What is the Best Electric Guitar for Me?
Great beginner guitars, solid midrange models and exclusive custom shop axes. Every kind of electric guitar can be found at Bax Music. But which electric guitar is the best choice for you? By offering an answer to the frequently asked questions on this very subject, we hope to lend you a hand in making the right decision. If you can’t see your question below, feel free to contact us.
It may sound nuts, but the first question that a beginner should ask themself is: do I love the look of this guitar? If your guitar is good looking, you’re more likely to pick it up and practice. Also, the look of a guitar is often a good sign of what it’s going to sound and feel like. Nine times out of ten, a typical metal-shaped guitar will offer the kind of playing comfort demanded of metal, and have a metal-style sound. If you have no idea of what you want, then take a look at the guitar that your favourite band or artist plays to get a better idea of the sound and look you want.
If you’re a serious beginner and want to step beyond the lowest-priced models, then it’s a good idea to dive into the following points included in this guide. But be warned: an electric guitar has a lot of parts, and every one of them has an effect on the sound and playing comfort. So, try not to get blinded by one part and see it as an entire sum!
Most guitars have 6 strings. If you’re at the very start of your guitar journey, then we recommend beginning with a 6-string model. With a 6-string, you’ll be able to get to grips with almost every playing style with more ease. If you like more heavy music, then maybe take a look at 7-string guitars (or even more strings). The advantage of a 7-string is that you get extra, much lower notes, without losing any of the higher notes so you can still follow standard playing patterns.
This is perhaps the most important question if you’re taking a step further than the lowest price class. An electric guitar detects the sound from the strings via ‘pickups’. Roughly speaking, you have the choice of single-coil and humbucker pickups, or a combination of both. Single-coils usually have a lower ‘output’ to shape a brighter, more sparkling sound and emit a slight ‘hum’, especially when playing with ‘overdrive’. A humbucker, however, has no hum. Humbuckers also have a fuller, warmer sound due to their higher output. In short: single-coils are the best option for anyone who prefers to play with a ‘clean’ tone, with a little disortion around the edges, and want to maintain a crisp sound. Humbuckers, on the other hand, offer a sweet, jazzy sound and are better at more raw guitar work.
While it’s not the most important element, the wood used for the body definitely has an influence over the total sound. Many beginner models as well some more expensive ones, have a body made of basswood. This is a lightweight wood that provides a more ‘airy’ sound. Alder results in a balanced, open sound, and while Ash is comparable, it adds more accents in the high and low-end. For a more solid feeling sound, it’s best to go for a mahogany body.
Most guitars will offer a choice of either maple or rosewood (or pau ferro, laurel and other alternatives since rosewood is now unfortunately endangered). Maple is light-coloured wood that adds clarity and brightness to the overall sound. Maple is also a little more supple in terms of playability. Rosewood (and most of its alternatives) is a dark brown wood that looks and feels a little more raw than maple. This gives the guitar a warmer and more solid tonal character. Some more expensive guitars might have an ebony fretboard. Ebony feels incredibly smooth and helps shape a more strong, defined, and clear sound.
The scale length is simply the length of the strings measured from the bridge saddle, to the string nut. Most Fender guitars (and similar models) will have a scale length of 25.5-inches. Gibson guitars (and similar models) will have a very slightly shorter scale length of 24.75-inches. There are also short-scale guitars that measure around 24-inches or even less. These can be more comfortable for people with smaller hands or shorter arms, but what’s best for you is a question of trying them out and seeing what feels best. Often, a longer scale length will sound brighter, while a shorter scale-length sounds more full.
The radius describes how ‘bulged’ or rounded the fretboard is. Vintage Fender models, for example, have a big, bulging radius of 7.25-inches. Meanwhile, if you pick out a metal guitar at random, it’s likely to have a fretboard radius of 16-inches – which means the fretboard is incredibly flat. A more rounded fretboard means that you’re unable to lower the action of the strings so much, but you can grip chords with incredible comfort. With a flat fretboard, you can set the strings extremely low, which is perfect for super-fast shred sessions.
Most of the time, this will be the choice between a fixed-bridge or a tremolo. A fixed bridge can be made of one or two parts. Some models are built so that the strings go through the body. Fixed bridges generally provide a more muscular, full sound with more ‘sustain’ (meaning that the strings vibrate for longer). If you want to add some nice vibrato effects to your playing, then you’ll want a tremolo bridge. Here, you can choose from a subtle Bigsby, a standard tremolo, or for the most extreme effects, a Floyd Rose. A tremolo system can sometimes sound less full and can be a little harder to use than a fixed bridge.
The neck can be fitted to the body in one of three ways. An advantage of a bolt-on neck is that this slightly cheaper method ensures that the neck is easier to remove. A glued neck ensures more ‘sustain’ and a fuller, more solid sound. The third method is the so called ‘neck-through-body’, or ‘neck-thru’. Here, the wood of the neck runs through the entire length of the body so that they pretty much form a single piece. This ensures optimal sound transference from the neck to the body and therefore, maximum sustain. An additional advantage of the neck-through-body construction is that it’s beautifully streamlined to provide optimal playing comfort along the entire length of the neck.
A set of good machine heads, or tuners, has a big effect on how well a guitar stays in tune. You don’t want a set of tuners that slowly unwind so that you drop out of tune. The better makers of machine heads include Gotoh, Grover, and Kluson. Some guitars are fitted with ‘locking tuners’. These remove the need to manually wind the strings around the mechanics. Instead, the string is simply inserted and then secured in place by turning a knob that’s fitted to the tuner. This makes changing strings a faster process and ensures that your guitar doesn’t fall out of tune so often.
Without an amplifier, you won’t get very far, and to connect the guitar to the amp, you’ll also need a mono jack cable with a length of 3 to 5 metres. It’s also a good idea to tune up your guitar before and during playing using a tuner. And while you’re playing, you can never have enough plectrums. If you want to play standing up, you’ll definitely need a guitar strap, and for when you’re not playing, you can use a stand to give your guitar a stable place to sit. A gig bag or case is also useful so you can take your guitar on the road.
If you want to take your sound further, then there plenty of guitar effects that you can place between your guitar and amplifier - some beginner amplifiers even come with different effects built-in. Lastly, don’t forget to give your guitar a fresh set of strings every now and then, and keep a spare pack handy just in case.
On the page for pretty much every guitar we have, you’ll find a nice list of package deals listed as you scroll down!
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