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Guitar Dictionary | A-Z


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A neck that joins onto the body of the guitar at the 12th fret.

A guitar with six double courses of strings instead of six single courses. Can be electric or acoustic.

A neck that joins onto the body of the guitar at the 14th fret.

An instruction in written music indicating that you should play two octaves higher than it states on the staff. It only refers to the staff and not guitar tablature.

See Also: 8va, ottava

Full Article on: the staff, symbol dictionary

The thinnest and highest sounding string on a guitar. Also known as the E-string or high E-string because it is tuned to 'E' in standard tuning.

Synonymous With: High E-string, E-string

Full Article on: string labelling

The second thinnest and second highest sounding string on a guitar. Also known as the B-string because it is tuned to 'B' in standard tuning.

Synonymous With: B-string

Full Article on: string labelling

The third thinnest and third highest sounding string on a guitar. Also known as the G-string because it is tuned to 'G' in standard tuning.

Synonymous With: G-string

Full Article on: string labelling

The fourth highest sounding (fourth thinnest) string on a guitar. Also known as the D-string because it is tuned to 'D' in standard tuning.

Synonymous With: D-string

Full Article on: string labelling

The second thickest and second lowest sounding string on a guitar. Also known as the A-string because it is tuned to 'A' in standard tuning.

Synonymous With: A-string

Full Article on: string labelling

The thickest and lowest sounding string on the guitar. Also known as the E-string or low E-string because it is tuned to 'E' in standard tuning.

Synonymous With: E-string,Low E-string

Full Article on: string labelling

The symbol for ottava, an instruction in written music to play a note, or series of notes, an octave higher than what is written on the staff.

Synonymous With: Ottava

See Also: 15ma

Full Article on: symbol dictionary

A symbol used to represent the ring finger (annular finger) on the picking hand. It is part of the pima labelling system and is an abbreviation of the Spanish word 'Anular'.

Synonymous With: Anular

Full Article on: pima labelling

The second thickest and second lowest sounding string on a guitar. Named so because it is tuned to 'A' in standard tuning.

Synonymous With: 5th string

Full Article on: string labelling

A manufacturers term for abalone that has been cut into sheets for use as decoration

A manufacturers term for abalone that has been cut into sheets for use as decoration

A symbol requesting that emphasis should be placed on a note to make it louder and more pronounced

A symbol used in standard music notation to indicate a rise or fall in pitch of one semitone. The symbol can be a sharp, flat or a natural sign. Once applied, an accidental remains in effect until countered by another accidental.

See Also: naturalise

Full Article on: accidentals

  1. Short for acoustic guitar, a guitar that uses a hollow body to resonate sound instead of electrical amplification.
  2. Referring to sound or hearing.

A guitar that uses a hollow body to resonate sound instead of electrical amplification.

The characteristics of an environment that effect its ability to transmit sound.

A paint that is used on guitar finishes.

In the context of guitar, the action is the distance between the strings and the fretboard. However, it generally refers to the force required to produce a note on an instrument. A lower action usually makes the guitar easier play but produces less sustain.

Refers to circuitry that alters a signal before it reaches its destination. Active elctronics can be used in pickups and preamplifiers.

See Also: active pickups

Pickups that use electricity to boost the signal being sent to the amplifier. They require a battery that is located in a control cavity on back of the guitar.

A type of hardwood that is used in the manufacture of solid-bodied guitars.

Derived from the symbols for aluminium, nickel and cobalt (Al, Ni & Co). It is a magnetic alloy containing iron, aluminium and nickel, in addition to cobalt, copper or titanium. It can be used in loudspeaker construction or in the manufacture of pickups.

Looking at modes that are derived from the same scale but having each mode in the same key. It provides a good way of seeing the different interval patterns.

Synonymous With: parallel view

Full Article on: modes - part 2

A strict alternation between downstrokes and upstrokes, often starting on a downstroke.

Full Article on: exercises - alternate picking

Short for amplifier. A device that increases the strength of the electrical signal coming from the guitars pickups. Stronger signal, louder sound. There are two main types of amplifier: the combo amp (combinations amplifier) and the amplifier stack.

Synonymous With: Amplifier

Full Article on: amplifiers

The amplifier base, in which controls can be set, that increases the electrical signal. It is attached to a loudspeaker cabinet to form an amplifier stack.

Synonymous With: head

A metal frame that is used to mount amplifers for use in large stage performances.

Generic term for the various forms of amplifier.

Full Article on: amplifiers

A device that increases the strength of the electrical signal coming from the guitars pickups. Stronger signal, louder sound. There are two main types of amplifier: the combo amp (combinations amplifier) and the amplifier stack.

Full Article on: amplifiers

A form of amplifier where the signal is amplified in an amp head and then sent through loudspeakers. The loudspeakers are kept in a separate unit called a cabinet.

A moderately slow tempo, approximately 70-80bpm.

See Also: bpm

The places on the strings that dampen the sound when touched. As opposed to a node (where the harmonics are produced).

The Spanish term for ring finger (annular finger) on the picking hand. It is part of the pima labelling system, abbreviated by the symbol 'a'.

Synonymous With: a

See Also: pulgar, indice, medio, chico

Full Article on: pima labelling

A technique used by classical guitarists in which a picking hand finger plucks a string and follows straight through to the adjacent string, on which, it rests.

Synonymous With: rest stroke

A guitar body that has a curved top. The term is usually used to describe acoustic or semi-acoustic guitars and distinguish them from flat top varieties.

A chord sounded by rolling the thumb/plectrum across the strings. It should not sound like a strum or single-note line, more like a cross between the two. Tabs will indicate whether it is an up or down stroke via arrows.

Full Article on: arpeggiated chords

When each individual note of a chord is played separately, either in continuous succession or a more complex pattern. The word comes from the Italian language and means 'broken chord'.

Full Article on: arpeggio

Generally refers to any harmonic that is produced whilst fretting a note. The term is sometimes used specifically for touched harmonics.

See Also: natural harmonic, tapped harmonic

Full Article on: artificial harmonics

A type of hardwood that is used in the manufacture of solid-bodied guitars.

A name given to a metal plate that was used to cover the bridge on vintage Fender telecaster guitars.

An instruction in written music indicating that you should increase the duration of a note by one half. For example, an eighth note (depicted by a quaver) with an augmentation dot should last for 3 sixteenth notes (which equals one and a half eighth notes).

See Also: quaver, crotchet, eighth note, sixteenth note

Full Article on: note duration

A perfect interval that has been increased by a semitone. For example, a perfect fifth is an interval of 7 semitones, therefore an augmented fifth is an interval of 8 semitones.

A chord consisting of a major triad with a sharpened fifth. For example, an A major triad uses the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes of the A major scale (A C# E), therefore an 'A augmented' chord would contain the notes A, C# and F.

Full Article on: augmented chords

A slang word for guitar. The word guitar is derived from the Spanish word guitarra. It is a stringed instrument that traditionally has 6 strings (although there are such things as 7, 8 and 12 string guitars) and can be plucked or strummed. Guitars can be acoustic, semi-acoustic or electric. Acoustics and semi-acoustics consist of a hollow body. Semi-acoustics and electrics are played with amplifiers via pickups.

Synonymous With: Guitar

The second thinnest and second highest sounding string on a guitar. Named so because it is tuned to 'B' in standard tuning.

Synonymous With: 2nd string

Full Article on: string labelling

A flaw that occurs in machineheads whereby the string-post does not immediately turn in response to the tuner.

Musical equipment that facilitates live playing. For example, amplifiers, stands and cables.

A thin plate used to cover the control cavities on the reverse side of the body in which the circuitry and bridge are found.

Full Article on: anatomy of the guitar

The front panel of a speaker onto which other components are mounted.

The metal stopper found on the end of guitar strings used to anchor the string to the bridge.

An instrument similar to the guitar that is used in Spanish folk music. It consists of a pear-shaped body and steel strings.

Tuners that are found on the reverse side of the headstock.

See Also: machineheads

A unit of time in music, commonly consisting of four beats. Represented by a vertical line on tablature or the staff.

Synonymous With: measure

Full Article on: the staff

Another term for blade pickup. A pickup that uses one polepiece for each coil as oppposed to having one vertical polepiece under each string.

Synonymous With: Blade Pickup

Any chord that requires you to hold down more than one string with a single finger. The most common examples of barre chords are ones in which the index finger holds down five or six strings (on the same fret) whilst the other fingers hold basic chord shapes. This provides a way of using the simple open string chords further up the fretboard (like a capo).

  1. Short for Bass guitar.
  2. Sounds of a lower frequency. Origin Latin Bassus.

Also known as the F clef as its symbol has two dots, between which, is a line on the staff that represents the note F. Written guitar music does not require a bass clef as guitars only have a maximum of a four octave range which can be covered by the treble clef.

Full Article on: the staff

A variety of guitar that typically has four strings and is tuned an octave lower.

The lowest note in a chord.

Another term for neck pickup.

  1. A unit of time, determined by the tempo of a piece of music, which is used to measure the duration of a note. A tempo of 60bpm would infer that the each beat is one second long. A beat is an average note duration that other note duration symbols are based around.
  2. The underlying rhythm of a piece of music determined by the tempo.

Synonymous With: pulse

A measurement of the tempo of a piece of music. Most music has a tempo of 60-220 beats per minute.

