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Tutorial: A Guide To Choosing An Electric Guitar

By moosers on 03/08/2010 - (Beginner)
< All tips & tutorials

Introduction

The process of choosing the perfect electric guitar for you can definitely be a challenge!  Here is a tutorial to help you go through some of the options and features to consider when picking out a new electric guitar...

Step 1

Being that there are so many different types of electric guitars to choose from out there, a good place to start would be to identify the answers to a few basic questions.  First, what level are you on?  Is this your first guitar or are you just picking up a new ax?  Most likely if you're reading this you're probably look at your first guitar or something close to it.  Next, I would start think about what sort of price range you are looking at, as this will help you to narrow down your search quite a bit.  If you are indeed looking for your first electric guitar, I'd highly recommend not getting the cheapest thing you can find, as having a playable instrument is extremely important.  There are plenty of low budget options out there to get you started...

Step 2

Once you have thought about what you're looking for in a guitar, you can easily do some research to find which models match your needs.  Mostly likely you will have a ton of options to choose from, as these days there are a ton of electric guitar manufacturers.  A good way to do research is by looking through some online retailers like Sweetwater and Musician's Friend.  I'd recommend doing this in tandem with going to a store, either before or after.  If you do research before going to a store, you'll have some questions to ask and you'll be a bit more guided in your search.  However, it is also always a good idea to check online to see what other options you might have there that a store may not have.  Of course you can always order your guitar online, but I should say that I generally like trying out my guitar before buying it to make sure I like the feel of that particular guitar.

Step 3

Next, let's talk about what attributes to look at in particular when it comes to electric guitars.  For me, the first thing I notice is the feel of the neck and the playability of the guitar.  For me, having a great feel is essential, as I feel that the more comfortable I am playing, the better I sound overall.  I don't necessarily care if the neck is made out of one type of a wood or another, I generally just go on feel.  Just as important as the way the guitar feels is the sound of the guitar and the options you have to control your sound.  This means the pick ups of the guitar to start.  Some questions you should ask are:  How many pick ups does the guitar have?  What kind of controls do each of the pick ups have?  Also, are there any special features for the sound?

Step 4

Another major consideration to think about when purchasing an electric guitar is what type of amp you will be playing with it, and of course the general genre you will be playing with it.  If you're using a particular amp, you might want a guitar to match.  Of course this isn't going to be the case most of the time, but personally I love the Fender on Fender sound, so I bought a Fender Twin Reverb to match my Stratocaster and Jazzmaster.  While this of course shouldn't be even close to your main reasoning for choosing your guitar, it is something to at least think about.

Step 5

Lastly, the final characteristic that I look for when getting an electric guitar is the look and style the guitar.  Let's face it, it is definitely nice to have a cool looking guitar!  Even if it doesn't impact the sound or the feel, if you're playing live shows everyone wants to have something cool looking.  While for me this is usually an afterthought, it is definitely something that I consider when in the process of buying a new electric guitar...

Conclusion

The process of getting an electric guitar is of course not an exact science, and this is just my perspective!  Take it for what you will, but I hope you found it helpful...
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