How to choose an electric guitar
A guide to choosing your first electric guitar
What's up? :) Decided to become a part of the electric guitar world? I remember when I was choosing my first electric guitar... a lot of different pickups, pickups, software, things sticking out of it, so how do I figure it out? Well, that's what you're here for! Want to jam with your friends? Carve riffs like Angus Young? Romantically play fusion stuff with a looper? This is the place for you:) Make some tea, and we'll get to the bottom of it!
Let's start with the matrix. I'm sure you've noticed that there are a lot of different kinds of guitars. Different setups, different shapes, what goes where, what is it for? Don't worry :) Give or take, all guitars have the same structure. Head, neck, body - go. The differences start with the customization.
Electric guitar - the basics
As you can see in the "scheme" the guitar usually has 6 strings :) The standard system is EADGBe. E-L-A-Re-Solo-See-Mi. From 6 (thick) to 1 (thin). Of course, there are 7, 8, 12 and more-string guitars, and the number of alternative strings... wow. But now let's talk about the standard, okay?) Let's not get into the thick and thin.
You can argue endlessly about whether wood has a big impact on the sound of a guitar. Believe me, it does. And it's a super important part of choosing a guitar. Because if pickups, action, tremolo, etc can be changed over time, upgraded, then the wood is everything :). Only if you're going to change your guitar. I should tell straight away that if you are going to play heavy metal or any kind of heavy music, it's not so important. But if you're going to play clean sound, jazz and all that - be very careful with your choice. Here's the chart I drew:
Gibson, ESP, and many other manufacturers use mahogany as the "body" of their guitars. Some use it just for the fingerboard of the guitar to balance the tone of the guitar, to make it softer. Usually used on guitars made for blues, rock and metal. Has a soft and pleasant sound :) + great balance
Probably the most neutral kind of wood in terms of sound. Not too bright, not too warm. Perfect for those who want a more or less universal instrument. On most Fender Stratocasters and Telecasters the body is made of alder :)
Depending on the type of ash, your sound will either be very close to alder, or a little brighter. If the same fender isn't made of alder, it's probably ash :) No change. A great tone for those who want to use the instrument for all genres of music.
Although maple is not often used for guitar bodies, it can be found in guitar assemblies. For example, in a hollow or semi-hollow body. It is usually used on larger guitars. The tone is very bright. A little dirty :)
This type of wood is the hero of discussions on the Internet :) Many people consider it of low quality only because of its low cost. Of course this is not the case. Not always so. Many cool manufacturers use linden because of its lightness and brightness. This wood is usually found on guitars designed for beginners. Usually! Not always!
Though rare, corina was once heralded as the future of electric guitars. Lighter than mahogany. It is sometimes called "Super Mahogany." If you like the tone of mahogany, you will also like corina :)
The material of the body is taken care of :) Now the shape of the body. The most aesthetically pleasing thing about choosing an electric guitar! I am sure there is a shape you like already. Maybe a Les Paul, or a Strat like the classics. Or Tele? Or a more sophisticated one? Reverb? Okay, let's see:
Hollow, semi-hollow, solid body.
The three whales of electric guitar building. Bodies come in hollow, half-hollow, and full body. This already categorically affects the tone and sound of the guitar. Pay close attention :)
Hollow-body guitars (slang for cans) are mostly used by jazz and blues guitarists. It's connected with the fact, that the big hollow body inside makes a sound of an instrument very specific. A lot of low frequencies. But keep in mind, that such guitars like to wind up when you play into an amplifier. Such a ringing begins) Delphinium. In a nutshell - classic jazz :)
Half hollow guitars are already used everywhere. From blues to hard rock. Jazz players like them a lot, too. If you properly set up your amp, all the feedback problems disappear (dolphin ringing).
And solid body guitars. The most popular. They can be found everywhere. Musicians playing soft blues or death-metal fans. Have no feedback problems. Work perfectly for most styles of music :) In a nutshell, a classic among electric guitars.
Another important thing to do when choosing your next guitar :) Just like when choosing a body - it's mostly a matter of taste and personal preference. Only here the main role comes down to comfort and feel rather than tone and sound. Different materials, shapes and widths. Ideally, you have to try it out, but you can choose remotely.
Some fingerboards are thin and narrow, for those who want to play fast and sporty :) Some are wide and thick, if you have big hands and like to play complex chords comfortably.
Again, it's all personal preference. For example, some musicians, well, can't play on a narrow fingerboard :)
That's all about the shape. Now the materials :) Just the neck. Not the fingerboard.
It is a light wood. Due to its rigidity and stability it is used on thin fingerboard. You can find it on almost all fenders :)
Mahogany. Heavy and powerful :) Great for medium to thick fingerboards. On most Gibson guitars it is.
A very dark color :) Occurs rarely, but many like it because of its very beautiful texture.
Even more rare than rosewood) Very fast bass response. Perfect for 7,8 and even 9-string guitars!
A multi-layered fingerboard can give the best sound from each wood. You want a maple fingerboard, but plan to play in lower strings with thicker strings, there will be inserts like bubinga :) Ibanez are very fond of layered fingerboards.
The fingerboard linings
Maple - Bright sound with great attack :) Light. The same Fender is fond of maple fingerboard.
Rosewood is the most popular pad material. Dark! Requires some care (treat with lemon oil). Great for workhorses.
Ebony- Gibson you still like ebony :) Very dense texture. This kind of pad will last for generations of guitar players. Les Paul - Usually with ebony.
Tek Ebony - A material that has been heavily used on guitars lately. Those Gibson's are using it a lot right now. It has a dense texture and doesn't shrink. It is connected with the problems of supplying ebony and rosewood. There is a taboo on them now
There are three main types: singles, humbuckers, and p90s.
Singles are a single channel cartridge. They are loved for their bright sound. Used mostly for clean sound. Sometimes with a bit of grunge. Noisy! But there are noisles where there is no extraneous noise. But this is a vintage:) high. Just imagine how many songs recorded on singles you've heard? Thousands!
Humbuckers - These are probably the most popular pickups :) Because of their versatility and quiet operation. They are great for a wide variety of styles from blues, rock, jazz, and more.
P90 - Has a different coil arrangement than the single, although also single channel. The difference in tone is that the p90 has a more pronounced middle.
You will most likely have a pickup next to the bridge and next to the fingerboard. Sometimes there are 3 of them, bridge, middle, fingerboard. You can also use different combinations, like s-s-s (single-single-single) or s-s-h (two singles and a humbucker), on Gibsons it is usually H-H (two humbuckers).
You can switch between them, use both or just one. Whatever you like :)
The best electric guitars for beginners
To recap :) We've got a bunch of different guitar sets here. Finding the one that's right for you is a challenge. Remember that music loves experimentation! Everything except the body and the neck can be changed, upgraded and all that. You can also change the fingerboard, of course, but it's not so easy.
Ideally you want something that's affordable, reliable, versatile and easy to use. A lot of brands make guitars that are aimed at beginners, offering convenience and sound. That's the main thing :)