The components of the guitar will be clearer as we continue to discuss them across this article. Each of the respective elements is very significant considering the amount of variation they can have on the guitar. The basic parts of a guitar are as follows:
- Fretboard and Frets
- Bridge pins
- Output Jack
This component is located at the end of the guitar after the neck on the uppermost side. It serves as what is called “home” to the pegs and which also holds the strings at the upper part of the guitar. In other words, we can say the headstock serves as a support for the tuning components of the guitar.
The way the headstock is structured is in two significant blueprints; the three tops and three turners versus the six in-line tuners, although there are some guitars which sometimes have no headstock – an example of this would be electric guitars.
Also, for the guitars that have a headstock, they are either carved along with the guitar itself or sometimes carved separately using a joint to hook it to the neck of the guitar. The carved headstock are of two types namely:
- Straight-type headstock: They are made in such a manner that they are in parallel with the neck and the fingerboard, which makes them far more comfortable to produce, although they have a significant disadvantage in that their strings may pop out of the nut because of the absence of an angle in their manufacture.
- Angled-type headstock: In the manufacture of this type, an allowable angle range of 3 degrees to 25 degrees is factored in. This attribute makes them far more durable in keeping their strings intact to the nuts.
Along with the already discussed features of the headstock, they also serve as a point of beauty for the guitar and where different guitar producers mark their logos/seals.
Otherwise known as machine heads, tuning keys, or tuning pegs, regardless of what they call them, they serve one primary purpose which is to adjust the string tension which in turn raises or lowers the pitch of the strings.
Particular to the acoustic guitars is the arrangement of the pegs which when held properly should have two rows with three pegs each in one row at the top and one row at the bottom. This is slightly different for electric guitars which have in a single row all six of the pegs.
This aspect is critical because they are responsible for the quality and variation in the type of sound that your guitar gives out. They also serve as terminators to eliminate string slippage and for stability in tuning. A popular design for the tuning peg is that they consist of a cylinder that rests upon a pinion gear with a worm connecting them. Either way, both designs require that small crews are used to connect the pegs to the headstock.
This is the part that consists of the frets, fretboard, tuners, headstock, and truss rod. The neck begins from the body of the guitar, and it is also the base of the fingerboard.
They make them with wood, which has a certain characteristic of considerable bending stress depending on the type of the string they use, but note that the fretboard is made of a different wood entirely and glued to the neck. How hard the wood used is dependent on the quality of the instrument. The rigidity is significant because the type of tune the guitar produces might require that the wood is bent with force as this gives multiple variations of pitch.
Fretboards and Frets
Also known as fingerboards, the fretboard is a piece of wood attached to the neck. They serve as the medium for carrying the strings over the nut and the bridge of the guitar. This is outrightly one of the most critical aspects of the guitar because to be able to play music, the musician would need to continually change the pitch, and this can only be possible through the fretboards. On the fretboard, we have what we call “frets” numbering in the range of 20-24.
The frets are made of hard materials – mostly steel nowadays; this material is what is responsible for the intonation the musician chooses to play. The frets over time begin to wear out because of its frequent friction with the strings and should be replaced immediately as this can cause a dull sound.
This is at the bout of the body, they support the strings and the vibrations transmitted by the strings to the top of the guitar. They hold the string with tension at a relative distance from the fretboard, and this is usually perpendicular to the strings and the surface beneath it.
Another unique property of the bridge is that they control the spacing between the strings. Bridges are known to be a one-material part of the guitar, their most common material being wood which perfectly complements the strings and the surface used for resonance.
This is a tool used on the guitar to precisely keep the string at a horizontal plane. With its modernization, it is common that you find that bridge pins are made of synthetics in acoustics while in electric guitars they are non-existent.
This is a bridge with a different bearing surface that supports the strings. A common feature of this saddle is that it rests freely on the hardwood bridge, fixated by the string tension. The saddle also helps in keeping the strings through the shallow groove from dangling around during playing.
Saddles with no notches and no saddle base are seated in the groove cut into the tie block.
The body of a regular guitar is separated into two sections:
- Treble or upper bout
- Bass or lower bout
The waist is the narrow section between the treble and the bass bouts.
