Knowing Your Guitar : Acoustic Guitar Parts

To start off with, an acoustic guitar is a very popular musical instrument and is also known to be quite versatile. It is easy to handle and gets into the grips of all individuals, whether they are adults or children. They are quite fun and enjoyable to learn, as they belong to the string family.


    Acoustic guitars are made of rosewood, mahogany and raw wood, and thus, all these different types of wood guitars produce different kinds of shallow or deep sounds. Many different woods are used in the construction of acoustic guitar bodies and which wood is used decides the ultimate price of the instrument and the desired tone-based qualities. The most common shapes of acoustic guitars are the dreadnought shape, the grand auditorium and the classical shape. For any guitar body design, craftsmanship and wood make a significant difference to the final sound that is produced.


    The first part to discuss is the Headstock or the head of the acoustic guitar and that contains the machine heads. It is a flat platform-like area at the end of the neck. The shape of the head is of great importance, as it can affect the tone and overall sound of the guitar. The angle or positioning at which the head is attached to the end of the neck, will affect the note holding capacity of the guitar and will determine, if the guitar needs string retainer, since it affects the overall pressure of the strings going over the nut. A guitar head or headstock attached at an angle is much more prone towards breakage and needs to be handled properly.


    The Headstock contains tuning keys, tuning pegs and nuts. They also include the capstan and the guitar tuners. The machine heads are very important and necessary for controlling major tuning and sound correction of the strings.


      The tuning keys are turned either left or right to adjust the pitch or tune of a guitar string. This is done in accordance with the pitch and range that is comfortable for the instrumentalist.


      The tuning pegs allow a guitarist to tune the guitar by tightening or loosening the wires or the strings to adjust the tension of the string and produce the most suitable sounds. Tuning pegs are also called the tuning knobs. Tuning pegs are the part where the free end of string is inserted and rotated with the help of tuning keys. They rotate as they are connected to tuning keys by a simple gear mechanism.


      The tuning peg turns a cog which is connected to a ‘capstan’. The capstan keeps and holds the string well in order at its place. There is a hole in the capstan that the string goes through and as the tuning peg is wound, it turns the capstan through the gear and the string is wrapped around the capstan. Loosening the machine head (by turning it to the left) will result in a lower pitched sound and hence, strings will then be loosely attached. Tightening the machine head will cause the pitch of the string to go higher and in this way, they stretch and expand all the more.


      Tuners are not an absolute necessity but help adjusting the pitch up and down to the desired tuning. The flat key is attached to the peg which the string winds around. Good tuners are not overly expensive but if it’s a cheap guitar getting some new strings can help with sound and tuning stability.

    5. NUTS:

      Nuts are that part of the acoustic guitar where strings are together and connected before going to the tuning pegs. It has a long narrow cut or fissure at the end so as to keep the strings intact. The nut keeps the strings together, in a well-balanced way, controls how high the strings are over the fretboard and it is responsible for the transmitting of vibration to the neck of the guitar. This is why it is often referred to as the action of the guitar. A lower action means that the strings are closer to the fretboard and a higher action means that they are further away.


    The neck is the long thin part of a guitar where the guitarist places their fingers while playing. On the face of the neck, the headboard is placed well for better coordination and sound production. Thus, the neck is one long thin bit of wood found between the body and head.


      The frets, fretboard, nut, head and are all attached to the neck. The quality of wood, shape, strings and connection of the neck to body affects the sound of the guitar and also ensures that your guitar is intact. Thicker necks will transmit sound in a different way than a thin one due to all the above-mentioned factors.


      Fretboard is the wood part made usually of maple, rosewood or basswood. The fingerboard is the front part of the guitar, it is also called "fretboard." All the notes or chords are present here.

      1. THE FRETS:

        The small piece that divides the fingerboard is called frets. The frets are metal strips that run perpendicular to the strings across your guitar fretboard. The frets have smooth and level edges to prevent the guitar strings from cutting your fingers and reduce buzzing sounds. The fret holds the strings in different lengths so that when you press it and strum the strings, different pitches are produced and you can also play specific notes.


        Fret lockers or position markers are marks or small circles used to track fingers on fretboard. Position markers are one of the few pieces of an acoustic guitar that have no effect on sound. The standard location for these markers is the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th and 12th fret.

      3. TRUSS ROD:

        Truss rod is the metal rod placed inside the neck to prevent the neck from stooping, slouching or bending due to the tension or pulling of the strings. Steel string acoustics and some nylon string acoustics have truss rods. However, it is not as much a requirement for nylon strings as much as it is for steel strings, as nylon is much tougher and can handle greater pressure.


    The biggest part of the guitar is called the body, which contains a hole or deep cut in the middle called the sound hole. The body of the acoustic guitar is made up of back, sides and top. Often the top sheet, called the sound board, is made of different wood than the back and sides. The upper part of the body is known as the treble bout and the lower part is the bass bout. The waist acts as a divider between the sections. The different shapes of guitars can have different sound effects. On the body, the bridge, the saddle, and the bridge pins hold the wires in place. The body is the "hollowed" part of the guitar. It is here where you will find the sound hole, pickguard, saddle, and bridge.


      The sound hole is the part of the guitar which helps produce and allocate the sound. The sound hole is not just to allow the sound to project but it is also very important for equalizing the air pressure to allow the sound board to vibrate. The sound hole of your guitar is where the sounds that dwell or reside in the body are produced. It’s also a place that tends to be the natural habitat of the picks, falling many a times while a guitarist is learning how to strum.


      The dark, flat and smooth or sleek piece of material placed near the sound hole is called the pickguard. The pickguard is that protective plate that is made of various plastic materials that resides next to the guitar sound hole. The pickguard tends to take a lot of stress and workload and pressure, and can be changed independent of the body. Thus, it is the area where your hand will travel as you strum the guitar and serves to protect the body from damages or scratches that might accidentally take place. Thus, they are also called, scratch plates.


      The saddle is the small, tiny piece of material which holds up the strings at a certain distance from the body. The bridge is placed above the saddle and helps keep the strings in the correct position and decides the height of the strings over the fretboard. The bridge saddle along with the nut at the base of the headstock, controls and manages the spacing of the strings and the action of the guitar. The vibration of the strings is transferred through the bridge and vibrates the body to produce the tone that is unique to the guitar. The bridge saddle also affects the tone depending on the material that it is made from.


      Bridge pins are found only on steel string acoustic not on classical guitars which are mainly, nylon. The bridge pins hold the strings in place in the bridge of the guitar. The bridge pins anchor the strings and secure them to the body, but at the same time, they are one of the most tough parts of the acoustic guitar to change.


    The resonance chamber helps the sound to bounce and then is released from the sound hole. A nicely designed body contributes to amplify and clarify the sounds of your guitar.


    The strings for acoustic and electric guitar are both different. Classical guitars have nylon strings and regular acoustic guitars have metal strings. The thickness, resistance and composition of the strings make a noticeable difference in its sound. The entire structure, composition and design of your guitar is to help the strings sound their best. Thus, they should be observed and looked upon well.


    They are simply the metal studs that you use to attach your guitar straps. They are usually made of metal and if your acoustic does not have one you can quickly tie the strap at the top of the headstock.

So, what are you waiting for? Start sketching it and noting it down in your very own diary!