Master All Grades. Lesson 1 - Knowing Your Instrument
These lessons are designed to improve your knowledge of theory, increase your repertoire of techniques and better your ability to play the guitar by introducing the various standards that should be met in each of the above areas for grades debut to grade eight of the rock school grading system.
It is important that you are familiar with the correct terminology used to describe the different parts of a guitar. At some point during a grade one exam, an examiner will ask a series of questions known as General Musicianship Questions (GMQ), which may include a question on the location of parts on a guitar.
First, we will look at the parts featured on all types of standard classical, acoustic, electro-acoustic and electric guitars.
Body - this is the lower section of a guitar and where a players picking' hand will be doing most of the work. Classical, acoustic and electro-acoustic guitars are usually constructed of hollow wood, whilst electric guitars may be constructed from hollow or solid wood.
Neck - this is the middle section of a guitar and where a player's fretting' hand will be doing must of the work. It can either be attached to the body of the guitar by bolts or glue or may even be formed from the same wood used for the body.
Headstock - this is the upper section of a guitar and contains the parts needed to attach and tune strings. Some electric guitars have no conventional headstocks on them and so have the strings attached directly to the end of the necks.
Strap Buttons - these are located on the body of a guitar. There is usually one located on the side directly inline with the neck and another placed at the side or back where the neck joins the body. Some classical and acoustic guitars have only the first strap button, so then one end of the strap must be attached to the headstock of the guitar using string.
Bridge - this is located on the body of a guitar and is used to attach one end of the strings.
Fretboard - this is located on the face or front of the neck and is where players fingers will come into contact with the strings.
Frets - these are the metal bars that are positioned at intervals along the fretboard of a guitar.
Fret Spaces - these are the spaces between the frets where a player's fingers must be pressed down in order to change the pitch of the strings.
Position Markers/Inlays - these are found on certain specific fret spaces and are used as a guide to figure out which fret spaces a player's fingers are pressed down on. They may appear as simple dots or much more elaborate designs. Some guitars, classical guitars in particular, may not have any position markers/inlays.
Nut - this is located at the end of the neck and is used to keep each string separated and raised above the fretboard.
Machine Heads - these are located on the headstock of a guitar and are used to attach the other end of the strings. The appearance of most classical guitar machine heads differ slightly to those on other types of guitar, however, they work in the same way.
Tuning pegs - these are located on the headstock of a guitar and are connected by a system of small cogs and screws to the machine heads. When the tuning pegs are turned, they tighten/loosen the strings and consequently change their pitch.
We will now look at parts specific to most standard classical, acoustic and electro-acoustic guitars.
Sound/Echo Chamber - this is the hollow section inside the body of a guitar. It is used to increase the sound produced by the strings.
Sound Hole - this is located on the body of a guitar and is designed to let the sound produced by the strings enter the sound/echo chamber. It is usually circular in shape.
We will now look at parts specific to most standard electro-acoustic and electric guitars.
Pick-ups - these are located on the body of an electric guitar. They are used, along with an amplifier, to increase the sound produced by the strings. The pick-up on an electro-acoustic guitar is usually concealed inside the sound/echo chamber.
Pick-up Selector - this is located on the body of an electric guitar and used to select which pick-ups are used to increase the sound of the strings. As most electro-acoustic guitar have only one pick-up they rarely have a pick-up selector.
Volume/Tone Controls - these are located on the body of an electric guitar. They are used to increase/decrease the volume/tone being produced by the guitars pick-ups. On an electro-acoustic guitar, the volume/tone controls are often located on the side near where the neck joins the body.
Jack Socket - this located on the front or side of the body. It is used to connect the guitar to a jack lead.
The parts of the guitar listed in this lesson and the detail in which they are explained go beyond the required knowledge needed to answer a grade one GMQ on the location of guitar parts. However, a greater knowledge of many other parts that are specific to certain models of guitar and an understanding of how they function is required for more advanced grades and these will be covered in further lessons.
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