Mayos Music
Guitar Lessons and Instrument Repair

Guitar Anatomy Index

At MayosMusic we offer Private, Semi-Private and Group guitar, bass, ukulele, banjo, fretted instrument and auto-harp lessons. Plus, we are a complete luthier service that includes guitar and amplifier repairs/restorations. Through the years we have been asked numerous "Guitar Lesson" and "Guitar Repair" related questions (many repeatedly) by new/current/old and prospective students and customers. Here is our answer to: Can you define, in more detail, all the misc. parts (large, small, the different types, etc) of the guitar?

The Bridge

Bridge – The bridge is that part of the guitar that the strings go over (like crossing a bridge) at the body of the guitar (opposite the headstock). When a string is plucked, it’s vibration transfers into the bridge/saddle and cuases the guitar top to move which creates the sound projection. There are many types of bridges for electric and acoustic guitars. Their design & what material is used has an effect on how the guitar will sound.

Fixed Bridge – Most common on acoustic steel & nylon string guitars

Adjustable Bridge – Mostly on Electric guitars, can adjust string height & intonation

Floating Bridge – Used on arch-top guitars & often guitars with tail pieces

Vibrato Bridges (also, but incorrectly, named Tremelo Bridges) – That allow pitch changes up & down. I.E. Bigsby Vibrato or Floyd Rose Tremelo

Bridge Base/Fixed - (Acoustic Guitars) The wooden platform where the strings attach & the saddle rest. (also called: Bridge Plate)

Bridge Saddle – A thin piece of material (plastic, bone, composite, ivory, metal, metal, etc.) That is inserted into the bridge base and upon which the strings rest. Also called: Bridge Bone

Roller Saddle – Designed to roll with very low friction & to provide smooth & minimum tuning changes when using a vibrato tailpiece on the guitar.

Polymer Saddle – Resonant high density polymer saddles, impregnated with Teflon ® to help reduce string breakage.

Saddle Radius – The curve (radius) the saddle has to match the fretboard radius.

Studs & Bushings – Bushings (threaded anchor) that the stud (post) goes into & upon which the bridge is placed.

Standard Mounting Post – used on Gibson ABR – 1 Tune-O-Matic Bridge (is threaded)

Thumbwheel – Placed on mounting post, used to adjust bridge height.

String Spread – The Fixed location of the string on the bridge or bridge/saddle.

Non-Adjustable Bridge/Tailpiece Combo – Type used on Gibson LP Junior & SG Junior solidbody guitars.

Wraparound Bridge/Tailpiece Combo – Usually adjustable for intonation – Replacement for non-adjustable type used on Gibson LP & SG Junior Guitars.

Stoptail Bridge – Same as Wraparound Bridge/Tailpiece

Locking Studs – Stud with a threaded Locking top for improved stability and tone.

Hardtail Bridge – Non-Vibrato type bridge base, ie. Fender Strat Type Guitar

Roller Bridge – Roller saddles are adjustable for string spacing. Usually on hardtail solidbody bridges

String Mounting Ferrules – For mounting the strings through the body of a non-vibrato or non-tremelo type guitar when not using a tailpiece. Used on the guitar's backside.

String-Thru-Top Mini Ferrules – Used on the Face or Top of the guitar.

Step Bass Bridge – Bridge base with extended depth on the E & A (5th & 6th) Strings to keep the thick overwrap portion of the string from contacting the saddle, improves intonation.

Bridge Pins – Typically I" long, used to hold string in hole on bridge base.

Off-Set Saddle Bridge – A saddle whose placement is not perpendicular to the strings. This helps correct intonation.


Tailpiece – That part of the guitar that the strings attach to, and at the body side of the guitar opposite the headstock.

"Stop" Tailpiece – Used on Solidbody & some Semi-HollowBody Guitars such as LP, SG, ES Gibsons.

Mounting Studs – The Stud (larger threaded screw like) to which the "stop" tailpiece mounts

Bushing – The "Nut Like" threaded bushing pressed into the body of the guitar. Mounting stud screws into.

