Main perks of an electric guitar
Some people think electric guitars are just popular because they look cool. There’s no denying that a huge amount of people dream of playing these guitars when watching rock concerts, but there is far more to it than just the style aspect.
Electric guitars can produce such a wide variety of tones, based not only on their different parts such as pickups and the tonewood and electrics, but they can also be moderated with effects pedals, they can also be easily recorded with guitar interfaces. There is not much to dislike when it comes to playing an electric guitar, and they are even far more simple and easy to start to play than acoustic guitars. Though the hand positions and tunings are the same, the electric guitar strings are more easy to push in and make it simpler to play many melodies.
What to expect for the price
A $1000 budget is plenty for a high quality electric guitar. There are many models at this price point which have wonderful tonewood, great electronics and exceptional features. Plenty of the guitars within this range will be perfect not only for beginners, but for intermediate and even professional guitarists. At the higher end of this $1000 budget there are some guitars with very few limitations even for a top guitarist.
If you are looking for something on the cheaper end of the market, you may end up with a guitar which utilizes cheaper woods for both the body and the fretboard. The other big difference if you are looking to buy a cheap electric guitar is that you may end up with lower quality electronics.
This particularly impacts the sound if the area compromised is the pickups. A huge amount of pickups are made by Seymour Duncan, which are high quality. The very cheapest guitars will likely use own-brand and lower quality pickups which do not amplify the sound as well.
In terms of the brands you can purchase at this price range, you have so much choice under $1000. For instance, if you have always dreamed of playing a Fender guitar just like some of the most iconic guitarists ever, you have this option without breaking the bank. Many exceptional Fenders are on offer at this price. This doesn’t mean you should ignore other brands though, Epiphone, Ibanez, Gretsch and Dean all offer some great guitars for the money. If you get lucky, you can even gain a decent PRS electric guitar.
How to choose the guitar that fits you
We can give you all the tips and tools you need to make this decision, but ultimately the guitar you purchase will be quite a unique decision. Many people see a certain design and fall in love, others will want to buy a guitar based on it being good for a specific genre. For instance, some guitars are designed with a certain tone in mind. Some will be brilliant for an airy, jazzy sound, while others can sound great pumped through pedals to create a heavy metal tone. The genres of music that the guitar suits will be an important consideration.
On top of this, you need to think about your physical build, design preferences and what offers the best value for money. Some guitars are heavy and bulky, these might be good for larger players, and they may be more sturdy and hard-wearing, but if you are petite and have small hands they may be tough to play and heavy to wear over your shoulder for those long gigs and practice sessions. Thinking about your own needs is the key here.
Tips on learning how to play an electric guitar
If you are a beginner then you will need to learn how to play to get the most out of your guitar. Not just learning how to play, but learning how to care for your guitar, how to tune it, and what all the different controls do.
The good news is that we are in the golden age of information when it comes to instruments. Never before has so much been available in terms of tutorials and searchable guides. If you want to know how to tune your guitar or how to play a D chord or what a scale is, you can simply google it and find the answer in no time at all. Of course, you still have to put the effort in to spend the time learning.
Some techniques can be tricky when just learning from tutorials, for instance. There is no interaction so if you are getting something wrong, your computer can’t tell you that you are. The best way to get the very basics sorted is to have a few lessons if you can with a local guitar tutor. This way, if you are doing something wrong, your teacher can tell you so and help to tailor the lessons for exactly what you will need. Playing with others can be intimidating but finding open jams or friends who play can also be a good way to learn from one another.
Features to consider while choosing an electric guitar under $1000
So what are the actual features that make up a good electric guitar? Which are the most important for you to think about? This will all go to make up your own unique choice, so having a think about your priorities in terms of features will help you a great deal.
Guitars don’t tend to be excessively heavy, but remember you’re not going to be using them for a few minutes at a time. Over a period of hours then the weight can start to cause issues, and if you’re a relatively small person then this can be a bigger issue. Heavy guitars sometimes lead to back or shoulder issues. If you are used to it, you’ll have no problem, but if not then it may be worth considering.
What wood is the best for an electric guitar?
This is a commonly asked question but one which is very hard to answer with a one word answer. Though there may not be one “best” overall, there is certainly a best for you and the sound you wish to create from your guitar. There are many examples of common woods which have certain characteristics. For example:
- Notoriously lightweight and has a warm sound with good middle frequency sounds. This is a popular cheap material.
- Another lightweight wood which has a more rich and balanced tone.
- Heavier in weight but warmer and the sound rings out well, this wood is used a lot for acoustic instruments but is used in electric guitars too.
- This is used as it is a very strong wood but also has good sustain, it is a popular neck wood.
- Rosewood is a popular material to be used in instruments and is often used for the fretboard as well or instead of the body.
There are other types of wood including Ash and Korina for the body, with Ebony and Pau Ferro also being used for the neck regularly.
