Anatomy of the Guitar

Here are the main bits and pieces that make up a guitar. Apart from the electronics, both acoustic and electric guitars are pretty much the same. The principle behind guitars is simple: To stretch precision-made wires (the strings) down the length of a fingerboard and tighten them to certain pitches. The strings are held up and stopped at one end by the nut, the other end by the saddle, which is part of the bridge. They're fastened at one to the bridge and at the other to the tuning pegs, sometimes called machine heads. The frets, which are wires inserted into the fretboard, allow the player to accurately shorten or lengthen the strings with the fingertips so as to change the pitches of the notes and make music. The tension applied to the strings is adjusted with the machine heads. The tighter the tension, the higher the pitch.


Acoustic guitars get their volume from the soundboard. When the player twangs a string, it vibrates and passes that vibration onto the soundboard via the bridge. It's the vibrating soundboard that we hear as 'guitar'. The soundhole allows the sound generated inside the body to escape and add to the overall tone.

Electric guitars get their volume from the pickups, which are essentially microphones. The vibrating strings affect the magnets in the pickups, which send a signal down a cable to an amplifier,  which amplifies the signal and sends it to the speakers. We hear the sound as 'electric guitar'.


Tuning your Guitar →