Vibrato Tailpiece – A tailpiece with a string mounting bar floating on Low-Friction needle bearing allowing for Pitch changes (vibrato) by use of the vibrato tailpiece.

Vibrato Bar Arm – That part of the vibrato tailpiece that you press on to get the vibrato effect

"Trapez" Tailpiece – Non-vibrato type tailpiece that is hinged to adapt to a variety of bridge heights, found on many Semi-Hollowbody Guitars (I.E. Gibson ES 330)

Vibrato VS Tremelo - What's the Name?

The names "Vibrato" and "Tremolo" have been used interchangeably in both it's application to guitars and amps. But it is often used incorrectly. The correct definition of Vibrato and Tremolo are as follows:

Vibrato – A slight, rapid, pulsating and with regular fluctuation in pitch of a musical note or chord.
Tremolo – A pulsating and with regular fluctuation in volume of musical note of chord.

Thus we have correctly named as to guitar and amps: Bigsby Vibrato, Fender Tremolex Amp

Incorrectly Named: Floyd Rose Tremolo, Fender Vibrochamp, Fender Vibroverb

However, these two terms still get used/applied incorrectly to both Guitars and Amplifiers. It is my opinion that the names are chosen for their rhyme as well as to get more and varied names to their applications.

Related Terms:

Tremolo Arm – That part of the tremolo tailpiece that you press on to get the (vibrato) effect.

Vibrato Bar Arm – same as Tremolo Arm.

Tension Spring – Spring in back of guitar body connected to tremolo block and the claw (which is connected to the inside of the body cavity.)

Fine Tuners – Thumbwheel/screw combo that can fine tune. Located at the tailend of the tremolo unit (Floyd Rose Tremolo).

Tremolo Stabilizer – Replace center tremolo spring and when adjusted properly, will return a tremolo to an exact neutral position, automatically.

Block Tremolo – When a Fender Strat type tremolo's base is set flush to the face of the guitar's body, the tremolo arm cannot be pulled up to raise the pitch but can still be pushed down to lower the pitch.

Rear Cover Plate – Pickgaurd type material that covers the rear cavity on the guitar body.

Bolt-On Type Neck

Neck Attachment Plate – A metal plate that keeps the wood screws from crushing into the back of the Guitar body at the Neck Attachment Joint.

Neck Attachment Ferrules – Substitutes for the neck attachment plate.

Neck Attachment Screws – Long wood screws to attach the neck at the neck joint.

Body of the Guitar

Solid Body – A guitar with the body constructed from solid wood (Examples: Fender Stratocaster, Fender Telecaster, Gibson S.G. etc.)

Semi-Hollow Body – A guitar body that has a Top, Back and Hollow between (Examples: Gibson ES 335, ES 330, Gibson Johnny Smith, Gretch Country Gent, Gretch 6120, etc)

Face/Top – The front of the Guitar. On a Flat-Top Guitar it contains the soundhole

Cut-Away - A portion of a guitar's body that has been "cut away" where the body joins the neck at the upper bout. Thus allowing greater access when playing higher positions on the fingerboard.

Upper Bout – The upper outward, curved sides of the guitar body

Lower Bout – The lower outward, curved sides of the guitar body.

Waist – That part of the guitars body that is narrowest, between the upper and lower bouts.

Sides – The part of the guitars body that is perpendicular to the guitar Top and Back

Back - That part of the guitar's body at the rear. Opposite to the face/top of the guitar.

Neck Cavity – A cavity that the neck fits into on a solid body type guitar body

Flat-top Guitar – An acoustic guitar with a flat face on top, usually a round-soundhole model.

SoundHole – An opening in the body of a guitar, either f-shaped, oval or round, which increases the guitar's volume, Not found on solid-body instruments.

Rosette – Decorative wood mosaic or plastic rings surrounding the round soundhole of an acoustic flat-top guitar.

