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Acoustic Guitar

by JoshBerglund19

A. Parts Of The Acoustic Guitar:

The Headstock & Tuning Pegs

The Headstock is the very top portion of your acoustic guitar and holds the “Tuning Pegs ” (also known as machine heads, tuners or tuning keys). The Tuning Pegs can be turned either to your right or left and they adjust the pitch of your strings.


This small strip is located between the Headstock and Neck of your guitar. It is usually made of plastic or bone, but is sometimes made of other materials like brass or stainless steel. It may be small but it is a very important part. The Nut has small slits in it where the strings rest and guides the strings from the Fretboard to the Tuning Pegs. If you look closely at your guitar, you will notice that the Nut is slightly raised above the Fretboard. This is for the purpose of keeping your strings raised above the Fretboard at a certain height.

Neck , Fretboard & Frets

 the Neck is the long narrow part of the guitar that connects the Headstock to the Body. It is here where you will find the Fretboard (also known as Fingerboard) and the Frets. The Fretboard is a long piece of wood that has thin metal strips attached to it known as “Frets”. The Frets are used to divide the Fretboard. The Frets are actually the spaces in between the metal bars and not the bars themselves. Each Fret represents a different “pitch” or “note ” when pressed down and played.

Position Marker

Position Markers are small markers on the Fretboard (usually circles) that can be found on specific Frets. They serve as a guide of sorts. They are found on the third, fifth, seventh, ninth, twelfth, fifteenth and seventeenth Frets.


The Body is the large hollow part of the acoustic guitar where the Sound Hole, Bridge, Pick Guard and Soundboard are located. If you play from a seated position, the Body is the part that rests on your leg.

Sound Hole & Pick Guard

The Sound Hole, as the name suggests, is the large hole found in the body of the guitar. The Sound Hole is where the sound waves made by playing the strings exit the Body of the guitar. The Pick Guard is the dark and smooth piece that is located right next to the Sound Hole. As you strum your guitar, your hand will naturally travel downward against the Body and the Pick Guard is there to protect the Body from scratches.

Saddle & Bridge

The Bridge is a wooden plate that is located on the Body of the guitar and it anchors the strings to the Body. The Saddle is a small strip attached to the Bridge, usually made of plastic or bone. The purpose of the Saddle is to raise the strings up above the Body and Fretboard. The Bridge Pins secure the guitar strings into place on the bridge.

Truss Rod

The Truss Rod is usually a steel rod that is located inside the Neck of your guitar. The purpose of the Truss Rod is  to help stabilize and adjust the curvature of the Neck. The Truss Rod has a bolt at the end of it that is used for adjustments. The Truss Rod is a very important part of your guitar. Without it, the Neck of your guitar would likely warp over time. It is highly recommended that you do not try and adjust the Truss Rod on your own and hire a professional. If you are not sure what you are doing, you could do some serious damage.


The Soundboard is the piece of wood on the body of your guitar that is responsible for amplifying the sound.


Strings come in two kinds – coated and uncoated.  Coated strings are ‘slicker’ feeling when you play them because
they have a coating that keeps dirt and oils from tarnishing the strings (and it keeps their tone sounding bright.)  So coated strings sound “new” longer.

Coated strings will last a good bit longer (and sound ‘new’ longer) because they stay untarnished. They cost more,
but it’s worth using it.

 Wash your hands before you play.  Your hands have oils that you don’t even notice…so strings get ‘gunked up’ and corroded…losing that clear ‘ring.’  Washing your hands before you play minimizes this oil transfer so your strings last longer.

And finally the Thumprule is,if you can not remember the last time you changed your strings,then it’s time to buy new strings.Lighter strings for beginners,as it is easy to push down though it sounds little small in tone and heavier strings for professionals  as it increases your sustain and volume but it’s hard to push down.

B. How To Hold Your Guitar:

Holding your acoustic guitar is not an exact science. Everyone has different body types, finger lengths and there are a variety of different sizes and shapes of guitars. There are many points to keep in mind and it ultimately comes down to how comfortable you are when holding and playing your guitar.

