One of the first things that a novice guitar player will want to do is to become familiar with the parts of his or her guitar. Knowing the appropriate names for the parts of a guitar makes it much easier to explain damaged parts of a guitar or ask about replacement parts when needed.
Although different guitars may have additional parts, there are essentially nine key parts of a guitar. Both acoustic and electric guitars will typically have eight of these parts, and each type will have a type-specific piece for the ninth part.
The headstock is located at the very top of a guitar, and is occasionally referred to as a peghead. A headstock may be attached so that it forms a flat plane with the neck of the guitar, or it may be attached at a slight angle.
The headstock is where the tuners are located, and thus where the strings of the guitar will start. A few models of guitars do not have a headstock, if the tuners are located elsewhere on the guitar.
The tuners, also called tuning keys, tuning pegs, or similar terms, are placed along the headstock in one of three typical configurations. They may all be placed in a single long row, there may be two symmetrical rows of three tuners each, or there may be four tuners in one row with the remaining two tuners in a second row.
Tuners consist of a pin, a knob, and a worm gear. Each pin has a hole through it where the guitar string passes through the pin. The knob, on the end of the pin, allows for easier turning of the pin, around which the string will be wound. The worm gear prevents the pin from turning unless the knob is being turned, which helps to keep a guitar in tune.
The nut is a very small piece between the headstock and the neck of the guitar. It may not look like much, but it actually provides two critical functions. The first is that the nut keeps the strings at the appropriate height above the neck to allow the strings to produce the best sound. The second is that the nut, in conjunction with the bridge, establishes the basic length of the strings. The nut is typically constructed of plastic, bone, ebony, or ivory, and will have notches for each of the strings, helping to direct the strings to the appropriate tuners.
The neck of the guitar is the long straight portion between the headstock and the body. The strings run the length of the neck, and the neck is where the bulk of the activity involved in playing a guitar takes place. The neck of a guitar should be made of a material that can withstand the tension created by the guitar strings; some necks have a metal truss rod inside of them that helps with the strength of the guitar neck.
Frets are spaced along the neck of a guitar, and can vary between small raised metal bars to simple lines marked on the neck. The latter, or a guitar neck lacking even these marks, is often referred to as a fretless guitar, and requires considerable additional skill from the guitar player. The frets serve as a guide for finger placement to achieve the desired chords or notes.
The body of a guitar consists of the entire lower portion of the guitar, and is the second portion of a guitar where much activity takes place while a guitar is being played. The body includes the bridge and the sound hole or pickups.
The body on an acoustic guitar functions as a sound box, where the vibrations of the strings are able to bounce around and become amplified. Acoustic guitar bodies are typically all of a similar shape, though not necessarily size.
As an electric guitar relies on outside amplification, its body can be solid or hollow and can be a nearly unending variety of shapes.
The bridge is located on the body of the guitar, and is the point where the strings are attached to the lower end of the guitar.
On an acoustic guitar, the bridge plays an extremely important function in the volume of the guitar, as it vibrates the top plate, or front, of the guitar body, which creates much of the sound produced by an acoustic guitar.
On an electric guitar, the function of the bridge is less significant to sound, but on both styles of guitar, the bridge helps maintain the tension of the strings.
Sound hole (acoustic) or Pickups (electric)
This part of a guitar differs significantly in appearance, but not in function, depending upon the type of guitar in question. The sound hole of an acoustic guitar helps to amplify the sound produced by the strings and the hollow body of the guitar.
The pickups on an electric guitar also help to amplify the sound produced by the strings, but they do so by electronic means, rather than acoustical. This key difference is, in large part, the essence of the difference between acoustic and electric guitars–the means by which their sound is amplified.
The guitar strings are the most essential part of a guitar, as they are the core source of the sound that a guitar produces. Guitar strings can be made from nylon or steel most typically, but can include other metals, natural materials, or synthetic materials.
The composition of a guitar string affects the way in which sounds can be produced, with different styles of music having their own string preferences.
Most modern guitars use six strings, each of which is tuned to a different note, though there are guitars with as few as one or as many as twelve strings. The strings are kept tight between the tuning pegs and the bridge, and the exact tension of each string is what gives the string its tone.