What Is an Electric Guitar? (Everything You Need to Know)

Discover the basics of electric guitars, their types, essential accessories, and beginner tips and techniques in this comprehensive guide for novices.

Hold on to your picks, aspiring rockstars! If you want to learn more about electric guitars, then you’ve strummed your way to the right place. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive headfirst into the electrifying world of electric guitars, breaking down the basics, the types, and even the difference between electric and acoustic guitars.

As you journey through this article, you’ll pick up the essential accessories, beginner electric guitar techniques, and popular chords and scales you’ll need to make your six-string dreams come true. So, let’s amp up the excitement and dive into the world of electric guitars. After all, there’s no time to fret over the small stuff – it’s time to rock’n’roll!

What is an electric guitar? An electric guitar is a stringed musical instrument that uses electromagnetic pickups to convert string vibrations into electrical signals, which are then amplified and played through a speaker. This innovative design sets electric guitars apart from their acoustic counterparts, allowing for a variety of tonal possibilities and playing styles.

What is the history of the electric guitar?

The emergence of the electric guitar can be traced back to the 1930s. One of the earliest electric guitars was the Ro-Pat-In Electro A-25 “Frying Pan” from 1932, which is considered the first fully functioning solid-body electric guitar to be manufactured and sold. This groundbreaking instrument laid the foundation for future developments in electric guitar design.

Image of two electric guitars on the floor. Source: pexels
Image of two electric guitars on the floor. Source: pexels

In the 1940s, the concept of solid-body guitars was already being explored. Innovators and musicians were working on creating such instruments. However, it was Leo Fender, a renowned manufacturer of guitar amplifiers, who introduced the first solid-body electric guitar to the market. His design revolutionized the industry and paved the way for the electric guitar’s widespread adoption.

By the 1950s, various genres like rhythm and blues, rockabilly, and rock and roll were emerging, and the electric guitar found a new home in the hearts of musicians. It offered new sounds and tones that captivated a new generation of artists. Icons like Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Carl Perkins, and Buddy Holly embraced the electric guitar’s capabilities and helped shape its early sound and style.

…the electric guitar remains an essential instrument in various music genres, including rock, blues, jazz, and many others.

Since those early days, the electric guitar has undergone numerous advancements and transformations. It has evolved in terms of design, construction, and technology. Different manufacturers have contributed to its development, introducing innovations such as different pickup configurations, solid-body variations, and advancements in electronics and playability.

Today, the electric guitar remains an essential instrument in various music genres, including rock, blues, jazz, and many others. Its versatility, expressiveness, and ability to create a wide range of tones continue to captivate musicians and audiences alike.

My favorite MIDI keyboard (at the moment):

AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3

What is an electric guitar? (everything you need to know) | 717qmgla7zl. Ac sl1500 | audio apartment
My favorite MIDI keyboard (at the moment):

AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3

I’m loving the AKAI MPK Mini MK3 for its compact design and the range of controls. It’s one of my essential tools. The velocity-sensitive keys and MPC-style pads are great for making beats, while the thumbstick and knobs give me precise control.

What are the different types of electric guitars?

There are several types of electric guitars, each with its own unique features and characteristics. Here are some of them:

1. Solid-body electric guitar

A solid-body electric guitar is a type of guitar that is made entirely of a solid piece of wood. It has no sound hole, so it relies on pickups to convert the strings’ vibrations into an electrical signal that can be amplified. Solid-body electric guitars are generally favored by guitarists who prefer a brighter sound.

Solid-body electric guitars are suitable for high-gain and rock music. They are also less prone to feedback issues compared to semi-hollow and hollow body guitars.

2. Hollow-body electric guitar

A hollow-body electric guitar is a type of guitar that has a large sound hole, and its body is hollowed out to produce an acoustic-like sound. This type of guitar has a warmer tone compared to solid-body electric guitars, making them more suitable for jazz and blues genres. However, they are more prone to feedback issues and are not as suitable for high-gain and rock music.

3. Semi-hollow body electric guitar

A semi-hollow-body electric guitar is a type of guitar that combines elements of both solid-body and hollow-body electric guitars. It has a solid center block and hollow wings or f-holes. This design produces a tone that is a mix of the warmth of hollow-body guitars and the sustain and brightness of solid-body guitars.

Semi-hollow body guitars are suitable for genres like jazz, blues, and rock music. They are also less prone to feedback compared to hollow-body electric guitars. Some famous semi-hollow guitar players include B.B. King and Dave Grohl.

How do you play the electric guitar?

Electric guitarists generate sound by striking their strings with a pick. Some players pluck the strings of an electric guitar with their fingers, while others use a combination of fingers and a pick. Electric guitarists have numerous choices for modifying the timbre and tonality of their instruments.

The tone and volume knobs of the guitar, as well as the various pickups, stompbox pedals, and amplifier functions, can all contribute to a wide spectrum of sounds. Because of the options provided by these components, electric guitarists such as Wes Montgomery, Brad Paisley, Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, and Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine can sound radically different while technically playing the same instrument.

