Guitar Anatomy

Guitar Anatomy: Every Part Of The Guitar Explained in 5 Minutes

Trying to learn the guitar but getting stumped on terminology? Want to know the names of the different parts of the guitar but don’t know how to find out? Great, you’ve come to the right place!

The absolute easiest way to learn the names of the different parts of the guitar is by looking at a simple anatomy diagram like the ones we have created below. Whether you’re looking to learn the anatomy of an: Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Classical Guitar or Bass Guitar – we’ve got you covered.

So invest the next 5 minutes of your day looking through these diagrams now, and we guarantee it’ll make learning the guitar easier for the rest of your life.

Electric Guitar Anatomy

Electric Guitar Anatomy

Now that you’ve seen an annotated image of all the parts of an electric guitar, we’re going to go through each part individually and explain what they do.

Headstock

Electric Guitar Headstock

An electric guitar’s headstock (also known as a peghead) is located at the top of the guitar and is primarily used to house the tuning keys. It is connected to the guitar’s neck and is used to hold all of the strings in place. Generally speaking, the headstock on an electric guitar will contain the tuning keys, nut and string tree.

Tuning Keys

Electric Guitar Tuning Keys

An electric guitar’s tuning keys (also known as a tuning pegs or machine heads) are located on the headstock of the guitar and are used to adjust the tension of your strings.

By turning the tuning keys, you’ll be able to “tune” your guitar to your desired tuning (most commonly EADGBe).

Nut

Electric Guitar Nut

An electric guitar’s nut is located between the neck and the headstock of the guitar. It is responsible for creating the correct spacing between the strings, as well as the correct elevation of the strings from the fretboard.

Generally speaking, electric guitar nuts are white in color and made from: bone, plastic, metal, fossil ivory, ebony or graphite and have ridges carved into them that keep the strings securely in place while you play the guitar.

String Tree

Electric Guitar String Trees

The string tree is a small metal widget that is located between the nut and the tuning screws on electric guitars with six in a row tuning screws and flat headstocks. The string tree ensures a downwards pressure is applied to the strings which prevents wear to the nut which causes buzzing and tuning instability. Guitars with angled headstocks in relation to the necks don’t usually need string trees, only guitars with straight headstocks in relation to the neck and six in a row tuners.

Neck

Electric Guitar Neck

An electric guitar’s neck is the long piece of wood that contains the fretboard and truss rod. It is located between the body of the guitar and the headstock, and plays a vital role in how your guitar feels and sounds when playing.

Fretboard

Electric Guitar Fretboard

An electric guitar’s fretboard (also known as the fingerboard) is a thin strip of wood that is placed over the front of the neck which contains “frets” at specific intervals.

Frets

Electric Guitar Fret

Electric guitar frets are the metal dividers you’ll see embedded in your fretboard. When you press a string against the fretboard, you change the note the string plays due to the fact that the string is no longer vibrating from the “nut”, but instead from the fret to the right of your finger (when looking down on your guitar).

Fret Markers

Electric Guitar Fret Marker

Electric guitar fret markers (also known as inlays) are used as visual indicators of where you are on the fretboard. They are most commonly displayed as dots and are typically located on the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 12th (as two dots), 15th, 17th, 19th and 21st frets.

Bridge

Electric Guitar Bridge

An electric guitar’s bridge is located on the body of the guitar and is used to support the strings and guide them over the pickups.

Whammy Bar

Electric Guitar Whammy Bar

An electric guitar’s whammy bar (also known as a tremolo arm) is metal arm that is attached to the bridge of some guitars. Pushing or pulling the whammy bar allows you to change the tension on every string, giving you the ability to create some unique sounds from your guitar, such as: dive bombs, ambulance sirens, animal sounds, engine revving and more.

Pickups

Electric Guitar Pickups

An electric guitar’s pickups are located on the body of the guitar, between the bridge and the fretboard. These devices sense the vibration when strings are played and converts them into electrical signals which can then be amplified using an amplifier.

Without the pickups “picking up” the vibrations of your strings, an electric guitar would be very quiet and you wouldn’t be able to hear them over the drums, singer or bass guitarist.

Pickup Selector

Electric Guitar Pickup Selector

An electric guitar’s pickup selector (also known as a toggle switch) is located towards the bottom of your guitar’s body and is used to select the pickup you wish to use. Each pickup will produce a different tone, giving you all the tonal variation you need to play a variety of different songs.

The pickup closest to the bridge will give you a brighter and more sharp tone, whereas the pickup closest to the neck will give you a more mellow and warmer tone.

Volume & Tone Controls

Electric Guitar Volume & Tone Controls

An electric guitar’s volume & tone control knobs are located at the bottom of your guitar’s body and are used to adjust the volume output to the amplifier and to control the amount of treble in your tone.

