What Are You On About?
Ever wondered just what the hell some people are on about in your local music store? If you have then fear no more as this time around the blog takes a look at a few of the more common terms, abbreviations and slang that guitarists use (both in the real world and cyberspace). So hopefully the next time someone says something using techno speak or jargon you’ll know exactly what they’re on about.
For ease of reference in an emergency (well you never know!) we’ve put everything in alphabetical order (plus it helps with our OCD…that’s Obsessive Compulsive Disorder just in case you’re wondering)!
Let’s start simple…amp is short for ‘amplifier’.
A slang term for a guitar.
Not one of these…
Not all of us dabble with pedals so this might not register with some…it’s simply short for ‘pedalboard’.
Speaker cabinet is a bit of a mouthful when you’re in a rush so more often than not it’ll get shortened to ‘cab’.
Cabs don’t come much better than this…
Short for combination amplifier i.e. an amp and speaker(s) in one enclosure rather than two separate units.
Much more portable but they can be heavy…
Short for Equaliser or Equalisation, it’s a reference to the section of your amps or pedals controls concerned with Treble, Middle and Bass.
One of the few abbreviations that gives the game away as it sounds exactly like the word it replaces. Still haven’t figured it out? Ok…it’s short for ‘effects’.
Whether it’s a stand alone pedal, a multi-unit or rack-mounted; it’s all effects…
Most guitar players will at some point in their life be struck down by the incurable disease that is ‘Gear Acquisition Syndrome’. There’s just never enough gear in the world to satisfy the thirst for a new bit of kit.
Not the kind you find in a field or outside your house. If someone’s talking about a gate they’ll be on about a Noise Gate such as Boss’ NS2 or MXR’s Noise Clamp.
Another simple one…Humbucker (as in the pickup).
It’s a Humbucker; can’t really say a lot more…
If you’ve ever heard someone who plays guitar say that their head blew up and you’re wondering how they’re still alive, it’s because they were making reference to their Amplifier Head (it’s an easy mistake to make!).
A prime example of an Amplifier Head…
HH / HSH / HSS
If you ever see this it’s simply referring to a guitar’s pickup configuration. HH means a pair of humbuckers. HSH means a pair of humbuckers with a single coil between them. HSS means a pair of single coils and a single humbucker (the latter is usually found in the bridge position).
A HSS Fender Strat…
Yes it may be a boy’s name but in the world of the guitarist it’s normally short for Jack-Plug or Jack-Socket.
J Bass & P Bass
A quick distinction between the two classic bass types. The J stands for ‘Jazz’ and the P for ‘Precision’.
On the left a Fender Jazz Bass and on the right a Fender Precision Bass…
It’s only ever going to mean one thing…Les Paul.
Thank you Les…
MIA / MIJ / MIM
These abbreviations are most commonly used when talking about a guitar’s origin i.e. the country it was made in. MI stands for ‘Made In’ and then you add the first letter of the product’s country of manufacture, e.g. a guitar made in America would be MIA, whilst a guitar made in Mexico would be MIM.
‘New Old Stock’ refers to products or parts that a retailer has had lying about for ages but never sold. Because they can’t be specific as to their age and they don’t want to advertise falsely they get labelled as New Old Stock.
Not to be confused with Over Dose, OD is a reference to the defining sound of classic rock…Overdrive.
PAF or ‘Patent Applied For’ is usually used in reference to an early model humbucker created by Seth Lover in 1955.
Nothing to do with plants at all but everything to do with ‘Potentiometers’ such as the Volume and Tone controls on your guitar.
This is what a pot looks like on the inside…
A Pre-Amp (short for preamplifier) is an electronic amplifier that prepares the signal for further amplification or processing. In a guitar amp the signal is fed into the pre-amp before reaching the power-amp.
Although they’re undeniably cute we’re not talking about baby dogs here. What we’re actually on about is ‘pickups’.
The ‘original’ Tiny Terror…awww!!!
If an amplifier isn’t a valve or tube amp then it’s most likely to be a ‘solid state’ amplifier such as Orange’s Crush Series.
A Tab (or tablature to give it its full name) is a form of musical notation commonly used for guitar that indicates instrument fingering rather than musical pitches.
What do you get when you put a load of speaker cabs and amp heads together? A stack!!!
Strat & Tele
The majority of us will simply know them as Strats and Teles but that’s actually short for Stratocaster and Telecaster respectively.
Fender’s classic Stratocaster (Left) and Telecaster (Right)…
If you’re into effects this slang term will be very familiar. It’s simply a reference to a stand alone effects pedal such as Xotic’s EP Booster (i.e. not a multi-fx unit).
One of the smaller varieties…
Often used in place of Tremolo i.e. in reference to the effect or the somewhat mis-named arm fitted to some electric guitars.
Not a ‘doing word’ but short for ‘Reverb’ (as in the effect).
‘Vintage Original Spec’ refers to the fact that a piece of equipment (more often than not a guitar) has been painstakingly produced to as near the original spec of the original piece that it is trying to mimic as possible.
This lot should keep you going and allow you to get more involved in those music store chats and better understand what everyone posting on internet forums is on about. The problem of course is that with every passing day someone comes up with something new and in the era of text speak it’s only going to get worse.
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Just because we’ve stated that something stands for this or that doesn’t mean that someone else doesn’t use it for something completely different. To avoid embarrassment please make sure you’ve got the context of the conversation correct before you join in.
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