Learning how to play the guitar is a really great activity to embark on.
The guitar is a truly awesome instrument – with a guitar, you can play pretty much any genre of music, take your instrument out and about with you, and you can easily collaborate with other artists.
However, as is the case with learning any new instrument, the process can feel quite intimidating and overwhelming, especially in the beginning.
In addition to learning finger positions, chords, and strumming techniques, you also need to understand the guitar itself.
To become a good musician, you need to truly understand your instrument.
You should be able to name each part of the guitar and show an understanding of what that part contributes to the overall sound.
It is also important to learn the parts for maintenance purposes.
To learn the parts of an acoustic guitar and what they do, take a look at our ultimate guide below. We cover every part of the acoustic guitar that you need to know, from the sound-hole to the tuning keys.
If you’re looking to purchase your own acoustic guitar, we’ve also included a handy list of our favorite acoustic guitars that are available to purchase today, and an FAQ section to ensure that all of your burning queries are answered!
Acoustic Vs Electric Guitar
Before we get into the details, it is first necessary to distinguish between electric and acoustic guitars.
Whilst acoustic and electric guitars certainly have a number of similarities, they are very distinct instruments.
Electric guitars generate their sound using electricity, whilst acoustic guitars produce sounds simply using the vibration that results from strumming the strings.
Acoustic guitars tend to produce a more subtle sound that many people prefer.
Electric guitars are far better suited to genres such as rock, metal, and jazz, whereas acoustic guitars are well-suited to genres such as folk, country, and classical.
Both types can be very fun to play, however, acoustic models are better suited to learners.
This is, in part, due to the number of accessories required to play on an electric guitar.
In addition to understanding the parts of the electric guitar itself, you will also need to have a good understanding of amps and cables to play the electric guitar.
Additionally, such accessories constitute a large dent in your wallet. In fact, electric guitars alone are generally significantly more expensive than their acoustic counterparts.
This makes learning on an electric guitar less accessible.
For the sake of this article, we will focus specifically on the parts of an acoustic guitar.
Whilst some of these parts (i.e. the fretboard) will also be featured on electric guitars, many are specific to just acoustic models.
Parts Of An Acoustic Guitar
So, let’s get into it!
Below, we’ve listed all of the parts of an acoustic guitar. With each part, we’ve also included a brief description of the importance and purpose of that specific part.
Take a look – you’ll be an expert on acoustic guitars in no time!
The body of an acoustic guitar is usually made up of three different pieces of wood – the top (soundboard), back, and sides.
Each of these pieces contributes to the overall tone and sound produced by the guitar, but this is especially the case for the top piece.
This is why the type of wood that the top is made from, known as tonewood, is important. Different woods boast a range of different properties.
For instance, mahogany produces a warm and soft tone, whereas maple produces a bright and precise tone.
The parts of the body are the upper bout, the waist, and the lower bout. These correspond to the curves of the body.
You will have likely already noticed that the lower bout of acoustic guitars is usually slightly larger than the upper bout.
That being said, there is a huge range of diversity in guitar body shapes and sizes.
Generally speaking, a larger sound is usually produced by a larger box, however, this isn’t always the case. Some guitars will definitely surprise you!
The sound-hole of an acoustic guitar is usually a circular hole in the top of the body situated in the center.
However, some manufacturers have used their creativity to produce guitars with distinctive and innovative sound-hole designs.
Despite the name, the hole in the body of the guitar isn’t solely responsible for the sound produced by the guitar.
In fact, the guitar soundboard is also responsible for emanating the sound as it freely vibrates.
The bridge of the guitar is a single piece of material that supports the strings. The bridge is actually responsible for transmitting the strings’ vibrations to the soundboard of the guitar.
Without the bridge, the strings would make very little sound at all.
On acoustic guitars, the bridge is usually made out of wood. However, it could also be made from other materials such as bone or plastic.
On steel-stringed guitars and classical guitars, the bridge is attached to the top by glue.
The neck of an acoustic guitar is the part that extends from the body. It is a very important part of the acoustic guitar because it is home to a number of different parts.
For example, the neck is home to the fretboard (fingerboard), the frets, the headstock, and the truss rod.
Necks can have different shapes depending on the manufacturer. Some are more rounded, whereas others are more of a V-shape. The neck is a part of the guitar that can indicate good or poor quality.