Output Jack

Electric Guitar Output Jack

An electric guitar’s output jack is located towards the bottom of your guitar’s body. It is where the guitar cable is plugged in, which transfers the electrical signal captured from the pickups through to the amplifier.

Body

Electric Guitar Body

An electric guitar’s body is the main part of the guitar which is located beneath the neck and is the part that you hold against your body when playing the guitar. It is used to house the bridge, pickups, pickup selector, volume and tone controls and output jack.

Cutaway

Electric Guitar Cutaway

An electric guitar’s cutaway is the area of the body that has been “cut away” near the neck. The purpose of the cutaway is to make it easier for you to access the higher frets.

Strap Buttons

Electric Guitar Strap Button

An electric guitar’s strap buttons (also known as strap pins) are the two metal buttons that are screwed into the body of your guitar. These allow you to attach a strap to your guitar, which means you can hang the guitar around your shoulder instead of having to hold the weight with your hands. This is especially useful when playing for long periods of time whilst standing.

Pickguard

Electric Guitar Pickguard

An electric guitar’s pickguard (also known as a scratchplate) is a plastic sheet that’s screwed into the body of your guitar beneath the strings to prevent the guitar’s finish from being scratched while playing.

Acoustic Guitar Anatomy

Acoustic Guitar Anatomy

Headstock

Acoustic Guitar Headstock

An acoustic guitar’s headstock (also known as a peghead) is positioned at the top of the guitar and is mainly used to house the tuning keys. It is connected to the guitar’s neck and is used to hold all of the strings in place. Generally speaking, the headstock on an acoustic guitar will contain the tuning keys and nut.

Tuning Keys

Acoustic Guitar Tuning Keys

An acoustic guitar’s tuning keys (also known as a machine heads or tuning pegs) are positioned on the headstock of the guitar and are used to change the tension of your strings. By turning the tuning keys, you’ll be able to “tune” your guitar to your desired tuning (most commonly EADGBe).

Nut

Acoustic Guitar Nut

An acoustic guitar’s nut is located between the neck and the headstock. It is responsible for maintaining the correct spacing between the strings, as well as the correct elevation of the strings from the fretboard. Generally speaking, acoustic guitar nuts are made from: fossil ivory, bone, plastic, metal, ceramics, ebony or graphite and have ridges carved into them that keep the strings firmly in place while you play the guitar.

Neck

Acoustic Guitar Neck

An acoustic guitar’s neck is located between the body of the guitar and the headstock. It is the long piece of wood that contains the fretboard, frets and truss rod.

The guitar neck plays a vital role in how your guitar both feels and sounds while playing.

Fretboard

Acoustic Guitar Fretboard

An acoustic guitar’s fretboard (also known as the fingerboard) is a thin strip of wood that is located on the front of the neck which contains “frets” at specific intervals.

Fret

Acoustic Guitar Fret

The frets on an acoustic guitar are the metal dividers you’ll see embedded in the fretboard. When you use your fingers to press a string against the fretboard, you change the note the string plays due to the fact that the string is no longer vibrating from the “nut”, but instead from the fret to the right of your finger (when looking down on your guitar).

Fret Marker

Acoustic Guitar Fret Marker

The fret markers on an acoustic guitar (also known as inlays) are used as visual indicators of where you are on the fretboard.

They are most commonly displayed as dots and are typically located on the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 12th (as two dots), 15th, 17th and 19th frets.

Bridge

Acoustic Guitar Bridge

An acoustic guitar’s bridge is located below the soundhole and is responsible for keeping the strings at the correct distance from each other, controlling the guitar’s action and transmitting the strings vibration to the soundboard.

Generally speaking, the acoustic guitar’s bridge is made of wood and consists of 3 parts: the bridge plate, the bridge pins and the saddle.

Saddle

Acoustic Guitar Saddle

An acoustic guitar’s saddle is the small piece of bone or plastic located on the bridge that the strings are placed over. It is typically white in color and is found in front of the bridge pins. The height of the saddle is responsible for setting the action of the strings from the bottom of the guitar.

Bridge Pins

Acoustic Guitar Bridge Pins

The bridge pins on an acoustic guitar are responsible for holding the strings in place against the bridge plate. They are usually white in color and are made from either bone, plastic, fossil ivory or wood.

Body

Acoustic Guitar Body

An acoustic guitar’s body is the main part of the guitar which is located beneath the neck and is the part that you hold against your body while playing.

Strap Buttons

Acoustic Guitar Strap Button

An acoustic guitar’s strap buttons (also known as strap pins) are the two metal buttons that are screwed into the body of your guitar. These allow you to attach a strap to your guitar, which means you can hang the guitar around your shoulder instead of having to hold the weight with your hands. This is especially useful when playing for long periods of time whilst standing.

