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Electric Guitar History

The electric guitar was born out of necessity. Going back to the big band era, acoustic guitar players needed an instrument that could be heard over all the brass and woodwind instruments. They also need to be heard over the banjos and mandolins on the front porch. In the 1930s, companies such as Rickenbacker and Gibson started to add guitar pickups to their instruments, which allowed musicians to plug them into an amplifier for added volume. Rickenbacker added a pickup to their Hawaiian guitar (also known as a lap steel guitar) “Frying Pan” model, and similarly, Gibson added a pickup to their electric Hawaiian EH-150 model. Soon after that, Gibson introduced the iconic ES-150, which gave players the very best of both worlds. It gave guitarists a world-class Gibson hollow body guitar with a built-in pickup, which made it the perfect fit for guitarists who played large ensembles. In 1951, Fender revolutionized the electric guitar market even further by unveiling the first ever mass-produced solid body electric guitar, now known as the Telecaster, which was introduced in order to combat the feedback that hollow body electric guitars produced. Then in 1952, Gibson worked closely with one of the most widely respected guitarists of the era to create the first Gibson solid body electric guitar, now known as the Les Paul and named after its co-inventor.

Types of Electric Guitars

Now that you know a little bit of history behind the electric guitar, let’s dive into some of the different types of electric guitars that you can find at Sam Ash. You may be thinking to yourself, “Why are there so many different types of electric guitars?” The reason is this: each and every type of electric guitar serves a unique purpose and will cater to various types of playing styles and musical genres.

Solid Body Electric Guitars

As we mentioned before, the first mass-produced solid body electric guitar was introduced in the early ‘50s as a way for guitar players to avoid getting that unwanted feedback that amplified hollow body electric guitars were infamous for. Today, there are countless solid body guitars to accommodate any type of player and price range—from beginner guitar players to seasoned pros playing genres spanning hard rock, country, blues, heavy metal, jazz, and more! Some of the most popular solid body electric guitars include the Fender Telecaster, the Fender Stratocaster, the Gibson Les Paul, the Gibson SG, the Ibanez RG, and the ESP Eclipse.

Semi-Hollow Body Electric Guitars

Semi-hollow body electric guitars are basically a middle ground between a solid body electric and a fully hollow body electric guitar. Jazz, country, and rock guitarists alike may gravitate towards semi-hollow body electric guitars for several reasons. One of the main reasons is that semi-hollow body guitars still produce that rich, resonant sound of a hollow instrument, but they typically have a solid or sometimes chambered center block in between the top and back. This design helps fight off that unwanted body-resonant feedback we spoke about before while even adding some extra sustain. Gibson offers a wide selection of semi-hollow body electric guitars, which include the iconic Gibson ES-335. Guitar brands such as Gretsch and Ibanez are also widely recognized for their semi-hollow body electric guitars.

Hollow Body Electric Guitars

The hollow body electric guitar rose to prominence when Gibson introduced the ES-150 back in 1936. Fully hollow body electric guitars (sometimes referred to as “Jazz Box” guitars) tend to have arched tops and large, deep bodies that allow the sound to fully resonate to produce an incredible full-bodied voice with amazing projection and depth. Jazz players and blues players really love the sound fully hollow guitars deliver. While the classic, larger-bodied fully hollow electric guitars definitely still exist, there are also a substantial amount of thinline fully hollow body electric guitars that guitar players may find to be more comfortable. Guitar brands such as Gibson, Gretsch, Ibanez, D’Angelico, Guild, and Epiphone provide guitar players with a fantastic array of fully hollow body electric guitars.

Left-Handed Electric Guitars

Many modern guitar brands offer a selection of left-handed electric guitars for all of the left-handed guitar players out there! The guitar manufacturers typically focus on creating left-handed versions of their most popular electric guitar models, but sometimes these guitar makers even create specific models made just for lefties!

Specialty Electric Guitars

Next up we have the specialty electric guitars. This category consists of several different types of electric guitars, but we’ll start out with 12-string electric guitars. The fact that the low E, A, D, and G strings all feature higher octave strings while the B and high e strings both have additional strings that are tuned the same, electric guitar 12-string models have a distinctive shimmer and richness to them that guitar players love. Guitar players who favor heavier genres like death metal or hard rock may want to add a 7-string, an 8-string, or even a 9-string electric guitar to their rig for when they need some extra low-end growl and power. Other specialty guitars include baritone guitars, double neck electric guitars, and pedal steel guitars & lap steel guitars.

Artist and Signature Electric Guitars

Every guitar player has their own distinctive sound, and many guitar companies have created artist and signature electric guitar models that were inspired by and/or designed in collaboration with the very best guitar players from the past and the present. Some of the most popular signature electric guitar models we offer here at Sam Ash are the Eric Clapton Strat guitars from both Fender and the Fender Custom Shop, ESP Kirk Hammett guitars, John Petrucci guitars from both Ernie Ball Music Man and Sterling by Music Man, and many more!

Electric Guitar Packages/Electric Guitar Kits

Great for beginner guitar players, the electric guitar packages/electric guitar kits give you all the essential tools that’ll help you get started on your musical journey. These electric guitar packs typically include an electric guitar, a guitar amplifier, and various must-have guitar accessories including guitar picks,guitar straps, and an electric guitar gig bag.

Electric Guitar Brands We Carry

At Sam Ash, we maintain close relationships with the most prominent electric guitar brands to make sure that we always have the very best, latest selection of electric guitars in our inventory. We carry acclaimed electric guitar brands including Fender, Gibson, Paul Reed Smith, Ibanez, ESP, Gretsch, Dean, Epiphone, Yamaha, Schecter, and so much more! If you’re a discerning player or guitar aficionado looking to add a new guitar to your collection, be sure to check out all the fine, premium electric guitars featured in our exclusive Electric Guitars of Distinction collection.

Learn How to Play Electric Guitar

If you’re just getting started playing electric guitar, you’ve definitely come to the right place! Sam Ash is the ultimate destination for all of your electric guitar learning materials! We are proud to offer everything you need to learn how to play electric guitar including instructional guitar books, guitar instructional DVDs, guitar tablature books, guitar music books, guitar reference materials, and even guitar chord charts to assist in your learning! We also carry all the accessories you need to get started, including guitar tuners, guitar picks, electric guitar strings, guitar straps, guitar amps, guitar cables, guitar stands, and much more!

If you’re looking for a teacher, be sure to visit one of our Sam Ash Learning Centers, where we have highly-trained, professional music teachers on staff that are ready and eager to teach guitar lessons!

Looking for your first electric guitar but not sure which guitar is the right fit for you? Be sure to check out our Beginner Electric Guitar Buyer’s Guide written by our electric guitar experts!

If you need help finding just the right gear, give us a call at 1-800-472-6274, where real musicians are standing by with the musical knowledge and expertise to help you satisfy all your musical needs!