Many guitar players, especially students, begin their paths with an acoustic guitar. After a while, however, many decide to make the leap into electric. There are number of reasons they do this. Electrics provide a wider variety of tones and are more frequently used in some genres of music than acoustic guitars. This article will go over some of the basics of electric guitar.
The Essentials of Electric Guitar
Like their acoustic brethren, most electric guitars are made of wood. Metal strings are used almost exclusively on electric guitars. Most electrics have a much slimmer profile, slimmer necks, and lower gauge strings, making electrics easier to play than acoustics for most people. Depending on the type of electric (archtop, solid body, etc.) and the electronics, there may be quite a difference in weight. Typically, however, electrics are lighter.
As electrics do not have a “resounder” built into them like the sound hole in an acoustic, electrics use magnetic pickups. When the strings are pulled, the magnets pick up their vibration and transform them into electric signals which are then passed through a guitar cable to an amplifier.
Electric guitars have volume and tone control knobs to adjust the sound. If a guitar has multiple pickups (each one affects the sound differently), these pickups can be phased with knobs or slides on the guitar. That, in combination with the different controls on the amp, can create a virtually limitless array of tones, and this is before adding on any effects pedals or other sound-changing devices.
Starting the Change
There are thousands of electric guitars available, from basic stock models to custom models, from many different companies, with every color and design under the sun. As you are beginning with electric, it is best to stick with a base-to-intermediate model. Look for a well-made model with basic functions as your first electric guitar. Try several out and choose a model that feels and sounds good to you. Remember that in calculating the cost, you will also need an amplifier and other accessories.
Speaking of amps, it is best to start with a small-to-medium sized amp. Amps have two parts: The head, which contains all of the electronics, and the cabinet, which contains the speakers. They can be purchased separately or as a combination amp. Some people prefer getting the two separately to personalize their sound; others prefer the convenience and ease of operation that combos provide. One is not inherently better than the other, although combos tend to be less expensive.
If you are looking for a decent value for your money, you may want to consider beginner kits (even though you may not technically be a beginner). These are available from companies like Fender and Gibson and contain everything you need to get started. These packages include the guitar, the strings, a small amp, a strap, a tuner, and a carrying case. Instructional videos and/or books are also typically included. These are definitely worth considering.
Switching from acoustic to electric guitar can be very rewarding. Have fun as you experiment with the different sounds your new guitar can make.