You must not neglect the importance and the emphasis we give to the body structure and composition, because it is one of the fundamental determinants of the resonance that shapes tone quality. One significant factor that affects the volume of string instruments, particularly, in this case, the guitar, is the resonance. This is also immensely influenced by the kind of body the guitar has.
Factors that affect the resonance of the guitar are:
- The size and shape of the body of the guitar
- How hollow or solid the body of the guitar is
- Type of wood used in the construction of the body of the guitar
There are different types of wood used for different tones of the guitar, namely:
- Mahogany: Its highly dense quality coupled with open grains and big pores make it durable and perfect for producing tones that require low frequencies. It also gives off a warm and resonant quality. As per its durability, because of its dense nature, guitars made with this type of wood are less susceptible to scratches and dents.
- Rosewood: Rosewood is used for the construction of the sides and backs of guitars. Most commonly used for the acoustic guitar, they possess a dark brown color with reddish or purple streaks running through it.
- Basswood: Basswood is generally light colored and guitars made of this material can easily be found in white or mid-tan. The basswood has a unique feature of being able to attenuate both high frequencies and low frequencies. It also has one major setback in that it cannot correctly produce clear tones.
- Maple wood: There are two types of Maple wood, firstly is the Western Soft maple wood which is has a lightweight and a bright tone. Secondly is the Eastern Hard maple, which is far denser than the soft western maple. They are used in producing necks because of their hard characteristic. In the rare occasion they are used to construct the body, they give off a powerful high tone.
- Adler wood: Alder wood is a prevalent lightweight wood used in creating tunes of a very clean and balanced tone response. They possess a soft structure but with a hard grain pattern, allowing it to have a more robust appearance.
- Walnut wood: This is a semi-hardwood used in the construction of guitar bodies. They possess a solid grain pattern which makes it heavier and denser than the popularly known maple woods. It usually gives a warm tone. One of its significant advantages is that it is sustainable because of its density.
The pickguard’s primary purpose is to protect the guitar’s finish from scratches by the guitar pick. Although there are different choices of pickguards, each is of high quality given the headstock used. This pickguard is also a component in beautifying the guitar as it is in a color different from that of the body.
There are different types of pickguards:
- Acoustic guitar pickguard
- Solid-body electric pickguard
- Floating pickguards
Common materials used to construct pickguards are plastics in the form of celluloid, vinyl, or acrylic glass.
The pickup senses the vibrations of the strings on the fingerboard when the musician is playing the guitar. This is common to the electric guitar in its function to be able to convert the vibrations to electrical signals.
The audience hears the sound through an amplifier which plays the signal through a loudspeaker. These electric guitars are known to use a particular type of pickup which is the magnetic pickup.
Magnetic pickups consist of permanent magnets wrapped in a coil. The permanent magnet magnetizes the guitar string so that when you pluck the string, the magnetic field moves along with the string.
They are structured with pole-pieces centered on every string, although most guitars don’t have their strings completely parallel, they converge at the nut and diverge at the bridge.
Originating from Italy in the early 16th century, the word “tremolo” means a trembling effect. The tremolo bar has a primary purpose of altering the pitch of the strings. Pushing down the bar causes a lower pitch while pulling up the bar gives off a higher pitch.
There are four major kinds of tremolo bar:
- The Floyd Rose Locking Tremolo: This uniquely structured tremolo locks down on the strings thereby ensuring that the initial tension kept is not disturbed by the tremolo bar. This structure makes tuning a lot more complicated than usual but promises to give a more stable and lasting tone.
- Floating Bridge Tremolo: This design allows the tone to be bent in both directions affecting the tuning stability significantly.
- Bigsby Tremolo: These are always placed at the end of the body, which gives it a limited range of pitch. This limited pitch range creates a more stable tuning.
- Vintage Synchronised Tremolo: This has only one direction of bending which is down. They have a significant disadvantage which is tuning even though they are more stable than the floating bridge tremolo.
This is an important part of a guitar. It aids in supporting the strings at ends close to the headstock. They define the scale length of the open strings. The nut construction material can vary from brass to plastic, etc., and are usually grooved. The grooves are to ensure that the strings move from the fretboard to the headstock smoothly.