Guitar Parts Names
If you are just learning how to play, or have been at it for many years, it’s very helpful to know the guitar part names and what they do. This can change how you play and handle the instrument.
Each part is referenced in the learning process, and so knowing their names and functions can be 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 the ones 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 available for your hard-earned dollars.
Acoustic Guitar Parts Diagram
In the below diagram, you will see the main acoustic guitar parts and their names. While there are different types of acoustic guitars like steel-string and nylon, the parts are the same. However, there are certain differences like cutaways and pick guards.
Electric Guitar Parts Diagram
The electric guitar has many more parts than an acoustic. With the addition of pickups and electronics that go along with them, this increases the part count substantially!
This means that there are more to remember and learn how to use. But don’t look at this as a negative, because each new part adds more enjoyment and possibilities to the guitar!
Below is a diagram of the Fender Stratocaster and the most common parts of the electric guitar.
In addition to this, there are many types of electric guitar parts that you can choose from. For example, in the diagram, the pickups are called single coils. This is one type of pickup that you can select from.
Another is called a humbucker which is a bit larger and offers different tone and performance as we will see later on in this article.
The guitar bridge is similar as there are many types, from a fixed style to some that offer tremolo options and whammy bars to allow you to bend your strings for great sounds.
3 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 shapes, they all share many of the same parts.
There are three main parts of the guitar that are fundamental, and every player should know these names.
- The guitar head, also known as the head stock.
- 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 exist on one of these main sections, and so they are very important to know as a player.
We will look into these parts in more detail in this article, but take some time to get to know and recognize them. 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 they all come together. The body is normally made from wood, but you will find fiberglass and other materials depending on the manufacturer.
An acoustic and solid body electric guitar differ a considerable amount and are worth exploring.
Acoustic Guitar Body
The acoustic body is where many things happen.
Firstly, it isn’t a solid piece of wood. 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 add strength that can hold under the stress of the string tension as well as external forces. The bracing has to be installed 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 volume is produced and is a type of resonant chamber. In the middle is a hole which projects the sound when the strings are strummed. This is called the sound hole.
The sound hole can be many shapes, even though the more common is round. You can also find oval holes or even multiple located on different parts of the body. This all depends on the look of the guitar and the method of sound delivery the designed was after.
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.
However, on an electric, 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 the sound. Even though the pick-ups do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to the sound produced by an electric.
Guitar Body Differences
There are many types of acoustic guitar body shapes and sizes, from hollow to solid.
There are also many types of wood that affect the sound and feel of a guitar. Whether it’s an acoustic or electric, the material used will impact how it sounds.
The Body is a very important part of any guitar and is one of the 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 is 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’s 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 you are buying a guitar, the guy in the music store may ask if you prefer a cut away or not.
Parts on a Guitar Body
While we have looked at how important the guitar body is to the structure and play ability of an instrument, there are a few parts that are important. These parts are found on the body and contribute to the instrument in ways only they can.
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 vibration through the body, which produces its range in volume and sound. The strings are usually anchored with pins that press into the bridge and keep them tight and secure. These are called bridge pins
On an electric guitar, the role is similar. The bridge supports the strings on the body side of the guitar, and transfers vibration. 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.
Some electric guitar bridge designs include a cover that can go over top. The Telecaster bridge cover is one that also affects the sound slightly.
The materials for the bridge on an acoustic is normally made out of wood. While on the electric guitar it’s 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 part name category called the whammy bar. This one many people have heard of, but most don’t understand how they work.
Guitar Saddle Or Bridge
The saddle on any guitar determines where the playable string ends and normally sets intonation and 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. This allows the intonation to be set according to the requirement of each string.
Whammy Bar Or Tremolo Arm
There are many 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 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 lever.
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 floating. This allows you to lessen or tighten tension.
This can really change the pitch of your strings in some incredible ways very quickly.
The pick guard or “scratch plate” is normally found under the sound hole on an acoustic and under or around the pick-ups on an electric. This part is normally made of plastic and is added to the guitar to prevent scratches on the finish from picks.
Not all guitars have pick guards, but it’s more common to see them equipped. This is because it’s very common to see a guitar finish dulled due to pick hits. They also look quite nice on some guitars and so add to the over all aesthetic pleasure.
Guitar Electronic Parts With Diagrams
Pick-up Selector Switch Guitar Part
Tone and Volume Controls
The guitar neck is another part that does some heavy lifting. This is where you will find that there are many sizes of 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.
Guitar Neck Profiles
You will find that there are a number of guitar neck profiles available. Each neck shape has its benefit, and some players gravitate to a particular radius. Whether it’s for speed or comfort, you will know when you find your favorite neck profile.
C Shaped Guitar Neck
The C shaped guitar neck is the most common neck out there. Fender guitars are known to use them on most of their models as it offers comfort and great play ability. Most players prefer the C shaped neck, which can be found in slim versions as well as thick!
The C shape neck also has a particular “feel” to it that professional players really like. The way the neck resonates is enjoyable and very musical.
U Shaped Guitar Neck
The U profile neck is thicker with a more pronounced radius. This neck is rounder and preferred by players with bigger hands. This particular neck was largely found on older Fender guitars. It’s known as the baseball bat of guitar necks and is not for everyone.
