About Your New Guitar

Before we learn to play your guitar, let’s go over it, end to end and make sure you know what’s what..

Learn to play guitar in 1 week
Click to expand image

1 – This is the fretboard. It can be a layer of rosewood (or similar) dark wood or maple (light-colored) or if maple, it can be part of the neck itself. The metal bands going across the fretboard are the frets.

2 – Tuner keys. Turning one way will tighten the string, causing a higher pitch, while turning the opposite direction does the opposite. Keys should turn smoothly while making gradual changes in pitch and they should be able to hold their position so that strings don’t change tune with playing.

3 – Nut. The nut can be made of plastic, bone, graphite, brass or other man-made material. The nut guides the strings from the headstock to the fretboard and sets string spacing and string height over the first fret.

3-1/2 – (not numbered in pic) – just above the nut is often an opening with an adjustable hex (or other type) nut inside. This is for adjusting the truss rod (a rod that runs inside the neck) to compensate for the bow in the neck caused by string pressure. Sometimes this adjustable nut is where the #5 shows in this picture. (at the other end of the neck).

4 – String tree. Guitars with headstocks that are not angled back, need string trees to guide the strings downward toward the keys, giving needed tension against the nut slots. Some guitars have two trees and some trees have rollers to reduce friction.

5 – See 3-1/2 above

6 – Shows one of the “horns” of the guitar body. One of the strap buttons (#8) is usually at the other horn.

7 – Neck plate. Guitars with removable necks often have a metal plate to help the screws clamp neck and body together.

8 – Strap button. The other button is at the bottom of the guitar body.

9 – Pickguard. This is a cover plate, often made of plastic but can be metal, leather or any other material, to decorate and protect the guitar body.

10 – Pickups. Often abreviated as “pups”. The picture shows single coil pickups, but pickups come also as “humbuckers” which are two single coil pickups joined as one, often reducing the “hum” noise that can be caused by single coil pickups. Note that as the pickups come closer to the bridge, the sound gets “brighter” and the pickup closest to the neck usually has the “warmest” sound. Pickups are selected via the pickup selector switch, #14.

11 – Well, that’s what I get for ripping off an image! There is no #11. Maybe some futuristic guitar design will include an #11?

12 – Volume control. The dial closest to the neck is usually the volume knob. In this design, it’s a master volume control that works on all three pickups.

13 – Tone control. The middle dial generally controls tone for the neck pickup. It’s like a volume control for treble sounds. As you turn back the dial you’ll hear less treble so that only the bassier sounds come through. The botton tone control generally controls the middle pickup. Since the purpose of the bridge pickup is to give very bright sound, it has no need for a tone control.

14 – Pickup selector switch. In a Stratocaster with three pickups, this is usually a 5-way switch that works as follows:

  1. Neck pickup only
  2. Neck & middle pickups
  3. Middle pickup only
  4. Middle & bridge pickup
  5. Bridge pickup only

15 – Drink holder. (Not shown in this photo, but coming in some designs next year, right after flying cars debut).

16 – Gnat landed on guitar. (Yeah, hard to see, but he’s there, take my word.)

17 – Output jack. This is where your amp cord plugs in, and “No” it is not an “input jack”. Nothing comes into the guitar from the amp – the signal goes out from the guitar TO the amp!

18 – Bridge and saddles. There are several types of bridge – a hardtailed bridge and a tremolo bridge. There are also string-through bridges and through-body bridges. The purpose of the bridge is to provide a solid mount for the saddles. Each saddle supports a string and is adjustable for string height (action) and string length (intonation).

19 – Back cover plate. These generally have holes so that strings can be replaced without having to remove the cover, but it is often easier to remove the cover anyway. This cover also gives access to the tenstion adjustment for the tremolo block and the grounding wire.