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Basic Parts of a Guitar

It is important for any guitarist to know the basic parts of a guitar.  If something breaks, it is quite important to know what guitar body parts you need to repair the damage.  It is also important to bear in mind that while the parts of an acoustic guitar and the parts of an electric guitar are the same basic components, they are sometimes not interchangeable due to the different designs of each.  The diagram below labels some of the basic parts you should be familiar with.

Parts of a Guitar

Headstock (A)

The headstock usually houses the tuning heads which are used to tune the guitar.  There are a couple of different designs, which some guitarists only consider as being aesthetic, while others consider important to the tone.  The tuning heads usually come in either standard or locking configurations.  Both can stay in tune well, but locking tuners eliminate some of the user error aspects and can be faster to restring.

Nut (B)

When working on electric guitar lessons for techniques such as bending, if the guitar is going out of tune, it is often the nut to blame, and not the tuning heads.  The string can bind at the nut, causing the tension of the string to change and causing it to fall out of tune.  Acoustic guitars generally have a standard nut, but some electric guitars will have a locking nut (if they have a floating tremolo bridge) or in some cases a zero fret.  Zero frets are parts of a guitar usually only found on higher end custom or boutique guitars, and are intended to give a less distinct difference in tone between an open and a fretted note.  It is functionally a fret put in place of the nut.  Locking nuts and zero frets are generally only parts of an electric guitar and not used as parts of an acoustic guitar.

Fretboard (C)

The fretboard is a guitar body part that can be made from a variety of materials.  The particular wood used can have some effect on the tone and sustain of a guitar, but many guitarists choose this based on a preferred feel or aesthetic as well.

Bridge (D)

There are a wide variety of different bridges used on various guitars, even two bridges designed to functionally be the same can be quite different.  Acoustic guitars that come with electric pick-ups generally have piezo pick-ups in the bridge.  Electric guitars usually are defined by either having a fixed bridge or a tremolo bridge.  In addition, tremolo bridges are divided between vintage bridges and floating bridges.  The type of bridge can have a significant impact on how a guitar is strung and what additional sounds can be pulled from a guitar using a bridge.

Pick-Ups (E)

Usually pick-ups will only be located on the body of an electric guitar.  For guitar lessons dvds focusing on electric guitar techniques, this is the part of a guitar which allows an electric guitar to perform things clearly that just aren’t practical to do on an acoustic guitar.  The closest corresponding part of an acoustic guitar would be a soundhole pick-up, which are usually a later modification made by the guitarist.

Pickguard (F)

This guitar body part can be a part of an electric guitar or an acoustic guitar, but can also not be present on either.  The purpose is to protect the guitar body from pick scratches, but since many people don’t pick sloppily enough to actually hit the pickguard, it is often just aesthetic.

Electronic Control (G and H)

The types of controls on a guitar vary from one guitar to another.  Usually it is common to have one or more tone knobs (G), volume knobs (G), and a pick-up selector (H), but this varies from one model to another.  To find what each specific knob and pick-up selector setting does, it is best to consult the guitar user manual.