Synonymous With: bpm

A technique where a fretting hand finger is used to literally bend the string up or down (towards either side of the neck). The bend creates an increase of tension on the string and therefore an increase in pitch.

Performing a bend or series of bends.

A vibrato system developed by Paul Bigsby. The term is also used to describe vibrato systems that work on the same principle.

A strip of flexible material such as wood or plastic which is used to strengthen the body of an acoustic guitar where the soundboard and back meet the sides.

A pickup that uses one polepiece for each coil as oppposed to having one vertical polepiece under each string.

Synonymous With: bar pickup

  1. When the sound of one note unintentionally overlaps with another. Bleeding is more noticeable when playing with distortion.
  2. When sound from one source leaks into the input of other instruments.

Fret markers that consist of quadrilateral shapes instead of the usual circles.

Music of African/American origin that is often slow and sad. The guitar is a popular instrument for the blues and guitarists used this form of music as a base for early rock and roll. Most forms of rock music including heavy metal can be traced back to blues music.

A term used by blues guitarists to describe a quarter-tone bend, a bend creating an increase in pitch of half a semitone.

Synonymous With: quarter-tone bend, microtonal bend

See Also: Semitone

A component of a pickup around which the coil is wrapped.

The main section of the guitar, on which the neck and bridge are attached. In acoustic guitars the hollow body acts as a resonator for the sound. Electric guitars use electronic amplification and therefore have less need for the hollow body, although the body still has an effect on the timbre of the instrument.

See Also: solid body

Full Article on: anatomy of the guitar

A device that contains electronic equipment for transmitting a signal in order to eliminate the need for wires. Its name is given because it is worn on the body although a lot of wireless transmitters are small enough to be plugged into the guitar.

A guitar neck that is secured to the body of the guitar by screws (not bolts, ironically) and a metal plate. Found on solid body guitars.

A process used to manufacture the Soundboard and back of an acoustic guitar. It involves cutting the shape from one billet of wood and splitting it into to symmetrical slices.

A finger piece that can be slid up and down the surface of the guitar strings to create a unique effect. They can be made from a variety of materials.

Synonymous With: bottleneck slide, slide

See Also: slide guitar

Containing binding.

See Also: Binding

A section of an acoustic guitar body. The waist of an acoustic guitar divides the body into the upper bout and lower bout.

Beats per minute. A measurement of the tempo of a piece of music. Most music has a tempo of 60-220 beats per minute.

Synonymous With: beats per minute

Strips of wood found on the inside of an acoustic guitar. They are used to strengthen the body but also have an effect on tone. Sometimes the bracing can be stripped down to alter the tone produced by the guitar; this is sometimes referred to as scalloped bracing.

Synonymous With: bracing

Strips of wood found on the inside of an acoustic guitar. They are used to strengthen the body but also have an effect on tone. Sometimes the bracing can be stripped down to alter the tone produced by the guitar; this is sometimes referred to as scalloped bracing.

Synonymous With: braces

A type of hardwood that is used in the manufacture of guitar bodies, necks and fretboards. No longer used so commonly as it is a protected species.

A symbol in written music that represents two bars (in 4/4 time).

Full Article on: note duration

  1. The metal or wooden component on the front of the body that holds the strings in place. The tension of the strings is usually altered at the head of the guitar by the machineheads. Bridges contain one saddle for each string, on which the strings are held in place. The position of these saddles can sometimes be altered to adjust the intonation.
  2. A passage of music that connects two sections of a composition.

Full Article on: anatomy of the guitar

The component of an acoustic guitar bridge through which the strings are threaded.

The pickup located in front of the bridge.

Synonymous With: treble pickup, lead pickup

Full Article on: anatomy of the guitar

Used on flat top acoustic guitars. They consist of plastic pegs that are placed into the holes of the bridge to hold the strings in place.

A flat surface made of metal (on electric guitars) or wood (on acoustic guitars) that the components of the bridge are attached.

Full Article on: anatomy of the guitar

Where the notes of a chord are not played at the same time. For example, two notes could be played followed by another two, or in the form of an arpeggio.

Material used in the manufacture of modern acoustic guitar strings.

Where frequency components of a signal are blocked by a signal of the same amplitude and opposite polarity. Can be called phase cancellation because of its use in the phaser and flanger guitar effects.

A technique where the index finger holds a note or part of a chord whilst the tip of the finger mutes the adjacent lower string.

Full Article on: fret hand muting

The symbol that represents the little finger on the picking hand. Part of the pima labelling system.

Full Article on: pima labelling

Short for cabinet. The section of an amplifier stack in which the loudspeakers are kept.

Synonymous With: cabinet, speaker cabinet

The section of an amplifier stack in which the loudspeakers are kept.

Synonymous With: speaker cabinet, cab

The insulated wiring used to connect guitars to amplifiers, guitars to effects units or amp heads to speaker cabinets.

Synonymous With: lead, cord

Full Article on: amplifiers

A system of identifying patterns of notes on the fretboard by using a repeating sequence of chords (C, A, G, E and D major).

Full Article on: CAGED theory

The extent to which the surface of the fretboard is curved.

See Also: radius

Comes from the Italian phrase 'capo dastro' and means 'head of fingerboard'. A capo is a device that clamps onto the fret bars and raises the pitch of all the strings. It allows open strings to be used in other keys, therefore allowing sounds that are not normally possible. Capos also lower the action of the strings and shorten the scale length. A shorter scale length produces a different timbre, one that is similar to that of a shorter stringed instrument.

In effect a capo creates a new nut, so fret numbers are altered accordingly. For example, a capo on the second fret would mean that fret three is now fret one when marked in tab.

A man-made material used in the manufacture of some modern guitars.

A hollow area found on the back of solid-bodied electric guitars that contain wiring or access to the vibrato springs.

Synonymous With: control cavity

A type of evergreen conifer used in the manufacture of classical guitar necks.

Short for nitro-cellulose. A substance derived from cellulose that is commonly used as a finish on guitars.

Synonymous With: nitro-cellulose

A wooden block found on the inside of semi-acoustic guitars.

A vertical strip of wood found on the back of acoustic guitars.

A component of a Hawaiian guitar that connects to pedals via strings.

A component of an amplifier that contains electronics.

A type of binding consisting of alternating white and black blocks.

A type of hybrid picking that is supposed to resemble the cluck and squawk of a chicken. A picking hand finger is used to mute a string whilst the plectrum plucks, therefore creating a percussive 'cluck'. The squawk is created when a picking hand finger plucks the string and lets it 'twang' back against the fretboard.

The Spanish term for little finger (pinky finger) on the picking hand. It is part of the pima labelling system, abbreviated by the symbol 'c'.

Synonymous With: c

See Also: pulgar, indice, medio, anular

Full Article on: pima labelling

A transformer found inside some amplifiers.

Slang term for a guitarists skills.

The sounding of more than two notes at a time. When two notes are played at a time it is known as a dyad.

Full Article on: chord charts

A chord that is derived from a larger chord by playing just a few of the strings. For example, a six-string barre chord can be broken down into four three-string chord fragments. Chord fragments are used by jazz guitarists to expand their chord vocabulary.

A group of chords that are played in order. Commonly constructed with chords that are related to each other via the scales that they are based on. Chord progressions are designed to create a cycle of music that can repeat or lead into other sections of music.

Synonymous With: chord sequence

The class of musical instrument that the guitar comes under.

  1. A guitar effect that creates a calm, shimmering sound. The chorus effect is created by combining the regular signal with one that has been delayed and raised in pitch.
  2. Part of a song that usually follows a verse.

Ascending or descending by semitones.

See Also: semitone

Full Article on: the chromatic scale

A twelve note scale consisting of all the notes from A to G#. The fretboard of a guitar has a chromatic layout with each fret representing an increment of one semitone.

See Also: semitone

Full Article on: the chromatic scale

Another term for fret hand muting. Using the fretting hand touch the strings to mute them (stop them from sounding) when you pluck/strum, creating a more percussive sound.

Synonymous With: fret hand muting, muted strum, rhythm click

Full Article on: fret hand muting

An unaltered and natural quality of sound. Achieved by not using any distortion or other guitar effects.

A symbol placed on a stave to indicate what pitch each line represents.

Full Article on: the staff

The wire component of a pickup that is wrapped around the bobbin.

The removal of one coil from a humbucking pickup to bring about a cleaner sound.

A type of amp where the amplifier and loudspeaker are in one unit.

Synonymous With: combinations amplifier

The use of the same note in one or more successive chords. They create a common thread that links a sequence of chords. Sometimes the common tone is always the highest or lowest note to create a specific effect. Using various chord voicings can help you do this.

A saddle that has been adjusted for correct intonation.

See Also: compensation

In theory a strings halfway point should be at fret 12 and, when fretted, should raise the pitch by an octave. However, fretting the string increases the tension and therefore causes a small increase in pitch. To counter this increase in pitch the distance from the nut to the saddle is increased (making the string longer). This extra distance is called the compensation. Various factors affect how much compensation is needed: the action, gauge, tension and length of the string all need to be taken into account. This explains why the saddles on guitars are staggered. The compensation can be found by adjusting the saddle until the pitch of the fret 12 note matches the harmonic at fret 12.

A camber that changes gradually along the length of the fretboard.

Synonymous With: conical radius

The act of controlling the signal level and counteracting any sudden fluctuations, bringing a neater sound and adding sustain.

