Eight points to help find the best beginner electric guitar

Shopping → Tips & Advice

  • Author Andrew Webber
  • Published July 20, 2007
  • Word count 614

With the growing number of guitar manufacture companies entering the market with entry level guitars, the choices available when shopping for a beginner electric guitar can make finding the best one, a task of confusion and uncertainty. Already established guitar companies are forced to compete with affordable and comparable products. The internet has also added a lot to the equation, what with user reviews and the ability to research opposition products at the stroke of the keyboard, compromising on value for money is not an option. Here are some tips to help find the best beginners electric guitar.

It should be noted that it is not necessary for all these criteria to be fulfilled, but more is better.

  1. First look at well established companies that everybody knows about and have been around for a good while. Good examples of this are guitar manufacturers like Yamaha, Ibanez, Washburn, Squier etc.

  2. User reviews at places like Harmony Central are a great source of unbiased reviews to help you make a decision.

  3. Find out which woods are used on the guitar.

Decent woods on the neck include maple and mahogany, and on the body Alder, mahogany, basswood, maple, Korina or Limba, Nato (Eastern mahogany) and agathis.

When a company describes the wood on the guitar body simply as hardwood, I tend to be a bit skeptical

  1. Brand names on other parts of the guitar, for example the tuners or pickups, are generally a good sign. This usually indicates a better quality guitar. Examples of this are Grover or Gotoh machine heads (tuners), and DiMarzio or Seymour Duncan pickups. Sometimes guitar pickups will say Duncan designed or Dimarzio designed, but that is also reasonable.

  2. Sometimes when buying inexpensive guitars from an unknown source (meaning a guitar company that only makes cheap guitars and you've never heard of before), the wood used is of lower quality, albeit a reasonable kind of wood. Sometimes the wood is still a bit wet or is just not well selected. I can't say that this is always the case, but it is something to watch out for.

  3. I personally would choose an electric guitar with a hardtail bridge (Fixed bridge) as opposed to a floating tremelo. A guitarist just starting out is unlikely to become proficient in using something like a Floyd Rose tremelo, so it would be an unnecessary expense. A standard tremelo, like on a stratocaster, is fine, seeing as they are relatively inexpensive to manufacture, won't be too much of a distraction (excessive whammying whilst supposed to be practicing) and are a common feature on many low end guitars.

  4. If you're buying a startup electric guitar for someone else, try and find out who their favorite musicians are and what guitar they're playing. Guitar companies sometimes have cheaper versions of their more expensive guitars. They know how important it is to cater for the fans of their endorsing artists.

  5. The pickup arrangement I find to have the greatest tonal flexibility is the humbucker in the bridge position, with single coils in the middle and neck position. This is usually written as HSS.

Finding the best beginner electric guitar has a lot to do with what looks good to you. Aesthetics is a major factor in choosing an electric guitar, after all, part of playing the electric guitar is about how cool they look and sound, so if you wanna sound like AC/DC, you'll probably buy a guitar that looks and sounds like Angus Young. Follow the above guidelines, read reviews (preferably user reviews) and decide how much you want to spend. Their are some great beginner electric guitars priced between 100 and 250 dollars, although sometimes there are bargains below 100 dollars.

Visit my Best beginner electric guitar webpage to see my own recommendations.

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