Types of Electric Guitar

by Ali
(Hadian)

Hi & thanks for your great site.

I want to know how many kinds of electric guitar there are and what are the differences between them?

thank you

Answer

Generally there are two types:

Solid Body Guitar

This is the main type, these guitars have no open chamber in the body, instead their bodies are made of solid wood that decreases vibrations.
Les Paul Standard (left)
Ibanez GRG-270B (right)

This construction helps to avoid the feedback problem experienced with any acoustic guitar with a built in pickup: the sound of the speaker is picked up by the sound box of the guitar and consequently the pickup, amplified, returned back to the speaker; that is where it is again picked up by the guitar and so on, this circle continues at the very high speed, resulting in unpleasant accidental squeals.

Of course it's still possible to achieve the feedback with a solid body guitar as well, by placing it in front of the speaker and turning the volume loud. But we do this on purpose in order to get desirable squeals when required.

Solid body guitars are suitable for any kind of music.

Photo by Yamarena

Hollow Body Guitar

This type is kind of hybrid of acoustic and electric guitar. Its sound box is smaller and more resistant to the feedback comparing to pure acoustics. The sound box contributes to the tone of the electric guitar, resulting in richer and warmer sounds compared to the solid body guitars.

This guitar can also sound on its own without any amplification, but surprisingly I've never seen anybody who'd play it without plugging into an amp.

Hollow body guitars are better suited to blues, jazz, classical, rockabilly and smooth rock music. High volumes and heavy distortion effects that used in "hard and heavy" will make them squeal horribly.


Both these types of electric guitar have a variety of different shapes and constructions.

Fender Stratocaster
Photo by My Silent Side

There are three main shapes of solid body guitars which can be seen in the classical shapes of the Fender Stratocaster, Ibanez and Les Paul Standard guitars.

Other more exotic examples of shapes are the Jackson RR3 and V Fly Guitar, Gibson Explorer.

Solid Body V Fly Guitar
Photo by Freebird_71

Hollow body electric guitars are basically divided into archtop electric guitars with a full sound box and semi-hollow body guitars.

Although It's often considered that the shape of a solid body guitar has a little, if any impact on its tone, I can definitely say that the shape does metter. I've played a lot of electric guitars in my life and have heard differences in many cases. Of course, type of wood used to build a guitar also has effect on its tone.

I owned both guitars in the top picture, and while the 'Les Paul Epiphone Standard Plus' gives me a very smooth and beautiful tone on the neck pickup and bright deep sound on the bridge pickup, the Ibanez GRG-270B has much sharper tone and it pushes a lot more volume from its pickups, plus it has the vibrato bar that allows me to perform crazy tricks and growls.

An example of a vibrato bar trick:

By the way, when I was playing around with the volume knob and the pickup switch on the Ibanez GRG-270B, I eventually managed to achieve a smoother tone for lighter guitar solos. I turned the volume knob down a bit and it also cut down the sharpness of the sound. Next I switched to the neck + middle pickup combination and that gave me the sound resembling the Les Paul Standard on the neck pickup, especially when I was playing above the 12th fret.

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