A guitar effect that controls the signal level and counteracts any sudden fluctuations, bringing a neater sound and adding sustain.

A flat top acoustic guitar with a large body making it suitable for performance.

440Hz. In standard tuning, the 5th string (or A-string) is tuned to concert pitch.

Another term for compound radius. A camber that changes gradually along the length of the fretboard.

Synonymous With: Compound Radius

Another term for quantized bend. Bending to sound more than one note but only picking the string once.

Synonymous With: Quantized Bend

A body that has smooth curves on the front or back to create a stylish look and to make it more comfortable to hold.

Another term for cavity. A hollow area found on the back of solid-bodied electric guitars that contain wiring or access to the vibrato springs.

Synonymous With: Cavity

Switches and variable resistors found on the surface of the guitars body that control electrical functions. Controls usually consist of tone controls, volume controls and pickup selector switches.

Another term for cable.

The combination of two melodies to form a single composition. Counterpoints are found more in vocals but are useful in the composition of guitar music.

Refers to the alignment of the strings on a guitar. A single course consists of one string that can be played in isolation. A standard guitar has six single courses of strings, all of which can be played individually. Guitars can also have double-courses.

A type of barre chord in which the barre covers notes on two different frets. It is a very difficult technique that is mainly used by jazz guitarists.

A piece of circuitry found in amplifiers that divides a signal into separate frequency ranges.

A symbol in written music that represents one quarter note (a quarter of a bar in 4/4 time).

Full Article on: note duration

An area on the body of the guitar that curves around to avoid the high end of the neck. This leaves easy access to the higher notes of the fretboard.

Full Article on: anatomy of the guitar

The fourth highest sounding (fourth thinnest) string on a guitar. Named so because it is tuned to 'D' in standard tuning.

Full Article on: string labelling

An instruction found in music notation indicating that you should return to the beginning of the song and play up to the measure that is labelled 'fine'.

Drop D tuning. Where the 6th string (low E-string) is tuned down a tone and the other strings are left in standard tuning.

See Also: standard tuning, dropped tuning, 6th string, e-string, tone

Full Article on: tuning your guitar, table of tunings

Restricted in volume or intensity.

Restricting the volume or intensity of musical sound. The term can be used to refer to muting.

Full Article on: fret hand muting

Short for direct current. Electricity that only flows in one direction. Tube amps tend to use Direct current voltages.

Synonymous With: Direct Current

A note that has been muted to the point it has no discernible pitch. In the context of guitar music this would be a mute performed with the fretting hand, as palm muted notes still have a distinctive pitch.

Synonymous With: False Note, Ghost Note

See Also: Fret Hand Muting, Fretting Hand, Palm Muting

The length of the non-vibrating sections of a guitar string, such as behind the nut or saddle.

A guitar effect that stops the sound for a set period of time, creating an echo-like effect. Can be used to add depth to a sound.

Re-tuning strings to a pitch other than standard tuning.

Full Article on: tuning your guitar

  1. Within the notes of a major or minor scale.
  2. Within the same key signature.

The use of digital technology to re-create the sounds of classic amplifiers and effects.

  1. A perfect or minor interval that has been reduced in pitch by a semitone. For example, a perfect fifth is an interval of 7 semitones therefore a diminished fifth is an interval of 6 semitones.
  2. A chord consisting of a major triad with a flattened third and fifth. For example, an A major triad uses the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes of the A major scale (A C# E), therefore an 'A diminished' chord would contain the notes A, C and Eb.

Full Article on: intervals, diminished chords

Electricity that only flows in one direction. Tube amps tend to use Direct current voltages.

Synonymous With: DC

Sound that is heard straight from the natural source without any intervention, electronic or otherwise.

Distorted or unnatural sounding.

A guitar effect in which gain (an increase in power of a signal) is used to create a dirty and fuzzy sound. There are many forms of distortion, used in various styles of music.

Synonymous With: gain,overdrive,fuzz

See Also: gain

Full Article on: amplifiers

A technique in which the tremolo bar is depressed rapidly to create an effect resembling the dropping of a bomb.

Synonymous With: Dive Bomb

See Also: tremolo bar

Full Article on: whammy bar techniques

A brand name and series of products developed by the Dopyera brothers.

A guitar with a metal resonator inside.

The dominant note can be found on any diatonic scale. It lies a perfect fifth above the tonic.

Fret markers that are in the form of little circles. They are the most common fret markers and they are usually found on the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 15th, 17th, and 19th frets and a double dot is usually found on the 12th fret.

A fretboard with dot markers.

See Also: Dot Markers

A pair of strings aligned closely to one another enabling both to be sounded with one pluck. A standard 12-string guitar has six double courses of strings.

Lowered in pitch by two semitones.

See Also: semitone

Full Article on: intervals

Increased in pitch by two semitones.

See Also: semitone

Full Article on: the chromatic scale

When an instrument is recorded on one track, then recorded again on a second track. The idea is that when the two tracks are played simultaneously any differences in timing or tone combine to make a thicker sound.

A note that lasts for the duration of two bars.

See Also: bar

Full Article on: note duration

A type of tremolo system patented by Floyd Rose that involves a flexible floating bridge that responds smoothly to the vibrato bar. It is sometimes called the 'double-locking' system because the strings are locked at the bridge and the nut using nut locks. Every time you alter the tension on any of the strings the floating bridge moves and puts the other strings out of tune. This leaves you having to tune your guitar twice before attaching the nut locks, making tuning difficult.

Synonymous With: Floyd Rose tremolo system, Floyd Rose vibrato system, double-locking vibrato system, locking vibrato system,locking tremolo system

A type of tremolo system patented by Floyd Rose that involves a flexible floating bridge that responds smoothly to the vibrato bar. It is sometimes called the 'double-locking' system because the strings are locked at the bridge and the nut using nut locks. Every time you alter the tension on any of the strings the floating bridge moves and puts the other strings out of tune. This leaves you having to tune your guitar twice before attaching the nut locks, making tuning difficult.

Synonymous With: Floyd Rose tremolo system, Floyd Rose vibrato system, double-locking system,locking vibrato system,locking tremolo sytem

A guitar that has two necks mounted on a large body. The two necks usually consist of a six-string and a 12-string or a six-string and a bass neck.

A chord of two notes that are on adjacent strings and similar frets.

  1. The use of one finger to bend the two notes of a double stop up a quarter of a tone.
  2. Using separate fingers to bend a double stop up a specified number of steps.

A drop in pitch brought about by depressing the vibrato bar. Extreme down-bends can be referred to as divebombs.

Full Article on: whammy bar techniques

The use of just downstrokes to create a consistent rhythm. Used a lot in punk, rock and heavy metal.

A strum or pluck that moves downward towards the floor.

A model of acoustic guitar that is larger than normal and produces more volume and bass than an ordinary acoustic. Originally used to describe models of guitar designed by Frank Martin and Harry Hunt.

Where all strings are tuned down a tone then the 6th string (low E-string) is tuned down another tone, CGCFAD.

Full Article on: tuning your guitar

Where the 6th string (low E-string) is tuned down a tone and the other strings are left in standard tuning.

Full Article on: tuning your guitar

A long headstock that points down towards the floor.

Synonymous With: downward headstock, downward facing headstock

Where the lowest string is tuned a tone lower in relation to the normal intervals between strings. For example, a standard tuned guitar that has its low E-string tuned to D would be in dropped D tuning. Dropped tunings allows easy playing of power chords on the lower strings and are used mainly in heavy metal music.

See Also: drop c tuning, drop d tuning

Full Article on: tuning your guitar, table of tunings

The highest or lowest string on a guitar. Named so because they are both tuned to E in standard tuning.

Synonymous With: 1st string, high e-string, 6th string, low e-string

Full Article on: string labelling

To connect an electrical circuit to the ground. All components of guitars, amplifiers and effects units are earthed.

A man-made material that fretboards can be made out of.

Dark, exotic hardwood used for fretboards and bridges.

A single reflection of sound that is heard after the direct sound. Any extra distance the sound has to travel adds to the time delay. An echo is a distinct reflection of sound and is not to be confused with reverberation.

  1. A picking style that combines sweep picking and alternate picking. Alternate is picking is used when playing consecutive notes on the same string but sweep picking is used when changing between strings.
  2. Another term for sweep picking.

Full Article on: sweep picking, exercises - sweep picking, exercises - alternate picking

Devices that use sound processors to achieve a desired sound.

A device that incorporates sound processors to produce effects.

A note that lasts for the duration of an eighth of a bar.

See Also: bar, quaver

Full Article on: note duration

Refers to an electric guitar as opposed to an acoustic guitar.

A guitar that relies on electrical amplification instead of the natural resonance of the instrument. Because there is no need for the resonance of the body, electrical guitars commonly have a solid body instead of a hollow body.

Synonymous With: electric lead guitar, lead guitar, guitar

A guitar that relies on electrical amplification instead of the natural resonance of the instrument. Because there is no need for the resonance of the body, electrical guitars commonly have a solid body instead of a hollow body.

Synonymous With: Electric Guitar,Guitar

A device that displays the pitch of a note to allow accurate tuning. Electric tuners are typically battery powered but can be incorporated into mains-powered effects units.

Full Article on: tuning your guitar

An acoustic guitar that has a pickup mounted in the sound hole.

A component of tube amplifiers that alter the signal by controlling the flow of electrons.

