Bolt-on necks, though they are historically associated with cheaper instruments, do offer greater flexibility in the guitar's set-up, and allow easier access for neck joint maintenance and repairs. Another type of neck, only available for solid body electric guitars, is the neck-through-body construction. These are designed so that everything from the machine heads down to the bridge are located on the same piece of wood. The sides (also known as wings) of the guitar are then glued to this central piece. Some luthiers prefer this method of construction as they claim it allows better sustain of each note. Some instruments may not have a neck joint at all, having the neck and sides built as one piece and the body built around it.
The pickguard, also known as the scratchplate, is usually a piece of laminated plastic or other material that protects the finish of the top of the guitar from damage due to the use of a plectrum ("pick") or fingernails. Electric guitars sometimes mount pickups and electronics on the pickguard. It is a common feature on steel-string acoustic guitars. Some performance styles that use the guitar as a percussion instrument (tapping the top or sides between notes, etc.), such as flamenco, require that a scratchplate or pickguard be fitted to nylon-string instruments.
Guitars have been played since the Renaissance era, after descending from the ancient Greek instrument, the kithara. Or, at least, that's how the theory goes: the only real proof for this is the similarities between the Greek word and the Spanish word, quitarra. Early guitars often had four strings, evolving into the six-string version we know today in the late 1600s. Anton Stradivari, the famous violin-maker, also had a hand in making guitars. There's now only one Stradivarius guitar left in existence.