An experienced guitar player that has owned dozens of high-end guitars over the past 30 years probably knows exactly which guitar they want next. This person has gone through trial and error, spent tons of money on guitars they ended up not liking very much, and still hasn't found that favorite guitar to rule them all. If you're an intermediate player that hasn't owned every type of guitar then you might not know which one best suits you. You might even think you know, but perhaps once you get it it's not quite what you thought it would be like.
That's where we can help.
Holy Heck Music acquires and sells every type of electric guitar and we probably have something right up your alley, but the amount of diversity could also be a bit overwhelming. Ask yourselves the below questions before deciding which guitar is right for you.
1. Choose your pickups
If you're trying to decide which type of electric-guitar you want then the absolutely most important decision is what type of pickups you want your next guitar to have. Forget about the name on the headstock, the type of wood it's made from, or where the guitar is manufactured. This is an electric-guitar afterall, and pickups are how your guitar makes noise and ultimately what it will sound like. Yes, you can change the pickups on any guitar to sound like any other guitar, and that just proves why it's the most important aspect of your guitar.
Youtube is your best friend here. Listen to all the different variations of pickups out there and decide which one you want your guitar to sound like. Do you tend to like single-coils or humbuckers? Vintage or modern? Active or passive? Are you concerned with 60-cycle hum? These are only a few of the many options you should consider.
If you really want a single versatile guitar that can sound like everything then you will want to look into coil-tapping, coil-splitting, and preamp circuit boosts. Nearly every brand offers these features and we have many of them in stock at Holy Heck Music.
2. Are you already set on a specific brand? You don't need to be!
If you already have a preference for a specific brand then you can narrow your search dramatically. However, we recommend you be open-minded about brands that you wouldn't normally consider. Don't get so stuck on one manufacturer that you miss out on all the other great guitars out there.
Many guitarists are extremely picky about which brands they own. Some think it's like having a favorite Football team, where you stick with them through the good and the bad yet never appreciate the talent of the other teams. Guitarists that have only owned Gibsons sometimes have disdain for anything Fender, simply because they played a few at Guitar Center that were never setup properly and thus all played like crap. Others might think that Gibsons are overpriced and way more expensive than anything Fender makes, which couldn't be further from the truth.
You really need to research the offerings of different brands and what peaks your interest. Perhaps the next few tips will get you looking in the right direction.
3. Pick a scale length
The scale length is the distance from the bridge to the nut, so scale length can also be thought of as string length. Minor differences in scale lengths can make a guitar sound and feel completely different. A longer scale length requires more string tension when tuned to a guitar with a shorter scale length, which results in more effort needed to bend the strings but will usually sound a little brighter. Typically, guitars with a shorter scale length can be setup with thicker strings yet still be easy to bend. To get the same "bendability" on a longer scale length you would usually set it up with thinner strings, although some players prefer long scale lengths with very thick gauge strings like Dick Dale.
Gibson usually goes with a 24.75" scale length, while Fender usually sticks with 25.5" scale lengths. PRS tries to get the best of both worlds and uses a 25" scale length. Think about your playing style, your preference for string gauge, and if you want a brighter or warmer sounding guitar. This will help you choose the perfect guitar that suits you perfectly.
4. Weight - light or heavy?
Holy Heck Music lists the exact weight of every guitar we sell because we know how important it is to the buyer. The weight of your guitar should be a fairly large deciding factor in your purchasing decisions. Guitars can range from 4 pounds to 13 pounds and up. Some players prefer a really heavy Les Paul and will seek out the heaviest they can find. Other players might prefer a very light Fender and won't settle for anything that weighs more than 8 pounds. There are two reasons why weight is important to players: tone and comfortability.
Some players believe that heavier guitars resonate differently and result in a better warmer tone than a lighter guitar. Others believe that "tonewood" is so subjective that it doesn't matter the weight. A heavy solid-mahogany guitar may sounds completely different to your ears than a lighter chambered guitar and that is why you should decide how important the weight of your guitar is to your tone.
An extremely heavy guitar can also be uncomfortable if you play standing up for hours at a time. Your back won't last long with a 13 pound guitar strapped around your shoulders during a 90 minute gig. It is much less of a factor if you spend most of your time playing sitting down. Gibson has started chambering their Les Pauls, to varying degrees, to make them lighter since it is much harder for them to source lighter woods than it was decades ago. Of course this results in mixed opinions by the community.
Bottom line - do you mind a heavier guitar? Do you spend most of your time playing standing or sitting down? Do you believe that weight plays a factor in tone?
There are of course countless other factors that make a guitar unique to you. We could go on for hours about nut widths, fret sizes, neck shapes and finishes, fretboard radii, and wood species. That's why there are so many guitars in the world and why no single guitar will be able to do everything for everyone. However, we hope that the few tips above will help you with your next purchase. And remember, if you still have any questions feel free to contact us and we will help point you in the right direction.