Electric Guitar Buyer's Guide
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 easily filter your search results on AMS using the price range selection filters on the left side of the page or sort by 'Low to High' or 'High to Low' to see all products in order of price.
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. In order to properly play your instrument you have to be able to handle it comfortably.
Check out the complete listing of Electric Guitar Packages
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 for their 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.
Body Types & Wood
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.
The entire body of the guitar is hollowed out creating a better acoustic sound.
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.
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.
Look: Light blonde
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)
Sound: The Maple top sharpens the warm tone and good sustain of the Mahogany
Sound: A bright and sharp tone that has plenty of sustain
Pickups & Electronics
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.
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. Great for clean, funky “quack, quack” or “honking” tone.
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. “Singing tone with lots of sustain. Great for use with heavy gain/distortion while remaining hum-free”
Specs: String vibrations are generated into a signal by coil-wrapped magnets, producing a minute voltage that is amplified externally.
Sound: Traditional and vintage.
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.
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.
Specs: Controls the basic volume and tone of the guitar (high frequency attenuation only).
Sound: Vintage, traditional
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.
Bridges & Tremolos
With a Wrap-Tail bridge the strings are fed through the back of the bridge over the saddles.
The strings are fed through the back of the body over the saddles. Each string can be adjusted for height and length.
Stop Tailpiece & Bridge 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.
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.
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.
The Locking Tremolo allows for a greater range of motion both up and down and is popular with metal guitarists and shredders. The locking tremolo adds tuning stability due to it locking the string at either one or two points.
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.