Mon

16

Jul

2012

ELECTRIC GUITAR BUYING GUIDE

If there’s one thing that everyone loves, universally, it has to be music, right? The love for music spreads all across the globe, and spreads far and wide.

 

But not only people like listening to music, people from all across the world aspire to be able to play music, and to be able to make and produce their own music.

 

A lot of the people reading this might even see themselves be the next Slash, Hendrix, Page or Malmsteen, and rock out with a six-string like their guitar idol, in front of millions!

 

Well, the good news is that with the right training, practice, patience, dedication and of course, with the right six-stringer, it is all very do-able!

 

So if you’re a beginner, or a seasoned pro and looking to take the next step to becoming the newest guitar sensation (or are just inspired by Guitar Hero), your first step should be to purchase a good electric guitar. The following electric guitar buying guide should come in pretty handy for the purpose.

 

Level of Proficiency

 

Before setting off with your purchase, it is important to determine how proficient the buyer really is, in terms of his or her guitar-playing exploits.

 

For a Beginner Guitar Player:

 

For a beginner or someone who is new to guitar-playing and wants to learn his trade, it is generally recommended to start off with an acoustic, and once you reach a certain level of proficiency, and have a good command on playing an acoustic should you move to an electric guitar.

 

However that is far from being a rule of thumb. If you feel excited and enthused about learning to play an electric guitar, go for it!

 

If you’re a beginner, and see an electric guitar that you like, or one that you know sounds the way you like, or one that you favorite artists, guitarists or musicians use, by all means go for it.

 

Go for what appeals to you, and what excites you. Because if you do that, it is more likely you will stick to it, even when motivation levels are low at a later point in time. Buy that Les Paul that your favorite artist used at his last live performance. Look them up, do your research as to which guitars they’ve used and go for it!

 

Whatever you buy, just make sure that it comes with a refund or an exchange guarantee, valid for at least a few weeks after the purchase.

 

For an Experienced Pro:

 

As someone who’s probably played for a while now, you would know what you want and what to avoid in terms of your next guitar purchase.

 

If not, seek advice for peers, or look online on the internet for help – you might be surprised to know that there are some great resources to help you out.

 

Price

 

Price is important. Electric guitars are usually a bit expensive (at least comparatively, when compared with acoustic guitars or semi acoustics), and especially when you factor in the cost of buying an amp, effects pedal/processor and/or other accessories. But having said that, electric guitars are generally available for all budgets.

 

Cheap unbranded alternatives are also available, but personally, I would never recommend getting one.

 

Instead, if you have an upper-limit for the amount you would want to spend on one, get something like a cheap Squier Stratocaster or Telecaster, a Yamaha SG-series electric guitar , or an Epiphone Les Paul – all great alternatives to their expensive counterparts.

 

Squier is actually owned by Fender, and produces cheaper, budget-friendly versions of Fender’s more expensive guitars, such as the Strat. Similarly, Epiphone is a subsidiary of Gibson, and serves pretty much the same purpose – producing cheaper and budget-friendly versions of Gibson guitars, like the Epiphone Les Paul.

 

If money’s not an issue, well you might want to go for a good Gibson Les Paul Studio, a Yamaha Pacifia, or a good Fender (such as the legendary Stratocaster), an Ibanez or a Jackson.

 

At the end of the day, you should do your research and buy the highest-quality instrument that you could possibly get. A good electric guitar would feel great, sound great and would be easier to sell or trade, if need be.

 

How An Electric Guitar Functions

 

Before making the purchase, it is equally important to know how electric guitars function, how they work. Electrics are different to acoustics in terms of how the sound I produced; acoustic guitars produce their own sound, however sound on an electric is produced when the string vibration goes through an electromagnetic pickup, and is converted into an electrical signal which goes through an amplifier, which finally produces the sound.

 

An electric guitar therefore produces no sound of its own, and relies on an externally-connected amplifier for the purpose. The sound is amplified, and its tone, pitch, resonance and other qualities can be changed, and effects can also be added, all depending on the type of amplifier and effects processor that is being used.

 

Types of Electric Guitars and Music Genre

 

Another aspect which would determine which electric guitar your purchase would be the music genre(s) that appeal to you the most. But first, let’s take a look at the different types of electric guitar bodies.

 

The most common electrics are solid-body electric guitars, which can be shaped and designed in any way imaginable – ranging from traditional round bodies to one that has pointy, star-shaped edges. Solid-bodies are the most common types of electric guitars, and much of the music today is made on these. Coupled with a good amplifier and an equally-able effects process, virtually any kind of sound can be made using these. They are suitable for all genres, including rock, metal, country, jazz, or blues.

 

Hollow-body electrics have arched tops, are unsuitable for high volumes, and produce a full tone with rich bass; ideal for jazz musicians. Semi-hollowbody guitars have a solid wooden center in order to avoid feedback issues.

 

In terms of which guitar would be best suited for particular genres or to a specific playing style, I find, and this is strictly my personal opinion, that something like a Gibson Les Paul is more suited for rock music and all its sub-genres (including hard rock and metal), whereas the Fender Stratocaster is much more suited for Blues, Country, and Indie music and is generally an easier and a more natural guitar to pick up and play.

 

Once again, strictly my opinion. With any electric guitar, you won’t have to be genre-bound, since it can be paired up with virtually any good effects processor to produce just about any sound under the sun.

 

The Artists

 

Famous Les Paul Players: Led Zeppelin and Jimmy Page, Ozzy Osbourne, Zakk Wylde , Gn’R and Slash.

 

Famous Strat Players: Eric Clapton, van Halen, Jimi Hendrix.

 

The abovementioned information should be useful in case you wanted to pick up something used by Slash or Hendrix, and weren’t sure which guitars these rock gods donned, and what their axe of choice is.

 

Scale Length

 

The scale length is the length of the strings, measured from the bridge and the head nut.

 

25-1/2” is the standard scale length on almost all Fender guitars such as the Telecaster and Stratocaster (perhaps the most famous guitars on this scale length), and other steel-stringed guitar manufacturers such as Jackson, ESP and Ibanez. This high-tension scale length provides a trebly-sound. Fender’s budget-friendly.

 

The other standard scale length, the 24-3/4” is most commonly used by Gibson, most notably on the Les Paul, SG, Flying V and the ES335 guitars. This length has a lower string tension, uses slightly heavier strings and as a result, produces less trebly sound, but with added bass and with greater output from the pickups. This length is also used by guitar manufacturer Dean.

