How to find your way when buying an electric guitar?
Strats, TLs, LPs, Vs, SGs, Superstrats, semiacoustics, Jazzmasters, Jaguars and other beasts. Electric guitars come in many shapes and colors, with many woods, pickups, bridges and other enticements.It is therefore not hard to lose your way for good when buying one for the first time. Take it easy, we shall help you pick the right guitar – first we must find out what instrument is right for you.
How to choose, when I do not know what sort of music I want to play with my guitar?
Here we would recommend an electric or an acoustic-electric guitar. As both offer the widest range of sound options. Nobody said that you cannot play a sensitive tone on an electric guitar or a rock solo on an acoustic-electric guitar. The sky is the limit.
ST Models - a true classic which serves as the model of an electric guitar today. It is at home in Rock, Blues, Hard Rock, and Metal. To its fans belong such giants of the music business like Jimi Hendrix, David Gilmour, John Frusciante, Eric Clapton and Buddy Holly.
LP Models - for more than 60 years, the LP sound does belong among the key sounds of the electric guitar. Heavy riffs and sweet solos; such are the instruments celebrated by such personalities as Jimmy Page, Slash, Zakk Wylde, Bob Marley and Billie Joe Armstrong.
Super ST Models - its shape reminds us of the past, but due to its power and versatility it surely belongs into the hands of the guitar player of today. Fast play, high output signal and uncompromising quality. The giants Steve Vai, Eddie Van Halen and Joe Satriani know how to make it sing.
Hard & Heavy Models - every fan of heavy distortions would pick an instrument from the Hard and Heavy section. These guitars are ready to give the most brutal sound, extreme flat tuning or a play with several strings, then you are used to. Names like Stephen Carpenter, TosinAbasi, Kerry King and Randy Rhoads speak for themselves.
SG Models - did someone mention AC/DC? Yes, SG guitars are an absolute necessity for every hard-rock fan. Legends like Angus Young, Tony Iommi and Frank Zappa always had or have this guitar at hand.
Semi Acoustic Models
- take note, semiacoustic guitars are not just for jazzmen. Their rich and natural tone is perfect for rock too, but do not forget the feedback. Guitarists like Joe Pass, Pat Metheny, Dave Grohl, B.B. King and Chuck Berry fell in love with this instrument.
Jaguar Jazz Models - number one choice for all rebels. The surf-rock weapons from the 60ties found their niche after the appearance of alternative guitar solos of the 90ties. Kurt Cobain, Kevin Shields, J. Mascis, and Johnny Marr. If you recognize these names than you surely know the sound of these infamous jewels of music.
PRS Models - a sound ready to fulfill all your dreams – from gentle accords to massive riffs. Guitars with this body shape come equipped with a pair of humbuckers and their magic is understood by players like Carlos Santana, Dave Navaro, Mark Tremonti and Orianthi.
What characteristics of electric guitars influence the overall sound?
Perhaps you now know what guitar model is for you, but before you dedicate yourself to the purchase,consider the individual parts of an electric guitar. Perhaps you will find something to inspire you or point you in the right direction. Every guitar model is made in several configurations. This allows you to combine aesthetics with the sound that harmonizes with you from the get go.
Electric guitar bodies and necks are usually made from so-called “tonewoods”. These woods can “listen” to your play and then transfer the sound along in various ways. Every wood transfers the sound-vibrations in a different way, this influences the final sound of the instrument. So, what are the characteristics of the various woods?
Alder– high resonance, long sustain, and a rich response in the mid-range frequency. It is most often used for bodies of ST, T and Super ST models.
Ash– has similar sound characteristics as alder and is therefore used in the same guitar models. It also brings an attractive appearance with beautiful decorations into the game.
– mid-hard, dense and highly resonant wood, known for its strong response in mid-range and bass frequencies. Most often found in LP type guitars.
– soft and relatively light wood used to make guitar bodies. Lime is known for its rich dynamics with a strong resonance in the mid-range frequency.
– a wood with similar sound characteristic as alder, but its resonance is significantly lower. Due to this is agathisused to make cheaper guitars.
