Know Your Guitar – A Beginner’s Guide
It is very exciting to purchase an instrument and learn it. If you have bought a new guitar and ready to start with your first lesson then it is a wonderful thing. However, before you begin with your first lesson, it’s vital to know your guitar. Simply learning to play the guitar is not enough. You should know the instrument you are playing. Whether you have purchased a Gibson, Jackson, ESP, PRS or any other guitar, learning the parts of guitar is important. Gibson guitars are quite popular and the parts for gibson guitars or other guitars is almost the same. You just have to get used to the vocabulary so you can communicate well with your fellow guitarists about anything.
First you need to learn the names of different parts of the guitar which will help you follow the video lessons more precisely.
Guitar neck parts:
The narrow section of guitar which you hold to press down the strings is the guitar neck. The parts of a guitar neck are headstock, truss rod, frets, fretboard, tuners.
Headstock: Headstock is the first section of the guitar which is a rectangular piece on the top and holds the tuning pegs and tuners.
Nut: You will also see a white strip that is closest to the headstock, like a bow tie s known as the nut. It has vertical grooves and it helps to place the strings in a proper position. Strings are attached to the pegheads but it has to be in proper place so when the strings are played, they can vibrate in a controlled way.
Truss rod: Truss rod is a steel bar that runs inside the neck and below the fingerboard. To adjust the tension it will have a nut at one or both ends.
Tuning pegs: You tune the guitar using the tuning pegs or guitar tuner buttons. It helps to loosen and tighten the wire as per the required pitch. On a standard guitar you will find 6 tuning pegs or machines to tune the strings of the guitar.
Fretboard: It is the front side of the guitar where you press the notes and create chords or music notes. It is also called the fingerboard. The raised metal wires along the fretboard are fret wires. You need to press the strings behind the fret wires and then a proper chord or note is played. It is useful for your fingers to find the right spot. Most common materials used for making the fretboard are maple and rosewood. Along the fretboard you will see inlay markers or dots that are positioned at proper intervals on the frets.
Neck joint is the place that connects the body to the neck either through a bolt with usually three to 4 screws or it will set in the neck without the help of screws. It depends on how the guitar is constructed. Whether it is a neck through or set in construction, it is there to sustain the guitar. On acoustic flat top guitars and electric guitars bolt on method is used. So, some people drill to put the guitar neck screws to secure the joint.
Guitar body and soundhole:
The big curvy part of a guitar is the body which has a hole in the middle known as the soundhole. You need to rest the curvy part against your body to play the guitar and strum the strings. Acoustic guitars have a hollow body whereas electric guitars have a hollow, semi- hollow or solid body.
Soundhole: Soundhole is useful to amplify the sound of the guitar strings. It is not seen on electric guitars unless a guitar is acoustic as well as electric. To get a clear sound one must strum on the soundhole as it works like a speaker of the guitar.
You will also find the saddle, bridge and bridge pins on the body that hold the wires in their appropriate places.
Bridge of the guitar is known as the final destination for the strings. The strings run over the saddle and run in the string pegs where they end. The bridge is a small material placed at the end to hold the pegs and saddle in place. Guitarists make use of stylish guitar bridge studs and these are replaced at times to adjust the action of the guitar. Pegs and saddle can be placed directly but it won’t look good. Therefore, a bridge is used.
To adjust the action of the guitar you need to use guitar saddle screws to raise or lower the part of bridge. It is the distance of strings to the fretboard. This distance is adjusted by lowering or raising the strings so your guitar can produce a pleasing sound.
If you have an electric guitar, you will find most of the parts explained above. However, the body of an electric guitar has some different parts which you won’t find on an acoustic, like, pickups, input jack, pickup selector switch, potentiometer.
Pickups capture strings vibration so these can be amplified. For many electric guitars these are electromagnetic and you will see magnets at the core as well as the coils of wire that are useful to disturb the magnetic field in the pick up when there is a string vibration. It is transferred to the amplifier as an electrical signal. Acoustic guitars have sound hole pickups, magnetic pickups (microphone style), etc.
Pickup selector switch:
Electric guitars have more than one pickup because at different positions strings have a different tone and various pickups helps in producing various tones. A pickup selector switch allows the player to switch between these tones and determine the sound.
Potentiometer and input jack:
Potentiometer helps to control the tone and volume of the guitar whereas input jack is the place to plug in your keyboard.
These are some of the guitar spare parts explained in brief which will help you know your guitar well. The functions of most of these parts are explained above, so you gain a better understanding of acoustic and electric guitars.