Best Electric Guitars
Top 10 Electric Guitars
Types of Electric Guitars
Semi Hollow Body Guitars
To produce jazz, you have to use an instrument that can handle a wide variety of sounds, styles, and instrumentation. There are many different makes and models that could work for you, so you simply have to figure out what your personal preference is. Some people prefer archtop guitars because it helps to create the jazz sound that bob and post-bop players want. Solid-body guitars are also an option for those who want a lighter and smaller bodied guitar. However, it can be hard to duplicate the traditional jazz tone on a solid body guitar. Semi-hollow can be an excellent in-between model. It is not as small as the solid body, and it is not as big as the archtops. While it does have some feedback issues, it can give you the warm jazz tone that is more versatile than even archtop guitars.
7 string guitars
First introduced into the mainstream industry by Ibanez, the Universe UV7 was the first mass-produced seven-string solid-body electric guitar. It became a popular choice for people because it expanded the electric guitar’s range. Guitarists who want a more massive sound have flocked to the seven-string guitar. The additional string it adds is typically tuned to a low B but can also be added to extend the treble range. The extra string can be put in a couple of different ways. You can choose to increase the width of the fingerboard so that the added string is fretted by the left hand. The option would be to leave the fingerboard untouched and add a “floating” bass string. This string will be next to the lower-tuned strings, but not touching the fingerboard.
8 string guitars
Eight string guitars are not as standard as six- and seven-string guitars, but have gained in popularity amongst a few classical, jazz, and metal guitarists. The eight-string guitar gives players a more extensive range of sound and tones as well as non-standard tunings. The main problem with eight-string guitars is the ability of the lower strings to hold the tune. The neck of the guitar tends to become too short, with the bridge having improper intonation, or the tuning stability is not set correctly on the guitar. Therefore, some eight-string guitars will have a multi-scale design, with the bass strings having more length than the treble strings. It helps to improve the overall sound and harmonic overtones.
9 string guitars
Nine string guitars are used by players who want to change the sound or expand the range of the guitar. There are typically two variations of the nine-string guitar: the coursed strings and the extended range. Coursed strings will use three pairs of coursed strings, much like a twelve-string guitar. Many times, you will find that the three wound strings are single, and the three thin strings are then doubled to six. By doing this, you can play dry power cords on the lower three strings, while achieving a chorus sound when all the strings are played together. The other style is the extended range, which builds on the seven- and eight-string guitar design by adding either an extra lower or higher tuned string. It might even come with a multi-scale fingerboard design, and the lower tuned strings are longer than the higher-tuned strings. Doing this helps to improve the tone.
Electric Guitar FAQ
The electric guitar, as we know it, was created by George Beauchamp in 1931. His creation built on the ideas of others, but his Rickenbacker “Frying Pan” guitar was the first of its kind. It was created because people weren’t able to hear the classic guitar at large venues. Beauchamp teamed up with Adolph Rickenbacker, who helped to manufacture and sell the electric guitar. Because Beauchamp wasn’t awarded a patent for his electric guitar until 1937, many other companies produced similar creations during that period.
While it is more versatile than other guitars, playing the electric guitar is no harder than learning how to play acoustic guitar. Because of the thin and long neck, you can string together notes faster. If you want to learn how to play electric guitar, there are multiple options. You can take a class with a teacher who plays the style of guitar that you like, such as blues, rock, funk, or jazz. Or, you can choose to learn from a private teacher at music school classes or a club. Learning online through an online course or via YouTube videos is also a good option for many.
However, before you get started, make sure that you have your guitar set up properly. This is the first step you must take to ensure that you have a good learning experience. You can either do this at a music store, asking a professional musician or learning how to do it on your own. Having your guitar correctly set up is important because it impacts the intonation. When your guitar is in tune, and you play the right notes, the sound it produces will be accurate. However, if the guitar has a bad intonation, it might tune only on some of the strings. For example, the low strings might be in tune, but the higher strings might be out-of-tone. This makes it hard for new players to gain momentum, and they can become quickly discouraged.
Setting up the guitar also affects how easy it is to play the instrument. If a guitar is set too high, it might be impossible to play on because it will take an incredible amount of finger pressure to hold the frets down against the frets to play the desired note. While you will develop calluses on your fingers, which will reduce the pain that you feel, it will still be hard to play fast notes or switch up chords quickly.