 

Pickups

 

There are 3 distinct types of pickups on electric guitars, and guitars could come with any combination of these:

  1. Single-coil – the most common (and earliest) type of pickup, these have a single magnetic bar, which is wrapped in wire and mounted underneath to the strings, perpendicularly.
  2. Humbucker – these have two magnetic coils wrapped opposite of each other. This allows for a more powerful electrical signal to be generated and also producing a much smoother and powerful tone.
  3. Piezo – are non-magnetic pickups, made up of a crystalline material that produces a weak signal, one which requires pre-amplification (usually through the help of onboard electronics) before it reaches an amplifier. These pickups are used to replicate the sound of an acoustic guitar.

 

Wood

 

Not as important a factor in electric guitars – purely due to the fact that sound is produced with the help of pickups and an amp – the wood used to construct an electric guitar still determines how long the strings vibrate for, and their motion, and ultimately affecting the guitar’s sound and tonal qualities. I won't go into a lot of details about this, but if you're interested, you can read up on the wood types used to construct modern electric guitars here.

 

Additional Read

 

There are a couple of other factors to be considered as well, as this LearnGuitar.org article demonstrates. Follow these tips, and do your research in order to make an informed purchase. Good luck!

 

38 Comments

Mon

16

Jul

2012

HOW TO PREPARE FOR YOUR FIRST LIVE GIG

So you’ve finally taken the next step, and are ready to move out of the garage and in front of a live audience. To call it a daunting experience would probably be the understatement of the decade!

 

I’ve been there, and I’ve done it. It’s a huge step forward, and just thinking about it can be nerve-wracking. However at the same time, it’s an exciting prospect to be finally able to showcase your guitar playing skills and talents, and put your guitar playing exploits in the front of the world and in the spotlight.

 

All guitar gods started this way – Slash, Hendrix, Hammett, Page… there came a time each of these guitarists when they performed for the first time in front of the world.

 

It’s a major step, it could be the defining moment in your life, and something you’ll look back to when you when you become the rock star that you aspire to be. However an inexperienced guitar player needs to ensure that he has all bases covered.

 

Here are some tips, based on my own experiences as a guitar player, and hopefully, each and everyone one of these will be of help to a budding guitar player, ready to take on the world with his first gig.

  1. Prep – As a guitar player, you should know that good preparation is key and the well-prepared you are, the more you’ll be able to enjoy the experience. Trust me when I say this, if your band is well-prepared, in total sync, well-rehearsed and did its homework, your first gig will be smooth sailing. Generally speaking it is a good idea to show up to the place nice and early (maybe even book it a few days before the gig itself), and get accustomed to the environment well before the performance. Above all, it would be a good idea to get accustomed with the sound, because it will most probably be very different to what you are used to hearing in your garage or room (or wherever you practiced).
  2. Practice and Warm-up Performances – a practice performance is playing a piece straight out, with any interruption, mistakes, stopping or loss of flow. It is an uninterrupted performance, similar to a ‘full-dress rehearsal’, where you’ll perform all your pieces as you would perform them in front of the live audience. Make sure that you get a few of these under the belt before the actual gig. But above all, ensure that you, as a guitarist, have ironed out all mistakes beforehand. Get your head straight, and focus. Even if you do make a mistake, don’t dwell into it – something that will help you during your live performance. Angus Young of ACDC once tripped over a lead at a gig, but feigned a spasm to avoid embarrassment on stage, and it worked! No one noticed it, even after months, until he confessed to it in an interview.
  3. Visualize Yourself Performing – This is an important aspect of mental practice, as visualization is a powerful tool which can help you prepare for something, such as a gig. Close your eyes, and imagine yourself on the stage, in front of the crowd, hitting an amazing guitar solo and being as confident in front of people as you’ve ever been. Hear your music play. Imagine how it will all feel like after it’s over, imagine your success before it happens.
  4. Communicate With the Audience – During a gig, you might need to change guitars, make sure that your front man knows when these changes will happen so he can speak to the audience to give you the time you need. What you front man (or someone else who fills in to communicate to the audience) says should be prepared beforehand. Make this a part of your practice performances. It doesn’t really matter what he/she says, the purpose of it all is to direct attention away from you, while you’re changing equipment. Look at some of Metallica’s live gigs for this purpose, such as their Symphony and Metal (S&M)  gig. James Hetfield was the master of keeping the audience engaged while Hammett and co changed guitars.
  5. Check Your Equipment – Check your equipment thoroughly the night before the performance, as well as right before you’re about to go on stage. Make sure everything functions as intended -  your guitars, amps, pedals, the computers, etc. Check for blown fuses or degrading valves in your amps. Here is an excellent piece on gigbag essentials. Try thinking of all possible scenarios of something going wrong, and think of a plan B for each and every thing. Which brings us to…
  6. Keep Spares – Keep a list of your equipment and carry a spare of everything – guitars, strings, picks, amps, batteries and all. Also take a toolkit with you – containing essentials like pliers, screw drivers, knives, solder, tape, etc. While all these things might seem useless, you never know when one of the unlikeliest of things turns out to be extremely handy. Trust me, I know!
  7. Avoid Drinking and/or Drugs – I’ve seen good musicians ruin what could’ve been perfectly good performances (and get booed off the stage as a result), because they had one drink too many before the performances. The usual explanation is ‘we drank to calm the nerves’, and while it might look like a good idea, trust me it isn’t. If you’re serious about the performance, be professional. Your nerves will disappear when you…
  8. Have Fun On-Stage! This is vital. Remember that the only reason you’re doing this is because it is something that lets you have fun. That’s what performance art is all about. For me, performing in front of the audience is a high like no other! Have fun out there and enjoy, because once you do, the nerves will take care of themselves, and you’ll have the time of your life! Once you connect with the audience and start enjoying yourself, they too will have fun with you, laugh with you and enjoy every moment of it.
  9. Be Proud of Your Performance – Give yourself a pat on the back afterwards, you did something millions simply dream of doing. You took the big stage, you had fun and delivered a solid performance. Also don’t forget to acknowledge your band-mates, especially on-stage, if your drummer for instance does a vocal job on one of your guitar solos, give him a shout out.

 

Hopefully, your first live gig will be one of the most truly memorable experiences in your life!

27 Comments

Fri

13

Jul

2012

ACOUSTIC GUITAR BUYING GUIDE

Buying your first acoustic guitar? Or just looking to upgrade to a better one? Ultimate Guitar Blog has you covered!

 

In this post, we’ll be looking at what factors you should consider before buying an acoustic guitar – things like purpose, budget, guitar types, comfort and playability.

