Electric Guitars And Buying Tips

Daves Electric Guitar - Image from Flickr

Daves Electric Guitar – Image sourced from Flickr

First things first, what is an electric guitar, and how does it work?

Here’s some interesting information I read that introduces the electric guitar nicely:

There is actually a huge amount of variation in the design and construction of an electric guitar – far more than the diverse range of classical or acoustic guitars.

The variations are in a part of the guitar which might otherwise be considered as definite and absolute – the body. For an electric guitar the body itself may be hollow, as in the style of a classical or acoustic guitar. However, it could also be only partially hollow, and in many cases is entirely solid.

This is largely because of the fact that, unlike classical or acoustic guitars which rely on the hollow body of the guitar to reverberate and resonate the sound made from the string, an electric guitar relies on an electric amplifier to achieve this same resonance and sound, and the construction of the body is largely, though not entirely, irrelevant in terms of sound quality and resonance. Without the electronic amplifier and equipment connected to the electric guitar, the instrument makes very little sound on its own, and unlike an acoustic or classic guitar, cannot be played without electric amplification.

Fitted to the electric guitar are electromagnets which pick up the vibrations of the strings as movement, and this vibration or resonance is transmitted to the amplifier as an electrical signal. It is therefore the physical resonance or vibration of the string which is used to transfer a signal, and not the sound of the string being struck at all which generates the sound, or at least, not in a direct way.

In many cases the electrical signal from the electromagnetic pickup is transmitted through a cable directly to the amplifier, but in some cases this is done through radio waves, allowing the guitar to be played without any trailing cables – particularly useful for those who tend to move about a lot while playing their music. The fact that the guitar is being played without any direct cable connection to an amplifier or sound equipment should not be confused with an acoustic or classic guitar in any way – the amplifier is still necessary as the guitar on its own would make virtually no sound at all, and certainly nothing even remotely approaching that of an acoustic guitar.

Because of the fact that the signal from the electric guitar is fed electronically to the amplifier, it is often the case that other means are used to convert or modify the signal, providing extra tones, or effects that create unique voices for the guitar. Although often we tend to think of the guitar as being solely a part of rock music or pop music, in fact it has a very healthy heritage borne through the jazz and blues scene, and has managed to hold on to its status throughout these three main genres of jazz, blues and rock.

The commercialization of the electric guitar occurred in two places at pretty much the same time, with Gibson working alongside Les Paul, at the same time as the extremely well known Leo Fender was developing the commercial model of the Fender. The physical structure of the body of an electric guitar is what is most striking as it is very different from the design of an acoustic guitar. But the fret board is also quite different too, because of the height of the strings from the body of the guitar itself. In an acoustic guitar, the strings are very close to the body, so that they run very close to the edge of the hole in the center of the body, but in an electric guitar this proximity is not required for the simple reason that the body of the guitar is not used to amplify or resonate the sound produced at all.

Because the strings are further away from the body, this allows the musician to play an electric guitar in different ways from that of an acoustic or classic guitar, with techniques such as tapping or legato pull-offs being used extensively, and slurs – otherwise known as hammer-ons as well as pitch harmonics, swells of the volume and in many cases an arm which creates a tremolo effect. It is not unusual to see foot pedals being incorporated into the performance too.

Original source of this article is Ezinearticles by Victor Epand.

Now that we’ve had a look at what an electric guitar is and how it works, let’s get some tips on buying one 🙂 so you don’t end up disappointed:

There are many factors to consider when choosing an electric guitar and each factor will impact your choice of guitars available for you to buy in the marketplace.

Perhaps one of the first things to consider is whether you are looking for a famous brand, such as a fender electric guitar, an Ibanez electric guitar, a Gibson electric guitar or you may not have a preference regarding the brand of guitar that you are looking to purchase.

You then need to consider whether or not you want an acoustic electric guitar. Once you’ve deciphered that, even if you do choose a specific guitar maker, the following list of factors will need to be considered.

Body style

There are three basic body styles of electric guitars – solid body, semi hollow/semi solid and hollow body.

Guitar Body Shape

There are various different guitar shapes to choose from and you should try a few different ones for comfort and feel before making a decision when buying your electric guitar. Shapes available include the Strat shape designed by Fender, the telecaster shape, again designed by Fender, and also the Les Paul and SG shape designed by Gibson guitars.

The Fender strat and Telecaster shape guitars are favoured by famous guitarists such as Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Bonnie Raitt. Guitar heroes such as Joe Perry and Slash prefer the Gibson Les Paul shape of guitar. Guitar shape does not have a direct effect on sound when played.

Neck

The style and type of neck for your guitar is dependent upon your hand size and what is most comfortable for you to play with. There are a variety of shapes including wide, thin and C-shaped.

Scale length

The scale length impacts the tone quality of the notes and the string tension at a particular pitch. The scale length is determined by the distance between the bridge saddle and the nut. There are most often two common scale lengths to choose from – the Gibson scale and the Fender scale. There is a third scale as well, which is used by Paul Reed Smith as well as others, which produce a different sound from the two most common scale lengths.

Intonation

Intonation is the term used to describe if the notes are in tune as you move up the neck of your guitar. Intonation can be affected by different factors such as playing style. Pressing harder on the strings can create a bow and this in time can affect guitar intonation.

Set neck/Bolt on neck

The choice between these two may leave you with less choices of the instrument you choose – Stratocaster electric guitars are bolt on necks, while the Gibson Les Paul is a set neck.

Number of frets

Most electric guitars have 22 frets, however you may choose a 24 fret as well that will give you another octave.

Finish

Even if you are looking for a pink electric guitar, the finish on the guitar doesn’t impact the sound as it does with acoustic guitars.

Bridge

The choice between tremolo bridge and stop tail bridge.

Pickups

Most electric guitars have two pick ups. A 3-position switch allows you to choose between these pick ups, while others have a 5-position switch.

Original article from here

I hope this information helps you in your guitar playing journey, and makes buying an electric guitar an easier process too.