D Shaped Guitar Neck
The D profile guitar neck is very popular for players who seek speed. It’s known as a modern flat oval and is one of the newer shapes. This neck radius can be found on a lot of rock and metal guitars because of the comfort and slim profile.
Parts Of A Guitar Neck
There are a few different parts of the neck that are important to know. And as you will see, this makes them essential names to have memorized!
The fingerboard is also known as the fretboard. This is a very important part of any stringed instrument and is a part you should know on the guitar.
It’s a thin long strip of material, normally wood, that is laminated to the front of the neck. The strings then run along the fingerboard. Depending on where you press down on the string, this will change their sound.
The Fingerboard, when made from wood, is normally 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. As we have seen above, the neck has many shapes. The fretboard also has a couple different types.
This is the most common type of fretboard on guitars. The flat fretboard is a simple, the strings simply run across the fretboard from nut to bridge and when you press down on the string, sound is produced. If you have played a guitar, it was more than likely a flat board.
The scalloped fretboard is quite different and is only for a select few players. This design features material missing in the neck between the frets to produce small cutaways. This essentially makes the frets much higher, so it’s much harder to press the strings down on the fretboard.
The players who desire this type of fretboard are normally shredders, as the scalloped design enhances articulation of the notes. This is very desirable to a person who plays fast! But it does take some getting use to.
Frets are the strips of metal that span the fingerboard from one end to the other. The fret’s role is to shorten the string when the player presses on them.
You 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 out of adjustment and the note would not be accurate. See the diagram below for reference.
On a guitar with no frets, you have to learn exactly where to press on the 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. The fret takes care of it for you.
Inlays Or Fret Markers
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 each manufacturer and can be many things.
Dots are most common, but some manufacturers get real creative, like on an Epiphone Les Paul Standard for example.
You will also find inlays around the sound hole on an acoustic guitar, as well. The headstock of most guitars may have inlays around the manufacturer’s logo.
But it’s 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 head stock. The head stock is another important part of the guitar.
The head stock on some guitars might be a different type of wood than the neck. This is done with special wood joints depending on the value of the guitar.
Because the strings are directly connected to the head stock, care is taken to ensure it’s made strong.
Last thing you want is the head stock to break off due to the string tension!
There are a few different shapes of headstocks, each type claiming to offer different strengths and benefits.
The straight headstock runs inline with the neck and does not offer any tilts or bends. This type of head shape is commonly found on the Fender Stratocaster guitars and is sometimes referred to as a “flat” head. It’s a very simple headstock design, but is rigid and sturdy.
The angled headstock is pretty common on most guitars. It’s designed to help draw the strings over the nut without having to add any aligning clips like a flat head might require on the head itself.
The last thing you want to have happen is your strings come out of the nut when playing aggressively. The angled head design helps keep good string tension on the nut to prevent this.
Some guitars are designed without a headstock at the end of their necks! These guitars normally have their tuners at the bridge of the guitar and clamp the string at the end of the neck. Headless guitars are said to have a number of benefits like:
- Not as long
- Easier string changes
The look of the headless guitar is not for everyone, but they do have their place in many metal genres.
Parts Found On The Guitar HeadStock
Let’s look at some parts you will find on the head stock. These are some guitar part names you need to know.
The tuners, or machine heads, 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.
Your tuners are very important parts of your guitar, and learning to use them is critical to playing and staying inspired.
Even just learning how to properly change the strings is important. It’s possible to wind too much string around a machine head and have problems arise.
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 them.
Tuners are very dynamic, and you will need to know how to use them. Don’t be afraid to use your tuners!
Let’s take a look at this video to get an idea of how to use your tuners on 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 head stock.
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 it.
Nuts are made from a variety of different materials including, plastic, bone, ivory, graphite and ebony. Some materials are better than 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!
With older guitars, it’s always recommended that your nut be inspected and replaced if worn out. A guitar part this simple can have a large effect on whether you have a good experience or a bad one!
There is one nut type that deserves a mention, and that is the locking nut. This nut is designed to clamp the strings between 2 pieces of metal and prevent them from moving when tension is increased significantly.
This is usually the case with Floyd Rose set-ups, where you can alter the string tension. It prevents the guitar from going out of tune when the system is used. The locking nut is a crucial part of the Floyd rose set up.
Truss Rod Cover
If you have ever wondered what that little plastic cover does on your head stock, 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’s always under.
The neck has a certain curve to it that we want to maintain for great action and play ability.
Your truss rod maintains this curve so that you can have a better playing experience. But just be warned, if you do not know how to adjust this truss rod, it’s 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 to deal with the tension of the strings.
Without this rod, the neck would bow so badly the strings would not be playable. And 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 guitar’s intonation.
Adjustment of the truss rod is a delicate process and should only be done once you understand the procedure. But in most cases, it’s always best to take it to 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!
How Many Parts Does A Guitar Have?
The answer to this question is different between guitar types. Acoustic and electric guitars have many similarities, but do differ as they are meant for different styles. The acoustic guitar in most cases has 15 main parts.
- Head stock
- Sound Hole
- Pick Guard
- String Pins
- Fret Board
- Truss Rod
The electric guitar is similar except for a few more main parts. If we had to narrow it down, we could say the electric guitar has 20 main parts. The 5 extra parts are:
- Pick-up Selector Switch
- Volume and tone controls
- Input Jack
- Tremolo Arm
Know Your Guitar Part Names
It’s 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 begin.
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 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 you are 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!