Want to buy a guitar pack but not sure how to choose one?
Ibanez, Cort, Gresch, Fender, brand new or vintage style, rosewood or ebony, guitars come in a multitude of forms and materials. And whether you’re lefty or right-handed, an advanced or beginner guitar player, your choice of guitar is important for playing well and improving your skills…
The string instruments that necessitate guitar lessons include a range of categories. Whether you play the folk, acoustic, electro-acoustic, bass or even the classical guitar, be sure to pay attention to the components of these instruments - and to their playability, the word guitarists use to describe whether their instruments are, simply, easy to play.
Guitars might be classed by several manufacturing characteristics, which often vary.
Whether you choose a famous guitar brand like a Fender Stratocaster or Telecaster, or an Epiphone Les Paul, you’ll need to decide on other elements such as the number of strings and rods and the type of pickup or bridge.
The same goes for the fact that you must choose the specific amplifiers and accessories (tuners, pedals…) to achieve certain tones and guitar effects with your finger or pick.
Are you lost?
Don’t panic, luthiers and salespeople are skilled at giving advice according to what you’d like to do with your guitar. For instance, those who plan to go on stage or play gigs will need a different guitar - and different bits of equipment, from a gig bag to a concert-ready guitar amplifier - than those who prefer playing around a campfire with friends.
So in order to decide, you can always take inspiration from the biggest guitarists in the world. Discover which electric guitars led Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Keith Richards to success.
The Different String Types on an Electric Guitar.
Guitars can be classed according to the number of guitar strings they have. However, generally speaking, electric guitars, like acoustic guitars, all have steel strings - with the nylon string generally being reserved for the classical guitar.
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Of course, most players use the classic six-string guitar that you all know!
This is composed of three low strings (the top ones) and three high strings (the last three). They conventionally represent the notes E, A, D, G, B and E. However, there are many other different tunings that more experimental bands use - although, you won't need to worry about these too much if you are one of those guitar players who wants to just play pop songs, or if you are beginner electric guitar player.
Some good brands to get are Elixir, Ernie Ball - with their famous 'Slinky' range - and D'Addario.
However, some guitar gods dare to play with seven strings.
Yes, you heard right.
You might know these gods as Korn or Limp Bizkit. So as you might have guessed, this string variation mainly concerns hard rock groups, heavy metal, and experimental rock music - and is only worth thinking about if you are an advanced player.
But how different could it be?
Simply put, a low string tuned to B is added to the strings of a typical 6-string guitar. And if you can picture the sounds of hard rock, you’ll understand that this extra string is key.
The 6-string guitar is definitely a part of the history of the electric guitar, as is the seven string too!
The 12-string guitar
Another type of guitar is often used by music groups: the twelve-string guitar.
Perhaps you’ve seen one at the concert of a famous band? Or in your local luthier workshop or guitar shop?
On this type guitar, all the strings on the six-string guitar are doubled. This means that you’ll find two E strings, two A strings, and so on. These guitars are particularly played in concerts as they double the sonic volume of the guitar. Folk groups notably use these guitars to achieve a warmer, louder, and more resonant sound.
The 4-string guitar
The last guitar category is one with four strings. We call it a bass guitar.
The electric bass guitar was first commercialized in 1951 by Fender. They are tuned to one octave lower than classic electric guitars. Their strings are much thicker and turned in E, A, D, G.
There are notably used for the rhythmic base of a piece of music or to lend a deeper feel to the tune.
Curious as to which guitar is best for you? A teacher giving guitar lessons London or in another UK city can help!
Different Types of Pickups
When you want to get an electric guitar, you’ll also need to choose the type of pickup (pickups are part of the guitar’s components, just like the strings and neck) you’d like. This is something that the classical guitarist need not worry about.
So there are 3 electric guitar types that differ in terms of their pickup.
These pick ups vary the sound and effects of the guitar, when plugged into a guitar amp. Yet, it is a bit more complex than this too. Because the guitar pickups' sound depends upon where they are placed on the body and neck of the guitar. Usually one is placed near the bridge - this is called the bridge pickup - one near the neck, and one in the middle. The one by the bridge provides a much brighter sound than the one at the neck.
You can flick between these pickups using pickup selector or toggle switch, which can either be three way or five way.
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Guitars with a single coil pickup
Single coil pickups were the first pickups used to create electric guitars. They’re notably found on Fender, Stratocaster and Telecaster guitars, and are essentially used for country music, blues and rock’n’roll.
Whilst they provide an incredibly rich and versatile sound - with good treble and mid ranges - they have always been plagued with a hum. Hence, the next type of pick up...
Guitars with a dual-coil pickup
To obtain a grander sound than with the single coil pickups, certain musicians prefer dual-coil or “humbucking” pickups. These 'buck' the hum of the single coils - hence the name humbucker - by using two coils together.
They are often found on Gibson Les Paul guitars - as well as on guitars of heavy metal guitarists.
Whilst any guitar for beginners will probably come with the single coils, this guitar pickup can be useful for anyone who wants to play on stage.
Guitars with both single and dual-coil pickups
To take advantage of the two types of pickups, you can even buy a guitar that combines them. You will however need a bigger budget for this purchase. They provide a greater versatility of sound, meaning that you can play rock guitar, jazz guitar, and crisp rhythm guitar chords on the same instrument.
What about other guitar components that might change the sound of your playing?
Like classical guitars, electric guitars can have different types soundboxes. Each one will give you a different tone quality.
So its important to choose the one you need so you can innovate your own sound!
When speaking of the electric guitar, we often imagine a contoured guitar chamber without interior space, in contrast to classic guitars. Imagine the shape of the classic acoustic electric or acoustic instruments, with the body shape like a dreadnought, parlour, or jumbo.