Synonymous With: tube, valve

A piece of wood found inside an acoustic guitar. The block is located at the tail end of the guitar and provides both structural support and somewhere to attach the end pin.

Synonymous With: tail block

A round piece of metal located at the tail end of the guitar to which the strap is attached.

Synonymous With: End Pin

A round piece of metal located at the tail end of the guitar to which the strap is attached.

Synonymous With: end button

A piece of equipment that can reduce or enhance sounds that lie within a certain frequency band. The tone control on a guitar or amplifier works on the same principle.

Synonymous With: EQ, tone control

A wood that can be used to make soundboards.

A sound hole that is F-shaped. Found on semi-acoustic guitars.

The top/front surface of an acoustic guitar body.

Synonymous With: Top,Soundboard,Top Plate

Where volume is gradually increased until desired volume is reached.

A gradual decrease in volume.

A note that has been muted to the point it has no discernible pitch. In the context of guitar music this would be a mute performed with the fretting hand, as palm muted notes still have a distinctive pitch.

Synonymous With: Dead Note, Ghost Note

See Also: Fret Hand Muting, Fretting Hand, Palm Muting

Wooden supports found under the soundboard of an acoustic guitar. Referred to as fan strutting because the struts radiate out from a central point just like a fan.

A high pitch sound created by the amplification of a guitars own sound. It is the result of putting the guitar to close to the amp.

  1. The fifth degree of a scale.
  2. The interval between the first and fifth note of a diatonic scale. This interval can be perfect (7 semitones), diminished (6 semitones) or augmented (8 semitones).

Full Article on: intervals

A method of relative tuning. It involves tuning the low E-string (by ear if necessary) and then using the 5th fret (A) to tune the adjacent string (the A-string). The same process is done for the rest of the strings with exception to the G-string, on which the 4th fret is held to find harmony with the b-string.

Full Article on: tuning your guitar

The naturally occurring grain pattern on the surface of wood that gives each acoustic guitar a unique character.

A small section of music used to connect larger sections. In guitar there are rhythm fills and lead fills.

The removal of unwanted elements of an electrical signal. Filtering can be used to create a cleaner sound for recording purposes or to create a specific effect.

Tuners found on the bridge of guitars with a locking tremolo system. The tuning is done with the machineheads as usual then the nut locks are put in place. The fine-tuners are then used to make any tiny adjustments to avoid having to remove the nut locks.

Used for the fretting hand. Each finger is assigned a number from 1-4. 1 = index finger 2 = middle finger 3 = ring finger 4 = little finger T = thumb

Full Article on: hand labelling

A fingerboard is the surface on which the strings of a fretless stringed instrument are pressed against. Although, in a guitar context it can mean the same as fretboard.

Applying the pressure on the strings at a certain fret in order to sound a note.

Synonymous With: Fretting

A thin coating of decorative material found on the surface of wooden components of a guitar.

A pickup selector switch that has five positions and therefore five combinations of pickups that can be used. Commonly found on guitars with three single coil pickups.

A bridge that stays static but can move when the vibrato system is used.

A guitar effect that creates a consistent wave-like space age whooshing effect, achieved by variable delay and filtering the signal.

A semitone lower, notated by the symbol b.

The original term for plectrum, a small, thin object used for plucking or strumming the strings.

Synonymous With: Pick,Plectrum

Full Article on: how to hold a plectrum

Playing with a flat pick.

An acoustic guitar where the soundboard is completely flat.

Made a semitone lower.

A bridge used in the Floyd Rose locking tremolo system that can move in accordance with the tension of the strings (as opposed to a static bridge). It enables an easy and accurate vibrato system but makes tuning more difficult.

  1. The man who invented the double locking tremolo system.
  2. Floyd rose has also become the name of this type of vibrato system.

A type of tremolo system patented by Floyd Rose that involves a flexible floating bridge that responds smoothly to the vibrato bar. It is sometimes called the 'double-locking' system because the strings are locked at the bridge and the nut using nut locks. Every time you alter the tension on any of the strings the floating bridge moves and puts the other strings out of tune. This leaves you having to tune your guitar twice before attaching the nut locks, making tuning difficult.

Synonymous With: Floyd Rose vibrato system, double-locking system, double-locking vibrato system, locking vibrato system,locking tremolo system

A type of tremolo system patented by Floyd Rose that involves a flexible floating bridge that responds smoothly to the vibrato bar. It is sometimes called the 'double-locking' system because the strings are locked at the bridge and the nut using nut locks. Every time you alter the tension on any of the strings the floating bridge moves and puts the other strings out of tune. This leaves you having to tune your guitar twice before attaching the nut locks, making tuning difficult.

Synonymous With: Floyd Rose Tremolo System,double-locking system, double-locking vibrato system, locking vibrato system,locking tremolo system

A pedal that you step on to activate electrical devices/settings. They are used with amps and effects units to enable you to operate them whilst standing up.

Acoustical frequency is the number of sound vibrations per second, measured in Hertz (Hz). Frequency represents the pitch of sound, 440Hz is concert pitch.

  1. The space on the fretboard between each fret bar. Each numbered from the nut upward, starting on fret one. Open strings are referred to as fret 0.
  2. Sometimes used as another term for fret bar.

Synonymous With: fret bar

The strips of metal found along the fingerboard. The space immediately behind the fret bar is used for fretting (not directly over the bar). Fret bars are placed at set intervals to divide the string into pitches. The frets get closer together as you ascend the fretboard; this is because every time you halve the length you raise the pitch by an octave. Fret 12 divides the string in half (raising the pitch by an octave) and fret 24 divides the string into a quarter (raising the pitch by another octave).

The hand that applies pressure to the fretboard.

Synonymous With: Fretting Hand

Full Article on: hand labelling

Using the fretting hand touch the strings to mute them (stop them from sounding) when you pluck/strum, creating a more percussive sound.

Synonymous With: muted strum, rhythm click, chucking

Full Article on: fret hand muting

Inlays that are usually found at the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 12th, 15th, 17th, 19th and 21st frets and provide an easy way of tracking down the fret your are looking for.

Numbers assigned to each of the frets to allow them to be denoted in tablature.

The long thin strip of dark hardwood (rosewood or ebony for example) on the surface of the neck, on which the fret bars are placed.

Full Article on: anatomy of the guitar, learning the fretboard

Refers to fretboards that have no metal strips to mark off separate pitches. The result is a fretboard with a continuous scale of pitches. Usually only bass guitars are fretless.

  1. The spaces on the fretboard between each fret bar. Each numbered from the nut upward, starting on fret one. Open strings are referred to as fret 0.
  2. Sometimes used as another term for fret bars.

Applying the pressure on the strings at a certain fret in order to sound a note.

Synonymous With: Fingering

The hand that applies pressure to the fretboard.

Synonymous With: fret hand

Full Article on: hand labelling

A technique where the string is bent until the pitch is one tone higher (equal to two frets higher).

Synonymous With: Whole Bend

Very dirty sound.

See Also: dirty

The third thinnest and third highest sounding string on a guitar. Named so because it is tuned to 'G' in standard tuning.

Synonymous With: 3rd string

Full Article on: string labelling

The amount of increase in power a signal is exposed to. Determines the amount of distortion and sustain.

Full Article on: amplifiers

A vibrato-like effect caused by flicking the Vibrato bar once a note has been sounded.

Full Article on: whammy bar techniques

Refers to the thickness of guitar strings. It can alter sustain, tone and flexibility. Light gauges are easier for bending whilst heavier gauges are better for volume and sustain. Light: 0.010 to 0.047 Medium-light: 0.011 to 0.052 Medium: 0.012 to 0.056 Heavy: 0.013 to 0.062

Full Article on: changing strings

A bend is made before the string is plucked and usually released to create a drop in pitch.

Synonymous With: Reverse Bend,Pre-bend

  1. A note that is physically acted upon but is not heard. For example the starting note before a string bend is performed.
  2. A note that has been muted to the point it has no discernible pitch. In the context of guitar music this would be a mute performed with the fretting hand, as palm muted notes still have a distinctive pitch.

Synonymous With: False Note, Dead Note

See Also: Fret Hand Muting, Fretting Hand, Palm Muting

A case designed to hold a guitar for transportation. Gig bags can be padded and fitted with shoulder straps depending on the quality. A good gig bag should have extra padding around the edges (where most of the bumps and scrapes occur).

More commonly known as slides. Sliding is a form of legato (smooth playing) that is similar to hammer-ons and pull-offs. The technique involves playing a note and then moving the finger to a different fret, keeping the finger pressed firmly against the fretboard as you move.

Synonymous With: Slide

Full Article on: slides

A note that is not written in rhythm notation. Usually added as an embellishment.

A bend that makes an immediate transition up to the desired pitch, without sounding the fretted note. The fretted note is written in notation but without a symbol describing note duration.

The word guitar is derived from the Spanish word guitarra. It is a stringed instrument that traditionally has 6 strings (although there are such things as 7, 8 and 12 string guitars) and can be plucked or strummed. Guitars can be acoustic, semi-acoustic or electric. Acoustics and semi-acoustics consist of a hollow body. Semi-acoustics and electrics are played with amplifiers via pickups.

A stringed instrument similar to the guitar. Used to provide bass in Latino folk music.

A note that lasts for the duration of half a bar.

See Also: bar

Full Article on: note duration

The difference in pitch between two adjacent frets; equal to the distance in pitch between two adjacent notes on the chromatic scale.

