Acoustic Guitar Glossary

Acoustic Guitar Glossary

This is a dictionary about acoustic guitars. To quickly find a definition, enter a term in the search box. To arrange items in alphabetical or reversed order, click the header arrows.

This glossary will be continuously updated to include even more terms. Use this together with my post about learning acoustic guitar to have a good start in studying how to play.

ActionThe height or distance of the strings from the fretboard.
Barre chordA chord where one or more fingers are used to press down multiple strings across the fingerboard.
BindingThe strip of plastic around the edge of the soundboard. Protects the edges from being damaged and conceals the joint between the soundboard and the sides.
BracingA system of wood strips that internally supports and reinforces the soundboad and back. Helps transmit the vibration of the strings.
BridgeA block of wood that holds the saddle and where the strings are held in by bridge pins. It is attached to the soundboard and is usually rosewood or ebony.
Bridge PinsSmall pins (plastic, wood or brass) that fix the ends of the strings into the bridge.
ChordThree or more musical notes that are played simultaneously.
Dead fretA fret that buzzes or has the same note as another.
FingerboardThe piece of wood right below the strings onto which the frets are mounted.
FingerpickingPlaying a guitar using the fingertips instead of a pick or plectrum.
FretThe metal bars embedded in the fingerboard. Responsible for making the various notes when pressed appropriately by the player.
HeadstockThe end of the neck that holds the tuning pegs, which in turn holds the end of the strings.
InlaysDecorations usually placed on the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th and 12th frets to make it easy to find and remember the locations of notes.
IntonationThe pitch accuracy of a musical instrument, or its ability to play notes in tune.
Laminated TopA soundboard made from several layers of wood stuck together.
LuthierA craftsman with skills and tools for working with guitars. Can re-groove nuts, alter the bridge and adjust the neck.
Machine HeadsLocated at the headstock and are used for tuning the guitar. These are large pegs and there is one for each string.
NeckThe long, thin part of the guitar that holds the strings at one end and is made of hardwood embedded with frets.
NutThe small white block with grooves that hold the strings in place. It is parallel to the frets and is between the fingerboard and the headstock.
PickA small, usually thin plastic and triangular-shaped tool used to pluck or strum the strings.
PickguardA piece of plastic on the surface of the wood below the soundhole. It protects the wood from being damaged by the strikes of the pick when playing.
PickupBasically a microphone that captures the sound of an acoustic guitar so that it could be shaped and/or amplified.
PreampA small device that boosts the signal coming out of the guitar before feeding it to an amplifier or PA system. Usually integrated in acoustic-electric guitars.
RangeThe number of notes a guitar can play. For acoustics, the range is 3 octaves or 24 notes per string.
SaddleThe white block in the narrow slot of the bridge and underneath the ends of the strings. It raises the strings to the correct height.
Scale lengthThe average length of the part of the strings that vibrate. Usually the distance between the edge of the nut and the centre of the 12th fret, multiplied by 2. For musical scale, click here.
Solid topA soundboard made from a single thickness of wood.
SoundboardAlso known as the “top.” It is the wood that forms the front of the guitar's body and where the soundhole is cut out of.
SoundholeThe hole in the front of the guitar, facing away from the player’s body, from which the sound travels out.
StringMade of steel or nylon and is picked or strummed to produce sound.
StrummingA manner of playing a stringed instrument. It is a sweeping action where a finger or pick brushes past several strings to play a chord.
TablatureA form of musical notation that shows instrument fingering instead of musical pitches.
TimbreAlso known as tone color. It is the quality of tone that distinguishes musical instruments among themselves and other types of sound production.
TonewoodsThe woods used in the guitar's parts that most affect its sound or tone (the top, back and sides).
Truss rodA long metal rod built into the neck to counterbalance the tension of the strings. Used to stabilize the lengthwise forward curvature (or relief) of the neck.

Didn’t found what you were looking for? There might be a definition for the term you’re searching for in this glossary about music in general.

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