However, certain electrics are made with a hollow cabinet too - with their own soundhole.
But what’s the difference?
Some musicians prefer this type of hollow cavity cabinet for the woodier sound it makes. And the sound resonates easier - meaning that you can play it unplugged.
These guitars are often preferred by jazz guitarists. They feature two holes in the shape of an “f,” similar to those found on violins, placed on either side of the strings.
This is notably the case of the Gibson ES 150.
Solid-body guitars appeared in the 1950s. They are notably appreciated by rockers, who wish to minimize and control the feedback effect on the sound.
This is your classic guitar sound and shape, with the pronounced cutaway, the selector switch, and the volume knobs. Everything from the Yamaha Pacifica to the Squier by Fender to the Gibson USA and the Fender Telecaster all are solid body electric guitars.
Just like for pickups, certain guitars combine the two types of soundboxes. These ones allow you to add acoustic resonance to the sound without using the high-volume feedback effect.
The wood with which this guitar is made is also an essential element in the choice of the guitar. For example, instrument made in mahogany and oak will have different acoustics. As we said before, this is really important to know when you are looking through different guitar brands to find your first guitar, a new guitar, or the best guitar for you.
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Various Types of Bridges
Bridges hold an important role in the tonal accuracy of the instrument. It is located at the base of where the strings are attached, and connects their vibrations to the soundboard. This attaches the electric guitar strings, which come across the fingerboard, to the guitar's body.
There are two main types of bridges for the electric guitar.
1. Fixed bridges
These are the most common bridges and, as the name indicates, they are affixed to the soundbox and can’t move. Their immobility means it isn’t possible to change the pitch of the notes that you play.
The advantage to choosing a fixed bridge is that the strings are better maintained and get untuned less easily. If you are not interested in massive solos or the extended techniques of the electric guitar, then this is the best option for you.
2. Floating bridges
The opposite of fixed bridges - floating bridges - can be moved with the help of a tremolo bar or whammy bar. Moving the bridge from up to down allows you to vary the pitch of notes.
To obtain lower notes, move the bridge towards the top. Move it to the bottom to obtain high-pitched notes. This system is especially used by hard rock and metal groups.
However, there are two categories of floating bridge.
The floating tremolo bridge is entirely removable. However, the strings keep it in place.
The dynamic vibrato bridge is attached to the cabinet of the guitar by means of a screw and springs.
This is a great addition to your guitar if you are interested in exploring the different effects your guitar can have. However, if you are looking for your first electric guitar, don't bother with this. Because, whilst the best electric guitar will be professionally made, cheaper versions of the floating bridge can be a bit flimsy. So, watch out if you are buying a beginner guitar package.
Do you know the different playing techniques of the electric guitar?
Choosing a Guitar in Terms of its Neck
When you are choosing your guitar, pay attention to the length of the neck. This varies according to the model you choose.
The average neck length is about 63 cm. This can sometimes change by one or two centimeters.
Although you might think that this won’t change the acoustics of the guitar, guitar necks affect the tautness of the strings and thus the way the instrument plays.
When the neck of a guitar is longer, the tautness of the strings increases. There will be more spaces between the frets and playing will be more animated.
As such, guitars with shorter necks, although their sound is less clear, will play easier because there is less tension in the strings. The frets are less spaced out, making it especially easier to play for those with small hands.
Another thing to consider is the tonewood of the neck. This is an important term that we have explored elsewhere. It refers to the different solid wood that guitars can be made from.
For example, you might want to consider a maple neck - a particularly common tonewood choice - or a spruce neck.
Bolt On Neck or Set Neck
There are two types of ways that the neck of the guitar is attached to the body - called either a 'set' neck or a 'bolt on' neck joint. One is bolted into the body's wood, and the other is set with glue.
And for the craziest players, there is the guitar with two necks for your next gig! This, as you might expect, is called a double neck guitar. If you are feeling confident, try out a double neck in the shop before you buy it.
This guitar has a neck with twelve strings on one side, and a neck with six strings on the other. This type of guitar allows the musician to alternate between the two types during one music piece.
This is the guitar type you have seen the Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page play!
A neck could equally have more or less sections and frets in function of its length.
Four Famous Electric Guitars!
To help you choose your dream guitar, take a look at the most famous guitars in the music world.
The hard rock café displays the most beautiful guitars. It’s possible to find them all over the world, in every big capital. And even though some have trouble finding a buyer, others sell at thousands of dollars. Now let’s admire some of the guitars played by our music idols - from the standard Stratocaster to a Gibson custom.
These are not for those of you looking for the cheapest electric guitar pack. Here are four from among the most expensive guitar models on the market:
1. 1986 Stratocaster
This model was used by the famous left handed Jimi Hendrix, notably when he played at Woodstock. It's the right handed full size guitar that Hendrix flipped upside down - giving it its iconic inverted body style.
The original guitar is worth 2 million dollars today. The most recent models are valued at well over $3000.
2. Washburn 22 series Hawk
This is one of the 7 guitars used by Bob Marley during his lifetime.
To give the money to a good cause, Bob Marley’s technician sold it for over one million dollars.
3. Stratocaster Hybrid (Blackie)
In 1970, Eric Clapton decided to leave his Gibson guitars for a Stratocaster. By combining the best parts of three different guitars he obtained “Blackie,” his fetish guitar.
And this altruist doesn’t hesitate to put his guitars up for auction for a worthy cause.
4. Gibson SG de 1964
This guitar model was used by the Beatles between 1966 and 1969 on the albums “Revolver” and “White Album.”
Now that you know all about the different electric guitar parts, from amps and pickguard, to the headstock and fretboard, we can focus on tuning and acoustics!
For electric guitar lovers, or those fascinated by different guitar models, find out more about the components, sounds and other aspects of the electric guitar here.