Music Equipment Buyer's guide

Electric Guitar Buyer's Guide

Whether you're buying your first guitar or your 10th guitar, it’s important to know which instrument will suit your needs best and the AMS Buyer’s Guide will help you find it.

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Advice for First Time Buyers

Before you start searching for your first guitar consider the following:

    1. Price range.
  • Set an appropriate price range. You can sort your search results by price (Low to High or High to Low) in order to make your search easier.
    2. Size/age of the player.
  • Electric guitars are available in numerous shapes, sizes and weights so it's important to find one that will be the best physical fit for you. Consider your age, height and the size of your hands. If youare younger or smaller in size you will do best with guitars that have thinner necks, shorter scales and are lighter in weight. If you are tall or have large hands you will probably be more comfortable with heavier guitars with wider necks and longer scales. Inorder to properly play your instrument you have to be able to handle it comfortably.
    3. Style of music you want to play.
  • Rock, blues, metal, punk or jazz; the style of music you play will require the right tool for the job. Some guitars are known fortheir versatility and are used across several genres of music and some guitars are favored by specific genres. Identify your favorite bands and guitar players and research the gear they use, the guy in the jazz trio most likely isn't using the same gear as the guy in the metal band.
    4. Starter Packages
  • AMS offers several Electric Guitar Packages for new Guitar players. These packages are a one-stop-shopping experience for the essentials needed to get started. Electric Guitar Starter Packages

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Diagram for Electric Guitar
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Types of Electric Guitars

Six String Guitar Seven String Guitar Eight String Guitar Twelve String Guitar
    Seven-String Guitar
  • Features a low B string.
  • Popular with metal guitarists for its low and heavy sound
  • Standard Tuning:
    High to Low EBGDAEB

    right button
    left button
    Eight-String Guitar
  • Features both a low B and a low F# string
  • Popular with metal guitarists looking for extreme lows
  • Standard Tuning:
    High to Low EBGDAEBF#

    right button
    left button
    12-String Guitar
  • Although played like a 6 string, each of the four low strings are paired with another string tuned to the same note but an octave higher while the two high strings are tuned in unison. The two strings are paired to ring as one but produce the sound of two, creating a very rich and full sound.
  • Standard Tuning:
    High to Low eebbGgDdAaEe

    right button
    left button

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Maple Neck Mahognay Neck
  • Look: Blonde
  • Feel: Heavy
  • Sound: Maple creates a bright, sharp tone with plenty of sustain
  • Look: Light to dark brown
  • Feel: Medium to heavy
  • Sound: Mahogany creates a warm sounding tone with good sustain

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Rosewood Fingerboard Maple Fingerboard Ebony Fingerboard
  • Look: Light-dark brown
  • Feel: Smooth
  • Sound: Warm
  • Look: Blonde
  • Feel: Hard
  • Sound: Bright
  • Look: Black
  • Feel: Hard
  • Sound: Bright

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Scale Length

Short Length Long Length
  • 24-3/4"
  • Lower tension
  • Round sound
  • 25-1/2"
  • Higher tension
  • Sharp sound

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Neck Settings

Neck Settings: Set Neck
Neck Settings: Bolt On
Neck Settings: Neck - Through Body
    Set Neck
  • The neck and body are separate pieces, the neck is permanently attached to the body to look seamless.
  • Great sustain and resonance.
    Bolt-On Neck
  • The neck and body are separate pieces with the neck bolted to the body.
  • Easy to adjust.
  • The neck and middle of the body are one piece with two separate pieces used to create the top and bottom of the body.
  • Great sustain.

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Body Types

Body Types: Solid Body Body Types: Solid Body Body Types: Hollow Body Body Types: Semi-Hollow Body
    Solid Body
  • The standard body used for the majority of electric guitars. The body is completely solid except for the cavities that house the guitar's electronic components.
  • A solid body which has several separate sections carved out which decreases the weight of the guitar while enhancing resonance and sustain.
    Hollow Body
  • The entire body of the guitar is hollowed out creating a better acoustic sound.
    Semi-Hollow Body
  • The center of the body is solid wood but the two sides are hollowed out creating a hybrid of a solid body and hollow body guitar.

