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Guitar Acronyms and Terms, a Glossary


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A new friend on Facepage posted this morning that he was new to this guitar culture, and he wished to know about such acronyms as, 'MIM' and terms like 'humbuckers'.

I obliged, and penned a brief and not-terribly all-inclusive list of just such acronyms and unique guitar terms.

Please feel free to borrow, and please add to my list.
I typed it up in about an hour, and only so much care went into it.

I'm sure you guys and gals could add to the quality and quantity of the thing.


Industry grading of flame maple tops on guitars.
AA means handsome wood grain, and the two sides nearly match. AAA means extremely beautiful good grains, and the two sides match exactly.

A hollow guitar with a sound hole, and no onboard pickups, jack, or electronics.
A true acoustic guitar is fabulous for playing by the campfire with friends, but must be played up close to a microphone when performing for a larger audience.

An acoustic guitar with some form of pickup, that can be plugged into an amplifier for a larger, louder sound than a mere acoustic guitar.

A performer’s instrument.
Usually means “guitar”, but the expression began with jazz players, and generally meant, “my horn”.
Example. “Hey man, come on up to my loft at ten. Me and some cats are gonna jam.”
“Sure. I’ll just go get my axe.”

Belly cut
A guitar body design wherein a portion of the wood is carved out to make room for the performer’s stomach. The more beer a guitar player consumes, generally the larger the belly cut.

Guitarist expression for a ‘sunburst’ finish

Cutaway. A scoop made in the carving of the guitar body to allow for easier access to the higher frets.
A Les Paul is a single-cutaway guitar shape, or ‘single-cut’.

A double cutaway body shape.
An old Gibson Junior (like Joan Jett favors) is a DC. Hamer makes a lot of double cutaway guitars.
A Fender Strat is an ‘offset double cutaway’, in that the cutaway shapes are asymmetrical.

A self-absorbed singer or performer.
Diva originally meant, “super star female singer” but now can mean “that band member who is a complete pain in the ***, is fond of making demands, and isn’t much help loading in or loading out the heavy gear at gigs”.

A bar or club that is a bit seedy, and is frequented by men and women of low station.
Bands usually get their start playing in dives.

Drunk Guy
The hyper-inebriated bar or club patron who inevitably comes to visit the stage to either:
* request that the band play ‘Free Bird’ by Lynyrd Skynyrd
* tell us that he plays guitar too, if we want to have him up for a jam
* make passes at the girl singer, and tell her she’s real pretty

Among guitar players and collectors, an ‘electric’ means an electric guitar as opposed to an ‘acoustic’.
“Dude, bring one electric and one acoustic to the recording session.”
An electric is normally a solid-body guitar (though not always), and has one or more pickups, a jack where the guitar cable end goes, and may feature onboard electronics, a pre-amp, and a battery.
A Fender Telecaster is an electric guitar.

****-faced. Exceedingly drunk.
Most drummers get ‘faced at the gig, and get accused by the other band members of playing either too fast or too slow.

The Floyd Rose guitar tremolo system, featuring a tremolo arm embedded in a multi-axis tremolo block, multiple springs, a locking nut, and minuscule knobs for making minor and frequent adjustments to each string’s pitch or tuning.
See ‘Eddie Van Halen’

This is how many older British players pronounce the word ‘guitar’.
George Harrison most famously.

A guitar setup featuring two humbucking pickups.
HH may also be called a ‘dual humbucker’ design.

Similarly, a guitar design featuring a Humbucking pickup and 2 single-coil pickups.
(You can guess, at this point, what ‘HSH’ means.)

Or, ‘the Hofner’.
A violin shaped electric bass guitar, like the one made popular by Paul McCartney and The Beatles.
Hofner also makes a variety of other stringed instruments, but that violin bass is iconic.

Holy Grail
An expression meaning, ‘the ideal’, or very best.
A player who covets a particular guitar, pickup, vintage of instrument, or wah pedal often call that their ‘holy grail’ item.
See ‘1959 Gibson Les Paul’

See ‘Joint’

A expression meaning “place where the band shows up to play or practice”.
Joint = house, room, apartment, club, bar, or dance hall.
Joint can also mean, ‘a marijuana cigarette’.
Drummers and bass players are inordinately fond of smoking joints.

Short for ‘okay’, or ‘yes, of course’.
Singer: Dude, the drummer is too drunk to drive home. Can you give him a lift in your van?
Me: ‘K. But he better not puke on my shag carpet.

A Les Paul electric guitar.
May refer to any Les Paul-shaped guitar, whether it was made by Gibson or not.
LP may alse mean, “Long Playing vinyl record album”.
Many modern music fans are buying vinyl now.

Long Scale.
Scale length is the distance between the nut (at the top of the guitar fingerboard) and the bridge, near the bottom of the guitar.
Gibson Les Paul guitars generally feature a 24 ¾ inch scale length, and Fender Strats go 25 ½ or so.
Anything longer than that is called Long Scale.

