The Most Important Guitar
A smaller than normal guitar with shorter strings
and less space between frets.
A term referring to the height of the
strings above the frets and fretboard.
altered and open tunings
The result of changing the tuning of one or more
strings from standard EADGBE.
Picking in alternate directions
A broken chord, usually played evenly low
to high and back again.
The setting of an original or standard
tune for a given solo instrument or group of
From the French term barré. The
technique of placing the left hand index finger
over two to six strings in the fingering of a
chord. The great advantage of using barre chords
is that they are "moveable shapes" that
can be applied at practically any fret.
The act of pushing or pulling a string
sideways 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
Section for fixing and supporting
the strings on an acoustic guitar. The method of
supporting the strings on an electric or acoustic
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.
Three or more notes sounded
chorus (of a tune)
Strictly speaking, the portion of a song
lyric or melody that is repeated, often with
other voices joining in. In jazz improvisation,
however, "playing a chorus" would mean
taking a turn improvising over the tune's chords
The term "voicing" refers to
the vertical arrangement of the notes of a given
chord. "Closed voicing" places the
member 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
A type of resonator guitar.
A large acoustic steel-string guitar
The practice of lowering the sixth string
(E) by a whole tone, one octave lower than the
Banjo-style picks that fingerstyle
guitarists use when playing steel-string
Playing with the fingernails or
fingertips with or without fingerpicks as opposed
to playing with a flatpick.
A triangular or teardrop-shaped piece of
nylon or plastic used to pluck or strum guitar
strings. Flatpicks are available in a large
variety of shapes, sizes, and thickness.
A small adjustable stool used to raise
the height of the guitar.
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
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.
The distance between two notes.
Structuring a chord with a note other
than the root as the lowest note.
The part played by a guitar soloist in a
A guitar maker or repair person.
Mechanical device for adjusting pitch.
To change keys within a piece of music
Point at which the strings are
supported as they run from the fingerboard to the
A manner of chord construction in which
the member notes are broadly separated. See
closed voicing above.
A five-tone scale used often in rock.
A plate for protecting the guitar
body from pick scratches.
Plucking or producing a sound on the
guitar in general, either with the fingers or a
flatpick. Sometimes refers to playing a
single-note melody line.
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.
Another name for a flatpick.
Individual metal poles under each
string on a pickup
A reference to placement of the left hand
index finger at various frets.
Potentiometer for controlling a
signal. Usually a volume or tone control.
A chord consisting of the first (root),
fifth and eighth degree (octave) of the scale.
Power chords are typically used in playing rock
A signal-boosting device
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.
Decorative inlays next to the
Method of strumming used by flamenco
The circular decoration around the
Rhythmic strumming of chord backup for a
lead player, singer, or ensemble.
The point on the bridge for
supporting the strings.
The adjustment of the action of a guitar
for optimal playing characteristics.
The outline form of a chord on the
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
The top or table of the guitar.
Normally a circular section cut
out of the top to allow sound and energy to
project from the soundchamber.
The guitar is generally tuned EADGBE low
A swivel device with a handle with a
fixture that fits over the tuning keys.
Performed with a pick or the fingers.
Generally consists of brushing across 2-6 strings
in a rhythmic up and down fashion appropriate to
the tune being played.
tablature or tab
A system of writing music for fretted
instruments whereby a number or letter appears on
lines representing the strings, indicating the
fret to be played.
Metal frame or stud for holding
the strings on the body of a guitar.
To write a solo, note for note, off of a
A device for transferring energy
from one form to another. Used to describe a form
of pickup used for amplifying acoustic
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.
A three-note chord.
Reinforcing metal rod for stabilizing and
adjusting the neck.
An electronic tuning device.
To vibrate by slightly altering a pitch
higher and lower.
The arrangement of the member notes of a
chord, or placement of the melody or bass line
within a harmonic progression.