Learning to play the guitar involves physical and mental work. The biggest challenge for most new players is the physical part. For starters, how do you hold your guitar?

The On-The-Knee Approach

There are a couple of ways of looking at this. Some people feel that resting the guitar on the right leg is how to hold a guitar. This is a real stable position in most cases. 

There are some questions to consider if you use this method. The first question is does the neck of the guitar rest comfortably in your hand? Do you have to move the guitar around to play difficult chords? Is your left hand having to support the weight of the guitar? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, then this may not be how to hold a guitar for you.

For this method of holding the guitar to work, the guitar itself has to be a certain size. To make it more confusing, the guitar has to be a certain size in relation to your physical size and shape.

Here’s what I mean. If the guitar is too large it will slip around on your lap and will be hard to hold. If you’re having to wrestle with holding the guitar you can’t put your full attention on playing the guitar.

The opposite side of the coin is if the guitar is too small. Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re 6 feet tall and you’re playing a solid body guitar like a Strat or Les Paul. The height of these guitars is so short that you’ll end up hunched over the guitar. This can cause lower back problems and will possibly slip and be difficult to hold.

How do you avoid these problems?

The Classical Approach

Classical guitarists are taught how to hold a guitar from the beginning. For them, how to hold a guitar means they put their left foot on a footstool and rest the guitar on the left thigh. The most popular types of footstools can be adjusted in height.

Classical guitarists will also use a small cushion between the guitar and their thigh to bring the guitar up to the proper position.

Something that has come out in the last few years is a small support that mounts on the guitar side itself. Suction cups are normally used to attach it to the guitar. This support will hold the guitar in the proper position for the guitarist.

Like anything else, there are pros and cons to all of these methods. The biggest problem for me is that they all require that you play while seated. This may be perfectly O.K. in most situations. The problem comes in if you have to play standing.

Suddenly all of the technique that you’ve developed while sitting goes out the window. This is especially true if you play a variety of styles.

Straps Are the Solution
Using a guitar strap is one of the best ways to hold a guitar. Adjust the strap so that the guitar will be in the same position standing or seated. Now you won’t have to make any changes in technique. It also means that you don’t have to hold the guitar in position with your left hand. This makes it easier to play.

Using a strap doesn’t always work. If the player has neck or back problems, this might make it worse. It is also sometimes a problem if a large guitar like a dreadnought is too high on the chest. Some players develop pain in their right shoulder from trying to reach over the guitar. They need to either lower the strap or get a smaller guitar.

C. Finger and Thump Position:

we will now proceed to how you should hold the pick when strumming. Don’t get me wrong here, you should hold the pick the way you see it in the picture below.


The reason why I say this is because people have sometimes been asking me how come their guitar strumming seems to sound so loud and forceful. So, here’s what you have to take note when strumming:

For strumming, the pick should be held at a 45 degree angle tilted upwards when doing a downstroke. This will ensure that there is not too much force used when strumming. Most of the time, I see beginners holding the pick 90 degrees or perpendicular to the strings when strumming. This will cause the strumming to be very forceful and loud. More importantly, this is the wrong way to hold a pick when strumming.

The same thing goes for the upstoke when strumming. If you do the upstroke holding the pick 90 degrees or perpendicular to the strings, you will get a loud and forceful strum. So, you should hold the pick 45 degrees downwards, and just use your wrist to flick upwards on the upstroke.

I can imagine that all this can be quite hard to visualise. So, here’s some pictures to visually explain more clearly what I am referring to.

[Strumming Downstroke-Right way]

[Strumming Downstroke-Wrong way]

[Strumming upstroke-Right way]

[Strumming upstroke-Wrong way]

D.How To Tune your Guitar:

Using a “guitar tuner” is definitely the best way to tune your guitar and is certainly more accurate than your own ear, We have plenty of “free guitar tuners” available in the internet.Simply type “free Guitar Tuner” in one of the popular search engines to download the stuff,also have one “Metronome” downloaded.A device used to mark time by means of regularly recurring ticks or flashes at adjustable intervals.

