Electric Guitar Types
Electric guitars usually have solid wood bodies, and always use steel strings since they have electro-magnetic "Pickups" that send the string vibrations to an amplifier (amp). The wood used in the body and neck as well as pickup types used, provide the distinctive sound to each electric guitar. Click for information on how to Buy Electric Guitar, or for Acoustic Guitar Types. Some brands/models are synonymous with certains kinds of music; such as the Fender Stratocaster for Rock'n'Roll (Eric Clapton), or the Gibson "Lucille" for Blues (BB King). Some electric guitar models also have hollow or semi-hollow bodies, and they come in many shapes and sizes. The shape in itself does not affect the quality of sound (unlike acoustic guitars), but it is a matter of comfort while playing that guitar (along with its size).
The neck on an electric guitar is either glued or bolted to the body. Electric guitars are much heavier than acoustic guitars since they use heavier wood and have electronic parts inside - the neck must take a lot more stress. While wood type for the body, neck and fingerboard is less of a factor in electric guitars; it does contribute to a guitar's distinctive sound and "feel". Expensive electric guitars are usually made from high quality solid wood, while cheaper models may use laminates (plywood) or pieces of wood glued together. Some plastic and metal body electric guitars are also available.
There are variations in the length of the neck scale, with shorter scale electric guitars having their frets closer together. Electric guitar necks comes in two types, the "C" neck (rounded back shaped like a C) and the "V" neck (sharper back shaped like <). The shape of the neck does not affect the sound of the guitar, it is a matter of choice and comfort based on the size of your hands. The width of the fingerboard affects the spacing between the six strings, and should also be considered for comfort based on your hand size and finger length. Electric guitars have more frets than acoustic guitars; 17, 19, 21 or 24 frets. The smaller size and default cutaway body shape makes it possible to play every fret on an electric guitar. Heavy metal and rock music loves the high frets (upto the 24th fret), but this does reduce the spacing between all the frets to accomodate the extra frets within the length of the neck (making these harder to play).
The "pickups" detect the vibration of the strings on an electric guitar, and send the signal to an amplifier (amp) that produces the actual sounds. Electric guitars usually have one, two or three pickups - positioned from close to the neck, to close to the bridge. There are two kinds of pickups, the "Single Coil Pickup" provides the vintage guitar sound - but is susceptible to hum and interference. The "Humbucker" or "Dual Coil Pickup" has two electro magnetic coils wrapped in opposite directions - this eliminates the hum and interference but it also reduces the quality of the sound. Electric guitars may have a combination of single-coil and humbucker pickups in the three pickup positions, and most have a selector switch to choose which pickup (or combination of pickups) is active. Volume and tone controls are also present on the electric guitar body, cheaper guitars tend to have lower quality "Pots" (potentiometers, the electronic device that regulates the sound) which wear out quickly and can make crackling sounds. The pickups largely contribute to the type of sound an electric guitar can make, but this is often supplemented by effects pedals and the amplifier (amp).
Electric guitars have two kinds of bridges (where the strings terminate on the guitar body side). The "Fixed Bridge" is quite simply fixed to the body; and the "Floating Bridge" is spring loaded and often has a "Whammy Bar" (or Tremolo bar) attached to it. The fixed bridge tends to stay in tune much better, but most guitarists prefer the quality of sound from a floating bridge. Since it is spring loaded, the floating bridge does cause the strings to go out of tune much more often - and as it has moving parts, it does require maintenance such as adjustments or spring replacements. The whammy bar is a rod that sticks out of the bridge, when pressed (or pulled) it changes the tension on the strings and the sound being produced. Rapidly pushing (or pulling) the whammy bar adds a tremolo effect to the note being played. String action and intonation adjustments can also be made on the bridge of an electric guitar (which cannot be done on most acoustic guitars).
The quality and thickness of the string contribute to the playability of an electric guitar. While electric guitars always use light strings (or super-light), always use the recommended thickness string for a specific guitar. Lighter strings are easier to bend with, but they do tend to break faster. Electric guitar strings are rated by "gauge", such as 0.08, 0.10 or 0.12 - this number corresponds to the gauge of the THINNEST (E) string with the lower number being the lightest (super light). Guitar strings are like shoes, you wouldn't know how they feel until you try them out. Keep trying different gauges and manufacturers till you find one that feels "just right" and don't break with your style of playing.
The next section has information on Electric Guitar Effects, or click for information on how to Buy Electric Guitar.
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