Someone recently pointed out that we’ve missed electric guitar! How could we? Particularly since We are predominantly an electric player and its clearly God’s chosen instrument as well… So here goes.
What Is an Electric Guitar?
An electric guitar is a guitar that produces sound by vibrating strings over a pickup that changes over the vibrations into electrical signs. Those signs are taken care of into a speaker, which extends the melodic exhibition at a wide scope of volumes. Most pickups work utilizing electromagnetic enlistment, despite the fact that non-attractive pickups exist a small number of electric guitars.
How Do You Play the Electric Guitar?
Electric guitarists commonly produce sound by striking their strings with a pick. Some players pluck electric guitar strings with their fingers, and others utilize a hybrid of fingers and a pick.
Electric guitarists have a lot of options for adjusting the tone and apparent character of their instruments. The guitar’s tone and volume knobs, its variety of pickups, stompbox pedals, and amplifier functions can all contribute to a wide scope of sounds. Due to the options presented by these components, electric guitar players like Wes Montgomery, Brad Paisley, Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello, and My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields can sound completely different from one another while all technically playing the similar instrument.
What Is the Difference Between an Electric Guitar and an Acoustic Guitar?
Electric guitars have many areas of overlap with their acoustic guitar cousins, for example, the Spanish guitar, the Hawaiian guitar, the steel guitar, and the lap steel. But electric guitars notably lack those instruments’ hollow bodies, since it ventures sound via pickups, not a sound hole.
A Brief History of the Electric Guitar
The earliest electric guitars were made by the National Guitar Corporation, a Los Angeles organization famous for its resonator acoustic guitar. Beginning in 1931, designers like George Beauchamp, Paul Barth, and Henry Watson created models like the “frying pan” under the National brand. By the following year, Beauchamp and Barth had teamed with Adolph Rickenbacker to form the Ro-Pat-In Corporation (Electro-Patent-Instrument Company)—later named Rickenbacker Electro Stringed Instrument Company. Other early electric guitar makers included Vivi-Tone and Slingerland.
Early electric guitars were famous with jazz guitarists like Charlie Christian, who utilized them to play amplified single-note solos in the style of big band horn players. Doing so on an acoustic guitar would have been impossible—they’d have been drowned out by their band—but the electric guitar permitted them to project single notes. There was one major drawback to the new instrument, however: feedback from the guitar’s hollow body.
The feedback issue was addressed by guitarist and inventor Les Paul, who invented a guitar built with a solid block of wood running down the middle that he termed “the log.” This was first such instrument to eschew a hollow-body guitar design. It served as the precursor to the solid-body electric guitar that remains deeply popular to this day. Almost all major brands make a solid-body guitar, whether that’s Fender with its Stratocaster, Telecaster, and Jazzmaster lines, or Gibson with models like the SG and Les Paul’s own namesake model.
Various Types of Electric Guitar:
Electric guitars come in numerous forms, but they broadly fit into one of two categories. The primary type of electric guitar is known as an archtop guitar.
- These guitars have a semi-hollow sound chamber with a block of solid wood running through the middle. This permits them to share some characteristics of an acoustic guitar while still making them practical for amplification.
- Embedded in the solid block are magnetic pickups, which detect vibrations in the guitar’s strings and transmit these vibrations to an amplifier running on electricity.
- Because of the magnetic properties of the pickups, these guitars (and every electric guitars) must utilize metal strings (typically steel strings). Something else, the pickups won’t work.
- The guitars will ordinarily have knobs to control volume and tone, and a selector change to toggle between pickups.
- Archtop guitars are known for a moderately mellow sound and a resonant character that joins components of both acoustic and electric playing. They are generally popular in jazz and blues but can be found in all popular styles.
- Famous archtop models incorporate the Gibson ES-150, the Gibson ES-335, the Epiphone Casino, and the Gretsch G5420.
Solid Body Electric
The other (and generally popular) type of electric guitar is known as a solid body guitar.
- Solid body guitars are strong all the way through and don’t contain hollow sound chambers.
- Like archtops, they use magnetic pickups to amplify vibrating metal strings.
- Like archtops, they contain handles to control volume and tone, and changes to choose individual pickups.
- Like archtops, they don’t need electricity (their amplifiers do), although some may contain active pickups, which run on battery power.
- Solid body guitars tend to be bright and punchy. They make a negligible sound when unplugged, however through an amplifier, they can be gone up to ear-splitting volumes. They are especially popular in rock, pop, and country music.
