Whether you have always admired the sound of the electric guitar and you want to learn how to play it yourself, or you have been playing for a while and want to upgrade your curtain axe for a new and improved model, you are going to want to educate yourself about buying an electric guitar before you set out and start shopping for one. When it comes to shopping for an electric guitar, there are so many different options available. With so many choices, how can you determine which one will best meet your specific needs? – By reading this buyer’s guide, of course!
In order to help you on your quest for finding the best electric guitar for your needs, we have put together this handy buyer’s guide. In this guide, you will learn about the different types of electric guitars that are available, the factors to consider when shopping for one, the different features that they can offer, and the best electric guitar brands. After reading this guide, you will be well informed and have all of the information that you need to choose the best electric guitar for your specific needs.
Types of Electric Guitars
In order to find the best electric guitar for your specific needs, the first thing you need to do is understand that there are different types to choose from. Electric guitars differ in their construction, the sound that they make, and the way that the play, so you want to make sure that you understand the difference between each type so you can purchase the best option for your needs.
There are three main types of electric guitars, which include:
- The solid body electric guitar
- The semi acoustic electric guitar
- The electro acoustic guitar
Below, you will find a full description of each of these three main types of electric guitars, including how they play and the type of sound that they make.
The Solid Body Electric Guitar
As the name suggests, the solid body electric guitar is sold; it doesn’t have a resonating chamber. The body of the solid electric guitar is constructed of solid wood. If there are any holes in the solid body electric guitar, they are there merely to hold electronics and hardware.
The solid body electric guitar is the most commonly used type of electric guitar. It is an all purpose electric guitar that can be used to play a variety of types of music. The solid body electric guitar is much more resistant to producing unwanted feedback than a hollow bodied guitar.
The Semi Acoustic Electric Guitar
Unlike the solid body guitar, which is constructed of solid wood, the semi acoustic electric guitar has a hallow body. As such, the semi acoustic guitar creates a warmer and a more dynamically responsive sound than solid wood guitars. Though the name may suggest that the semi acoustic electric guitar can produce sound without an amplifier, like a traditional acoustic guitar, it cannot; it still does require an amplifier to produce sound, and will not produce any usable sound without one. With that said, the amplified sound that this type of electric guitar is more ‘acoustic’ in sound than a solid bodied electric guitar. It is because of this responsiveness that they are usually the preferred choice of blues and jazz guitarists. While semi acoustic guitars do provide a great sound, they can be prone to unwanted feedback, which can impact the sound they make, which is why this type of guitar usually isn’t used by rock and roll and heavy metal musicians play them. It is because of this feedback that the semi acoustic guitar can be a challenge to play; it does require patience and skill to master. The majority of semi acoustic guitars have solid blocks built inside their bodies. This helps to fight against the feedback.
The Electro Acoustic Guitar
The electro acoustic guitar is an acoustic guitar that has pickups, which means that many of them can be played without an amp. The electro acoustic guitar has a very different feel than a solid and an electro acoustic guitar. That is because of the higher actions and the wider fret boards, which makes the higher frets less accessible. The electro acoustic guitar is usually designed to be used with heavier strings and wound third strings.
Things to Consider When Shopping for an Electric Guitar
In order to choose the best electric guitar for your needs, there are several factors that you are going to want to take into consideration before you choose one. Some of the most important factors include the type of music you will be playing, the comfort of the guitar, and the cost, among other things. By taking these factors into consideration before you choose a guitar, you will be able to find the best one to meet your specific needs. To learn more about the different factors that we consider to be the most important when shopping for an electric guitar, please keep on reading.
The Type of Music You Will be Playing
Without a doubt, one of the most important factors that should be taken into consideration when shopping for an electric guitar is the type of music you will be playing. As mentioned in the ‘types’ section of this buyer’s guide, certain types of electric guitars play different types of music better. If you plan on playing rock and roll or heavy metal, a solid electric guitar is your best bet, as it will create the least feedback. However, if you enjoy playing – or you want to learn how to play – the blues or jazz, a semi acoustic guitar is a better bet, as it will create the sound that you are looking for.
The Tone the Electric Guitar Makes
Another important factor that you are going to want to take into consideration is the tone the electric guitar will make. There are so many different elements that impact the tone the electric guitar makes; the type of wood, the pickups, the build… You are going to want to take all of these elements into consideration in order to choose the tone that you want the guitar to make. Also, you should think about whether you will be playing live or if you will be recording your music. If you are going to be playing live and for your own enjoyment, there really isn’t a need to spend a tremendous amount of money on top quality woods and other elements; however, if you do plan on recording, than you may want to invest in a better quality guitar, as the better the quality, the better the sound.
