The Parts of the Guitar
Before discussing the types of guitars available, it’s important to understand
the common names for the various parts of the guitar. The accompanying diagram shows
these parts clearly, along with names for the fingers of each hand.
The peg head is found at the top of the neck of the guitar and holds the tuning
machines or gears that are used to tune the strings. On classical guitars, this
peg head is usually slotted; on acoustic, jazz, and rock guitars, it is usually
solid. No matter—it performs the same function.
The nut is found at the bottom of the peg head and top of the guitar neck. It
is made of bone and holds the strings in their proper position. The height of the
nut also helps determine the string height or action of the guitar; classical players
generally go for a higher action, while electric and jazz players like it lower.
The neck of the guitar contains the fingerboard. Across the fingerboard run frets.
By placing a finger against a fret, the player is able to raise the pitch of a string
to play individual notes or chords.
The back of the neck, where it joins the body of the guitar, is called the heel.
This may appear in a variety of shapes, and on very fancy guitars it may be carved
with animals or human faces. It simply hides the joint between the neck and the
The front of the guitar is called the face or top. Around the edge of the face,
there is usually purfling (often called binding) that hides the joint between the
face and sides; similar binding appears around the back of the guitar. The face
of the guitar usually features a round or oval sound hole (on acoustic instruments);
sometimes f-shaped holes are used on jazz guitars. On some guitars, a fancy inlay
called a rosette surrounds the sound hole for decorative purposes.
After the strings pass over the sound hole, they cross a slotted bridge bone,
which directs the strings down to where they are fastened on the guitar’s bridge.
While different types of guitars may have different features, these are the basic
components you will find on most of them.