Whilst the neck should be stable and solid, it should also allow for some give, as you may need to bend the neck ever so slightly when changing the pitch.
This is a particularly common technique when playing blues and rock genres.
The fretboard is also known as the fingerboard. As discussed above, the fretboard is situated on the neck of the guitar.
The fretboard is laminated to the front of the neck, and this is one of the most important features of the guitar.
When purchasing a guitar, it is of the utmost importance that you like the feel of the fretboard.
Fretboards tend to be made from ebony, maple, or rosewood. As with tonewoods, each one aids in producing a unique and particular sound.
Other guitars may have a fretboard made from synthetic material. For instance, Richlite has become a popular choice amongst manufacturers because of its resemblance to real wood and its lower price.
The frets are the raised lines on the fretboard. They sit along the whole length of the fretboard and serve to divide the fretboard into intervals. Each fret corresponds to one semitone of an octave.
Guitarists press the strings down against the frets. This shortens the string length which, in turn, changes the note.
Generally speaking, frets are made from metal. However, they do tend to wear over time, so it is important to provide appropriate fret maintenance.
Inlays (Position Markers)
Many classical guitars do not have position markers. However, if you are a beginner, position markers can be a great way to help you learn quicker.
Position markers are marks, usually dots, that have been inlaid into the fretboard.
Position markers serve as a visual aid to the guitarist. They are usually situated on the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 12th, and 15th frets.
The position marker situated on the 12th fret is usually distinctive from the others to show that it is one octave.
The nut on an acoustic guitar is the thin piece of material that supports the strings on the headstock end of the guitar. Generally, the nut is made from brass, ivory, ebony, or synthetic material.
The nut is a very important part of the acoustic guitar. It ensures that the strings are held in the appropriate position, both in terms of height and spacing between each string.
There are notches in the nut that hold the strings securely.
Parts Of A Guitar Headstock
This is situated at the top of the neck. It is also sometimes called the peghead. This part of the guitar holds the tuning keys that you use to adjust the tuning of the instrument.
Headstocks come in many different shapes, but they tend to be rectangular-like.
Headstocks usually come in one of three shapes: straight, tilted, or scarfed.
Straight models tend to be the most affordable because they are the least expensive to make. Most acoustic guitars boast tilted headstocks.
The string posts on a guitar are the cylinders. They have a hole in the center for the strings to pass through.
String posts are also known as capstans, and they are connected to the whole of the headstock.
Tuning keys are also called tuners, machine heads, and tuning pegs.
These keys work to rotate the string posts which, in turn, increases or decreases the tension in the strings. This will either raise or lower the pitch.
Tuning keys will vary quite significantly from guitar to guitar. For example, vintage guitars tend to have open-gear tuners. This is because enclosed gears weren’t common at all until after World War II.
The truss rod is the metal tensioning bar that runs through the center of the neck of the guitar. It can be adjusted to change the amount of relief or bow in the neck.
Many classical guitars do not have a truss rod because there is less tension applied to the neck when using nylon strings.
The saddle is situated on the bridge of the guitar. It is often made from the same material as the nut.
It is positioned at an angle, with the bass end positioned closer to the bridge pins, which allows for accurate intonation.
Bracing is located on the underside of the soundboard and back. It consists of wooden struts, usually made from spruce or timber. It works to reinforce the guitar’s soundboard and back.
Bracing is light, and as such, works to reinforce important parts of the guitar without adding much weight.
In fact, some bracing struts have been scalloped, which results in them being even lighter than normal.
X-shaped bracing is most commonly used, particularly on steel-stringed guitars. However, classical guitars with nylon strings often use fan bracing instead. Most guitar backs have ladder bracing.
Binding is the strip that is situated on the seam between the top and sides of the acoustic guitar.
It tends to be made from materials such as vinyl and PVC plastic. Binding serves a number of different purposes.
Binding is used for decorative purposes and protective purposes. It protects the edges of the guitar from damage and can be used to make a guitar look more pleasing.
Purfling is similar to binding, but it is situated on the inside of the binding.
Best Acoustic Guitars
Now that you know each part of the acoustic guitar, we thought it would be appropriate to give you an idea of the kinds of acoustic guitars that are available to purchase today.
