Ingredients of the Guitar

The guitar is a beautiful and versatile instrument used in almost all forms of music. It is fun to hold, play and listen to. You may be wondering what materials go into making the different components of what is arguably the most popular musical instrument. Let’s discuss the different parts of the guitar and its “ingredients.”

The Body

The vast majority of guitar bodies are made from wood. Wood has a resonance unmatched by other materials. It is the vibration of the wood when the strings are played that sets the tone of the guitar. Most acoustic bodies have a bottom of a heavier wood, such as mahogany, and a lighter wood, such as spruce, for the top. Most electric guitar bodies are made from a single type of wood, also a heavier type for strong resonance.

Many guitars are made from solid pieces of wood. These have a much more consistent sound, but are also generally expensive. A cheaper alternative is a guitar made from laminates, which are thinner sheets of wood glued together. Although there are many very good laminate guitars available, they generally can’t match the sound of solid-bodied guitars.

Some other materials used to create bodies include acrylic for electric bodies and graphite for acoustics.

The Neck

Guitar necks are generally also made of wood. Often, but not always, the neck is the same type of wood as the body. The fretboard, generally made of smooth, easy to play wood such as rosewood or maple, is glued onto the neck. The frets themselves are made of soft durable metal such as stainless steel or nickel.

The neck itself may be either glued or bolted onto the body. Some solid-bodied acoustic models have neck-through construction, which means everything from the headstock to the bridge is the same piece of wood.

 The Truss Rod

The truss rod is a metal rod running through the neck. It can be used to correct changes to the neck’s curvature due to warping and other things.


Pickups are used in both electric and acoustic/electric guitars. They carry the sound generated by the strings electronically through a jack and cable to an amplifier. Pickups are made up of magnets and electronic copper wire coils. There are many different types of pickups. The type of pickup (or combination of pickups) used will greatly affect the sound produced.

The Bridge

The bridge holds the strings in place on the body and transfers the vibration of the strings to the soundboard on an acoustic. Bridges are generally wood with a saddle made of bone or ivory which physically supports the strings.

The Nut

The Nut is a grooved piece of bone, steel or other medium-hard material placed where the headstock meets the fretboard. It has grooves which hold the strings in place.

The Headstock

Most, though not all, guitars have a headstock at the top. It is where the string tuners are. It’s also generally where the manufacturer places its brand. Tuners can be made from metal (most electrics) ivory (many acoustics), or other materials. The headstock is usually made of wood. Some electric models do not have a headstock. These models have the tuners at the bottom of the guitar.

As you can see, the guitar is a veritable smorgasbord of quality (and sometimes not-so-quality) ingredients. Your personal taste will ultimately be the deciding factor in which one is right for you.