Parts of the electric guitar and importance of each

Parts of the electric guitar and importance of each
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Parts of the electric guitar: The guitars are made up of several components, which can be classified into: a) Wooden parts, such as the body and neck; b) Hardware, it refers to all metal parts that are not part of the electronics; c) Electronics; and finally d) the other pieces that do not make up any of the three previous groups.

What are the parts of an electric guitar?

The parts of an electric guitar are:

  • Body
  • Neck
  • Fingerboard / fretboard
  • Truss rod
  • Headstock
  • Frets
  • Bridge
  • Tailpiece
  • Tuner pegs / machines
  • Nut
  • Tremolo or vibrato system
  • Pickups
  • Potentiometers & Capacitors
  • Pickup Selector Switch
  • Pickguard

All parts are grouped into main three categories

  • Wooden Parts: includes the body and the neck, and all those that are attached to it and cannot be easily changed.
  • Hardware: these are those metal parts of the guitar.
  • Electronics: as its word says it includes all the electronic components of the guitar.
  • Other componennts: we include here those parts that are attached to the body but can be easily removed.

Wooden parts

There are included components of the Body and Neck that are not made of wood.

  • Body, it is usually made of wood, although there are modern models made from other materials such as carbon fiber or synthetic materials or even old instruments made of metal. They can be solid, semi-solid -with a solid central block- or totally hollow.
Guitar body, a part of the instrument.
Guitar body
  • Neck, this is considered the most relevant and important part both in terms of tone or audio of the instrument, as well as in terms of comfort and playability. They are made of one or more pieces of wood. The most used woods are maple and mahogany. It can be set-in (glued) or bolt-on to the body, or continue throughout the entire length of the guitar including through body, called neck-through.
Guitar neck, perhaps the most important part of the guitar
Guitar neck
  • Fingerboard or fretboard: it is the part where the strings are fingered. Its scale -actually the scale of the guitar- and its material largely define the attack and sustain of the guitar. Usually made with wood. The most used are rosewood, ebony, maple, pau-ferror and other hard woods.
Guitar fingerboard or fretboard
Guitar fretboard or fretboard
  • Truss rod, it is a metal bar – steel or other very resistant material – installed inside the neck. Its function is to counteract the tension of the strings and maintain and regulate the curvature of the neck. They can be single-action, that is, they can only be regulated in one direction, against the strength of the strings, or double-action, which can be regulated in both directions.
Guitar truss rod
Guitar truss rod
  • The headstock, is part of the neck, where the tuner pegs or machines are normally found. Together with the body they are the parts where the greatest design and unique shapes are.
Electric Guitar Parts: Headstock from a replica Fender "Nocaster"
Headstock from a replica Fender “Nocaster”
  • Frets, are the thin strips of metal embedded in the fingerboard of the neck. The height of the fret has a great influence on how the instrument feels to play and also its playability. There are different measures, and your choice is to the taste of the guitarist. As a general rule, it can be said that the very high and wide frets are preferred for soloists, they facilitate bendings, hammer-on and pull-off. The wide and low frets are usually comfortable to slide across the fingerboard. The narrow and low frets are the vintage type, from the time when the electric guitar played a mainly rhythmic role and was equipped with very narrow and low frets. The Medium Jumbo frets have relatively intermediate measurements that make them ideal for versatile musicians who play both the rhythmic part and the solos.
Guitar frets
Guitar frets

Guitar hardware

  • Bridge is the piece, usually made of metal, where the strings are held or supported at the end of the body. They can be fixed -hardtail- or mobile -tremolo-. Hardtail bridges tend to have more attack and better tuning, while mobile ones, such as synchronized tremolo or floyd rose, allow the use of vibratos and other techniques that give the musician more expressiveness, and make the strings feel softer to the touch. As a counterpart, they have less attack and their tuning is more complex.
Electric guitar parts: Stratocaster Synchronized Tremolo bridge.
Stratocaster Synchronized Tremolo Bridge.
  • Tailpiece, some bridges only guide the strings, such as the Tune-o-matic and require one more piece to grip the strings. That additional object is the tailpiece.
  • Tuner pegs / machines are the metal devices where the strings are wound. Located at the end opposite the bridge, their function is to regulate the tension of the strings and consequently their tuning.
Guitar plugs.
Guitar tuner pegs / machines.
  • Vibratos instead of the tailpiece, some guitars have vibrato systems installed. The best known brand is Bigsby.
Lever or vibrato.
Lever or vibrato

Guitar Electronic

  • Pickups: this fundamental part is responsible for capturing the vibrations of the string and transforming them into an electrical signal that generates the sound in the guitar amplifier. They consist of poles, magnets, and copper wire wound around the poles and the magnet. The most commonly used magnets are Alnico II, Alnico V and Ceramic. The Alnico II tends to be smoother and with rounder audio, while the alnico V tends to have a bit more output and punchier highs, finally, ceramic is the most aggressive magnet of all and is more used for heavier styles. There are also different types: a) singlecoil or humbucker, the former tend to be more dynamic and expressive, but nosier when playing with overdrive or distortion. The seconds tend to be more compressed but cancel out the noise called “hum”, ideal for heavier styles that require high gain.
The pickups are a fundamental part of the electric guitar.
Stratocaster Singlecoil Pickup
  • Potentiometers and capacitors: these components are used to control and manage the audio of the signal captured by the pickups. The pots of tone and volume. You can use ones that filter more or less certain frequencies, usually the high-treble ones.
  • Pickup selector switch: this allows us to select which pickups we want to activate or deactivate.

Other Guitar Components

  • Nut. It is the piece where the string pass through at the zero fret. They are usually made of bone or some synthetic material that imitates it or they can also be made of metal.
Instrument capo.
Instrument nut
  • Pickguard. plastic layer made to protect the body in the strumming area of the guitar from the pick strokes. The most common colors are white and variants of white, black, pearly or tortoise.
pickguards or pickguards.

Additionally, you can name accessories that are not part of the guitar but are used for its execution, such as the picks, slides, capos, among others.

Related Articles: Top tips for improving a cheap electric guitar.

For more information and other tips, head over to Guitar Quarter.

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