Check out our list below – regardless of your budget, there should be something for everyone.
If you feel as though you’ve passed the beginner stage and you’re ready to take your playing to the next level, this Fender bundle is an excellent way to do so.
It comes with a hard case, a tuner, a strap, extra strings, picks, and most importantly, a top-quality acoustic guitar! The walnut fretboard produces a super warm and gorgeous tone.
Ibanez is a very well-respected brand when it comes to acoustic guitars. They consistently produce top-quality instruments – and this one is absolutely no exception!
The mahogany back and sides aid in producing the richest and most wonderful tone. As a bonus, the black color makes for a super sleek and eye-catching look!
Finally, if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, why not consider a ¾ sized guitar? This model is perfect for children or adults who don’t quite want to commit to a full-sized model.
This Yamaha guitar is particularly well-built and of very high quality. It is the perfect option for a learner!
Frequently Asked Questions
Still have some burning acoustic guitar-related questions? Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. Take a look at this handy FAQ section.
We have given detailed answers to common guitar questions to ensure that you are as well-informed as possible.
What Are The Six Strings?
On a six-stringed guitar, the string order follows as below:
1st string – E
2nd string – B
3rd string – G
4th string – D
5th string – A
6th string – E
Why Are There Two E Strings On A Guitar?
The two E strings on the guitar are both an E, but with a two-octave separation. The lower E is referred to using the notation ‘E2’. The higher E is referred to as ‘E4’.
What Are Acoustic Guitar Strings Made From?
Acoustic guitars tend to boast either metal strings or nylon strings.
The metal strings are usually made from steel, but they can also be made from nickel, brass, or bronze. Classical guitars tend to have nylon strings.
On an acoustic guitar, steel strings are usually coated with either bronze or brass.
Brass plated strings can sound quite cutting, which makes them a good choice for larger guitars. Bronze-coated strings tend to produce a more smooth and warm sound.
Why Do Some Guitars Have No Headstock?
You may have seen some guitar models that have no large headstock at the top of the neck. This may be the case for a number of reasons.
However, it is generally to make a guitar easier to carry around and transport.
In fact, headless guitars usually have a smaller or lighter body as well. These guitars are made with travelers in mind.
If you plan on taking your guitar everywhere with you, or your gig and tour consistently, a headless guitar might be a good option.
Do You Need A Sound-Hole Cover?
A sound-hole cover is a piece of material that covers the sound-hole of the acoustic guitar. The main reason people use sound-hole covers is to prevent feedback created by the sound-hole.
This is really only a problem when you are playing live and notice that feedback is interfering with your performance.
How Many Hours Should You Practice Guitar A Day?
If you want to learn how to play the guitar well, consistent practice is necessary. However, you’re likely wondering how long you need to practice for each day.
Well, unfortunately, there is no set rule. If you fancy playing guitar for hours on end one day but dread the thought of it the next, that’s fine!
It is important that you don’t set yourself unachievable goals, because this can really interfere with your progress.
If you want to practice consistently but struggle with motivation, we recommend that you try to practice for 20 minutes a day.
Some days, it is likely that you’ll get so into your practice that you will end up paying for far longer!
How Long Do Your Fingers Hurt When Learning The Guitar?
Ah, the dreaded fingertip soreness. We know the feeling well.
You will be happy to hear that, if you practice every day consistently, your fingertip soreness should subside within a few weeks.
The more you practice, the quicker your fingers will build up resistance, and the quicker the pain will subside!
You don’t need to treat fingertip soreness. However, if it is becoming particularly painful, you can use ice or numbing creams for short-term relief. And remember – take a break if you need to!
Can You Change the Headstock on a Guitar?
Yes, you can change the headstock on a guitar. In fact, there are two methods that you can use.
The first option is to reshape or sand down the current head on your guitar. If you are looking for a different feel. You can replace the entire neck of your guitar with a new one that meets your desire.
Although they may look simple, acoustic guitars are actually quite complicated instruments.
However, learning the parts of the acoustic guitar will help you understand your instrument better and, in turn, will help you become a better guitarist.
We hope that this article has inspired you to understand the ins and outs of your instrument and encouraged you to pick up the guitar and get practicing! You’ll be playing your favorite tunes perfectly in no time.
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