 

1. Purpose of the Purchase

 

Before setting out, it is important to determine what the purpose of your purchase really is: are you a beginner, looking to buy your first guitar? Or are you an experienced guitar player, who is looking for an upgrade? Your level of guitar playing proficiency is likely to determine what sort of a guitar you end up purchasing, and more importantly, how much money you’ll end up shelling on one. Which brings us to…

 

2. The Budget

 

As a rule of thumb, the more you pay for something, the better, right? The same rule also applies to a guitar. So at the end of the day, you get what you pay for.

 

However that is not to say that good acoustic guitars (such as those which are fantastic sounding and comfy to play) cannot be had on the cheap. Yamaha, for instance, make some excellent low-budget acoustic guitars, suitable for beginners and advanced guitar players alike. Even companies like Fender, Gibson and Epiphone make some excellent low-cost acoustic guitars which give an excellent bang-for-the-buck.

 

As your first guitar or if you’re a beginner, go with an inexpensive acoustic guitar. If you’re looking to upgrade, be prepared to shell out some money.

 

3. Parts of a Guitar

 

An acoustic guitar consists of different parts, all of which determine how the guitar sounds and feels.

 

For instance, the material used to construct the body of an acoustic guitar determines its sound and its tone. Different styles and body sizes also of a big role to play in how the guitar sounds.

 

However the guitar’s body also houses many other individual parts – for instance the bridge, which transfers string vibration from the strings to the hollow sound chamber. The sound is transferred through the saddle, which also keeps the strong anchored to the body-end of the guitar.

 

The part of the guitar’s body referred to as the ‘top’, actually acts as a hollow sound-chamber, and is very important in how the guitar sounds. Most guitar tops are either solid or laminated. The latter are less affected by changes in temperature and humidity, and are also more affordable, because of how they’re built. The former, a solid-top guitar, will cost more, but provide a better resonance and a greater sound projection.

 

The neck or the fretboard of the guitar determines how comfortable it is to play and hold, and has a big impact on the guitar’s overall ‘feel’. Guitar necks are either glued to the body, or bolted on. The neck of the guitar houses the fretboard, and individual frets. The individual frets are fixed in the wood, and the guitar produces different sounds when strings are held down where different frets are (pro-tip: additional resource on guitar neck/fretboard and learning the fretboard here).

 

Lastly, on the far end of the neck you’ll find the tuners, aka. the machine heads. Turning the tuners will change the tension and the rigidity of the strings, changing the guitar’s tone and pitch, and how it sounds.

 

4. Wood Type Used

 

The type of wood used to make the guitar is hugely detrimental to how it sounds and feels.

 

Acoustic guitars are made using a wide range of wood types, and various species or variants of the same wood that might be used in different parts of the guitars.

 

For instance Cedar is used to make the body (top, back and sides) of classical or finger-style acoustic guitars, mostly because of the bright upper registers it produces. Ebony is a hard, strong type of wood, feels slick and smooth and is hence used to construct the fretboards of all good guitars.

 

But one of the most commonly-used wood types in almost all modern (and old) acoustic guitars is Mahogany. It is used to construct the top, back, the sides as well as the neck and bridge of the acoustics guitars. Mahogany, when used on the top, gives the guitar sound an extra punch, most suitable for country and blues guitar playing. Mahogany guitars produce a solid tone, and add a boost to the middle and upper ends of the dynamic range. Koa is similar in terms of how it sounds to Mahogany, but more expensive because of how scarce it is.

 

Often times, Maple too is used to construct acoustic guitars, although it is primarily used in the construction of electric guitars. It is a dry, flat-sounding type of wood because of its heavy weight and low sound velocity.

 

Rosewood acoustic guitars have become more expensive because of declining supply and increasing scarcity of Brazilian Rosewood in particular. Rosewood acoustic guitars have a warm low-end, enhanced, rich and strong mids and highs, and a greater resonance – all mostly due to the wood’s high sound velocity.

 

Spruce is another commonly used wood type for electric guitars, especially guitar tops. Its characteristics include being extremely light-weight yet strong, and Spruce provides a good, clear and full sound at all dynamic levels. Variants of Spruce include Sitka Spruce and Red Spruce.

 

5. Body Styles

 

This could perhaps be one of the most important aspects for you, when  you set about purchasing a guitar.

 

While most body styles are specific to certain guitar companies and manufacturers, as a rule of thumb, find a guitar with a body style that is confortable to play, and produces the tone and sound that you would want. It is due to this reason that I strongly recommend making your purchase in-store, rather than doing it online – unless of course you are absolutely sure of how the guitar you’re planning to buy online feels and sounds.

 

In addition, choose a guitar with a large soundboard, as it will make a much better low-end tone and volume. The placement of the cutaway is also an important detrimental factor. If you’re used to playing lead, or are accustomed to using an electric guitar, choose an acoustic with an upper-bout cutaway.

As an ending note, it is also interested to look at acoustic guitars developed by Ovation. Their Balladeer guitar had a round back (bowl-shaped) instead of a flat one, and was constructed out of Lyrachord, a special fiberglass, instead of wood – which made it totally resistant to changes in temperature and humidity.

 

6. Semi-Acoustics

 

Semi acoustic guitars, or what might also be referred to as acoustic-electric guitars, are hybrids between acoustic guitars and electric ones, bringing the best of both worlds. These share the same physical features as acoustics guitars, and can be played like acoustic guitars as well. However they have pickups and can be plugged into amps, useful for when playing a large space, or for a live performance.

 

Semi acoustics come with premaps to produce strong electric signals, located on the side of the guitar. The preamp has volume and tone controls onboard, and some even have pretuners. Preamp help amplify the sound of acoustic guitars. However semi-acoustics still sound the same as any acoustic guitar does.

 

7. Personal Preferences

 

A checklist of the things and characteristics you would ideally want in your guitar:

  1. The guitar you get should be comfortable to hold and play. You should feel ‘at home’ with it.
  2. It should sound the way you would want it to – regardless of how much it costs.
  3. It should respond to the way you play and to your playing style.

 

23 Comments

Fri

13

Jul

2012

WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE STUCK IN A RUT

A common thing that happens when you start playing the guitar is that after a while, after months upon months of struggling, learning notes, frets, chords, scales and what not, you start losing motivation.

 

This is especially true for new guitar players, novices and beginners. I know because I’ve seen it happen with a lot of students, and most importantly I’ve ‘been there, done that’.

