Parts of a guitar: Get to know your instrument

  • Headstock

    This is the head of the guitar. On the headstock you may see 6 or 12 tuners and tuning nuts depending on if it is a 6 string guitar or a 12 string guitar. Take good care of your headstock, this is where you will spend a lot of time tuning your guitar to get the sound you want. Many headstocks have manufacturer logos and intricate details to show the heritage of the guitar. 

    Tuners and tuning nuts

    Some of them are made of plastic, if it’s a handmade traditional guitar the tuners and tuning nuts may be made of wood. The most common material is metal for most guitars (steel strings) in the medium price point. Be careful not to knock the tuners and nuts when you are moving around as it will detune your guitar.

     

    Nut & Saddle

    These are very commonly overlooked parts of the guitar. Without a well maintained and clean nut & saddle the strings may not sit properly. When you change your strings make sure you take a soft toothbrush and gently clean out the groove where the guitar sits. Your nut & saddle should last a life time if you take care of it.

     

    Neck and frets (Fretboard)

    If you are right handed, your left hand will be on the neck, if you are left handed, you will strum with your left hand and use your right hand to press down on the frets (on a left handed guitar). The frets are there to show you where to press down to get different notes from the same string.

    Some guitars are fretless and many guitarists especially jazz players prefer a fretless neck. If you want to see what a fretless neck looks like, just think of a violin and cello. Frets help with precision; fretless necks enable the player to play with the tones a lot more.

     

    Body

    The body will be made of solid wood. Some of the types of wood used are Indian rosewood, mahogany, cypress and some exotic woods from tropical forests such as ziricote and ovengkol. The body may be small if it’s a classical guitar or larger for a more general acoustic/folk sound.

    The larger the body the more bass the sound will have. You can use the body as a percussive instrument to enrich your acoustic performance; tap your hand on the wood or your pick on the pickboard in beat with the music to get the audience clapping along. 

     

    Sound hole

    This is where the sound comes out. Acoustic guitars can have very different sounds dependent on the shape and materials. Many artists choose to use a semi-acoustic guitar that has an electric pick up in the sound hole.

     

    Bridge

    This is at the opposite end of the guitar to the headstock. Your strings are attached at the top with the headboard and at the end of the guitar on the bridge. Again, when changing your strings, have a quick look at the bridge to make sure it’s not damaged and give it a quick clean with a soft toothbrush. 
     

    Get further information about care and maintenance here