The electric guitar is probably the coolest instrument to own. Yes, acoustic guitars are great, but nothing compares to the versatility and feel of a Fender Stratocaster.
However, there are times when you start to question the quality of your electric guitar’s sound. And while you might blame the guitar’s cost (primarily when you use low-cost guitars), this is not always the case.
Most times, all your electric guitar needs is a little tweak, and it’ll start to sound better.
So how can you make your electric guitar sound better?
You can start by thoroughly cleaning your guitar, changing the strings, upgrading your pickups, adding pedal effects, and practicing more.
Even if your guitar is cheap, it doesn’t have to sound like it. Here, we’ll look into easy ways to make your electric guitar sound better.
5 Ways To Make Your Electric Guitar Sound Better
There are many ways you can make your electric guitar sound better without breaking the bank.
Set Your Guitar Up
Generally, it’s advisable to set your guitar up before you start playing it. This will give you control over the type of sound you want to play and help eliminate any hidden issues the guitar might have.
Most people believe that only used guitars require a setup before use, but this is not entirely true. Theoretically, new guitars should have a perfect setup when they leave the factory, but that’s not always the case.
Some come perfectly set, while others don’t, and since you can’t know if yours is factory set or not, it’s advisable to set it up before you start playing.
Guitar setups are usually technical, and if you’re a beginner, it would be best to take your guitar to a professional luthier or any good guitar repair shop.
Do not set up your guitar yourself; you might end up causing more harm than good.
Many issues can be fixed when you set up your electric guitar. Fixing these issues will surely improve your guitar’s sound. These are some of the things that are worked on:
- Saddle height
- Bridge height
- Position of truss rods
- Neck adjustment
After a setup, your guitar will feel like a new instrument. You’ll notice the distinct change in the quality of sound.
Change Your Strings
A guitar is useless without its strings. The tension generated from the strings is why we hear the guitar’s sound, so without good strings, the guitar can’t produce good sounds.
Most guitar strings are made from steel, and as they grow older, they begin to rust and produce dull sounds. They also make it difficult for the guitar to maintain a particular tune because they’re harder to bend and slide on.
Generally, guitarists are supposed to change their strings after 100 hours of usage. On average, this usually takes about four months.
You might think this is a bit much, but its importance cannot be overstated. New strings have a massive impact on your electric guitar’s sound.
If you’re having doubts about the “100 hours” strings change policy, there are three ways you can confirm if your electric guitar strings need a change.
- If your guitar constantly goes out of tune often
- Your strings have become stiffer.
- There’s friction between your hands and the strings when you pluck it.
Clean Your Guitar
When removing your strings for changing, use the opportunity to clean your guitar thoroughly. It would be best if you gave more attention to the fretboard.
To clean your guitar, you’ll need a light detergent to remove all the grime and a simple wax to protect the guitar’s body.
It’s not advisable to clean your fretboard with detergents. Lemon oil is perfect for exposed woods and will be great for your ebony and rosewood fretboard. You can also use lemon oil for maple necks. As for the frets, you can use a metal polish to clean them.
All the dirt and grime on the fretboard dampens the authentic sound of your guitar. Removing them will undoubtedly improve your guitar’s sound.
Upgrade Your Pickups
The pickups on your electric guitar play a significant role in the quality of sound it produces. The primary function of an electric guitar pickup is to receive vibrations from the plucked strings and send them to the amplifier.
The amplifier converts these vibrations into the pleasant sounds you hear from the speakers.
So, the quality of your pickups will determine the quality of vibrations your amplifier will receive and the sound your guitar will produce.
Pickups are made from wrapping coils of wire around a core material. The number of wrapping coils and the quality of core material used will affect the sound of your electric guitar.
Sadly, most low-end guitars usually come with cheap and low-quality pickups. Your guitar’s tone will lack focus, definition, and clarity with cheap pickups. You’ll also find it difficult to hear some of the notes when you play.
Changing the pickups of an electric guitar is no small task, and unless you’re a professional guitar repairman, it’s not advisable to do it yourself.
But you can at least know the different kinds of pickups and how they affect your style of play.
Here’s what you need to know about the two most common pickup designs. (The single-coil and humbucker).
Single Coil Pickups
In single-coil pickups, a single coil is wrapped around six individual oval magnets. They were the first pickups designed for electric guitars, and you’ll mostly see them on Fender guitars and their imitators.
Single coil pickups are known for their sharp and bright sound. They are commonly used to play blues, jazz, and other genres that don’t require much distortion or gain.
The major difference between single-coil pickups and humbuckers is that the latter uses two coils instead of one. The two coils are paired together, giving the guitar a thicker sound.
They’re more versatile than single-coil pickups and are less prone to outside interference. They are the preferred pickups for heavy metal and hard rock guitarists.
A good guitar setup will cost you around $50 to $100.
Sorry to say this, but sometimes, the problem might not be the guitar but you.
If you want to improve your guitar sound, you should practice more often. Because if you give the best guitar in the world to a beginner guitarist, it won’t change the fact that they are a beginner, and it won’t improve the quality of their sound.
Practice more. Practice your chords and how to bend strings. Also, learn how to play the electric guitar with your fingers.
It’s simple, improve yourself, and your guitar sounds will improve.
The Bottom Line
The beauty of electric guitars is that you don’t have to use the most expensive ones to produce good sounds. There are several ways you can improve your sound without breaking the bank.
You can start by setting up your guitar, changing your strings, cleaning your guitar, upgrading your pickups, and practicing more.
Don’t be thinking you need a USA Fender Stratocaster or a Gibson Les Paul before you produce good sounds. These little changes can help you.