Guitar Part Names

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Everything has an anatomy – a collection of parts that together make the whole. The guitar is no different. There are slight variations in the anatomies of the acoustic guitar and the electric guitar and those differences are shown below. For acoustic guitars, the Parts of the Acoustic Guitar Diagram illustrates the acoustic guitar, and for electric guitars, the Parts of the Electric Guitar Diagram shows us the electric guitar.

Parts of the Acoustic Guitar Diagram

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The headstock is at the head of the guitar. It will typically contain some special finish such as inlay(s) and the guitar’s manufacturer. Here you will find the tuning mechanisms, or tuners for the strings.

The nut is a grooved piece of hard plastic, ivory or other hard material. The strings fit into the grooves and pass from the headstock to the nut and down the neck across the body. In the neck at specific intervals there is a piece of wire that spans the width of the neck. These are the frets and they delineate the notes made by the fingers when pressed against the frets.

The neck is joined at the body, usually with special glue and a dove-tailed joint that is inside the body. The upper end of the body is called the upper bout. Sometimes the upper bout spans both sides of the neck, but some players and manufacturers prefer to cut out the lower upper bout to provide easier access to the upper frets of the neck. Hence the name, cutaway.

The characteristic of acoustic guitars is that they provide their own amplification. That is accomplished through the cutting out of a sound hole. The sounds, or tones, of the guitar pass through the sound hole, bounce around on the inside of the guitar, then exit the sound hole to give you the pretty sounds that you hear when you play. Most manufacturers place a decorative decal or inlay(s) around the sound hole and this is known as the rosette.

Below the sound hole is a piece of hardwood called the bridge. It is typically glued to the top wood of the guitar, normally some type of spruce, cedar or other evergreen. The bridge will bear the stress of the tightened strings, so it must be wide enough to have a wide footprint or placement on top of the guitar.

On top of the bridge is a slot that contains the saddle. The saddle typically made of bone, ivory or a hard plastic and is where the strings pass over before going into the mechanism that mounts or holds the string at the proper tension. The distance between the point where the string crosses the saddle and where it crosses the nut is the length of the string. The length and tension on the string produces a frequency that corresponds to the notes. So you can see that placement of the saddle requires some precision.

Just below the saddle there will be holes drilled into the bridge for each string. The end of the string usually has a nodule around which the string is tied and/or wound tightly. That end of the string goes into its specific hole in the bridge and is secured into place through the use of a peg or tuning pin.

Just as you have the upper bouts, at the bottom of the guitar are the lower bouts. The lower bouts give you the broader, boomier sounds that you hear when you play acoustic guitar. Then, finally, at the very end of the guitar is a region of reinforced wood called the tailstock. The tailstock can usually take a strap button and most will accept an acoustic guitar pickup which allows you to plug the instrument into an amplifier made for acoustic instruments.

Parts of the Electric Guitar Diagram

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The electric guitar bears parts similar to the acoustic guitar with a few exceptions. I will not duplicate those that I covered in the paragraph above. Their location(s) should be obvious to you.

The electric guitar has no sound hole, although some hollow body models act in a similar fashion. It is beyond the scope of this article to discuss those differences. Instead, the electric guitar has pickups. The number of pickups can range from one to as many as four. Typically, if there is more than one, each pickup can be selected individually or in combination.

The whammy bar allows the player to tighten or loosen the full set of strings at the bridge. The volume/tone controls handle the volume and tonality of the sounds of the guitar. The jack lets the player plug the guitar into an electric guitar amplifier.

Well, there you have it! You should know the parts of each type of guitar by heart. The more you know, the more power you have over the guitar. Happy Playing!!!

Coming up next… Guitar Theory, Tuning and Tuna

MegaphoneLike what you see and read? Go to the Leave Comments section and let me know what you think. Don’t like what you see and read? Be sure to leave me a comment or two. I really want to know what you think. I really want to know what you want!


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4 Comments

  1. James

    Hi Mike!
    Great article. There are so many technical terms and theories in music. This is definitely the first step for any guitarist, or aspiring musician,…learning your instrument.
    After you become familiar with it, it really does become so much more enjoyable. Except for changing your strings! That is the one thing after 22 years that I still dread having to do!
    Thanks for the diagrams and explanations of those. Very useful and thorough.

    Reply
    1. Mike (Post author)

      Thank you for the comments, James! Yep, those darned strings. I’m planning on covering that in the near future. It requires a slight modification, but when you just lay the string on the post and tighten, it almost makes you wanna cry! lol

      Mike

      Reply
  2. Kevin

    There are some parts that I didn’t know the names of before. I never heard of headstock, rosette or tailstock. Playing guitar back in college, I knew about most of these terms. I didn’t realize the decoration around the round hole had a name until now. Very descriptive and interesting article.

    Reply
    1. Mike (Post author)

      Thank you, Kevin! You should pick it back up. I sincerely appreciate the feedback! Have a great weekend.

      Mike

      Reply

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