 

After months upon months of struggle, it is easy to lose motivation, because learning how to play the guitar is a tedious, dreary and long process. It takes a while before you get to where you see yourself go, and what you aspire to be. A long while, in fact. It is all too easy to lose focus, especially when you struggle to get the results you might be looking for. Furthermore, your ears start getting bored, frustration starts setting in, and you might not be learning something new and making strides like you were.

 

And perhaps above all, it is even easier to get stuck in a rut – you might try hard, try learning something new but things just don’t go your way. Trying to play harder and better, trying to improve only makes things worse. This can happen with new guitar players, as well as experienced ones who might be looking to hone their skills, or take their guitar play onto the next level.

 

I’ve seen people serious about their guitar play, and motivated about learning how to play the guitar, regress instead of progressing, and become progressively worse than before. So much so that they started to hate the way they played and what they were playing, and almost on the verge of quitting – all despite trying harder than ever before.

 

Solutions?

 

As a first step towards getting yourself out of the rut, it is a good idea to go back to square one, and remind yourself why you started playing (or started learning to play) the guitar in the first place.

 

Secondly, it is also vital to know that everyone, yes, every single guitar player out there goes through this. For some it might be more short-lived than the others, but being in a guitar-playing rut is something every budding guitarist goes through and is probably familiar with.

 

The important thing is to pick yourself up by telling yourself that you care about playing the guitar, and that there is a reason that you started off doing so in the first place. Equally important to remind yourself what this reason was.

 

Maybe your passion for learning to play the guitar was born out of the desire to idolize one of your favorite musicians, maybe the reason was that you wanted to get in and be part of a band, maybe it was your desire become a performing artists, or perform in a televised contest, etc. Whatever it was, it is still as important a reason as it was when you started off.

 

Seek inspiration, refresh your mind, do away with the staleness, start off afresh, change your perspective, and change things around you.

 

Change classes, teachers or schools. Seek advice and inspiration by speaking with peers, people you can interact with in real-life, or even over the internet – on forums and discussion boards. Add your favorite musicians on Twitter and send them a tweet or two. Maybe their response would spur your guitar learning back to life!

 

Change the room or change the environment you usually play in. If it’s your room, go outside, hit the beach or a park and practice there instead. Change your pickup settings. Buy an effects processor which comes with hundreds of different effect presets.

 

Furthermore, go out and buy a new guitar, or trade-in your current one with something new and different, even if you think what you’re getting isn’t best suited to what you want to play, a change of instruments might just do the trick.

 

In addition, try a new amp or change the amp settings, and if you play electric, try your hand with an acoustic and vice versa. Change your tuning settings. Try different chords and experiment. Try playing without the pick (or vice versa). Be creative!

 

Turn to online resources – like guitar-playing and guitar-learning websites, such as GuitarTricks who boast a wide range of online guitar lesson (as many as 5000!), some even geared to boost creativity (an excellent Review of GuitarTricks here). Youtube would come in pretty handy here, and if you don’t already know, it is an immense resource when it comes to playing the guitar!

 

Go back to watching your favorite gigs – concerts, performances, jams of all your favorite musicians. Stuff that probably inspired you to play in the first place. Observe and try to learn how the pros do it.

 

Have you ever tried playing a different genre? I know people obsessed with metal music, their lives devoted to playing heavy metal and hard rock, who were pleasantly surprised when they took on playing jazz and blues.

 

Another reason that I’ve seen guitarists lose motivation is because of their narrow vision, and obsession with certain specific music genres only. Metal and rock players seem completely disassociate themselves with anything that is pop, country or blues. That is the absolute incorrect approach to take. As a musician, don’t limit yourself to a couple of genres, expand your musical horizons. A good musician might have a select few favorites, but still listens to everything, because regardless of the genre, pop, rock, blues, or any other genre is still music. Listening to different music styles might just prove to be the inspiration you were looking for all along!

 

If all else fails, take a break. Time off might do you a world of good, and help you get some perspective and analyze things differently.

 

Pack your gear up and stay away for a week, two weeks, or as long as you feel like. You might just return all fired up, motivated and raring to have a go again!

 

26 Comments

Thu

12

Jul

2012

BEST PLACES TO BUY GUITARS ONLINE

Guitarists – and musicians alike – have started to turn to online sources to purchase their instruments, and the trend has really picked up in recent times.

 

Online purchasing, like online guitar lessons, has a few advantages. Firstly, you can not only score some fantastic deals online, you have a much higher chance of finding a rare axe, such as a Limited Edition Stratocaster or a Les Paul online, as compared to brick-and-mortar shops which carry these instruments.

 

And that doesn’t even begin to mention the convenience and ease online buying brings with it. Its quick, easy, convenient, saves your time, effort and gas, can be done from the comforts of your living room, and all it takes to buy a brand spanking new axe is just a few clicks of the mouse!

 

To make the process of buying a guitar online just a little bit easier, here are a few resources which will come in handy when buying a guitar online.

  1. GuitarGuitar.co.uk – UK’s largest guitar store, this is a great website for buying guitars – and a whole range of other music instruments – online. Well stocked, and with a huge and an impressive inventory of all kinds of guitars, including the famous brands, series, from the downright expensive ones to the reasonably priced alternatives, you’ll find everything here. They also carry a range of amps, pedals and other accessories.
  2. BestBuy – BestBuy, the infamous electronics store chain, has a brilliant website just for buying musical instruments. You can shop for deals, bundles (such as guitar + amp bundles), buy accessories, and avail some amazing discounts while you’re at it. The website even lets you trade-in musical instruments, and gives you access to guides and tutorials – such as guitar tuning tutorials and learning and buying guides.
  3. Music123 – Another online guitar buying website, that matches GuitarGuitar in terms of what it has on offer, Music123 is a kickass online guitar purchasing resource. Allowing you to shop by instruments, shop by gear, by brands or accessories, the website offers a lot. It has a simple, intuitive interface, accepts all payment forms, and boasts over 3000 guitars, both new and used. In addition, the website has a ton of deals on a lot of guitars, and deals are updated on a weekly basis as well. Lastly, Music123 is an authorized Gibson partner, so if you’re looking to buy a Les Paul, you might want to start here.
  4. Amazon – Log on to Amazon.com and search for the word guitar, and you’ll immediately see why it’s on my list – it returns over 400,000 results (!), which means you can find and buy anything and everything guitar on Amazon. Above all, it all comes backed up by the great Amazon buying experience – access to customer reviews, nationwide and international shipping, a wide variety of payment options, and the whole shebang. But above all, with Amazon, you’re almost guaranteed to find that super-rare guitar that you’ve been looking for since forever, and maybe even get a nice deal on it while you’re at it!
  5. GuitarCenter – It is well-stocked in acoustic guitars, electric guitars, bass guitars, amps, and accessories. It offers cheap international shipping, multiple payment methods, a large inventory of used guitars and used gear, discount deals, clearance deal, free shipping, and an excellent Youtube channel, just to name a few of the goodies on offer. It has experts who will even help you choose and buy the best guitar for you. It has a very user-friendly design as well. Seriously, what’s not to like about Guitar Center?!
  6. Musicians Friend – Saved the best for the last! Musicians Friend has got to be my favorite website to buy anything guitar online, and one of the best guitar resources online, by far and wide! No one even comes close when it comes to guitar. On MF, not only will you be able to guitars, amps and/or anything else for your band, you’ll have access to deals, used gear, items being sold in clearance sales, and an absolutely kickass resource center which has an all-inclusive guitar-learning center. Above all, they do some of the best-written guitar reviews I’ve seen anywhere online, which makes this the ultimate guitar resource on the internet!
55 Comments

