Paul's Guitar Museum

5. Terms derived from animals

Paul: To try to better complete the words of origin describing the guitar it is obvious to me that many of the terms are derived from an animal...

  • The word "HEAD" describing the part of the guitar which holds the machines - I believe descended from 12th to 14th century guiterns and / or guitar types where the "tuning end" of the instrument was an elaborately carved animals "HEAD". BUT... I found Egyptian stringed instruments with a sphinx head carved at the head - also many other instruments with animal or human head depictions carved in the head down through history.

  • TAILpiece - obviously at the other end where the strings are tied

  • BELLY - or table, an archaic term used to describe the top

  • WAIST - the part of a guitar that incurves coinciding to a human waist

  • NECK - connecting to the head

  • SOUL - a term from France denoting the sound post (violin) where vibrations are conducted from the belly to the back

  • BACK - when tortoise shell lyras were in existence - quite literally the animals back

  • BLEED - a word used to describe the margin of space between the "E" string and the edge of the fretboard. If a guitar has too little "BLEED" it won't allow the player to bend the "E" string, it will "fret out" because it will "fall off the end of the fret"

  • HEEL - The part of the guitar neck that arches to meet the sides. This is where the "neck joint" is (hidden behind the heel)

  • FOOT - A term used to describe the "base" of the "neck block" where (on classical guitars) the back meets the neck block... it kinda looks like a "foot"

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