As you start to learn how to play, you will realize that nearly every song has a recognizable melodic pattern. You don’t have to start by learning just guitar solos; you can also work on learning to listen to the whole song and try to recreate what you hear. If you are having trouble figuring out the melody for a song, there is likely a YouTube tutorial on it, or you can find shots of the band playing the song to try and recreate the chords they play.
Make sure to give yourself both hard and easy stuff to practice. After you have spent some time working on something particularly challenging, give yourself a break and switch it up by playing something easy. By rotating between hard and easy, it will help you grow as a guitarist without feeling discouraged. Spend time practicing the things that give you trouble to make sure you improve.
When you are practicing, try to avoid using stomp boxes. While they do make it fun and add a shredding tone and sustain forever, it also hides the mistakes you are making in technique. Playing with a pure guitar tone shows you exactly what you are doing wrong, and what you are doing right. Use the stomp box when you are playing around with friends or for just a few songs to cut loose on your own.
As you start to grow as a guitarist, make sure to spend time learning music theory. Instead of learning everything by ear, having a background in music theory can help you know what the likely chords will be. It can be especially helpful as you start to play with others. If you are working with a keyboardist, they will understand you better if you tell them you want to play a series of three specific chord names like A7, B7, then A.
Learning how to play guitar means you have to take time practicing. It requires you to build strength and endurance in your fingers, as well as build muscle memory to recall the chords and where the notes are on the guitar. All these skills take time to develop, and you might find some aspects of the guitar come more naturally to you. The more you practice, the better you will be.
Once you get your electric guitar, you will have to take a few steps before you can start to play it properly. The guitar set up will usually entail you making adjustments for action, intonation, and string buzz.
Change the guitar strings
The first step you should take is changing your guitar strings. As we mentioned above, the simple act of changing your guitar strings can completely change the sound of your guitar. Start any guitar setup with a set of new strings. If you want, you can switch up the string gauges or strings sizes. Just be aware that a different string gauge will pull on the neck and bridge differently, so you will have to change your set up of the guitar accordingly.
After you have changed the strings of your guitar, you should tune the guitar to the pitch you want before you change anything else about the electric guitar. Tune it to the standard pitch, or if you play in a different pitch, tune it to the pitch that you play in normally.
Straighten the guitar neck
Once the guitar is tuned, the next step is to straighten the guitar neck. You should do this before you do any other action or intonation adjustments because the straightness of the neck will affect every other adjustment. Therefore, the neck should always be straightened first.
To adjust the straightness of the neck, you must first tighten or loosen the truss rod. This step can be a bit tricky, so if you aren’t comfortable doing it your guitar, you should take it into the local guitar or music shop. If you do an improper truss rod adjustment, your guitar will be difficult to play, impossible to tune, and it might even break the neck.
The truss rod is a metal rod that is encased within a channel or cavity in the neck of the guitar to strengthen it. It helps to reinforce the neck while bending it back into a straight position. Almost all modern guitars have an adjustable truss rod that can be tightened or loosened using a simple tool like an Allen wrench or screwdriver. Truss rods in electric guitars come in two styles: one-way truss rods, or dual action truss rods.
Truss rods that are short single action will bend the neck in one direction when it is tightened. However, when the single action rod is loosened, it does not cause the neck to bend in the other direction. Instead, it eases up the pressure on the neck, which allows the tension from the strings to pull the neck the other way.
If your guitar has a dual action truss rod, or two-way, it will bend your guitar neck in both directions. When you tighten or loosen a two-way truss rod, it will cause the neck to bend either way.
When you adjust the truss rod, you might need truss rod wrenches, wrench set, and a notched straight edge.
The first step to changing the truss rod is to check the relief or back-bow in the neck of your electric guitar. Using a straight edge or a notched straight edge makes this much simpler to do. The easiest way to test it is to play the straight edge against the fret or fretboard and then shine a light behind it. If you can see light between gaps, then that means that your neck is not straight.
