Acoustic Guitar Parts
Here is a picture of a typical acoustic guitar with its parts marked. Click if you want to jump ahead to the Electric Guitar Parts or to selecting an Acoustic or Electric Guitar. Scroll down for detailed information on the acoustic guitars parts.
There are three main sections zoomed in the picture; the Headstock, the Neck, and the Body. The headstock holds the Tuner Posts around which the strings are wrapped and terminated. The Tuners are knobs that increase or decrease the tension on the string wrapped around the tuner posts (tuning the sound made by the strings). Note that some acoustic guitars may have different looking tuners, and some may even have all six tuner keys on the same side. Even though they may look different, they work in the same manner. The Nut guides the strings to the tuner posts and maintains the height of the strings.
The length of the Neck depends on the scale of the guitar and the number of frets it has. The back of the neck could be "C" shaped, or "V" shaped (sideways < if you compare it to the letter C). The front of the neck is the Fingerboard or Fretboard, that contains the Frets embedded in notches along its surface. The Strings run down the neck over the frets. The height of the strings over the frets is called the Action; if the action is too high the strings are harder to press down, if the action is too low the strings may rattle against the frets muffling the notes. The neck usually has "dot" markers on the top and the side facing the player, showing the position of the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 12th (which has two dots) and 15th fret.
On standard acoustic guitars, the large body makes it difficult to use any frets above the 12th fret. Some guitars have a Cutaway section to allow your hands to reach the 14th fret easily, however this does affect the sound as it disrupts the shape of the guitar. You strum (or pick) the strings over the Soundhole, which is where the vibrations from the strings are acoustically reflected out providing the sound from the instrument. Acoustic-electric guitars have an Pickup inside the soundhole, note that you can also buy add-on acoustic pickups and turn any acoustic guitar into an acoustic-electric. Most acoustic guitars have a Pick Guard, that protects the finish on the top of the guitar body from mis-directed picking. The strings terminate in the Saddle which is glued onto the top of the guitar body. The Bridge raises the strings and establishes the Action of the guitar. Note most acoustic guitars have "fixed" bridges, the only way to lower the action is to shave or cut down the saddle (or replace the bridge) - there is no way raise the action. Some newer models provide adjustable bridges simliar to electric guitars.
Note that as an acoustic guitar ages, a pronounced "belly" or bump will appear on the top of the body, just below the saddle. Since the strings are constantly pulling on the saddle, over time and with humidity changes the wood will begin to bow where the pressure is being applied. There are "ribs" or "struts" inside the body to prevent the saddle from being ripped out, so a small belly is perfectly normal as the guitar is broken in. If the belly gets too large you will have to have the ribs inside the top repaired, they may have popped out or broken. Many musicians claim the belly improves the sound of the guitar, which may contribute to the theory that acoustic guitars sound better as they grow older.
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