Guitar Dictionary | A-Z

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z | 0-9 | Symbol Dictionary


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

CAGED Theory

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


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.

Capo Notation

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.

Carbon Graphite

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

Centre Block

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

Centre Strip

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.

Checkerboard Binding

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

Chicken Picking

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

Chord Fragment

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.

Chord Progression

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

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.

Combo Amp

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

Synonymous With: Combinations Amplifier

Common Tones

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.

Compensated Saddle

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.

Compound Radius

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.

Concert Guitar

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

Concert Pitch

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

Conical Radius

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

Synonymous With: Compound Radius

Continuation Bend

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

Synonymous With: Quantized Bend

Contoured Body

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

Control Cavity

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.

Cross-Fret Barre

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