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Electric Guitars

Whether your buying your first Electric or looking for your "Holy Grail" sound, you might well find the answer here.

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Electric Guitars Y'know, of all the instruments in all the world (sounds vaguely familiar that), my favorite has to be the Electric Guitar. I've been fascinated with them since I was a kid, and in the beginning I practiced from after school 'til about 4 in the morning on the sly! Please don't tell me folks ;-).

My first electric guitar was a Fender Stratocaster, and I still use one as my main guitar and will keep this one for life, but there are loads of other brilliant options available to players of many styles.

If you're a Newbie guitar player, well welcome first of all, but a tip would be, to pick an instrument that suits not only your budget of course, but also bear in mind the style of music you want to play and where you think it might go.

Many players rush in and buy a guitar because it looks well or is fluorescent magenta, but quicky grow out of it as they discover it's limited sound capabilties. Some of these issues are addressed here.

So without further ado - here we go to the wonderful world of Electric Guitars and beyond... 

Fender Electric Guitars  - Strat + Telecaster The Fender Stratocaster and the Telecaster. Two well deserved legendary Electric Guitars and Industry Standards. There are many different models available, so it's worth spending the time to find one that will suit and serve you well for a while.

The basic designs haven't changed for around 50 years, so they done somethin' right I reckon. The man behind it all - Mr Leo Fender. With the help of a few other famous names in the biz, such as Don Randall, George Fullerton and Freddy Tavares, they developed electric guitars that were to rock the world and still do! Electric guitars? ... what about Fender amplifiers n' pedals... my first pedal was a Fender Blender fuzz pedal - buzzzz - yes indeed the Fender tone is legendary (maybe not the Blender tho' ;)..

Well worth considering in your quest for that elusive magic tone and apart from looking great and being extremely versatile, they sound cool too - which is many a players top priority.

Electric Guitars/The Fender Stratocaster

Here's my little workhouse and Numero Uno...

Fender Stratocaster width=250 height=375

Fender - Early Days

It's generally agreed that the first Strat was released for sale way back in 1954, and it blew the electric guitar playing world away! The featured vibrato or whammy bar as it's known, was a totally new and fresh design that worked (and still does) fantastically well.

Up until then, the most popular vibrato unit of the day on Electric Guitars, was the "Bigsby". Originally designed to emulate Steel Guitar sounds, the Strat changed all that.

The Strats original pickups are sometimes prone to picking up hum, but there's a few precautions you can take against this such as shielding and so on. Many of the new Strat models have Lace Sensor pickups and far superior wiring standards than their earlier cousins. They don't suffer from this Strat inherent trait, and sometimes problem.

... I'll tidy that Studio up soon - promise ;-).

It's a bit of a hybrid to say the least, with OBL pickups, extra switching and customized parts.

Here's what it sounds like Strat Demo

Stratocaster Tips

  • Features Tip The Stratocaster is an extremely versatile instrument.
  • Beginner's Gigging Tip Make sure you have a String Winder with you when your gigging. If your unlucky enough to break a string during the set, this will cut down the replacement time by a serious amount.
  • Famous Stratocaster Players Jimi Hendrix, Mark Knopfler, David Gilmour, Stevie Ray Vaughn... Browse our Recommendations
  • Beginner's Electric Guitar Buying Tip If your really stuck for cash, get yourself a cheap Strat and upgrade the pickups. Amplify it thru your audio set-up, but watch that you don't blow something by driving the speakers and system too much. Keep the volume down - it's an effective if limited alternative.
  • Features Tip 5-way pickup selector switch, Newer models have hum-free Lace Sensor Pickups and improved Vibrato Bar tuning.
  • Beginner's Guitar Tip If you're a beginner, just starting off or looking to upgrade, you can try a good starter kit that contains all the essential gear you'll need like an Amp, Strap, Tutor and so on. This saves you a lot of time and hassle, but make sure to look carefully at what's included in the pack - some packs are lacking.
  • Guitar/Stratocaster Buying Tips and Details - More Info
  • Beginners Playing Tip Chopping and changing guitars is all very well, but in the beginning it can distract you from learning and sharpening the oul playing skills. Each guitar has a certain feel to it, and you get used to it's playability, that's why if you keep swopping around as a beginner it can slow you down a bit. Hey I know guitar buying is addictive too, but I think it helps to keep the above in mind ;-).


Electric Guitars/Fender Telecaster

Here's another Electric Guitar "design hasn't changed in 50 odd years" winner from Fender, this time it's the popular Telecaster. Originally called the Broadcaster, they changed the name as TV took over the world. An excellent little workhorse of a guitar that always delivers on sound at a very good entry level and beyond price.

