Here’s a quick guide to the parts of the guitar.
The illustration is a classical guitar but an acoustic is very similar. If you’d rather know more about electric guitars click here.
1. Tuning Pegs/Tuning Heads/Tuning Gears – These are mechanical devices used to increase or decrease string tension by tightening or loosening. This raises or lowers the pitch of the strings and thereby tunes the guitar. They’re sometimes called machine heads.
2. Head/Headstock – The piece of wood at the end of the neck. The main function is to house the pegs at the head of the instrument, and so it may also be referred to as the peghead..
3. Frets – These are the thin metal strips inlaid into the fretboard. Most classical guitars will have 19 frets, and acoustic guitars have between 19 and 24 frets. Frets also describe the distance between metal strips on the fretboard.
4. Fretboard/Fingerboard – This is usually made of rosewood which is glued onto the front of the neck. On acoustic guitars there may be dots, or markers, (usually at the third, fifth, seventh, ninth, twelfth and fifteenth frets) to give a point of reference when moving the fingers along the fretboard. The twelfth fret (which is the octave fret) may have a different marker such as two dots. Most Classical guitars don’t have markers.
5. Rosette – This is the decorative inlay surrounding the sound hole.
6. Sound Hole – The circular hole cut into the soundboard. There are a few acoustic guitars with “f”-shape holes instead, or multiple smaller holes such as the Ovation range.
7. Saddle – The thin piece of plastic or bone attached to the bridge that lifts the strings to the appropriat height. Some saddles have a small notch or indentation at the second string – this is called a compensated saddle – and can improve the intonation.
8. Bridge – This is the dark piece of wood where the strings are secured. Its purpose is to sit the strings at a relative height to the fretboard and connects the saddle to the soundboard.
9. Soundboard/Top – This forms the top of the guitar body. It may be made from one piece of wood but the soundboard of less expensive guitars may be made up of several thin layers This is the part that vibrates to produce the sound.
10. Lower Bout – The bout is measured across the width of the guitar. The lower bout is slightly larger than the upper bout.
11. Waist – this is the point between the upper and lower bouts and is the most narrow part of the guitar body.
12. Upper Bout – The bout is measured across the width of the guitar. The upper bout is slightly smaller than the lower bout. Some guitars have a cutaway on one side of the upper bout that allows easier access the the higher frets.
13. Body – The main part of the guitar which incorporates the back, soundboard and curved sides. It acts as a resonating chamber to acoustically project the sounds produced by the strings.
14. Neck – This is the long, narrow piece of wood between the headstock and the body of the guitar. The fretboard forms part of the neck.
15. Nut – The thin, grooved piece of bone, or plastic at the top of the neck, between the headstock and the fretboard. The notches keep the strings evenly spaced.
Other Parts of the Guitar
Truss Rod – this is a slightly curved steel rod which is concealed and runs down the centre of the neck from the headstock to the body of the guitar. It can be adjusted with an Allen key to alter the tension in steel string acoustic (and electric) guitars. It is used to straighten the neck and is needed ot offset the tension from the steel strings. A Classical guitar doesn’t have a truss rod as the tension in the nylon strings isn’t as high as the steel strung guitars.
Truss Rod cover – the little piece of triangular plastic on the headstock just by the nut. The truss rod cover is usually screwed into place and can be removed by undoing the screws thereby giving access to the end of the truss rod. Not all steel string guitars have a truss rod cover. Access to the truss rod may be via the sound hole in the body of the guitar – these are difficult to get to and may need an extra long wrench.
Pick Guard – some guitars will have a piece of thin plastic on the soundboard next to the soundhole to give the wood some protection from vigorous strumming.
Bridge Pins – these are grooved pegs with a round head located in the bridge of steel strung guitars. The strings may have a metal ball at one end and the bridge pins help to secure them in place.
Strap Pin – a metal pin located on the end of the guitar body used to attach a guitar strap. Some guitars will only have this one strap pin – the other end of the strap is tied to the neck at the nut. Other guitars may have a second strap pin on the back of the body near the neck which makes life a lot easier! Classical guitars tend not to have strap pins as they are usuall played sitting down with the body resting in the lap, sometimes with a leg support, and don’t need a strap.
Scale length – A guitar’s scale length is calculated by measuring the distance from the front edge of the nut, where it butts against the end of the fingerboard, to the center of the 12th (octave) fret, then doubling that measurement. It’s a bit more complicated than that but what it essentially means is that the shorter the scale length the smaller the distance between the frets.
Now you know all of the parts of the guitar you can return to Resources page here.