Synonymous With: Semitone

Full Article on: intervals

A bend that increases pitch by a semitone.

The sounding of a note by slamming down hard on the fret with the fretting hand. The opposite of a pull-off. Picking is not always needed for this, however, a hammer-on that is not picked may be referred to as a tap.

Synonymous With: slur

See Also: Pull-Off

Full Article on: hammer-ons

Where the picking hand frets or taps notes that are lower down the neck than the fretting hand, causing the picking hand to literally cross over the fretting hand.

  1. A note of purer tone. A harmonic can be produced at certain fractional points along the length of a string (the halfway point, for example). There are natural harmonics that are produced by plucking open strings and artificial harmonics that invlove holding a fret.
  2. Involving harmony.

Full Article on: natural harmonics, artificial harmonics

A technique where the fretting hand slurs continuously whilst a picking hand finger touches the same string to produce harmonics. The finger usually moves from the bridge to the body producing a random assortment of harmonics.

The distance in pitch between two notes that are being played simultaneously.

Full Article on: intervals

Identical to the natural minor scale except for a sharpened 7th degree.

A phrase invented by guitar player magazine to describe an unusual harmonic technique. The picking hand is lightly draped over the 12 fret bar whilst the fretting hand slurs between open, 5th and 7th frets.

  1. To add harmony to music.
  2. To form music or chords from a specific scale.
  1. The playing of two or more notes at the same time.
  2. The relationship between notes of a chord and chords in a progression with reference to the structure of a piece of music.

A guitar played horizontally, on which, a steel bar is used as a slide. Named so because it was invented and popularised by the Hawaiians.

Synonymous With: lap steel guitar, steel guitar, pedal steel guitar

Short for humbucker, a type of pickup consisting of two electromagnetic coils of opposite polarity. Specially designed to reduce interference from other electronics that can cause a hum.

Synonymous With: Humbucker,Humbucking Pickup,Pickup

  1. Short for headstock, the section of the guitar attached to the top of the neck. Used to hold the machineheads.
  2. Short for amp head, the amplifier base in which controls can be set, that increases the electrical signal. It is attached to a loudspeaker cabinet to form an amplifier stack.

Synonymous With: Amp Head, Headstock

A block of wood found inside acoustic guitars where the neck meets the body. The block provides a structurally sound place to attach the heel.

Synonymous With: Heel Block,Neck Block

The section of the guitar attached to the top of the neck. Used to hold the machineheads.

Synonymous With: Peghead

Full Article on: anatomy of the guitar

A thin piece of wood (such as rosewood) that covers the surface of the headstock and may contain decoration.

The section of the neck that joins onto the body. The heel is much squarer than the rest of the neck and usually curves to allow comfortable access to the higher frets.

A block of wood found inside acoustic guitars where the neck meets the body. The block provides a structurally sound place to attach the heel.

Synonymous With: neck block, head block

A decorative finish found on the heel of some guitars.

A type of barre chord where more than one finger barres the strings. A hinge barre could include a full barre and one partial barre or two partial barres.

Unwanted electrical noise produced by the amplifier.

A type of pickup consisting of two electromagnetic coils of opposite polarity. Specially designed to reduce interference from other electronics that can cause a hum.

Synonymous With: humbucking pickup

A type of pickup consisting of two electromagnetic coils of opposite polarity. Specially designed to reduce interference from other electronics that can cause a hum.

Synonymous With: Humbucker,Pickup

Using a pick and fingers to pluck the strings.

The symbol that represents the index finger on the picking hand. Part of the pima labelling system.

Full Article on: pima labelling

A measurement of the opposition to an alternating current (AC). Not to be confused with resistance. Measured in ohms.

Making things up on the spot. A popular method of creating music amongst jazz and blues guitarists and a recommended method of exercising your creativity.

The Spanish term for the index finger on the picking hand. It is part of the pima labelling system, abbreviated by the symbol 'i'.

Synonymous With: i

See Also: pulgar, medio, anular, chico

Full Article on: pima labelling

Pictorial designs that are usually found on the fretboard and used as fret markers. Inlays can be made of materials like abalone that are embedded in the surface of the wood.

The direction toward the source of power and away from source of the current (towards the amplifier and away from the guitar). Any socket labelled 'input' should be connected via a cable to a socket labelled 'output'.

Where alternate picking is used on two strings, the lower of the two being picked with upstrokes and the higher being picked with downstrokes.

Full Article on: exercises - alternate picking

The difference in pitch between two notes.

See Also: melodic interval, harmonic interval

Full Article on: intervals

The ability of a guitar to be in tune with itself. The 12th fret and the harmonic at the 12th fret should yield the same note. If the guitar is not in tune with itself then the intonation is said to be out.

See Also: compensation

Variations of chords that contain the same notes but in different orders regarding to pitch. For example a three-note chord has a root position and two inversions.

To invert a chord is to take the bass note and raise it an octave.

The metal plate upon which the output jack of a guitar is mounted.

Found on the inside of acoustic guitars. The kerfing lines the seam between the sides and the soundboard, and between the sides and back. Kerfing has thin slices cut into it, which make it flexible.

The group of notes a piece of music uses. Consisting of a scale that is based around a particular note.

Full Article on: table of key signatures

In the context of guitars, laminated refers to the top and back of an acoustic guitar being made of thin plies of wood that are glued together, as opposed to solid wood guitars.

A guitar played horizontally, on which, a steel bar is used as a slide. Commonly called the Hawaiian Guitar because it was invented and popularised by the Hawaiians.

Synonymous With: Hawaiian Guitar, steel guitar, pedal steel guitar

  1. Short for electric lead guitar, a guitar that relies on electrical amplification instead of the natural resonance of the instrument. Because there is no need for the resonance of the body, electrical guitars commonly have a solid body instead of a hollow body.
  2. The insulated wiring used to connect guitars to amplifiers, guitars to effects units or amp heads to speaker cabinets.

Synonymous With: Cable, Cord, Electric Lead Guitar, Lead Guitar

Essentially just a hammer-on with the fretting hand but without the string being plucked.

See Also: tapping, right hand tapping

A style of music with a smooth and unbroken flow. In the context of guitar music legato is achieved by techniques that avoid the need to pluck the strings, such as slurs (hammer-ons and pull-offs) and slides.

Full Article on: hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides

An instruction in written music that states you should allow notes to sound (let the string vibrate) until the sound fades or until the string has to be re-plucked.

An instruction in written music that states you allow all notes to ring until the riff is finished.

A sequence of notes forming a repeatable or distinguished sound. Licks are like phrases in a vocabulary that you can build guitar solos from.

A type of nut that is found on guitars with a locking tremolo system. It consists of a strip of metal that hold the tension of the strings via small metal plates that can be screwed into place.

A type of tremolo system patented by Floyd Rose that involves a flexible floating bridge that responds smoothly to the vibrato bar. It is sometimes called the 'double-locking' system because the strings are locked at the bridge and the nut using nut locks. Every time you alter the tension on any of the strings the floating bridge moves and puts the other strings out of tune. This leaves you having to tune your guitar twice before attaching the nut locks, making tuning difficult.

Synonymous With: Floyd Rose tremolo system, Floyd Rose vibrato system, double-locking system, double-locking vibrato system, locking vibrato system

A type of tremolo system patented by Floyd Rose that involves a flexible floating bridge that responds smoothly to the vibrato bar. It is sometimes called the 'double-locking' system because the strings are locked at the bridge and the nut using nut locks. Every time you alter the tension on any of the strings the floating bridge moves and puts the other strings out of tune. This leaves you having to tune your guitar twice before attaching the nut locks, making tuning difficult.

Synonymous With: Floyd Rose tremolo system, Floyd Rose vibrato system, double-locking system, double-locking vibrato system, locking tremolo system

A piece of electrical equipment that produces amplified sound. Used in conjunction with an amplifier either in separate units (an amplifier stack) or in one unit (a combo amp).

The knowledge and craft of making guitars.

A manufacturer of lutes and guitars, acoustic guitars in particular.

A symbol used to represent the middle finger on the picking hand. It is part of the pima labelling system.

Full Article on: pima labelling

The metal attachments to the headstock which twist to adjust the tension in the strings, enabling you to attach and retune strings.

Synonymous With: tuners, tuner pegs

An interval of 2 semitones.

Full Article on: intervals

An interval of 4 semitones.

Full Article on: intervals

An interval of 9 semitones.

Full Article on: intervals

A diatonic scale that consists of 7 notes. The scale can be divided into two tetrachords (if you include the octave note). In western music, all chords are named according to how the notes would fit into the major scale. Scale theory also uses the major scale as a template.

Full Article on: the major scale

A unit of time in music, commonly consisting of four beats. Represented by a vertical line on tablature or the staff.

Synonymous With: Bar

The Spanish term for the middle finger on the picking hand. It is part of the pima labelling system, abbreviated by the symbol 'm'.

Synonymous With: m

See Also: pulgar, indice, anular, chico

Full Article on: pima labelling

The distance in pitch between two notes that are played successively.

Full Article on: intervals

A scale that is the same as the major scale except for the 3rd degree, which is flatted.

A device that produces a constant pulse in order to keep track of rhythm. Most electronic metronomes can accent the first beat of each bar, enabling you to stay within a set time signature. Some metronomes will only cover the simple time signatures, so check before you buy.

