Your Guide to Buying Parts for Your Guitar

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Your Guide to Buying Parts for Your Guitar

Learning to play the guitar is a rewarding experience for the vast majority of people. Nothing beats the thrill of creating a piece of music or playing for the enjoyment of others. However, part of learning how to play the guitar should always be learning how to keep the instrument in a good state of repair. Guitars are well-balanced instruments, and even the slightest of problems can lead to profound changes in the sounds they create.
Guitarists needs to know the basics of tuning a guitar, and they will also need to know how to perform fixes and replacements when necessary. In the vast majority of cases, a guitar will only require minor replacements and repairs, but it may be necessary to make large-scale alterations from time to time.
There are three basic types of guitar: an acoustic, an electric, and a bass. However, it is also possible to buy an electro-acoustic guitar that is capable of connecting to amplifiers and recording systems. Although all of these types of instrument use very similar parts, they aren't always interchangeable, so consumers should be certain the part in question will work on their guitar.

The Key Features of a Guitar to Consider When Buying Parts

Any professional guitarist will always keep some spare parts handy in case the worst happens. However, beginners may often be a little confused when it comes to selecting the parts they need. The easiest way to explain the different types of spare parts available is to observe the construction of a guitar and its various component parts.

The Headstock

The headstock is found at the end of the guitar, and it usually houses individual tuning heads. While some consider the headstock to be an aesthetic choice, others believe the style has a direct effect on tone. Most guitars have three tuning heads – sometimes referred to as machine heads - on each side of the headstock, but Fenders usually have all the tuning heads on one side. Locking tuning heads can be bought to ensure a guitar doesn't accidentally slip out of tune during a performance.

The Nut

The guitar's nut is located between the neck and the headstock. It is the nut that can often be to blame when a guitar is hard to tune – and not the tuning heads. Particularly with electric guitars, the nut can bind against strings, and that can affect the sound created. Most acoustic guitars will have a standard nut, but many electric guitars have a nut that is capable of locking.

The Fretboard

Frets are there to assist the player in the location of notes, and the fretboard is made from a variety of woods. Although there are some subtle sound differences between fretboards made with different materials, most guitarists will make a selection based on feel or aesthetics.

The Bridge

The bridge of a guitar holds the strings in place. Electric guitars will have either a tremolo bridge or a fixed bridge. The type of bridge used on a guitar will affect how strings are held in place, and that can have some noticeable effects on the sounds the instrument can deliver.

The Scratch Plate

The principle behind a scratch plate is to protect the body's wood from over-zealous players who might scratch it while strumming. However, they are generally in place for aesthetic reasons.

The Electronic Control

Electronic controls will differ greatly depending on the manufacturer, but most electric guitars will have knobs for adjusting volume and tone, and there is usually a pickup selector control as well.

Selecting the Best Strings for Your Guitar

A lot of amateur guitarists never give the merest thought to the type of strings they are using; however, strings can have a huge effect on the sound created by a guitar. Some strings are solid plastics or metals, while others are made with threads and tightly-wound secondary materials. There are several combinations of style, thickness, and material, and each one will determine both the tone of the instrument and the playing experience. Standard acoustic guitars will often come with nylon strings; the highest three strings will be made from 100 per cent nylon, and the lowest three will be made from nylon wrapped in stainless steel. However, many guitarists believe richer tones can be produced by wound strings.

Types of Guitar String

Acoustic Guitar Strings

The strings on an acoustic guitar need to be hard-wearing and substantial. They need to sound great, look aesthetically pleasing, wear well, and create a sound loud enough to be heard without amplification.

Bronze Wound Guitar Strings

Bronze is actually an alloy of copper and tin. However, zinc is often used in guitar strings instead of tin. The sound created with bronze strings is beautifully crisp and distinct, but this quality usually subsides after only a few hours of play. While many players will change their bronze strings regularly, many actually prefer the distressed sound they create.

Phospor Bronze Wound Guitar Strings

The phosphor bronze strings used widely today only arrived on the scene in the 1970s. They create a warmer sound than standard bronze strings, but the phosphor in them helps them to retain their sound quality for longer.

Electric Guitar Strings

Whereas acoustic strings need to be loud to be heard, electric guitars create their sound through magnetism, and this requires completely different materials.

Pure Nickel Wound Guitar Strings

Pure nickel strings actually contain other metals as well, and they were the string of choice in the original Fender and Gibson electric guitars. They create a warm sound that is classically rock and roll.

Nickel Plated Steel Guitar Strings

This is now the most popular string used by guitar manufacturers today. Often referred to as NPS by manufacturers and dealers, nickel plated steel strings reduce the finger noise that often comes with playing electric guitars, and they can also prolong the life of frets. They create a bright sound, and they are also capable of greater sustain than pure nickel strings.

Stainless Steel

For guitarists who want the brightest notes and the greatest sustain possible, stainless steel strings are the best option. They last far longer than other varieties of string as they are more resistant to the oils and acids from fingers. However, stainless steel is a far harder substance than nickel, and that means premature fret-wear can become a problem.

Buying Parts for Guitars on eBay

The eBay website is a huge marketplace where people can buy or sell a huge range of guitar parts, and its user-friendly interface makes finding the most suitable items simple and quick. There are a number of inbuilt protections for consumers that mean buying guitar parts does not have to be a cause for concern. Buyers can assess a vendor's reliability by viewing their feedback scores and any associated comments. There is also the chance to shop at one of eBay's many online stores, and vendors with authorised status have been vetted in order to verify their credentials as expert sellers. Searching for bargains is also possible on eBay as many items are sold with free shipping. In some cases, buyers can choose to deal with local vendors, and that means items can be picked up on the same day of purchase. Those who are looking for a guitar as well may be able to pick up a bundle that includes a guitar and a selection of spare parts, accessories and associated equipment.

The quickest way to search for guitar parts is to enter a search term in the text-entry box near the top of the page. However, the best way to narrow results to only those that meet exacting criteria is to use eBay's category search function. Such a search should begin by selecting the All Categories link near the top of the homepage. This will cause the drop-down menu to open, and the Musical Instruments link should be clicked, followed by the Search icon. The page will reload, and a list of sub-categories will appear on the left of the screen; the Guitars link should then be clicked. A new list of sub-categories will appear, and the Accessories link should be chosen. The user should then scroll down the page until the Categories section can be seen. Under that heading, there will be a link to Parts, and that link should be clicked. This list also includes links to strings and pickups.


Learning to play the guitar is only part of being a responsible and conscientious guitar-owner. This will-balanced instrument needs fine-tuning and maintenance throughout its life if it is to deliver music of the highest quality. In some cases, the parts used on a guitar are dictated by personal preference; however, some spares are only designed for particular types of guitar. Keeping a good supply of spare parts is good practice, and it could one day ensure that the show actually does go on.

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