Electric Guitar Buyers Guide
Electric guitars are so named because in order to hear the music they make you need to plug them into an amplifier, they do not need to be plugged into the mains themselves though! Unplugged, they still make a nice sound as the strings vibrate when plucked or strummed, but it is not very loud because there are no hollow or resonating structures to amplify the sound.
The small sound that the strings make is 'picked up' by the guitar's magnetic coils (pickups) and then transmitted via wires through a cable to an amplifier which boosts the signal to drive a speaker, making the sound much louder, and electric sounding. Because the sound waves are being converted into electrical signals, you can make all kinds of interesting tones and noises by altering the electrical signal using various effects pedals, tone and volume controls.
This ability to make such an amazing array of sounds out of one instrument is why the electric guitar has become the most popular instrument in modern music, and the reason why they are so much fun to play!
So its obvious why you want to get started on your way to becoming a rock star but a lot more difficult to work out where to start! The following descriptions of different styles of guitars should help you figure out what choices you have, and also what you can get for your money. First of all think about what kind of music you would eventually like to play, and what style of guitars your favourite musicians use. There are many beginners guitar packages that are based on well known styles of guitars and these are a great way of getting started to play the music that you want.
OK, so you have an idea of what music you'd like to play? In any case you will need a guitar, a cable and an amplifier in order to make any noise at all! And there are other various bits and pieces that although are not essential, will come in very handy - such as a guitar tuner, strap or a stand.
Although there may seem to be an enormous army of different makes, models (and colours!) of guitars to choose from, after a while it becomes apparent that you can start to divide them up into a few general groups which will make it much easier to choose the one for you. The 'Big 4' styles, based on original designs from guitar makers Fender and Gibson, have been adapted and copied over the years but the basic shapes still remain as popular as ever:
Originally designed by Fender back in the early 50's, these nice, light guitars make great beginners instruments. Stratocasters have a bright twangy sound with the ability to make cool noises by bending the wammy bar, played by loads bands from The Arctic Monkeys to Iron Maiden.
Typically these have a neck that is bolted to the body, double cutaway sides (the curved pointy bits of the body), three single-coil pickups, 22 frets and a tremolo system (the wammy bar!), back in the day they we quick to produce and cheap to buy, this meant that Rock 'n' Roll was invented on the Strat!
If you're after a quality stratocaster to start with or have a limited budget, Squier Guitars are the ones to look at.
Squier is a brand owned by Fender so they are made to a high standard and have a broad range of finishes and specifications.
Check out the Standard Series, the excellent Classic Vibe Series, or the Vintage Modified Range we have.
For a Fender version, we have the popular Mexican made versions. The Standard Series start at under £400, or look at the Classic Series for some vintage look, feel and sound.
2: ) Telecaster:
Also designed in the early 50's by Fender, and of a similar construction to the Stratocaster, but with a single cutaway body, no tremolo unit and two different, single-coil pickups.
Simple design makes them very easy to get to grips with and sounds are bright and twangy, played by modern bands like Bloc Party, Snow Patrol and Franz Ferdinand. Currently enjoying a resurgence on the Indie circuit, these guitars are increasingly sought after.
Squier Guitars are a great place to look for your first Telecaster, look at the Standard Series starting at just over £200, the Classic Vibe series for retro-ness, or the uber-cool Vintage Modified versions.
For a Fender version, the Standard Series starts at around £400, or why not go for the amazing '72 Custom, as played by literally loads of modern alt rock and indie bands.
3:) Les Paul:
Designed by Gibson, Mr Les Paul of Gibson that is, again in the early 50's. This time with a set neck construction (glued in joint, as opposed to screw together), a single cutaway and a larger rounded body making these quite bulky, heavy instruments, two humbucker pickups and a raised scratchplate.
A more expensive guitar to produce than Fenders, better quality woods, components and construction methods, meant these guitar were initially more popular with well paid American Jazz musicians, but have long since been played in all sorts of popular music.
The set neck and solid body make for great sustain and full bodied tones. Humbuckers are powerful pickups and really great for playing with distortion as they make less hiss than Stratocasters. Probably the most popular guitars at the moment, favoured by rockers Slash, Kirk Hamnett and Zakk Wylde, Noel Gallagher and Eric Clapton.
We have a large range of these guitars, including the extremely popular Vintage V100 from £189, Tokai ALS48 at £249,and some great PRS takes on this style from £339.
Do not miss also the excellent new range from Tanglewood, the TSB58 Les Paul Standard copies. They play beautifully.
Set neck construction with distinctive double cutaway 'horns', two humbuckers and tone controls similar to the Les Paul. SG's are much lighter though, with slimmer bodies.
SG's have similar powerful tones as a Les Paul, but the lighter body makes them a bit easier to play. Famously played by Angus Young of AC/DC, Pete Townsend of The Who and Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath.
For some good examples of these guitars, check out the Vintage VS6 , which starts at a bargain £159, or the top quality Tokai USG35 at £199.
There are a myriad of guitars that come in-between each of these categories, such as 'Super Strats' with humbucker pickups, Les Pauls with single coils or bodies that have been pulled into strange shapes, but if you can choose which of these styles you prefer, then you are making good progress!
Guitar PackagesAll of our electric guitar kits come with cables, plectrums, amps and bags - everything you need to make a noise! There are also many other accessories that you can get to make your 'noise' better and make your first chords easier!
We would recommend you get at least a guitar tuner and an instructional book or DVD (free in some kits) to help you get started! Also keep your eyes on our guitar lessons and technical info pages which will be regularly updated.
Here is a short description of some our starter guitar packages:
Encore Blaster Packages
Featuring a Strat style, Tele style, SG or a Les Paul style guitar in a choice of colours, these are just about Guitarbitz's most popular line.
A great way to get into the electric guitar, these kits include everything you need to get playing quickly, a guitar (obviously), practice amplifier, strap, cables, stands, spare strings, guitar bag, digital guitar tuner and even an instrucional DVD.
A really good package from a brand that has been around for over 20 years and is very well known to guitarists in the UK.
Yamaha Pacifica Electric Guitar Package
The Yamaha Pacifica electric guitar is another household name when it comes to instruments for beginner guitarists, they are definitely world class instrument makers. The Pacifica is a top quality Stratocaster style guitar designed with the beginner in mind, fine for someone with a dedicated approach to learning. The kit provides a solid base to build upon with cables, gig bag, DVD and practice amp, and the quality guitar would be fine for playing through more powerful equipment when you decide to upgrade in the future.
If you have an eye for a specific guitar and would like a kit to accompany it then we have 2 accessory kits that come with all you need to plug in and play.
The Rage Kit:
Packed full of decent equipment to get the most out of your guitar, this kit includes the Peavey Rage practice amplifier with rocking overdrive settings and an amazing sound! An 'A' frame guitar stand to make your guitar the centre of attention in any room and a Ritter padded gig bag for safe travelling. The kit also includes a set of headphones, Guitarbitz guitar strap, spare strings, Qwik Tune digital tuner and a guitar cable... what more could you need?
All this for just £109, a great accompaniment to any of the electric guitars on our site.
The Spider Kit:
For those who want it all, this kit contains a selection of our finest guitar accessories. From a Planet Waves guitar strap, Ritter padded gig bag and user friendly Korg guitar tuner to the outstanding Line 6 Spider III guitar amplifier with loads of digital effects for a professional sound. We've also included a set of top quality D'Addario strings, quality headphones for quiet home practice and a Planet Waves guitar cable, so whichever guitar you choose you will have the perfect gear to go with it!