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Basic Guitar Parts

This lesson covers the basic parts of the guitar that a beginner might need to know. It is important for you to know the parts of the guitar in order to be able to communicate to other musicians about your instrument. Knowing the parts of your guitar is also important in case your guitar breaks and you need to communicate what is wrong with it to someone who might be trying to find the parts that you need. There are many variations on some of the parts that will be covered in this lesson, so do not worry if your guitar looks a bit different from the one you see here.

The following are the parts that we will cover in this lesson:

Headstock – If you are holding your guitar, the headstock is the part of the guitar to the far left that holds the tuning pegs.

Tuning Pegs – The tuning pegs are the devices that the strings are wrapped around. They not only hold the strings, but they are also used to tune the strings. Usually you will have 3 tuning pegs on each side of the headstock or all six tuning pegs on one side of the headstock. (How to tune guitar, how to tune guitar to itself, how to change acoustic guitar strings, how to change electric guitar strings)

Nut – The nut of the guitar is the part of the guitar that guides and holds the strings in place right before the headstock. Usually the nut is made of plastic, bone, graphite or metal.

Neck – The neck of the guitar is the entire part of the guitar from the headstock up to the body of the guitar. The neck is where your fretboard is located.

Fretboard – The fretboard is the part of your guitar that hold the frets in place. Most of the time, the fretboard is another piece of wood glued on to the neck. The fretboard is usually made of rosewood, maple, or ebony. (How to number your fretboard)

Frets – The frets of the guitar are the metal strips that run vertically on your fretboard. Frets are usually made of nickel or stainless steel and come in several different sizes.

Body – If you are holding your guitar, the main part to the right is called the body of the guitar. Guitar bodies come in all different shapes and sizes.

Electronics – The electronics include the following four categories: Pickups, Pickup Selector Switch, Input Jack, and Knobs.

Pickups – The pickups on the guitar are basically like little magnetic microphones. Your guitar could have one, two, or even three pickups. Pickups fall into two basic categories: single coils and humbuckers. Single coil pickups have just one coil, while humbuckers look like two single coil pickups that have been stuck together. Single coil pickups have a bit thinner and brighter sound, while humbuckers usually have a bit thicker and darker sound.

Pickup Selector Switch – The pickup selector switch is used to choose which pickup or pickups are in use. Most guitars will have a three-way or a five-way switch. There are quite a few variations on switches, so if yours is a bit different from the ones described in this lesson, don’t let that throw you off.

Input Jack – If you have an electric or acoustic electric guitar the input jack is where you plug in your guitar cable. The input jack can be a trouble spot for some beginning guitarist. Be sure to keep the nut that holds the jack in place tight. A loose nut could easily short out your input jack. If this happens you will hear a bad crackling sound when your guitar is plugged in to your amp. The good news is that these jacks are fairly inexpensive and easy to replace. You can find replacement jacks in just about any music store.

Knobs – The knobs of the guitar can come in many different configurations and usually have two basic functions, volume and tone. Volume is pretty self-explanatory. The tone knob sounds more like a treble cut knob than a tone knob. That just means that if you turn down your tone knob, you will have less treble in your guitar tone.

Bridge – The bridge of the guitar is the part that holds the strings on to the body of the guitar. The three basic styles of bridges for electric guitars are stoptails, tremolos and tune-o-matic bridges.

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