Thu

12

Jul

2012

GUITAR LINGO AND GUITAR SLANG

If you’re new to the guitar playing world, you might have a tough time coming to grips with every single thing that you come across – from learning how to play one to the terms that are often thrown around.

 

The process of learning how to play the guitar can be quite the task in itself! The last thing you need is to worry about different commonly-used terms, slang and the guitar-specific language that is being used in the industry.

 

So what do terms like ‘Resonance’, ‘Coil Tuners’, a ‘Humbucker’ or ‘Tremolo’ exactly mean? Feel your head spinning? Fret not (no pun intended!), as I delve into the world of guitar-language and look at some of the most commonly-used terms and words in the guitar-playing world (the following glossary of words is presented in no particular order):

  1. Axe – An axe, or sometimes referred to as an ‘ax’, is a common slang for guitar. It is said to have originated with jazz musicians, particularly those who played the saxophone (sax = axe), and rock artists and musicians subsequently started using it in the 60s and more commonly in the 70s to refer to their acoustic and electric guitar instruments.
  2. Pickup – An electromagnetic device on the body of an electric guitar that acts as a transducer – something that converts mechanical energy (string vibrations) into electrical energy (electric signals). These electric signals or impulses are run through an attached amp, which produce the sound that comes out of an electric guitar. Pickups can be single-coil, or humbucker.
  3. Alnico Magnet – An alloy made up of aluminum, cobalt and nickel, these are used as the electromagnets as pickups. Alnico magnets come in a variety of different types, for instance Alnico 2 produces a much more traditional tone, while Alnico 5 is stronger and brighter tone.
  4. Ceramic Magnet – another type of electromagnetic used in electric guitars as a pickup, ceramic magnets have a much stronger magnetic field as compared to alnico ones, and hence produce a much brighter sound. (Rule of thumb: The stronger the magnet, the brighter its sound!)
  5. Fretboard Radius – Measure of the curvature of the top of the fretboard, from one edge to the other. The small the radius, the more curved the fretboard is. Curved fretboards are ideal for making chords. On the other hand, flatter fretboard allow for string bending but without the note fretting out.
  6. Scale length – length of the string, or in other words the distance between of the string from its nut to its saddle. The Fender Stratocaster scale length of 25-1/2” was originally considered to be the standard scale length for all steel-stringed acoustic guitars. Scale length determines the string tension, and a high tension string would produce sound with more treble.
  7. Chord – a group of scale notes, or collection of notes, played together, usually at once. Common guitar chords include E, A, D, B, G and E.
  8. Tune-o-Matic – A common sight on all guitars today, it is the name given to all adjustable bridges, put on guitars manufactured by the infamous guitar and music instruments manufacturer Gibson. First introduced on the  ’54 Les Paul, it allows for the length and height adjustment of individual strings, and since Gibson fail to acquire the patents of this name, all guitars now use this name of their string adjusters.
  9. Resonance – the ability of the guitar body to vibrate when the guitar strings vibrate. The more the resonance, the more the tone of the guitar; a desirable quality of good guitars. Some guitars resonate more than others, because of the type of wood they are made of.
  10. Intonation – how in-tone a guitar really is. Intonation determines the ability of the guitar to produce notes and sounds that are in tone, starting from the first fret all the way to the last along the neck. Things which affect intonation are the type of strings used, the nut and the adjustment using the string saddles on the bridge.
  11. Chambered – a chambered guitar body is one which has carefully-drilled, dynamic sound chambers drilled or made in the body.
  12. Guitar Finish – a nitro finish (also known as a nitrocellulose lacquer finish) is a finish that provides the guitar with an aged, vintage look. It is a light and thin finish, and usually takes weeks to properly apply, adding to the cost of the guitar. On the other hand, a polyurethane finish provides a much more modern finish, one which is durable, long-lasting and much easier to apply, takes less time to apply and hence is cheap.
  13. Action – the height or distance between the strings and the fretboard/neck.
  14. Vibrato and Tremolo – vibrato refers to player changing the pitch of the note being by altering the pitch higher and lower, or in other words, physically moving the strings across the fretboard. Tremolo on the other hand, is the effect where volume continually increases and decreases at a set rate, repeatedly and in quick succession. It could also be an electronic effect that varies the volume in a regular pulsating manner.
  15. Tuner – any electronic device used to tune the guitar.

 

By no means a comprehensive, all-inclusive list, but a good glossary of terms to get you started with guitar play.

 

22 Comments

Wed

11

Jul

2012

MAKING MONEY IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY

Anyone who thinks making money from music is wrong should probably save himself some time and close this page right now. Because let’s be honest here:

 

  1. there is absolutely nothing wrong with making money off of something you love doing, even if it wasn’t your intention initially,
  2. music is business as well,
  3. if you’re good at something, it is your right to sell it, and people will pay money to see it.

 

In this post, I’ll be putting together a few pointers and tips, all geared towards enabling you to have a long and successful career in the music industry, that will also enable you to make a good living out of it.

 

If you love your music, if you love playing the guitar and love being in a band and playing with the band, you’ll probably want to be able to do it full-time. Most musicians are not able to do this, and they end up working 9-5 because they’re unable to make a lot of money through music, and hence are unable to make a living out of it.

 

The musicians that we see on TV and the internet, those who’ve made it big, seem to be living the dream – they’re doing what they love doing, which is making music, and they seem to be making a pretty decent living off of it as well.

 

That’s where you want to be, that is where every musician wants to be. Having mentored many young and budding musicians, I can safely say that most of them have no idea about their potential to achieve success in the music industry, and are skeptic about just the idea of going into the industry on a fulltime basis.

