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Introduction to Acoustic-Electric Guitars

Acoustic and electric guitars both have advantages and both have disadvantages, depending on what type of playing you’ll be doing. Acoustics are easily portable and sound great for many types of music, but have problems with amplification. One option is for the guitar to be played into a microphone, forcing the player to stand in one place. Another option is to have a pickup and amp attached to it for amplification. The cheaper clamp-on pickups can sound a bit dodgy sometimes, and the good ones can be rather expensive. They also allow for little or no tone adjustment. Electrics can be played in a wide variety of genres and styles, but are generally heavier than acoustics and need an amplifier to make any sound, making portability a potential issue.

A nice way to bridge this gap is an acoustic-electric guitar. It is an acoustic guitar with a high-quality preamp and pickup built in. Many of these have sliders to adjust the tone in much the same way the knobs on an electric guitar do. A major advantage to this hybrid guitar is the ability to play with or without amplification and get great sound either way. Many people love the “plug in and play” aspect of these guitars. In this article, we will review some fun facts and advice on choosing an electric-acoustic guitar.

A Brief History

Since the early 20th century, attempts were made to amplify acoustic stringed instruments, including violins and banjos. Initially, telephone transmitters were adapted to fit into these instruments. As one could imagine, they did not produce a great sound. Hobbyists in the 1920s used carbon button microphones attached to the bridge of a guitar, however these detected vibration from the bridge on top of the instrument, resulting in a weak signal. The first time amplified acoustic guitars were used commonly in popular music was during the 1940s, when jazz guitarists started using pickups on hollow body guitars.

In 1966, the Ovation Roundback was developed by Charles Kaman. It was made from fiberglass (a choice based on his studies of vibration) and had electrical pickups added on. It was one of the first successful acoustic/electric combinations. Guitars of this type are manufactured and sold under the Ovation brand to this day.

Choosing Your Acoustic-Electric Guitar

In addition to Ovation, many other well-known guitar makers offer acoustic-electric models. These brands include Gibson, Fender, Ibanez, Epiphone, Alvarez and Gretsch. They range in price from under $200 to well over $10,000. The price is determined by the same factors as other types of guitar: Manufacturer, construction, materials used, quality of the hardware, and country of manufacture.

So, which one should you choose? The first step: Be practical and realistic. You want to get the best one available for your budget, not break the bank. For just a few hundred dollars, you should be able to find a model that feels and sounds great. Go to a guitar shop and try all of the hybrids in your price range. Plug them in and test the electronics thoroughly to see if they work well and fit your taste. Ask any and all questions before making your purchase.

Have fun!

Acoustic-Electric Guitars are great for most genres of music including jazz, rock and country. Plug one in and enjoy.

Phone Glenn Sutton at: 619-306-3664.

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