Rosewood – hard wood with a high resonance, mainly used in guitar fingerboards. Rosewood allows several color variations and is known for its porous surface.
Maple– a very hard wood a build stone of many a neck, fingerboard and resonance board. Maple is famous for its great resonance in the high-rangefrequency.
– a beautiful and hard wood, soft to touch and mostly used to make fingerboards for more expensive guitars. Ebony is wonderful for bass frequencies.
Knobs and a glossy metal or plastic tab – if see this part of the guitar, then you are looking at the pickups. These small parts of the electric guitar influence the overall sound of the instrument the most, so be especially careful with your choice. Luckily there are only three main choices to pick from.
Single-Coil for a clean and clear sound
- a pickup for this type is made from magnets and a coil; it is an absolute classic. It is found on such iconic models as type ST or T and on a lot of other instruments – where it provides a typical glassy sound. Many giants like Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, David Gilmour and John Frusciante prefer the single-coil. Its frame is however susceptible to hum naturally.
Humbucker for strong riffs and drawn out solos
- A humbucker is made from two coils with opposite polarity, which ensures that their hums cancel each out. In addition to that it belongs to the strong sounds rich in bass and mid frequencies. The pitch is not as clear as with single coils, but who cares if you are playing riff of your life at the time? For guitarists Slash, Jimmy Page, Joe Pass and Steve Vai, the “humbucker” is the base for their sound.
Active pickups for intransigent distortion - if your goal is some form of Metal then you should focus on a guitar with active pickups. Active pickups are fitted with a battery-powered preamplifier thatprovides them with energy at a point where passive pickups would lose energy. Guitarist like Kirk Hammet, Jim Root, John Petrucci, Stephen Carpenter and TosinAbasi enjoy a strong response in bass and mid-range. You should enjoy it too.
How the construction influences the overall sound of the guitar. Turn the guitar around and inspect how the body and neck are connected. What do you see?
Cobs construction allows easy servicing, it is comfortable, but it loses some part of the vibrations through transport and a loss of vibrations leads to a shorter sustain. If you pick a glued neck, you gain an extremely long sustain, but in case of an incident it is going to be harder to repair it.
It is the same with a running neck construction, where the neck makes up the main part of the guitar's body. As you suspect, resonance and sustain rise into the red. However, it is also the same in case of a repair of such a neck due to an unpleasant accident. The guitar’s amot body can have a huge impact on the final sound. The body can be made from a solid piece of wood or constructed similarly to an acoustic guitar – with a hollow or semi-hollow body.
Solid guitars probably appear more frequently. Instruments with this type of body are reliable and resistant to feedback. Their sound is sharper and more vigorous, but the actual woods do not manifest to such extent in the end, as is with semi acoustic guitars.
Semi acoustic guitars are instruments that may have a completely hollow or semi-hollow body. Due to their construction, the wood has a major impact on the overall sound. As a rule, it is a softer and a more natural tone. Semi-hollow guitars are also equipped with a central block of wood, which significantly helps with feedback control, as these instruments are more likely to experience feedback.
I have achieved an understanding of electric guitars, but are strings really that important? Yes, they are! Strings are to a guitar what a transmission is to a bicycle. If you play lightly and do not need to rely on a dozen-second-long sustain, you can relax with a clear conscience at smaller thickness – such as 9 or 10.
Is there an instrument that is universally considered as a good choice?
Yes. Most guitar players in the world go through their Strat or LP period sooner or later. Or through both. Guitars of such a type are considered to be the ultimate classic, tried throughout the decades. If you pick up one of the model shapes, it is very likely that you will be satisfied.
If the longevity of the strings or your comfort is important for you, you should look for strings with a special coating, one that protects them from corrosion and contamination. Such sets are however less bright than uncoated ones.
Is just a guitar sufficient for me, or do I need anything else?
If you want to sound as if you were playing on metal strings, then yes. Every electric guitar needs an amplifier or a combination of an amplifier and a speaker - known as a combo. To connect these two essential tools you also need a cable.
The fun begins for real only after connecting a effects unit, it makes an electric guitar one of the most versatile instruments. Choose the right combo and the right effects unit and make full use of your electric guitar!