Guitar Anatomy


  1. Learn the two types of guitars.
  2. Learn the names of the various parts of the guitar.
  3. Learn what the parts of the guitar do.

Two Types of Guitars

Generally speaking, there are two types of guitars: acoustic and electric.  Luthiers, or guitar makers, build acoustic guitars so they can be played without amplification.  Electric guitars require an amplifier to produce a sound loud enough to hear well.

Despite their differences, electric and acoustic guitars are played the same way.
Electric Guitar Anatomy Acoustic Guitar Anatomy

Several guitar parts are common to both acoustics and electrics, others are specific.

Common Parts Electric Only Acoustic Only
Headstock Pickup Sound Hole
Tuning Machines
Pickup Selector Bridge Pin
Output Jack
End Pin
Nut Volume Knob
Sounding Board (Guitar Top)
Tone Knob
Fretboard (Fingerboard)
Bar (Whammy Bar)
Position Markers (typically dots)

String Naming and Standard Tuning

Strings are numbered from the thinnest string (1st string) to the thickest string (6th string).  The tuning is given from the 6th string to the 1st string: E-A-D-G-B-E. This tuning (E-A-D-G-B-E) is called standard tuning.

String Numbering and Tuning

String Numbering and Tuning
Notes are named using the first seven letters of the alphabet, however there are more than seven pitches, or notes, produced on the guitar.  The note names, or letters, repeat themselves.  For example: the note name after G is A: ... E-F-G-A-B-C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C ...

Fret Numbering

Frets are numbered from the headstock toward the body starting with 1.  Sometimes the number 0 or letter O is used to denote an open string, or one that is played without fretting a note.

Fretting a note is executed by pressing the string down behind a fret (on the headstock side of the fret).

Fret Numbering

Fret Numbering

Fretboard Movement

Guitarists can move horizontally up or down the fretboard, or vertically across the fretboard.  These are common terms used to communicate how to shift your hands when playing the guitar.

Fretboard Movement

Fretboard Movement
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