Electric Guitar Buying Guide - Best Buy Canada

August 28, 2012

What to Consider When Buying an Electric Guitar

When you’re looking for the best guitar and gear out there, starting with great names like Fender, Marshall and Gibson is a sure way to stumble upon great items. However, you’ll want to know about a few basic things to help narrow down your choices.

Whether you’re a beginner and want to learn to play guitar or you’re an old pro, having the right setup is important. From Fender and Yamaha guitars to Marshall amps and Gibson accessories, there’s a wide range of great stuff to choose from. Have a look at our handy list and get to know some of the basics before you buy an electric guitar.

Body Style

Before choosing the guitar you want, you should hold one and discover which body type feels the most comfortable for your playing style. Different body types include:

Solid-body electric guitars are the most common. They are great because they have no acoustic restrictions, and are available in the most varied styles.

Semi-hollow (or semi-solid) guitars offer a rounder, darker sound. To minimize feedback they feature solid wood centres with large chambers on both sides and sound holes.

Hollow-body guitars are large enough to be played without an amp, but can often produce feedback with too much amplification. They are usually chosen by most jazz guitarists.

Frets

Most electric guitars come equipped with 22 frets which are the metal strips along the fretboard. To play a higher octave, you'll want to choose one with 24 frets. Smooth frets let you do more with your guitar, and can help make playing easier and more enjoyable.

Amps

If you already own an amp, you'll want to be sure to use a similar one when testing out electric guitars. The sound will be different with every amp you test it with, which is why if you already have one you'll want to choose a guitar that sounds best with the one you've got.

Wood

No matter what kind of guitar you choose, the type of wood used in its build will influence the tone. Hard woods like alder, ash, mahogany, maple, rosewood and basswood are most common, and are often used in combination with one another to create unique tones.

Necks

For electric guitars, bolt-on necks are the most common, and are more easily repaired than set or glued necks. Set necks, on the other hand, are more expensive to buy and repair, but they're known for their solid attachment which offers incredible stability. The neck itself houses a truss rod, which is a metal bar used for reinforcement.

Necks come in various shapes, such as C-shaped, thin, wide-thin, etc., and it's important you choose one that's a comfortable fit for your hand.

Scale Length

Most guitars have one of two scale lengths. The 25-1/2" length provides a high tension and more trebly sound, while a 24-3/4" length makes the lower string tension slightly easier to play and provides a less trebly sound.

Bridges

There are the two main types of bridges for electric guitars.

A tremolo bridge, also called a whammy bar, lets you bend all the strings at once making it perfect for “metal” musical styles. However, it can also throw strings out of tune.

Fixed onto the body of the guitar, a stoptail bridge offers greater stability. Lots of players prefer this, as it provides more sustain than its counterpart.

Action

This is the distance between the string and the frets. The shorter this distance, the more likely frets will “buzz” when a string is plucked. However, the longer this distance, the more difficult it might be to hold the string to the fret and produce a clean note. Be certain to test a few guitars to ensure the strings are easy enough to push down without being too low.

Research

Get to know some of the different guitar makers you're interested in. Check out review sites and explore the pros and cons; knowing the details of their different models will help you make a more informed choice, especially if you're buying online.

Best Buy

Take the Next Step

Most experts recommend that you buy the highest-quality instrument you can afford, but remember that quality can be found at different price points. Check out a wide selection of guitars, amps, pedals, and other gear at Best Buy from Fender, Gibson, Marshall, Yamaha, and more. Whatever you choose, you want to be sure that the gear you choose suits you best.

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