WHO IS THE LESSON INTENDED FOR
This lesson is intended for complete beginners who either have not started learning guitar or are just starting out. Even those who are thinking about learning guitar can use this lesson.
None. You don’t need a guitar for this lesson
The purpose of this lesson is to help you become familiar with the parts of the electric guitar. This will help later on whenever somebody asks about the bridge, Floyd Rose tremolo, nut, truss rod or any other part so you know what they are talking about. This is only a brief overview. I could go into more detail but it isn’t necessary. If you want to find out about a certain part in detail, have a search in Google or ask me.
Between all the different types and styles of electric guitars, there are many different types of parts. This lesson does not go into every single type of part you can buy because there are endless variations and modifications you can buy and install on guitars. There are new modifications being created every day. I will just go over the basics and outline the parts that can and can’t be modified. You will find that the parts of an acoustic guitar are very similar to the electric guitar parts. Even if you don’t intend on playing the acoustic guitar, have a look at their parts (here) to give you an idea of the similarities.
THE NECK AND HEAD
The guitar neck is found on all types (both electric and acoustic). It will essentially be exactly the same on every guitar. The differences may be the type of wood, the type of inlays and the thickness of the neck.
The frets are the metal bars going across the neck. You can buy guitars with different fret thicknesses.
These are normally made of either plastic or mother of pearl. They are used to give you an idea of where on the guitar neck you are playing. They can vary in shapes and patterns (see the picture below).
Head or Headstock
The head of the guitar is where the strings end. The shape of the head can vary considerably and some guitars don’t even have one at all.
These pegs are used to tune the guitar strings. Other names for tuners include: Tuning heads, machine heads, pegs. Some guitars will have six on one side, others have three per side (and other combinations).
The fingerboard is the top half of the guitar neck. You can normally see the different wood layers.
The nut is the lowest point where the strings ring out. There are different parts that take place here on different guitars. The one above is a nut and in the picture below it is a ‘locking’ nut. The above one only sits the strings in position while the locking nut clamps the strings down.
The string tree is used on some guitars but not all. The purpose is to hold the strings in position.
The truss rod is a rod inside the neck of the guitar used to adjust the bow. The tension of the strings causes the neck to bow out. The truss rod is used to counter this tension so the neck stays straight and playable.
The body of the guitar can vary considerably in shape. The parts shown may vary as well but the general purpose stays the same.
Two strap buttons or pins are found on the guitar to attach a strap. Sometimes they will be on the edges of the guitar as is on mine, other guitars will have them coming out of the back.
This part can vary drastically on electric guitars. Compare the two photos above and see what I mean. The red guitar has a standard tremolo bridge while the blue/white guitar has a Floyd Rose tremolo. There are also other types such as fixed bridges. The main point to remember is the function of the different bridges can affect how the guitar is played and sound.
The input jack is where you plug your lead into the guitar. The location of the jack can change on different guitars. On mine they are on the side while others will have it on the face of the guitar.
This adjusts the tone of the guitar’s sound. It can change it from a more ‘sharp’ sound to a softer sound. Some guitars have two tone knobs.
This knob controls the volume of the sound coming out of the guitar.
The pickups are the devices that ‘hear’ what is being played. Different types of pickups change how the guitar sounds. On the above guitar there are two types of pickups. The two with two rows of dots are called humbuckers and the one in the middle is a single coil. There are many other types.
The pickup selector allows you to choose which pickup is used. Depending on the combination of pickups used, the number of positions the selector can be put in changes. It is common to have either three or five combinations of pickup selections.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH ELECTRIC GUITAR PARTS:
Knowing the different parts of the guitar and their functions is very important. Many guitarists neglect to find out about the parts and wonder why they have trouble with getting a good sound. With electric guitar, correctly manipulating the parts can give you a great sound. There are many great modifications you can install in your guitar that will drastically affect the sound and playability.
When I decided to buy my second electric guitar, I wanted to find something I could use to play the Steve Vai songs I had been learning. One critical part to achieve his sound and techniques is to use a Floyd Rose bridge. If I did not know this and bought a guitar with a fixed bridge, I wouldn’t have been able to get close to playing his songs properly.
Another experience I had was when I bought the blue/white guitar. It was in a second hand shop and was going for a bargain. I asked to try it out and noticed that the sound kept cutting in and out. I recognised this problem as a loose input jack that would take two minutes to fix. The salesperson didn’t know anything about guitars so I pretended that it would cost me at least $50 to fix. I managed to get a great discount on an already great price and two minutes after I got home it was working great! Some may think that it wasn’t right of me to pretend it was an expensive problem but the point is that my understanding of the parts saved me money. If I didn’t recognise the problem as a loose input jack, I may have just assumed it was a faulty guitar and missed out on a great deal.
Take your time to memorise the different parts and functions. It can make life easier when you need a replacement part and know the name of it. Have a read of my next lesson on acoustic guitar parts even if you don’t intend on playing acoustic guitar.