How To Choose Your Guitar

Help when it comes to buying a guitar. Advice on good cheap guitars as well as awesome guitars which are pricey. The Things to take into consideration when buying a guitar.

Ultimate Guitar

This article is to help you choose a good guitar that suits the music you like to play no matter how good or bad you are.

To begin: First you should know the difference between the different styles of pickups and what they are good for:

  • If you do not play that much rock and heavy metal, then a guitar with single coil pickups is ideal because it gives a lovely warm tone which is perfect for clean tones but single coils are not advisable for playing with distortion because they do not have good sustain.

  • If you play mainly heavy music on full distortion then humbuckers are more advisable because they have very good sustain and even though their clean tone is not as good as single coils, it is still not that bad. Humbuckers come as either active or passive pickups. Active pickups have a 9volt battery inside the guitar and have a much wider range of tones. Passve pickups do not cover as many tones and they do not require a battery.

    You may also get a guitar with a single coil at the neck and a humbucker at the bridge. There are many different combinations...

    Of course, the quality of your pickups greatly affects your tone.

    What is the difference between a pickup at the bridge or at the neck?

    Well the difference is that pickups at the neck have a shorter distance from the fretted note and it seems to give a much warmer tone, that is why a guitar with one single coil and one humbucker has the single coil at the neck. The bridge pickup is further from the fretted note so it gives a nicer tone with distortion. The tone you get is more harsh and you get more distortion and sustain when the bridge pickup is selected.

    You may even use both pickups at once, using the selector switch.

    The next thing to take into consideration is the wood of your guitar. Heavier woods such as mahogany give more sustain than woods such as ash or alder. Therefore guitars such as the Les Paul sound so good with distortion because of the combination of a mahogany body with good quality humbuckers. The biggest downside to guitars made of such heavy wood is that they become very heavy and it becomes hard to play standing up for long periods of time.

    The standard Fender Stratocaster has alder or ash bodies. his combination goes very well with its 3 single coil pickups to give a good clean sound.

    The 3 most commonly used woods are mahogany, alder and basswood(cheaper wood).

    There are also different types of bridges.

    There are many different bridges but the ones that you will come across most often are: The Floyd Rose and The Neck Thru Style. Well the major differences are that the floyd rose style is a floating bridge and the neck thru style is a fixed bridge. The Floyd Rose style: It has a floating bridge which means that it comes with a whammy bar. This can be used to dip the bridge to quicy slacken the strings or tighten them so it changes the tuning just by pushing the bar and when you let go, it returns to normal. You will see that Eddie Van Halen uses this alot. This is a really good thing to have but the problem with the bridge is that changing the strings and tuning the guitar becomes harder as well as a lot longer and sometimes when you dip the bar too much the tuning changes.

    The neck thru style: This is a much simpler bridge. It is a fixed bridge where there are 6 holes in the guitar through which you thread your strings much more easily. Tuning as well as changing strings becomes much easier but you cannot use the effect made with a whammy bar.

    No fear: if you really want to use the whammy effect and you want a fixed bridge, buy the digitech whammy pedal. It allows you to drop the tuning up to 2 octaves lower or higher and you do not have to touch the guitar.

    There is also the number of frets to take into consideration. Some guitars come with either: 21, 22 or 24 frets. Guitars with 21 frets are more stable than the guitars with 24 frets but if you love soloing on your guitar then 24 frets are more useful.

    The type of strings that you use on your guitar depend on your playing. If you play on low tunings, then you need heavy gauge strings so the strings do not become too slack. I f you solo alot, then you need lighter gauge strings such as 9's so that string bending becomes easier.

    Those are the main things to take into consideration.

    Now some advice on good guitars for all levels of playing:

    If you are a beginner, then i recommend the Squier guitars by Fender. They are cheaper guitars made by fender. If you are just learning to play guitar, then the strat pack is good because it comes with all the equipment you need to begin: A guitar, amp, cable...

    The Squier Stratocaster is a fantastic guitar for 100pounds. It is similar in looks to the Fender version except that is alot cheaper. The sound is not bad but it comes with 3 single coils so it isnt ideal for beginner rockers

    Yamaha Do some great guitars for under 200 quid. I recommend checking these two companies out. If you do not go for a guitar package, then i recommend a small Marshall amp (10 WATTS) or the Roland Micro Cube. The micro cube is a really good amp. it gives amazing clean tones as well as some brutal metal tones (i use a ESP LTD KH202 and im not sure how it sounds with other guitars.) The cable you choose should say noise reduction on the side to ensure that it is a good quality cable.

    If you are buying an Expensive guitar, i would go for either the Lespaul, SG or the Stratocaster. These are the real deal. For clean tones, the strat and for heavy tones the Gibson SG or LP. I prefer the Lespaul but the one major disadvantage is the weight of it. It is very heavy and can often hurt your back but i feel the quality of the guitar makes up for the weight.

