When you're looking for a guitar you'll hear many words that might not make much sense at first. You'll see them printed on websites, musicians will tell you to ask about them and music shops will use many of them as plus points for particular models. So what do words like 'action' mean?
We've compiled a non-exhaustive list below - feel free to comment or add your own!
Fretboard - This is usually either Rosewood or Maple and forms the top of the neck where your fingers depress the strings in order to play. It's important to keep this as clean as possible. I recommend a rub with Lemon Oil when you change your strings. This will help keep it in optimum condition.
Strings - There's more to guitar strings than meet the eye. Different guitars need different strings - Classical guitars, which have lighter necks, need Nylon Strings like the Rocket Angel Lopez. This is because their necks don't use a Truss Rod (covered below) which counteracts the tension caused by Steel Strings. Using steel strings on a classical guitar can fatally damage the neck! Helpfully, all guitar strings normally note what guitar they're for.
Truss Rod - This is a large metal rod which runs the length of the neck in Acoustic and Electric guitars. The rod counteracts the tension and forward pull of the strings and keeps the neck straight. Over time it may be necessary to adjust the truss rod to correct forward or backward bowing of the neck. In these instances we recommend using a professional technician - I've seen too many poorly guitars which have been ruined by truss rod adjustments.
Gauge - This is used to describe the thickness of the strings used. Extra Light strings are usually around .09 or .10 gauge upwards. Heavy strings can be around .12 to .14 upwards. The thinner the string, the easier they are to bend and produce a brighter sound. Heavier strings are harder to bend but work well for chord based rhythm work.
Tuning Peg - These are the nuts that sit at the top of a guitars neck. Altering these alters the tuning of the strings. Generally a guitar is tuned to EADGBE (Standard tuning) but there are lots of variations to try! If possible, Chrome tuners are much better quality than plastic but both are usable.
Action - This is the distance between the strings and the fretboard. Guitars with a poor action will have a bigger gap between the strings and fretboard, which will make the guitar harder to play. Similarly, an action that is too close to the fretboard will cause buzzing.
Soundboard - This is the top of the guitar and allows the instrument to create it's sound. More expensive guitars use different woods to create different sounds, although cheaper instruments will just use a 'laminate' which is a compression of cheaper woods. A popular soundboard is Sitka Spruce Pine, but you'll also see Maple, Bubinga, Nato, Mahogany and others - the sound they make is entirely down to the individual.
Frets - These are the spaces inbetween the metal strips on the neck. Each fret raises the pitch by a half tone (So the bottom E string will become F on the first fret, F# on the second and so on)
Bridge - This is found at the bottom end of the guitar where the Strings anchor into the Saddle. If any adjustments to the action are needed they're usually carried out at the Bridge. The Saddle keeps it all from coming away from the body and helps to transmit the vibrations of the strings to the soundboard of the guitar. On Electric guitars you'll also see moving bridges, utilised with a Wammy Bar - this is used to bend the notes and alter pitch upwards; although the Floyd Rose flying bridges allow for bending both higher and lower in pitch.
If you have any questions about the above or would like some more advice on a suitable instrument, please get in touch with our Sales Team.