As I run a Custom Guitar Shop (Morton Guitars) I have been working with guitars for many years and know a thing or two about electric guitars and hope you find this guide helpful.
Introduction: If you are thinking of buying your first electric guitar, either as a gift or for yourself, you may wish to read this. There are so many choices that it can be bewildering trying to decide wht to buy
Who am I to give you advice? I am a guitar player in my mid 50's and I've been playing for 40 years so I have played just about every popular make and type of guitar known to man. I play in a rock and blues band (Reflector.uk.com) and we gig regularly. We also record our own songs so I've played many styles of guitar on stage, in pubs and clubs and in recording studios.
Assumption: First I will assume you are looking for a full size electric guitar and not a childs one and that you are looking for good basic advice in deciding which guitar and accessories to choose. Secondly I will assume the guitar is for you so if you are buying one as a gift try to imagine what they would look for in a guitar
What Style of guitar? The main thing is that the guitar appeals to the person who is going to learn to play and thay it is an easy guitar to play and stay in tune. So the first question to ask yourself is which guitarist do you like and what kind of guitar do they play? It can be a great incentive to play a guitar similar to someone you admire! There are many styles of guitar on the market so i will focus on 5 most popular types and give you some advice on each
Stratocaster Invented by Leo Fender in 1954 and is the most instantly recognisable guitar in the world. Many top players favour Stratocaster style guitars with 3 single coil pickups and a tremolo or whammy bar. They are great to play but can be hard to tune as the tremolo floats so if one string does out of tune so do all the others! as they are all under tension together. Also known as a Strat or S-Type guitar. Think Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Holly, The Shadows - All styles catered for with a Stratocaster. Most popular guitar in the world.
Telecaster Also invented by Leo Fender in 1951 this is a fixed bridge guitar that is easier to tune and keep in tune. It has 2 single coil pickups and is a classic design ideal as a first guitar for any style of playing. Brice Sprinsteen, Status Quo, Sheryl Quo, Bob Dylan and thousands of others.
Les Paul This is a Gibson model and is a classic guitar style as played by the great player and innivator Les Paul. Favoured by rock players for its relatively heavy body and deeper sounding humbucking pickups. they have a fixed bridge which is easy to keep in tune. They don't hum like single coil pickups do under stage lights, or when recording. A classic design that is great for rock and blues. Favoured by Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy, Gary Moore Joe Bonamassa, Slash of Guns n Roses etc
SG This si another Gibson design which has good upper fret access and a lighter body but is otherwise like the Les Paul usually with two humbuckers. Also hasa fixed bridge. Used by ACDC, Wolfmother and early Eric Clapton in that great band Cream
335 or Dot style This is like a Les Paul but with semi acoustuc wings added to teh body which makes it very comfortable to play seated and also you can play without an amp which is good for a player learning.
Good starter guitar makes to watch out for are Squier (by Fender), Epiphone (by Gibson), Vintage, Encore, Stagg, Jim Deacon, Hodson, Aria, Spear. I have owned a Squier Standard Stratocaster (£150)and a USA made Fender Stratocaster (£800) and I can tell you that the Fender is NOT 5 times better than the Squier. Properly set up, a low cost guitar will play just about as well as an expensive guitar.
What else do I need? You need an amplifier or a pod to plug into your PC at home, a strap, a decent cable to connect to the amp, a plectrum and a guitar tuner. Also a chord book is helpful though lots of help is now available on the Internet of you search. Be aware that agood amp will make all the difference to a new player. A great starter amp needs only to be about 5watts if it is a valve amp or 15 Watts if it is solid state. Check out the Fender Vibro champ and the Marshall MG Series both of which have digital effects on board
Get the guitar set up! Most guitars are very hard to play when you get them out the box, especially Stratocaster types as the tremolo needs to be set up. Sometimes the strings are clamped down to the body for transportation and it is essential that the guitar is easy for new players to play or they will give up too easily. Nickel wound steel strings of 9 to 42 guage are ideal for a learner. It is best to fit a new set of strings to your new guitar as soon as you get it as the factory fitted ones will be cheap and nasty! Try Rotosound (my favourites - made in England), or Ernie Ball Slinky, D'Addarios etc
Finally! Buy a stand or a wall bracket so the guitar is always to hand. if you have to fish your guitar out from the box under the bed every time you will soon tire of doing that and it will end up in the attic or on eBay!
Above all Enjoy and have fun - Playing the guitar is one of the most rewarding and relaxing pastimes of all and you never know - maybe you, or the person you bought the guitar for, will be the next big guitar hero!
Finally, did you find this guide useful? If so, please vote "Yes" below. Thank you kindly.