Glossary

Guitar Parts

Action
How far the strings are from the fretboard. "Low action" means the strings are very close to the frets. "High action" means they're farther away. Low action makes a guitar easier to play, but if the strings are too close to the frets, they'll touch the frets when they vibrate, causing fret buzz.

Binding
A strip of plastic or hardwood running around the edges of a guitar's body. Binding protects the guitar from nicks and dings.

Chord Chart
A diagram that shows where to place your fingers to fret a given chord. Chord charts usually show the first few frets. Sometimes the chord shown is played further up the neck. In that case, text next to the chart will show which fret the chart starts with.

Dreadnought The most popular style of acoustic guitar body. Martin Guitars introduced the first Dreadnought in 1931.

Flight Case
An airtight, reinforced instrument case. Flight cases are often made of metal.

Gauge
A string's diameter (thickness) in fractions of an inch.

Gig Bag
A padded fabric guitar case (usually nylon). Gig bags are less bulky than hardshell cases, but offer less protection.

Hardshell Case
A hard plastic or plywood guitar case.

Lap Steel Guitar
A specialised guitar, designed to be held flat in the player's lap (or on a stand) and played with a slide. For more information about lap steel guitars, see Brad's Page Of Steel.

Pick
Anything that is used to pluck the strings of an instrument. Most commercially produced picks are flat pieces of plastic or nylon. Some picks (called "finger picks") are designed to fit over the tips of the fingers. Picks come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and thicknesses.

Pickup
A magnet wrapped with wire. The motion of the guitar's strings interferes with the pickup's magnetic field. This creates an electrical impulse, which is transmitted to the amplifier. The amplitude and quality of the impulse can be modified by the volume and tone controls.

Strap Lock
A device that attaches to a guitar where the strap peg ordinarily goes. It prevents the strap from coming loose unexpectedly.

String Winder
A small crank that fits over a tuning knob. String winders save a lot of time when you're installing new strings. They usually also have a notch on them designed for pulling bridge pegs.

Tablature
A way of writing music for stringed instruments. Guitar tablature uses a six-line staff. Each line represents a different string. The top line represents the 1st (top E) string, the second line is the 2nd string, and so on. Notes are represented by a number on a line, indicating which fret on which string to play. "0" represents an open (unfretted) string.

Tremolo Bar
A metal bar attached to the bridge assembly on an electric guitar. When pushed down or pulled up, it changes the position of the bridge, altering the pitch of the notes being played. It can be used to acheive either a tremolo effect or a more dramatic bending of pitch. (i.e. the "dive-bomber" effect Jimi Hendrix used in his rendition of the U.S. national anthem.)

Truss Rod
A metal rod that runs along the inside of a guitar's neck, underneath the fretboard. It allows the neck to be adjusted if it is not perfectly straight. Classical guitars, Martin guitars, and most handmade acoustic guitars do not have truss rods.

Whammy Bar
See Tremolo Bar