However, if you don’t have a straight edge, you can use your strings as the straight edge instead. Press the string at the first fret and then press down the string down on the fret where the body and neck merge. You will see that the string becomes a straight line. You can use a capos to keep the string down and in place as you measure the distance between the frets and the string using feeler gauges. If the neck has some relief, you will find that the sixth and seventh fret has the most distance. As you get closer to the capoed frets, the gap between the string and the frets will decrease. If you measure and the opposite is true, then that means your guitar neck has back-bow. However, if the neck is straight, you will find that the distance between the frets and string is all equal. Therefore, the neck will not have to be adjusted.
There is no correct amount of relief you should be aiming for in the neck. When adjusting the neck, aim for a slight amount of relief, but ultimately it is up to each player’s personal preference. The amount of relief will also be affected by the guitar type and the style of music the guitarist plays. Therefore, you should try to adjust your truss rod until it is flat and then play it to decide what fits you. You can add more relief slowly until your guitar neck feels comfortable to you.
The guitar neck changes with the seasons, so you will have to get used to doing the truss adjustment before too long. You will also get used to how much relief you want in the neck for more comfortable playing. That being said, the average relief at the 7th fret is roughly .007 inches.
Before you start to adjust the truss rod, make sure never to over tighten it. When it is tightened too much, a number of issues might occur, including the neck snapping, the fretboard warping, or the neck becoming twisted. All of these problems are expensive and time-consuming to fix, so it is best just to take care from the start and never over tighten the truss rod.
One precaution you might take is to loosen your rod one complete turn. Once it is released, measure your guitar neck to see what the distance between the string and fretboard is. By releasing some tension from the start, you can get an idea of how tight the rod was before you begin the adjustment process.
Adjusting the truss rod on a Fender style guitar
Where the truss rod is placed will depend on what style of guitar you have. The Fender Telecaster gives you access to the rod in the heel of the neck, which means the rods can be adjusted when the neck is still bolted to the guitar. You will first have to remove the neck partially or entirely from the rest of the body. For adjusting a Telecaster and Stratocaster truss rod, first, loosen the strings and the two neck bolts that are farthest from the headstock/peghead all the way. Loosen the two neck bolts that are nearest to the peghead about 1/3 of the ways. Taking your time, remove the guitar neck away from the body so you can see the truss rod.
Next, use a flat-head screwdriver to turn the truss rod screw right or left. Take great care that the guitar does not hit the body of the guitar, or that your screwdriver does not slip and accidentally dent your guitar.
As you tighten or loosen the screw, only move the screw 1/8 of a turn. To add neck relief, loosen the screen. To reduce neck relief and add back-bow, tighten the screw.
Having patience through this stage is vital. Once you have turned the screw one-eighth of an inch, tighten the neck bolts and tune the guitar, keeping string tension on the neck. That way, you can measure the relief and see if you need to make further adjustments. If the neck still isn’t straight, continue to tighten or loosen at just 1/8 of a turn at a time.
Adjusting the truss rod on a Gibson style guitar
The Gibson style guitars give you access in the headstock or peghead, which is easier to adjust than the Fender rods. Because of this, many guitars have started to use the Gibson style rod more frequently for convenience of the guitarists. Many guitars will even have a decorative cover to hide the access hole, so you don’t have to remove the entire back of the guitar.
To get started, tune the guitar. Just like with the Fender style guitar, you need to have tension on the neck; otherwise, you cannot see how much you are moving the neck each time you adjust it. Next, remove the rod cover using a micro-screwdriver. If needed, try to lubricate the nut.
The tools you might need will vary depending on the guitar style you have. You might need a nut driver, screwdriver, or Allen wrench to perform this adjustment. Just like we discussed with the Fender style rods, you should only turn the rod 1/8 of a turn at a time. To add neck relief, loosen the screen. To reduce neck relief and add back-bow, tighten the screw.
Once you have slightly turned the screw, retune the guitar to re-add tension in the neck. If you skip this step, you won’t be able to tell if you have accurately adjusted the neck. Repeat these steps as often as necessary and replace the truss rod cover when the neck of your guitar is straight.
As you adjust the truss rod, it is better to take your time. It can take a few minutes for the neck to settle into its new shape. You might have to tune the guitar to pitch and then let it sit for a few minutes to give it time to adjust.
