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Anatomy of a Guitar
Posted on June 10, 2021
Picking up a new instrument can feel overwhelming, but we’re here to help. In this blog, we’ll introduce you to the different parts of the guitar. These core parts are the same across electric and acoustic guitars.
The most important ones are body, neck, headstock, tuning pegs, machine head, nuts, bridge, sound hole, frets, and strings.
If you find videos more helpful, follow your voice teacher Sonja as she shows us all the different parts of the instrument. She’ll cover the basics through the 2:44 mark. Otherwise, check out the diagrams below!
Most important guitar parts
Next we’ll look at the different guitar parts in more detail and see what each of them do. We’ve also included some handy illustrations that’ll help you locate and recognize all the parts from your own guitar. Although the pictures below use an acoustic guitar, remember that all of these parts can be found on an electric guitar as well.
The biggest individual part of a guitar is its body. Acoustic guitars come most often in the familiar pear-like shape, although there can be some small variation between different models. With electric guitars, there’s a bit more to choose from. Some iconic and recognizable electric guitars include the Stratocaster, Les Paul, Flying V and Explorer, just to name a few.
No matter which type of a body you choose, make sure that it’s one that feels comfortable to play with, whether your instrument of choice is an acoustic guitar or an electric one.
In case you are using an acoustic guitar, you’ll notice that the strings travel over a hole in the middle of the body. This is called the sound hole. Thanks to the sound hole the guitar is able to produce a loud and pleasing sound even without any amplifiers or microphones. If you follow the strings all the way to the bottom, you’ll find the bridge. This is where the strings attach to the body.
That’s all you need to know about the body for now, so we can proceed to the next guitar part, which is the neck.
The long part protruding from the body is the neck of a guitar. The guitar strings (there’s usually six of them) travel across the neck, starting from the bridge and ending up in the headstock (we’ll get back to that one later). The neck of a guitar is the part you’ll be using with your left hand if you’re right handed or with your right hand if you’re a leftie.
You might notice that the neck is divided into small sections. These are called frets and they help you navigate the strings and play different notes. If you’ve ever tried playing a fretless instrument such as an upright bass or a violin, you’ll notice how the frets make playing a guitar much easier, especially when trying to play chords.
The frets are also numbered. For example, the uppermost fret and the space above it is the 1st fret. Below that is the 2nd fret and so forth. Depending on your guitar, the instrument can have around 20 frets in total. The neck often has these tiny dots as well. The dots help you locate specific frets on the neck, so make sure to learn and memorize where they’re located on your instrument. This will make playing your guitar so much easier.
At the end of the guitar’s neck you’ll find its headstock. This is where you tune your guitar, using the tuning pegs attached to the headstock. In case you are using a six-stringed guitar (which you most likely are), there are six tuning pegs—one for each string.
The part that the guitar strings attach to is called the machine head. At the point where the guitar’s neck attaches to the headstock you’ll also find a small part with grooves that align the strings. This is called the nut.
With acoustic guitars there are usually three tuning pegs on both sides of the headstock—three facing towards the ground and three towards the roof, when holding the guitar on your lap. With electric guitars, however, the tuning pegs can be all on the same side of the headstock. Check your own instrument and see how the tuning mechanism is laid out. Trust us, you’ll be needing it quite often when learning to play.
Learning the guitar anatomy
We’ve just gone through the basic anatomy of a guitar and you now know the different guitar parts a bit better. As you play and practice, you’ll get more and more familiar with your instrument and the different parts of a guitar.
If you found this guide helpful, make sure to check out the entire guitar tutorial video where Sonja walks you through the first steps of learning to play the guitar, including how to hold the guitar and fretting.
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