What to Look for in an Electric Guitar

Whether you’re buying your first or your next electric guitar, it’s always nice to have a review of the things you need to consider when choosing one. Let’s line them up!

A well-built body

Whether you have your eyes set on a shiny solid body, a curvy hollow body or a sleek semi-hollow, you’ve got to make sure the body of the guitar is designed and built well. The choice of tonewood is up to you, as it would depend on your budget anyway.

Inspect the build and the hardware. Are the pickups, control knobs, saddle and bridge installed properly? If it feels like some components will fall off soon, determine if this is a problem that can be resolved with a good setup. Ask for another guitar – perhaps the first one you got was a fluke. In any case, just make sure you come home with a guitar that’s solidly built and can withstand the work you’ll put it through.

A stable and comfortable neck

A good guitar should have a stable neck that does not wiggle. If you take a look at the specs of some of the top electric guitars on the market, those on the higher end of the price spectrum feature a through-body neck which, because it forms the length of the body, guarantees zero wiggles.

The neck should also feel comfortable in your fretting hand. Manufacturers have gone the extra mile to really see which neck shapes offer the best playability. Many electric guitar models have a tapered neck, others have a “C’ or “D” shape. Comfort is subjective however – some guitar player like a slim neck while others don’t. It’s highly advisable to try out different neck shapes and styles to see which feels the best for you.

Quality hardware

While some parts of the electric guitar can be upgraded or changed, such as the nut, tailpiece, pickup and tuning machines to improve the guitar’s tone and playability, it would be great if you have quality components and hardware from the get-go. This will save you a lot of time, effort and money in the long run. Check out product specs and electric guitar reviews to determine if the guitar you want has reliable hardware and components.

Perfect pairing with your amp

This is where it can get a little tricky – the amp affects how the guitar will sound. If you already have an amp, how do you know if your desired guitar and amp combo would make the sound you desire? Pairing guitars with amps would depend heavily on the sound as well as the style. Knowing if the combination would be a good one or not requires some research, which includes asking other guitar players or experienced guitar techs.

If you’re browsing around a music store and they have the same amp you have, then go and try out the guitar you’re eyeing using that amp. If the sound that comes out isn’t quite like what you want, it’s probably not the right combo – consider getting a new amp or looking for a different axe that would be a better fit.

And that’s it! You might wonder, what about things like the color? How about the inlays? Unless cosmetic appointments are a priority to you, you don’t really have to put a high value on these when narrowing down your options. When choosing an electric guitar, stick to the basics first. It will make the task of finding your next axe that much easier. Good luck!

Jennifer is a regular contributor to Know Your Instrument, amongst other sites, where she often writes about music and instrument related themes. When Jen is not writing, she enjoys socializing with friends and planning new trips to far off places.

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