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Guitar
Electric Guitar
Acoustic Guitar

Construction

Headstock

The headstock is located at the end of the guitar neck farthest from the body. It is fitted with machine heads that adjust the tension of the strings, which in turn affects the pitch. The traditional tuner layout is “3+3”, in which each side of the headstock has three tuners (such as on Gibson Les Pauls). In this layout, the headstocks are commonly symmetrical. Many guitars feature other layouts, including six-in-line tuners (featured on Fender Stratocasters) or even “4+2” (e.g. Ernie Ball Music Man). Some guitars (such as Steinbergers) do not have headstocks at all, in which case the tuning machines are located elsewhere, either on the body or the bridge.

Nut

A nut is a type of fastener with a threaded hole. Nuts are almost always used in conjunction with a mating bolt to fasten multiple parts together. The two partners are kept together by a combination of their threads’ friction (with slight elastic deformation), a slight stretching of the bolt, and compression of the parts to be held together.

In applications where vibration or rotation may work a nut loose, various locking mechanisms may be employed: lock washers, jam nuts, eccentric double nuts, specialist adhesive thread-locking fluid such as Loctite, safety pins (split pins) or lockwire in conjunction with castellated nuts, nylon inserts (nyloc nut), or slightly oval-shaped threads.

Machine heads (or pegheads, tuning keys, tuning machines, tuners)

A machine head (also referred to as a tuning machine, tuner, or gear head) is a geared apparatus for tuning stringed musical instruments by adjusting string tension. Machine heads are used on mandolins, guitars, double basses and others, and are usually located on the instrument’s headstock. Other names for guitar tuners include pegs, gears, machines, cranks, knobs, tensioners and tighteners.

Non-geared tuning devices as used on violins, violas, cellos, lutes, older Flamenco guitars and ukuleles are known as friction pegs, which hold the string to tension by way of friction caused by their tapered shape and by the string pull created by the tight string.

Frets

A fret is any of the thin strips of material, usually metal wire, inserted laterally at specific positions along the neck or fretboard of a stringed instrument. Frets usually extend across the full width of the neck. On some historical instruments and non-European instruments, frets are made of pieces of string tied around the neck.

Frets divide the neck into fixed segments at intervals related to a musical framework. On instruments such as guitars, each fret represents one semitone in the standard western system, in which one octave is divided into twelve semitones. Fret is often used as a verb, meaning simply “to press down the string behind a fret”. Fretting often refers to the frets and/or their system of placement.

Truss Rod Cover

The truss rod is a thin, strong metal rod that runs along the inside of the neck. It is used to correct changes to the neck’s curvature caused by aging of the neck timbers, changes in humidity, or to compensate for changes in the tension of strings. The tension of the rod and neck assembly is adjusted by a hex nut or an allen-key bolt on the rod, usually located either at the headstock, sometimes under a cover, or just inside the body of the guitar underneath the fretboard and accessible through the sound hole. Some truss rods can only be accessed by removing the neck. The truss rod counteracts the immense amount of tension the strings place on the neck, bringing the neck back to a straighter position. Turning the truss rod clockwise tightens it, counteracting the tension of the strings and straightening the neck or creating a backward bow. Turning the truss rod counter-clockwise loosens it, allowing string tension to act on the neck and creating a forward bow.

Inlays

Inlays are visual elements set into the exterior surface of a guitar, both for decoration and artistic purposes and, in the case of the markings on the 3rd, 5th, 7th and 12th fret (and in higher octaves), to provide guidance to the performer about the location of frets on the instrument. The typical locations for inlay are on the fretboard, headstock, and on acoustic guitars around the soundhole, known as the rosette. Inlays range from simple plastic dots on the fretboard to intricate works of art covering the entire exterior surface of a guitar (front and back). Some guitar players have used LEDs in the fretboard to produce unique lighting effects onstage. Fretboard inlays are most commonly shaped like dots, diamond shapes, parallelograms, or large blocks in between the frets.