[Greek metron, measure;  Greek nomos, rule, division; ]

E.Fretting [or] How to switch Chords:

The primary reason beginners have trouble switching chords quickly has nothing to do with their fingers, or the way they’re sitting, or anything physical at all. Most often, new guitarists haven’t learned to think ahead, and visualize exactly which chord they’re about to play, and which fingers they’ll need to move.

Try this exercise:

•Choose two chords you know. You will be moving back and forth between these two chords.
•Play the first chord eight times (strumming evenly), and then, without breaking the rhythm of your strumming, quickly move to the next chord, and play that chord eight times.
Did you need to pause while switching chords? If so, let’s try and examine what the problem is. Try the following, without strumming the guitar:

•Put your fingers back in position to play the first chord.
•Now, try and move quickly to the second chord, and study your fingers while doing so.
Chances are, one (or a few) of your fingers will come way off the fretboard, and perhaps hover in mid-air while you try to decide where each finger should go. This happens, not because of any lack of technical ability, but because you haven’t mentally prepared yourself for switching chords.
Now, try fretting the first chord again. Without actually moving to the second chord, VISUALIZE playing this second chord shape. Picture in your mind, finger by finger, how to most efficiently move to the next chord. Only after you’ve done this should you switch chords. If some fingers continue to pause, or hover in mid air while moving to the next chord, back up and try again. Also, concentrate on “minimum motion” – commonly, beginners bring their fingers very far off the fretboard while switching chords; this is unnecessary. Spend five minutes going back and forth between the two chords, visualizing, then moving. Pay attention to any small, unneccessary movements your fingers make, and eliminate them. Although this is easier said than done, your hard work and attention to detail will start paying off quickly. 

F.Basic notes:

Now, I am going to explain how you can find all of the notes on your own.  It is more interesting this way and will actually help you store the notes into your memory better.

The Basics:

First let us talk about the basics.There are 12 notes and they are represented by the first seven letters of the alphabet with the addition of certain symbols that denote a flat or sharp note[# or b].The notes A B C D E F G are called natural notes.  The rest of the notes that have the # or b symbol are called flats and sharps or accidentals.The distance between any two notes is called an Interval. There are various kinds of intervals in music, but lets keep things simple and talk about the most widely discussed intervals for beginner guitarists called Half Steps and Whole Steps.

As you can see from the image above, the notes start to repeat themselves after the G#/Ab, back to the A again.  The distance between the first A and the last A is called an octave.

On the guitar, the notes are played by either striking a string or pressing down on a fret.  The diagram below illustrates  the notes of the strings of your guitar:

[ Elephants And Dogs God Blesses Everything]-an easy way to burn E A D G B E into your memory.The upper Thick String is Known as “low E-string” and The lower Thin string is known as “High E-string” .

Let’s take a look at the notes again: [ PAY ATTENTION ! ]

If we start at A and want to find the note that is a half step away, it would be A#/Bb[A flat/B sharp].   To find the note that is a whole step away from A, we would jump two spots up to the B.

Let’s take this same concept and apply it to the frets of the guitar.   Grab your guitar and hold it like you are getting ready to play.  Let’s start at the Low E String. That is the thickest string on your guitar. When you play that string without pressing down on any frets, you are playing an E note.

Now to go a half step up on your guitar to the F note, we would press down on the first fret of the low E string. Now press down on the second fret of the low E string (a half step from F) and you are playing an F#/Gb.  To go a whole step from F to G on your guitar, you would go up two frets and press down on the third fret of the Low E String. So, a half step on your guitar is one fret, while a whole step on your guitar is two frets.

Let’s do another example on the A string and then I am leaving the rest for you to do.

The next string down from the Low E String is the A string.  This means when you strum this string without pressing down on any frets, you are playing an A note.  Now to go a half step up on your guitar to the A#/Bb note, we would press down on the first fret of the A string.  Now press down on the second fret of the A string ( a half step up from A#/Bb) and you are playing a B note.

Is this making sense yet?    Hopefully I have explained this well enough.  You should now be able to name every note on your guitar using the exact same process for all of the strings.  Do this at least once a day during your practice session and you will memorize every note on the guitar before you know it.

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