Knowing the different types of electric guitars will help you choosing the one that fits your style and taste. Feeling lost? Reading the article will surely give you some hints about your future instrument.
As you may know, electric guitars need an amplifier and a speaker to make them work. Combine these two with a great effects pedal and you’re ready to rock.
1. Solid-body type.
What’s a solid body instrument? If you know how an acoustic guitar looks like, you’re probably aware that its body is hollow, and sometimes semi-hollow. A solid-body instrument does not have any sound box. It only relies on amplification.
But let’s go into more details and history. We owe electric guitars mainly to two guys who met in the late 1920’s: Adolph Rickenbacker and Georges Beauchamps. Together they made the first Hawaiian electric guitar which inspired later on Gibson and other renown companies.
Are you a beginner? If so, it’s not necessary to pick an expensive electric guitar, unless you really want to. Take a look at these different models and recommendations (but don’t take them for granted, you’re the only one who can decide):
- Fender Stratocaster, Telecaster, or Ibanez Jem: they are a good choice if you want to play everything. They also offer a clearer sound than Gibson guitars (or Epiphone).
- Gibson / Epiphone Flying V or Explorer: want to get heavy? These babies should satisfy your desire for distorting sounds.
- Gibson / Epiphone SG or Les Paul: if you’ve got the blues in your skin, they’re made for you. But it’ also great for rock, or heavy music. Their tone is usually warmer than Fenders.
- Fender Jazzmaster: despite its name, it’s more adapted to surf rock genre.
- Fender Jaguar: this one is really loved by punk guitarists, but it’s also good for alternative and indie rock.
There you go, you have a quick preview of what you can get. There are tons of guitars on the market and it’s just a small glimpse of what you can find. If you intend to buy a guitar, go to your favorite shop and try them.
2. Semi-Acoustic type.
This is often a misconception made by a lot of people – and I know it can be confusing. Semi-acoustic guitars are not the same as Acoustic Electric ones. The latter can be played with or without an amplifier. But the first one cannot be played without.
The reason why it’s called semi-acoustic is that their body is semi-hollow, which gives them a warmer and clean sound without adding too much effects. They’re ideal for funk, jazz, and blues.
Again, when you just start playing the guitar, no need to plan to buy a luxurious model. However, you’ll probably need to put a little more money than for a solid-body type. Epiphone are in general good value for money.
As for amplifiers… Acoustic-electric ones are your best bet. Don’t attempt to get too heavy with this kind of guitar, it’s not made for metal or hard-rock. Clean effects are perfect though a little bit of distortion can do wonders on some guitars. Unlike acoustic-electric guitars, don’t try to amplify them with a microphone.
One last piece of advice if you’re hesitating. Go to a music shop and ask to try a semi-acoustic guitar. It’s always better to test a product before buying.
3. More or less?
You’re probably aware that before the six-string instrument we know, the guitar tended to have four or five strings. And sometimes twelve. The tendency evolved but you can still find variations of what is now the standard guitar. Here’s a sneak preview of what you can buy:
- Twelve-string electric guitar: the strings are actually doubled. The first three courses are generally tuned in unison. For the other three, there’s a difference of one octave in a pair of two strings. An ideal guitar for strumming. But it also works for finger and plectrum picking.
- Unitar: only one string for this instrument. And it’s also VERY rare. Here’s a song played on a unitar.
- Seven-string electric guitar: before being fully electric, the seven-string guitar was acoustic, then semi-electric. The additional string is often a low-pitched one and tuned in B (jazz guitarists tend to prefer A). Sometimes, the seventh string is also a high-pitched one which is great for shredding.
- 8, 9 and ten-string electric guitar: a bit rarer than their seven-string brother, these instruments usually have a large fretboard which can overwhelming, if you’re a beginner. But nice for soloing. Metal (sometimes jazz too) is recommended for this type of guitar.
4. Going further…
Now is the time to choose your guitar. Trying a few of them in a music shop will help you make your decision. Also, there are plenty of videos online you can watch even though hearing the instrument live with your own gear will certainly be better.
As for acoustic guitars, you can also decide to pick a guitar similar to what your favorite musician is playing. Some models are maybe too expensive for you, but remember that there are some copies out there that sound nearly as great and are available at a fair price.
If you’re not sure about choosing an electric guitar right now, you can give a shot to the following article: