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April 2013--Choosing the Right Electric Guitar

Friday, April 12, 2013
There it is - the “wall o’ guitars”. But which of these beauties is the right one for you? Picking out a new guitar is exciting but also a bit intimidating. There are lots of choices between different types of guitars, body shapes, pickups, and a host of other important factors.

Here are some practical tips, from a player’s perspective, on making the best choice when choosing the right electric guitar for you.

Types of Electric Guitars - Figuring Out What You Like.

First, you need to figure out what you need in a guitar as well as what your preferences are. Here are some important things to consider:

1) Solid Body Guitars:
• Great for Rock and Country playing.
• Body is made out of one solid block of wood.
• Examples would be Gibson SG, Les Paul, Flying V, Melody Maker.
• Solid body guitars feel very solid in your hands and have great sustain.

2) Semi-Hollow Body Guitars:
• Great for Blues or Jazz playing.
• Body has a solid block of wood in the center but has open cavities on either side.
• Examples would be the Gibson ES series like the ES335.
• Lighter in weight to most solid-body guitars, and produce a warm, rich tone.

3) Guitar Size:
• Choose a guitar that fits your body size.
• If you’re a smaller person, a jumbo anything is going to feel bulky and awkward.
• Try out many sizes of instruments to determine which body size works for you.

4) Guitar Weight:
• Weight is a big factor on how comfortable a guitar will be when playing standing.
• Strap the guitar on to feel how heavy it is.
• Does it hurt your shoulders or does it feel balanced and comfortable?

5) The Feel of the Neck:
• Pay close attention to the feel and curve of the neck in your hands.
• Necks vary in shape and size.
• The shape of the neck has an important role in preventing hand fatigue when playing.

Choosing the Right Electric Guitar – Time to Make the Choice!

Here are a few tips for choosing the right guitar for you.

1. Try out as many guitars as possible. Develop preferences in sound, size, and body style. Think about what music or artists you like the sound of and what instruments they play.

2. Listen to someone else play the guitar. Step back and focus, from a listener’s perspective, on how the guitar sounds. Listen carefully to the tone and how the guitar sounds with different effects.

3. Check out all of the electronics. Take a moment and test everything. Make sure each element is functioning and you understand what its doing - pickups, volume knobs, tone knobs, and selector switches.

4. Listen to the guitar through an amp that is similar to yours. Amps have a huge impact on the sound. At the music store, choose an amp that matches what you have at home so that you can focus solely on the sound of the guitar.

5. Does the guitar sound good to you with no effects? Run the guitar clean to the amp with no effects. The unaffected, clean sound of the guitar is its true tone.

6. Choose a guitar that feels good to you as you play. Comfort is important! If you don’t feel comfortable with an instrument then you will be less likely to play it and make music with it.

Here are some final words of advice.

- Don’t buy a guitar because a friend or a salesman says “Dude, this is the best guitar ever”. (The only opinion that matters is yours.)

- Don’t buy a guitar because of how many ads you’ve seen for it in guitar magazines.

Choose a guitar because it speaks to you - because it inspires you to make music. You and your guitar are in for a long-term relationship. This will be the guitar you will be playing for years to come - on good days and bad.

So, the next time you find yourself looking up at that “wall of guitars”, don’t look for the most expensive guitar, or the prettiest guitar - look for YOUR guitar. It could be up on that wall. You just need to find it!

Keep Learning!
- Steve
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