Full Article on: metronomes

Short for microphone, a device that converts sound waves into electrical signals. Dynamic microphones are used for recording directly in front of the source of sound (immediately in front of an amp to record electric guitars). Ambient microphones are used to record sound over a wider area, like an entire room. Ambient microphones are used to record acoustic guitars.

Synonymous With: Microphone

A device that converts sound waves into electrical signals. Dynamic microphones are used for recording directly in front of the source of sound (immediately in front of an amp to record electric guitars). Ambient microphones are used to record sound over a wider area, like an entire room. Ambient microphones are used to record acoustic guitars.

A bend creating an increase in pitch of half a semitone.

Synonymous With: Quarter-tone Bend, Blues Curl

See Also: Semitone

Connected with a microphone for recording or performing.

A symbol in written music that represents one half note (half a bar in 4/4 time).

Full Article on: note duration

An interval of 1 semitone.

Full Article on: intervals

An interval of 3 semitones.

Full Article on: intervals

An interval of 8 semitones.

Full Article on: intervals

An interval of 10 semitones.

Full Article on: intervals

Based upon modes and scales as opposed to relationships between chords.

A series of intervals derived from any given scale by starting on any note other than the root note.

Full Article on: modes

A type of bridge that is found on acoustic guitars. It earned its name because of the fact it resembles a handlebar moustache.

Any chord shape that uses no open strings. These chords can be played in various positions of the fretboard producing the same chord but in a different key. Barre chords are a common example of moveable chords.

Full Article on: moveable chords

To cut sound. Often refers to a fret hand mute but can be used to indicate a palm mute.

Full Article on: palm muting, fret hand muting

Using the fretting hand touch the strings to mute them (stop them from sounding) when you strum, creating a more percussive sound.

Synonymous With: Fret Hand Muting

See Also: Fretting Hand

Full Article on: fret hand muting

Dampening the strings. Often refers to fret hand muting but can be used to describe palm muting.

See Also: mute, dampening

Full Article on: palm muting, fret hand muting

A note that is neither sharpened nor flattened.

Harmonics that occur at certain parts of the string called nodes. A note of purer tone can be produced by touching these nodes whilst the string is being plucked.

Full Article on: natural harmonics

Reverse the effect of a sharp or flat.

Full Article on: accidentals

The wooden stem that extends from the main body of the guitar and supports the headstock. The fretboard is found on the surface of the neck.

Full Article on: anatomy of the guitar

A block of wood found inside acoustic guitars where the neck meets the body. The block provides a structurally sound place to attach the heel.

Synonymous With: Heel Block,Head Block

The part of the body to which the neck is attached.

The pickup that is located next to the neck.

Synonymous With: bass pickup, rhythm pickup

The dimensions and design of the neck.

A style of neck that extends right to the end of the body of the guitar. This design of neck is used to mount the pickups and bridge and does not have a heel, making it easier to reach the higher frets. This design is found on basses more than guitars and more often on the more expensive ranges.

Synonymous With: neck-through, thru-neck

See Also: Pickups, Bridge

Short for neck through body, a style of neck that extends right to the end of the body of the guitar. This design of neck is used to mount the pickups and bridge and does not have a heel, making it easier to reach the higher frets. This design is found on basses more than guitars and more often on the more expensive ranges.

Synonymous With: Thru-neck, Neck Through Body

See Also: Pickups, Bridge

A substance derived from cellulose that is commonly used as a finish on guitars.

Synonymous With: cellulose

A point on a guitar string that, when touched lightly, will produce a harmonic (12th fret for example).

Full Article on: natural harmonics

Short for string noise. Any unwanted sounds from the guitar. This can be caused when your fretting hand or picking hand rubs against the strings when you play. String noise may not be noticed when playing acoustically but amplifiers magnify the problem. Noise gates and muting can help reduce any unwanted noise.

Synonymous With: String Noise

A sound processor that removes any components of an audio signal that are below a certain amplitude. Noise gates can be found on effects units and are used to reduce string noise.

Any process that removes or reduces unwanted noise from an audio signal. Used in the recording of guitar music to reduce string noise. One such example is a noise gate.

Any vibrato system other than the Floyd Rose locking tremolo system to clamp the strings in place. Instead the strings are anchored to the bridge by ball-ends. Non-locking tremolo systems have static bridges.

Universal symbols that make up a system of written music.

Full Article on: symbol dictionary,

  1. A sound of fixed pitch that has a set name.
  2. A written representation of a fixed pitch and its duration.

Full Article on: note duration

The component separating the fretboard from the headstock. It keeps the strings in their correct position.

Full Article on: anatomy of the guitar

The screws and metal plates that are used on a locking nut. There are three small metal plates (one for each pair of strings) that are screwed in place.

The thin slits found on the nut that holds the strings in place.

An interval of 12 semitones.

Full Article on: intervals

A foot operated guitar effect that combines what you are playing with a note an octave higher.

A string that is played without being fretted.

A chord that consists of open strings and may or may not include fretted notes.

Full Article on: Open Chords

A note that does not have to be played. Usually refers to notes that are sometimes improvised by a musician.

An instruction in written music to play a note, or series of notes, an octave higher than what is written on the staff. Represented by the symbol 8va.

Synonymous With: 8va

Full Article on: symbol dictionary

Where alternate picking is used on two strings, the lower of the two being picked with downstrokes and the higher string being picked with upstrokes.

See Also: inside picking

Full Article on: exercises - alternate picking

A bend that is wider than a full bend.

Achieved by a gain setting that is deliberately too high. A signal overload is produced and enhances or creates distortion. Overdrive can be produced by greatly increasing volume, even in a clean channel.

To record a section of music that overlaps a pre-recorded piece of music.

A symbol used to represent the thumb on the picking hand. It is part of the pima labelling system.

Full Article on: pima labelling

An amplifier that is used by vocalists and instruments that are miked up.

A technique that involves resting the picking hand on the strings (near the bridge) to cut off any resonance, creating a percussive sound. Used mainly in various forms of rock music.

Full Article on: palm muting

Looking at modes that are derived from the same scale but having each mode in the same key. It provides a good way of seeing the different interval patterns.

Synonymous With: Altered View

Full Article on: modes - part 2

A chromatic note which is outside the scale but used quickly in passing to add diversity to a section of music. Used by blues and lead guitarists a lot.

Pickups that convert the direct sound to an electrical signal without the signal being enhanced, as opposed to active pickups.

A piece of equipment used to activate guitar effects via a foot operated switch. Pedals can have built in effects (wah pedals, distortion pedals etc.) or be linked to a separate effects unit.

A guitar played horizontally, on which, a steel bar is used as a slide. Commonly called the Hawaiian Guitar because it was invented and popularised by the Hawaiians.

Synonymous With: lap steel guitar, steel guitar, Hawaiian Guitar

The section of the guitar attached to the top of the neck. Used to hold the machineheads.

Synonymous With: Headstock

Full Article on: anatomy of the guitar

A scale containing five notes per octave, existing as minor or major. The minor pentatonic scale has become the most widely used scale amongst rock guitarists and defines the typical sound of a rock guitar solo.

Full Article on: scales - major pentatonic, scales - minor pentatonic

An interval of 12 semitones.

Full Article on: intervals

An interval of 7 semitones.

Full Article on: intervals

An interval of 5 semitones.

Full Article on: intervals

When two of the same note, at the same pitch, are played simultaneously.

A guitar effect that produces Doppler-like sounds by varying delay and notch filtering.

  1. Small, thin object used for plucking or strumming the strings.
  2. The sounding of a guitar string with a plectrum or finger.

Synonymous With: Flat Pick, Plectrum, Pluck

Full Article on: how to hold a plectrum

Plastic or metal flat cover that protects the guitars finish from scratches. Pick guards are attached to the body of the guitar just below the pickups.

Synonymous With: Scratchplate

A technique where the pick is firmly dragged across the strings. Can be done to provide emphasis on the highest note and can sometimes contain muted strings. A similar technique to arpeggiated chords.

Synonymous With: Rake

The scratching along the strings with the side of the pick. Usually the lower three strings, scraped up or down. Creates a screeching sound.

Synonymous With: pick slide

Full Article on: pick scrapes

The scratching along the strings with the side of the pick. Usually the lower three strings, scraped up or down. Creates a screeching sound.

Synonymous With: Pick Scrape

Full Article on: pick scrapes

An individual string sounded with a plectrum or finger.

Synonymous With: Plucking

Full Article on: strumming

The sounding of a guitar string with a plectrum or finger.

The hand that holds the plectrum or plucks the strings with fingers. A persons dominant hand is usually used as the picking hand although many left-handers choose to play right-handed guitars.

Full Article on: hand labelling

Controls which pickup, or combination of pickups, are turned on.

Synonymous With: toggle switch

Electromagnets that are located on the front of the body. They produce a magnetic field that is disturbed by vibrations in the air (caused by the strings) which in turn alters the signal that is sent through a cable to the amp. The amp then receives the signal and amplifies it. There are two types of pickup: single coil pickups and humbuckers.

Instructions found on tablature that indicate which picking hand fingers should be used. It uses the symbols p, i, m, a and c to direct a specific finger picking pattern. p = thumb i = index finger m = middle finger a = annular finger c = little finger

Full Article on: pima labelling

A technique achieved by striking the string with the pick and thumb tip in the same motion. Produces a note up to two octaves higher.

