the guitar. Without a well maintained and clean nut the strings may not sit properly. When you change your strings make sure you take a soft toothbrush and gently clean out the groove where the guitar sits. Your nut should last a life time if you take care of it.

11. STRAP BUTTONS

Located on your right hand side, this metal piece is design to attach a strap to. That’s all, literally 😀

12. BRIDGE

To support the string is the mission of the bridge as they travel over the guitar body. The vibrations of the string into the body will be transferred via the bridge as intermediary, or amplified in case of an acoustic guitar. 

About electric guitar, with adjustable bridge height, the distance between the strings and the fingerboard will in turn be changed, known as the playing action.  

When changing your strings, have a quick look at the bridge to make sure it’s not damaged and give it a quick clean with a soft toothbrush. 

13. SADDLES

Saddles are the opposite of the nut which will define the playable part of a string ends. On an electric guitar, it’s common for these to be individual to each string in order for them to be adjustable solely if needed. 

The saddle tends to be a single, notched piece of material on an acoustic guitar, very similar to a nut. 

The maintenance for saddles is similar to that of the nut. 

14. TAILPIECE

The strings need to be anchored at both ends, otherwise they’d just sort of flop around. At the headstock, the strings are secured on the tuners.

On electric guitars, strings can be secured by running them through the body, like Fender’s, on the bridge, or on Gibson 

Tune-o-matic style bridges, via a tailpiece, sitting behind the bridge. 

15. PICKUPS

Usually appear on electric or electro-acoustic guitar, it ‘hears’ the vibration of the strings, so as to be amplified. 

Typical electric guitar pickups are electromagnetic. Having coils of wire and magnets at their core, when the strings vibrate above, it disturbs the magnetic field in the pickup then transferred as an electrical signal to an amplifier. 

Other than that, acoustic guitar magnetic pickups instead, but microphone style, sound-hole pickups (briefly it works as a mini microphone inside the guitar) and the so-called piezo style pickups (attached physically under the guitar saddle, or to the body and pickup vibrations) are also common. 

16. PICKUP SELECTOR SWITCH

Unlike acoustic guitar, electric ones usually have more than a single pickup. Because the strings have a different tone at different positions, so multiple pickups can allow for different tones. In addition, different pickup types have different tones as well. In order to swap between those, a selector switch should be allowed. 

17. VOLUME  AND TONE CONTROLS

These are designed in the form of knobs on a guitar body, near the pickups. There also various wiring configurations (separate controls or not, for example), but put simply. Volume knobs control the level of signal coming from the pickups, and tone controls adjust how bright that signal is. 

18. JACK SOCKET / JACK CABLE

This is where you plug a guitar lead into.

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