    Some of the great guitarists that use Gibson: Slash, Jimmy Page, Zakk Wylde, Angus Young, Joe Perry, Mark Knopfler....the list is endless.

    Those who use the Strat: Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Jeff Beck. So if you are using one of these guitars, you can see that you are in good company.

    Make sure that when you are buying an amp or some effects, take your guitar to try it out because some combinations do not go well together.

    Any questions, email me at Please rate this article and give your comments. I will take every thing into consideration for my next article...

  • 88 comments sorted by best / new / date

      score, 7th! i like to use the "go in to the guitar shop and play some guitars and buy the one you like best" method. and dont buy squiers you'll regret it
      finally a decent article, from someone who actually has a clue what he's talking about.
      hi, my name is tallica...i don't know shit about guitars. i've been playing for 3 months, and my big brother works at a guitar store. If Gibson or Fender had cocks, i'd suck them...because i didn't know that there ARE other brands basically, you're article was amateur. some dude said it up there, go to the store, take someone who actually has been PLAYING for a while, and get the one you like best!
      TO mikeman, alot of the pickups tom morello uses are humbuckers or single coil sized humbuckers like hot rails.
      Look a whole bunch of newbs are listenin to this guy and gettin ***ed over. This article isn't completely bs, some information are correct, but what is wrong is completely wrong.
      yeah no telecasters? and clapton and beck both used gibsons aswell
      im a newbie at gutiar adn i got a yahmahaset but it was free im also new with bass ive been playing for a year but i bought a samic for 175$
      To properly write an educational column, you first must KNOW what you are talking about. You obviously do not. You've learnt the lesson that you should not just spin off shit you've heard from any loser on the street. Figure things out for yourself and learn.
      Single coils are good for heavy songs just look at tom morello in rage against the machine.
      Hey dude, thanks for the advice!! I really needed that because in a few weeks i'm going to be buying an Epiphone Les Paul, and this article really helped me! God Bless you dude!
      I wish I would've read this before I bought my guitar cus I ended up buying a guitar that isn't so good for my music. Anyways, good article!
      Oh yes, EVERYONE wanting to choose a guitar wants a solidbody electric... What about all the nice achoustics out there? or all the nice Resonators?? or Hollowbodys?? That guy who was complaining is right, this article was really brief and got it's facts all stuffed. Yes, strats and les pauls are good, care to take your article beyond the 3 most popular guitars? God... "ahhh yeh, buy a Les Paul"... You contradicted yourself aswell, this was an article about choosing your particular style, and yet at the end you named a total 3 types of guitars you should buy
      Emergancy Exit
      you gave a quick rundown but it is lacking a few things like necs and how to feel youre instrament you diddint tell us that a stop tailpiece has a snappy attack and that the neck thru fixed bridge gives you more sustain and a warmer tone ..the list goes on
      Overrated: Squires suck, Fender should be embarrased to put their name on them.
      i agree. Squiers do suck badly. and the Fender Frontman 15w sux too
      defenitely one of the worst articles i've read in a long time. how long have you been playing, again? about the only thing you accurately explained was why the pickups at the neck and bridge sound the way they do. for that i give you a 1. other than that, there was just way too much stuff you either left out or didnt know in the first place. the tuneomatic bridge, as previously mentioned. you said you had an ESP guitar. so why not mention some of the other companies that make QUALITY guitars, like ESP, Ibanez, Schecter, PRS,Gretsch, Rickenbacker...? why just mention the 2 most popular brands (and their incredibly sucky counterparts, squier and epiphone, don't EVER buy from them, their stuff is CRAP. you will regret it, i promise. especially squier.) and the random insertion of the digitech whammy pedal?? i thought this was an article about how to choose your guitar, not how to fake a whammy bar with digital effects. overall, you defenitely have a LOT of homework to do before you write your next article. next time, write about something you honestly know.
      yea stop bashing squires. i just bought a squire master series telecaster for my second guitar and it kicks ass. sounds amazing
      i have to say i agree with everything haggardguy has said and think if you can fiind the time you should definetley write a similar (but better article) cuz you certainley seem to know your stuff. u mentioned wizard necks by Ibanez n thought you might like to know that all necks used by Ibanez are in fact made by Cort. (yes i know i have a shit name i happen to be a twat)
      For my bday im hoping to get an Epiphone Les Paul Sepiciel II, i play both Metal and Blues/Slide Dude do you think you could write about schoosing a second guitar?
      Umm, I have a squier standard tele and it sounds good. Doesn't suck at all. $225 black w/chrome. Some people are just dumbasses.
      the only reeason heaps of peeps buy strats is coz wen they think elec guitar they get a visoin of a strat