Arch-top Guitar – one with a curved top. Normally an F-Hole guitar

Pick-guard – Plastic or wood which protects the top of the guitar from being marred by fingernails or the pick

Binding/Trim – The inlaid around the edges of the guitar's side-body, also caled Purfling

Body Slope – A gentle sloping of the guitars lower bout and/or waist to create a more comfortable contour for the feel to the human body while playing

End Ping (Tail-Pin) – A "button" at the bottom of the guitar to which a strap can be attached.

Strap Button – A "button" usually metal or plastic on the guitar to which a strap can be attached.

Body Cavity – The routed out cavity in the nbody which holds the pick-ups, electronics, tremolo units, etc.

Neck of the Guitar

That part of the guitar which contains the fingerboard (fretboard), head (headstock, Peghead, Headpiece, Tuning Head) and heel of the neck.

Arm of the Neck – Back side of the neck, opposite the fretboard.

Fingerboard (fretboard) – The Front part of the neck containing the frets and position markers

Fret – Metal T-bars set in the fingerboard to divide the strings length an thus produce different notes when played.

Fret Height – The height of the top of the fret to the fretboard surface

Fret Width – The width of the fret

Fretboard Radius – The radius or curve of the fretboard

Compound Radius Neck – a fretboard that has a changing radius. Usually a more pronounced curve from the 1st – 5th fret then beginning to flatten out gradually 5th-12th fret on.

Scale Length – The measured length (usually in inches) from the nut to the bridge/saddle

Nut Width – The width of the nut when measured from the 6th string to the 1st string

Nut – A solid material (usually ivory, bone, plastic, metal) which supports the strings at the head of the neck, and over which the strings are braced

Head (Peg Head, Headstock, Headpiece, Tuning Head) – That part of the neck at the top of the neck and that holds the tuning key or tuning, machines

Solid PegHead – Headstock design used on most streel string and electric guitars (Martin D-18,D-28, Gibson L.P. and S.G., Fender Strat and Tele) Tuning key post comes out of the front of the headstock

Open Pegbox or Slotted PegHead – Headstock design used on classical and many vintage and vintage style steel string guitars.

Through-Body Guitar Neck – Neck designed where the wood of the neck is one piece running from the headstock through the body to the bottom end of the guitar body.

Guitar Neck Blank – Precut blank of wood for which the neck will be shaped

Neck Block – The block of wood usually containing the "Dove-Tail" joint located inside the guitar body (acoustic guitars) to which the neck will attach

Heel of the Neck – That part of the neck at the base of the neck and where the neck joins the body. Usually slopes at a 90 degree angle to the arm of the neck.

Machine Head (Tuning Keys, Tuning Machines, Tuners, Keys, Machines, Tuning Pegs, Patent Heads) – A metal tuning gear located on the head of the guitar to which the string attaches and which will raise or lower the pitch of that string.

Barrel of Tuning Key (String Post) – That part of the tuning key where the string attaches.

Position Markers – Inlaid markers (dots, blocks, etc. of pearl, plastic or wood) placed between specific frets of along the edge of the fingerboard. Usually found on frets 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12, 15, 17.

Truss Rod – A metal bar inserted in the neck and extending the length of the neck. Provides a conter support to the string tension. Used on most steel stringed guitars and on some nylon string guitars – most are adjustable.

Non-Adjustable Trust Rod – Bar rod and non-adjustable. Older Martin type.

Dual Adjustable Trust Rods – Necks with (2) truss rods to allow independent adjustment of the bass and treble side of the neck (I.E. Rickenbacker)

Truss Rod Cover – Plastic, metal or wood that covers the truss rod adjustment nut

Truss Rod Adjustment Nut Types
a. Hex Nut
b. Slotted Nut
c. Allen Nut
d. Spoke Nut
Locking Nut – A metal nut with a locking device to keep string at exact tuning. Renders the tuning keys non-functional after lockdown.

Locking Nut Shims – Shims to adjust height of locking nut.

Peghead String Retainer Bar – A hold down bar between the locking nut and the tuning keys that can adjust the downward angle of the string. Correctly adjusted, the strings will not be pulled out of the tune when locked at the nut.

Allen Wrench – A tool, most often the type used on locking nut.