Many acoustic guitars do not feature strap buttons out the box, but can be installed for a nominal fee by an experienced luthier.

Soundhole

Acoustic Guitar Soundhole

An acoustic guitar’s sound hole (also known as a sound chamber) is the opening on the body of the guitar, underneath the strings. It’s purpose is to amplify and improve the quality of the sound generated by the guitar.

Soundboard

Acoustic Guitar Soundboard

An acoustic guitar’s “soundboard” refers to the piece of wood used for the top of the guitar’s body. It is one of the main contributing factors to the guitar’s tone as it is the soundboard that vibrates when a string is played.

Vibrations are sent from the string, through the bridge and onto the soundboard, thus creating a sound. As a general rule, soundboards are made from light weight woods such as cedar or spruce.

Pickguard

Acoustic Guitar Pickguard

An acoustic guitar’s pickguard (also known as a scratchplate) is a plastic sheet that’s attached to the guitar’s body beneath the strings. It is used to prevent the guitar’s finish from being scratched while playing with your pick or finger nails.

Bass Guitar Anatomy

Bass Guitar Anatomy

Headstock

Bass Guitar Headstock

A bass guitar’s headstock (also known as a peghead) is located at the top of the bass guitar and is primarily used to house the tuning keys. The headstock is connected to the bass guitar’s neck and is used to hold all 4 strings in place. Generally speaking, the headstock on a bass will contain the nut, tuning keys and string tree.

These tuning keys will be arranged in a row on one side of the headstock, though there are some bass guitars that have 2 tuning keys on either side.

String Tree

Bass Guitar String Tree

Bass guitar string trees are usually disc shaped metal widgets located between the nut and the tuning screw on guitars with flat headstocks in relation to the neck. The string tree is used to apply a downwards force on the strings (usually the highest two strings which are the D and the B string) which helps to prevent wear to the groove of the nut. If the string vibrates in the nut groove too much it can cause tuning instability and buzzing. This usually only applies to bass guitars with flat headstocks, angled headstocks are designed to eliminate the need for string trees.

Neck

Bass Guitar Neck

A bass guitar’s neck is the long piece of wood that contains the fretboard and truss rod. It is located between the body of the bass and the headstock. It plays a vital role in how your bass guitar feels and sounds when playing.

Fretboard

Bass Guitar Fretboard

A bass guitar’s fretboard (also known as the fingerboard) is a thin strip of wood that is placed over the front of the neck which contains “frets” at specific intervals.

Frets

Bass Guitar Fret

Bass guitar frets are the metal dividers you’ll see embedded in your fretboard. When you press a string against the fretboard, you change the note the string plays due to the fact that the string is no longer vibrating from the “nut”, but instead from the fret to the right of your finger (when looking down on your guitar).

Fret Markers

Bass Guitar Fret Marker

Bass guitar fret markers (also known as inlays) are used as visual indicators of where you are on the fretboard. They are most commonly displayed as dots and are typically located on the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 12th (as two dots), 15th, 17th and 19th frets.

Body

Bass Guitar Body

A bass guitar’s body is the part that you hold against your body when playing. It is the main part of the guitar, located beneath the neck. It contains the: bridge, pickups, volume and tone controls, strap buttons and output jack.

Tuning Keys

Bass Guitar Tuning Keys

An bass guitar’s tuning keys (also known as a tuning pegs or machine heads) are located on the headstock of the bass and are used to adjust the tension of your strings.

By turning the tuning keys, you’ll be able to “tune” your bass to your desired tuning (most commonly EADG).

Nut

Bass Guitar Nut

A bass guitar’s nut is located between the headstock and the neck. It is responsible for creating the correct spacing between the 4 strings, as well as the correct elevation of the strings from the fretboard.

Generally speaking, bass guitar nuts are white in color and made from: bone, plastic, metal, fossil ivory, graphite or ebony and have ridges carved into them that keep the strings securely in place while you play the bass.

Strap Buttons

Bass Guitar Strap Button

A bass guitar’s strap buttons (also known as strap pins) are the two metal buttons that are screwed into the body of your bass. These allow you to attach a strap, which means you can hang the bass around your shoulder instead of having to hold the weight with your hands. This is especially useful when playing for long periods of time whilst standing.

Double Cutaway

Bass Guitar Double Cutaway

A bass guitar’s cutaway (or double cutaway in most models) is the area of the body that has been “cut away” near the neck. The purpose of the cutaway is to make it easier for you to access the frets towards the body of the bass.

On double cutaway bass guitars like the one pictured above, the strap button is located on the upper horn, which makes it more balanced when playing with the strap attached.