Set the guitar’s string radius
Before you can set up the action and intonation, the strings must be set to the same radius as the fretboard. Most guitar bridges will allow you to adjust the string radius through screws. Depending on the guitar type you have and what bridge the electric guitar you have will dictate how you do the adjustment.
Adjust the action of the guitar
Guitar action, or string action, is the height of the strings off of the fretboard. How high or low the action is will be determined by your playing style. A guitar with higher action is harder to play, but the advantage is that it gives the strings more room to vibrate. On the other hand, a guitar with low action is easier to play, but the string won’t have as much room to vibrate. How much action is on a guitar is the difference between long sustain and one with terrible sustain. If the action is too low, it might mean that there will be string buzzing. You might have to adjust the nut and the bridge to set the action on an electric guitar.
Set the guitar’s intonation
The intonation is the last thing you should adjust because it is the relative tuning of the guitar while you play up the fretboard and is affected by how straight the neck is the action of the guitar, and the string radius. Intonation is the reason why your guitar either sounds amazing or terrible. If your guitar isn’t correctly intonated, open chords will sound in tune while chords and solos played higher up on the fretboard will sound out of tune.
Learning how to restring an electric guitar can be intimidating. However, getting rid of old strings for a brand new set can show how much your strings are affected by the tone and sustain. You should change your strings when they become rusty, gummy, or you find that you constantly have to retune your guitar. If you are about to play at a big event, you should change your strings the night before to avoid any unexpected breaking when you are on stage. Some of the tools that you might use to make changing your strings easier include strings, headstock stand, string winder, string cutter, and tuner.
Keep your guitar in a stable position through the process. Use something to support the neck of the guitar on a flat and solid surface. You can also choose to keep the neck securely against your body as you unwind the strings. To get started, release the tension on the strings and grab your string cutters. Place your hand where the neck meets the body and cut the strings between your hand and the bridge. By keeping your hand over the strings, you can reduce the chances of them springing up and poking out your eye. After the strings are cut, remove the strings from the bridge and unwind it from the tuning machine. Don’t yack or pull the guitar strings with too much strength. Try to protect the guitar as much as possible by being patient and taking your time.
After you have removed all the strings, take this opportunity to clean your guitar with a lint-free cloth. Remove all the dust, grime, and dirt from the neck of the instrument. This cleaning will help your guitar look and feel better, as well as allow you to play faster. You can also purchase a bottle of fret-cleaner at the local music store for a deeper clean.
Make sure you have purchased the right strings for your electric guitar. Most of the time, you should be using a regular weight or lite strings. Strings that are too heavy or thick for your guitar will warp or bend the neck if you don’t make the proper adjustments. Therefore, you should stick to the regular weight or lite strings until you have more experience and know more about your guitar.
Now, take the new set of strings and check to see if it includes a color guide. If it does, all you have to do is match the ball-end with the color on the string color chart provided. Most guitarists prefer to begin with the heaviest string, which is the 6th string or the top E. If you have a Gibson style guitar, thread the new string through the tailpiece under the body. If you have a non-locking Fender style guitar, you should take the new string into the tremolo cavity.
Keep the eye of the tuning machine perpendicular to the headstock and parallel to the nut. Once that is done, thread the string through the eye of the tuning machine from the inside and keep the string tight, with a bit of slack. Remember, the tuning pegs won’t be marked. Therefore, you should just replace the strings in the same pegs and order that you took them out. Most electric guitars will have the first peg for the top string, then each one down the tip of the head is for the adjacent string further down. If you are worried you won’t remember where the strings go, either look at a picture of your particular electric guitar online or take a picture beforehand of your instrument.
Put the string on both sides of the peg in order to shape it into an “S.” This is easier than it sounds, so there is no need to overthink it. Try to grab both sides of the peg in a firm grip, then turn your hand all the way to the side to crimp both edges of the string. Once you pull the string out, you will see that it has ended up in an “S” shape.
Next, wrap the end of the string around it keep it tightly in place. Grasp the end of the string and pull it under the side of the other string that is being put into the tuning post first. Once you have gone underneath, bring the end back over the top and pull it taut to the end tip of the guitar. You want to create a loop around the last bit of string you have left.
