Ever since the electric guitar had its first commercial breakthrough in the 1950s, it has been the symbol of a time where amplification of instruments came into character, shaping various kinds of music we know today. Typically we know the electric guitar from the rock genre, but it is also used within other genres such as jazz, pop and it has even found a place in the constellations of classical music.Buy electric guitars on Amazon
If not the most popular, the electric guitar is undoubtedly one of the most popular musical instruments, with people both young and old throwing themselves into exploring the wonderful world of music. Many musical artists are credited to this, particularly rock/pop/blues bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Chuck Berry. They helped popularize the instrument and give it its greatest breakthrough in the 1950s and 60s.
The electric guitar was, in fact, first explored by the jazz musicians even earlier in the 1930s and 1940s. Initially, many did not believe that the electric guitar would strike success. Decca Records famously rejected The Beatles by saying: “We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”, a prediction they must have been horribly ashamed of after the electric guitar and guitar music only grew in popularity. The electric guitar is an incredibly versatile instrument, and musicians have admired and explored the instrument for decades, helping to make it what it is today: much more than just a symbol.
Top 5 Best Electric Guitars
To make choosing an electric guitar even easier, I have found some of the best guitars on the market. I believe that, if you purchase one of these instruments, you are guaranteed high quality at a low price:
Overall Winner: Best Electric Guitar Right Now
Best Electric Guitar Starter Kit
Best Beginner Electric Guitar
Best Electric Guitar Under 500
Best Electric Guitar for Small Hands
Best Hollow Body Guitar
Best Solid-Body Electric Guitar
Electric guitar history
It was discovered in the early 1900s that sound could be amplified by capturing vibrations. Sound is actually waves in the air, which either oscillate (swing back and forth) many times a second (high notes) or a few times a second (low notes) – this is called Hertz (or Hz, for short). People were fascinated by the idea of further developing it into instruments, as it allowed them to play in larger places, to larger audiences, and still be heard. This led to the invention of the pickup, which ‘picks up’ the vibrations of the guitar strings and sends out an electrical signal to an amplifier and speaker, where we hear the sound of the guitar, only louder! This is how the electric guitar was invented.
Pioneers of this modern instrument, jazz guitarists began to use the electric guitar in 1931. The reason for this was obvious: Big Bands were flourishing, especially in the United States, and, for a guitarist to be involved in such a band, they had to play as loudly as the sections of other instruments. As time went on and as new music flourished, the instruments were further developed, creating new needs and making higher demands on their guitars. Original jazz guitars, as they were made in the 1930s, are still bought and sold today and are much sought after among jazz guitarists and collectors.
Electric guitar’s anatomy and functions
1 – This is called the head of the guitar. It is up here that the strings end.
1.1 – These are called the tuning pegs or machineheads of the guitar. The end of a guitar string is “locked” with these and, by turning it to tighten or loosen the string, one can tune the guitar. Tightening a peg shortens the attached string and the note becomes higher. Alternatively, if you release it, you extend the string and the note becomes deeper.
1.2 – This is called the trussrod cover. A trussrod is a metal rod that sits inside the guitar’s neck. This reinforces the neck of the guitar so that it does not begin to bend will the pressure of the strings pulling tight. The trussrod cover itself is just a piece of plastic covering the metal rod, for cosmetic reasons.
1.3 – This is called a string guide/string tree. This is not seen on all guitars. Its function is to angle the strings, so that they do not jump out of the saddle. Therefore, these are typically seen on guitars where a kind of vibrato arm is present.
1.4 – This is called the nut. It is typically a piece of plastic or rubber (sometimes even bone!) with notches in which the strings are placed so they cannot jump around.
2 – This is called the neck. It is on this piece of wood that a guitarist’s left hand moves (right hand if you play left-handed guitars).
2.1 – This is called the fretboard. This is where you place your fingers to make the notes you want to play.
2.2 – These are called fret inlays. They help a guitarist find specific frets. These markers are typically found on frets 3, 5, 7, 9, 12, 15, 17, 19 and sometimes on 21.
2.3 – These are called the frets. A fret is a piece of metal that helps trap the string on a particular note when the string is pressed down and the length of the string is shortened.
2.4 – This is called the neck joint. This is where the neck and body of the guitar are put together. Manufacturers put them together differently. Some with glue (such Gibson, among others) and others with metal screws (such as Fender).
3 – This is called the body. This is where the “life” of the guitar comes from, where the strings resonate. In this picture it is a solid-body, but it can also be a semi-acoustic (see the section on different types of electric guitars).
3.1 – This is called the neck-pickup. This pickup picks up the sound as close to the neck as possible, hence the name. Here you often have the most round and warm sound of the guitar.
3.2 – This is called the bridge pickup. This pickup picks up the sound as close to the bridge of the guitar as possible, hence the name. Here there is typically a little more buzz and angular sound, opposed to the neck pickup.
3.3 – This is called the saddle. This is where the start of the string is attached to a guitar. There are a few different systems, depending on the manufacturer and the guitar model.
3.4 – This is called the bridge. This is where the bottom of the strings are held in place.
3.5 – These are called fine tuners. Some types of guitars with certain types of vibrato arm have fine tuners. Here you can adjust the tuning of the guitar more finely.
3.6 – This is called the whammy bar/tremolo arm. This arm lifts the saddle and thereby extends the string. This allows you to change the tone and, for example, make vibrato. It is frequently used in the metal genre, in so-called “dive bombs”; a technique that can be performed on an electric guitar.
