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Best Electric for an Acoustic Rhythm Player?


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At the lower end (about $700 to $900 MIM) Fender makes a very nice semi hollow body telecaster with humbuckers. Sounds very clean and is a very playable electric guitar.

 

On the other hand PRS has some great hollowbodys that one can get electric and acoustic tones out of. ($2500 to $3500)

 

Then again an ES 335 HB maybe the best choice, just watch out for the G and B strings intonation. (usually poorly cut nut)

My only gripe on the ES 335 is inconsistent quality, which isn't a problem with two guitars mentioned above.

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The ES-335 and its progeny (like the Epiphone Dot) will probably feel really comfortable and familiar to you, size-wise. They have the additional advantage of being among the most versatile guitars ever, so if you ever want to expand from rhythm to leads, or from one genre of music to another, you have the one of the guitars that can literally do it all. I'm certainly not the first to call it the Swiss army knife of guitars.

 

While having the Gibson is a fabulous luxury, you can get good seats in the ballpark with the Dot; the stock pups are not as articulate as those in the Gibson, but the Dot is an outrageous value. It's the best bang for the buck for the buck available, IMO.

 

As an acoustic player, you might also look into the Gibson J-160E. It's the ultimate acoustic/electric rhythm guitar, if you ask me.

 

Red 333

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REd...

 

Glad to hear somebody else mentioning the Epi Dot as perhaps the best bargain around.

 

It ain't a 335, but dollar for dollar it's an incredible guitar and an incredible bargain.

 

m

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I played in a very good church band strictly as a rhythm player for about 10 years. At that time I had quite a few more guitars than I currently have and a wider variety. I wound up using a Taylor 310CE LTD. I sinced sold that guitar and if I did that kind of playing again I would use the Taylor T5 I have. Plays like a dream and you can almost get any sound out of it (Tele, Strat, Humbucker, acoustic). I had a Strat VG but did not like the acoustic modeling and sold it. The others modes were okay. I agree with the other comments about a thinbody like a 335 if you're wanting an pure electric but I would still consider a quality guitar with some kind of modeling so I'm not locked in to a certain sound. I have a Gibson CG I would use, but would not like the limited sounds. I love the way it sounds, but it does not fit everything. I love a lot a guitars for their specific characteristics but for a workingman's guitar I would go to a Taylor or Takamine preferably something with modeling so I would not have to haul a few guitars around. If I'm going out to just play an acoustic set, either my J-200 or D41 special is going.

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No one has mentioned a strat? I occasionally play rhythm in a band. No lead work. Just backing up a great lead player. I love my strat.

 

I used to own a 335 but sold it. Never could connect properly with it although I do regret passing it on. Totally agree with anyone who recommends one.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am primarily an acoustic (Gibson Jackson Browne) player, and for the most part rhythm. My search for the perfect electric 6 string ended with a Gretsch White Falcon. Easy to play, stays in tune, sounds wonderful (especially w/a Vox amp) and is probably the most beautiful guitar in the world. Steve Stills is using his quite a bit on tour these days, even playing some of the acoustic tunes (ie, Helplessly Hoping) on the Falcon instead of an acoustic. Neil Young has played them. John Fruscianti w/the Chili Peppers. Wonderful instruments. But pricey.

Another thought... I personally am not a fan, mostly because I think the acoustic tone is mediocre, but a Taylor T5 might be worth considering.

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When I made the shift back in the 1960s from fingerpicking acoustic folkie to rock mostly rhythm, I ended up with a now-defunct Rick semi model.

 

It felt like a guitar.

 

After that, it was a huge batch of different electrics.

 

But for the first shift... probably the 335 or Epi Dot, depending on the budget.

 

A lot depends on how the music is perceived whether one goes an all-electric route or an AE route.

 

Yes also to Red's suggestion of the Gibbie - or other - magnetic pickup guitars or as I did many times, adding a good mag pickup to an acoustic you're comfortable with.

