So, you want to play guitar and you want it to be loud. We like that about you. While a lot of beginning guitar players choose an acoustic guitar as their first instrument, there’s something to be said for plugging in and rocking out from the get-go. We’re going to help you get started.
In our last article we talked about best acoustic guitars for beginners. Now, let’s look at electric guitars and talk about the things you want to look for when you’re in the market to rock.
First Things First: The Difference Between Acoustic and Electric Guitars
Sure, acoustic and electric guitars tend to look different, but the key difference is the way that they produce sound. Basically, an acoustic guitar depends on the top of the guitar (where the sound hole is), to pick up the vibrations of the stings and resonate to create the sound.
An electric guitar, on the other hand, relies on electronics and amplification to produce its sound. Electric guitar bodies have electromagnetic pickups that convert string vibration into electric signals. These electric signals then pass through an external amplifier, which produces the sound.
Of course, there are other differences that may sway you in one direction or another, so we suggest looking at both options and seeing what is right for you.
Next Step: Do Your Homework
- Set your budget and think about your goals.
- Look at online manufacturer and retail sites and check out the reviews. Odds are good that other beginners have done some of your research for you and have shared their experiences. Use it.
- Go to a local music store and try out the guitars that interested you online.
Options, Options and More Options
When it comes to electric guitars, there are great options in every price range. Finding a guitar that is comfortable to play and that sounds good are really the two main things you should be looking for. Remember, as you are learning to play the guitar, you are also training your ear, so you want to make sure that your guitar holds its tuning and feels good to play.
That being said, there are several things that will come up when you are looking at electric guitars that may seem confusing, so let’s break them down so you can go in with the knowledge to make the best choice for you:
Solid Body vs. Hollow Body Guitars: Simply put, solid body electric guitars are probably what you are thinking of when you picture an electric guitar, since it is the most common type. Solid body guitars are exactly that: a solid wood body that has the electronics mounted on the guitar to create the sound. A Hollow Body Guitar has all of the characteristics of an acoustic guitar (sound hole, hollowed out body), but it is fitted with electronics that allow its sound to be amplified while retaining its “acoustic sound”.
Wood Type: The wood that is used in manufacturing guitars varies and can be anything from rosewood to mahogany to ash. The type of wood used not only affects the sound of the guitar, but also the price. We suggest that, for your first guitar, you focus less on what it’s made of and more on how it sounds. Of course, if you are looking to make a serious investment, you’ll want to consider the materials that are used, but if your goal is to simply start playing (and learning) go for the sound that you like and don’t sweat the details as much.
Pickups: Pickups are the tone-producing hardware on your guitar. The type of pickup you choose will impact the sound greatly, so be sure to consider what (or who) you would like to sound like when you are selecting your hardware. Odds are that, for your first guitar, you’ll be choosing between a single-coil pickup or a humbucker pickup. Here’s the difference: The single coil pickup creates more of a “twangy” sound and are suitable for any player, but is often favored by fans of blues-rock, country and roots-rock. Humbuckers are simply double coil pickups. They have a fatter, warmer tone and are often favored by hard rock, metal players and jazzers.
Some Final Tips
Remember that buying your first guitar should be fun. Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed by the options that are out there. Your mission is to find the best guitar for you. Once you’ve learned the basics, you can start thinking about all of the cool bells and whistles that can help you evolve your sound as your skills advance. Again, comfort and sound quality are your two most important factors for your first electric guitar… nail those two things and you can’t make a wrong choice.
Once you’ve purchased your guitar, you’re going to be ready to start shredding right away. Online lessons are a great way to get rocking immediately. Join us on JamPlay.com for access to guitar lessons for all ages and skills levels. Learn to play like your favorite musicians, or join us for a live group session with one of our awesome instructors. It’s the fastest way to go from wanting to play to actually doing it!
Learning anything new can be a challenge, but those challenges can be fun and rewarding, especially if you set yourself up to succeed. The right guitar and the right guidance are keys to your success so find what is right for you and go for it. We look forward to seeing you rocking out soon!