Easel, microphones, mechanics, strings, winding … Electric guitars are composed of dozens of elements sometimes unknown by the general public and even by amateur musicians. And this concerns all guitars: the Telecaster, the Stratocaster, the Cort, the Gibson, Jumbo, Yamaha …
However, these elements have a major role in the sound produced by the electric guitar!
It’s therefor necessary to choose instrument and amp properly – according to effects and sounds one desires (tremolo, vibrato, floyd, reverberation, …).
You can also create your own sound by adding pedals or by tuning the buttons on your amplifier, making it possible for you to play your favorite style (jazz, blues, rock, gypsy jazz, funk, acoustic guitar, heavy metal, pop, …).
To learn more about your favorite instrument, let’s dive into the fascinating universe of the electric guitars…
Whence comes this fine instrument you’re handling?
Before you could enjoy the sound of electric guitars, you had to invent dry guitars. That was 3500 years ago, and it was the Egyptian singer Har-Mose’s guitar.
Since then guitars have greatly developed. In 1920, engineer Lloyd Loard added reel microphones to dry guitars so to better perceive their sound during jazz orchestra concerts.
It was then in 1931 that the first guitar was marketed in the United States. The “Frying Pan” no longer had a sound box and was played sitting.
In France we had to wait the 1950s before being able to enjoy this fine invention. Since then, many brands made a name for themselves on the market. These include Fender, Gibson Les Paul, Ibanez, Epiphone and Viguier.
And just as many guitars, to play all styles. Since over time, many musicians appropriated electric guitar with their personal style. From blues to hard rock to jazz, pop and rock, the electric guitar conquered the world of music.
Many rock figures made history, of which the great interpreter of “Hey, Joe”
Although it is today forbidden to play the electric guitar in the British capital, many musicians like the Beatles began their careers there.
And impossible to miss out on musicians such as Jimi Hendrix when talking about the history of electric guitar. He is a god to guitar lovers, inventor of his own style, constantly innovating by creating new sounds.
Just as Bob Dylan, who recorded his first song accompanied by an electric guitar in 1965.
Others established themselves in this world. Such as BB King, Keith Richards, Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton and Chuck Berry.
The art of making a guitar – lute-crafting – is a discipline that requires precision and patience.
Several stages are necessary in the development of this stringed instrument.
First you build each part of the guitar: the body, neck and head. Once they’re built they must be assembled correctly and varnished – the so-called finishes.
There are many elements required for the manufacture of an electric guitar!
On the body one finds the microphones, main characteristic. A bass microphone and a sharp microphone are placed close to the easel. This enables you to fix the strings. The microphone selector lets you choose which of the two you want to use. It’s also possible to use both at once. You can adjust the volume on this guitar body. The pickup, also known as a transducer, gives electric guitars their distinctive sound.
A belt button is installed in order to hang a strap so to play standing – and get that true rocker’s attitude.
The guitar is composed of a body, a head and a neck.
The neck is composed as you know of strings, but also frets, separating each of the boxes. The larger the box the more difficult it is to place your fingers correctly. To help players to locate themselves some guitars have landmarks – small dots that most often indicate boxes 3, 5 and 7.
On the head stock you’ll find the necessary elements to tune your guitar. The small wheels are called “tuners” (composed of machine heads, tuning keys, tuning machines and pegheads). They make it possible to turn the anchors in which the strings are wedged.
A nylon nut separates the neck from the head of the guitar to stop sting vibrations.
Are you tired of always hearing the same sound coming out of your guitar?
Many tools can allow you to create new sounds or effects.
Using your guitar amp or pedals, you can reproduce the sound effects of your greatest idols. Korg, mesa boogie, reverb, modulation … up to you!
It should first be understood that the sound will vary depending on the guitar you have decided to buy. The length of the neck and the typo of wood play on the sound (mahogany, spruce, oak, maple, rosewood, abene …).
Don’t hesitate to invest in a slightly more expensive guitar but that will have a sound you prefer.
Once acquired, take care of it and change the strings regularly. Strings relax and oxidize over time The sound may then change from what you were getting at the beginning.
You will also have to choose the right amp.
It will help you obtain the sound effects desired on the guitar by moving around the boutons. Between the tremolos and the reverberation, it is up to you to judge which effects you want to add to your guitar. You can also use overdrive and distortion or saturation.
Remember to tune your strings regularly
In any case, do not choose the first amp that passes!
Prefer brands such as Marshall, Fender or Vox. This last brand was used in particular by groups like the Beatles, The Queens or The Shadow. They ensure a better output sound quality.
Sound can also be transform with small boxes: pedals are installed between your guitar and your amp using jack cables. They’re called this way because the guitarist can control them directly with his foot and does not prevent him from playing.
Two kinds of pedals are available. If you play very rarely outside your home or apartment, you can very well acquire several pedals in time.
On the other hand if you are a follower of the scene, prefer the multi-effects pedal. It is a bigger case than a simple pedal, but it will make your life easier.
You can then find effects like:
Enough to play like Jimi Hendrix, who regularly used the wah-wah and octavia effects. Or imitate the Pink Floyd and U2 groups thanks to the Delay effect.
Before you can enjoy all the effects that exist it is necessary to take the time to set a couple technical questions on how to play the electric guitar correctly.
Several methods exist and you will not be able to acquire them all at once. It is therefore necessary to start with the most common: the return trip.
This technique involves attacking all the strings of your guitar once down, then once up. It is a basic technique that can then know many variants. This is why it is essential to know it when starting guitar lessons.
You can then learn to play the legato technique or sweeping. Methods that will help you improve your game and progress.
But how do I imitate the techniques of the greatest?
At first, watch internet videos of their concerts. Once you have soak up their style it will be easier to reproduce it. Follow the requirements step by step to succeed and enjoy the many online tutorials.
However nothing’s worth developing on your own technical skills. Each musician has his own way of playing. Learn to know yourself as a musician and you will be able to find your own rhythm.
To understand how are organized different types of electric guitars, know that these are generally classified by manufacturing elements.
You can then classify the guitars according to their number of strings…
The most common is the 6 string; the strangest is the 7 string guitar or the 12 string guitar. There are even guitars with 4 strings, then called “bass guitar”. Although it is not quite the same instrument, the electric bass often goes with the guitars.
How to play an electric guitar
Electric guitars can also be classified by neck types. Some necks are longer than others.
And some guitars have two necks!
These guitars are mainly used in concerts to avoid having to change guitars during the show.
Also pay attention to the type of body you choose. Although most electric guitars have a solid soundbox, some have an empty one. This adds resonance to the electric guitar’s sound.
Up to you to judge which you prefer.
Learn more about the guitar in this breakdown.