Electric guitars are available in a variety of types, each possessing distinct characteristics, tones, and designs. Below, you’ll find descriptions of some of the frequently encountered electric guitar varieties:
Solid-body guitars are a fundamental category of electric guitars characterised by their entirely solid construction, devoid of any sound holes or hollow chambers found in semi-hollow or hollow-body guitars. This design results in minimal feedback and exceptional sustain, making solid-body guitars ideal for genres like rock, metal, and beyond. The Fender Stratocaster and Gibson Les Paul are iconic examples of solid-body guitars, renowned for their versatility and ability to produce a wide range of tones.
The Fender Stratocaster, often simply referred to as the “Strat,” stands as one of the most iconic and influential electric guitars in the history of music. Introduced in 1954, this legendary instrument boasts a distinctive double-cutaway solid-body design, three single-coil pickups, a synchronised tremolo bridge system, and a bolt-on maple neck. The Stratocaster’s versatility is unparalleled, making it a staple in a wide range of musical genres from rock, blues, and pop to jazz and beyond. Renowned for its smooth, bright tones, and its ability to produce both crystal-clear cleans and biting overdrive, the Stratocaster has been wielded by countless legendary guitarists, including Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, shaping the sonic landscape of generations. Its timeless design and unmistakable sound continue to captivate musicians and enthusiasts alike, solidifying its status as an enduring symbol of electric guitar excellence.
The Fender Telecaster, often affectionately referred to as the “Tele,” is a legendary solid-body electric guitar that first debuted in 1950. Renowned for its simplicity and unmistakable twangy sound, the Telecaster features a single-cutaway design, two single-coil pickups, and a fixed bridge. Its straightforward construction, combined with a bolt-on maple neck, offers a clear and crisp tone, making it a favourite among country, rock, and blues musicians. The Telecaster’s enduring popularity is a testament to its timeless design and versatility, making it a classic instrument that has left an indelible mark on the history of electric guitars.
Introduced in 1952 and named in honour of its creator, the legendary jazz guitarist and innovator Les Paul, the Gibson Les Paul stands as an iconic solid-body electric guitar. Known for its distinctive single-cutaway body with a carved maple top, two humbucking pickups, and a set neck, the Les Paul guitar has become synonymous with warm, thick tones, sustain, and rock ‘n’ roll. It has been used by legendary musicians such as Jimmy Page, Slash, and Eric Clapton. Les Paul’s enduring popularity stems from its ability to deliver rich, creamy, overdrive tones, making it a cornerstone in rock, blues, and heavy metal music. With various models and finishes, the Les Paul remains a symbol of craftsmanship and musical excellence in the world of electric guitars.
The Gibson SG, short for “Solid Guitar,” is a classic solid-body electric guitar introduced in 1961 as a redesign of the earlier Les Paul model. The SG features a double-cutaway body shape, making it lighter and more comfortable to play than the Les Paul while retaining the distinctive rock and blues tones that Gibson guitars are known for. It typically comes equipped with two humbucking pickups, offering a sharp and aggressive sound favoured by rock and hard rock players. Famous guitarists like Angus Young of AC/DC and Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath have prominently used the SG, cementing its reputation as a go-to instrument for those seeking a powerful and edgy guitar tone. The Gibson SG continues to be a beloved and influential guitar in the world of rock music.
Semi-Hollow and Hollow-Body Guitars
Semi-hollow and hollow-body guitars are distinctive electric guitar types known for their unique tonal characteristics. Semi-hollow-body guitars, like the iconic Gibson ES-335, have a partially hollow construction with a solid centre block, offering warmth and resonance while reducing feedback. In contrast, hollow-body guitars, such as the Gibson ES-175 or Gretsch White Falcon, feature fully hollow bodies with no centre block, resulting in a rich, acoustic-like sound with natural sustain. These guitars are favoured in genres like jazz, blues, and folk for their mellow and full-bodied tones, while semi-hollow guitars strike a balance between feedback control and versatility, making them suitable for various musical styles.
The Gibson ES-335 is a semi-hollow electric guitar introduced in 1958. It features a distinctive double-cutaway body with a semi-hollow construction, which includes a solid centre block running through the body. Equipped with two humbucking pickups, the ES-335 delivers a wide range of warm and resonant tones, making it a versatile choice for various music genres, including blues, rock, jazz, and pop. Its balanced combination of feedback resistance and rich, harmonically complex sound has made it a favourite among guitarists for decades, and it has been used by legendary musicians like B.B. King, Chuck Berry, and Eric Clapton.
The Gretsch 6120 is an iconic hollow-body electric guitar that has left a significant mark on the music world. Introduced in the 1950s, it has become synonymous with rockabilly, country, and rock ‘n’ roll music. The Gretsch 6120 typically features a single-cutaway hollow body with f-shaped soundholes, a Bigsby vibrato tailpiece, and Filter’Tron pickups, which are known for their twangy and articulate sound.
Notable musicians like Eddie Cochran, Duane Eddy, and Brian Setzer have prominently used the Gretsch 6120, contributing to its status as a beloved guitar in genres that require a clean, lively, and distinctive tone. With its retro aesthetics and unique sonic character, the Gretsch 6120 continues to be a cherished and influential instrument in the world of vintage-style electric guitars.
Metal and Heavy Rock Guitars
Metal and heavy rock guitars are specialised instruments designed to deliver the powerful and aggressive tones required for heavy metal, hard rock, and related genres. These guitars are characterised by several key features:
Ibanez RG Series
The Ibanez RG Series is a legendary line of electric guitars renowned for its versatility, sleek design, and exceptional playability. Introduced in the late 1980s, the RG Series has become a staple for rock and metal guitarists. These guitars are characterised by their contoured double-cutaway bodies, slim and fast necks, and high-output pickups, making them perfect for shredding and heavy riffing. With a wide range of models catering to various budgets and player preferences, the Ibanez RG Series has established itself as a go-to choice for those seeking powerful, expressive, and precision instruments, earning a reputation for being among the best instruments for delivering aggressive and articulate tones in the world of rock and metal music.
The Jackson Soloist is an iconic electric guitar model celebrated for its aggressive design and exceptional playability, catering primarily to heavy metal and shred guitarists. Introduced in the early 1980s, the Soloist features a sleek and ergonomic body shape, often constructed from premium tonewoods, along with a neck-through-body design for unparalleled sustain and access to the upper frets. Equipped with high-output humbucking pickups, Floyd Rose tremolo systems, and lightning-fast neck profiles, the Soloist offers the perfect combination of speed, precision, and power, making it a preferred choice for virtuoso players. With its distinctive aesthetics and superior performance, the Jackson Soloist remains a staple in the world of heavy metal and hard rock guitar playing.
Seven and Eight-String Guitars
Seven and eight-string guitars are extended-range electric guitars designed to provide additional low-end notes and expanded tonal options compared to traditional six-string guitars. These guitars typically feature an extra string or two, with the seven-string guitar adding a low B string and the eight-string guitar adding both a low B and a high F# string. They have gained popularity in genres like progressive metal, djent, and jazz fusion, allowing for extended chords, increased range for solos, and the ability to explore deeper and heavier tones. Musicians who favour these guitars appreciate the added versatility and the ability to create complex, intricate music that pushes the boundaries of traditional guitar playing.
These are just some of the many electric guitars available, and countless variations are within each category. When choosing an electric guitar, consider your playing style, musical preferences, and budget to find the one that suits you best.