 

What I can tell you is that, making a great deal of money, let alone just a decent living, in the music industry is not only possible, it might even be easier than you think. It is not something only rock stars or pop musicians can only do, and you don’t have to be on American Idol or the X-Factor to make it big in the music industry (plenty of examples that support my argument there, Adele being one).

 

But what’s important is that you believe in yourself, hone your talent, remain dedicated to the cause, and perhaps most importantly, think with a business and entrepreneurial mindset.

 

Your music career, and what you play, has to be treated as a business, where you offer your own set of services to people and your fans, record labels, talent agencies, people looking for live performance artists, marketers and promoters, and other people in the industry.

 

The sooner you start thinking like that, thinking about your music career like a business, the sooner you’ll achieve success. And that essentially is the first lesson in the process of being able to make money from your music:

 

  1. Think of your music from a business perspective – you need to think from an entrepreneurial point-of-view, and from a business perspective. Start thinking of it in a business-like manner. How do you start out? What can you do to commercialize your success? How can you steadily start gaining more exposure, perform at bigger gigs and steadily make more money? This is essentially why talent managers are some of the most richest, successful people in the world – they are naturally good in finding ways in which talent can be converted into money.
  2. Discovering multiple sources of income – it is important to remind yourself that the music industry is nothing like a regular 9-5 job, and that relying on a single source of income would be a grave mistake. To make a good living as a musician, it is important to have different, multiple sources of income, which would ultimately translate into a successful and sustainable career in the business. This is why successful musicians don’t just release records and singles, they do live tours and performances, sell albums, go into production, teach music, go for endorsement deals with brands and other businesses, to name just a few.
  3. Setting goals and milestones – not only is setting goals and milestones important with everything that you do in life (it is equally applicable here as well), you need to have concrete plan on how those goals will be achieved and how success will be measured. Ask yourself questions like how much yearly income do you expect to make from working in the industry full time? What are the sources through which this can be done (refer to pt. no. 2 above)? How do you plan on setting about with achieving this goal? How can you provide your fans and stakeholders with value? It would generally be a good idea to seek professional help with regards to how these aims and goals will be achieved, preferably someone who’s made it to the big stage.
  4. Value provision – Providing value goes beyond simply developing your skills (although that too is an essential part of it). What exactly do you, as a musician, offer that would make the people in the industry choose you over the other million-and-one guitar players out there? What gives you the advantage and the upper-hand over your competitors? What do you offer that the others don’t? What makes you the first choice when it comes to choosing between you and the next guitarist? Value provision sets you apart from the rest, and gives you the ability to be successful in the industry and earn a lot of money in a short span of time.
  5. Choosing your ‘target audience’ and marketing strategy – it is important to determine who your services will be marketed to. For instance if you’re ready to roll out a new album, a new single, put a new product on your website or do a live gig, who are your customers, who will purchase this? Where do markets exist for your services? Do you have ways in which you get in touch with people? If you’re planning a live gig, or a world tour, where do you go? Where does the biggest fan-base for you and the kind of music you make exist in the world? Which marketing channels do you use for your upcoming album? You might make the best music in the world, and spend a great deal of time and energy on it, but there is no way you can make money unless you market it to people who would be willing to pay money for it.
  6. Differentiating between being popular and being successful – being popular as a musician or being a part of a popular group does in no way guarantee that you will be making a lot of money. You’ll be surprised to know how many ‘popular’ musicians work full-time or have side-jobs just so they can make a decent living. In order to make a successful living, fame or being famous should not be on top of your priorities, and you should instead work towards making a good living. I am not saying that it isn’t possible to do both, and some cases, both things go hand-in-hand as well.

Make no mistake, the music industry and very tough. It is anything but easy to make it big and start earning money, and you cannot expect to simply walk in. However with the right amount of skills, dedication, perseverance and hardwork, it is certainly not impossible. The likes of Slash, Adele, Jimi Hendrix, and Taylor Swift all did it (or are doing it now) but they all started somewhere too, and now, they’re some of the biggest names in the world. There’s no reason why you can’t be among them!

 

Just remember to focus on doing what you love. Practice music with the intent of getting better, and try working with other musicians and guitarists if you can. JamPlay - an online guitar-learning resource, for instance, allows professionals to practice playing the guitar with other guitarists and artists in the industry.

 

Use the points above and work hard towards your aim of being financially independent by making your living off what you love doing!

 

7 Comments

Wed

11

Jul

2012

THE ULTIMATE GIBSON LES PAUL GUIDE

The Gibson Les Paul is a truly legendary piece of axe, an iconic musical instrument and I think it would be safe to say that it is just about as famous and well-known as some of the people of have donned it in their lives!

 

I’ve used many Les Pauls over the years, ever since the good folks over at GuitarTricks recommended it to me. And I have to say that it is easily the best, most comfortable and the most perfect-sounding electric guitar in the market right now. But more on all that later.

 

If you are the proud owner of a Les Paul, I’m sure you are in agreement with what’s been said. If you’re planning to buy one, congratulations! It’s a brilliant guitar and you won’t regret purchasing it.

 

The History

 

The Gibson Les Paul first saw the light of day in 1952. This was the time when guitar manufacturer and one of Gibson’s biggest rivals (still to this day!) Fender had released its first solidbody guitar, the Telecaster. Gibson had to compete, and needed a solidbody guitar of its own, and hence the Les Paul was born.

 

Gibson worked with legendary guitarist and the man behind multitrack recording, Les Paul to develop and produce the Les Paul model, its very own first solidbody guitar, featuring a unique and distinctive look, with a carved maple top (similar to Gibson’s archtop guitars) and a mahogany body and finish.

 

Little did Gibson know that the Les Paul (along with Fender’s Stratocaster) would go on and prove to be two of the most revolutionary pieces of equipment ever!

 

Since the the first Les Paul was introduced in ’52, 127 different models have been released!

 

What Makes the Les Paul so Popular?

 

If you know your music, you’ll also know that every great guitarist out there has used one, at least once in their lives (yes even Strat users). From Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Slash, David Gilmour, Malmsteen, and Zakk Wylde, musicians from all genres have played a Les Paul which just goes to show how versatile the guitar really is.

 

While the real strength of the Les Paul has always been in playing Rock n’ Roll and hard rock music, it is equally suitable for blues (used by Muddy Waters), jazz (used by the man, Les Paul himself!), and country (Charlie Daniels) as well.