      How to choose the right gitar, Part 23 Beer with me becoz I'm not really good at staeing on topick, and my speleing and grammmer and punkshuateshun are rely rely rely bad, so I do my bestest, k? There's like, many types gitars out there you can play, but I don't buy gitars can you have my danish? How many times people can have gitars when no gitars can be good? Les find owt! Don't buy a Sqyer, they be bad and can slowly progress playing abilities for the homeless. I not play Sqyers becoz they bad gitars. Wouldn't world be better place if no Sqyers to be had? I think so! Don't buy Gibbsuns, they be bad and can ruin danish for everybody and not be good at all at all. Even though bigg name, WHOAH! Whoribal gitar! Simply not for danish. Don't buy Lesspall, they be bad speshally sinse nobuddy nose who makes them! Have you got a danish? Gitar noise not cluded for peepel. To some up, evrybuddy shood buy P.R.S. wif dragon enlay on fwetbored. I nose they xpinsiv but I have a danish and pickgard. Twetee fore fwet or more is awsome and the prise cant be beaten? Tnat's for sure! If you feel lyke flammingg me fore being, how you say, dumasss feel, free? And I punch in nose for no danish. Thank vou! Sven Stockholm, Sweden
      ei dont post somethin here that you heard from your dumbass friend!!stop bashing squiers..why?? have you already played one??..if not then you suck!!and this article is pure crap and very sucks and you suck!!
      There is nothing wrong with Squiers I've owned 2 of them and still play one as my main guitar. The band I play in covers a lot of Red Hot Chili Peppers, along with some Hendrix, some Doors and my Squier nails their sounds perfectly. It's my favorite guitar and it was also among the least expensive as I only paid $150 for it. Stop bashing the Squier until you pick one up and play some real music on it. Then, if you still think it's a bad guitar, it's time to stop playing guitar because you obviously don't know what a good guitar is.
      What is the lesson to be learned here, if any? Don't write a freaking article unless you really know what you're talking about because everyone here will bite your ass off!
      Whoa, what a bashing. I suppose he could have went into more detail, sure, but maybe he was a beginner writing a beginner article; I thought I knew everything when I first started playing guitar, just like everyone else... but now that I actually know what I'm doing, I understand how hard it is for newbies. You/We should be helping this guy, and guys like him, not preaching. By the way... those of you who say Squier Fenders suck... have you ever really played one? I got the strat pack, for $ 494.00, and I thought it was perfect. The Squier was the anniversary one, or whatever; and I found it, and still find it very versatile, accessible, and worthful. My style is SRV/John Mayer, and this guitar can create the exact tones needed (with the Frontman15G), set the pickups to the neck and middle, turn the knobs the right spot, and bam, perfect texas sound. Hit the selector to the neck posistion, and again, bam, powerful tones that let you play any good lead you need. Maybe it was just mine that was equipped with the highest quality everything... but this guitar is actually good. Give it time, play around, it practically can't break (its fallen off my stand many a time) the neck barely bends after tight tunings (open e) or loose tunings (open D or half step down). Its a shame all of you 'shredders' with your Ibanez RG series constantly complain about how bad Squiers are... open your eyes, guys.
      monkeysims said:
      Squiers suck, every single one of them. Get and Epiphone SG Special is your just starting. For 220 bucks you can get the SG pack. The crappy Strat pack is 300 and the guitar is junk!!!
      yes. Squiers suck...for advanced players. Squiers are good for beginners because they are lighter and also cost less.
      Squiers suck, every single one of them. Get and Epiphone SG Special is your just starting. For 220 bucks you can get the SG pack. The crappy Strat pack is 300 and the guitar is junk!!!
      actually you should probly buy the cheapest guitar you can right away, and save your money to buy a good guitar. an okay amp will be good for the start. youll only use the guitar for umm practice, not performance. and if ur just persuing it as a hobby a crappy guitar would probly be your best bet, who knows you might not even want to play it that much so buying a gibson SG would be a complete waste. at least thats what my dad reccomends, buying the cheapest guitar avalaible will get you able to actually PLAY a guitar, and as for saving ur money for a year will get a kick ass guitar, but thats a year not playing guitar, and would that really make ur life worth living?
      hey metallica what are you talking about. Gibson doesn't make cheap guitars. This was a good article, just cause it didn't include everything doesn't mean it sucks.
      ^agree. and a "neck-thru" bridge? YOu obviously havent done your homework. one star.
      Anty 7
      We could go on forever but there is one way to choose your guitar: choose a price range and try as many guitars as possible to get an idea. because even though you might think that one guitar is best for you, you MUST try it and see if you find it comfortable etc...
      You could of explained in slightly more detail and said how to indenitify certain aspects, but good job. 4 stars.
      this looked good untill you started mentioning all the stereotypical guitars that all newbies aspire to, you left out alot of options. Metalers and hard rockers might find what they're looking for with an ibanez, jackson, prs, maverick, cort or hand crafted bc rich (hand crafted versions have awsome sound contrary to popular belife). whilst those who play rock might be impressed by what's on offer from jackson, ibanez, epiphone or tanglewood. It's all a matter of what you need and what you want, and your opinion on a brand, the guitars asthetics are also very important to most people aswell