Monday, August 20, 2012

Know your guitar

While certainly not the most glamorous part of playing guitar, learning how your instrument functions is vital towards becoming a successful guitarist. Once you have an understanding of all the parts of your guitar and how they work together to create sound, you'll be better equipped to manipulate your instrument to get the sound you want. Below is an analysis of the various parts of the guitar.

  • Head
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    The head's primary purpose is to serve as the location where the tuning knobs can meet the strings to ensure that the strings are properly wound. Resting on the head are extensions of the tuning knobs; these extensions serve as points where the string can be entered into and then wound.
    Also known as tuners, tuning knobs are used to tighten and loosen the strings on your guitar. How tightly wound the string is directly correlates its pitch; the tighter the string, the higher the sound of the note it will produce.

  • Fretboard / Fingerboard
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    The fretboard is the "star" of the guitar; it is the instruments most glamorous part. The fretboard is broken up into many different sections, with each section being separated by thin metal bars. The term "fret" actually refers to the space between the metal bars. For example, the first fret is the region before the first metal bar. Likewise, the third fret is the region between the second and third metal bars (it is also the first fret with a small circle in it). The frets serve to all the guitarists to manipulate the note that each string is produced. For example, when you press your fingers down on the first fret of a string, it sounds different than when you play the string open (meaning with no fingers pressing down on a fret). In the forthcoming lessons we'll show how you can manipulate the strings to get the sound you want, and will include examples from classic songs to illustrate how the sounds were derived.

  • Position Markers
    Position markers are the small circles that can be found on certain frets. In a way, they serve as a map of the fretboard. The third fret is the the first fret to have a position marker. The fifth fret has one as well, as does the seventh and the ninth. Note that two position markers are placed at the twelfth fret; that is because notes played on the twelfth fret are exactly one octave above the note of the corresponding string when it is played open. If this is a bit confusing now, don't worry; it will make more sense in the music lessons section.

  • Body
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    The body of the guitar is the wide, bulky part of its anatomy. If you are sitting down, it is the part of the guitar that will rest on your thigh. It also is where the sound hole can be found; on electric guitars, it is where the pickups can be found.

  • Sound Hole/Pickups
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    The sound hole is, as the name implies, the hole in the acoustic guitar. The pickups, on the other hand, are the rectangular objects that protrude from the body of an electric guitar.Both pickups and sound holes serve the same function; they make the sound derived from plucking the string louder and richer.

  • Input Jack
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    The input jack can only be found on guitars that plug into amplifiers; acoustic guitars that do not plug into an amplifier will not have an input jack. Its purpose is to serve as the entry point for one end of the cable. The other end of the cable can be plugged into amplifiers, pedals, tuners, recording devices, and various other machines used process guitar sounds.
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