What makes an electric guitar unique from acoustic guitars?

Electric guitars are unique from acoustic guitars in several ways. The design and sound production of electric guitars makes them a popular choice for many musicians. However, acoustic guitars are still a more economical option for those who are just starting out or prefer a more natural sound. This table shows the differences between electric and acoustic guitars:

FeaturesAcoustic GuitarElectric Guitar
Sound ProductionResonating sound produced by vibrating strings and resonating body.Sound is produced by electromagnetic pickups and amplifiers.
AmplificationNot required.Requires an amplifier for optimal sound projection.
Sound VarietiesLimited range of acoustic tones.Wide range of tones and effects through amplification and electronic manipulation.
PortabilityBulkier and less portable due to size and shape.Compact and easier to transport due to its solid body and detachable components.
PlayabilityGenerally requires higher action (string height) and more finger pressure.Lower action and lighter string gauge for easier playability.
MaintenanceLower maintenance, no need for batteries or electronic upkeep.Requires regular maintenance, batteries for active pickups, and occasional electronics repairs.
CostGenerally less expensive compared to electric guitars.Electric guitars can range from affordable to high-end, depending on brand and features.
A comparison table highlighting the differences between acoustic and electric guitars
Image of electric guitars. Source: unsplash
Image of electric guitars. Source: unsplash

How can beginners start playing the electric guitar?

When starting to learn electric guitar, beginners should start with basic techniques like hammer-ons and pull-offs, which are common in different genres such as folk, hard rock, and heavy metal. It’s also essential to learn how to tune the guitar and strum chords, leading up to playing guitar solos.

For beginners, learning basic chords like G, C, D, and E minor is crucial when starting to play the electric guitar. Additionally, the pentatonic scale is a popular scale used in rock, blues, and country music that is relatively easy to learn and fun to play.

Choosing the first electric guitar can be overwhelming for beginners, but it’s essential to select a guitar that fits comfortably in your hands, has a smooth neck, and is within your budget. It’s also recommended to try out different guitar types like a solid body, semi-hollow, or hollow body and various pickups to find your preferred sound.

If you want even more tips and insights, watch this video called “Beginner Electric Lesson 1 – Your Very First Electric Guitar Lesson” from the Marty Music YouTube channel.

A video called “Beginner Electric Lesson 1 – Your Very First Electric Guitar Lesson” from the Marty Music YouTube channel.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Do you still have questions about electric guitars? Below are some of the most commonly asked questions.

What does an electric guitar do?

An electric guitar generates sound by vibrating strings over a pickup, translating the vibrations into electrical signals. These signals are routed through an amplifier, which projects the musical performance at various volumes.

Can I play normal music on an electric guitar?

Theoretically, any sort of guitar may be used to play any style of music. But, each form of music works best with a specific sort of guitar. What exactly is this? Some musical styles are better suited to acoustic guitars, while others are better suited to electric guitars.

How do I choose the right electric guitar?

Choosing the right electric guitar can depend on various factors, such as personal preference, playing style, and budget. Some key things to consider include the type of pickups, the type of wood used in the guitar’s construction, and the overall quality of the instrument.

It’s also important to try out different guitars and get a feel for their sound and playability before making a final decision.


Alright, guitar heroes, we’ve reached the end of our electrifying journey! (Can you believe we’re already done?) From understanding the basics of electric guitars to diving into the different types and techniques, we’ve covered a lot of ground. But the real question is, have you been inspired to pick up an electric guitar and start shredding? (Or maybe you already have!) Let me know in the comments section below (I read and reply to every comment).

If you’re still feeling a bit overwhelmed, don’t worry – choosing your first electric guitar can be a daunting task. But with our ultimate buying guide and a bit of research, you’ll be well on your way to finding your perfect six-string soulmate. And speaking of soulmates, share this article with a friend if you found this article helpful. Thanks for reading, and keep making great music!

Key takeaways

This article covered what is an electric guitar. Here are some key takeaways:

  • Electric guitars use electromagnetic pickups to convert string vibrations into electrical signals that can be amplified and shaped to produce a wide range of tones.
  • There are three main types of electric guitars: solid body, hollow body, and semi-hollow body.
  • Essential accessories for electric guitar playing include a suitable amplifier, guitar cables, and a guitar strap.
  • Beginner electric guitar techniques include learning basic chords and scales, as well as practicing techniques like bending, vibrato, and palm muting.
  • When choosing an electric guitar, consider factors like the type of pickups, wood used in construction, and overall quality.

Helpful resources

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Written by Andrew Ash, Staff Writer

Hey there! My name is Andrew, and I'm relatively new to music production, but I've been learning a ton, and documenting my journey along the way. That's why I started this blog. If you want to improve your home studio setup and learn more along with me, this is the place for you!

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