How to Choose the Right Guitar

The decision to start playing the guitar is one of the best things that you could have done for your personal development. Whether you're aiming to become a professional, or are just looking for an exciting hobby, the guitar is one of the most expressive instruments out there. However, what many guitar players – both beginners and experienced ones – are having trouble with is the right choice of the instrument. After all, there are so many different things to consider, and it gets hard these days when we have so many options.

Since we're no longer in the 1960s and have a lot to choose from, we've decided to help you out and bring a little guide that will assist you in choosing the right guitar for your needs. Here, we'll focus on electric guitars since the choice between an acoustic and an electric guitar is something you (most likely) already figured out.

What's your preferred genre (or genres)?

You should always start with the music that you're playing. And it's not only about guitars but also about how you'll approach learning music theory and techniques. But when it comes to electric guitars, a lot of models are focused on a specific array of genres. The most important distinction is for those who are looking for jazz or blues guitars. In these cases, hollowbody or semi-hollowbody instruments are a great choice. You'll get a pretty mellow tone, in some cases even leaning towards acoustic guitars.

The next thing is the type of pickups that will suit your preferred genre, or genres, the most. The main distinction is between single-coil and humbucker pickups. Single-coils have a "thinner" or "twangier" tone which is usually much more useful for country music, some types of blues and jazz, and soft rock genres. Humbuckers sound a little "tighter" and have not as strong of an attack, which makes them much more useful for hard rock and heavy metal. Of course, pickups are a much more complex issue, and you're open to using what you like. Some great metal players have been using single-coils, while blues or jazz musicians often have humbuckers, sometimes even high output ones.

While we're at it, "hot" or less "hot" pickups are a thing to consider. Most of the pickups these days are passive ones, meaning they mostly have lower output. Those "hotter" ones will sound sharper and will even cause a different type of distortion with your amp and other devices. Those with lower output are pretty useful if you're into vintage-oriented stuff, like blues or jazz.

In case you're looking for something diverse that can fit all genres, a classic Fender Stratocaster is always a good ally. On the other hand, it might not be the best option if you're looking for really heavy tones that can only be achieved with humbuckers. If you want something in between, you can always go with a guitar that has two P90 pickups.

Now, many genres also require faster playing and you'll need a thin-profile neck for that, as well as a guitar that can handle low string action. If you're an aggressive slower player that's into blues or hard rock, you probably need a different neck profile. For this, it's always important to try out the guitar model yourself and see whether it works for what you're aiming for.

Pickup combinations

Aside from pickup types, we also need to think of pickup combinations. The most common ones are two humbuckers or three single-coils. With three pickups, you'll usually have five different combinations, giving you way more options. Whereas with two pickups, you usually have only three combinations.

If you're looking for the most diverse options, you can either go with a guitar that has one humbucker and two singles, or at least two humbuckers but with splitting or coil tap combinations. At the end of the day, it comes down to the palette of choices that you need.

Do you really need all those features?

One of the most misleading things when buying guitars are the bunch of features that you might not need. For instance, you might think that guitars are better if they have a Floyd Rose or any other floating tremolo bridge. Meanwhile, maybe you don't quite need it and would just end up with a guitar that's rather difficult to restring.

To put it simply, if you need a straightforward but good guitar, it's always a better idea to have it "stripped down" with a standard hard-tail or Tune-o-Matic bridge and only the essential controls. This way, you can give the same money for a simple quality instrument.

Think about the price

In the end, the set budget should be one of the most important things to consider. Luckily for us, there are some great yet affordable guitars these days. But in most of the cases, intermediate guitarists tend to go over their price limits, when all they need is just a simple mid-level price guitar.

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