If your just learning how to play, it is very helpful to know the guitar part names and what they do.
Each part is referenced in the learning process and so knowing their names and functions can be helpful.
If you are an experienced player and are not sure what some of the parts are called, we hope this article and the diagrams are helpful.
Not only will it help to communicate with other players, but it may help you in further development.
It will also be helpful when it comes to purchasing new guitars, or upgrading parts on guitars you already own!
There are also some differences between the acoustic and electric guitar that are important to know.
This can potentially make part shopping a better experience and help you get the best quality parts available for your hard earned dollars.
Main Guitar Part Names
There are many guitars on the market today that have different shapes and sizes.
But even though there are so many different shapes, they all share many of the same parts.
There are three main parts of the guitar however that are fundamental and every player should know these guitar part names.
- The guitar head, also known as the headstock.
- The guitar neck.
- The guitar body.
These are the parts that create the look, the integrity, the sound and so much more.
Every other part on the guitar will live on one of these parts and so they are very important to know as a guitarist.
We will look into these parts in more detail in this article, but take some time to get to know and recognize these parts.
Especially if they are not familiar to you at this point in time.
The guitar consists of many important parts, but when it comes to the body, this is where most of these parts live.
The body is normally made from wood but you will find fiberglass and other materials depending on the manufacturer.
An acoustic guitar and solid body electric guitar differs a considerable amount and is worth exploring.
Acoustic Guitar Body
The acoustic body is where many things happen.
Firstly, it isn’t a solid piece of wood like a solid body electric guitar. The acoustic body is assembled with different pieces to form the body.
The top, sides and back are assembled together with glue in special jigs.
Inside the acoustic guitar body you will normally find bracing to form a strong body that can hold under the stress of the string tension as well as external forces.
The bracing has to be installed correctly to allow the body to resonate correctly to produce good bass and volume.
So a manufacturer has to be strategic about how they brace the acoustic guitar body.
Yamaha has created a page on their website going into detail on how they assemble their acoustic bodies here.
Ultimately the acoustic guitar body is where the sound of the guitar comes from. The hole in the middle is a sound hole which projects the sound when the strings are strummed.
And so the body is a very important part on an acoustic guitar.
Electric Guitar Body
The electric guitar body is quite a bit different. The body is normally a solid piece of wood that is milled to hold your pick-ups and other parts.
Again, this is where your parts live.
However, on an electric guitar the body doesn’t project sound like an acoustic or hollow body guitar.
Some people believe that the electric guitar body has no effect on tone. But that simply isn’t true!
The different types of wood used to create an electric guitar body vibrate differently with the frequency produced by the strings.
This does have an effect on your sound. Even though the pick-ups do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to the sound produced by an electric.
There are many different types of acoustic guitar bodies from hollow to semi-hollow to solid.
There are also many different types of wood that affect the sound and feel of a guitar. Whether its an acoustic or electric, the material used will affect how it sounds.
The Body is a very important part of any guitar and is one of the guitar part names you should know.
Especially when it comes to buying the guitar that will best fit you as a player.
For example, an acoustic guitar with steel strings can be purchased with and without a cutaway.
This cutaway in the body is desired by some players and not so much by others.
It would be a shame to buy an amazing and expensive acoustic without a body cutaway only to realize you are a player who would prefer it!
And so understanding some of these small details are very important.
And to be honest, most players do not know what a body cutaway really is and its benefit of accessing the upper frets.
It may not be a part, but it is an important name and feature!
As you can see in the diagram below, the cut away is a rather big deal and a name that should be remembered.
One day when your buying a guitar, the guy in the music store may ask if you prefer a cut away or not.
Guitar Bridge – A Complex Part
The bridge on an acoustic is very different from that of a solid body electric.
Your bridge on an acoustic guitar plays a big role in not only anchoring the strings, but also transferring their energy when played into the body.
This helps amplify the sound through the body which produces its range in volume and sound.
The strings are usually anchored with bridge pins that press into the bridge and keep the strings tight and secure.
On an electric guitar, the role is similar. The bridge supports the strings on the body side of the guitar, and transfers vibration into the body.
However, while this vibration contributes to the sound of the solid body to a degree, it doesn’t play as large a role like on an acoustic.
The materials for the bridge on an acoustic guitar is normally made out of wood, while on the electric guitars its going to be metal as seen in the diagram below.
When it comes to the bridge on an electric guitar, this also opens up another guitar part name category called the whammy bar.
This one many people have heard of, but most don’t understand how it works.
Whammy Bar and Or Tremolo Arm
There are many different types of bridges available for the electric guitar.
This is absolutely one of the guitar part names you should know and understand.
The more common type of bridge is a fixed bridge which doesn’t allow for a whammy or tremolo bar.
A bridge that allows for a whammy bar or tremolo arm will allow you to change the pitch of the strings by simply using the leverage of the bar.