Neck

A guitar’s frets, fretboard, tuners, headstock, and truss rod, all attached to a long wooden extension, collectively constitute its neck. The wood used to make the fretboard usually differs from the wood in the rest of the neck. The bending stress on the neck is considerable, particularly when heavier gauge strings are used (see Tuning), and the ability of the neck to resist bending (see Truss rod) is important to the guitar’s ability to hold a constant pitch during tuning or when strings are fretted. The rigidity of the neck with respect to the body of the guitar is one determinant of a good instrument versus a poor-quality one.

Heel (acoustic) Neckjoint (electric); Cutaway (electric)

It may not seem like that big of a deal but the heel of the guitar is very important. It supports the guitar, strengthens it and also plays a role in the tone. You may have paid little attention to the heel but it’s not just a random bit of wood. And all guitarists both new and old would do well to be familiar with the parts of the guitar.       what is a guitar heel

So if you’re interested in learning more about it’s importance then read on. We’re going to take a look at the heel joint of a guitar, what it does, where you find it, why it’s essential and the different types.

Body

In acoustic guitars it serves as a resonating chamber, amplifying the vibrations produced by the strings and projecting them out through the soundhole. In electric guitars, the body houses the pickups or humbuckers that magnetically transmit the string vibrations into an electrical signal.

Even with electric guitars, the body still plays a crucial role in determining the guitar’s tone style and quality.

There are three types of guitar bodies:  Hollow, Semi-hollow, Solid

Pickups

Upgrading to one of (or a set of) the best electric guitar pickups is one of the most effective ways to dramatically improve your tone – besides buying a new guitar. Luckily for those in the market for a set of new pickups, there’s never been a better time to buy pickups. The market is huge and varied, meaning that finding the right pickups for your guitar and your sound is super easy. In this guide, we’ll answer some common questions, and help you make the right choice.

Electronics

An electric guitar is a guitar that requires external amplification in order to be heard at typical performance volumes, unlike a standard acoustic guitar. It uses one or more pickups to convert the vibration of its strings into electrical signals, which ultimately are reproduced as sound by loudspeakers. The sound is sometimes shaped or electronically altered to achieve different timbres or tonal qualities from that of an acoustic guitar via amplifier settings or knobs on the guitar. Often, this is done through the use of effects such as reverb, distortion and “overdrive”; the latter is considered to be a key element of electric blues guitar music and jazz and rock guitar playing. Designs also exist combining attributes of the electric and acoustic guitars: the semi-acoustic and acoustic-electric guitars.

Bridge

The main purpose of the bridge on an acoustic guitar is to transfer the vibration from the strings to the soundboard, which vibrates the air inside of the guitar, thereby amplifying the sound produced by the strings. On all electric, acoustic and original guitars, the bridge holds the strings in place on the body. There are many varied bridge designs. There may be some mechanism for raising or lowering the bridge saddles to adjust the distance between the strings and the fretboard (action), or fine-tuning the intonation of the instrument. Some are spring-loaded and feature a “whammy bar”, a removable arm that lets the player modulate the pitch by changing the tension on the strings. The whammy bar is sometimes also called a “tremolo bar”. (The effect of rapidly changing pitch is properly called “vibrato”. See Tremolo for further discussion of this term.) Some bridges also allow for alternate tunings at the touch of a button.

Pickguard

The pickguard, also known as the scratch plate, is usually a piece of laminated plastic or other material that protects the finish of the top of the guitar from damage due to the use of a plectrum (“pick”) or fingernails. Electric guitars sometimes mount pickups and electronics on the pickguard. It is a common feature on steel-string acoustic guitars. Some performance styles that use the guitar as a percussion instrument (tapping the top or sides between notes, etc.), such as flamenco, require that a scratchplate or pickguard be fitted to nylon-string instruments.