String Trees (String Retainers) - A hold down bar between the nut and the tuning keys that change to a more pronounced downward angle of the string. Help hold string tight at nut.

Roller String Trees – Function see: String Trees. But with rollers that reduce string friction for easier tuning and keeps the tuning better when a vibrato/tremolo unit is used.

Tuning Machines (Keys)

All the names: Tuning machines, machine heads, tuning keys, tuners, keys, machines, tuning pegs, patent heads, guitar machines

Definition: A metal tuning gear located on the head of the guitar to which the string attaches and which will raise or lower the pitch of the string. Thus tuning the instrument.

Baseplate – The metal foundation to which the gears, barrel, etc. are attached.

Barrel or Post – That part of the tuner that the string attaches to. (also known as String Roller)

Worm Gear Shaft – That part of the tuner that the knob or button attaches to.

Post Gear – The gear that attaches to the Post or Barrel.

Knob or Button – The handel that you turn when tuning.

Bushing – That part of the Tuner that presses into the top of the headstock and which the post or barrel will go through. Acts as a bearing surface for the post/barrel.

Knurled Press-Fit Bushing – Vintage design bushing – but still used today in many tuners.

Conversion Bushings – Used to retrofit replacement tuners into larger peg holes without re-drilling.

Bushing Shapes – Hex, Round, Thin Wall.

3-on-Plate Machine – (3) Tuning Keys mounted on a single baseplate.

Mounting Screws - Screws that mount the tuning key to the guitars headstock.

Worm Support – That part of the baseplate that anchors the worm gear shaft.

Gear Ratio – The ratio of (number of) turns that knob makes to the number of turns that post/barrel makes. Common ratios: 12:1, 14:1, 15:1, 16:1, 18:1, 24:1. *Note: the higher the ratio, the more fine tuning.

Finishes – Metal finish on the key. Chrome, Nickel, Gold, Silver, Brass, Stainless Steel, Bronze, Black.

Relic Finish – A relic nickel finish having a "well-played" patina.

Knob Types – Butterbean Brass, Ebony, Vintage Oval Brass, Snakewood, Ivoroid, Black Pearl, Engraved, Scalloped, Keystone.

Tuner Drill Jig - Tool to make accurate alignment when drilling or retro drilling the peghead.

Gearless Tuners – Straight string pull, some with 40:1 ratio ( design to retrofit Gibson firebird type)

Trim-Lok Guitar Machines – A rear thumbscrew locks the string which is ideal for vibrato/tremolo guitars

Open Gear Tuner – Worm gears are exposed (vintage style: Grover Sta-Title, Waverly Vintage)

Sealed Tuner – Cast housing with sealed lubrication for smooth operation & long life ( New Design: Grover Imperials, Grover Rotomatic, Kluson Waffleback, Gotoh sealed & vintage stamped steel gear housing, Schaller M-6

Tuning Machine Sizes – (most common to single/sealed type) – Full-sized, Mini, Midsized, Super. Tuner size design to fit different headstock applications

Adjustable Knob Tension – A Screw that adjusts the tension of the tuning key knob, located at the outer end of the knob. Similar adjustment for open gear tuners is the screw mounting the gear to the string post.

Inside the Acoustic Guitar

Brace – A wooden bar glued to the inside top and back to add strength & rigidity.

Kerfing – Angle-cut linings with kerfing facing outward. Used to give support to the glue interface between the top and back to the sides of the guitar body. Types: Traditional Kerfed Linings, Reversed Kerfed Linings

Bridge Plate – A flat thin piece of wood (usually maple) glued to the inside top of the guitar and directly under the bridge bass. Gives extra strength to the guitar top/face in this area.

Neck Block – The block of wood usually containing the "Dovetail" Joint located inside the guitar body (Acoustic Guitars) to which the neck will attach, and the guitar sides attach.

Tail Block – The block of wood inside the guitar at the bottom end, where the sides attach and the end pin is located.

Tone Bars – Wooden braces glued running top to bottom on an F-Hole archtop type guitar. Spaced on each side of the neck block running mostly parallel from the neck Joint – Bridge – Bottom. Often tone bars are tapered.

