BUYING YOUR FIRST ELECTRIC GUITAR – TOM BYROM

With the abundance of electric guitars out there -coming in thousands of shapes, sizes and colours – the task of finding your first electric guitar can be a daunting experience. In my experience the most important factors come down to compromising aesthetics, practicality and playability.

LOOKS

When choosing your first guitar it’s essential to find an instrument that you think looks great, because if you don’t like the look of it, you’re not going to pick it up and play. So, ideally you want something that inspires you to play it every time you see it.

On the other hand if you love the look of a guitar, but when you pick it up the neck doesn’t fit your hand, then you have a problem. The best thing to do is browse for guitars you like the look of and then actually try them out in store because EVERY guitar plays and feels different.

When you practice guitar for the most part you’ll probably be sitting down, so buying a guitar that is comfortable to your body and hands is essential.

SOUND

A good place to start is finding a well-known/famous guitarist who’s sound you like and see what kind of guitar they’re playing, this should help get you in the ball park and start your journey.

It’s also important to consider the pick-up configurations. If you’re unaware, pick-ups are wire coils around magnets situated on the body of the guitar under the strings. These ‘pickup’ the sound from the strings when played and are the main contributor to how an electric guitar sounds when it is amplified.

The most popular types are single coils and humbucking pickups:

  • Single coils give a thinner, brighter sound in general (Found on most Stratocasters, great for all types of music and very versatile).
  • Humbuckers generally give a beefier, warmer and bigger sound (Commonly found on Les Pauls. Great for rock, metal and sound great when driven)

Both types of pickups can sound great performing any type of music but it will be easier to craft a tone that you’re happy with if you start with pickups that are suited to your style of playing.

AMPLIFIER

It can be argued that an electric guitar is only as good as the amplifier (which is sometimes true) but fortunately the amplifiers available in today’s market are excellent value.

If you’re a beginner it may be worth looking at an amplifier that has modelling functions so that you can experiment with different sounds and tones which can expand your learning of guitar sounds and the capabilities of your instrument.

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