As you hold the string, you should begin to tighten it into place. Place a finger on the string a few inches before the tuning peg. Don’t press it too tightly in place; make sure it is held down securely though. Turning the tuner in a counter-clockwise fashion, slowly watch as the string winds around the peg. If you doubt how much you should tighten your strings, it is better to err on the side of looser rather than tighter. You can use a tuner to help get yourself to the right tension, but if you tighten too much at the start, you might cause them to snap.
Once you have finished the first string, you can continue the process with the rest of the strings. As soon as you remove a string, make sure to clean the fretboard because this is the best time to do it.
After you have finished all the strings, cut the ends of the strings using wire cuttings. You might want to leave 1/2” or more to allow for a deeper tune. After the strings are cut, you will want to tune the guitar frequently. The strings will get used to the tension and will slowly stretch over the next couple of days. You might have to regularly tune it when you first put the strings on to keep them in the right pitch and at the proper stretch.
Small things like temperature or humidity changes can throw the tune of your guitar off. Luckily, there are several ways to tune your guitar. A few examples include a tuning app, digital tuner, or by ear using harmonics.
The notes that make up your electric guitar are (starting from the highest, or closest string to you if you are right-handed) towards the sharpest (thinnest string) are E A D G B E.
An electric tuner is one of the easiest methods out there. It costs around 20 dollars and can be found online or at your local music store. Simply plug in the tuner, or put in the batteries, and play an open string. It will then determine if it is the current note. Look at the machine’s needle, and if it is in the middle, then it is in the current tune. If it isn’t, you will have to tighten or loosen the string to find the right sound.
To start, place the tuner’s microphone in the general area of the guitar, or plug it into your guitar through the jack. Start at the 6th string, or the low E string, and decipher what the guitar tuner says to begin to make the proper changes. If the needle is on the left, that means the string is too loose, and if it is to the right that means the string is too tight. To test out if you adequately tuned the guitar after making adjustments, wait until the sound has completely died down before vibrating the string again. That way, the electric tuner can correctly analyze the sound.
A tip for tuning your guitar is if the needle is slightly off center to the right, take the string that is out of tune between two fingers and pull it about a centimeter. This will help release a bit of the string’s tension, and you won’t have to keep using the key. It keeps the string stable but tunes it.
You can also use an online tuner. However, this method is a bit less practical, but there are two options: a tuner with audio capture, and a tuner without audio capture. For online tuners, without audio capture, it just produces a reference sound for each string of your guitar. You will have to match the tone to the online sound, which will help improve your ear.
Or, you can opt for an online tuner with audio, which records via the microphone on your computer and then analyzes the sound your electric guitar produced.
One last option you can use is an app through your smartphone. There are tons of free or paid apps out there that you can download on your smartphone. The guitar tuning app works just like an electric tuner.
Or, if you want to go old-school, you can choose to use a tuning fork or pitch pipe. Both of these produce an A note, which gives you the reference sound you need to tune your guitar.
Once you have tuned your guitar, you can start to play your guitar. Play a few chords that use E, G, B, and A chords strung together. As you begin to play, you will realize that the act of playing and that energy will gradually loosen the strings. Therefore, you shouldn’t play the guitar fast from the beginning. As you tune your electric guitar, pull the strings with your hand to help keep the instrument tuned for a longer period of time.
It is possible to play the electric guitar without an amp, and actually, it is a good idea to practice without an amp because then you can hear your mistakes clearly. However, electric guitars are too quiet if you are playing without some kind of aid like an amplifier. Instead, if you don’t want to use an amplifier, you can use headphones. Plug them into your electric guitar, and then you can play your guitar wherever you want. As you play the guitar normally, you will start to realize that you can use the volume and tone controls on your guitar as you would normally. Some headphone boxes even produce the same effects as regular amplifiers, like gain, reverb, tone controls, and processors.
You can also choose to use a home stereo or boom box. Use a special, inexpensive adapter that costs roughly $3 to connect the adapter and the guitar cord together. The adapter will have a female quarter-inch jack on one side with a male RCA or phono plug on the other side. Before you plug anything into a stereo or boom box, check to make sure that the volume control on the receiver is down as far as possible. If the volume is up, it could cause a sudden sound pop or surge in the system, which could end up damaging the speakers.
