Buying Guide: Electric Guitars (Quick Guide)

An electric guitar produces sound by means of an amplified electronic signal resulting from the vibration of strings over a pickup. The most common type of pickup is a magnet that generates very small electrical impulses as the metal string vibrates within its magnetic field. Since the string and pickup (plus a separate amplifier) are all that's necessary to make the sound, electric guitars don't need a resonating body; they can be solid wood or even plastic.


How To Buy An Electric Guitar: A Primer Aside from solidbody electric guitars, there are hollowbody, semi-hollowbody, and chambered electric guitars. Though the primary tone is still produced by the action of the strings over magnetic pickups, the resonating chambers on these guitars produce a fuller sound preferred by some players. Hollowbody electric guitars typically feature arched tops and are more likely to have feedback troubles when played at very high volume. Semi-hollowbody guitars have a solid wood center (to avoid feedback issues) and large chambers—usually with soundholes—on either side. Chambered guitars have sealed cavities carved out within the solid body.


The scale length is the length of the part of the string that actually vibrates when plucked. Most electric guitars either have a scale length of 25-1/2" for brighter tone, or 24-3/4" for easier play.


Two basic types of pickups are found on most electric guitars—single-coils and humbuckers. Single-coil pickups produce a brighter, more trebly tone but can produce an annoying 60-cycle hum. Humbucking pickups cancel hum and usually produce a less trebly tone, often with more sustain. Some instruments feature both types. Other pickup types include piezo, usually used to simulate an acoustic guitar, and 13-pin, usually for controlling a guitar synthesizer.


Some electric guitars are equipped with a vibrato bar, often called a trem bar. This allows the player to vary the tension on the strings by means of wiggling a small bar attached to the tailpiece, thus producing vibrato or more extreme note-bending effects.


You can buy any type of electric guitar from Music 123. We have hundreds of models from such famous makers as Gibson, Fender, PRS, Ibanez, Jackson, Steinberger, Parker, Gretsch, Rickenbacker, Schecter, Dean, Yamaha, ESP, Squier, Epiphone, Godin, Peavey, Hamer, Ernie Ball, B.C. Rich, Danelectro, and Rogue.