The Parts of the Guitar

There are many different types of guitars: acoustic, electric, classical, acoustic-electric, but generally, they all have some distinguishing parts in common. Let’s take a quick overview of the parts of the acoustic guitar and electric guitar.

Parts of the Acoustic Guitar

Parts of the Acoustic Guitar

Starting at the very right in this picture, we have the headstock. The headstock holds all the tuners. Each of the strings wrap around the tuning pegs of the tuners and rest on the string grooves of the nut (plastic or bone) on the guitar as they are laid out across the fretboard. From this angle, we only see the fretboard. The fretboard lays on top of the neck of the guitar. On some guitars, the wood for the fretboard will be different than the neck.

The frets are the “bumps” or bars that lay perpendicularly across the fretboard. Sometimes the frets will be to long on the fretboard so you might feel the frets poke or rub your hands in an uncomfortable way as you move your hands up and down the neck of the guitar. Luthiers, people who make guitars or work on guitars, can fix this problem by filing down your frets.

At the body of the guitar, we have the sound hole, which allows the sound to be amplified and project out of the guitar. The strings go over the sound hole and then meet at the bridge. On the bridge, we have the saddle, which is similar to the nut in that it has grooves for the strings to rest on. When a string is plucked on the guitar, the vibrations of the string vibrate through the saddle and bridge and then vibrate the top of the guitar or the soundboard (not labeled in photo).

The height between the strings and the fretboard refers to the action of the guitar. Guitars that have strings that are high off the fretboard are said to have a high action. Guitars that have strings that lay closer to the fretboard are said to have a low action. Typically, guitars that have a low action are easier to play because the strings are easier to press down on to the frets since they are closer to the fretboard. However, low action might also give you more string or fret buzz. Guitar players who tend to strum harder (e.g. bluegrass players) might raise their action to prevent any string buzz. A lot of fret buzz can also depend on your finger position on the frets.

Parts of the Electric Guitar

Parts of the Electric Guitar

You’ll notice the parts of an electric guitar are very similar to those of an acoustic guitar. The only real differences are the pickups that capture the sound of the strings vibrating. This captured sound then comes out of the output jack into an amp or effects unit. The volume and tone controls will control the volume of individual pickups. Usually the pickup closest to the neck will have a more darker and warmer sound while the pickup closest to the bridge will have a brighter sound. The tone controls will also control how bright or dark the tone will sound. Some songs might require a more brighter sound than other songs. You just have to experiment with these controls.

This is just a quick overview of the parts of the guitar, but it should give you a good idea and equip you to sound like you at least know half-way what you’re talking about when you talk to other guitar players!

About Brett McQueen

Brett McQueen is a musician, songwriter, and the founder and editor of Guitar Friendly and Ukulele Tricks. Learn more about him here and follow him on Twitter at @GuitarFriendly.