As you can see in the diagram above, the arm on the bridge of the electric guitar will allow you to lessen tension on the strings when pushed forward.
This type of bar is a tremolo arm and will only allow you to lower the pitch of the strings.
A Floyd Rose bridge on the other hand is a floating bridge that allows you to lessen tension but also tighten tension.
This can really change the pitch of your strings in some incredible ways very quickly.
The saddle on any guitar determines where the playable string ends and normally sets intonation and string length.
On an acoustic guitar, the saddle is normally a thin piece of bone, plastic or tusq.
In some cases the saddle on an acoustic is also compensated for intonation purposes.
On an electric guitar the saddle is quite a bit different.
The saddle will normally be individual to each string allowing the intonation to be set according to the requirement of each string.
The guitar neck is another part that does some heavy lifting and is home to other important parts. This is where you will find that there are many different size necks and profiles!
Finding the right one for you will change your experience with the guitar.
Knowing these guitar part names will be a long term benefit!
The neck is normally made of wood and connects to the body of the guitar with either bolts or glue and joints.
The type of wood and grain direction that the neck is made from can have an effect on your guitar sound.
There are a few different parts of the neck that are important to know as you will see and some of the guitar part names you should know!
The fingerboard is also known as the fretboard on fretted guitars. This is a very important part of any stringed instrument and is a part you should know on the guitar.
It is a thin long strip of material, normally wood that is laminated to the front of the neck.
The strings then run along the fingerboard where depending on where you press down on them will change their sound.
The Fingerboard when made from wood, is normally made from maple or rosewood.
But some companies have been using different materials like richlite which is very durable and is easier on the environment!
Your fingerboard also contributes to your sound and so the material used will also play a role to some degree.
Frets are the strips of metal that span the fingerboard from one end to the other. The frets role is to shorten the string when the player presses the string against them.
Your are essentially raising the pitch of the resulting note by a half-step or semitone.
The frets are placed on the neck strategically to get the exact note that you want to play.
If a fret is put onto the neck incorrectly, the intonation would be incorrect and the note would not be accurate. See the diagram below for reference.
On a guitar with no frets (fret less instrument) you have to learn exactly where to press on the fret-less fingerboard to get the note to sound right.
On a guitar with frets, you don’t need to find the exact spot of a note when playing as the fret takes care of it for you.
Check out our article on frets and a more in depth look at them.
Inlays are decorative elements on a guitar that are set in to the wood. Inlays are used to mark fret positions on a finger board, and are also used for decoration.
The type of design of inlays varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and can be many things.
Dots are most common but some manufacturers get real creative like on a Epiphone Les Paul Standard for example.
You will also find inlays around the sound hole on an acoustic guitar, as well as many other places. the headstock of most guitars may have inlays around the manufacturers logo.
But its also common to find inlays on the back of the neck which is called a stringer. A stringer serves to fill in the gap where the truss rod is installed in the neck.
Inlays are made of different materials from plastic, pearl, ivory, exotic woods and sometimes just paint.
Depending on the cost of the guitar, the inlays will be a nicer material.
At the very end of your neck you will find what is called the headstock. The headstock is another important part of the guitar where many other parts live.
The headstock on some guitars might be a different type of wood then the neck. This is done with special wood joints depending on the value of the guitar.
Because the strings are directly connected to the headstock, care is taken to ensure it is made strong.
Last thing you want is the headstock to break off due to the string tension!
Lets look at some of the parts you will find on the headstock in the diagram below as these are some guitar part names you need to know.
The tuners, or machine heads (another important guitar part name), are used to tune the strings on the guitar.
They are mechanical assemblies that allow you to turn a shaft to tighten or loosen the strings as required. There are different types of tuners depending on the guitar.
Some are made from die cast metal, some are made of brass and have different configurations.
The type of machine heads you find on a steel string guitar for example are very different from what you find on a nylon string guitar.
Your tuners are very important parts of your guitar and learning to use them to tune is critical to playing the guitar.
Even just learning how to properly change the strings is important as it is possible to wind too much string around a machine head.
Some guitars have different types of bridges that bend the strings. As a result some guitars are loaded with what are called “locking” tuners.
These prevent the string from going out of tune when you bend the strings.
Tuners are very dynamic and you will need to know how to use them to tune your guitar. Don’t be afraid to use your tuners!
Lets take a look at this video to get an idea of how to use your tuners to tune your guitar. This is very important to know if you are a beginner!
The nut on your guitar is the thin piece of material that your strings run through at the end of the neck right before the headstock.
This nut is a very important part of the guitar and can make a poor playing experience if not done right. The nut controls the spacing of the strings.
The distance from the edge of the fingerboard to the first fret and the height above the first fret.
Nuts are made from a variety of different materials including, plastic, bone, ivory, graphite and ebony.
Some materials are better then others but all work well as selected by the builder.
Nuts are selected based on the value of the guitar in some cases and so a cheaper material might be used.
