#1
Hi, so I normally play an acoustic guitar.

I find that when im really having trouble speeding up my playing, I will switch over to my nephews electric guitar(which bothers me, because the string spacing is different), but because its so weird to play, I pick up on some technical stuff, that I dont notice as well on acoustic, because im so focused on making sure all the strings are voiced etc... I wont go into my reasons for wanting to mess with it, I just think its fun even though I generally prefer the acoustic

Anyway, quick question on a few things, because im new to electric.

Its a cheap electric guitar - fender starcaster, and im not sure what the amp is, it says SP-10. My brother in law bought it for my nephew, but he never plays it, so I have it now.

Assuming it is strung right, and I think it is, because it tunes up fine, and stays in tune ( i love the tuners on electric guitars, it seems so much more fine tuning that the ones i have on the acoustic... ).

anyway can someone direct me to a quick faq on like.... why different pickups sound different? the thing that switches between the neck and the bridge pickup, how the tone knobs work, and also why there is another set of tone/volume knobs on the amp. Another thing, how does the "whammy bar" work, I think it might be broken cause it seems like all it is a metal bar that is screwed into the guitar, but no matter what i do to it it doesnt affect the sound.

I have looked for some stuff, but its tough to find a beginngers guide for this type of thing
#2
Look at the "Sticky" threads under "Gear building and customizing".
#3
The first thing to know (and no offense here at all), is that Starcasters are not good representatives of the electric guitar world. It says Fender, but if you look close, it says "Starcaster by Fender". Kind of like "Squier by Fender", but more like "Maestro by Gibson". I've literally seen them sold new with split necks (open cracks running several inches down the neck, starting to seperate/w a 1/16" gap). Cheap guitars almost always need a good setup; my Squier actually had some dead frets out of the box. After a good setup by a luthier, including shimming the neck, and after replacing the tuners with the same locking tuners they put on American Deluxe Stratocasters, it now plays better than my American Standard Strat. But before that, it was pretty miserable and was holding me back big-time. BTW, the setup cost almost as much as the guitar, and so did the tuners (I got the guitar for $125 on sale). The cheapest Squier will be likely a big step up from the Starcaster, and a nice Squier won't cost much more, but it will be better than most Made in Mexico Fenders.

Second, that amp will make the guitar audible, but it's not capable of producing a pleasant tone. Think about getting a Fender Mustang amp if you're on a tight budget, or a Fender tube amp if you're better resourced.

OK, now that the obligatory stuff is out of the way, let's tackle the Whammy bar: Rotate the bar so the end faces the neck. Play and sustain a note or chord and push the bar toward the body. That will loosen the tension on the strings, dropping the note as much as a couple of steps. With a more capable termolo system (aka Floyd Rose) you can make the strings go completely slack. Or pull up on the bar to bend notes. And it won't go out of tune with a Floyd Rose. The Starcaster will probably go out of tune the first time you use the whammy. If the bar won't pivot the bridge, then someone might have blocked it. That's common on Starcasters since most of them won't stay in tune at all if you use the whammy.

OK, the different pups on the same guitar can sound different for a number of reasons:
1. Where they are positioned affects tone. You get a warmer sound closer to the neck, and brighter close to the bridge.
2. There are 2 tone controls. Usually on a Starcaster, the upper one is wired to the neck pickup and the other to the middle pickup. So if you roll the highs off the neck it will be even warmer, and if you leave the other normal there will be a bigger difference in the tone between them.
3. If the bridge pickup has 12 poles instead of the 6 that you see on the neck and middle pups, then it's a humbucker. If it has 6, then it's a single coil like the others. Humbuckers put out a more agressive tone, usually a little warmer, and since they have higher output, then tend to sound a little more distorted if you're overdriving the amp. They're called humbuckers since they're made from 2 coils put together to cancel any hum you'd get from a dirty power source--they buck the hum.
4. If the switch is in the position closest to the strings (position 1), then you only hear the neck pickup. The next position should blend the neck and the middle pickup, simulating a humbucker. The middle position activates the middle pickup only. The next blends the middle and bridge pups. And postion 5 (furthest from the strings) gives you the bridge only. My Strat with 3 pickups almost never leaves position 4, but I play aggressive stuff. With your preference for the accoustics, you might like position 5 or positions 1 & 2 if you're playing jazzy stuff.

All of this is fairly academic for your current setup--that amp will mask most of the differences and the pickups in that guitar will be pretty low output, so you might not hear much difference in any of the controls.

So the tone knobs on the guitar hypothetically roll off the high frequencies with one controlling the neck and the other the middle pup. If you're in position 4, then the lower tone knob will also affect tone with the bridge pup.

The tone knobs on the amp control the amplifier's "tone stack" They control the amount of bass and treble the same way those controls work on a car stereo. Most better amps will also have controls for the mids and for "presence". Don't expect a drastic difference from the tone settings on the SP10.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have other questions. If you decide you don't like electric, please don't base it on this guitar and amp. Or anything else sold in a discount store or a book/record store. That would be like eating a three-day old Happy Meal hamburger and deciding you don't like meat.
#4
thank you that was very informative, can i "unblock" the whammy bar?

I am only interested in it for the time being because of the benefits to my technical skills.

Maybe when i have the money, i will look into getting a quality setup, but to be perfectly honest i just hate how loud they are compared to my acoustic lol.... Maybe its just cause its not great equipment, but even this tiny amp is LOUD for me.
#5
If the guitar still has the cover on the back, then take it off. No need to ever put it back on; that has to come off every string change and it won't take long to wear out the screw holes.

There is a block of pot metal back in there with some springs attached and 6 holes. The holes are where the ball ends of the strings are at. Usually people wedge or glue pieces of wood in between the guitar body and the metal block (on one or both sides) to block it.

If there are 5 springs in there, then you can remove 2 and it will make it easier to move the bar.

As for loudness, you don't have to plug the amp in at all. That will make it a lot softer than the accoustic. I played like that for about half my first year playing guitar 'cause I was living in a place with very thin walls and even a 1 watt amp would have been too loud.

Also, it's probably not the decibels that are bothering you, it's probably just the unpleasant tone. You could probably get a good tone at a low volume with a Mustang, but unless you want a pure clean tone, the Fender tube amps might need to get way too loud before you get that magical tube breakup (overdrive/distortion) that's the main point of electric guitars these days. You might need to find a tube amp with a master volume control.
#6
If the guitar still has the cover on the back, then take it off. No need to ever put it back on; that has to come off every string change and it won't take long to wear out the screw holes.

There is a block of pot metal back in there with some springs attached and 6 holes. The holes are where the ball ends of the strings are at. Usually people wedge or glue pieces of wood in between the guitar body and the metal block (on one or both sides) to block it.

If there are 5 springs in there, then you can remove 2 and it will make it easier to move the bar.

As for loudness, you don't have to plug the amp in at all. That will make it a lot softer than the accoustic. I played like that for about half my first year playing guitar 'cause I was living in a place with very thin walls and even a 1 watt amp would have been too loud.

Also, it's probably not the decibels that are bothering you, it's probably just the unpleasant tone. You could probably get a good tone at a low volume with a Mustang, but unless you want a pure clean tone, the Fender tube amps might need to get way too loud before you get that magical tube breakup (overdrive/distortion) that's the main point of electric guitars these days. You might need to find a tube amp with a master volume control.[/QUOTE

Just to add, I have a Fender Mustang 1 and it sounds fine at socially acceptable volumes, such as, no louder than a strummed acoustic