In this lesson we’re going to cover the parts of the acoustic and electric guitars. Knowing the parts of each guitar is really important, because you need to be able to effectively communicate about your instrument to other people.
Let’s start by going through the parts on the acoustic guitar. Some of these parts overlap with the parts of the electric guitar. If you are right handed and sitting down with the guitar, the part farthest to the left is called the headstock of the guitar. The little keys that you use to tune the guitar are called tuning keys. The part you feed the string through is called the tuning peg or string peg. That’s where you attach your strings to the guitar. The nut of the guitar is where the strings rest before going to the string pegs. Nuts are usually made of plastic, bone, or metal.
The next are of the guitar we are going to cover is the neck of the guitar. There are a few specific parts that I want to go over here with you. The metal strips are the frets of the guitar, and the frets are attached to the fretboard. The fretboard is usually glued on to the neck, but sometimes it’s actually part of the neck. Most guitars have inlays or fret markers, and there are two reasons for these. The first reason is aesthetics, or just for decoration. The second reason is to help you keep track of where you are on the guitar. You may have simple dots on your guitar, or you may have more fancy inlays. Regardless, they serve the same function.
The main part of the guitar is called the body. This is where we get a little difference from acoustic to electric. You’re usually going to have a pickguard. That’s just so you don’t scratch your guitar up when you’re using your pick. Most acoustic guitars have a sound hole that’s right in the middle. Some of them have the soundhole in other spots or not at all. It just depends on your particular guitar. The bridge of the guitar is usually glued to the top of your acoustic. The small part on the bridge of my guitar is called the saddle, and it’s where the strings rest before they go into the body of the guitar. The strings go into the holes and some small little pins, called bridge pins, hold the strings in place. Some bridges don’t have pins at all. You just run them through the end back here. Those types of bridges are called pinless bridges.
Strap buttons hold your strap on your guitar. Most guitars have two strap buttons. Your acoustic guitar may or may not have strap buttons. It really depends on your particular situation. Some of them have one on the back, and some of them have none. If that’s the case for your guitar, make sure that your strap comes with like a little shoelace that you can tie around the neck of your guitar so you can use a strap.
The electric guitar has many of the same parts that an acoustic does, but there are some major differences. Most of those differences come with the electronics. The headstock, tuning keys, frets, fretboard, neck, and body are all the same. When we get to the electronics, there are quite a few differences that you need to know about. There are two main areas of electronics that you should be familiar with are the pickups and the controls.
Pickups are basically the microphones of your guitar. They pick up the vibrations from the strings and send them to your amplifier. Pickups come in two basic varieties, humbuckers and single coils. Humbuckers are called humbuckers because they get rid of the hum that’s normally associated with single coil pickups. Single coil pickups are generally a little bit brighter, and they have a hum that’s associated with them that the humbuckers can kind of get rid of. Neither humbuckers or single coils are better or worse. It’s all about personal preference and the kind of sound that you want for your guitar.
Control knobs come in two basic varieties, volume knobs and tone knobs. Your guitar may have one, two, three or even four knobs. It doesn’t matter. It just depends on your particular guitar. Volume knobs basically control the output or how much volume is coming from your pickups. If you back off on a volume knob, your guitar is going to get a little bit quieter. If you max it out, it’s going to get as loud as it possibly can. If you back off on a tone knob, it will take some of the treble out of your guitar. If you max out that tone knob, your guitar is going to be as trebly as possible.
Let’s move on to the second type of control for your electric guitar and that is the pickup selector switch. Pickup selector switches simply allow you to select which pickup is activated. When it’s all the way down, the bridge pickup is active. The bridge pickup is going to be more trebly just because it’s closer to the termination of the strings. When it’s all the way up, the neck pickup is active. The neck pickup is generally going to give you a bit more mellow of a tone. Pickup selector switches come in a couple of different varieties, but the two main ones are toggle switches blade switches.
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