The Feel of the Electric Guitar
If you are just starting out playing the electric guitar, the feel of the instrument might not resonate with you; however, if you already play guitar, you know how important the feel is. The feel of the guitar will greatly impact your comfort while you are playing. You want your electric guitar to fit you like a glove, so to speak. In order to do this, you want to make sure that you try on the guitar, hold it and handle it. Make sure that you are as comfortable as possible while you are holding it and that it just feels good. The size of the guitar, the neck and the placement of the fret board are all things that will impact the feel of the instrument.
The Scale Length
The scale length refers to the length of the strings that vibrate. This is measured from the nut to the bridge. Typically, the longer the scale length, the tighter the feeling in the string tension will be. A shorter scale length will have less tension, which allows the strings to bend easier. This can also make it easier to play with small hands. A shorter scale length also tends to create a warmer tone.
The Construction of the Neck
The neck is an important element of an electric guitar. It contains the fret board and the headstock where the tuners are mounted. It also contains a metal truss rod, which prevents the neck from bowing and twisting. There are three types of neck construction: the bold on; the set neck, and the neck through. Bolt on necks are bold onto the body of the guitar. It is a cost-effective option, and it also makes the neck easier to replace. A set neck is set into the body of the guitar. It is glued and fastened onto the body of the guitar. This allows for better resonance, but replacing the neck is more difficult. A neck through neck extends through the entire length of the body. This neck offers the most stability and even better resonance; however, neck repairs are very difficult and they can be costly.
Believe it or not, the type of wood that an electric guitar is constructed out of has a direct impact on the sound the guitar will make. The sound the electric guitar makes is mainly determined by the interaction of the vibration of the strings and the magnets in the pickup. The resonance that the wood create determines how long the strings will vibrate for, and the shape they will make as they vibrate. The wood also allows the pickup to move. There are several different types of tonewoods; mahogany, maple, rosewood, ash and ebony are all popular types. Make sure you know what type of sound that you want your electric guitar to create, as this will help you determine which tonewood will allow you to create that sound.
Here is a breakdown of the different tones that each type of wood makes:
- Alder – A balanced tone
- Ash – A bright tone
- Mahogany – creates a warm tone, as it emphasizes the midrange
- Maple – A bright tone
As their name suggests, the pickups actually pick up the vibrations that the strings make when they are strummed, and turn those vibrations into an audio signals, which is passed to the amplifier. There are two types of pickup options:
- Single Coil – Offers one coil and one set of magnets; produces a bright and clear sound
- The humbacker – Has two single coils, as well as two single magnets or two poles. The coils in the humbacker pickup carries a reinforced signal from the vibrating strings and a cancelled noise signal, producing a warm and full sound.
The Price of the Electric Guitar
Another very important factor to consider is the cost of the electric guitar. These instruments vary widely in price. Those that are made of higher quality woods, have sturdier construction and offer more features are the most expensive. Make sure that you consider how much you want to spend before you start shopping so you can avoid spending more than you would like to.
Features Electric Guitars Can Offer
Electric guitars can offer a few features, and these features are intended to make the guitar easier to play, and improve its sound. Here’s a look at some of the top features that an electric guitar can offer.
A Flange Bass Bridge
The bridge is the very heart of the guitar, as it serves as the platform for the strings. On most electric guitars, the bridge sits on a thin threat shaft, which is screwed into the top of the guitar. A flange base bridge uses a large flange base that creates a much more stable platform for the bridge, which reduces the possibility for the bridge to shift.
A graphite nut ensures that tuning is smooth and reduces the tendency for the strings to bind into the nut during tuning.
These tuners make it much easier to tune the guitar, more accurate, and much faster.
Best Electric Guitar Brands
Here are our picks for the top electric guitar brands on the market.
This is one of the most well-known names in the electric guitar industry. They produce high quality guitars that create an incredible sound. They are durable, offer a great feel, and can be used to play various types of music.
Another well known name in the guitar industry is Gibson. This company also uses the highest quality materials and exceptional construction to create electric guitars that deliver exceptional sound.
Another top electric guitar brand is Ibanez. This company produces thoughtfully designed guitars that deliver incredible sound. Excellent materials and accurate construction add to the exceptional sound Ibanez guitars create.