The tone of your guitar is made up of a lot of different aspects. Each has its own specific signature, which we have tried our best to explain within the reviews. Tone can be a difficult thing to explain, and with an electric guitar it is largely created by the wood, the strings and the pickups. Fortunately, if you need to hear the tone, many of the models have YouTube videos or videos made by the manufacturer which demonstrate the sound you can create.
As well as a good control, tone control is also worth considering. Many guitars allow you to make choices on the tone. Many of them have multiple pickups and allow you to choose different combinations of these to customise the tone to something which suits your style.
The neck style and angle on your guitar will affect the comfort of you playing. If you are playing a lot of chords close to the neck then this will also be extra important. A neck which juts out a long way can make it difficult to play the frets.
The body of the guitar is significant in terms of the tone and also the feel of the guitar. The shape will affect not only looks but comfort, and how the guitar feels when it is strummed. Many of us will be drawn to a certain type of guitar based on how it looks, and the body shape is a big part of that. There are so many variations, from Fender style designs we have grown to love like a Telecaster or Stratocaster, to more out there designs like a “flying V”.
The tone is mainly impacted by the wood of the body and also whether it is a hollow body or a solid body. Hollow bodies have a beautiful resonance and can really give an incredible tone, but these can be more expensive and less durable due to the complex nature of the designs. Many classic guitars are solid bodied, and though they do not have as much resonance as hollow body, they are not necessarily any worse, there is just a different character to the tone.
The fretboard of a guitar simply must be comfortable. This is how your secondary (weaker) hand will interact with the guitar. A fretboard should be made out of a sturdy and comfortable wood, with the frets carved in a smooth way so that your fingers feel comfortable sliding between them. The fretboard should also be comfortable in terms of the space between frets, and being able to reach the frets closer to the body, which are useful for soloing.
The tuning keys are vital on any instrument. You will need to tune up your instrument from time to time, this is unavoidable, but the tuning keys need to be high quality not just to make it easier to tune and less likely to break, staying in tune is the key here (no pun intended).
Better quality tuning keys make it much likely that the strings will fall out of tune regularly. This can be a real pain, especially for beginners who may not be as comfortable with tuning.
Both the amount and type of strings will make a difference, though it should be said that the vast majority of all kinds of guitars have six strings. There are some alternatives with a different number of strings, but these don’t tend to be aimed at beginners and they can make playing songs more complicated.
The type of strings which are on your guitar are important as they contribute a lot to the sound, and the way the guitar is played. For instance, thicker wound strings might have a deeper tone with more frequencies which suit metal music and heavier riffs. Thinner strings may be better for playing melodies, soloing and creating a brighter sound.
The pickups use coils of wire to “pick up” the sound from the strings before amplifying it. Pickups can be positioned differently around the guitar, and have different characteristics. For instance, a humbucker pickup has a dual coil which is less likely to pick up interference from the air, and also creates a more deep, rock and metal style of tone. Single coil pickups are often more prone to interference but it depends on the quality of the materials they’re made out of. Many famous guitarists through history have played guitars with single coil pickups, and a lot of guitars have these.
It isn’t necessarily the fact that one type of pickup is better, but there is no doubt that higher quality and more expensive pickups tend to do a better job. Also, if you have multiple pickups it gives you more choice and control over the sound.
The bridge is where the strings are suspended from towards the bottom of the guitar. They keep the strings elevated from the body and allows the vibrations to take place on the strings, which ultimately creates the sound. The pickups are usually located near the bridge, under the strings.
A reliable bridge is needed as this helps your guitar to stay in tune, but there are different types of bridge. Bridges can have tremolo or vibrato design, which have an arm or a ‘whammy bar’ to allow you to ‘bend’ and alter the sound. It is another effect in your arsenal. These aren’t popular in every type of music, and they do affect the tune of a guitar if overused, but for some guitarists, these effects are a big part of their playing style.
The controls on your guitar include volume, tone controls, EQs and pickup controls. If your guitar has multiple pickups it may well be the case that you have control over this. Ultimately, the more choice you have, the more customizable your sound is. This gives you the opportunity to create a signature sound, or to mold your sound for different songs within your band’s set.
Some electric guitars will ship with accessories, which is a nice touch. While all have strings which come with them, not all have the extras such as tuners, gig bags, spare strings and straps. All of these little extras are a nice bonus if they are included within your guitar, and are things you will need to buy if you don’t get them included. Also an important accessory some of the professional musicians consider an essential one – the amplifiers. They come in different price ranges, so you can find some decent ones even under 300 and 200 dollars limit.
A warranty is always useful, and when you’re spending a significant amount of money on an instrument then it is natural to expect some sort of warranty. Many guitars have 12 months or more to offer, but we’ve compared this as one of the features within each guitar review. All of these guitars have a lot of electronics, of course, and the brands which are most comfortable with this will be happy to offer a warranty.
Feel free to add something you think is important and relevant, and please mention some of the products reviewed as examples in the buying guide, where appropriate.