Welcome to video four in the Beginner Guitar Quick-Start Series. In this lesson, we’re going to learn about the parts of the acoustic and electric guitar. Knowing these parts is really important because you need to be able to communicate clearly with other guitar players about your instrument.
We’re going to start with the parts on the acoustic guitar, and most of them actually overlap with the parts on the electric guitar, which we’ll see later. Starting on my left hand side, this end of the guitar is the headstock, which is broken down further into more parts. We’ve got the tuning keys, which are used to tune the strings of the guitar. Connected to the tuning keys are the tuning pegs, or string pegs, and that’s where you attach your strings to the guitar.
Working our way down from the headstock, the narrow white strip is the nut. The strings rest on the nut before they go to the tuning pegs. Next we have the neck of the guitar, which is also broken down into more parts. The skinny metal strips along the neck are called frets, and the frets are connected to the fretboard. The fretboard is the piece of wood that runs all along the neck of the guitar.
Most guitars have fret markers, which can add to the aesthetics of your guitar and also help you keep track of where you are on the guitar. You may have simple dots or something more fancy like the fret markers on my guitar.
The rest of the guitar is the body, and this is where acoustic and electric guitars can vary a little. On acoustic guitars you will usually see a pick guard, which keeps you from scratching your guitar when you strum. Most acoustic guitars have a sound hole in the middle of the guitar, though some guitars may have the sound hole in a different spot or not have one at all.
The black part of the guitar on the other end of the strings is the bridge, and is usually glued on top of the body. The thin white strip on the bridge is the saddle, which is where the strings rest before they go into the holes on the bridge. When you put the strings into the holes, you put bridge pins in the holes to hold the strings in place. Some bridges don’t have pins at all, and those are called pinless bridges.
You can see in the video that I have a strap on my guitar, which is attached to strap buttons on the front and back of the guitar. Your acoustic may not have strap buttons, so you would want to buy a strap that has a shoelace so it can be tied around the neck of your guitar.
An electric guitar has many of the same parts as an acoustic guitar does, but there are also some major differences. Taking a look at my electric guitar in the video, you can see that the headstock, tuning keys, frets, fretboard, neck, and the main body are the same.
Two of the main differences on electronic guitars you should know are the pickups and the controls. The pickups are the microphones of the guitar, picking up the vibrations of the strings and moving them to your amplifier. There are two basic varieties of pickups: humbuckers and single-coils.
The pickups on my guitar in the video are humbuckers, which are generally wider. Underneath the cover of each humbucker, there are two rows of screws that pick up the sound from the strings. Humbuckers got their name because they get rid of the hum that usually comes with single-coil pickups. Single-coil pickups are typically a bit brighter, but have the hum that humbuckers can usually get rid of. Neither humbuckers nor single-coils are better or worse, so it comes down to personal preference and the kind of sound you want for your guitar.
Next, let’s talk about the controls on the body of the guitar, which are volume knobs and tone knobs. You’ll notice my guitar has four knobs, but yours may have one, two, or three, depending on the type of guitar you have. The volume knobs control how much volume or output is coming from your pickups. The first knob on my guitar controls the volume for one of my pickups. The knob beside it controls the tone for the same pickup, meaning I can control how much treble there is.
The second type of control on electric guitar is the pickup selector switch. On my guitar, I have a three-way style toggle switch, and it controls which pickup is active. If I toggle the switch down, the bridge pickup is active, which is naturally has more treble because it is closer to the end of the strings. If the toggle switch is in the middle, both pickups are active which gives a medium tone. If the toggle is up, then the neck pickup is active, which is generally a more mellow tone. There are a couple of different types of pickup selector switch types, including the toggle switch, or if you have a Stratocaster guitar, you may have a 3 or 5-way blade switch.
This wraps up the basic parts of both the acoustic and electric guitar. In the next lesson, we’re going to cover the names of the open strings on guitar. This lesson is important because you need to know the names of the strings to tune the guitar, and so you can start learning the notes names on guitar as well.