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Not looking for a brand recommendation, only objective guidance.

Is there a general understanding, rule-of-thumb, trick-of-the-trade that matches a certain type of guitar, type and number of pickup to a certain type of music, that you wish to play ?

For example, I've observed that guitarists who play heavy-metal or any of the various forms of metal, use double cut-out guitars whose neck seems very slender and long, but the body is eccentric (X, inverted V, bolt/Z shaped). However, guitarists who play classic rock or blues often seem to prefer the traditional Strat or Les Paul type designs.

Then the type and number of pickups also seems to vary quite widely. Then there's the question of bridge type (floating vs fixed), tremolo arm.

As a newbie, I would prefer to buy an electric guitar, that I do not outgrow too soon. Nor do I have the budget to go buy an original Gibson Les Paul. I'd be sticking to Cort, ESP, Ibanez etc. At the same time, I wouldn't want to buy a guitar that is very hard to play for a learner.

Is there some consensus in guitarist community on the ideal features and traits of a guitar for certain type of music ? My preference of genres is classic-rock, soft-rock, pop and blues.

  • I upvoted this solely because of the care that was taken to keep it on topic. – Neil Meyer Sep 11 '15 at 8:01
  • Upvote appreciated. While note quite a SE veteran, I've been scalded elsewhere. Music.SE is much gentle though :) – icarus74 Sep 11 '15 at 9:19
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While there are trends, these are just trends. People start playing guitars similar to their heroes.

If you want to be able to play high notes, a good cutaway helps, but to be honest, whether it is a single or a double doesn't matter that much above the 15th fret as your hand is going to be fully under the neck.

And if you want to be able to do divebombs etc you will need a whammy bar. Use of these doesn't depend on genre - some blues players play fixed bridge, some play trem. Some metal players play fixed, some trem.

Pickups, again, are not necessarily relevant to the genre - with the caveat that metal tends to slightly favour high gain pickups, there are enough examples of metal legends playing perfectly ordinary guitars. In fact serious legends, the ones that have their own signature models, tend to have less pickups - as they choose just the ones they use :-)

Your budget is likely to determine whether or not you "outgrow" a guitar, although I think that is the wrong word. It will really determine how good your guitar will be, and as you get better you will notice imperfections, poor quality etc.

A distinct difference between a Gibson and a typical Ibanez, however, is the scale length - the Les Paul has a shorter neck than the standard Strat neck, and it is reasonably wide. which could be why 'super-strats' look like they have very long slender necks.

My advice

Try a lot of guitars in the shop. Buy one you like the sound of and like the look of. Further down the line you will buy others, I guarantee it. And while your first one may be cheap, get the shop to set it up for you - this will make sure the action is right, which will help you as a learner - and then just go and enjoy it.

(If you like a Gibson but can't afford it, but an Epiphone - good Epiphones are better than bottom end Gibsons, and at a much lower cost. I found a twin neck Epiphone SG for £2000 less than the equivalent Gibson, and the quality is almost identical.)

  • Thanks Doc for the solid advise. Unfortunately, I live in a small town that has a small handful of musical instrument stores, that do not stock decent (forget the top end) stuff, so I would most probably have to order online. About this thing of getting the shop to "set up" the guitar for me - how practical is it to do it myself ? I am sure that it needs skills and experience, but does it also need specialized tools ? – icarus74 Sep 11 '15 at 9:38
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    Actually - for a beginner, a factory default Epiphone or Ibanez should be just fine. If it seems hard to press the strings down, or high notes seem out of tune compared to low notes, you can adjust yourself without special tools - read posts on here about action and intonation for advice. – Doktor Mayhem Sep 11 '15 at 9:41
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    Also, if you like Fender but can't afford it, try Squier. – Tim Sep 11 '15 at 9:41
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    The first paragraph under "my advice" is pretty much what I was going to post. The best way to find a guitar that speaks to you is to play a bunch of guitars and listening. – Todd Wilcox Sep 11 '15 at 11:16
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Is there a general understanding, rule-of-thumb, trick-of-the-trade that matches a certain type of guitar, type and number of pickup to a certain type of music, that you wish to play ?

There is no rules only that which sounds good.

Is there some consensus in guitarist community on the ideal features and traits of a guitar for certain type of music ? My preference of genres is classic-rock, soft-rock, pop and blues.

No consensus at all. You may think certain guitars lend themselves to certain genres but then you see that Jim Root of Slipknot plays a telecaster. Not really a guitar you would associate with heavy metal.

There is something to it though. If you are playing high gain stuff you traditionally will not want a hollow body guitar simply for the fact that the feedback would be ungainly.

That is why traditionally metal axes are big slabs of solid wood that resonate in a manner that works well with high gain.

All this being said there still was Wes Borland the guitarist of Limp Bizkit that I distinctly remember had a hollow body Yamaha guitar that he somehow made work with a high gain setting.

Also I often tell this to people and it is kind of funny recalling it but in the early 2000's there was a great big fad called Nu Metal .With this came a great amount of extended range guitars. It is basically the era that made seven strings guitars a thing.

I remember seeing an interview that Brian "Head" Welch (The guitarist of Korn) recalling somewhat sarcastically that when they started playing seven strings people kept on telling them that you cannot play heavy music on a sevens string guitar it is pretty much only a jazz instrument.

They persisted with it though and look now. Now you basically cannot imagine playing anything but heavy music on a extended range guitar.

So all in all it really depends what you want to be known for. Are you happy to be one of the myriad of blues players that played a traditional blues guitar or to you want to see if you can break with tradition and try innovating by playing a style of music that is not tradition on a specific guitar?

I cannot say that either one is really wrong. It is just what do you want to do? You may think that tradition is worth preserving or you may feel inclined to start your own tradition. Who is to say what is best?

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    Fabulous answer, loved the last para! I've been told several times already that a good guitarist can eek out reasonably decent music out of a crappy guitar, but a crappy guitarist is unlikely to produce music out of the best of guitars. – icarus74 Sep 11 '15 at 9:35

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