ACTION -Referring to how high or low the strings are in relation to the fretboard. The lower the action, the easier it is to press the strings against the fretboard. When you hear a guitarist say, “This axe has great action!”, it means: “This guitar is easy to play!” (See
AXE -A guitar or any musical instrument, particularly one that has sentimental value to the musician.
BENDING -A technique used to raise the pitch of a note by pushing up or pulling down on the string while pressing it against the fretboard.
BRIDGE -The mechanism or assembly that raises the strings above the guitar body and the fretboard. (See
FENDER -A popular guitar brand. Makers of the Statocaster, Telecaster, Jaguar et al.
FLAT-WOUND STRINGS -Guitar strings having a flat exterior winding of metal (nickel) and therefore have a smooth surface, which minimizes the noise of the fingers sliding along the string. They also tend to reduce the wear and tear on fingers tips when compared to
GIG -Any event or location where invited musicians play music. A paying job.
GRILLED STRINGS -Guitar strings having an exterior winding of small-diameter (lighter gauge) rounded wire. They have a rougher surface and usually a brighter tone than
GUITAR TECH -Guitar technician. Often one who travels with the musician and does maintenance such as changing strings, making neck or bridge adjustments, cleaning, and generally guarding the guitars.
GIBSON -A popular guitar brand. Makers of the Les Paul, SG series, Melody Maker, and many other models. (See
GINKY -Slang name for an acoustic guitar.
HAMMER ON -A technique that requires the guitarist to snap his finger tip down on the string to sound the note rather than hitting the string with a guitar pick or his strumming hand. (See
INLAYS -Dots or rectangles placed on the fretboard (and smaller ones on the top edge of the neck) to indicate, at a glance, the position of the fingering hand relative to the nut and the other inlays on the fretboard.
INTONATION -As related to the physical properties of stringed musical instruments, the intonation refers to the setting of the bridge in relation to the nut. Ideally, a note played halfway between the bridge and nut on each string should be precisely an octave higher than a note played open. By adjusting the bridge, any anomolies introduced by imperfections of the frets, strings, and neck alignment can be minimized to improve the intonation of the notes produced by the instrument. (See
JAM, JAMMING -Musicians playing improvised music together with no aggenda or motive other than enjoying the process of creating music.
LES PAUL -The inventor of the Les Paul guitar made by the Gibson company.
MACHINE HEAD or TUNING PEG -A mechanical assembly for adjusting the tension on a guitar string by employing a lever, gears, a shaft through which the string is threaded, and thus allows the string to be tuned.
NUT -A small grooved insert made of wood, bone, or plastic and used to raise the strings slightly above the fretboard at the first fret, where the end of the neck meets the head of the guitar.
PINCH HARMONICS -A picking technique that creates harmonic tones by striking a string with a pick and the edge of one's thumb simultaneously.
PLECTORUM -A small object used to strike the strings of a guitar to sound a note. Usually triangular in shape and made of plastic. They are produced in a wide range of flexibility, which allows the guitarist to vary his tone and sensitivity.
PULL OFF -A technique by which a guitarist - instead of using the picking hand - plays a lower note by pulling a finger downward off of a fret, which strikes the string and sounds the lower note. The note can be an open string or one being fingered slightly lower (toward the nut) on the fretboard. (See
RIFF -A note phrase, series of chords, or a combination of both, which is repeated rhythmically and serves as the instrumental foundation of a song.
SLIDE -Playing guitar with a glass, metal, plastic, or wooden cylinder on one finger instead of using the finger tips on the strings. One style of slide guitar requires pressing the strings against the fretboard with the cylinder. Another style uses a light touch of the cylinder upon the strings without pressing them against the fretboard.
STRAT -Fender Stratocaster guitar. They are known for their versatile sound, and contoured body.
SUPER-SLINKYS -Light gauge strings used mostly in rock music. The light gauge/thinness allows easy playing and bending of the strings.
TAPPING -A technique similar to
HAMMER ON, except the notes are tapped with the fingers of the strumming hand while playing other notes with the fingering hand. Made popular by Eddie Van Halen, who was probably the first rock guitarist to use the technique extensively. The influence of his using the tapping technique is apparent in the work of Joe Satriani and Steve Vai, among others.
TELY -Fender Telecaster guitar. Popular vintage guitar.
TREMELO BAR -(See
WHAMMY-BAR -A bar connected to the bridge which, when push toward or away from the body of the guitar, causes the tension on the strings to increase or decrease and allows a wide range of vibrato speed and simulated string-bending. (See