Choosing Your First Guitar Part 3


Surprisingly, little has changed in the design of the electric guitar over the last 50 years but the quality and range now available is staggering. There is a huge amount of useful information on the internet regarding electric guitar design, history, brands and related technology. Spend a little time surfing the net and your efforts be rewarded by tons of exciting new information.

To summarise, electric guitars are usually of solid wood construction which use devices known as “pickups” to detect the vibration on the strings and send a signal to an amplifier. Whoever actually came up with the idea first is widely disputed but two manufacturers remain as benchmarks to which all others are judged: Gibson and Fender. Both companies are responsible for many innovations which have spawned millions of imitators, none of which have been able to match the brilliance of their original designs. Should you opt to buy an electric as your first instrument, it will most probably owe something, if not everything to Gibson or Fender.

Both Gibson and Fender have a budget line of instruments under the brands of Epiphone and Squire respectively. It’s possible to get a Squire starter pack for around £150 which will include everything you need to get going including a tuner, leads, strap, practice amp, plectrums and Squire Stratocaster. This is a well made, solid instrument which will last for many years and seems to come in any colour as long as it’s black. Should you require something with a bit more character, Squire have started to produce some great new models and finishes which may cost a little more but still represent great value for money. My personal recommendation is to get on ebay and search for a “Squier Affinity” for around £70. I’ve had a lot of success with this in the past and one instrument even came with a hard Fender case worth about £50! Bargain.

Epiphone guitars draw on the rich heritage of Gibson but also have something of a pedigree of their own, with some players opting for the “budget” make over it’s bigger brother. Noel Gallagher, Joe Pass, John Lee-Hooker, Paul Weller and John Lennon are among those who have been known to choose Epiphone guitars so you’d be in good company should you go down that route. Despite their image as the “cheaper” brand of Gibson, they do have some professional level instruments and even have their own Custom Shop these days. If you were to check out ebay, try typing in “Epiphone Special II” for a well made, very playable instrument at around the £70 mark.

Other brands to look out for include Yamaha Pacifica, Gretsch, Tokai, Ibanez, PRS, Musicman, Hofner and Rickenbacker.

© sjaquest

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