Guitar Slang

Guitar Slang

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Topics: Lessons

I am in the process of compiling a list of as many guitar slang words as I can. Seems like there are a lot out there, but when it comes time to write them all down I’m drawing a blank. Perhaps you can all help me in coming up with a definitive list?

Axe - Your guitar, of course.

Chops - Your ability to play the guitar. If you have “killer chops” then you are a great player. If you have “no chops” then you should probably stay in your bedroom for a few more years and practice.

Clam/To Hit a Clam - Play a wrong note. You hear this more in jazz circles than rock or other styles of music, but it’s still applicable to all players regardless of genre.

Cutting Heads - An improvisation contest between two players. See “the greatest guitar movie, ever” for more information.

Guitar Noob - A newbie guitar player who, unfortunately, thinks he can play much better than he can and proceeds to market himself as such via youTube, forums, and discussion groups. Should take the advice for someone who has “no chops.”

Jazz Box - A hollowbody jazz guitar. “Box” doesn’t necessarily only apply to jazz guitars, but for solid-body guitars “axe” is used much more frequently.

Lick - An improvisational motif that is memorized and used as (a) a device to show off and impress your listeners; (b) a thematic device used to move from one phrase to another; (c) something you play when you’re all out of ideas but your solo isn’t over yet.

Riff - Similar to a “lick” but describing parts of the actual song structure (verse, chorus, etc…) rather than a solo.

Shredder - A guitar player who plays very fast, and whose style usually includes a lot of sweep arpeggios, fast scalar passages, and lots and lots of notes.

Woodshedding/Shedding - To practice. Not to be confused with “shredding.”

Any and all other contributions are welcome!

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