Looking for Regional Information?

Electric Guitar buying guide

By Charles Hopkins Published 07/6/2006 | Music

Want to know the secret how to keep your audience enthralled through out your performance? It is simple, invest in a good quality electric guitar. Wondering why? Electric guitar is the instrument that adds a new height to your songs as it perfectly complements the loud bass of orchestra extensively used in many popular styles of Western music. No matter whether you are a jazz enthusiast or a die hard fan of classical music, the distinctive sound quality of electric guitar breathes life to your stage performance before a large audience.

You should equip yourself with the various aspects of electric guitar before buying one. Let us begin by describing how electric guitar works.

In electric guitars, electronic pickups are used to transform the vibrations created by steel strings into electrical current. The vibrations are altered electrically to achieve various tonal effects. This sound comes through an amplifier to render an acoustic character or an electrical character to the sound. With the distortion pedals, the sound coming from the amplifier can again be altered.

Electric guitars are typically associated with rock 'n' roll style of music and the quality of an electric guitar is a combined function of its body, tone woods, number of strings, and also the electronic components.

Body
So far as the body of the electric guitar is concerned, you can find mainly two types of bodies: Solid-body electric guitars and Hollow-body electric guitars.

The first type is made either of a solid piece of wood or a combination of different pieces of wood. These are more commonly available varieties of electric guitars and they are ideal accompaniment for rock, blues, heavy metal, or country tunes. The sound of this guitar is emitted through the amplifier.

The second type is just like an acoustic guitar only with the addition of pickups. The acoustic sound of Hollow body electric guitars are emitted through an amplifier for an enhanced effect. If you are playing some softer melodies, you may not need much amplification with an electric guitar. For playing Jazz music, hollow body electric guitar is ideal.

Apart from these two types you can also find another kind of electric guitars called Semi-hollow body electric guitars. They produce a combination of electronic and acoustic sound. They differ from the hollow body type by the addition of a block of wood on the top which allows you to play at higher volume than hollow-body electric guitars.

Tone wood
The type of wood used in the guitar is an important determinant of the quality of sound. On the quality of wood depend the tone and sustenance of the sound emitting from the instrument. Mahogany and maple produce best quality solid body electric guitars. If you want a tone that is deep and rich you will need a Mahogany body, while maple wood gives you a more energetic sound. The electric guitars with Ash wood body have a ringing quality in its sound. If you are a musician with versatility you must go for a guitar made with Alder wood body, renowned for producing multiple tonal varieties to complement several musical styles.

So far as the construction of hollow body electric guitars is concerned, the best quality models are made with the combination of solid spruce on the tops with solid maple on the backs and sides. 

Electric guitar strings
If you are beginner, then go for an electric guitar with six strings. The brands like Ibanez Schecter, and ESP all come with a 7-string arrangement.

If you have considerably advanced  in your musical skills, a 12-string guitar will be the perfect choice for you. 12-string electric guitars produce a doubled effect, that creates an inllusion of playing two guitars at a time. These guitars are ideal for providing back up to the folk or folk-rock genre of music.

If you choose a double-neck electric guitar then you will be able to switch alternatively from 6 or12 strings. But with a one neck electric guitar you have to choose between either 6 strings, or 12 guitar strings.

Electronics
'Pick ups' are an important component of electric guitars. Located beneath the strings and between the neck and bridge, they collect vibrations from the strings and send them to the amplifier in forms of electric signals. Check for two types of pick ups: single-coil pickups and double coil or humbucker pickups.

Single-coil guitar pickups
If you want to create an atmosphere of magnificence, then single-coil pickups are the best solution. You get better hum and feedback from a single coil guitar.

Humbuckers
To get  more powerful impact, go for Humbucker pick ups that are good at reducing  produce a more powerful, "fatter" sound than single-coil pickups. The quiet pickup reduces superfluous noises.

Remember that most of the electric guitars are provided with two or three pickups. You can also opt for such combinations as three single-coils and two humbuckers or two single-coils and one humbucker. This increases the range as well as the sustenance of thw tone.

A last piece of information; In addition to the classic brands of Fender and Gibson, the brands like Carvin, Schecter, Charvel, Tokai, Ibanez, Dean, Gretsch, Epiphone, Yamaha, and Washburn also have curved a niche for themselves.