Electric Guitar Buyers Guide

Determine your budget
How much are you looking to spend? Is this your first guitar or have you been playing for a while? These are the first questions you want to ask yourself. If this is your first guitar, or your new to playing guitar, you may not want to spend too much $$$. Your first guitar will get beat up and scratched no matter what – so please do yourself a favor and don’t buy your dream guitar as your first guitar. At the same time, you don’t want to buy the cheapest guitar in the store – in most cases, the cheapest model is more difficult to learn on as it doesn’t play that well.
If your completely new to playing guitar and your looking to save some money, I’d recommend trying to find a “guitar package” that comes with the amp, cables, tuner and everything else you will need all in one neat tidy package. If you have been playing for a little while, I’d recommend pairing a guitar and amp yourself - you'll get a much more unique tone but chances are it will cost a little more.
Once you’ve determined your budget, its time to start looking at electric guitars. Here are the basic differences between them:

Believe it or not the wood the guitar is made of and the construction of its body and neck have a lot to do with the way it sounds. The density of the wood used in the guitar will have a significant impact on the tone. For example, a mahogany guitar will have long sustain, heavy weight and a bold loud tone due to the dense nature of Mahogany. On the flip, An Ash guitar will have less sustain, light body weight and a thinner tone due to the less dense nature of Ash. The type of body the guitar has also plays a significant role in the tone of the guitar. There are several different body types to choose from:
1. Solid-Body: A solid-body guitar is by far the most popular electric guitar body style. It delivers a bold, loud and precise tone that can be amplified very easily. Its most popular in rock and other more aggressive and loud styles of music.
2. Semi-Hollow body: A semi-hollow guitar sometimes will have f-holes on the body. The center of the body (under the strings) is solid where the upper and lower parts of the body are hollow. This cuts down on weight and gives the guitar a very natural round sound. These hollow areas can also be chambered, or carved out with no f-holes. This is my favorite type of guitar today as I’m able to get a wide variety of tones in one single guitar. Its commonly used in blues, rock, jazz and many other styles. Most semi-hollow body guitars handle feedback pretty well, so they are fun to distort and turn up loud. 
3. Fully Hollow-body: A fully hollow-body guitar is completely hollow on the inside. Most common in Jazz, this guitar generates a very full tone and has a very natural mellow sound. These types of guitars are not suitable in most rock, high-gain, or high-volume situations. They have a tendency to feed back if the volume is too loud.

Pickups are the rectangle shaped boxes below the strings. They are responsible for transferring the sound from the strings into an electronic signal. There are two different pickup types:
1. Single coil: A single coil pickup is skinnier than a humbucker pickup. Its traditionally used on Fender Strat and Telecaster guitars. It has a very twangy thin sound that can also work great for screaming high gain solos…. think; SRV, Jimi hendrix, Mark Knofler, Bruce Springsteen and Eric Clapton. Single coil pickups naturally make a buzzing sound, so if you buy one and plug it in and it makes a buzzing sound – that’s a completely natural characteristic of single coil pickups (if this really bothers you, keep your eyes out for “noiseless single coil pickups”).
2. Humbucker: A humbucker pickup is essentially two single coil pickups side by side. Its traditionally used in Gibson guitars as well as many other brands and are commonly used in high-gain, or heavy rock applications. Because this pickup is comprised of two single coil pickups, there is no buzz generated by it hence its desire to be used in high gain and rock applications.

Bolt-on neck vs. set neck

A bolt-on neck is literally screwed to the body. Because the neck and body are two pieces, you loose a tiny bit of sustain with a bolt-on neck. A set neck is when the neck is glued into the body making them look like one piece of wood. You get much more sustain, however, keep in mind that not all guitar manufacturers give you an option. For example, as far as I know, Fender has only produced one guitar model that has a set neck – the TC-90 – all the others I’ve seen are bolt-on. The type of wood the neck is made of can also play a role in changing the sustain of your guitar. 

Rosewood Fingerboard vs. Maple Fingerboard

The type of wood of the fingerboard is produced of will play a role in your guitars tone. Rosewood tends to be a more even attack where a maple fingerboard usually has more bite and attack.


The bridge is the piece on the body of the guitar that the strings go into. There are two main categories of bridge types:
1. Stop-tail bridge: A stop-tail bridge is most common on gibson models but its a basic bridge style that holds the strings in place and allows you to make basic adjustments to keep the guitars intonation in check (that’s just how in-tune the guitar plays as you move up the neck in pitch).
2. Tremolo: A tremolo bridge is much different. A tremolo bridge moves and usually has a “whammy bar”. Think of the tremolo as the center of a rope in a tug-of-war. On one side of the rope is the strings, on the other side of the rope are spring (located inside the guitar) that perfectly counter act the pressure of the strings. What you end up with is called a floating bridge; by moving the whammy bar, it in turn moves the bridge back and forth which changes the pitch of the strings. Think Eddie Van Halen, Jeff Beck, or Jimi Hendrix.


The look of the guitar is completely on you! Find one that speaks and resonates with your creative soul. Play as many as you can. Although the color of a guitar will not effect its sound, keep this in mind; Guitar manufacturers sort all the wood they get into two categories: painted guitars and finished guitars (finished guitars are the ones where you can still see the wood grain – they are stained and finished with lacquer – not painted. Painted guitars usually get the wood that is blemished with knots and poor wood grain, where the finished guitars get the wood that is the most pristine. I’d recommend if you have the choice, get a finished guitar as the wood will be of higher quality.


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