The electric guitar tends to be one of the more complicated stringed instrument as far as components go. Much more so than it's counterpart the acoustic.
It is important, however, to know the parts and pieces that effect the sound of your axe.
In this article we break down the guitar into 19 different components that make up your instrument. You've got pieces like the body, which are huge and everyone will see, to the nut, which is just over two inches long and yet vitally important to the sound of the instrument.
The guitar’s body is the largest part of the guitar, it's the big curvy part that rests against your body when you play. The guitar’s body sits underneath the strings and is the mounting point for all the electronics incorporated on the guitar.
This includes the pots, bridge, pickups, output jack, selection switch, and vibrato arm. The strap buttons and pickguard are both also normal components you'll find somewhere on the body. The body can be found in solid, semi-hollow, or hollow versions.
The electric guitar’s neck is the 2nd largest component of the guitar, and is normally made of wood. The neck holds the nut, the frets, the fretboard, the head and tuners.
A truss rod is placed located inside the neck, having the role of keeping the neck at the right curve. This is extremely important for the overall sound of the instrument.
The electric guitar head sits at the top of the neck and holds the tuners. The shape and the size are often a trademark of the brand or style of the guitar. The way the neck vibrates also depends on the guitar head’s shape and size. Finally, the size and shape can help determine the capacity of the instrument to sustain the notes.
The head is the place where the tuners are located. The arrangement and placement of the tuners is determined by the head’s shape and size. They are placed usually either three on each side or six on one side.
Attached to the strings of the guitar, the tuners help tighten these strings to make the notes ring true.
String retainers are only found on certain types of guitars, such as the Fender Stratocaster, for example. They have the role to prevent the string jumping out of place and to preserve the string’s tension.
The truss adjustment helps to prevent the strings from buzzing, to adjust the neck’s curve and the strings’ height.
The nut is made of bone or skinny plastic and features slots that hold each individual string.
The playability and the sound of a guitar both depend on the nut. By keeping the strings at the proper height above the frets and preventing the strings from buzzing, the sound can be made or destroyed by this simple little piece.
The fretboard sits atop the neck of the guitar from the nut to the body. On top of the fretboard sit the inlays and the frets.
The fretboard is divided into evenly spaced intervals by the frets and determines the notes of the neck. This evenly spacing ensures that notes are always adjusted to the same tuning and placed in the same spots.
Normally the fretboard is made of hard word or material. The most common options you'll see are Rosewood, Maple, and Ebony.
Inlays, or fret markers, can come in different shapes, but the most common shape is usually a dot.
The fret markers have the role to help you locate the places on the fretboard where you are at the moment. You learn them and will remember them by heart after playing guitar for awhile.
The frets are made of skinny metal. They are running at regular spacing across the fretboard. The neck’s length determines the spacing. When a string is pushed down it increases the pitch on the fretboard by shortening the string.
A standard, classic guitar arrangement has six strings, but 4, 8 and 12 aren't unheard of. The exact size is the choice of the guitar’s owner. They have different diameters, from thin to thick as you proceed up the neck.
Electric guitar strings are commonly made out of strong magnetic metals like chromium, steel and nickel.
The guitar’s pickups are parts containing electronic components. They convert the string’s movement to a small electric signal. The signal is then is transmitted down the cord in order to reach into an amplifier.
Pickups come in many different types, each of them featuring their own sound. By adjusting the electric guitar’s pickups, the sound can be completely changed. Many models of pickups are really known to be found on certain types and models of guitar.
The pickup selector has the role to switch the electric guitar’s pickups on and off. The electric guitar’s sound changes via the pickup selector.
As their name suggest, these controls adjust tone and volume in an electric guitar. These parts can modify the amount of treble and set the volume up and down.
The tremolo bar can generate different types of special effects, such as lowering and raising the notes’ pitch. Many guitars don't come stock with a tremolo bar but they can be added fairly easily.
The tremolo bar can also be referred to as a vibrato bar.
The strings attach to the tuners on one side, and the bridge is the place where they are anchored. The bridge usually serves multiple purposes, also setting the tone of the electric guitar by adjusting the parts called saddle. With the help of an adjustment screw, the saddle is moved back and forth, and this is how is set the guitar’s tone.
Pickguards help to prevent scratching the body of the electric guitar by the pick. However, they can also have other purposes. For instance, on a Fender Stratocaster, all the electronic components come mounted on the pickguard.
As the name implys, these buttons are where your guitar strap is hooked up. A locking type of strap button is the best kind. This helps keeping your strap secure while shredding up and down the neck at a furious pace.
The output jack is where the electric components send their signals. By hooking up a chord to the output jack you can send these signals to an amplifier, really boosting the sound.
There you have it. the parts of an electric guitar!
Now that you know what you're looking at we recommend you check out our article detailing the best electric guitars.