Back

Bolt-on neck is a method of guitar (or similar stringed instrument) construction that involves joining a guitar neck and body using screws or bolts, as opposed to glue and joinery as with set-in neck joints.

The “bolt-on” method is used frequently on solid body electric guitars and on acoustic flattop guitars. In the typical electric guitar neck joint, the body and neck cross in horizontal plane, the neck is inserted in a pre-routed “pocket” in the body, and they are joined using four or sometimes three (rarely, five or more) screws.

Soundboard (top)

A sound board, or soundboard, is the surface of a string instrument that the strings vibrate against, usually via some sort of bridge. Pianos, guitars, banjos, and many other stringed instruments incorporate soundboards. The resonant properties of the sound board and the interior of the instrument greatly increase the loudness of the vibrating strings. “The soundboard is probably the most important element of a guitar in terms of its influence on the quality of the instrument’s tone [timbre].”

Body sides (ribs)

The sides are bent in the normal way, but then two layers of veneer are glued on to the inside for extra rigidity. An accurate interior mould is needed for this. The best way to make it is to shape a number of plywood layers with a router (using a cutter with a guide roller that ensures each piece is exactly the same shape as the others, and then screwing them all together).

Sound hole, with Rosette inlay

A sound hole is an opening in the body of a stringed musical instrument, usually the upper sound board. Sound holes have different shapes:

round in flat-top guitars and traditional bowl-back mandolins;
F-holes in instruments from the violin family, archtop mandolins and in archtop guitars;
C-holes in viola da gambas and occasionally double-basses and guitars
rosettes in lutes and sometimes harpsichords;
D-holes in bowed lyras.
Some instruments come in more than one style (mandolins may have F-holes, round or oval holes). A round or oval hole or a rosette is usually a single one, under the strings. C-holes, D-holes and F-holes are usually made in pairs placed symmetrically on both sides of the strings. Most hollowbody and semi-hollow electric guitars also have F-holes.

Strings

The standard guitar has six strings, but four-, seven-, eight-, nine-, ten-, eleven-, twelve-, thirteen- and eighteen-string guitars are also available. Classical and flamenco guitars historically used gut strings, but these have been superseded by polymer materials, such as nylon and fluorocarbon. Modern guitar strings are constructed from metal, polymers, or animal or plant product materials. “Steel” strings may be made from alloys incorporating steel, nickel or phosphor bronze. Bass strings for both instruments are wound rather than monofilament.

Saddle

The saddle of a guitar is the part of the bridge that physically supports the strings. It may be one piece (typically on acoustic guitars) or separate pieces, one for each string (electric guitars and basses). The saddle’s basic purpose is to provide the endpoint for the string’s vibration at the correct location for proper intonation, and on acoustic guitars to transfer the vibrations through the bridge into the top wood of the guitar. Saddles are typically made of plastic or bone for acoustic guitars, though synthetics and some exotic animal tooth variations (e.g. fossilized tooth, ivory, etc. ) have become popular with some players. Electric guitar saddles are typically metal, though some synthetic saddles are available.

Fretboard (or Fingerboard)

The fingerboard (also known as a fretboard on fretted instruments) is an important component of most stringed instruments. It is a thin, long strip of material, usually wood, that is laminated to the front of the neck of an instrument. The strings run over the fingerboard, between the nut and bridge. To play the instrument, a musician presses strings down to the fingerboard to change the vibrating length, changing the pitch. This is called stopping the strings. Depending on the instrument and the style of music, the musician may pluck, strum or bow one or more strings with the hand that is not fretting the notes. On some instruments, notes can be sounded by the fretting hand alone, such as with hammer ons, an electric guitar technique.

The word “fingerboard” in other languages sometimes occurs in musical directions. In particular, the direction sul tasto (Ital., also sulla tastiera, Fr. sur la touche, G. am Griffbrett) for bowed string instruments to play with the bow above the fingerboard. This reduces the prominence of upper harmonics, giving a more ethereal tone.

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