- Leo Fender was a master inventor of solid body electric guitars, and for many, the Fender Stratocaster is the quintessential electric guitar—played by the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. The Fender Telecaster, Jazzmaster, Jaguar, and Mustang are also iconic models. (Fender is additionally known for its electric bass models and amplifiers.)
- The Gibson Les Paul is another unbelievable electric guitar. Other popular Gibson models include the SG, the Thunderbird, and the Explorer.
- Guitar design has continued to bring innovation since the invention of the electric guitar. Other prominent solid body guitar producers include Ibanez, Jackson, Schechter, BC Rich, and Reverend. These organizations are known for innovating what a modern electric guitar can be. Meanwhile, different companies have sought to carve out a niche market, such as Steinberger, whose experiments with guitar body design seem as bold as the first solid-body guitar back in the thirties.
Tips for Playing Electric Guitar
Different approach to acoustic
When acoustic players pick up an electric they tend go one of two different ways. They either strum it simply like an acoustic or play pentatonic bluesy lead lines. If you strum with an electric you basically need to play it a lot less than an acoustic. So strum the essential groove and work with the natural sustain of the solid body instead of against it with too much rhythm.
The common activity for an electric in most worship band settings isn’t so much a lead guitar yet basically to add colour and dynamics to the rhythm of the song. So try picking out the notes in the chords, utilize different voicings further up the neck, use combos of fretted and open strings but above all make it sound like a part that backs up the main groove of the tune.
Use CAGED voicings
The CAGED system is based around the major and minor open chord shapes of C, A, G, E and D moved up the neck sometimes in conjunction with a bar harmony. CAGED will give you a complete system of how to play any chord in any position up and down the neck. If you are not familiar with CAGED its secured very thoroughly on our Intermediate Guitar Course
The capo is your friend
Some people say the capo is a crutch. Consider it more of a tool that helps you make new voicings. If you play rolling jangley parts then use a capo to put the open strings in key and then the combo of open and fretted notes can create some incredible drone sounds.
Don’t clash with the keyboard
You play in the similar octave spectrum as the keys so be mindful not to clash with their parts. If you can’t hear them then watch their fingers to compliment their rhythms. Attempt to play in different spaces, with different tones and in various octaves. Also remember you don’t have to play all the time so if they are doing something nice, give em space!
Think about utilizing your electric to add textural parts to a song a bit like in the way keyboard players use pads and filters.
I tend to use two overdrives, one for general and one for big out there sounds, a delay, some compression for tighter cleaner sounds and the occasional bit of modulation like chorus or tremolo to add some texture. The key things are truly drive and delay. Delay can thicken up tones, add a feeling of sustain to ringing chords as well as rhythmic textures like dotted 8th notes for U2 type sounds. Anyway the golden rule is the delay time must be in synch with the songs’ tempo. Too slow and your notes sound indistinct and muddy and too fast and they sound like they are running away from you. Generally the more delay and reverb type effect you use the more your sound will seem to place itself at the back of the mix. So don’t try too unless you are specifically trying to create a texture or a wash.
Don’t use as much distortion as you think
Listen to the guitars on some of the quintessential classic rock tracks and many have substantially less distortion than you think. In fact too much distortion will loose you clarity in the mix. So practice playing with less gain, and executing each chord more clearly. Also great distorted tones are often quite dry so be careful of adding too much rev or delay as it can accentuate the high frequencies in a not too pleasant way. Again utilizing both of these ideas will help you cut through the mix much better.
Play with volumes and tone controls
Guitar volumes are really designed to work best fully open. Backing them off can loose treble, same with tone controls too. However for some sounds this may be exactly what you want and there are many players who can create a variety of great tones just by playing with these controls. For overdrive with my Telecaster I’ll back the tone off to 8 and then adjusting the volume gives me more or less distortion.
Use more mid
If your motifs and lines don’t cut through the mix then use a little more mid to add punch. This is exactly why the Eric Clapton Strat has an active mid boost control. Pedals like the Ibanez Tubescreamer also have a natural mid ‘hump’ in their inherent tone and if your amp doesn’t have a mid control there are various drive pedals that will give you a dedicated mid pot.
Small tube amp
Most churches play at a volume WAY below the level most classic tube amps sound best at so there’s no point in buying your ultimate 100, 50 or even 30 watt weapon if it’s just for church environments. However in the last two years amp makers have cottoned on to this and there are now loads of good quality 5-10 watt amps that sound great at low volumes.
If you stand right next to your amp you’ll only hear a very bassy tone but the people in the front will hear all the treble. So try to place the amp 6-10 ft away from you if possible. Speaker stands to get the sound up towards your ear lifting it away from the floor can loose bass and low end. Angle the speaker up towards your but keep it locked to the floor.