 

Apart from how well it sounds, Les Paul, for me, has to be one of the easiest and best guitars to play. You could just go and pick one up, and immediately feel at home when you play it, it’s that good!

 

It looks good, all Les Pauls have a great design and a brilliant finish, and now, they hold a very high value historically as well. A fantastic looking and sounding guitar, to put it simply!

 

Les Paul Models

 

A few of the more renowned, well-known Les Paul guitars are:

  1. The Les Paul Standard – this is the standard version of the Les Paul, and a modern version of the ’58 Les Paul, as reintroduced in ’76. It has a figured or flamed maple top, BurstBucker pickups with Alnico 5 magnets. A new version of the standard has been launched by Gibson in 2012.
  2. Les Paul Studio – introduced in 1983, the studio is similar to the standard Les Paul (and kept its tone and playability), but a stripped-down version of it. It comes with decal logo on its headstock, a non-figured top and a maple, rounded neck. The studio Les Pauls have been built for optimal sound output.
  3. Les Paul Custom – these are made by the Gibson Custom Shop, and are the ‘tailor-made suit’ equivalent of guitars – designed according to the customer’s specifications. The customs feature Ebony fingerboards, pearl block inlays, gold hardware, classic ‘Patent Applied For’ pickups from the 50s. Some of the custom Les Pauls that have come out of the Custom Shop have been exact replicas of the vintage Les Pauls made in the late 50s.
  4. Les Paul Deluxe – a 1968 model with mini-humbuckers (aka New York humbuckers), single A maple top, mahogany necks and ’59 rounded neck profile.
  5. Les Paul Supreme – top of the line Les Paul guitars – even more so than the Custom Shop models, but cheaper to make than the custom ones since they are mass produced. Their bodies are made with 3 pieces of wood: AAA carved, flamed maple top, carved back and mahogany between the top and the back. It comes with gold frets, and an ebony fretboard with pearls on it.

 

Epiphone Les Paul

 

Epiphone used to be a completely different company producing its own line of guitars, until it was acquired by Gibson. Now Epiphone produces 20 models of the Les Paul, all of which are cheaper, low-cost alternatives to their more expensive counterparts, and look and sound similar to the other Les Pauls. However upon closer inspection, you will discover that the originals have superior tone, build-quality and materials used. The Epiphone Les Paul Studio costs $350, which is significantly lower than the standard Gibson version.

 

Epiphone guitars are made outside the US (unlike the standard Gibson guitars), and use a different polyurethane finish, which takes a few days to apply, is much more durable and not labor intensive, as compared to Gibson guitars, which use a thin and light finish, which takes weeks to process and allows the wood to breathe – making it the best wood for good tonal qualities. This is why Epiphone guitars have more mid and bass as compared to Gibson, which have a lighter, more crisp tone. Epiphone also uses less expensive materials in their guitars and cheaper woods. All this means that Epiphone Les Pauls are less expensive to produce and sell.

 

Basic Les Paul Features

 

Although there are many variations of the Les Paul, some of common features in all models include:

  1. Solid body – maple top and mahogany back
  2. Mahogany neck
  3. Rosewood fretboard
  4. Single cutaway
  5. Lacquer finish
  6. 2x humbucker pickups
  7. 2 tone and 2 volume controls
  8. 22 frets
  9. Scale length: 24-3/4: (standard on all Les Pauls)
  10. 3-way pickup switch

You can alos get a custom Les Paul built to your specifications, from Gibson’s Custom Shop. If of course you have the greens to spend on something like that.

 

Signature Versions

 

Over the years, Gibson has produced a whole slew of signature models, usually created by partnering with famous artists, most notably with the input of famous guitarists like Zakk Wylde (which game birth to the Gibson Custom Zakk Wylde Signature Les Paul). These signature models are built to the exact personal preferences of these guitarists. The first signature Les Paul was the Jimmy Page Les Paul made in 1995.

 

Price Range

 

  1. Cheap/Inexpensive – Epiphone Les Paul (Junior or Special)
  2. Mid-range – Epiphone Les Paul Custom or Gibson Studio
  3. Expensive/High-end – Gibson Les Paul Standard
  4. Rare/collectibles – Les Paul Custom VOS, Les Paul Signature models

 

23 Comments

Tue

10

Jul

2012

WHY EVERYONE SHOULD LEARN TO PLAY THE GUITAR

Learning to play the guitar is a whole lot of fun, and something that is probably on almost everyone’s bucket list.

 

Guitars are fun to play, once you learn it, you can make all sorts of music on it, and knowing how to strum an axe can make parties, road-trips, backyard BBQs, and trips to the beach or the park a lot less boring and a lot more fun!

 

Many people also feel that playing the guitar is ‘cool’, or enhances their image, and while it might be true since it has a lot to do with the ‘rockstar’ image that the instrument portrays, personally, I don’t subscribe to that idea.

 

Acoustic guitars are easy to carry around, produce their own sound and don’t need to be hooked up with any electronics (unlike electrics), and hence understandably, are the most popular pieces of musical instruments out there.

 

All sorts of people, young and old, and from all fields and walks of life see playing the guitar as something that they want to do, and a large percentage of these people pursue this dream at some point in their lives as well. Guitar classes being offered at schools and colleges have started to pick up, even online courses such as GuitarJamz (a really good review by OnlineGuitarLessons here) seem to be becoming more popular. And while a lot many people play the guitar either because it is something that they are interested in doing, they want to emulate their favorite guitarists or musicians or want to be a part of a band, there are numerous other benefits as well:

