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Electric Guitar for Beginners: The Ultimate Buying Guide

Thursday June 16, 2022. 10:47 PM , from Sweetwater inSync
Electric Guitar for Beginners: The Ultimate Buying Guide
So, you’ve decided to buy your first electric guitar! Congratulations! You’re embarking on an endlessly satisfying journey filled with music, fun, and creativity. As you’re shopping for your first guitar, you might be asking yourself, “Where do I even begin?” We hear you. Guitar players at Sweetwater have been in your exact position: overwhelmed by the many available options. That’s why we’ve created this ultimate electric guitar buying guide for beginners. We will walk you step-by-step through all the things you should consider when deciding on your first electric guitar.

This guide will cover how to select an electric guitar according to how it looks, how it feels, and how it sounds. We’ll also discuss the other equipment you’ll need to get started on the right foot, such as amps, pedals, and accessories. Additionally, we’ve packed this guide with helpful resources, including articles and videos created by Sweetwater’s team of musicians, to provide in-depth information on the covered topics.

Throughout the guide, you’ll also see links to connect to our knowledgeable Sweetwater Sales Engineers via phone. If you find yourself confused, then click one of the “Contact a Sweetwater Sales Engineer” buttons on the page. They will be happy to answer any questions and to provide personalized guidance on selecting an electric guitar you’re guaranteed to love.

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Finding Your Inspiration

When someone tells us they’re looking to purchase their first electric guitar, we like to ask, “What’s motivating you to play?” And the answers are unsurprisingly varied.

Some folks want to play electric guitar because they desire to write their own songs, and they envision them accompanied by electric rather than acoustic guitar or piano. Other folks are drawn to the electric guitar because they were blown away by a particular artist or style, and they dream of taking the stage in a similar vein and ripping an epic, crowd-wowing solo. And some folks don’t just want to emulate their heroes; they also want to learn how to play their best guitar licks note for note for home enjoyment or as a member of a cover band.

The happy truth is there’s no wrong reason to get started on the electric guitar. But having an idea of the guitarist you want to be can help you decide which guitar you choose as your first. Certain electric guitars will be better for playing rhythm, while others excel at leads. Plus, each guitar has a distinct sound that may fit certain styles of music better than others. Finally, you shouldn’t take the appearance of a guitar for granted since you’ll want to buy an instrument that you enjoy looking at as much as you like playing.

Choosing an Electric Guitar Body by Shape

Let’s face it. When it comes to guitars, looks count! So, let’s talk about the first thing you’ll notice when shopping for electric guitars: the body shape.

The very first electric guitars were essentially electrified versions of acoustic guitars. They had hollow bodies and were equipped with pickups to amplify their sound through a speaker. In the 1950s, Leo Fender of Fender guitars released a solidbody alternative, the Fender Broadcaster (later renamed the Telecaster due to copyright issues). The Fender Broadcaster was basically a carved slab of wood loaded with electronics with a neck attached. Solidbody guitars were easier to manufacture and repair, and they had a completely different tone from hollowbody guitars.

Over the years, hollowbody and semi-hollowbody guitars have remained relatively unchanged. But solidbody guitars have taken on numerous shapes that reflect specific genres and styles. Classic models like the Fender Telecaster, the Fender Stratocaster, the Gibson Les Paul, and the Gibson SG endure and are closely associated with classic rock, R&B, and pop styles. In the 1970s and ’80s, guitar makers became more adventurous, producing guitars with pointy edges, exaggerated curves, and even built-in handles!

Now, body shape isn’t just all about looks. It also can impact how comfortable a guitar is to play. We often recommend considering a guitar with a more basic shape when you first start playing. Older body styles, like the Stratocaster, Telecaster, and Les Paul, were designed to work for any player. The more adventurous shapes were designed to appeal to players with specific preferences. You likely won’t know your preferences yet when you’re just starting, but you’ll soon learn.

In our experience, different people are naturally attracted to different guitar shapes, and there’s no point in fighting that impulse. If you like a classic body shape, then go for it! If your heart yearns for pointy edges and a nuclear-green paint job, then that’s the guitar for you!

Sweetwater Shopping Tip: You can sort guitars by body shape on Sweetwater’s web store by using our convenient filters.

Choosing the Best Guitar Body Style for YouYour guitar’s body shape definitely makes a visual statement and will affect how you play it. So, which guitar body style is best for you?

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