Once you plugged into the boom box or stereo, you can now turn the guitar’s volume up as far as you want. Next, turn up the volume on the receiver until you can reach a comfortable listening volume. You can also play with the tone control of the receiver’s to help control and shape your sound.
There is no easy answer to this question because the answer depends on what your budget and skill level is. The right electric guitar for you likely won’t be the right guitar for someone else, unless you have similar musical goals and talents. Here is what you should look for in an electric guitar depending on your needs.
The electric guitar will come in three different basic styles: solid body, semi hollow, and hollow body. Which body you choose will depend on the sound you want to produce. If you want loud amplification with lots of effects, you should opt for a solid body guitar. Semi hollow guitars are more suitable for an acoustic sound and can handle high amplification volumes. Hollowbody guitars are best for creating jazz sounds at lower amplification levels because they can be prone to feedback.
The wood that your electric guitar is made of will impact the tone and weight of the guitar. If your guitar is made of more expensive wood, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your guitar will produce a better sound. For example, a wood like alder is lightweight, and creates a more balanced tone, whereas a mahogany guitar carries a medium to heavy weight and produces a warm sound with great sustain. The type of wood you pick for the body of the guitar will affect the tone, so consider this carefully.
The neck of the electric guitar is another variable you should consider. There are many options you can choose from, and you should select a neck based on your hand size. Necks can come in a “C,” “V,” or “U” shape. Depending on the length of your fingers, you might want to opt for a smaller “C” if you have smaller hands or are a beginner, and a “U” shape is better for players with longer fingers.
Some guitar makers don’t label their guitars through the letter system and instead judge it by width. Therefore, you might have to choose between “wide, regular, or narrow” and the depth range of “fat, regular, thin.” This type of system helps people who are shopping online to understand better what kind of neck they will be receiving.
Set Neck vs. Bolt-on
People have preferences when it comes to the neck, and believe that a set neck (or glued-in) provides a better sustain than a bolted-on neck. Some guitars like the Fender Stratocaster are only made with a bolt-on neck, whereas the Gibson Les Paul is always made with a set neck.
Scale length is the vibrating length of the string or the distance between the nut and the bridge saddle. The tonal quality your guitar can produce and the tension of the string at each particular length are affected by the scale length.
When you are looking for an electric guitar, you will notice that most companies produce one or two scale lengths. The first is the “Gibson” scale, which is 24.75” and is what gives the Les Paul its thick bass. The second length is the “Fender” scale, at 25.5”. This length is what provides the Strat with more clear, cutting sound production. While it is less common, you will also find a third scale length of 25”, which is what is utilized by Paul Reed Smith and other brands to produce its own distinctive tone.
Intonation is the ability of notes to be played in tune as you move up the neck. Many times if the frets are too far apart, you will never be able to play the guitar in tune, making it useless to play it in a recording or performance piece. The fret distance above the 12th fret is where this problem most likely occurs.
Number of frets
During your search, you will realize that most guitars do come with 22 frets, but if you require a guitar that plays at a high register, you will need to purchase a 24-fret neck. It gives you a full octave above the 12th fret.
Luckily, electric guitars are not affected by the finish like acoustic guitars are. The guitar producers will take it into consideration when they make the instrument.
Electric guitars tend to have either a tremolo bridge or stoptail bridge. The tremolo bridge, which is also known as a whammy bar, gives you the ability to dive or bend all the strings at the same time. People who want to achieve a metal style will want to have this ability, but they should be aware it does cause the strings sometimes to get thrown out of tune.
Most guitars on the market will have two pickups, located close to the neck and to the bridge. The pickup closer to the neck helps to produce a thicker sound, while the other provides a treble “twangy” sound. On the guitar, you will see a three-position switch that gives you the ability to choose which pickup you want to use, or even to blend a sound between them. You can also find guitars that have a five-position switch, which allows you to combine the pickups together even more, and will change their phrase relationship to give you tones that sound more “glassy.” Not as common is a third or middle pickup, which provides you with even more sound blending choices.
The tuning machine is a crucial element to your electric guitar. The tuning machines are what helps the instrument to fine tune and hold pitch. You can choose between an enclosed machine head, which resists rust and airborne corrosives, or open tuning machines, which might need more care or replacement.