Guitar Anatomy

This page shows the two basic forms of guitar, electric and acoustic and the main parts of each guitar are indicated.  It is useful to familiarise yourself with these components because many of the guitar lessons that feature here and elsewhere make reference to these components (for example when tuning your guitar). You’ll notice from the diagram below that many parts are common to both acoustic guitars and electric guitars while some components are found only on one or the other.  For example, the tremolo arm is an electric guitar-specific part while the sound hole, although specific to the acoustic guitar shown below, can also be found on another type of guitar called semi-ac0ustic electric guitar.  A good working knowledge of how your guitar fits together will enable you to better maintain your guitar.  As this is a bit of a learning exercise, you can download a PDF file of the diagram below with the labels removed for you test your knowledge. 

The anatomy of the electric and acoustic guitar
The anatomy of the electric and acoustic guitar

Body: This is the main part of the guitar. The bridge and soundhole and/or pickups are located here

Bridge: This is an area on the face of the guitar where the strings are connected to the body.

Frets: Smooth metal bars that sit across the guitar neck and serve as guides for finger placement of the “fretting” hand.

Fret Markers: These are dots that are often located n the fingerboard itself and also on the top edge of the guitar neck.  Commonly indicated frets are 3, 5, 7, 9, 12 (often 2 dots), 15, 17, 19 and 21.

Pick Guard: This is the plastic coating adjacent to the strings and pickups of many guitars and is used to protect the guitar body and paint/varnish from damage as a result of downstrokes with a plectrum or pick. 

Headstock: This part of the guitar is where the other end of the strings are attached to the guitar – tuning of strings is performed using machine heads (tuning pegs) on the headstock  

Neck: The long narrow part of the guitar where the fingerboard is located.

Nut: This is the strip between the fret board and headstock, on which the guitar strings rest.  These often contain a groove or notch in which each guitar string will sit securely.

Selector Switch: A small switch located on the body of the electric guitar – this is used to choose different pickups giving different tones and sounds.

Pickups: Wire-coiled magnets that sit beneath the strings on the guitar body.  Movement of each string within the magnetic field of the pickups produce a signal which is transferred from the guitar to an amplifier giving rise to the guitar sound.

Whammy Bar (aka Tremolo): A metal bar that is connected to the bridge on the guitar body and allows the bridge to be moved up and down slightly causing pitch changes.

Machine Heads or Tuning Pegs: These pegs are located on the headstock and are used to tune guitar strings.  By turning the peg in a particular direction, the guitar string tension can be increased or decreased producing a different pitch.

Volume and Tone Control Knobs: These are knobs on the body of the guitar that are used to control the volume and tone of your guitar that outputs to an amplifier.