3.7 – This is called the pickup switch. Here you can switch between the pickups and choose the one you want to hear. Some don’t have a switch as they only have one pickup. Typically, a guitar has between 1 and 3 pickups. A 3-way switch can switch between these three pickups (bridge, middle, neck), and a 5-way switch can switch between the three pickups, as well as make a combination of two pickups. The 5-way gives you the option to select: the bridge pickup on its own or the bridge and middle pickup together or the middle pickup on its own or the middle & neck pickup together or the neck pickup on its own.
3.8 – These are called volume and tone control knobs. Here you can increase the sound level (and gain level) as well as alter the tone (the character of the sound) of a guitar. If the tone is turned right down to the bottom, it becomes very deep, round and sometimes even muddy-sounding. It is up to the individual musician to play with these features and find a suitable setting for the music they play.
3.9 – This is called the jack input. Here, a jack cable (the standard guitar cable) is plugged in. The cable is connected to an amplifier (sometimes guitar pedals too), and electric signals are sent from the pickup to the amplifier, which then converts these signals into sound that can be heard.
3.10 – These are called strap pins. This is where you can connect your guitar strap. Many guitarists also use what are called straplocks, small rubber or plastic devices which prevent the strap from becoming detached from the pins. This is preferable when standing up and playing live, especially if you are a musician who likes to move around a lot while performing on stage.
4 – These are the strings. It is here, the (typically) nickel strings, where the sound of the guitar begins. They are each tuned to a particular note. Pressing a finger down on the metal bands or ‘frets’ shortens the string a certain distance and forces a different note.
4.1 – These are the lowest 3 strings on a guitar. On classical guitars called bass strings. They are often used to play the bass, but often, for example, in jazz music, they are excluded since you have a bass player. This does not mean that you cannot play on them when playing with a bass player: it is a creative process between the musicians who choose what they themselves think sounds best for the number they are playing.
4.2 – These are called the treble strings. These 3 strings are the highest on a guitar and thereby also the ones that come out most clearly in the soundscape. Typically these are the ones that are used to play solos and/or melodies.
Various types of electric guitars
Essentially, there are two types of electric guitar: semi-acoustic (hollow-body) and solid-body. The difference between these two is in how the body of the guitar is produced. A semi-acoustic electric guitar is milled so that there is a resonant space (re-sounding space) inside the guitar. A solid-body is one piece of wood with no resonant space. Typically, it is jazz guitars, first produced in the 1930s, that are semi-acoustic. An example of such an electric guitar is the Gibson ES-175 model. It is also possible to sub-categorize semi-acoustic guitars as semi-hollow and fully-hollow. The difference here is how much of the wood is milled to create resonant space. Semi-hollow electric guitars are typically also smaller than fully-hollow guitars. An example of a semi-hollow electric guitar is a Gibson ES-335 model. The aforementioned Gibson ES-175 model is fully-hollow. You can, among other things, tell this by looking at its large size. I have tested and found the best hollow body guitar which you can find on the top of the page.
Solid-body guitars are what many call “rock guitars” the first time they see them. There is no resonance space here, and therefore all the sound is in the pickup and the natural sound of the wood. Due to the lack of resonance space, you can hardly hear such an electric guitar before you amplify it. An example of such a type of guitar is the iconic rock guitar model, the Gibson Les Paul. Of course, there are floods of many other, greatly varying, manufacturers and models within both types of electric guitars. I have tested and found the best solid body guitar which you can find on the top of the page.
Other than that, there are many different variants of electric guitars. There are no wrong electric guitars. It more depends on what kind of music you play but the most important thing is to decide what kind of sound you want when choosing your electric guitar. Some jazz guitarists may play on solid-body guitars and, conversely, some rock musicians also play on semi-acoustic guitars! It is entirely up to the musician them self.
Electric guitar buying guide
Guitarists often say it is important, when choosing a guitar, whether it be electric or acoustic, to try it out first. It is, however, now possible to hear many sound examples and reviews of guitars online, and so it is not always necessary. This said, even two of the same model of guitar can be different. That’s why it’s a good idea for you go out and try the guitar you are considering buying. However, you can be sure that there are some good electric guitars, guitars I will show you in a little while; you can buy them safe in the knowledge that they will be good quality instruments.
The first thing to do is to test how the guitar feels. A guitar should feel good in your hands. Is its neck too thick? Too thin? Is the body too big? Is the look to your taste? There are many questions to ask yourself, but, most often, when you hold the right guitar in your hands, there are no doubts in your mind. Of course, there are also many models and brands on the market, and some are certainly more expensive than others. So again there is a lot to consider; what one’s needs are, and possibly what level you are on as a player.
As a beginner, a number of guitars could be perfect for you. For many, as they become better at their instrument, and as their needs from the instrument become greater, you eventually change the first guitar for a better one. This is quite normal and likewise, one’s taste and preferences can also change. So basically it is all about having a think and trying things out when it comes to finding the right guitar. The feeling and the comfort of the guitar is the most important. However, it is important to say that, as a starting point, semi-acoustic electric guitars are better for quiet music and jazz than solid-body electric guitars. But, despite that, one can deviate from the norm as one wants. It is perhaps precisely that that makes you find your own unique sound that others are captivated by.