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Top 5 electric guitar myths

I've played enough electric guitars to know what's true and what isn't, and this is my top 5 list of electric guitar myths - as in things a lot of players believe to be true but aren't.

5. "An expensive guitar will make me a better player"

Not true. Spending more on a guitar will not magically make you a better player. A cheap guitar that's properly set up and in good working order is just as good for learning guitar as would be the expensive electric.

If you wanted to buy, say, a Fender Select Stratocaster (arguably "the Ferrari of Stratocasters"), go right ahead. But don't expect the guitar to make you a Strat master overnight, because that's simply not going to happen.

Cheaper guitars are always better to learn on for one simple reason: You can beat the crap out of them and not care. With expensive guitars you're always worried about making scratches, nicks, dents, damaging a component or whatever. On a cheap guitar, you have none of those concerns. You can play hard, and that will make you play better over time.

4. "All the good electric guitars were made in the 1950s and 1960s"

This is such a nonsense belief that I don't even know where to start.

I think I've said this before, but I'll say it again. If someone gave me (because like hell if I'd spend the tens of thousands of dollars to buy one) a 1962 Fender Stratocaster, I would literally have to get the entire guitar redone just to play it. The 3-way switch would be dumped for a 5-way, all the wiring ripped out and redone with new, the bridge and block replaced, the neck sent to a luthier to get fixed up (most likely for all new frets), the tuners replaced, and so on. By the time I was done there would be very little original material left on that '62 Strat. For all intents and purposes, it would be a new guitar with all the "historic value" of it ruined on purpose just to make it playable.

Or I could just save all that hassle and buy a new Strat for a whole lot less that needs absolutely nothing.

3. "Old pickups sound better"

No, they don't. The only thing an old pickup has that a new one doesn't is rust, and that does nothing for tone.

If you're a perfectionist and want a pickup that has the "glass", "spank", "growl" or whatever you're looking for, your best course of action is to have your pickups handmade. Have a guy (preferably one very skilled in vintage electronics) personally construct your pickups using the same materials used in the 50s and 60s, wind the copper wire himself and build the whole thing using no automation old-school style, and yes you will get "that sound".

Buy a true vintage pickup, and you'll quickly discover the thing is falling apart and will have a dead or almost-dead magnet, which means a lot of money spent for no tone whatsoever.

2. "Digital is bad"

No, it isn't.


On the guitar effects pedal side of things, chaining even as little a two analog pedals together creates massive amounts of white noise while digital is much "cleaner". The simplest example I can think of is a delay effect pedal. When you want delay with total control and the least amount of noise, you get a BOSS DD-7. It's digital, "clean" and amazing.


On the recording side of things, anyone who would purposely choose to record using analog technology over digital must either have a lot of space, or likes to waste a ton of time using a linear recording system over non-linear.

The difference between linear and non-linear is easy to understand. An example of linear is a VCR. When you want to go to a certain spot on a VHS videocassette using a VCR, you must rewind or fast-forward, wait, and then you eventually get to where you want to be. An example of non-linear is a DVD player. Whenever you want to go to a certain point in a movie you're watching, you just "jump" there with no waiting.

Analog recording equipment is big, bulky, noisy and linear, meaning you're adding in tons of wait time just to do simple multi-tracking. Oh, and let's not forget that if you want to go "true analog", you must use a humongous reel-to-reel system. And before you say, "Cool! I'd use that!", do you even know how to load tape on the reels properly? Yeah, you'll spend at least an hour figuring that stuff out if you've never done it before.


There's this belief that any amplifier that has any digital stuff in it is junk. Wrong. Digital modeling technology - even on tube-type amps - is great stuff. Yes, you do have to know how to program it because that's how it works, but it's time well spent.

Consider it this way: Digital modeling allows you to create multiple types of amplifier sounds from a single amp head rather than having to buy several big, bulky heads. It saves you money and a lot of it if you learn how to use digital modeling properly.

I'll stick with digital, thank you very much.

1. "People love guitar solos"

Only rock guitar players believe this and nobody else.

What people remember is the song and not the solo.

As a guitar player doing instrumental stuff, the formula for soloing-yet-not-soloing at the same time is to play your lead as if your guitar was a singer. Jazz guitarists have been doing this forever. When you treat your solo as a melody as if someone were singing the part, you've actually got a song and not just one long boring solo.

Here's an example:

No, you don't have to play everything using one guitar like the above player did. You could simply multi-track your songs and get it done that way. The point is that the above is a song with melody, progression, verses, choruses and so on; that's how to do it right.

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