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Moving from acoustic to electric, what do I need to know?


(@jackistan)
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Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 1
Topic starter  

I'm hardly a musical beginner - I've been playing guitar since I was fifteen and I've been playing saxophone and keyboards since I was ten(I'm twenty-one now). But for most of that time, I've played acoustic and I'm getting ready to move towards electric for playing live. The problem is, I don't know much of anything about electrics. I've owned a few cheap electrics and a couple small amplifiers, and I've written a whole bunch of songs for electric guitar, but I don't really have any idea where to start in terms of what sort of guitar I should get, what kind of amplifier would work best, or how to set it all up.

I've started out looking at what my favorite guitarists play, and I think I'm leaning towards a semi-hollow. Ted Leo, one of my favorite guitarists and songwriters, plays a Gibson 335 and I love the tone and how versatile it seems to be. I'm considering an Epiphone Dot and changing out the electronics, putting in Seymour Duncan '59 pickups and giving it new machine heads. From what I've read, once you change out a few things it's a great guitar. Plus, I have two roommates and they'd probably appreciate me having something I can play acoustically at night.

When it comes to amps, though, I'm completely clueless. What does "40 watt 1x12 Tube Amp" mean in practical terms? What are the benefits of getting a head and a cabinet versus a combo amp? How big an amp should I get if I'm looking to play bars and small venues?

All this is even tougher because I'm left handed - I can't just experiment with my friends setups or walk into the store and play around with guitar and amp combinations until I find something I like, unless I like Squires in black. Like I said, I'm not a beginner to playing, I just don't really know where to get started playing electrics seriously. I've got about 2000 dollars total to pour into this, and I'm committed to playing at least semi-professionally. Where do I get started making the transition, and learning about the differences in playing an electric vs an acoustic?

(Before anyone says anything, I'm not switching from acoustic to electric because I think that's what you need to do to get people to listen to your music - I've written many songs specifically for electric guitar, with something of a punk/disco edge to them, and I want to start a band focusing on that sort of music. I've just never had the money to seriously invest in quality electronic gear until now.)


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(@boynamedsuse)
Active Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 12
 

When it comes to amps, though, I'm completely clueless. What does "40 watt 1x12 Tube Amp" mean in practical terms? What are the benefits of getting a head and a cabinet versus a combo amp? How big an amp should I get if I'm looking to play bars and small venues?
The 1x12 means there is one 12-inch speaker, so you can get good tone at high volume, but perhaps not as "full" as with 2 12" speakers. As a rule of thumb, the wattage from a tube amp can get about twice the volume of a solid state amp. My guess is that the tube amps distort in a more pleasing way when overdriven, so you can drive them harder while they still sound "musical." (Of course, the "musical-ness" of distortion is relative. I am guessing that by considering a hollow body electric, your music is closer to blues rock than metal rock.) I suspect that a 40W 1x12 tube amp would be large enough for small venues.


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 Crow
(@crow)
Honorable Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 554
 

Couple of thoughts:

- Watch out for wattage ratings. They can be deceptive. If you're comparing wattages, make sure you're looking at "RMS" or "Music Power" ratings. "Peak" ratings apparently have nothing to do with playing levels -- they refer I think to how much power the amp will put out right before it explodes. :)

- Consider a mid-sized modeling amplifier as a first amp. A digital front end with a variety of choices of Fender, Marshall, Mesa et cetera will help you sort out pretty quickly what turns you on -- and the amp won't be a waste of money; it will still be a great practice amp should you retire it from the stage.

"You can't write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say sometimes, so you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whipped cream." - Frank Zappa


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(@trguitar)
Famed Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 3711
 

+1 on the watts and type of amp. With $2,000.00 you certainly have enough cash to score exellent gear, but if you spend $1,000.00 on an amp you decide is the wrong sound for you it is money wasted. $300.00 will get you a gigable modeling amp that has many sounds and you will figure the ones you like. Then is the time to drop the big bucks on an amp. Oh .... and a bonus ..... there are all kinds of pedals for effects and processors and such that cost money and present thousands of choices. They are built into most of the modeling amps too so you can decide on the ones of those you like. As far as the Epiphone DOT goes I don't think you would be disapointed. As far as the pickups, I'd try the stock ones first and for the machine heads ..... the new Epiphones come with Grovers.

"Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard,
grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em."
-- The Webb Wilder Credo --


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(@ming8)
New Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 2
 

Cool man, it's always sweet to broaden your musical horizons. So for starters be sure to pay attention to your touch on the instrument. You will need to play an electric guitar "lighter" than you would an acoustic. As far as amps go for small venues I would definitely stick with a tube amp and not go above 40 watts. If you go higher than that the amp will not respond how you want it to dynamically. It will be a bit stiff unless you are at a least at 4 or so on the volume which for a more than 40 watt tube amp is way loud. I've been a pro club musician for the past 4 years and use a 15 watt blues jr. tweed by fender. Never needed anything more, plenty of head room to fill the place.


