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


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

Full Article on: anatomy of the guitar

Saddle Slot

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.

Scale Length

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

Scale Tone

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

Scoop And Doop

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

Selective Muting

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

Semi-Acoustic Guitar

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

Set Neck

Short for set-in neck.

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.

Signal Chain

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.

Signal Level

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

Single Coil Pickup

A pickup consisting of one coil around a magnet.

Sixteenth Note

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

Slide Guitar

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


Performing a series of slurs.

See Also: Slur


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

Solid Body

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.

Solid-State Amp

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.

Sound Hole

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

Sound Hole Pickup

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

Sound Processor

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.

Standard Tuning

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

Static Bridge

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

Steel Guitar

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

Stomp Box

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.

Strap Button

Another term for strap pin.

Strap Pin

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

Synonymous With: Strap Button

String Gauge

Another term for gauge.

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: Noise

String Posts

Part of the machinehead around which the strings are wrapped.

String Retainers

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


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

Full Article on: basic strumming patterns


Playing a series of strums.

See Also: Strum

Full Article on: basic strumming patterns


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


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

Suspended Chord

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


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.

Sweep Picking

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


The act of sweep picking.

Sweet Spot

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.