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Body Wood

A major part of a guitar's tone is shaped by the wood used to create the body, neck and fingerboard. The most commonly used woods include Alder, Ash, Mahogany, Maple and Rosewood. Each type of wood has its own color, grain and density and creates its own unique tone.

Body Wood Alder Body Wood Ash Body Wood Mahogany Body Wood Mahogany Body and Maple Top Body Wood Maple
  • Look: Light blonde
  • Feel: Light
  • Sound: Full with a balanced mix of high, middle and low frequencies
  • Look: Light blonde
  • Feel: Ranges from light to heavy depending on the type of Ash
  • Sound: Bright sound with good sustain
  • Look: Light to dark brown
  • Feel: Medium to heavy
  • Sound: Warm tone with good sustain
    Mahogany Body and Maple Top
  • Look: Light to dark brown (Mahogany), blonde (Maple)
  • Feel: Heavy
  • Sound: The Maple top sharpens the warm tone and good sustain of the Mahogany
  • Look: Blonde
  • Feel: Heavy
  • Sound: A bright and sharp tone that has plenty of sustain

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Pickups capture the mechanical vibrations created when the strings on the guitar are strummed converting these vibrations into an electrical signal which is transmitted to the amplifier. Pickups come in two styles, Single-Coil and Humbucker, and guitars can come with one, two or three pickups. The pickup switch allows guitar players to select one, all or even a combination of pickup settings in order to create different tones. Some Humbuckers are capable of turning one coil off to function as a Single Coil. This feature is called Coil Tapping and can be activated by either a toggle switch or a with one of the volume or tone knobs.

Single-Coil Pickups Humbucker Pickups Passive Pickups Active Pickups
    Single-Coil Pickups
  • Specs: Each pickup has one coil and one set of magnets. The narrow magnetic field produces a very focused tone that cuts through a mix well and is perfect for recording.
  • Sound: Bright and clear.
    Humbucker Pickups
  • Specs: Humbucker pickups are comprised of two single-coils. The two coils are wired out of phase, reducing the hum that is sometimes produced by single-coil pickups.
  • Sound: Warm and full.
    Passive Pickups
  • Specs: String vibrations are generated into a signal by coil-wrapped magnets, producing a minute voltage that is amplified externally.
  • Sound: Traditional and vintage.
    Active Pickups
  • Specs: Functionally the same as passive pickups these pickups are powered by a 9-Volt battery creating a higher output and wider frequency range.
  • Sound: A fuller range of tone and very modern sounding.

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    Passive/Active Electronics
  • Specs: A less common feature that enables the option of switching between passive and active electronics on the fly
  • Sound: The best of both worlds
    Passive Electronics
  • Specs: Controls the basic volume and tone of the guitar (high frequency attenuation only)
  • Sound: Vintage, traditional
    Active Electronics
  • Specs: Active electronics are powered by a 9-Volt battery making them capable of boosting or cutting frequencies
  • Sound: Extra bass, treble and overall output

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Bridges: Mahogany Bridges: String-Through Body Bridge and Tailpiece Combination
    Standard Through-Bridge
  • With a Standard Through bridge the strings are fed through the back of the bridge over the saddles. Each string can be adjusted for height and length.
    String-Through Body
  • The strings are fed through the back of the body over the saddles. Each string can be adjusted for height and length.
    Bridge & Tailpiece Combination
  • The strings are fed through the tailpiece which is separate from the bridge. With this setup string height can be adjusted however not individually, while string length can be adjusted individually.

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Tremolo Bridges

Tremolo Bridges come with arm called a Tremolo Arm or Whammy Bar. By pushing or pulling on this arm the guitar player can change the tension of the strings which will alter the pitch of the strings. Locking Tremolo systems come with a locking mechanism located at the guitar's nut which helps keep the strings from going out of tune while the Tremolo Arm is being used.

Standard Tremolo Locking Tremolo Bigsby
    Standard Tremolo
  • The most common tremolo system is the Standard Tremolo. By incorporating a tailpiece with the bridge the Synchronized Tremolo is capable of a good range of motion when either pushed down or pulled up.
    Locking Tremolo
  • The Locking Tremolo allows for a greater range of motion both up and down and is popular with metal guitarists and shredders.
  • The Bigsby is a two-piece tremolo system with a separate tail-piece that is connected to the bridge. This design creates a wide and smooth vibrato.

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