Philadelphia Guitar Lessons: How to Select an Electric Guitar Part 1
Perhaps you’ve been playing that good ol’ acoustic guitar of yours for some time. The frets are getting worn and the idea of an electric guitar is beginning to appear quite sexy. Maybe it’s just time, like Dylan, to go electric.
In either case or the myriad of circumstances which may prompt you, the purchase of an electric guitar is an exciting and may be a somewhat overwhelming experience, especially the first time.
If you walk into any guitar store you’ll be greeted with rows and rows of stunning electric guitars. With countless options to choose from, you may have uncertainty on finding the right guitar for you. When buying a guitar, especially for a beginning musician, it’s important to get one that is properly sized, sounds great, and matches up to the player’s music tastes. Usually one is looking for something which suits their visual needs (looks cool) and/or is similar to that of their favorite players (a Strat for Hendrix fans or Les Paul for Jimmy Page enthusiasts). Choosing an electric guitar that addresses these preferences ensures that new players will stay motivated as they progress their technique.
As a guitar teacher, I stress the importance of staying motivated to my students. If buying that brand new electric guitar is a motivating factor that will keep you excited about guitar lessons, then let’s learn how to go about purchasing the guitar that will work for you. Guitars vary in shape, size, quality and of course these affect the sound of the instrument just like acoustic guitars. It’s important to keep this in mind as it will assist you in finding the best instrument to suit your needs.
What’s Your Scale?
The scale length influences both the tonal quality of the notes and the tension of the string at any particular pitch. This length refers to the vibrating length of the string, which is the length from the base of the bridge along the fret board and neck of the guitar. Most modern guitars employ one of two commonly used scale lengths below, and is something players should try before purchasing. This ensures that the guitar is the right size and comfortable.
The most common or well known types of electric guitars have been made by the Fender (established 1946) and Gibson (established 1902) guitar companies. Although certainly not the end all be all of electric guitar manufacturers, these two popular companies have more or less set the tone and standard for many of the electric guitars we see today.
- The common scale length for a Fender guitar is 25 1/2” scale. These instruments create a bright, rich and ringing tone with a definite and clear low or bottom end.
- The common scale length for a Gibson is 24 3/4” scale. The shorter scale enables an easier feel with lower tension producing a fatter, warm and often darker or thicker tone.
Who Are Your Buying For?
If you are buying for someone else, keep in mind the age of the player, the skill level, and the use of the guitar. For those just beginning, it’s important to get a guitar that is properly sized and is comfortable to play. Additionally if he or she is going to be traveling frequently, a durable guitar is important as well. For more experienced players, it’s important to find the right guitar that caters to their playing style. Will they be performing live or playing in a studio? These factors should narrow your search considerably.
What is Your Budget?
Good guitars come in a wide variety of prices, which is a big factor for many aspiring players. Fortunately, the quality construction of guitars has dramatically improved over the years and you can find a relatively decent solid body or semi-hollow electric for $400 on up. When buying a first guitar – especially for younger players – many are hesitant to spend too much money without knowing if they will stick with it. While this is a practical move, a quality guitar that stays in tune and is easy to play will also keep the player motivated.
Having these concepts in mind as you search for your fantasy electric guitar will make the road smoother and give you greater confidence as you shop. I’ll cover some of the various Fender guitars in my next post which will, I hope it will be helpful to you should be Fender-minded.
Good luck and good playing!
David Joel is a highly qualified guitar teacher in Philadelphia. If you are thinking about taking guitar lessons, you will learn from the best.
Contact David for availability now.
Telephone: (215) 831-8640