Choosing an Electric Guitar: A Beginner’s Guide

And now the moment we have all been waiting for: the electric guitar. First, it is loud. Because it is amplified, the only noise limit is amp power. Without an amp, however, the electric guitar generates almost no sound.

The neck on the electric guitar is much thinner than on most classical and acoustic guitars, making the reach for notes and chords easier.

The electric guitar is usually played with a pick, but there has long been a practice of fingerstyle electric guitar, especially in folk and jazz. There is also a tradition of “hybrid” picking, in which the thumb and index finger hold a pick, and the other fingers pluck the strings.

Famous Electric Guitarists

There are so many! Hendrix, Clapton, and other big names are heard regularly on your local classic rock station. Among lesser-appreciated guitarists in so-called instrumental rock are Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, who specialize in that screaming guitar solo you have always dreamed of. And if you really want to “shred,” then Yngwie Malmsteem is your guy.

Another style of electric guitar is the blues. (This genre is also comfortable on acoustic guitar.). B.B. King and Stevie Ray Vaughan are standouts.

And there is jazz. Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell and many others have made the guitar a mainstay of the jazz set. Joe Pass’s chord-melody guitar solos turned the guitar into a one-man jazz band.

This just scratches the surface of great electric guitarists. If I left out your favorite, I am sorry. The point is not to catalog every great guitarist ever but to give the beginner an idea of what style of guitar may be best for him.

Pros of Starting on Electric Guitar

The disadvantages of the classical guitar are volume and vibe. But these are the advantages of the electric guitar. If you want to learn the guitar to be a badass, then start on the electric guitar. Volume won’t be an issue – as long as your amp is big enough, you can be as loud as you want!

The electric guitar’s thin neck also makes it easier to learn chords. And because a lot of electric guitar music is picked, there is no need to maintain special fingernails. There is also a wealth of electric guitar music for free online.

Cons of Starting on Electric Guitar

There are none – electric guitar RULES! (Just kidding.) The two big disadvantages of the electric guitar stem from the need for amplification.

The first is portability. This is not the guitar you will bring to the campfire, unless you roll with a full-time AV crew. Having to “plug in” and carry an amp wherever you go can get grueling.

The second is cost. Most starter amps will not be loud enough if you want to play in a group. A gig-worthy amp can easily cost as much as your guitar.

Electric Guitar Buying Tips

The electric guitar can be difficult to buy. First, there are so many styles: the Telecaster, Les Paul, Stratocaster, and even more. And those are just solid-body guitars. These are electric guitars, crafted from one solid block of wood.

There are also hollow-body and semi-hollow-body guitars. This means that the guitar has soundholes cut into it, allowing the guitar to resonate before being amplified. These guitars are pricier than solid-body, so we will focus on solid- body guitars.

The second issue is the need for an amp.

One thing you probably don’t have to worry about is reliability. Electric guitars are much hardier than acoustic and classical guitars. Of course, still ask for a warranty, but be less worried that you will need to use it.

The best way to start out on electric guitar is to buy a solid-body electric guitar along with the amp and all other accessories. There are several makes of the electric guitar “starter kit,” and we will go into them in the next section.

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