Electric Component Terms of the Electric Guitar

I. Electric Guitar Pick-Up

PICKUP – Technically called an "electromechanical transducer," it is a device which converts the vibrations of guitar strings into electrical signals. The placement of the pickup influences the signal tone of the guitar

Magnetic Passive Pick-up – Traditional type mounted on the body of the guitar between the end of the Neck/ Fretboard extension and the bridge.
Single Coil Type – Pick-up with one coil of wire around the magnet (i.e. Fender Strat, Fender Tele)

Soap Bar – Single Coil type pick-up but wider than original fender Strat and Tele type. Shape is like a bar of soap

Dog-Ear – Single Coil Type pick-up. Similar to the soap bar pick-up but with "Dog-Ear" shaped tabs at each end to mount the pickup to the body (ie Gibson P-90).

Lipstick – Original Design by "Dan Electro" guitars. A single coil similar size to fender tele but encased in (2) metal, lady's lipstick case covers.

Humbucker – Pick-up with (2) coils that are wound reverse to each other and which cancels out hum and electrical noise (ie Gibson "patent applied for", Gretch Filtertron & Powertron)
Active Pick-Up –

Suspended Jazz Humbucker – Pick-up that is not mounted to the guitar body but instead is mounted to the end of the neck/fretboard extention or mounted to the pick-guard. (ie Gibson Johny Smith)

Piezo/Saddle Pick-Up – A piezo pick-up built-in the saddle(s) of the bridge. Gets an acoustic guitar tone from an electric guitar.

II. Electric Guitar Pick-Up Components –

Pick-Up Cover – A case like cover placed over the pick-up coil designed to protect and sometimes to add shielding property. Made of Plastic or Metal.

Mounting Ring – A trim ring to which the pick-up is mounted to and then which is mounted (secured) to the guitar top when a pick-guard/pick-up mount combo is not used. (ie Gibson Les Paul)

Magnets – a metal magnet that the pick-up coil is in close proximity.

Magnet Types:
Alico 2 – gives a warm tone, good low end response with smooth, singing highs. Good in bridge-pick location.

Alico 5 – A brighter tone, tighter low end and singing highs than Alnico 2 pick-ups, good for neck position locations.

Coil Wire – A wire that is wrapped around the pick-up bobbin, typical size 42-43 gauge. With + - ends

Enamel-Coated Wire – Vintage type, can cary slightly in thickness causing individual pick-ups to have a more unique and raw sound.

Poly-Coated Wire – Is the modern standard. Consistent coating gives a more uniform and cleaner sound in similar pick-ups.

Pick-Up Coil Tape – A tape that is wrapped around the pick-up coil to protect the coil wire. Can be plastic or cloth.

Baseplate – A platform to which the pick-up is built upon.

Bobbin – That part of the pick-up that the wire is coiled around. (plastic, fiber)

Polepiece Slugs – metal rods between/around the coil with the ends placed directly under each string can be magnetized or not.

Polepiece Screws – Sililar to Polepiece Slugs but are adjustable in height

Spacer/Shims – That part of the pickup that helps create the correct architectural dimensions.

Bobbin Screws - Screw to connect and hold pick-up together.

Coil Leads – The + and – ends of the coil wire

Braded Push-Back – A braded wire sleeve put around the coil leads which adds electrical shielding.

Mounting Screws and Springs – used to secure and adjust the pick-up to the pick-up mounting ring or pick-guard.

Potted Pick-Up – A process in which the pick-up is submerged in boiling way. Designed to help reduce monophonic noise.

The Guitar's Electronics

The guitar's electronics includes all components inclusive between the pick-up and the output jack. As I have already covered the pick-up previous articles, it will be excluded from this list.

Guitar Shielding – A lining of conductive tape, metal or paint in the cavities for pick-ups and controls that when connected to electrical grounding helps reduce noise, hum and radio interference.

Capacitors (Caps) – Energy-storing component that filters high frequencies.