Full Article on: pinch harmonics

The frequency of a note (how high or low it sounds). The A directly above middle C is 440 Hz. This is called concert pitch.

A sound processor. Digitally increases/decreases signal pitch without affecting other factors.

The level of skill and effort needed to play a particular guitar. Can be subject to personal taste.

Small, thin object used for plucking or strumming the strings.

Synonymous With: pick, flat pick

Full Article on: how to hold a plectrum

The sounding of a guitar string with a plectrum or finger.

Synonymous With: Pick

Full Article on: strumming

An individual string sounded with a plectrum or finger.

Synonymous With: Picked

Full Article on: strumming

The sounding of a guitar string with a plectrum or finger.

Synonymous With: Picking

Full Article on: strumming

The fret at which your index finger based. For example, if a riff requires you to use you index finger to play a note on the 5th fret then you can play any note on 6th, 7th or 8th fret with other fingers without movng index finger. This would be called playing in the fifth position.

Produces extra gain to increase output signal level.

Contains only the root and the fifth notes, and so is not minor or major. Used for an aggressive or cold sound.

Full Article on: powerchords

Short for preamplifier, circuits that increases low-level input signals before they reach the power amp.

Synonymous With: Preamplifier

See Also: Power Amp

A bend is made before the string is plucked and usually released to create a drop in pitch.

Synonymous With: reverse bend, ghost bend

Circuits that increases low-level input signals before they reach the power amp.

The Spanish term for thumb on the picking hand. It is part of the pima labelling system, abbreviated by the symbol 'p'.

Synonymous With: p

See Also: indice, medio, anular, chico

Full Article on: pima labelling

A way of sounding a note without plucking. The opposite of a hammer-on. Hold the frets marked in tab and pluck, releasing the fret finger(s) to sound the lower held notes.

Full Article on: pull-offs

The underlying rhythm to a piece of music. Distinct from the word beat (beat can mean a unit of time as well as an underlying rhythm).

Strips of binding found on acoustic guitars that are frequently used as decoration.

Bending to sound more than one note but only picking the string once.

Synonymous With: continuation bend

A note that lasts for the duration of quarter of a bar.

See Also: bar, crotchet

Full Article on: note duration

A microtonal bend, creating an increase in pitch of half a semitone.

Synonymous With: blues curl, microtonal bend

A symbol used in notation represent a unit of time, an eighth note (an eighth of a bar in 4/4 time).

Full Article on: note duration

The depth of the curve on the surface of the fretboard. The shallower the curve is the more flat the fretboard feels.

A technique where the pick is firmly dragged across the strings. Can be done to provide emphasis on the highest note and can sometimes contain muted strings. A similar technique to arpeggiated chords.

Synonymous With: Pick Rake

Full Article on: arpeggiated chords

A technique where a string is picked continuously whilst a fretting hand finger slides along the same string between the bridge and the body.

Full Article on: natural harmonics

Picking once the bend has been sounded, usually marked with RP (re-pick).

Where one string on a guitar is used to tune all the others by comparison. The fifth fret trick is a common method of relative tuning.

Full Article on: tuning your guitar

Taking modes from a scale by starting on a note other than the root note. This allows you to see how two different scales in two different keys can contain the same notes. Alternatively you could try the altered view.

Full Article on: modes

  1. When pressure is taken off of the string to stop the sounding of a bend.
  2. An instruction in written music to return a bent string to its original position
  1. A set duration of silence.
  2. A symbol in written music indicating that the instrument should remain silent for a specified duration.

Full Article on: rests, symbol dictionary

Short for reverberation.

A constant wave of overlapping echoes producing an ambient effect. Reverb can occur naturally by the reflection of sound off solid objects or can be simulated by analogue or digital means.

A bend is made before the string is plucked and usually released to create a drop in pitch.

Synonymous With: Pre-bend,Ghost Bend

Short for rhythm figure.

  1. The duration of individual notes as opposed to their pitches.
  2. The section of guitar music that acts as an underlying structure. This is usually achieved by strumming chord progressions that support the lead guitar parts.

Another term for fret hand mute.

A section of written music played by the rhythm guitarist.

A guitarist that plays the rhythm and main underlying body of a song whilst the lead guitarist plays melodies and solos.

A system of notating rhythm guitar music by writing the name of the chord instead of using a stave. It makes tabbing rhythm guitars quicker and shorter.

A repeated sequence of notes, most common in rock and pop.

A technique where the left hand (fretting hand) holds frets whilst the right hand (picking hand) hammers on to frets higher up the fretboard. Right hand tapping is commonly used to achieve fast legato style playing.

See Also: hammer-on, pull-off

The sounding of a note (vibration of a string).

A technique where one finger rolls from one fret onto the same fret of an adjacent string. It is used in sweep picking to play consecutive notes without the notes bleeding into each other.

Full Article on: exercises - sweep picking, sweep picking

The note from which a scale or chord is based. The first note of a scale or chord.

An arrangement of a chord where the different pitches of the notes correspond to the scale from where the notes were taken. For example the root position of the C major chord would have C as the lowest note, E as the second lowest and G as the highest note, because that is the order they appear on the C major scale.

An inlay that surrounds the sound hole of an acoustic guitar. Used purely for decoration.

A component of the bridge that has a groove to hold the strings in place.

Full Article on: anatomy of the guitar

The small slit in each saddle that the strings rest in.

Short for single coil.

An ascending sequence of notes that lie within an octave.

The total length of an open string. Used to determine the fret positions (12th fret being at the halfway point for example).

A degree of a scale. For example, the 3rd and 5th notes of a scale are two scale tones apart.

Vibrato bar techniques. Scoop: depress vibrato bar before plucking and release, then doop: depress vibrato bar after plucking.

Full Article on: whammy bar techniques

Plastic or metal flat cover that protects the guitars finish from scratches. Scratchplates are attached to the body of the guitar just below the pickups.

Synonymous With: Pick Guard

Where the fret hand mutes some strings whilst holding notes on the remaining strings. This allows a full strum whilst only sounding specific notes.

Full Article on: fret hand muting

An electric guitar with a slightly larger, hollow body. Instead of a sound hole it has an F-hole.

The difference in pitch between two adjacent frets; equal to the distance in pitch between two adjacent notes on the chromatic scale.

Synonymous With: halfstep

Full Article on: intervals

Short for set-in neck.

Where the neck of the guitar is attached to a slot in the body with an adhesive. Commonly found on acoustic guitars.

A pattern of notes on the fretboard that can be moved up and down into various keys. This could include chord shapes and scale shapes.

A semitone higher. Indicated by the symbol #.

Full Article on: accidentals

An electrical current sent from the pickups to an output. The signal represents changes in the surrounding air pressure.

The sequence of signals from pickups through effects units, preamplifiers, amplifiers and all the other devices that may carry a signal from the guitar to the final output.

The amplitude of a signal that dictates how loud the sound will be.

A pickup consisting of one coil around a magnet.

A note that lasts the duration of one sixteenth of a bar.

See Also: bar

Full Article on: note duration

The striking of a string by the thumb. The strike is made by a flick of the wrist and forms the basis of slap bass but can be done on an electric guitar.

A singular echo.

Sliding is a form of legato (smooth playing) that is similar to hammer-ons and pull-offs. The technique involves playing a note and then moving the finger to a different fret, keeping the finger pressed firmly against the fretboard as you move.

Synonymous With: Glissando Slide

Full Article on: slides

A style of guitar that uses the bottleneck slide to produce a glissando effect. Used mainly in blues and country music.

A form of legato in which hammer-ons and pull-offs are used to move smoothly between a series of notes.

Full Article on: hammer-ons, pull-offs

Performing a series of slurs.

See Also: slur

A small, unspecified bend that raises the pitch of a note by less than a semitone.

A guitar body that does not use hollow cavities to resonate sound (electric guitars). Acoustic guitars never have solid bodies.

Refers to guitars that have a solid body.

An amp with no valves, instead it uses transistors.

Generally the term solo means playing alone, however, in guitar music it is when the guitar plays the leading part whilst the other instruments are used as backing.

The hole in an acoustic guitar that allows sound to resonate within the hollow body.

A pickup found inside the sound hole of an elctro-acoustic guitar.

A device that takes digital representations of sound and manipulates them to produce a desired effect. Guitar effects like delay, chorus and flanger make use of sound processors. Compression and noise gates also make use of sound processors and are commonly used by guitarists to neaten up sound.

The top/front surface of an acoustic guitar body.

Synonymous With: face, top, top plate

Cutting a note short to give a percussive effect.

Short for amplifier stack.

Another term for stave.

Where the open strings of the guitar are tuned to E, A, D, G, B and E from the lowest sounding string to the highest. The strings are tuned a fourth (5 semitones) apart, with the exception of the G- and B-strings.

Full Article on: tuning your guitar

A bridge that does not move (has no vibrato system). As opposed to a floating bridge.

Five horizontal lines on which music notation is displayed, informing you of the rhythm and note pitches. Divided by vertical bar lines.

Synonymous With: staff

Full Article on: the staff

A guitar played horizontally, on which, a steel bar is used as a slide. Commonly called the Hawaiian Guitar because it was invented and popularised by the Hawaiians.

Synonymous With: Hawaiian Guitar, lap steel guitar, pedal steel guitar

One step is equal to one tone. E.g. whole step bend = one tone bend.