Pickguard

Bass Guitar Pickguard

A bass guitar’s pickguard (also known as a scratchplate) is a plastic sheet that’s screwed into the body of the bass to prevent the finish from being scratched while playing.

Pickups

Bass Guitar Pickups

A bass guitar’s pickups are located on the body of the guitar, between the bridge and the fretboard. These devices sense the vibration when strings are played and converts them into electrical signals which can then be amplified using an amplifier.

Without the pickups “picking up” the vibrations of your strings, a bass guitar would be very quiet and you wouldn’t be able to hear them over the drums, singer or electric guitarist.

Volume & Tone Controls

Bass Guitar Volume & Tone Controls

A bass guitar’s volume & tone control knobs are located at the bottom of your bass guitar’s body and are used to adjust the volume output to the amplifier and to control the amount of treble in your tone.

Bridge

Bass Guitar Bridge

A bass guitar’s bridge is located on the body of the guitar and is used to support the strings and guide them over the pickups.

Output Jack

Bass Guitar Output Jack

An bass guitar’s output jack is located towards the bottom of the guitar’s body. It is where the guitar cable is plugged in, which transfers the electrical signal captured from the pickups through to the amplifier.

Classical Guitar Anatomy

Classical Guitar Anatomy

Headstock

Classical Guitar Headstock

A classical guitar’s headstock (also known as a peghead) is located at the top of the guitar and is primarily used to house the tuning keys. It is connected to the guitar’s neck and is used to hold all 6 strings in place. Generally speaking, the headstock on a classical guitar will contain the tuning keys, string rollers and the nut.

Tuning Keys

Classical Guitar Tuning Keys

A classical guitar’s tuning keys (also known as a machine heads or tuning pegs) are located on the headstock of the guitar. Generally speaking, classical guitars have 3 tuning keys on either side of the headstock.

The tuning keys are used to adjust the tension of your guitar strings. By turning the tuning keys, you’ll be able to “tune” your guitar to your desired tuning (most commonly EADGBe).

Neck

Classical Guitar Neck

A classical guitar’s neck is located between the body of the guitar and the headstock. It is the long piece of wood that contains the fretboard and frets. The guitar’s neck plays a vital role in how your guitar both sounds and feels while playing.

Unlike the neck of an acoustic guitar, a classical guitar neck does not have a truss rod. This is because there is less tension generated from nylon strings than acoustic guitar strings.

Fretboard

Classical Guitar Fretboard

A classical guitar’s fretboard (also known as the fingerboard) is a thin strip of wood that is placed over the front of the neck which contains “frets” at specific intervals.

Frets

Classical Guitar Fret

Classical guitar frets are the metal dividers you’ll see embedded in the fretboard. When you press a string against the fretboard, you change the note the string plays due to the fact that the string is no longer vibrating from the “nut”, but instead from the fret to the right of your finger (when looking down on your guitar).

Unlike acoustic or electric guitars, classical guitars do not typically include fret markers (with the exception of beginner classical guitars).

Nut

Classical Guitar Nut

A classical guitar’s nut is located between the neck and the headstock of the guitar. It is responsible for setting the correct elevation of the strings from the fretboard, as well as ensuring the correct spacing between the strings.

Generally speaking, classical guitar nuts are white in color and made from: bone, plastic, fossil ivory, ebony or graphite and have ridges carved into them that keep the strings securely in place while you play the guitar.

Body

Classical Guitar Body

A classical guitar’s body is the main part of the guitar which is located below the neck and is the part that you hold against your body while playing.

Soundboard

Classical Guitar Soundboard

A classical guitar’s “soundboard” refers to the sheet of wood used for the top of the guitar’s body. It is one of the main contributing factors to the guitar’s tone as it vibrates when a string is played. Vibrations are sent from the string, through the bridge and onto the soundboard, thus creating a sound.

Soundhole

Classical Guitar Soundhole

A classical guitar’s sound hole (also known as a sound chamber) is the opening on the body of the guitar, underneath the strings. It’s purpose is to amplify and improve the quality of the sound generated by the guitar.

Saddle

Classical Guitar Saddle

A classical guitar’s saddle is the small piece of plastic or bone located on the bridge that the strings run over. It is typically white in color and is responsible for setting the action of the strings from the bottom of the guitar.

Bridge

Classical Guitar Bridge

A classical guitar’s bridge is located below the soundhole and is responsible for keeping the strings at the correct distance from each other, controlling the guitar’s action and transmitting the strings vibration to the soundboard.

Generally speaking, a classical guitar’s bridge is made of wood and consists of 2 parts: the bridge plate and the saddle. Classical guitars do not have bridge pins as the tension created by the nylon strings isn’t as strong as that created by acoustic guitar strings, allowing strings to be tied directly to the bridge, without it being damaged.

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