This guitar was out even before the Strat so it's got a long pedigree.

When it comes to Electric Guitars World nuts and bolts time, the Telecaster is not quite as versatile as the Strat, but it has it's own unique sound. Many Tele players swear by 'em, and they are worth checking out.

Telecaster Tips

  • Features Tip The Telecaster is a great little workhorse, with unique sounds.
  • Vintage Guitar Tip Keep your eye out for well priced pre-CBS Telecasters - they don't have a line running thru the back of the neck.
  • Vintage Guitars Tip If your interested in vintage electric guitars and gear, you might be interested in this downloadable fre-ebook, that tells you all about the Auction Biz on the 'Net -
  • Did U Know? The Telecaster was originally known as the Broadcaster.
  • Guitar/Telecaster Tips and Details - More Info
  • Features Tip Compared to many other models it's an inexpensive but pro design and model, a good starter if you're a bit strapped for cash.

I had a lovely blonde Tele for a year or so and I liked it a lot. Very popular amongst the top country music players like Albert Lee, The Hellecasters, and the late great Danny Gatton. To hear this design at it's best you must check these guys out if your not familiar, you will be simply amazed at their jaw-dropping (is the term for it) Tele techniques and sounds... These players are a terrific learning source for this extremely hot "Chicken' Pickin' Style - have a quick browse thru our hot Country players for my faves and maybe a few ideas.

Electric Guitars - String Tips

  • String Tips I like 9's on a Strat and something heavier on an Electric Guitar with no Whammy Bar. You can experiment with gauges yourself, find one you like and stick to it, especially on a guitar with an old style hand-vibrato on it, ok whammy-bar.
  • Slide Tips If you intend to play slide on Electric Guitars and Acoustics, use heavy gauge for the best tone. I'll be doing a Slide special very soon, it's in the process...
  • Tone Tips In general the heavier the string the heavier the tone, but they are harder to play and control. Try bending a G on a heavy set and you'll see what I mean.
  • Sound Tips The late great Stevie Ray Vaughn used 13's (and his skills of course) on a Strat to achieve legendary sounds. When he was rehearsing he had to tune the strings down because his fingers were so abused - just a small example of dedication from a very dedicated man.
  • Study Tips Hear the Strat in action - here's a few famous player's Strat/Tele styles - Strat to the Max! A small collection of favorite masters of the instrument in their field/style.
  • String Tips  Here's some pro-preferences Electric Guitars - Strings the lifeblood of these fab instruments - Tone is king ;-).

Fender - Strat - Tele Round Up

The Strat can cover almost any style of music with it's inbuilt versatility and pickup configurations. It sounds brilliant used in any style of music, looks great, proven design... 10 out of 10 in all departments. If you combine it with effects it's versitality is multiplied immeasurably. but my advice would be to get the tone right from the start first, then concentrate on the effects. ie get a good guitar and amplifier setup n' then start on the FX As usual around here - feel free to break, and mix 'n match all the "rules" ;-).

But the Fender Stratocaster has got it's competition as top-dog in the league, in the form of guitar giants Gibson - Guitar Wars as they say.

The Telecaster is a lot cheaper than some other well known guitars, not quite as versatile as the Strat, but it's got that country guitar honk built in. So if you want that sound, either get yourself a Tele, or Strat-users can get their guitar customized to include a Bridge/Neck parallel Pickup choice.

Music Note width=32 height=32 Strat/Tele Demo Here's a customized Strat with Telecaster Bridge/Neck pickup wiring (I picked it up out of Guitar Player a few years ago), which does a good job of simulating the Twang. It's the 2nd guitar panned right - the left side is played on the bridge pickup.

GIBSON Electric Guitars

If your looking for a heavyweight (in more ways than one) electric guitar, I'm sure you are familiar with the Gibson Les Paul. Now this baby is yet another unchanged design that got it perfect first time around. Ok it's a bit heavy to support but you quickly get used to that - and the extra sustain ;-).

Still popular today as much as ever, check out MTV or Top of The Pops or any of the new bands. From The Vines to Travis - The Rasmus to P!nk, even Avril Lavigne is playing one in her new vid. And of course the legendary Gibson users from the past to present.

The Gibson Les Paul is often called the Fretless Wonder, because it's so easy to play. Definitely a faster neck than the Stratocaster in general. I think you have to "work" a Strat that bit more.

Les Pauls can be a bit pricey but well worth it.

