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What kind of electric guitar should I get?

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.

Body Style

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.

Wood

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.

Neck

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

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

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.

 

Finish

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.

 

Bridge

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.

Pickups

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.

Tuning machines

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.


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