Capacitor Types:
Orange Drop – industry standard made of high grade polyester

Emerson Paper-in-oil – Vintage, subtle warm tone Quality

Ceramic -

Output Jack Mono – Usually ¼" female connector that the guitar signal cable plugs into.

Output Jack Stero – ¼" female connector with double-pole for stereo wiring or for enabling actice electronics with a mono plug

Flush-mount Jack – ¼" female connector, mono or stereo wiring for some solidbody guitars.

Jack Plate/Jack Cup – A plate or cup that the jack attaches to and then which is attached to the guitar body. Types: Electrosocket, metal, plastic, oval, recessed, cup

Pick-up Selector Switch – Used to change the pick-up arrangement on an electrical guitar

Rotary Switch – Rotating switch for pick-up selecting varitone and custom advanced wiring. Types 4, 5 and 6-position, 2-pole and 4-pole (ie Gibson ES-345)

Toggle Switch – Standard type switch used on many guitars. (ie Gibson L.P., S.G., ES 335)(Brand: Switchcraft)

Mini Toggle Switch – Small switch for series/parallel pick-up switching, phase switching and humbucker coil-tapping.

Toggle Switch Plate – Plastic or metal ring/plate to finish mount toggle switch.

Lever Switch – A levered design switch (3-way, 4-way, 5-way) for pick-up selection (ie Fender Strat and Tele) (Brand: CRL by Electroswitch)

Barrel Knob – Press-on knob for lever switch used on Fender Strat

Top-Hat Knob – Press-on Knob for lever switch used on Fender Tele

Toggle Switch Knob – Screw on knob used on standard toggle switch.

Slider Switch – Small sliding switch, 2-way and 3-way (ie Fender Jaguar and Mustang. Also used on Fnder Amps as a bright switch.)

Potentiometer (Pots) – a hand controlled dial or slider component that changes the parameter of a waveform signal such as the volume or tone of the guitar sound. (Brands: CTS, Alpha, etc., Ohms: 100, 250, 450, 500, 1meg, 25k, etc.)

Shaft of Potentiometer (pot) – That part of the Pot. that protrudes through the guitar top and which the volume/tone knob is connected.

Shaft Types: Press-on, course knurled split shaft, fine knurled split-shaft, and solid-shaft (requires set-screw w/knob)

Linear Taper Pots

Audio Taper Pots

Thumbwheel Potentiometer – Compact volume and tone controls with low profile used for tight area applications or side mounted under a control plate for minimum top service hands interference. (ie. Arch-top jazz guitars, Fender Jaguar Guitar)

Push-Pull Pots – A potentiometer with a push-pull shaft to active its on/on mini switch.

Pick-up Volume Control – A dial control (pot) to adjust the volume of the guitar pick-up

Pick-up Tone Control – A dial control (pot) to adjust the tone (treble roll-off) on the guitar pick-up.

Master Volume Control – Single volume control to adjust the overall volume of the guitar.

Master Tone Control – Single volume control to adjust the overall tone (treble roll-off) on the guitar.

Volume and Tone Control Knob – Knob that attaches to the control pots shaft. That part you turn. (Types: dome, speed, bell bevel-top, pearloid-top done, abalone-tone dome, chickenhead)

Control Plate – Metal, wood or plastic plate to which the pots, switches are attached and which is usually attached to the guitar top/face.

Battery Box – a small plastic hinged compartment with terminals and lead wire for 9-volt battery. For flat mounting service. Used with active circuit or low imp. pick-ups (ie EMG)

Black ice – Battery free onboard overdrive for passive guitar or bass pick-ups.

Instructor's Hot Tip:
There are more terms in this section than the previous section, so extra good luck.

Experience since 1968
Providing Guitar, Electric Bass & Ukulele lessons and Guitar/Amp Repair in the Greater Phoenix Valley area of Arizona including Maricopa County and The Salt River Valley.

Mayos Music will continue to provide Guitar/Amp Repairs in Southern California's South Bay cities and Greater Los Angeles Area.
Originally located in Manhattan Beach and Torrance, California.

Now located in:
Gilbert, AZ 85298
Torrance, CA 90505

(310) 955 - 0246