Buying your first Electric Guitar.
When you decide to take up the guitar, the choices available can be quite daunting. Well, fear not, this Sounds Great Music guide to buying your first electric guitar is here to help!
Basic things to know about on an electric guitar…
There are many different body shapes available but the most popular are the Les Paul style and the Stratocaster style. These are the guitars that have pretty much been around since the beginning. There are other more exotic and unusual shapes, but the Strat and Les Paul are a good place to start.
The pickups take the sound produced by the strings and transfer it to the amp. The type of pickup usually defines the basic sound produced by the guitar. The two most popular types are Humbuckers and Single Coils. There are other pickups available but these two types are by far the most widely used.
These pickups produce a loud fat rock sound, they tend to be darker and more chunky sounding. They are great for warm clean tones too. Famous Humbucker player include Slash, Jimmy Page, Tony Iommi, Paul Kossoff, Zakk Wylde and Eddie Van Halen.
The Single Coil pickups are slightly thinner sounding and brighter, they are great for blues and clean sparkly tones. They can also sound great with distortion and produce a biting tone that cuts through a band mix! Famous Single Coil users… Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Ritchie Blackmore, Yngwie Malmsteen.
Many guitars will allow you to switch between pickups (a lot of guitars will have a mix of Humbuckers and Single Coils for versatility). There is usually a pickup selector switch, some kind of Tone and Volume control (sometimes one each for each pickup). These controls allow you to switch between sounds and vary the tones produced from the guitar. A good player can get a huge variety of sounds one one pickup just by altering the volume control!
You will also need some kind of amplification otherwise you are going to be pretty quiet (and that’s no fun at all!!). A small practice amp is usually fine for a beginner and anything up to 15 watts should be sufficient. many guitarists insist on valve amps as they sound the best, although these can be very loud and need the volume to sound good. Also small valve amps tend to be pretty basic, so sticking to a small transistor amp will give you more features and better sounds at lower volumes.
So that’s the basics covered, we will now have a look at a few popular models of guitars and amps to get you started….
Yamaha Pacifica 112V
A super versatile award winning guitar, the Pacifica has been around for a long time and is still a favourite for beginners and advanced players alike. It features a Humbucker and two Single Coils for great versatility, a great Tremolo and a five way pickup selector switch. A great all rounder and a very playable instrument.
A great alternative to the Yamaha Pacifica, the G210 is a very similar guitar with HSS (Hum/Single/Single) pickup configuration, tremolo and classic shape. Again, a great instrument for all styles of music.
A modern take on the Strat, this guitar features two humbuckers and a single coil. This guitar will give you fantastic rock tones and the middle single coil allows for some great blues and clean tones. A modern fast neck, tremolo and low action make this a great choice for the rock player.
Line 6 Spider IV 15
This little monster is bristling with cool sounds. It features 4 amp models, from sparkling clean to super heavy Metal. There are 6 effects to choose from including Tremolo, Chorus, Delay and Reverb. A built in tuner will keep everything sounding sweet! We are big fans of the Spider IV 15 and can give you all the tips to get some great sounds!
This 20 watt amp has 17 high quality amp models including 57 Twin and 60s Thrift. 24 onboard effects will keep you busy while the USB connectivity allows for user programming and audio recording. The Fender Mustang comes with free Fender Fuse software for even more online features! A great little amp for the more adventurous and those looking at the possiblilities of home recording.
Hopefully this brief guide will point you in the right direction but there is no substitute for coming down to our store and trying some gear out for yourself. We are all gear mad here and ready to help you on the road to musical success! Heres a quick glossary of terms you might come across when looking for your new guitar..
Axe : Guitar
Action: Height of the guitar strings from the fretboard. Too high and it’s hard to play, too low results in buzzing.
Capo : A device that attaches to the neck of the guitar allowing the player to play open chords in different keys
Effects Pedal: A floor effect that is stepped on to turn on/off. Enhances the guitarists sound. Also known as Stomp Box
Feel or Feeling: Mysterious technique that allows you to sound awesome, hard to master. e.g. “That guy has so much feel” or “That guy sucks, it’s all technique and no feel!”
Fret: Small metal strip that goes across the fretboard.
Fretboard: Flat part of the neck that the strings are pressed against
Headstock: Top of the neck of the guitar where the Machine Heads live
Licks: Small phrases of solos, e.g. “That guy wails, his licks are awesome dude!”
Machine Heads: Pegs that the stings are attached to on the headstock, used for tuning the guitar.
Multi FX Unit: A collection of great guitar effects all in one unit
Nut: Part of the neck where the fretboard begins.
Pick: Small piece of plastic used to strike the strings. Also known as Plectrum, Plucker and Thingy. A staple diet of your vacuum cleaner.
Pickups: Magnetic device that are positioned under the strings on the body of the guitar. Converts string vibration into sound (in a roundabout way!)
Pick Guard: Plastic ‘shield’ that protects the guitar from wear and tear imposed on it by the user.
Rack: A collection of various and usually very expensive effects units. Very popular in the 80s. The Edge from U2 is famous for the size of his rack.
Riff: Small section of a song made up of a catchy guitar part. Tony Iommi is the riff god.
Rig: Complete guitar setup including guitar, amps and effects
Solid State Amp: An amp that uses transistors rather than valves. More affordable and lighter than a valve amp.
Set up: Guitars need love, a set-up is like a service for a guitar. It makes sure all parts are working in harmony with each other.
Shred: Style of guitar playing where as many notes as possible are played very fast. Google Yngwie Malmsteen.
Stomp Box: See effects pedal.
String Gauge: Thickness of a guitar string, packs of strings are usually denoted by the gauge of the thinnest string. For example, “Dude, these 9s are all floppy, I need a pack of 12s for my extreme form of metal playing”
String winder: Helps to wind the strings onto the machine heads, simple but invaluable
Tapping: Two handed technique where the picking hand taps the strings on the fretboard allowing for some mind blowing licks. Eddie was a master of this.
Tube or Valve Amp: Amplifier that uses old school Valves, more expensive and louder than Solid State amps.
Tuner: Device to help with tuning the guitar
Tremolo : Bridge system designed to allow the player to raise or lower the pitch of the strings (also known as Whammy Bar, Wang Bar, Vibrato Bar