Posted by DavidMapes on Monday, November 8, 2021
It’s 2009 and the electric guitar is back in a big way. Although keyboards still have their place and acoustic guitars are still widely used, the electric guitar is centre stage once more.
The list of legends responsible for the instrument’s popularity is almost endless. Think Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, Mark Knopfler, Eddie van Halen, Ritchie Blackmore, Dave Gilmore, Ry Cooder, Dave Edmunds and Albert Lee.
So, how do you go about purchasing your first electric guitar? Where do you begin? What should you look out for and what should you avoid?
There are numerous styles of electric guitar on the market today. Before buying you need to write for me consider what style of music you will be playing. Some guitars can switch between jazz, rock and roll, blues and contemporary pop, while some guitars are built to accommodate one particular style. Think about what you want it for.
You may need to think about its construction. Electric guitars can have a separate neck or fretboard, which has been bolted onto the main body of the guitar. Alternately, the instrument may be constructed of one, solid piece of wood, a ‘set-neck’ guitar. The former construction method allows for simpler repair, as either component may be replaced if damaged. Naturally, the construction influences the sound.
Consider the neck of the guitar. It should feel comfortable in your hand. The strings should be far enough apart to allow you to finger one without touching the adjacent strings. If you have particularly fat fingers, you really need to think about this.
Most guitarists start by playing an acoustic guitar. This is not a bad idea. They’re cheaper and will allow you to learn the basics without having to fork out for amplification. It will also give you a chance to decide whether or not the guitar is really the instrument for you. Besides, it’s easy to be distracted by the many effects offered by modern guitars. An acoustic allows you to get down to basics.
When it’s time to buy an electric, take your time. Do not buy the first one you see. Don’t buy one from a catalogue. If you are buying a second hand instrument, get advice from someone who plays. Do go to a reputable music store. Ask the experts. Get someone who knows something about guitars to advise you.
Fender Electric Guitars
Back in the 1950s, Leo Fender produced some of the most important electric guitars. In many ways, they defined an era and are just as popular today. The Stratocaster and the Telecaster played a very important part in the making of music of the fifties and sixties. Mark Knopfler has done their reputation no harm. The ‘Strat’ has a bolted on neck, cutaway sides, 22 frets, three single-coil pickups and a tremolo or ‘whammy’bar, allowing for that extreme vibrato sound made so popular by Hank Marvin and the Shadows. The Telecaster has a solid body, dual pickups of two different kinds with a single cutaway.
Developed by the late guitarist and musical innovator himself, the characteristics of the instrument comprise a set neck with dual humbucker pickups and a raised scratch plate.
Founded in 1902 by Orville Gibson, the name is always to be associated with the best in acoustic and electric guitars. Played by Jimmy Page, Frank Zappa and Ace Frehley, Gibson have had a significant influence on the music of the 20th century.
The first pickup was invented in 1924 by an engineer named Lloyd Loar who was working for the Gibson Company. By using a magnet, he was able to convert the vibrations of a guitar string into electrical signals which could be amplified by way of a speaker. In 1931 Paul Barth, Adolph Rickenbacker and George Beauchamp of the Electro String Company, began producing electric guitars for the general public. They were made from cast aluminium and played on the lap. Gibson Guitars were soon to follow with their ES-150.
The creation of the first solid body electric guitar is a source of some controversy. In the 1940s, Les Paul developed what came to be known as ‘The Log’, by attaching a Gibson neck to a solid piece of wood. Merle Travis and Paul Bigsby were working along similar lines at the same time.
The first mass produced electric guitar was Leo Fender’s Broadcaster, soon to be re-named the Telecaster. The Stratocaster was to follow some four years later. Gibson and Les Paul were to come together to produce the Gibson Les Paul. It’s a name which has become synonymous with skilled craftsmanship and musical innovation.
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