Here Come The Big Guitars




Joe Shephard

If you have been in the area for any length of time then you probably know or have heard of Joe. The man can troubleshoot and fix just about any guitar problem you may have. Honest, fair and just downright amazing, Joe Shephard is a stringed instrument Luthier in every sense of the word and we are proud to call him our own.

We are an Authorized Dealer for each brand we carry, so when you buy your electric guitar from N-Tune Music you can be certain that you are getting the best that the guitar world has to offer.

We set your guitar up BEFORE you leave the store, and because we believe that no matter what your skill level, an instrument from N-Tune Music should help you move forward, not hold you back.

Educate Yourself When Choosing The Perfect Guitar
When looking for a guitar, it’s not like you just stride into the store and point and say, “I’ll take that one,” or purchase online without doing at least a little homework. After all, electric guitars are big-ticket items.

Even a relatively inexpensive instrument will still cost you. Most people drop $250 to $600 on their first electric, and the really expensive ones are practically investments, so you want to buy smart.

So to help you navigate the glut of information that will undoubtedly come your way when researching your new instrument, here are 10 basic electric guitar-buying tips:

1. Get a Grip

A guitar with well-adjusted action should be easy on your hands and fingers—you shouldn’t have to have a vise-like grip just to comfortably hit a C chord.

2. Sample and Hold

Try out different guitars. Play them. Hold them. Play them standing up and sitting down. Stand in front of a mirror with them. Plug them in and turn them up. Hold it up high like George Harrison. Hold it way down low like Slash. It’s different horses for different courses—there are no hard and fast rules, but your hands, eyes and ears will tell you which one is the one.

3. Pack It

If you’re a beginner, guitar packs are a cool and very affordable way to go—containing everything you need to start playing: the guitar, small amp, strap, gig bag, tuner, cord, strings, picks. Some even have stands and instruction books/DVDs.

4. Get the Setup

Guitars are made of wood, and wood changes with temperature and humidity. On the long road from manufacturer to dealer, it’s natural for a guitar’s original factory-spec setup to change, so don’t worry if everything isn’t tip-top right off the rack, spec-wise. Electric guitars are highly adjustable machines, and a setup can make an amazing difference.

5. Import-ant Note

Most domestic guitar makers also offer models built outside the United States that deliver good quality for great prices. Imports built in Japan, Mexico, China, Korea and elsewhere have improved in recent years and often mean solid value, especially if you’d prefer to wait a little longer to buy a more expensive U.S.-made instrument.

6. The Amp

The amp affects the sound too. If you’re trying out several guitars in a store, try them out through the same amp. That amp, by the way, should be as close as possible to the one you have or the one you’re going to get. Use your amp, if possible.

7. Guitar Speak

If you’re new to playing and you don’t really speak guitar fluently just yet, bring somebody with you who does. If you don’t know a truss rod from a humbucker and action from intonation, it certainly couldn’t hurt.

8. Cross Check Pricing

New or used, it’s fairly simple to hit websites like eBay and CraigsList to see what the instrument you’re after is going for in various degrees of age and condition (while it’s great to get a baseline for price, we recommend buying Fender guitars only from an authorized Fender dealer, which guarantees that you’re buying a genuine Fender product covered by warranties).

9. Beware of Too Much Advice

There is such a thing as too much advice. If 10 different well-meaning confidants are trying to sway you in 10 different directions about what to buy or where to buy it, remember that you’re the one who’ll be making the call, spending the money and playing the guitar. Get what you want. That’s our advice.

10. Educate Yourself

Related to No. 7 above. If you don’t speak guitar yet, start learning. Ask questions of those who already know something, and there are all kinds of cool books and websites that are great educational resources.

Maple is a very hard type of wood with good tonal qualities and good sustain. Guitar necks are traditionally made from maple, because the material can highlight and amplify the wood in the body. Maple is also often used as a top for the guitar body, partly because it is beautiful (think flame, or quilted maple tops), and partly because it can brighten a sound that would otherwise be murky.


Many guitar and bass bodies are made from Mahogany. There are 49 types of Mahogany, but many are practically extinct because of the wood’s popularity for furniture and musical instruments, and the types used today are not the same as the Mahogany used in guitars in the 1940s or 1950s. Mahogany gives a warm timbre with a lot of bottom end. Les Paul type guitars often combine a mahogany body with a maple top for a total that is balanced overall.


Basswood comes from Linden trees, and it is soft and easy to work with. A side effect of being soft is that it also dents easy. Because it doesn’t have much of a grain or color, it’s most commonly used on instruments that have an opaque paint-job, though this isn’t always the case (as in the photo above). Basswood has a warm, balanced sound with great mid range and good sustain.


Alder used to be very popular in the 1950s and 1960s, and many Fender guitars from that era are made from Alder. Today it is a bit more expensive of a wood, relatively, and isn’t as common. It is lightweight, has beautiful grain patterns, and gives a warm sound with plenty of highs. An instrument made from Alder is likely to have less midrange and bass than instruments made from other types of wood.


Many American guitar factories use Swamp Ash because the wood is lightweight, pretty, and has a pleasant timbre. Swamp Ash has good sustain, firm bass tones, bite in the midrange, and airy highs.

The material in the neck and fretboard also matters. Some guitars have both neck and fretboard in maple, and they will typically have a bright and open sound. Rosewood has traditionally been used for fretboards, usually combined with a maple neck, because it is a hardy and oily wood that can stand up to extensive human contact. Rosewood will give a darker tone than maple alone.

Later years have seen restrictions in Rosewood import and usage, and other materials are becoming popular instead. These days, many luthiers have started using woods like Pau Ferro and Cocobolo instead of rosewood, with good results.

Ebony is a beautiful and very hard wood popular for fingerboards, though it is not seen as commonly because it is both rare and expensive. Ebony is especially popular on fretless guitars, where it is more durable than softer materials that are easily worn down by the strings.

Electric guitar strings, like acoustic guitar or electric bass strings, are manufactured in a range of thicknesses or gauges. The thickness of an electric guitar string has a large influence on the playability and sound in addition to other factors like the string material.

Light Gauge
  • Easier to bend and play, so ideal for beginner guitar players with uncalloused hands
  • Ideal for vintage electric guitars
  • Even projection with bright sound
Heavy Gauge
  • Require more finger pressure to fret and bend notes
  • Hotter output with punchy tone
  • Are preferred for low tunings such as Drop D, Drop A, etc
  • Exert more tension on the guitar neck
Electric Guitar String Materials

Electric guitar strings are made using various metal alloys which have a significant impact on the strings’ sound. Here are some general tonal characteristics of the most common types of strings:

  • Nickel: Balanced brightness and warmth
  • Cobalt: Wide dynamic range with increased low end and crisp highs
  • M-Steel: Rich and full tone with powerful low end response
  • Pure Nickel: Vintage output with a warm tone
  • Stainless Steel: Bright, crisp, “edgy” tone with corrosion resistance.
Guitar pickups are a whole subject unto themselves. Click the button to get more information about everything relating to guitar pickups. A little knowledge can go a long way in helping you decide what’s best for your style of playing.

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