Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 1:47 AM
Short Summary: A useful unravelling of some of the guitar terminology which may confuse the unitiated.
As with every technical subject, guitars have their own language. We all know the word guitar and what that means, but it’s not until you start guitar lessons or explore the subject in more depth that you start to understand that there are lots more words to learn than just string, guitar and plectrum. If you don’t understand the vocabulary, you could be lost before you start.
When classifying musical instruments, guitars are part of the chordophone family. This means any musical instrument which generates a sound using strings which vibrate. Other instruments which are chordophones include the violin, harp or cello. Some people also classify the piano as part of the chordophone group as although the player does not strum the strings, the sound is made by the keys hitting the strings. Electric guitars are part of this group too.
The headstock is the part of the guitar where the little pegs are to adjust the length of the strings. Most headstocks have three pegs for strings on each side, but obviously is a guitar has more than six strings the pegs on the headstock will be arranged differently. Some brands of guitar are missing a headstock completely, and the player tunes the strings by adjusting tightening or slackening at the opposite end.
The fretboard is on the neck of the guitar, the long piece which runs from the main body of the instrument to the headstock at the other end. The fretboard gives the player an indication of where to place their fingers to make the different sounds, and is also known as the fingerboard. Most fretboards are made of metal, and have lines on them to make the placing of the fingers easier.
Nothing to do with horses, the saddle is the piece of the guitar which supports the strings and holds them away from the body of the guitar to allow them to be strummed. The name comes from the shape of the piece, which resembles a horse’s saddle. Most often saddles are made from plastic, but on some older, or more expensive guitars, they are made of bone. On an electric guitar, the saddle is usually metal.
An acoustic guitar is one which is not plugged in, so is used to mean anything which is not an electric guitar. There are many different sorts of acoustic guitar such as classical guitars, Alhambra guitars and flamenco guitars, all of which have subtle differences in construction and sound. A good retailer should know the difference between classical guitars and Alhambra guitars and point you in the right direction for the instrument which is most appropriate for your needs.
Guitars have largely remained unchanged in their construction over the decades, but in recent years some manufacturers have developed self-tuning guitars. This means that the guitars adjust the pitch and tone of the different strings themselves, taking any margin of error and effort away from the guitar player. This technology is most often used in electric guitars.
Morag Peers is a regular bogger with an interest in music and the arts.