The nut has an effect on your sound as it connects to the wooden neck of the guitar and resonates through it.
A worn out nut can usually create fret buzz issues as well as tuning problems and even strings slipping out of the nut!
With older guitars, it is always recommended that your nut be inspected and replaced if worn out.
A guitar part this simple can have a large effect on a whether you have a good experience or a bad one!
Truss Rod Cover
If you have ever wondered what that little plastic cover does on your headstock, wonder no more.
Underneath that cover is your truss rod adjustment point. Your truss rod helps assist your neck with the stress of the string tension it is always under.
The neck has a certain curve to it that we want to maintain for great action and playability.
Your truss rod maintains this curve so that you can have abetter playing experience. But just be warned, if you do not know how to adjust this truss rod, its best to leave it to the pros!
As mentioned above, the truss rod plays a rather large role in the curve of your neck.
This rod runs through the neck from one end to the other and helps the neck deal with the tension of the strings.
Without this rod the neck would bow so badly the strings would not be playable until eventually the neck would warp or break.
When the rod is adjusted correctly, the neck will have a bow to it that keeps the strings comfortable to play.
This is called the string action. If you have to press down hard on the strings to play them, this would normally mean the truss rod needs an adjustment.
The truss rod also prevents the strings from vibrating against the frets (fret buzz) and plays a role with the guitars intonation.
Adjustment of the truss rod is a delicate process and should only be done once you understand the procedure or by a professional.
If done incorrectly, you could damage your guitar beyond repair. Remember this guitar part, but just be careful as to how quick you dive in and adjust it!
Guitar Electronics With Diagram
The electric guitar was a revolutionary design. This innovation changed the way music was created and appreciated.
The pick-ups and controls provide so much versatility that we must take a deep look at these parts. They are guitar part names you really need to know!
There are many different guitar pick-ups available today. From single coil pick-ups to humbucker pick-ups, they are a huge contributor to your tone!
There are many companies that are producing some state of the art technology in pick-ups.
But today we are going to look at a few of the more common types that are known throughout history.
So what is a pick-up and how does it work?
A pick-up is a transducer. This is a device that converts one type of energy into another.
In the case of a guitar pick-up, we are translating the string vibration into an electrical signal you can run into an amplifier.
There are magnets that create a magnetic field around the pick-ups. When you strike a string, the magnetic field responds to the vibration of the string.
Next, you have wire wrapped around the magnets.
When the magnetic field reacts to the vibrating string, a signal is produced in the wire and is sent out to an amplifier from the output jack where we can amplify the signal created by the pick-up.
Its a wonderful thing!
There are many different types of pick-ups as i mentioned earlier, both for acoustic and solid body electric.
So selecting the right type of pick-ups will provide you the type of sound you are going for. Whether its a country type sound or a Metal tone, your pick-ups will get you there!
Pick-up Selector Switch
If you have more than one pick-up on your guitar, then normally you will have a selector switch.
This switch is used to either combine the pick-up sounds all together or select only one for a certain sound your going for.
The strings produce different sounds at different points, the pick-ups placed at different points capture these different sounds.
The selector switch gives you different sound options on the fly! Because guitar players love options as much as we do, this switch is a wonderful addition to any guitar!
Some selector switches have 5 different positions! That’s right, you heard me correctly, 5 positions!
And every single position is wonderful use-able tone! If you have ever played a stratocaster, you know what i mean.
But normally your options will consist of a bridge pick-up position and a neck pick-up position. These will cover most bases for the sound you might be going for.
Tone and Volume Controls
Next in line is your tone and volume control knobs. The volume control simply controls the amount of signal that is sent out from the output jack to your amplifier.
Some guitars have a volume control for each pick-up, while others are global and control the entire guitars output.
The tone control is whats called a low pass filter. Its a potentiometer and capacitor circuit that will alter how much of your top end or brightness gets sent from the output.
This can be handy when looking for darker sounds and normally has a large impact on your sound.
Most guitars will include a tone control for each pick-up so as to get many different sounds.
The circuit can also be modified with different values of capacitors to get a different tone range. If you know a bit about electronics, this is another way of finding more tone variation.
Know Your Guitar Parts
Its very important to know what the different parts of the guitar are called and what they do. If you are just getting started, it will give you a bit of confidence as you get started playing.
Normally new players are intimidated by the parts not knowing what they do. This can make it hard to get comfortable with the instrument and be able to focus on learning.
Experienced players can benefit in knowing their guitar parts as well.
This will help when communicating with other players or even upgrading parts. Aftermarket guitar parts are a wonderful way to upgrade a guitar and give it your sound.
But if you don’t know much about the parts or even their names, it can be difficult to get what your looking for from the instrument.
My advice would be to really consider learning about the parts and their functions.
You will see that when you know them well, it will provide a better over all experience no matter where you are on your guitar playing journey!