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Electric Guitarists: here’s a handy breakdown of your favorite instrument!

By Alexis, published on 17/05/2017 Blog > Music > Guitar > A breakdown of the Electric Guitar for Musicians

Want to buy a guitar pack but not sure how to choose one?

Ibanez, Cort, Gresch, Fender, brand new or vintage style, rosewood or ebony, guitars come in a multitude of forms and materials. And whether you’re lefty or right-handed, an advanced or beginner guitar player, your choice of guitar is important for playing well and improving your skills…

The string instruments that necessitate guitar lessons include a range of categories. Whether you play the folk, acoustic, electro-acoustic, bass or even the classical guitar, be sure to pay attention to the components of these instruments.

Guitars might be classed by several manufacturing characteristics, which often vary.

Whether you choose a Stratocaster, Telecaster, Epiphone or Fender, you’ll need to decide on other elements such as the number of strings and rods and the type of pickup or bridge.

The same goes for the fact that you must choose the specific amplifiers and accessories (tuners, pedals…) to achieve certain tones and guitar effects with your finger or pick.

Are you lost?

Don’t panic, luthiers and salespeople are skilled at giving advice according to what you’d like to do with your guitar. For instance, those who plan to go on stage or play gigs will need a different guitar than those who prefer playing around a campfire with friends.

So in order to decide, you can always take inspiration from the biggest guitarists in the world. Discover which electric guitars led Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Keith Richards to success.

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Different string types on an electric guitar 

Guitars can be classed according to the number of strings they have.

The number of strings can vary from one instrument to another. The number of strings can vary from one instrument to another.

6-string guitar

Of course, most players use the classic six-string guitar that you all know!

This is composed of three low strings (the top ones) and three high strings (the last three). They represent the notes mo, la, re, sol, si and mi.

However, some guitar gods dare to play with seven strings.

Yes, you heard right.

You might know these gods as Korn or Limp Bizkit. So as you might have guessed, this string variation mainly concerns hard rock groups.

But how different could it be?

Simply put, a low string tuned to si major is added to the strings of a typical 6-string guitar. And if you can picture the sounds of hard rock, you’ll understand that this extra string is key.

The 6-string guitar is definitely a part of the history of the electric guitar!

The 12-string guitar

Another type of guitar is often used by music groups: the twelve-string guitar.

Perhaps you’ve seen one at the concert of a famous band? Or in you local luthier workshop?

On this type guitar, all the strings on the six-string guitar are doubled. This means that you’ll find two mi strings, two la strings, and so on. These guitars are particularly played in concerts as they double the sonic volume of the guitar. Folk groups notably use these guitars to achieve a warmer sound and vibration.

The 4-string guitar

The last guitar category is one with four strings. We call it a bass guitar.

The electric bass guitar was first commercialized in 1951 by Fender. They are tuned to one octave lower than classic electric guitars. Their strings are much thicker and turned in mi, la, re, sol.

There are notably used for the rhythmic base of a piece of music or to lend a deeper feel to the tune.

Different types of pickups

When you want to get an electric guitar, you’ll also need to choose the type of pickup (pickups are part of the guitar’s components, just like the strings and neck) you’d like. This is something that the classical guitarist need not worry about.

So there are 3 electric guitar types that differ in terms of their pickup.

It’s interesting to know how to vary the sounds and effects of the electric guitar.

Guitars with a simple coil pickup

Simple coil pickups were the first pickups used to create electric guitars. They’re notably found on Fender, Stratocaster and Telecaster guitars, and are essentially used for country music, blues and rock’n’roll.

Guitars vary according to the type of its pickup. Guitars vary according to the type of its pickup.

 

Guitars with a dual-coil pickup

To obtain a grander sound than with the simple coil pickups, certain musicians prefer dual-coil or “humbucking” pickups. They are often found on Gibson les Paul guitars.

This guitar pickup can be useful when one wants to play on stage.

Guitars with both simple and dual-coil pickups

To take advantage of the two types of pickups, you can even buy a guitar that combines them. You will however need a bigger budget for this purchase.

Soundbox variations

Like classical guitars, electric guitars can have different types soundboxes. Each one will give you a different tone quality.

So its important to choose the one you need…

Hollow-body guitars

When speaking of the electric guitar, we often imagine a contoured guitar chamber without interior space, in contrast to classic guitars.