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 Cat
(@cat)
Noble Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 1225
 

Try stringing your CURRENT acoustic with a set of electric .009's. If it STILL plays accurately...and with good action...everywhere on the fretboard...you've already "changed". THEN go out and spend some good money on something that ya'll plug in! I've got an old Epiphone acoustic that plays like the best fretboards on any other axe I've found. It sounds like fecal matter...and even tinny...but, sheesh...it plays exceptionally well.

Cat

"Feel what you play...play what you feel!"


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(@hurricane_ramon)
Active Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 13
 

excerpts :
I'm hardly a musical beginner - I've been playing guitar since I was fifteen and I've been playing saxophone and keyboards since I was ten(I'm twenty-one now). But for most of that time, I've played acoustic and I'm getting ready to
move towards electric for playing live.........

_._

All this is even tougher because I'm left handed ..........

_._

(Before anyone says anything, I'm not switching from acoustic to electric because I think that's what you need to do to get people to listen to your music - I've written many songs specifically for electric guitar, with something of a punk/disco edge to them, and I want to start a band focusing on that sort of music. I've just never had the money to seriously invest in quality electronic gear until now.)

=============================================

Hello Jackistan :

Your over the hardest part believe me for a fellow who's capable playing several instruments The transition is a lot easier than you think ...........
_._

The issue of getting it right is the issue I see here with this one time amount of x$'s . From what I surmise is your not near a megalopolis and that's making this a tougher field to play on so ..........There's one company I know with lefty's up the wazuuuu with a return policy that is iron clad for you to return it and get your $ back or ship you another till your satisfied completely . I don't work or sell their stuff but I do own some . Carvin is the name give it a look . There will be individuals that will knock this company I'm sure but pro's on the west coast know about them and many pros use them . They make amps too .
_._

With what you have written it seems that your in league for more than just a guitar and amp . Some one mentioned a modeler and that's a really cool too , I'm down with that , but your into something even more deeper than that too .

You need a combination modeler and DAW workstation .

Why - - Thought you would never ask ...........

I play several instruments too - harmonica(s) - guitars - keyboards - drums -trumpet and I'm game to pick up the flute I just got if I get the time .

I have a combination :

[ Stomp Boxes (10)

[ FX ] ( all of em justabout )

[ 8 track stand alone w/usb digital recorder ]

[ Midi Drum machine ]

[ single XLR microphone w/ phantom power input]

[ 1/4" guitar input ]

[ 1/4" stereo line in ]

[ 1/4" high and XLR low hz outs ]

[ midi in and out ]

with this I can do what your wanting to accomplish simply put .

With your song writing skills this type of system was made for you , it is made for me and I love it .

With this system you can use the stomp boxes , FXs , the different types of guitar amps and cabinets available and record and then realize not only their particular sound but also as another mentioned here in this forum you will hear THE ONE you like best that emulates the things in a electric guitar and amp that turn you on and then ......... you get the ideal one you want .

This system is available although it seems they are not as plentiful as when I got mine . Line6 makes one nice unit , mine is a Digitech GNX4 not made but there are a few on ebay that are new refurbished and with " like new warranty's as well as some online in the usual online biggies .

Good hunting man .

Hurricane Ramon

It started for me with Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on a Blues Harp and progressed , then life -some death-Evolving like a small rock in a stream rounding out as I went with the flow as I go through the white waters and waterfalls of life .


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 EMT
(@emt)
Eminent Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 41
 

I'm planning a move to electric as well.
Is there any brands and models I should avoid?

red meat doesn't kill you, fuzzy green meat does.


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(@blue-jay)
Noble Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 1638
 

I'm planning a move to electric as well.
Is there any brands and models I should avoid?

Maybe start a new thread to get noticed. Try several - there are many big stores all around you. Forget Sears, or any non-music store. Don't buy a new Silvertone? Good luck.

Like a bird on the wire,
like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.


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(@twistedfingers)
Honorable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 607
 

As far as the Epiphone DOT goes I don't think you would be disapointed. As far as the pickups, I'd try the stock ones first and for the machine heads ..... the new Epiphones come with Grovers.

I have to agree with TR. I have an Epi DOT Deluxe. Machineheads are Grover's. Stock pickups are Alnico II's and I'm very happy with the way they sound. It's a very versatile guitar for $400 or under..

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -- "WOW--What a Ride!"


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