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Joined: 28 Aug 2008
United Kingdom
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Important Terms for Guitar

by JazzMaverick

30 Jul 2009
Views: 16244

So we're having people ask loads of questions about certain parts of guitars and what they do, instead of having loads of topics being made, I've decided to write up a lesson on it for everyone to understand.

Some of these may be obvious to you, but it might not be to others.


The action is when you raise or lower it to make the strings either closer or further away from the fretboard. Look where the strings are held in place on the body of the guitar... the bridge of the guitar and you can raise it or lower it usually with a screwdriver. So you can see the difference when you look at the guitar like this:

It's mainly possible to move the action on electric guitars, but occasionally you do find acoustics that have a moveable action.

Altered and Open Tunings
The result of changing the tuning of one or more strings from standard EADGBE. So changing it to things like drop D or tuning the guitar to a chord will then be called an altered tuning.

Alternate Picking
Picking in alternate directions (down-up-down-up).

A broken chord, usually played evenly low to high and back again. Refer to my previous lessons for a detailed lesson on Arpeggios : Arpeggios

The setting of an original or standard tune for a given solo instrument or group of instruments.

Barre Chord
The most popular style of chords. The technique of placing the left hand's index finger over two to six strings in the fingering of a chord. The awesome advantage of using barre chords is that they are "moveable shapes" that can be applied at practically any fret.

Pushing or pulling a string up or down across the a fret to raise the pitch of a note by a half to full tone or more. Used extensively in rock and blues playing as well as in jazz.

The method of supporting the strings on an electric or acoustic guitar.

One of my favourite tools, a capo is a mechanical barre that attaches to the neck of a guitar by means of a string, spring, elastic or nylon band, or a lever and thumbscrew arrangement. The capo can be used to raise the key of a song to suit a vocalist as well as to lower the action and shorten the string length.

Closed Voicing
The term "voicing" refers to the vertical arrangement of the notes of a given chord. "Closed voicing" places those notes as close together as possible, no matter the inversion as opposed to "open voicing" which spreads the member notes of the chord at larger intervals.

A concave area generally in the upper right bout of a normal right-hand guitar that allows the player easier access to the high frets. I personally love this and prefer guitars with cutaways.

Finger Picking
Playing with the fingernails or fingertips with or without fingerpicks as opposed to playing with a flatpick.

Metal strips placed across the fingerboard to determine semitonal spacing.

A note sounded literally by "hammering" down with a left hand finger, often performed in conjunction with a note first plucked by the right hand on the same string.

Some peopl efind this really difificult to do. They're chime-like sounds achieved in two ways:
1) Natural Harmonics - by touching a string at any equidistant division of the string length (typically 5th, 7th, and 12th fret), directly above the fret with left hand, and striking hard with the right-hand fingers or pick near the bridge where there is more string resistance; or
2) Artificial Harmonics - touching a string with the index finger of the right hand twelve frets higher than any fretted note and plucking the string with either the thumb or third finger of the right hand.

Section for mounting the machine heads or pegs.

A reinforced section supporting the neck where it joins the body.

Point at which the strings are supported as they run from the fingerboard to the headstock.

Open Voicing
A manner of chord construction in which the member notes are broadly separated. See closed voicing above.

A coil wound with fine wire which converts the sound into electrical signals.

p i m a
Letters derived from the Spanish names for the fingers of the right hand: pulgar (thumb), indice (index), medio (middle), and anular (ring). Used to indicate fingering.

The opposite of a hammer-on. Performed by plucking a note with a finger on a higher note and pulling parallel to the fret to sound a lower note on the same string.

Method of strumming used by flamenco guitarists.

The point on the bridge for supporting the strings.

A plastic or glass tube placed over the third or fourth finger of the left hand and used to play "slide" or glissando effects in rock and blues and other forms of traditional music.

To write a piece of music or a solo, note for note, off of a recording.

To change the key of a piece of music by a specific interval.

A technique performed with either a very rapid down-up movement of the pick or a pami plucking of the fingers.

For terms which I haven't mentioned above, you can find them here:

AGC Glossary


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JazzMaverick Music




Awesome job :)


oh good one! Never thought of it. Seems like a gold mine for beginners.


breliant work

it helped me alot

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