The Basic parts of a Guitar

Author: Ian Bush  

Artist Guitars




The basic parts of a guitar can be broken down into three distinct sections: the headstock, neck, and body:


The headstock is generally the part of a guitar where the manufacturer's logo appears most prominently. It is also where you'll find the tuners (also called machine heads) that make sure your guitar stays at the correct pitch. The nut can be found at the interface between the headstock and fretboard. The nut can be made of different materials, including plastic, bone, and brass. The nut has grooves in it to keep the strings spaced apart from one another, and plays a role in the string action (which is how high the strings are off the fretboard):


 

The body of a guitar is where most of the differences can be found between electric and acoustic guitars. Let's start with acoustic guitars, and then move on to electric guitars.

Acoustic guitar bodies are hollow, typically with a round soundhole. On the headstock, the strings are secured at the tuners; on the body, the strings are secured at the bridge. Steel-string acoustic guitars have bridge pins that hold the ball-ends of the strings in place. Classical (nylon string) acoustic guitars typically do not have bridge pins as the strings are secured with a "timber hitch" knot at the bridge. The strings rest on top of the saddle, and the saddle plays a role in string action. The bridge and saddle help to transfer the string vibrations to the part of the body called the "top". The top is arguably the most important part in determining the sound of an acoustic guitar. The top vibrates and the sound is amplified within the hollow body, to emerge from the soundhole.

Electric guitars at Artist Guitars are typically solid or semi-hollow (not totally hollow). They also have tops that can be made of different wood materials, though their impact on the sound of a guitar is less pronounced than in acoustic guitars. Bridges and saddles can look quite different, depending on preference and requirements. There are too many different types of bridges to discuss here. Perhaps this video about guitar bridges will help you if you're curious. The pickups on an electric guitar detect the string vibrations and translate them into an electrical signal that can be amplified (obviously, in an amplifier) to produce sound. For the scientists among us, this process is described by Faraday's Law. Since the sound is amplified outside of the guitar, there is less need for a hollow body to make the sound louder.


The neck section of a guitar is typically described by the terms neck, fretboard, frets, and position markers (or fret markers). In some guitar designs, the fretboard wood is different from the neck wood - this is typical of rosewood or eco-rosewood fretboards. In other designs, the fretboard material is the same as the neck material (and could even be the same piece of wood) - this is typical of maple fretboards. There are many different kinds of wood that can be used for the neck, but the most popular are maple and mahogany. Frets are the metal strips that are embedded into the fretboard and divide the fretboard into individual notes. The fret markers simply act as a guide for the player to navigate the neck more easily.