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Getting to know your guitar’s hardware March 16, 2007

Posted by rgordon83 in Beginner, Guitar Hardware, Introduction.
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If you are not already familiar with your guitar’s hardware then you should read this post. Knowing your guitars hardware is important because the more familiar you are with your instrument, the more control you will have over it. You should know all the main hardware for your guitar. (Especially if you ever consider making any modifications to your guitar).

We are going to be looking at my guitar’s hardware as an example. It is important to note that not all guitar hardware is the same. For instance Les Pauls, Fenders and Ibanezs all tend to have slightly different hardware. But most all electric guitars have mostly the same parts.

Lets take a look at my guitar, which is a Hofner Verythin semi hollow body from 2005:

guitar hardware basics overview
The guitar is divided into 3 major parts: the headstock, the neck, and the body.

A. The headstock. On the headstock there are two main components:
1. The tuning pegs (or tuning machines), which allow you to tune the guitar by twisting the knobs.

2.The nut, which holds the strings in place and keeps them the proper distance from one another

B. The neck. On the neck there are 3 main components:
1. The fretboard. The fretboard is the wood that the frets are placed into. The fretboard can me made of various types of wood, but the most popular are rosewood, maple, and ebony. Different woods produce slightly different results.
2. The frets. These are the steel lines that are put into the fretboard that allow you to play different notes by pressing in between any two frets.
3. The inlays. Thsese assist you in knowing what fret you are playing. They are commonly found on the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 12th, 15th, 17th, 19th, and 22nd frets of the guitar.

Body
C.
This is the area on the body there the tone knobs, volume knobs, and generally the pickup selector switch are located (on Les Paul model guitars the pickups selector is usually to the left of the D section of the guitar).
1. These are “f” holes. These are only found on hollow body and semi hollow body guitars. They allow for the sound to resonate out of the guitars body, functioning similarly to the sound hole on an acoustic guitar.

2. Tone and Volume knobs. These allow you to control the sound of your guitar. Some guitars have tone and volume knobs for both the neck and bridge pickups, some just have one volume and one tone knob that control everything.

3. Pickups selector switch. This allows you to select which pickup your guitar’s output is using. There are two types of pickup selectors: 3 way switches and 5 way switches. Here is a diagram on how 3way and 5way switches work:

3 way pickup selector switch positions on guitar
5 way pickup selector switch on guitar

D. In this section of the body are the pickups, the bridge, and the tailpiece.
Pickups are what capture the vibration of your guitars strings and send that sound to your amp.
1a. This is the neck pickup, it has a thicker sound with more bass.
1b. This is the bridge pickup. It has a thinner, sound with more treble.
NOTE: Some guitars have a middle pickup that is in between the Neck and Bridge pickup
2. This is the bridge. This is where the bottom of your strings rest. This is also what determines how high or low your guitar’s “action” is. (The action on your guitar refers to how far away from the fretboard your strings are. Some player prefer higher action on their guitar, some prefer it lower. It’s a matter of tatse.)
3. This is the tailpiece. It is where your guitar strings are anchored in.

That is a basic outline of the important hardware on your guitar. If you have any questions about your guitar’s hardware please post them to the comments section below.

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