 

Frankly I think when making the initial shift, you're likely best off with a shift that goes the entire route as I did rather than the halfway route of an AE, even with a mag pickup. The semi was the best transitional choice for me and may be for others. A full archtop is a possibility too, and would feel more "full size" to many. Gibson has many great choices, as does Epi.

 

Personally I think the ES175, Gibbie with a big checkbook and Epi with a smaller one, is the perfect size guitar for electric work although for loud combos you'll always have some feedback concerns.

 

Here's something to think about, too: The 175 is marvelous for many music styles IF, AND ONLY IF, strings and setup are matched to the style of music considered. For example, mine has 9-42 with a very, very low action for fingerpicking my version of every kinda music I play except Flamenco and bluegrass/old time. Gentle fingerpicking. It does everything I want. It even works, as do my other electrics, for such fingerpicked "rhythm" guitar I've done when paired with another picker to swap leads, and for such classical as I do.

 

But it wouldn't be worth beans with those strings and setup if "rhythm" meant what you've likely been doing with a flattop. You're talking more than a switch in guitars regardless of your choice, you're talking about a switch in technique that affects the whole concept of setup and much of your concept of where and how you strum with a pick.

 

That last is true regardless of your final decision.

 

Best bang for the buck? Probably Epi Dot with 10s on it and a revised outlook on setup and strumming 'cuz you'll likely have a lower action than on many flattops. The 335 Gibbie obviously is likely to be a better quality instrument in most ways, but setup for what you're doing can make you love or become really indifferent to it.

 

Ditto with any full electric. The 175 is a great opportunity to consider additional musical concepts depending on where your head is.

 

Why not a solidbody like a Strat or LP, an SG or Tele?

 

I personally just don't think they're going to be that comfortable for the technical shift from a flattop. The Fenders tend also to have a shorter (steeper?) radius on the fingerboard - something like the crown on a paved road designed so water runs off it - than most flattops. That and the overall neck feel and geometry of Fenders totally turned me off on the things.

 

Also, excepting the LP and some clones, on a solidbody "board" guitar, even those I happen to like such as the SG, your playing technique is going to have a different geometry 'cuz the strings likely will be closer to the guitar top than on a flattop or archtop whether a 335 design or not. That's in ways only a subconscious difference, but it also does affect technique.

 

The geometry between the player and the neck is almost unchanged from a flattop with a full archtop design of similar size; it's more obvious with a thin body hollow and most obvious with a board guitar.

 

For example, the 335/Dot always seems to me to have a narrower nut than my flattops or archtops. Why? I found I was reaching differently with my left arm/hand. That's even more pronounced an effect with a board. The 175, btw, with that setup simply felt like a marvelously-easier to play "real" guitar.

 

m

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Cast your net wide and try everything you can. I find the nut on my Korean Casino too narrow for most stuff and the P90s are poor relatives to their Gibson counterparts. It did make a nice rhythm guitar once, though, if by rhythm you mean strumming. The pups lacked definition for arpeggios and the narrow nut made them technically hard to pull off. But in the middle position the pups and trapeze made for a nice snap and thunk. I realized quite quickly that a 335 was my ideal all-rounder, but the gift of a Howard Roberts Fusion has opened my mind to alternatives. It has the snap and thunk of the Casino when needed, better pickups with more power and definition, a wider nut which makes arpeggios easier to play, and it also has a nice chunky neck which feels close to my acoustic's in profile. Also it's more compact than a 335, so involves less of the reach with the fretting hand that Milod mentions. Its body is a touch deeper though, which gives it a slightly more acoustic feel. A bit like holding a small-bodied archtop acoustic.

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Yes - generous cousin. Actually it was a legacy brought forward. He was going to leave me a guitar in his will, but when he retired he downsized and I get the benefit while young enough to enjoy it. Cool guitar - not 16" on the lower bout but just under 15". Dimensions a bit closer to certain Gretsches I believe. Tone pure Gibson though.

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