Buying An Electric Guitar
We meet once again,
Buying an electric guitar is typically a very exciting endeavor. Few things can be as thrilling as going on a hunt for a model of an instrument that you love. However, with a seemingly unlimited number of models from so many makers, the excitement can quickly turn to anxiety. There’s endless advice about what you should do and what you should avoid when buying an electric guitar. Ask ten people for advice, and there’s a good chance that you will get ten different opinions on what to get.
The reason for this is simple: choosing a guitar is a very personal matter. If there was only one piece of advice, I wish all players could heed and take to heart, it’s this: get a guitar that you connect with.
When it comes to buying a guitar, there is absolutely nothing more powerful and important than that. That being said, it would be a bit unpractical to try out one thousand guitars and then see which one you connected with the most. The good news is that there are ways in which you can narrow the options based on your own personal preferences.
Even if you are a total beginner and have never played a note on a guitar, chances are you gravitate towards a certain player or players. And that is a great place to start.
Where do I start? With your very own guitar hero…
For instance, is Slash your favorite guitar player? Then you might want to narrow the field by looking mostly at Les Pauls. If money is not a problem (and it usually is), you might go straight to the source and get a Gibson Les Paul Classic. If you do not have a few thousand dollars to spare, an Epiphone Les Paul can be a great choice as well. There’s even a signature Slash Epiphone Les Paul model for under a thousand dollars (as there is a Gibson counterpart, that is much more expensive).
Or perhaps your favorite player is John Mayer, in which case you might want to narrow the field to Stratocasters, whether it be his new signature Silver Sky PRS, or a Fender.
Maybe you are a big AC/DC fan, and thus an Angus Young admirer. Then you should probably be looking at SG style guitars, starting with the original Gibson and informing yourself about the dozens, more likely hundreds of other makers of that particular model, starting with Epiphone (which is a company that happens to be owned by Gibson).
Think about the style you want to play, and more
Perhaps you have several guitar players that you really like, in which case you can narrow the field by style. Do you want to play jazz? Then a hollow-body or semi-hollow body style guitar might be the place to start looking for that new instrument. As always, there is something for every budget, from coveted models like the Gibson L5, Gibson ES-175, and ES-335, too much more affordable models like the Artcore series by Ibanez.
But how about wood, electronics, neck style, construction type, etc.? Those are all important considerations that will typically preoccupy more seasoned players. However, many of those considerations also depend on the style and player you want to emulate, which puts us back at square one. For example, if you want to play country music, an option for a Floyd Rose III bridge might not be an appropriate choice for you.
More choices, more opinions
As said in the beginning, there are a plethora of different opinions when it comes to buying a guitar and what components it should have. For instance, a big topic of discussion is the wood used, especially the wood used for the fretboard. It seems like about half the guitarists of the world prefer maple, while the other half prefer mahogany.
There are several other options but those two are without a question the most popular. And even though they are different, you will find great players within the same music style that has a clear preference for one or another and beyond. Again, it’s a question of what you like and what speaks to you.
The ugly truth: your budget
We mentioned it briefly at the top, but here it comes in full swing: regardless of who your favorite player is and what style you want to play, you will have to adjust to your budget. There’s no way around this unless you happen to win the lottery before you go buy your electric guitar. Budget is one of the main considerations when buying an electric guitar (or buying anything at all for that matter).
However, there is some fantastic news. Many guitar manufacturers produce lower priced models that feature the same constructions as their more expensive counterparts but using more affordable components and labor. For instance, Fender has its Squire line, PRS has its SE line and many Gibsons have an Epiphone version of their models.
But it’s not just these three: dozens of manufacturers produce models based on Stratocasters, Les Pauls, Telecasters, SGs, Jaguars, hollow-bodies, semi-hollow bodies, etc. And these manufacturers and models run the gamut from expensive and very high quality (like the Classic T model from Suhr guitars, which is modeled after a Telecaster) to the Peavey Predator (an inexpensive but effective guitar modeled after the Stratocaster).
A great piece of advice is to take advantage of all the tools you have at your disposal and inform yourself as much as you can about guitars, especially with the styles you play in mind. It is free to browse the Internet for very expensive guitars and read about what makes them special, and also find out about options that are more affordable but dependable.
Wrapping it all up
At the end of the day, we go back to the beginning. If you feel a guitar is right for you, then you are right, even if you picked a model not typically associated with the style you play. Whomever your idol is, whatever your style and budget are… the ultimate test is: do you connect with that guitar?
That’s it for this week. Stay tuned and…