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Glossary of terms

Accented note A note played with more emphasis than others.
Action A word used to describe the distance of the strings off the fretboard, as in "high" or "low" action.
Archtop A type of acoustic or semi-acoustic guitar, with an arched soundboard, often played by jazz guitarists.
Arpeggio The playing of the tones of a chord separately, rather than simultaneously.
Augmented The quality of a chord having its intervals as the 1st, 3rd and sharp 5th notes of the major scale. See this page.
Barre chord A chord which uses the index finger to bar across several strings to act as the nut. Familiar shapes are fingered to the treble side of it. More here.
Bend A technique used to raise the pitch of a note by pushing the string sideways across the fretboard. See Bending.
Bridge The part of the guitar where the strings transmit their vibrations to the soundboard. Made of either wood or metal. See Anatomy.
Capo A device which clamps onto the fretboard acting as the nut. Allows unfriendly keys to be changed to friendly. More here.
Chord A group of scale notes which are played together, the simplest being the triad consisting of the 1st, 3rd and 5th of the scale. Read all about chords starting here.
Dead note A muted note played with no discernible pitch.
Diminished The quality of a chord having its intervals as the 1st, flat 3rd and flat 5th of the major scale.
Double stop Two notes played simultaneously.
Fingerpicking A pattern-based way of playing through chord progressions using the fingers. More here.
Finger Style The art of playing guitar with the fingers rather than a flatpick. The thumb and up to three fingers are used. More here.
Flatwound strings Steel strings which use flat ribbon winding rather than round wire for the thicker strings. Preferred by jazz guitarists.
Fretboard The fretted surface of the neck where you do the playing, sometimes known as the fingerboard. See Anatomy.
Fret The wire inset on fret board; also describes the distance between notes on the fretboard.
F-Hole The F shaped opening in the sound board of some guitars, usually archtops or resonators.
Ghost note A note played very quietly; the opposite of an accented note.
Grace note An ornamental note usually played just before a main note.
Hammer-on The creation of a new and higher note by hammering down on an already ringing string on a new fret; opposite of a pull-off. See this page.
Harmonic A bell-like sound created by gently touching the string at certain points. See Harmonics.
Headstock The "top" of the guitar, where the tuning pegs are. See Anatomy.
Improvisation The art of inventing music on the fly. This is achieved by knowing the structure of music, hearing it and inventing according to the rules.
Interval The "distance" between any two notes, usually measured relative to the major scale. See Notes.
Inversion The order in which the tones of a triad are stacked: Root position: 1-3-5; First inversion: 3-5-1; Second inversion: 5-1-3. See Slash chords.
Legato Italian for 'tied together'. If you hammer-on or pull-off notes, you're playing legato style. See Hammer 0n and Pull off.
Major The quality of a chord having its intervals as the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes of the major scale.
Minor The quality of a chord having its intervals as the 1st, flat 3rd and 5th of the major scale
Mode Another word for scale. The major scale yields 7 modes, one starting and ending on each note. More on modes here.
Muting A technique used to muffle the ringing of notes, usually done with the edge of the hand placed gently on the strings near the bridge. Check out this page.
Nut The small grooved piece of bone that the strings sit in between the fretboard and the headstock. See Anatomy.
Palm mute A technique used to muffle the ringing of notes, done with the edge of the palm. See Muting.
Pickup The electronic device used to pick up the sound of electric guitar strings. There are many types and configurations.
Pitch pipe Old fashion device used for tuning guitars. Works by tuning to the notes created by blowing into its six tubes.
Plectrum Official word for guitar pick.
Power chord Not really a chord; a double stop consisting of a root and a fifth of the chord, omitting the third. Read more here.
Pull-off The creation of a new note by pulling your finger off an already ringing note to a lower fretted or open note; opposite of a hammer-on. More here.
Resonator The circular speaker-like device, usually chrome, that fits into the body of some guitars, used to increase volume.
Root Sometimes referred to as 'root note' -- Another word for Tonic, or the first note of a scale.
Saddle The upright blade which sits in the bridge, often bone, where the strings sit. See Anatomy.
Scale A series of intervals, usually spanning an octave. Scales are more often viewed as a series of notes (generated by the intervals). More here.
Slash chord A chord such as G/B, meaning a G chord with a B bass note. See Slash chords
Slide A tube which fits on the finger and is used to slide along the strings to alter the pitch of notes (see Slide or Bottleneck Guitar); also the technique of sliding notes or chord shapes up the fretboard (see Sliding).
Sound hole The round hole on the front of most acoustic guitars. See Anatomy.
Sound board The front surface of acoustic guitars. This is where the sound from the strings is amplified via the bridge. See Anatomy.
Sus4 A chord consisting of the 1st, 4th and 5th notes of the major scale. The (4) in effect replaces the (3). This chord demands resolution.
Tablature A pictorial system of notation for guitar music, showing six strings and fret positions. More here.
Tail piece The metal device usually used on archtop guitars to anchor the strings beyond the bridge.
Tapping A hammer-on technique that is done with the right hand.
Thumb pick A plastic pick which fits around the thumb and projects a blade out to act as a pick.
Tonic The tonic; the first note of a scale; the main note of a chord, the note the chord is named after. Also known as the "root".
Tremolo The very fast repetition of notes; or an electronic effect that varies the volume in a regular pulsating manner.
Triad The simplest, smallest chord there is, consisting of the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes of the scale. More here.
Trill A rapid movement between two notes.
Triplet A group of three notes played where two would be played.
Truss rod A steel rod which fits inside the neck of some guitars. Its tension can be adjusted to straighten the neck.
Tuner An electronic device used to tune guitars. More about tuning here.
Tuning pegs The geared devices on the headstock used to tighten or loosen the strings. also known as Machine Heads. See Anatomy.
Vibrato The 'wobbling' of notes, done by physically moving the strings across the fretboard. See Vibrato.
Whammy bar A lever attached to the bridge of electric guitars that can be used to alter the pitch of notes.