Guitars Glossary: S

saddle: The moving metal part of the bridge of an electric guitar that have grooves for the strings to lie across.

scale: A series of notes in ascending or descending order that presents the pitches of a key, beginning and ending on the tonic of that key.

semitone; half steps: In musical notation, the smallest difference between two pitches.

seventh-fret method: A method of relative tuning whereby you tune the bass guitar using the pitch played on the seventh fret as the comparison note.

sharp: An accidental indicating that a note should be played a half step higher than originally indicated.

shifting: The act of moving your fretting hand's position to reach a note.

shuffle feel: An important rhythm feel that has a lilting eighth-note sound — created by dividing the beat into two unbalanced halves, a long note followed by a short — that is used extensively in rock guitar.

simile; sim.: In musical notation, an indication that you should continue articulating the notes in a similar manner.

sixteenth note: In musical notation, the sixteenth note has a solid oval head with a stem and either two flags or two beams; it lasts half as long as the eighth note.

slide: 1. A tool (often made of glass) that you can use to slide along the strings while strumming to produce a smooth sliding sound. 2. An effects technique in which you slide your fingers (or an actual slide tool) up the strings while you play.

slotted headstock: The tuning machine on a nylon-string guitar in which rollers around which the nylon strings are wound are contained within the headstock, as opposed to sticking out above the headstock.

smack; slap: Sounding a note by hitting the strings with your open right hand or closed right fist.

sound hole: The opening on the top of an acoustic guitar that amplifies the guitar's sound.

staccato: A type of short, separated articulation.

staff: In musical notation, the five horizontal, parallel lines on which notes and rests are written.

stompboxes: An effects unit that is controlled by a foot pedal.

strap pin: The metal post where the front, or top, end of the strap connects.

string retainers: Little rollers or channels screwed into the top of the headstock that pull the top two or four strings down low onto the headstock.

strum: Dragging a pick or the back of your fingernails across the strings in a single, quick motion.

sustain: 1. (noun) The length of time that a note rings out. 2. (verb) The act of making a note ring out for an extended length of time.

sustained decay: A type of decay in which a note continues to sound steadily as long as the note is still being played.

swing: A musical style based on the triplet feel in which the beat is divided into three equal units.

syncopation: Striking a note (or chord) at an unexpected time.

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