Beginner Guitar HQ is helping you understand everything you need to know about the different types of electric guitars there are. We’re going to keep this as simple as possible: instead of deep and theoretical stuff, we’re going to explain everything we say with guitar examples and additional guitar reviews.
Stay with us if you’re clueless about terms like “SuperStrat,” “hollow,” or “solid-body.” This is a guide for beginner guitar players, and it’s here to help you start your journey with the right steps.
See, knowledge is the ingredient for conscious and good decisions. That’s why we’re also linking you towards some of the best guitars of each category.
Lastly, as I understand this is a beginner-friendly guide, most of our guitar options are going to be entry-level. However, there will be a couple of mid-level alternatives, as well as some premium models in case you’re opting for a full-on investment.
Let’s dive into our types of electric guitars definitive guide.
About this guide
The electric guitar is a unique instrument. Only the bass guitar retains the same levels of prestige as the electric guitar, as there’re no other instruments with the same levels of prevalence, presence, and evolution throughout music’s history.
With over 100 years in existence, it’s only natural that there’re different kinds of electric guitars suiting different genres and playstyles.
These levels of flexibility make it a bit unfriendly for beginners. It can be hard to figure out the right guitar for your needs with so many things to see.
Lucky for you, this guide is giving you the information you need to go buy and play exactly what you’d need. Here’s where you will find which body style fits the genres you like.
That said, we would like to clarify that a certain body style doesn’t always mean this guitar is only a good fit for a particular genre. That’s why we’re also including some info about pickups so you can understand how different types of electric guitars may combine with the tone you’re looking for.
In the meantime, you can check our prior pickups guides:
Electric guitar body styles
Electric guitars are versatile instruments. They are also fairly simple to use and understand as most can play any styles of rock, blues, pop, and jazz music. After all, guitars were created for those genres in mind.
That’s why, instead of the “genres” each guitar can play, I’m listing the purpose of each type of electric guitar.
In the broad sense, though, there’re four types of electric guitars:
In particular, there’s plenty of variations within the solid-body category, which includes, for example, the archtop guitars made famous by the original Gibson Les Paul design.
Let’s explain everything in detail.
Solid-body electric guitars
Solid-body guitars are made with solid pieces of wood. These materials used for guitar construction are known as tonewoods as each offers different tonal properties to the instrument, as well as a different weight, feel, and overall colors.
If you want to know further about tonewoods, you can check this guide.
In essence, a solid-body guitar has a tonewood for the neck, another tonewood for the fingerboard, and yet another piece for the body. Sometimes, the neck is built using various pieces of wood and then glued together for enhanced tonal properties.
There’s plenty of materials today. Commonly, high-end instruments use mahogany, poplar, ash or alder for the body plus ebony, mahogany, Pau Ferro for the neck, and the fingerboard. Mid quality materials include maple, rosewood, basswood, and pinewood.
Now, any chambers or holes in a solid-body guitar are simply to house the instrument’s hardware and electronics.
We’ve already made a selection of rock and metal guitars:
Keep in mind we’re mentioning plenty of Fender (or Squier) and Gibson (or Epiphone) instruments in this branch as these two industry leaders shaped the solid-body guitars.
The Les Paul was created by a famous luthier, guitar tinkerer, and guitar player from the early ‘30s.
The purpose of solid-body electric guitars
Solid-body is the standard type of electric guitar. It’s the most common as well as the most sold and overused all over the music industry.
These are all-purpose instruments you could use for a wide range of musical genres, stages, and situations.
The main advantage of this design is how the solid body offers increased resistance to feedback, increased sustain, and an overall fatter body. That makes solid-body guitars a better pick for rock and metal.
Furthermore, these guitars are more durable and sturdy. Likewise, their sound is more balanced and “tempered” compared to the other types of electric guitars.
As for the sound, it comes from the combination of various factors. I’d say this is the order:
- The pickups;
- The selection of tonewoods;
- The electronics (circuitry and control knobs);
- The hardware (the bridge, the nut, and the strings)
- The scale length (the vibrating part of the strings);
- The shape of the body and the neck;
As I said, you can read further on our electric guitar buyer’s guide.
There’s a great variety in this branch of electric guitars, so we need to discuss this further by listing the most popular solid-body guitars you can buy.
The Fender Telecaster first rose back in 1949 under another name (either Esquire or Broadcaster). It was actually the first successful mass-produced solid-body guitar ever.
Not only that, but the original Esquire was also the first guitar to pack Fender’s original creation, the single-coil pickups.
Ever since its premiere, it has remained as the most used rhythm electric guitar both professionally and non-professionally. It’s common rock, rock, and country genres because of its “twangy” sound.
Overall, the Telecaster packs the classic sound of country music and rock & roll. If you’re looking for the classical pre-80s sound of rock, the Telecaster tone is what you’re looking for.
Notable players of the Telecaster guitar include:
- Jeff Beck
- Keith Richards
- Jonny Greenwood
- Andy Summers
- Jeff Beck
- Bruce Springsteen
- Jimmy Page (for the last solo on Stairway to Heaven).
Here’s an additional guide on how to play like famous guitar players.
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The Fender Tele is an instant classic. Nowadays, it’s a guitar anyone can recognize. It’s also one of the most imitated guitars in history, just like the Stratocaster and the Gibson Les Paul.
Its design features a single cutaway, two single-coil pickups, and a curved neck. It also lacks any kind of tremolo on the bridge.
This guitar is known for is “biting” sound and pure cleans. It’s associated with country music, as well as rock&roll, indie rock, and jazz.
In general terms, the sound of a Tele guitar is not ready for heavy metal, rock, and other high-gain styles. If you’d like to play distorted music with the Telecaster then you could go some of the beefed-up Telecasters out there, like Squier’s Modern Player Telecaster featuring a humbucker and two single-coils.
Now, even though this guitar is associated with country music, you can EQ this guitar to perfection with the right use of guitar pedals.
Although it can be hard to tweak the sound of a vintage or a budget Telecaster, these guitars can reach a chimney and prominent high-end response plus a riveting mid-range attack.
For example, both Jack White (The White Stripes) and Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) used the Telecaster in the studio. Both of them are pretty far away from the country-rock scene.
Telecaster guitars specs rundown
- Body: single-cutaway solid-body
- Neck’s radius: 9.5’’
- Frets: 21 medium jumbo frets
- Scale: 25.5’’ medium scale
- Neck profile: slim-C
- Pickus: bridge single-coil. Modded Telecaster pack up to three pickups, which may or may not include humbuckers
Top-Value Telecaster guitars
Inspired by the original Leo Fender design, Fender’s Squier makes the Classic Vibe series, which is a highly reputed selection of solid-body Fender guitars featuring pinewood body, classical aesthetics, vintage single-coil pickups, and top-quality hardware.