If you’re new to the guitar, or just want to brush up on your vocabulary, check out this list of the most important guitar vocabulary words of all time!
Guitar Vocabulary Words for Beginner Players
Learning to play guitar is a lot of fun, but it can be frustrating when you are stuck on something and don’t know what to do. It’s even worse if the problem is one of the many common guitar vocabulary words or guitar terms used in playing guitar! That’s where this list comes in handy.
In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the guitar terms used by guitar players. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, it’s helpful to know the lingo! Ready? Let’s get started!
First, let’s take a look at the different parts of a guitar. We have discussed these guitar terms before, but it never hurts to review them.
Body – The body is the main part of the guitar. It is made out of wood and houses the pickups, bridge, and other components.
Sound Hole – The sound hole is located on the body of a guitar and gives air resonance, which makes the notes sound better.
Bridge – The bridge is located at the bottom of the body. It holds the strings in place and transfers string vibrations to the body.
Neck – The neck is the part of the guitar that connects to the body. It is made out of wood and has frets, which are used to play notes.
Frets – Frets are the metal bars that are located on the neck of the guitar. They are used to play notes.
Strings – The strings are the pieces of metal that connect from the bridge to the headstock. Vibrating strings produce a sound when strummed.
Headstock – The headstock is located at the end of the neck. It contains the tuning pegs, which are used to tune the strings.
Machine Heads – Machine heads are also known as tuning pegs or tuners, and they are used for tuning the guitar strings. They are located on the headstock of the guitar neck.
String Nut – The string nut is located at the top of the neck. It is a small piece of plastic or metal that holds the strings in place and helps them to vibrate freely.
Chord Chart Terminology
Now that we have reviewed the different parts of a guitar, let’s take a look at some chord chart terminology.
The following are some of the most important guitar terms you need to know in order to learn more quickly and easily:
Chord – A chord is two or more notes played together.
Root Note – The root note is the note on which the chord is based. It is indicated by a letter name (e.g., C) or by a number (e.g., C Chord).
Major Chord – A major chord is a chord that consists of the root note, plus the third and fifth notes of the scale.
Minor Chord – A minor chord is a chord that consists of the root note, the minor third (flat 3rd) of the scale and the perfect fifth.
Fingering – The placement of the fingers on the strings in order to play a chord.
Dead String – A string that is not played or muted.
Open String – A string that is played without depressing any frets.
Open Note – A note played on an open string
Fretted Note – A note played with the fingers depressing the frets.
Open Chord or Open Position Chord – A chord that is played with at least one open string.
Chords in Closed Position – A chord that is played with all strings fretted.
Downstroke – A downward stroke of the pick.
Upstroke – An upward stroke of the pick.
Fretting Hand – The hand used to press down notes on the neck of the guitar using one’s fingers. This term also refers to playing chords.
Strumming Hand – The hand used to hold the pick and strum the strings.
Pick – A pick is a small, triangular piece of plastic that is used to strum the guitar strings.
Picking Hand – The hand that holds the pick and executes the picking motion.
Fretting – A description of the motion used by the fretting hand.
Finger Picking – Guitarists play individual notes using their fingers instead of a pick, usually on an acoustic guitar.
Strumming – Strumming is the technique of playing a series of chords by moving the pick across all the strings in quick, downward or upward strokes.
Power Chord – perfect 5th (P5) – A power chord is a two-note chord that consists of the root and fifth notes of the scale. It is called a “power” chord because it sounds powerful when played loudly.
Musical Alphabet – The music alphabet consists of the letters A through G, which represent each note on a guitar.
Other Musical Terms
If you’re a guitar player, you’re probably familiar with plenty of guitar-specific terminology. But what about other musical terms?
These musical terms are crucial to expanding your guitar vocabulary when learning how to play the instrument.
If you’re not sure what a particular musical term means, don’t be afraid to ask your teacher or look it up online. After all, there’s no shame in being a musical know-it-all!
Bar or Measure – A segment of time in music that is typically represented by a bar line.
Beat – The basic unit of time in music.
Tempo – The speed at which a piece of music is played.
Meter – The grouping of beats into measures and the accentuation pattern within each measure.
Key Signature – The key signature indicates which key the song is in. It is written at the beginning of a piece of music and contains two or three sharp or flat symbols.
Barre Chord – A chord where one finger is used to hold down multiple strings on a single fret.
Bass Note – lowest note in a chord or scale.
Chord Progression – A series of chords played in a specific order. The most common chord progression is the 12 bar blues, which consists of three basic chords (e.g., C, F, G).
Accent – A note that is played louder or with more emphasis than the surrounding notes.
Syncopation – Playing a note on offbeat, typically creating a rhythmic dissonance.
Interval – An interval is the distance between two notes on the fretboard.
- Half Step: A half step is the smallest interval on a guitar. On a standard-tuned six string guitar, it is equal to one fret.
- Whole Step: A whole step is made up of two half steps and represents an interval spanning two frets on the neck. Once again, this concept refers only to standard tuning!
Tone & Semitones (Similar to whole or half-step)
- Tone: A tone is the distance between two adjacent notes on the fretboard. It is measured in semitones, which are also known as half steps.
- Semitone or half tone: A semitone is the smallest interval on a guitar and is equal to one half step.
Scale – A scale is a series of notes that are played in order.
- Major Scale: A major scale is a type of scale that consists of seven notes. It is the most commonly used scale in western music.
- Minor Scale: A minor scale is a type of scale that consists of seven notes with flatted 3rd, 6th and 7th. It is often used in blues and jazz music.
- Mode: A mode is a type of scale. There are seven modes, which are named after the Greek letters used to represent them (e.g., Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian).
Musical Note – A note is the basic unit of music. Notes are written on a staff and consist of a letter name (e.g., C, D, E) and a number (e.g., C♯).
Triad – three-note chord: the root, 3rd and the 5th where the root is the name of the chord’s bass note or the key itself.
Octave – The distance between two musical pitches with double the frequency. It is represented by the same letter name and has the same pitch class.
Pitch – The pitch of a note refers to how high or low it sounds.
Transposition – is the process of moving a set of notes or chord progression up or down by a constant interval but keeping the original rhythms and phrasing. If you transpose up, everything gets higher; if you transpose down, everything gets lower. This is simply changing the key of the song.
Add ONE WORD to Your Guitar Vocabulary Every Day
There you have it! Now you know some basic guitar vocabulary words. These terms are just some of those used by musicians when playing their instruments; there are many more that we didn’t cover here today!
Learning new guitar vocabulary words and phrases can be one of the best ways to keep your skills fresh, especially if you find yourself getting lost in translation with some tricky chords. It may answer any questions you have about what to do next or how your instrument works.
With the proper knowledge base, we would all have an improved skills and musical experience with fewer frustrations and we’ll be able to communicate better with other guitarists.
If this sounds good to you then keep learning new guitar-related vocabulary so that your understanding of guitars will grow exponentially over time!