Gibson Les Paul Tips

  • Les Paul Features Tip "Infinite sustain" and fast playability.
  • Features Plus Very stable tuning - no floating bridge here.
  • Guitar/Gibson Details and Tips - More Info
  • Did u Know? The Gibson factory was set up as long ago as 1890.
  • PC Tips n' Tricks Too add a page your viewing to Favorites ( Bookmark ), hold Control and press D.

The Les Paul is famous for it's legendary sustain and powerful Humbucker Pickups. As I mentioned it's 'eavy - to hold and to hear! Famous users include the likes of Guns n' Roses, Evanescence, Oasis, Rhandy Rhoads (RIP), Brian Robertson and Scott Gorham from my fave growing up band - Thin Lizzy...

Other Les Paul Giants -the unbelievable Les Paul himself, The Darkness (huge Lizzy/Queen Influences), Jeff Beck, Zakk Wylde, Gary Moore, Peter Green, and many many more.

The Flying V

The Les Paul is a truly a fantastic Electric Guitar, but Gibson have other unique models worth considering like the Flying V...

Probably one of the most famous user of these Electric Guitars is Micheal Schenker of UFO and other bands. He has a special tone that he achieves (apart from excellent playing of course), by using a Wah-Wah pedal in a "hot" position. This means he moves the foot pedal 'til he hits the sweet spot and leaves it there for a while.

Music Note width=32 height=32 Here's a quick Locked-Wah demo to give you an idea of the sound. This outtake demo is taken from the UniGTR+ Major Pentatonic lesson.

Gibson Flying V Tips

  • Playing Tip  Another famous player of the Flying V was Blues legend Albert King. He strung it hi E nearest to face and bent a lot of notes away from himself. He achieved some serious wide bends and played and sang on some classic recordings.
  • Playing Tip Suss out the Lights Out track solos, to hear Michael Schenker's Flying V and blistering runs thru' the Locked Wah - exschellent. Very fluid style.
  • Guitar/Flying V Details and Tips More Info
  • Guitar Tips The Flying V is equipped with Humbuckers - powerful and hum/noisefree pickups.

Gibson SG

Here's a big favorite in the heavy Electric Guitars department - the Gibson SG.

Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath fame has used one of these since the early days and boy is he heavy with the riffs! Their debut album Black Sabbath - is a great example of an SG powered album and full of typical Iommi-ama. His influence on modern bands is huge and acknowledged. 

  • Did U Know? Tony Iommi lost the tips of two of his fretting fingers in an accident with machinery at work, a few days before one of their first Hamburg Gigs! He overcame this problem by placing homemade "thimbles" on the tips of the damaged digits, and still uses them to this day. Fair play 2 ya' ;-).
  • Did U Know? Their debut album Black Sabbath was recorded in 48 hours, just before they hopped on the boat for their first European stint. While they were gigging away, the album was secretly creeping slowly up the charts! The rest as they say, is history - Ozzy Osbourne is in fine form singing on this one (yes 'im of The Osbournes ;-).
  • Did U Know? Some players such as Van Halen, soak their pickups in wax and magic potions to improve the sound - only for the skilled Electric Guitar Tinkerer.
  • Did U Know? Picking solos up by ear is an essential part of fast learning on any instrument. You can listen and pick up loads from some serious guitar samples, played by many famous artists, such as Albert Lee and Blues legend Albert King on the Amazon site for free ;-).
  • Did U Know? Other famous SG users  - Angus Young (AC/DC)

Gibson Explorer

To round up our Gibson section, we'll have a look at a really unique guitar - The Explorer. This one will make you stand out in the crowd!

I remember reading somewhere that "The Edge" of U2 fell in love with this guitar, and brought one back with him from their first American tour. He was playing one in the U2 videos around then. I vaguely recall that he mentioned it was the first Explorer in Ireland. I thought it was Dr Livingstone or was that something else? Hmmm...I'll have to dig that article up out of me music mags.

  • The Explorer gives you a more Fat Treble-y sound.

As usual the Explorer electric guitar has got Gibson's high quality standards written all over it - a very underestimated and striking gee-tar.

PEAVEY/IBANEZ - Van Halen/Vai/Satch Electric Guitars

Eddie Van Halen Guitar Designed by the man himself and Peavey, 'nuff said!

A truly incredible player who's sound and style changed the face of modern guitar. A guitarist Guitar. It's many features are there with well thought out guitarist's reasoning behind them. I remember reading up about Van Halen's quest for his ultimate guitar back in the 80's and he succeeded with flying colors. If you haven't heard his work your from Mars right? ;-).