However, certain electric guitars are made with a hollow cabinet.

The hollow guitar body is often used for playing blues or jazz. The hollow guitar body is often used for playing blues or jazz.

But what’s the difference?

Some musicians prefer this type of hollow cavity cabinet for the woodier sound it makes. And the sound resonates easier.

These guitars are often preferred by jazz amateurs. They feature two holes in the shape of an “f,” similar to those found on violins, placed on either side of the strings.

This is notably the case of the Gibson ES 150.

Solid-body guitars

Solid-body guitars appeared in the 1950s. They are notably appreciated by rockers, who wish to minimize and control the feedback effect on the sound.

Semi-hollow guitars

Just like for pickups, certain guitars combine the two types of soundboxes. These ones allow you to add acoustic resonance to the sound without using the high-volume feedback effect.

The wood with which this guitar is made is also an essential element in the choice of the guitar. For example, instrument made in mahogany and oak will have different acoustics.

Various types of bridges

Bridges hold an important role in the tonal accuracy of the instrument. It is located at the base of where the strings are attached, and connects their vibrations to the soundboard.

There are 2 types of bridges for the electric guitar.

1. Fixed bridges

These are the most common bridges and, as the name indicates, they are affixed to the soundbox and can’t move. Their immobility means it isn’t possible to change the pitch of the notes that you play.

The bridge holds the strings firmly in place. The bridge holds the strings firmly in place.

 

The advantage to choosing a fixed bridge is that the strings are better maintained and get untuned less easily.

2. Floating bridges

The opposite of fixed bridges can be moved with the help of a tremolo bar. Moving the bridge from up to down allows you to vary the pitch of notes.

To obtain lower notes, move the bridge towards the top. Move it to the bottom to obtain high-pitched notes. This system is especially used by hard rock and metal groups.

However, there are two categories of floating bridge.

The floating tremolo bridge is entirely removable. However, the strings keep it in place.

The dynamic vibrato bridge is attached to the cabinet of the guitar by means of a screw and springs.

Do you know the different playing techniques of the electric guitar?

Choosing a guitar in terms of its neck

When you are choosing your guitar, pay attention to the length of the neck.

This varies according to the model you choose.

The average neck length is about 63 cm. This can sometimes change by one or two centimeters.

Although you might think that this won’t change the acoustics of the guitar, guitar necks affect the tautness of the strings and thus way the instrument plays.

When the neck of a guitar is longer, the tautness of the strings increases. There will be more spaces between the frets and playing will be more animated.

As such, guitars with shorter necks, although their sound is less clear, will play easier because there is less tension in the strings. The frets are less spaced out, making it especially easier to play for those with small hands.

And for the craziest players, there is the guitar with two necks for your next gig!

This guitar has a neck with twelve strings on one side, and a neck with six strings on the other. This type of guitar allows the musician to alternate between the two types during one music piece.

This is the guitar type you have seen the Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page play!

A neck could equally have more or less sections and frets in function of its length.

4 famous electric guitars!

To help you choose your dream guitar, take a look at the most famous guitars in the music world.

The hard rock café displays the most beautiful guitars. It’s possible to find them all over the world, in every big capital. And even though some have trouble finding a buyer, others sell at thousands of dollars. Now let’s admire some of the guitars played by our music idols.

Here are four from among the most expensive on the market:

1. 1986 Stratocaster

This model was used by the famous left handed Jimi Hendrix, notably when he played at Woodstock.

The original guitar is worth 2 million dollars today. The most recent models are valued at well over $3000.

2. Washburn 22 series Hawk

This is one of the 7 guitars used by Bob Marley during his lifetime.

To give the money to a good cause, Bob Marley’s technician sold it for over one million dollars.

3. Stratocaster Hybrid (Blackie)

In 1970, Eric Clapton decided to leave his Gibson guitars for a Stratocaster. By combining the best parts of three different guitars he obtained “Blackie,” his fetish guitar.

And this altruist doesn’t hesitate to put his guitars up for auction for a worthy cause.

4. Gibson SG de 1964

This guitar model was used by the Beatles between 1966 and 1969 on the albums “Revolver” and “White Album.”

Now that you know all about the different electric guitar parts, from amps and pickguard, to the headstock and fretboard, we can focus on tuning and acoustics!

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