The Anatomy of the Electric Guitar

Many components make up the electric guitar, and each plays an important role in how this instrument produces sound. Whilst some parts are the same as the acoustic guitar; some make these two instruments very different.

Head: The headstock is located at the guitar’s top and holds the tuning pegs; you will usually find the manufacturer’s logo here.

Tuning Pegs: The tuning pegs allow the player to tune the guitar by turning the pegs to increase or decrease the tension in the strings. Some electric guitars have the tuning pegs in a single row on the headstock or in the more classic arrangement found on acoustic guitars. 

Truss Rod: The truss rod is found on electric guitars and is used to strengthen the neck and counteract the tension caused by the strings. The truss rod runs through the neck and under the fretboard.

Nut: The nut is positioned where the neck joins the headstock. The strings pass through grooves in the nut to maintain correct spacing. The nuts used on electric guitars are often made from synthetic materials, and players will often use a locking nut when a tremolo bar is in use. 

Fretboard: The fretboard is a piece of wood attached to the neck of the guitar. 

Neck: The neck is the long piece (or several pieces) of wood that connects the headstock to the guitar’s body. The fretboard is then attached to the neck.

Strings: There are usually six metal strings on an electric guitar, although variations are found with more or fewer strings, including the one-string Unitar. 

Frets: The frets of the guitar are found on the fretboard. They are usually made of metal and run perpendicular to the strings. The frets allow the player to change the pitch of the strings. This is done by pressing down behind a fret to change the string’s vibrating length and, in turn, change the pitch.

Inlays: Some fretboards feature decorative inlays (markers) at the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, and 12th frets. Inlays may be simple shapes such as dots or more decorative designs. Some guitars even use materials such as mother of pearl.  

Strap Buttons: The strap buttons on an electric guitar allow the player to attach a strap to their guitar to allow for more comfort whilst playing.

Body: The body of the electric guitar can widely vary in shape depending on the style and maker of the guitar. The different electric guitar bodies include solid-body, chambered body, and full hollow-body. They can also be found in a variety of fun shapes! 

Pick Guard: The pickguard protects the guitar from scratches and dents at the point of most contact. 

Pickups: The electric guitar’s pickups are small magnets wrapped in fine coils of copper wire. When the strings are plucked, they pass a small electric current through the magnets. This signal from the magnets is then passed through various guitar components to an attached amplifier. There are many different types of pickups, including humbuckers and optical pickups.

Tremolo Bar: The tremolo bar is a vibrato system on an electric guitar. The bar changes the tension of the strings, which as a result, adds vibrato to the sound. The tremolo bar is also known as the whammy bar, the vibrato bar, and the vibrato arm.

Pickup Selector Switch: The pickup selector switch on an electric guitar allows the player to select which pickup to use.

Tone and Volume Controls: The tone and volume controls, also known as the pots, allow the player to control the volume and tone of the guitar.

Bridge: The bridge, located on the lower bout of the guitar, allows the strings to be held at a relative height to the fretboard. The bridges on electric guitars may also be adjusted using the screws. 

Output Jack: The output jack allows the electric guitar to be connected to an amp.

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