A guitar made in America
In military circles, MIA also means ‘Missing In Action’, like when the drummer disappears to talk to a drunk ugly girl, and can’t be found when it’s time to begin playing the 3rd set.

A guitar made in China

A guitar made in Japan

A guitar made in Mexico

Gibson electrics produced during the "Norlin era" were guitars made from 1970 through 1983; these are considered by many Gibson fans to be the worst guitars.

O Face
The passionate facial expression that a guitar player affects when he or she is playing a particularly awesome guitar solo.

Guitar player slang for “Gibson Les Paul”.

The items mounted in the guitar that capture the string vibrations and send that signal to an amplifier or Public Address system. Normally a magnet wrapped many, many times in copper wire.
Responsible for a fair amount of each guitar’s unique or individual ‘tone’.

Pointy Guitar
Any guitar featuring radical body shapes, pointed edges, and a pickup configuration that invites the playing of lightning fast riffs and lead runs.
See ‘Ibanez’

A slang expression for guitar pickups.
‘Pups’ are normally changed out on a weekly basis by bedroom players in their quest for the mythological, unattainable ‘perfect tone’.

Quality Control.
The production of well-made, consistently top-quality guitars, no matter what the price point.
When a guitar is found to be poorly put together, the guitar manufacturer (and all their employees, and their parents and grandparents) find themselves branded as having ‘lousy QC’.

The Red Rocker
Guitar player and singer Sammy Hagar.

An electric guitar featuring 3 single-coil pickups.
The original Fender Stratocasters were of the SSS design.

Slang for ‘Stratocaster’.
May refer to any Stratocaster-shaped guitar, whether it was made by Fender or not.

Slang for ‘Telecaster’.
May refer to any Telecaster-shaped guitar, whether it was made by Fender or not.

The much revered sounds that emanate from a guitar player’s amplifier.
The subject of much debate involving the chief contributor of tone, including the guitar wood weight and density, type of pickups, composition of the bridge, thickness of strings, type of guitar amplifier, type of amp speaker, type of amp tubes, and type of material used in the nut.
All of these theories are by and large over-blown.
Tone is mostly in the player’s fingers, and style of execution.

Tone Wood
The notion that the type, weight, or density of wood matters to guitar tone.
This is a fallacy, of course.
Tone is, again, mostly in the player’s fingers.

A technique employed by players of Les Paul-style guitars, wherein the strings are fed thru the tail piece backwards, wrapped over the top of the surface of the tail piece, and then so on across the frets and on to the nut and tuning pegs.
This is believed to improve guitar tone, and to lessen the break angle on the strings for some supposed improved feel and ease of string bending.
I’m not a fan, and it strikes me as a passing fad or fancy of the moment.

A conventional guitar amplifier vacuum tube or ‘valve’.
Often considered to be a key component of, or contributor to, guitar tone.
Don’t even get me started.

A V-shaped guitar.
The Gibson Flying V most notably, though other guitar manufacturers make V-shaped guitars, and they sell like hot cakes to mostly older players endeavoring to recapture their misspent youth.

The z-axis on a guitar knob mounted to a control or potentiometer that clicks up and down (in addition to rolling this way or that, to adjust the electric guitar’s Volume or Tone).
Popular Z-axis features include coil splitting, coil tapping, or the activation of onboard effects.

Okay, that’s all I can think of for now.

I’m sure that other players can add to this list, and improve it over time.


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Pickup "Potting"

Guitar pickup potting is a process whereby the fine wire coils of a guitar pickup are encapsulated in a substance that inhibits movement of the coil.  Generally, the potting medium is a wax mixture that is melted and then permeates the wire coils. Other substances such as nitrocellulose lacquer or epoxy resins can also be used. 

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Neck Dive:  When a neck is too heavy and keeps heading for the ground unless you hold it all the time or get a wide leather strap..

Firebird X:  WORST GUITAR EVER!!!!!!  See video to see what happened to them. Yes.. Thats just how bad they were....  😄


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Trainwreck:  When the four band members all start it off spectacularly, two starting the song on the list, two starting two entirely different songs.

Missed:  When I get on the mic and I shouldn't have.



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Clipped Harmonic:  The art of plucking and then immediately stopping the vibration of a string, resulting in the highest harmonic content a human can hear, relative to where along the string plucked and relative to the pickup(s) being used.

Often, very often, far too often erroneously referred to as pinched harmonic.  Why did people start saying that?


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1 hour ago, rct said:

Wheedly part:  That section of the guitar neck from 15th fret up.  A dangerous area often ventured into with limited success, sometimes leading to a solo Trainwreck.


I've wrecked that train many times. 🙂

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A few there I never heard of. 

K, RR, Z, Gee-tar and O-face default_eusa_whistle.gif 😎



Tone Wood
The notion that the type, weight, or density of wood matters to guitar tone.
This is a fallacy, of course.
Tone is, again, mostly in the player’s fingers.



True when referring to solidbody. Not true when referring to acoustic tone.

As for 'tone is in the fingers'. I still think that's a popular meme, that sounds attractive but doesn't mean anything.

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