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 acoustic guitar. There is another article on parts of the electric guitar. If you just want to learn about the acoustic guitar, this lesson will be enough for you. This will help later on whenever somebody asks about the bridge, nut, bridge pins 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.
Compared to electric guitars, acoustic guitars do not have as much room for modifications. So most acoustic guitars will have essentially the same type of parts. You will find some of the parts on an acoustic guitar are very similar to the electric guitar parts. Even if you don’t intend on playing the electric guitar, have a look at their parts to give you an idea of the similarities.
With acoustic guitars, there are two general types: nylon string and steel string. The classical guitar in the first picture is a nylon string guitar (I airbrushed the design; normally they are just a wood grain). It has three strings made of nylon. The second picture is a steel string guitar where all strings are steel. The main difference is the sound; the parts are essentially the same.
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 difference between steel string guitar necks and nylon string guitar necks is usually the width 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. Classical guitars have them on the side of the neck and steel string guitars usually have them on the fingerboard (see below image).
Head or Headstock
The head of the guitar is where the strings end. The shape of the head is different between nylon and steel string guitars but don’t vary as much as electric guitars.
These pegs are used to tune the guitar strings. Other names for tuners include: Tuning heads, machine heads, pegs, tuners.
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. They are usually the same on acoustic guitars. Electric guitars have different types.
The body of acoustic guitars do not vary as much as electric guitars. This is because the shape of the body has a lot more importance on the sound produced compared to an electric guitar’s body.
Some guitars (normally only steel string) have strap buttons. Two strap buttons or pins are found on the guitar to attach a strap. They are usually placed behind the bottom of the neck and the bottom of the body.
Bridges on acoustic guitars are pretty straight forward. The classical bridge (shown above) is completely different to steel string bridges (shown below).
This is a small plastic piece that the strings sit on. Both types of acoustic guitars have them.
This is used only on steel string guitars. They are used to hold the ends of the strings in place. Nylon string guitars do not use them because it is possible to wrap the strings onto the bridge.
This is the main feature that distinguishes electric guitars from acoustic guitars. The sound hole is used to amplify the sound coming out of the guitar.
The guitar below has one feature that isn’t obvious at first. This acoustic guitar can be plugged into a guitar amp or PA. Electro-acoustic (or electric-acoustic) guitars are simply acoustic guitars with a pickup built inside the guitar. It is just an option – you don’t have to plug it in to play it.
The electro-acoustic guitar has two extra parts:
The pre-amp is a little control panel on the side of the body that can adjust the volume and tone. It houses a battery and sometimes has an inbuilt tuner.
The input jack is where you plug your lead into the guitar. It is the same on electric guitars except the placement is always on the side of the guitar or built into the end strap button.
This is a steel string guitar and as you can see it has 12 strings instead of six. I figured I would put this picture up instead of my 6 string guitar just to show the variations guitars can have.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH ACOUSTIC GUITAR PARTS:
The classical guitar in the first picture is one that was given to me. It was in horrible condition and had most of the parts missing or broken off. The person was going to throw it away but decided I might have some use for it. Knowing the names and sizes of the parts I needed made my life easy when I went out to buy replacement parts. I was lucky that day and the music shop gave me the parts for free because of their poor condition. After a good clean and adjustment, I managed to put together a decent guitar. The person who gave it to me thought it wasn’t fixable – which shows what happens when you don’t know enough about the parts of guitars.
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. My later lessons will use these terms so it is a good idea to have a solid understanding of them now.