Below is an on going glossary from our print editions. We will be updating this page regularly but if you’re looking for something you don’t see please use the submission form below. Oh, and don’t forget to keep shredding forever.
Amplifier (amp) – a device that increases the strength of the electrical signal coming from the guitar or bass pickups and is set up as either a combo amp (combination amplifier) or amplifier stack.
Amp Head – contains the amplifier that passes the signal via a speaker cable to a cabinet to produce sound. It is attached to a loudspeaker cabinet to form an amplifier stack.
Archtop – a steel-stringed acoustic or semi-acoustic guitar with a full body and a distinctive arched top that creates a strong, bassier sound popular with jazz musicians The archtop guitar was designed by Orville Gibson in the 1890s to modernize the guitar by enhancing the power and quality of its tones.
Barre chord – a chord on a guitar that is played by using one or more fingers to press down multiple strings across a single fret.
Bass – sounds of lower frequencies.
Bridge – a device on the lower body of a guitar that supports and raises the strings off the fretboard.
Bypass – an option on guitar pedals that allows the signal of the guitar to be routed directly to the guitar amplifier without any of the effects that are often caused by the pedals.
Cabinet (cab) – the part of a guitar or bass amplifier that houses the loudspeaker.
Capacitors – an electrical component used in tone control circuits that stores electrical energy temporarily in an electric field
Channels – inputs that utilize different signal paths, allowing you to experiment with different sonic characteristics like clean or distorted.
Chord – a group of typically three or more notes played together to create a harmony.
Chorus (pedal) – an effect used to create a richer, thicker sound that simulates the slight variations in pitch and timing that occur in a vocal chorus.
Clean tone – an unaltered quality of sound achieved by not using any distortion or other guitar effects.
Clipping – a waveform distortion that occurs when an amplifier is overdriven and attempts to deliver an output voltage or current beyond its maximum capability.
Combination (combo) amp – a guitar or bass amplifier that contains both the amplifier and one or more speakers housed in one single unit.
Cutaway – an area on the body of the guitar that curves around to avoid the high end of the neck, leaving easy access to the higher notes of the fretboard.
Delay – an effect, often created with a pedal, that delays the sound of the guitar to create a repeating, decaying echo.
Diodes – a two-terminal electronic component that conducts primarily in one direction, having low resistance to the flow of current in one direction and high resistance in the other.
Distortion (overdrive) – a guitar effect in which gain (an increase in power of a signal) is used to create a dirty and fuzzy sound.
Double coil pickup (humbucker) – is a type of electric guitar pickup that uses two coils to “buck the hum” (or cancel out the interference) picked up by coil pickups.
Equaliser (EQ) – a tone control on a guitar or amplifier that reduces or enhances sounds that lie within a certain frequency.
Flattop – a guitar where the soundboard is completely flat (as opposed to archtop). This is the most common type of guitar, and while the term is most often used to describe acoustic models, it can be used to describe electric guitars (ex. Fender Stratocaster) as well.
Footswitch – a pedal used to activate electrical settings by foot, used with amps and effects units to enable you to operate them while standing up.
Fretboard – a thin, long strip of dark hardwood on the surface of the neck where the fret bars are placed. The strings run over the fretboard and are pushed down to change the vibrating length, changing the pitch.
Frets – the raised metals strips across the fretboard on a bass or guitar.
Fuzz – a distortion effect that was originally created by guitarists in the ‘60s using faulty equipment which has been emulated by fuzzbox effect pedals.
Gain – the increase in the power of the signal coming out of your amp, creating distortion.
Germanium – a semi-metallic element used to create the transistors in guitar pedals (often in fuzz pedals).
Headstock (peghead) – the section of the guitar attached to the top of the neck that houses the pegs or mechanism that holds the strings.
High end – a term referring to treble tones in sound frequencies.
High-pass filter (HPF) – an electronic filter that passes signals with a frequency higher than a certain cutoff frequency and attenuates signals with frequencies lower than the cutoff.
Hybrid amp – a combination of a tube preamp and solid-state power amp in one unit.
Instrument cable (lead, chord) – the insulated wiring used to connect guitars to amplifiers, guitars to effects units, or amp heads to speaker cabinets.
Inversion chords – a chord in which the group of notes are turned upside down.
Low end – a term referring to the bass tones in sound frequencies.
Low-pass filter (LPF) – a filter that passes signals with a frequency lower than a certain cutoff frequency and attenuates signals with frequencies higher than the cutoff.
Major chord – a chord that has a root note, a major third, and a perfect fifth. When a chord has these three notes alone, it is called a major triad.
Master volume – separate from the non-master volume knob, it allows you to turn your settings up or down as you please while controlling the overall output.
Middle (midrange) – the middle part of the range of audible frequencies.
Minor chord – a chord having a root, a minor third, and a perfect fifth. When a chord has these three notes alone, it is called a minor triad.
Neck – the wooden stem that extends from the main body of the guitar, supports the headstock, and contains the fretboard.
Open chord – chords that are played using only the first three frets of the guitar and contain one or more open strings.
Palm mute – a playing technique for guitar and bass that is used by placing the side of the picking hand across the strings, very close to the bridge, while plucking the strings to create a dampening effect. [pg 43]
Preamplifier (preamp) – circuits that increase low-level input signals before they reach the power amp.
Pickguard – a piece of plastic or other laminate material on the body of a guitar that protects the finish from being scratched by the guitar pick.
Pickup – electromagnets that are located on the front of the body. They produce a magnetic field that is disturbed by vibrations in the air (caused by the strings) which in turn alters the signal that is sent through a cable to the amp. The amp then receives the signal and amplifies it. There are two types of pickups: single coil and double coil.
P-90 – a single coil electric guitar pickup produced by Gibson since 1946. Possesses a bright, thin sound.
Power amp – produces extra gain to increase output signal level.
Power chord – a colloquial name for a chord that consists of the root note and the fifth and are commonly played on amplified guitars.
Presence – boosts the upper mid-range frequencies to make the sound seem more “present.”
Resistor – an electrical component used in tone control circuits that reduces current flow.
Reverb – an effect where the sound produced by an amplifier or an amplified musical instrument is made to reverberate slightly.
Root note – the note that is the basis for the chord.
Short-fretted (short-scale) – a bass or guitar with a shorter neck, which produces different pitches than a standard guitar because of the shorter string length and gauge.
Single coil pickup – a pickup for the electric guitar and the electric bass that electromagnetically converts the vibration of the strings to an electric signal.
Solder – to use a melted metal or metallic alloy to join metallic surfaces.
Solid state amp (resistor amp) – An amp with no valves that instead uses transistors.
Speaker cable – the wire used for electrical connections between speakers and amplifier sources.
Stratocaster (strat) – a model of electric guitar designed in 1954 by Leo Fender, Bill Carson, George Fullerton, and Freddie Tavares. It is a double-cutaway guitar, with an extended top “horn” shape for balance.
Tone – the level of equalisation set by a tone control on a guitar or amplifier.
Tone control – the level of equalisation set on a guitar or amplifier.
Transistors – a semiconductor device used to amplify or switch electronic signals and electrical power.
Treble – tones of high frequency range, and the counterpart to bass sound.
Triads – a set of three notes that can be stacked in thirds.
Tube amp (valve amp) – a type of electronic amplifier that uses vacuum tubes to increase the amplitude or power of a signal.
Tuning knobs (tuner pegs, string posts) – part of the headstock around which the strings are wrapped and tuned.
Vibrato – a musical effect consisting of a regular, pulsating change of pitch.
Voicing – the ordering of the pitches in a chord.
Volume – boosts the signal output of the power amp which will determine the loudness.
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