Full Article on: intervals

A type of pedal that has its own built in effects (distortion for example) that can be turned on and off by stomping on the switch. Enables effects to be activated easily whilst standing up.

A strip of fabric that is attached to the body of the guitar and worn around your shoulder. It allows you to play standing up without having to support the weight of the guitar with your hands.

Another term for strap pin.

A round piece of metal located on the body of the guitar to which the strap is attached.

Synonymous With: strap button

Another term for gauge.

Any unwanted sounds from the guitar. This can be caused when your fretting hand or picking hand rubs against the strings when you play. String noise may not be noticed when playing acoustically but amplifiers magnify the problem. Noise gates and muting can help reduce any unwanted noise.

Synonymous With: Noise

Part of the machinehead around which the strings are wrapped.

Small metal saddles that keep the strings lined up with the string-posts. They are found on the headstock (usually on stratocaster style guitars).

Pieces of wire or nylon on a guitar that produce notes via vibration.

Full Article on: changing strings, string labelling

The striking of more than one string in the same motion.

Full Article on: basic strumming patterns, strumming

Playing a series of strums.

See Also: strum

Full Article on: basic strumming patterns, strumming

A design found on the body of guitars that consists of a light colour in the centre of the body, radiating out in thin lines to a darker colour around the outer edges of the body. Gibson Les Pauls are the most common example of this.

A chord based on the major triad, but with the third replaced with the major second or perfect fourth, known as suspended second and suspended fourth chords.

Synonymous With: Suspended, Suspended Chord

See Also: Major 2nd, Perfect Fourth

Full Article on: The Major Triad, intervals

A chord based on the major triad, but with the third replaced with the major second or perfect fourth, known as suspended second and suspended fourth chords.

Synonymous With: Sus, Suspended Chord

See Also: Major 2nd, Perfect Fourth

Full Article on: The Major Triad, intervals

A chord based on the major triad, but with the third replaced with the major second or perfect fourth, known as suspended second and suspended fourth chords.

Synonymous With: Sus, Suspended

See Also: Major 2nd, Perfect Fourth

Full Article on: The Major Triad

The length of time that a note sounds for after it is plucked. String gauge, action, effects and the natural resonance of a guitars body can all have an effect on sustain.

Picking single notes with the fluid motion of a strum whilst sounding like a single-note line. This is achieved by using a series of down- or upstrokes to pick single notes on consecutive strings.

Full Article on: sweep picking, exercises - sweep picking

The act of sweep picking.

A term used to describe the optimal position of something. In the context of guitar music it could mean the perfect spot to execute a pinch harmonic, position a saddle or position your finger when fretting a note.

Using accents on some of the weaker beats to create a more diverse rhythm.

Short for tablature.

Full Article on: reading internet tabs

A system of written music for stringed instruments. Found under the musical stave. It consists of six horizontal lines that represent the strings of a guitar. Numbers are written on the lines to indicate which fret to hold.

Full Article on: reading internet tabs

The finishing point of a specified instrument in a song/musical piece.

Another term for end block.

A hammer-on that is done without plucking the string. Can be done with the picking hand or the fretting hand (normally the picking hand).

Full Article on: hammer-ons, pull-offs

Sounded by holding a fret, without plucking, then tapping a specified fret (specified above/below the tab lines) with the picking hand.

Full Article on: tapped harmonics

Hammer-ons that are done without plucking the strings. Can be done with the picking hand or the fretting hand (normally the picking hand).

The duration of time between each beat. Determines the speed of music.

A combination of four notes separated by one halfstep and two whole steps. Tetrachords are not actually played as chords. Various tetrachords can be put together to assemble scales.

Short for neck through body, a style of neck that extends right to the end of the body of the guitar. This design of neck is used to mount the pickups and bridge and does not have a heel, making it easier to reach the higher frets. This design is found on basses more than guitars and more often on the more expensive ranges.

Synonymous With: Neck-through, Neck Through Body

A curved line connecting two notes of the same pitch in music notation. The line indicates the duration of the note should be extended by the length of the tied note.

A fraction that dictates how many beats are in each bar (top number) and the note duration of each beat (denominator). For example, 4/4 means there are four quarter notes in each bar. The time signature is found on the stave at the beginning of a piece of music, after the clef and key signature.

Full Article on: time signatures

The ability to synchronise rhythm with other instruments.

Another term for pickup selector switch.

  1. A distance in pitch equal to two semitones (2 frets).
  2. The level of equalisation set by a tone control on a guitar or amplifier.

Full Article on: intervals, amplifiers

A knob on the body of a guitar that sets the level of equalisation for a pickup or combination of pickups. Usually each pickup will have its own tone control.

Another term for soundboard.

Another term for soundboard.

A technique where you touch the string lightly over a specified fret bar after a note has been sounded. Sometimes called an artificial harmonic.

Full Article on: touched harmonics

A style where quarter notes are plucked with a plectrum and fingers pluck the other strings. Used in country music.

A symbol that wraps around the second lowest line of a musical stave. The symbol is also known as the G clef as it dictates the note that the line represents.

A wavering effect of a note, hence tremolo bar. Can also be achieved with guitar effects.

The removable metal bar that can be attached to the bridge. The bar is depressed to cause a drop in pitch and raised to cause a jump up in pitch. Also can be used for vibrato.

Synonymous With: Tremolo Bar, Whammy Bar,Vibrato Bar

Full Article on: whammy bar techniques

The removable metal bar that can be attached to the bridge. The bar is depressed to cause a drop in pitch and raised to cause a jump up in pitch. Also can be used for vibrato.

Synonymous With: Whammy Bar, Tremolo Arm, Vibrato Bar

Full Article on: whammy bar techniques

A technique where a note is picked as rapidly as possible for a set duration of time. A tremolo picked note is notated as normal but with three diagonal lines below the number on the tab.

Full Article on: tremolo picking

Another term for vibrato system.

A chord consisting of three notes. When used in conjunction with a scale it refers to the first, third an fifth notes of the scale. For example the C major triad consists of C, E and G.

Full Article on:

A rapid slur between two notes.

Full Article on: trills, exercises - trills

Thin steel rod that runs down the centre of the guitar neck. The truss rod serves to oppose the stress put on the neck from the string tension.

Thin plate that covers the entrance to the truss rod. Usually located just above the nut.

Short for electron vacuum tube.

Another term for valve amp.

To correctly adjust the pitch of an open string.

Full Article on: tuning your guitar

Another term for string posts.

Another term for machinehead.

Using both hands to hammer-on/tap the frets.

See Also: left hand tapping, right hand tapping

Short for perfect unison.

The striking of two adjacent strings whilst bending one to match the pitch of the other, creating unison.

Moving the plectrum towards the ceiling as you pluck or strum.

Full Article on: exercises - alternate picking

Another term for electron vacuum tube.

An amp that, instead of transistors, uses circuitry in conjunction with electron vacuum tubes.

Synonymous With: tube amp

A thin slice of wood that is used to cover a surface to create the impression of solid wood construction.

A wavering sound produced by shivering a fretted note up and down rapidly.

Full Article on: vibrato

The removable metal bar that can be attached to the bridge. The bar is depressed to cause a drop in pitch and raised to cause a jump up in pitch. Also can be used for vibrato.

Synonymous With: whammy bar, tremolo bar, tremolo arm

Full Article on: whammy bar techniques

A technique where a note is sounded then the vibrato bar is raised/lowered to bend the note to the desired pitch.

Synonymous With: whammy bar bends, tremolo bar bends

Full Article on: whammy bar techniques

Springs attached to the bridge that counter the pull of the Vibrato bar. They can be located in a cavity in the back of the guitar.

The method in which a vibrato bar is attached to the guitar. The two dominant methods are the locking tremolo system and the more common fixed bridge system.

A guitar that was made roughly between mid 1940's and the 1970's may be considered vintage, however there is no precise definition of vintage. Vintage guitars may have hand built, single piece bodies and may include woods that are not often used today (Brazilian rosewood).

Another term for volume swell.

Full Article on: volume swells

Alternative formations of a specific chord. For example, the open C major chord and the C major barre chord contain the same notes but in a different voicing.

A knob found on the body of the guitar that controls the signal level being sent to the amplifier. Some guitars have a separate volume control for each pickup but not many.

Full Article on: amplifiers

A technique where the guitars volume control is used to create a fade in effect while playing a note or riff. A common technique involves having the pinkie of the picking hand wrapped around the volume control to allow the rest of the hand free to pluck the strinsgs.

Synonymous With: violining

Full Article on: volume swells

A guitar effect that alters the tone of the sound. Wah is used via a pedal to allow sudden or fluctuating changes in tone. It gets its name from the sound that can be made by wobbling the pedal back and forth.

Synonymous With: wah-wah

A pedal that is used to apply wah.

Another term for wah.

The middle part of a guitar body that curves inward. On acoustic guitars the waist separates the upper bout and lower bout.

The removable metal bar that can be attached to the bridge. The bar is depressed to cause a drop in pitch and raised to cause a jump up in pitch. Also can be used for vibrato.

Synonymous With: Vibrato Bar, Tremolo Bar, Tremolo Arm

Full Article on: whammy bar techniques

Another term for vibrato bar bend.

Full Article on: whammy bar techniques

A technique where the string is bent until the pitch is one tone higher (equal to two frets higher).

Synonymous With: full bend

A note that lasts for the duration of one bar.

See Also: bar

Full Article on: note duration

Another term for tone.