Ever since electric guitars first appeared, you could see a difference in various designs. Right off the bat, Gibson’s flagship Les Paul was worlds apart from Fender’s top tier Stratocaster. As the market became even more diversified, these differences only grew to be more apparent. The question many people have today is whether or not the style of your guitar limits its use in any way? Let’s try to answer that question and see what hides beneath the surface.
There Is A Difference
To say that all electric guitars are the same, would be pretty absurd. The first major point of difference is the electronics various models feature. Strats and similar guitars come with single coil pickups while Les Pauls are packed with humbuckers. These two types of pickups are inherently very different, which is why the former is used mostly in blues, rock, and similar genres. Humbuckers, on the other hand, are the staple of more aggressive music where girth and ability to wrangle copious amounts of gain are imperative. Let’s go over some of the most popular genres and try to match a decent six-string that suits it.
When it comes to blues music, there is rarely an abundance of distortion or overdrive present. It’s true that some artists like to spice things up a bit, but the most standard tone profile comes in form of cleans with a subtle layer of growl. Blues is also a genre where single coils and humbuckers both come to shine. Something like Danelectro’s 59 Spruce works every bit as good as say, Hagstrom Northen Super Swede. This genre of music is more about the feel and storytelling through music than it is about the exact tone you are using.
The unofficial ruler of the Jazz category has got to be the semi-hollow and hollow archtop electric guitar. You can essentially use different kinds of guitars as well, but semi-hollows are the considered to be the golden standard. A good example of this type of guitar would be Eastman’s AR380CE from John Pisano signature series. This thing brings the perfect concoction of tonewood, design, and electronics necessary for a solid jazz experience.
Rock is the most forgiving genre of them all. You can get away with using just about any kind of guitar. Washburn XMSTD2TNG will get you plenty of headroom and range, even though it was designed for a much heavier type of music. Rock comes in a whole spectrum of different flavors, meaning that there isn’t a universal formula for a perfect tone. It is all circumstantial.
Entering the more aggressive waters leads us right into metal territory. A proper metal guitar needs to meet several requirements, which are more or less mandatory. First, you need a hot set of pickups that can wrangle with high gain and overwhelming distortion. On top of that, a fast neck is highly recommended if any shredding is involved. Something like Schecter’s Banshee Elite-6 FR-S is exactly what we are talking about. Its ultra slim C neck profile, those SuperCharger humbuckers, everything is geared towards performance on this guitar.
If we decide to go one step further and dwell into djent or similar modern versions of metal, we need to add a few more strings to our formula here. Schecter’s Banshee Elite-7 is more or less a similar model to the one we have just mentioned, but it has that seventh string. The very presence of a B string means that you can have those heavy hitting, almost bass-like tones that define djent.
How Exclusive Is Your Choice Going To Be?
In all honesty, there is too much drama being caused due to this subject. One camp is going to scream their lungs out telling everyone and anyone that single coils can’t play metal, while the other will claim that jazz requires you to have a $5000 custom-made archtop. Guess what? Iron Maiden uses single coils and just so happens to be one of the best metal bands in the history of music.
While it is true that certain styles of guitars are leaning more toward a specific genre of music, their abilities overlap quite a bit. At the end of the day, whatever guitar you choose will be able to play just about anything. The key here is to get what you like the most and what best fits your primary needs. Someone who has been playing metal for 10 years and is a member of a successful band, will probably get a guitar that is fit for metal. Does that mean the guitarist in question can’t take that ax to a blues jam session and cause mayhem over there? No, it does not.
People like to put themselves and their gear into predetermined molds, which isn’t all that shocking considering how tribal we are as a species. However, when it comes to electric guitars, things are far from clean cut. A good guitar player will dial in a suitable tone and absolutely destroy with any electric guitar in their hands. Chances are they could sound great using nothing more than an amplified shower with some strings nailed into it.
Without trying to insult anyone’s loyalty to a certain brand or their dedication to a specific genre of music, electric guitars are pretty flexible. Going out of your way to try and find a model designed specifically to do it all will only lead you into insanity. Find out what your personal preferences are and use that as a guideline.
Whatever you end up getting will give you much more range than you can imagine, that is guaranteed. This point only becomes more emphasized if you decide to sink in a decent amount of money in a high tier guitar. At that point, you definitely don’t have to worry all that much about tone quality or genre affiliation.