  1. Enhances Agility and Mental Ability – according to research, playing the guitar does your mental ability a world of good. Because when one starts learning to play the guitar, he or she learns many things (notes, chords, charts etc.) by heart, and has to assign these things to memory. These people have to ‘learn’ music, different aspects of putting together music and how songs are put together, all of which jog one’s grey matter and keep the brain agile. Furthermore, guitar playing enhances coordination and multitasking, as both the left and right sides of the brain are used during the process. Furthermore, playing the guitar greatly boosts creativity – by allowing you to experiment with songs, for instance.
  2. Image and Self-Esteem Boost – playing the guitar enhances the self-esteem and confidence of the players. Being able to play and perform in front of a live audience gives one a lot of self-confidence and personal satisfaction, reassures one of his or her own capabilities, and as mentioned above, is something that helps some people look ‘cool’ as well.
  3. Development of Social Skills – playing the guitar gives you something to speak with to people, no matter where you are. It is generally a good talking point – whether you’re with family, friends, peers, colleagues or acquaintances. Playing the guitar promotes community, and enhances your networking since you’ll probably speak with, interact, come across and even play with a lot of other musicians, as well anyone who listens to music (which is everyone!). It therefore increases one’s own social desirability and develops socials skills. Besides, girls really seem to dig guitarists as well!
  4. Music Skills – Playing the guitar regularly, especially playing your favorite songs or genre of music helps you to make you a better guitar player, enhances and hones your skills and allows you the chance to appreciate music. Which could help you…
  5. Make a Career out of It – Learning how to play the guitar could see you on your way to becoming the next great solo artist or the next biggest guitar sensation the world has ever seen! You could be part of a band, make it big, go on world tours, do gigs, and make great records. It could even be your first step towards being financially-independent, leaving the 9-5 and make a living as a guitarist!
  6. It’s fun and Helps Relieve Stress – like I said in the beginning, playing the guitar is immensely fun and once you get good at it, it spices up your life, could be greatly addictive, makes it easier to spend time with yourself or in the company of friends and family, can help lift your spirits and brighten up the mood when you feel down and can be just simple fun! For instance for me, guitar has been a great stress relief over the years (and believe me, I’ve had my fair share of stress!).

 

14 Comments

Tue

10

Jul

2012

A GUIDE TO FENDER STRATOCASTERS

The Stratocaster – An Introduction

 

Together with its competitor, the Les Paul, the ‘Stratocaster’ is a word that is almost synonymous with guitars and the music industry.

 

The Stratocasters, or the ‘Strats’ as they’re more commonly referred to, are the most popular and well-known electric guitars in the world out there. The company behind this iconic piece of music equipment, Fender, is one of the biggest names in the music industry, and the largest producer of electric guitars and music instruments out there, right up there with the likes of Jackson and Gibson.

 

The Strat is the brainchild of Leo Fender, the man behind the company and was designed in 1954 by members of his team. Since then, it has become the template and standard for electric guitar designs.

 

What Makes the Strat So Popular

 

Stratocasters are popular mainly because how brilliant they sound, how easy they are to just pick up and play, and of course, their versatility when it comes to good guitar play.

 

The Stratocasters are the guitars of choice for many a musicians mainly because of how well suited it is when it comes to playing different genres of music. From rock, metal, jazz, blues, and country, the Strat will pretty much handle everything you throw at it. This versatility makes it the numero uno guitar-of-choice when it comes to guitarists and stars all across the world.

Furthermore Stratocaster are equally well suited for all guitarists, no matter how proficient their guitar-playing skills might be. A total beginner or a seasoned pro with 20 years of experience under his belt would feel at home when using the Strat. Stratocasters are also of significant value to collectors.

And it definitely doesn’t hurt its cause that the Strat feels really good and easy to use, looks amazing, and has a great tone and sound as well.

 

Stratocaster Features

 

Ever since the first Strat saw the day of light in 1954, some of its defining features have included having three single-coil pickups (something that makes a Stratocaster instantly recognizable), a patented tremolo tailpiece, its double cutaway ‘comfort contour’ body (another defining feature of the Strat), and the ability to allow for string length and height adjustment individually.

 

The Stratocaster’s comfort-contour body are made of ash wood or alder, its bolt-on neck is usually made of maple and rosewood or maple is used for the construction of its fingerboard. Fender use a nitrocellulose lacquer finish on its vintage guitars, and a polyester finish on the modern ones.

 

They also feature a synchronized tremolo, 2 tone and 1 volume control, a 5 position pickup switch, and standard 22 frets on all their guitars.

All Fender guitars come with the 25-1/2” scale length and the Strat is no exception.

 

The Strats are also known to be some of the easiest guitars to repair, as well as being highly customizable and easy to customize.

 

Stratocaster Guitar Models and Families

 

All Stratocaster guitars can be broken down into 4 main models:

(i) the Fender Stratocasters (Standard, Deluxe and Classic),

(ii) the USA Strats,

(iii) the Fender Custom Shop guitars, and

(iv) the Squier Strats (Squier by Fender).

 

The Fender Standard Strats are now the industry standard for electric guitars being built by manufacturers (big and small) all over the world. The Standard Strats feature an Alder body, a ‘C’ shaped neck, Maplewood or rosewood fingerboard, polyutherane neck finish, chrome hardware, plastic parts, and sealed tuning machines. The ‘Standard FR’ edition comes with Floyd Rose tremolo, and the ‘Roland Ready’ model features a built-in Roland GK-2A pickup which can be controlled from the guitar itself.

 

The Deluxe series have special pickups, come with active electronics onboard, and other factory-fitted modifications and vintage-styled hardware.

 

The Fender Standard Classic are the result of collaboration between Fender’s infamous ‘Master Builders’, and are manufactured at Fender’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Baja California. The classics come with custom-shop features (more on those in a bit), but are reasonably priced. They feature an alder body, a 7.58” fretboard and vintage-styled, knobs, pickups, tremolo and tuning machines.

 

While all 3 of the abovementioned (Standard, Deluxe, Classic) are built and manufactured in Mexico, the USA Strats represent entry-level and advanced Stratocaster built and manufactured in the US. They too feature an Alder body, C-shaped neck, a big headstock, 22 frets, a Greasebucket tone circuit, 3 Alnico pickups (tuned for distortion), thin lacquer finish – all in 70s-styling. The USA Stratocasters come in many different models, such as the Highway One, Standard Series, American Deluxe, Vintage, Special and the Artist – each with its own design and features.

 

The Custom Shop models are hand-built Fender Stratocaster, crafted and manufactured in the US. These represent the penultimate Stratocasters, the crème de la crème of Fender’s guitars, and as Fender itself puts it, these are “the best playing, best sounding and the best looking guitars the world has ever seen!” Three different guitars – the Custom Artist Signature, the Artist Tribute and Time Machine are produced by Fender under the Custom Shop product line.

 

Finally, the Squier series represents Fender’s low-cost, cheaper and relatively inexpensive line of guitars being produced by Fender, or what Fender refers to as high-quality, low-cost alternatives of its more expensive guitars. The Squier Stratocasters are in production since 1982 and are perfect entry level Stratocasters. The concept is similar to Gibson’s Epiphone Les Paul series of guitars, and the Squier Strats are built to Fender’s designs and specs, and are hence not copies.

 

Price Range

  1. Cheap/Inexpensive – Squier Strats, Standard Stratocasters (Mexican)
  2. Mid-range – Deluxe Classic, Highway One
  3. Expensive/High-end – USA Strats (all)
  4. Rare/collectibles – Custom Shop Stratocasters
47 Comments

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