Good electric guitars for an acoustic fingerstylist?
March 1, 2005 4:41 PM   Subscribe

I'm an acoustic fingerstyle guitarist. I play a Martin OOOc-15e. Lately, I've been considering buying an electric guitar for similar purposes, as well as some heavier blues stuff. Suggestions?

Also, price is somewhat of an issue. Absolutely under $500, preferably under $300. I know you can't buy a lot of guitar for that, but that's my budget.
posted by The White Hat to Media & Arts (17 answers total)
 
You can definitely get a decent guitar for that money, but as far as buying a guitar goes, it's always best to try them out first.

Just go to a shop, preferably somewhere small and friendly, and try out as many different guitars as you want and decide what feels right for you.

Also, it's generally worth haggling, especially on a weekday, when they'll give you a discount just to get a sale.
posted by iamcrispy at 4:53 PM on March 1, 2005


If you've never bought an electric guitar before, don't do it on ebay or a pawn shop. Go to an actual music store and try EVERYTHING out, no matter how much you're annoying them. Pay special attention to the thickness of the neck - if you're used to playing acoustic anything may seem fine, but for an electric thinner is usually better.

I have an Epiphone Special II, which I believe is under $200. For what I paid, it's a nice guitar.
posted by borkingchikapa at 5:10 PM on March 1, 2005 [1 favorite]


I'm an acoustic fingerstyle guitarist and I play a Martin 000-15s. About a year ago, I decided to buy an electric to screw around with. I bought a used Fender Mexican Telecaster that I string with twelves. It cost me about 200 bucks. I'm pretty happy with that set-up.
posted by greasy_skillet at 6:20 PM on March 1, 2005


This is just a small bit of advice, but you'll probably want to buy the heaviest strings possible; electric guitar strings feel unbelievably flimsy if you're used to acoustic guitars.
posted by interrobang at 6:46 PM on March 1, 2005


I really enjoy playing acoustic guitar, and when I bought my second guitar, an electric, I got a Dean Stylist. It cost me around 400, and I like it. It's not the best guitar, but I like the fact that it's semi-hollow and has humbuckers already. Basically, it allows me to play electric but with a partially acoustic feel.

Also, I'm not a huge fan of fenders, for a couple reasons, but it's just my preference. I prefer humbuckers, and IMO they don't sound any better than many other guitars. Plus I think they look bad.

But yeah, I would defintely go down to a guitar/music store or two, and just look around. Ask a lot of questions, because some things you won't think about. And if you find one you like, I would continue to look, and come back a second day to make sure you like it.
posted by Camel of Space at 8:03 PM on March 1, 2005


An electric guitar is such a completely different beast from an acoustic that it's really like apples and oranges.

It's hard to beat a Stratocaster for an all-around electric. It sounds great just plugged straight into an amp with a little reverb, but you can always run it through some pedals and get everything from classic blues tones to Hendrix tones to highly processed Andy Summers sounds. A strat is just about indestructible, short of smashing the hell out it a la Pete Townsend. They sound great with a slide. Ry Cooder is a monster fingerpicker and slide player and plays a strat. You should be able to find an American made one within your price range, too, should you so desire, not that that matters, necessarily; one of the finest guitarists I have known swore by his Japanese Fender Squire Strat and they are very inexpensive.
posted by wsg at 11:16 PM on March 1, 2005


Make sure you try out a Godin or two; I got one recently, and the tone is excellent for fingered playing.
posted by armoured-ant at 5:53 AM on March 2, 2005


The problem with a Stratocaster, if you are an acoustic fingerstyle guitarist, is that the Strat's fretboard is curved to a degree, which may feel alien to an acoustic player. I would suggest trying some Gibson electrics, such as a Les Paul or an SG. Gibson fretboards tend to be flat and wide, which feels more like an acoustic guitar. Alot of the electric guitars that are made for metalists or rockers, like most Strat-based models, have narrow fretboards. Maybe stay away from these and head toward the Gretsch or Rickenbacker knock off sections. Also, the Gibson wide body jazz types have good, wide fretboards.

The suggestion above about heavy strings is a good idea too, although I would say maybe go for the "heavy bottom/light top" sets, which give you thicker strings on the high E, G and B and lighter on the low E, A and D. I like this combo because sometimes really heavy top strings make me feel like I'm playing a cello and I can't get any tremolo out of em.
posted by spicynuts at 7:01 AM on March 2, 2005


I'd recommend the Epiphone Dot Deluxe; I play mine with and without a pick, and it works really well for both. The guitar sounds great (the semi-hollow body especially helps with the fingerpicked sound), and you should have no trouble finding a used one in your price range. Could even find a new one if you're lucky.
posted by COBRA! at 7:13 AM on March 2, 2005


The problem with a Stratocaster, if you are an acoustic fingerstyle guitarist, is that the Strat's fretboard is curved to a degree, which may feel alien to an acoustic player.

Most guitars, acoustic and electric, have a slight radius ("curve," as you call it) on the neck. Very few, in my experience, do not have that "curve." I have a played a couple without a radius on the neck and it feels very strange.
posted by wsg at 7:17 AM on March 2, 2005


If maintaining something of that acoustic sound/feel is important, other Epiphone hollow-bodies are worth a look too. I personally didn't like the sound of the Dot I played when I was looking, and went for a Casino instead, but the main point that's been made well already is you gotta just play a bunch of guitars.
posted by cortex at 9:00 AM on March 2, 2005


Most guitars, acoustic and electric, have a slight radius ("curve," as you call it) on the neck. Very few, in my experience, do not have that "curve."

wsg, in my experience owning both strats and les pauls, it is fairly obvious that a strat has a larger radius than a les paul and it is very noticeable when playing. i bought my last strat more than 15 years ago and perhaps strat manufacturing has changed in the interim, but the larger radius fretboard used to be a widely talked about feature of the strat in comparison with the les paul. certainly when i switch from playing my acoustic to my strat, i notice the difference.
posted by spicynuts at 10:18 AM on March 2, 2005


it is fairly obvious that a strat has a larger radius than a les paul

I'll buy that. My only point was that most guitars, acoustic and electric, have some radius on the neck.

BTW, I have played a Martin acoustic (SPD-16T) almost exclusively for the last several years and, because of this thread, I just got my old strat out of its case just to see what it feels like after all these years. It literally has not been out of its case in a couple years. My first impression is that it feels good. There is a bit more radius on the neck of the strat than the Martin, but not so much so as to feel particularly alien.
posted by wsg at 11:01 AM on March 2, 2005


Maybe we should have a MeFi jam session.
posted by spicynuts at 11:33 AM on March 2, 2005


Superpedantic: a more pronounced curve on the fret board suggests what is, mathematically speaking, a smaller radius.
posted by cortex at 12:04 PM on March 2, 2005


Maybe we should have a MeFi jam session.

I'm in.
posted by wsg at 12:17 PM on March 2, 2005


Maybe we should have a MeFi jam session.

Me too, and thanks for the advice.

Unfortunately, my sense has got the better of me, and I've decided to buy a PA system instead.
posted by The White Hat at 6:24 PM on March 3, 2005


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