EVH Wolfgang Guitar Tips

  • Fair Warning Eddies style has been "done to the death", so by all means cop some of his techniques, but add plenty of your own flavor too. Universal plea - Please don't become yet another VH clone ;-).
  • Guitar/EVH Wolfgang Details and Tips More Info
  • Guitarist Study Tips Two of my faves from this virtuoso - Van Halen or the later 1984 with Sammy Hager on Vocals. 


IBANEZ Electric Guitars - Steve Vai/Joe Satriani

Our next truly amazing guitar was designed to the specs of the incredible and innovative Steve Vai includes 24 frets and a carrying handle!

A beautiful and ultra modern design and one of the ultimate Shred Masters, that's the guitar not Mr Vai! He plays uncanny stuff on his signature Gem. This is a seriously high tech electric and I'm sure it too will be around for years to come.

Ibanez Tips

  • Guitar Tips Ibanez guitars have come on in leaps and bounds over the years, and are no longer considered as "copies" as they once were.
  • Guitar Tips Famous endorsers and users include - Nuno Bettencourt, Frank Gambale, Vai and Satch...
  • Study Tips You can hear a good example of Steve Vai's breathtaking, manic and innovative style and sound, on his CD Passion & Warfare. Great all-round technique and composition skills and a player worth studying.
  • Steve Vai Guitar/Gem Details and Tips More Info

I seen Steve Vai in concert about 4 years ago and he was wicked. Thanks to my friend Dermot Roche for the tickets. If your ever in Dublin - Ireland, check out Dermot's playing - just ask around, the musos know him in the Dame Tavern. Hello Donal and the boys too. I was just chattin' to him yesterday and he was writing from China on his honeymoon! Congrats...

Electric Guitars - Satriani

The guitarist who taught Steve Vai, Hammett, Hunter, Bryson, and dozens of others? I'm sure you know it's Joe Satriani. He has his own guitar too and if your looking for a modern and ripping sound it's definitely worth investigating.

  • Study Tip Legato is the playing and slurring of notes with the left hand, using the very little right-hand picking. I would recommend the Allan Holdsworth album Road Games - if you haven't discovered this amazing talent, he is a true master of legato and a wonderful example of a dedicated musician.
  • Did U Know Mr Holdsworth calls Tapping "Prodding", and he's keen fan of "pitching tent" ;-).
  • Legato Study Tip Try Surfing With the Alien Satriani's first-ish album, to hear and study his amazing left hand legato technique - ;-).
  • Guitar/Satch Boogie Banjo Tips and Details More Info
  • Beginner's Playing Tip This guitar has a Floyd Rose Whammy Bar on it, so it's well suitable for a few crazy dips and stunts style. These particular vibrato units are light years ahead in this department.

Other Popular and Recommended Electric Guitars/Makes

Other makes of electric guitars worth looking at are:

  • Charvel - modern and full of extras, a tad expensive.
  • Jackson - very similar to above.
  • Hamer - Lots of modern players and endorsers.
  • Kramer - Van Halen's early choice.
  • Yamaha - Make guitars which all tend to sound good all-round - good little workhorse if accused sometimes of being a bit bit sometimes characterless - sorry Yam Guitar fans? Stuart Adamson from 80's hero's Big Country likes 'em. I did play and own 2 Yamaha SFs myself, and I know a Mad-Dog who plays excellent slide and more on one too ;-). The first one was Green with built in distortion - here's an old SF Overdrive Demo of the 2nd one - Mr Brown. It's recorded straight thru the desk.
  • Gretsch - Rock n' Roll old style.
  • ESP - Very popular but not as big as the giant players.
  • Rickenbacker - old style jangley favorites.

I'll be doing a guide on them soon, plus we'll be looking at f-hole cutaways and Beatley/Jazzy style Electric Guitars - yippee! That's coming out soon. (when I get the time - I'd better do a bit of practice!).

Electric Guitars -Guitar Repairs and Maintenance

For those of you interested in maintaining and caring for your Electric Guitar, here's a very comprehensive guide worth having by your side called Guitar Player Repair Guide: How to Set-Up, Maintain, and Repair Electrics and Acoustics - covers everything from stringing to refinishing and repairs. Written by excellent Guitar Player columnist - Dan Erlewine.

It's tells you how to set-up, maintain, and repair Electric Guitars and Acoustics. I like to do as much of this stuff myself if I can, so this type of info is a must-have for me and many guitarists. And who knows, maybe you'll be designing like Eddie soon ;-). 

So, anyway, that's it for now.





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