The electric guitar is one of the most popular instruments around with individuals of all ages aspiring to master it. When you go to purchase your first guitar though, and are presented with a myriad of choice, it helps to know your guitar anatomy.
1. The Body
The guitar body is the largest part of the instrument and makes up the main casing. The type of wood used to create the guitar body contributes a lot to the eventual sound it makes – this is because the body controls the pickups – the part of the guitar’s anatomy which creates the sound via vibrations. How these resonate on the body therefore has a significant bearing; the guitar body can be made of one, two or three pieces of wood.
2. Fingerboard and Neck
Commonly made of maple or rosewood the profile of the neck is usually in the shape of a C although it can also be in the shape of a V, rather self explanatory in functionality this is simply the long neck of the guitar which contains the fingerboard on top of which the frets are set.
Within the neck is also a large piece of metal called a truss rod which enables the guitar to keep its shape.
Moving on to the fingerboard, this can be built according to specification and sits on top of the neck, for classical guitars this has a flat profile whereas on an electric which we’re discussing, this has a curved profile.
The nut is situated at the end of the neck and its functional purpose is to affect how far above the neck the guitar strings sit – it’s a small piece, most commonly made of plastic although it can also be made of graphite or bone.
This is the part of the anatomy where the machine heads are placed – they hold the guitar strings securely and are what’s maneuvered when tuning the guitar and altering it’s pitch.
5. Neck Joint
This is the point whereby the neck of the guitar is linked to the body; this can either be put and kept in place with screws or glue.
This plays a very important part by anchoring the guitar strings to the guitar body. Also referred to as a bridge there are two types of tremelo; one (which has been made particularly famous by Fender who pioneered it on its Stratocaster guitars) is known as the strat trem, the other is called a locking tremelo.
Although both are held in place by a pivot mechanism and affect the tension on the strings, the difference comes in the variation of pitch that each produces – the locking tremelo produces a much greater variation in this than the strat trem does.
These are what make the sound! They are magnets, surrounded by wire which when the guitar strings are vibrated, have their magnetic fields disrupted and induce an electric current. Within one guitar it is possible to have multiple pickups as the position of these affect the sound that the guitar produces. The two main types of pickup are humbucker and single-coil.
In the electric guitar these are made of steel, and their variation comes with the thickness of the strings – the most common thickness in the electric guitar is 9 which refers to 9/1000ths of an inch. They need taking care of and to be changed regularly to keep the guitar sounding its best.
So, there you have it, from the body to the pickups to the strings. You can influence the sound you create a lot by knowing the anatomy and how the guitar is made – I hope this helps!
Visit Frethub for online guitar tuition – their free blog is also another great resource to help you learn guitar.