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Acoustic-Electric Guitars

Acoustic-electric guitars, or electro-acoustic guitars, are different than the average electric guitar. They offer the warm sound of an acoustic instrument combined with the convenience of electric amplification. Electro-acoustic guitars like the Epiphone Hummingbird deliver the harmonics of classic, handmade models with the simplicity of contemporary interfacing. Following are five common questions and answers.

Should a beginner get an acoustic-electric guitar?

An acoustic-electric guitar is an excellent choice for a beginner, whether you wish to play standard guitar or bass. Tuning is a big issue for beginners, and many acoustic-electric models have automatic tuning, so you're always concert-ready and on key. Other models feature onboard electronic controls that let you adjust volume and tone. These are handy features for beginners who haven't yet mastered the art of fingering and dynamics.

Is there an acoustic-electric guitar for classical music?

Nylon string guitars are often featured in classical and Latin music, and in fingerstyle playing. Nylon-string models have three nylon strings and three silver-wrapped nylon strings. The result is a softer feel and sound. The latter lets you create more precise dynamics and texture. Luckily, there are very well-made nylon string electro-acoustic models on the market.

How are a solid, hollow, or semi-hollow body different?

With hollow body acoustic-electric guitars, you can just prop a mic in front of the soundhole and play. You can also perform without amplification in small spaces. Semi-hollow bodies offer some of the warm resonance of a hollow body acoustic guitar, but you need to interface with electronic pickups and amps to get substantial volume.

All-solid bodies produce little volume without an electronic pickup and an amp. However, all-solid bodies are fairly standard in pop and rock. Plus, there are pickups, amps, and pedals that clean up a poor sound, improve your harmonics, create resonance, and prevent any feedback. This creates an consistent, full-bodied sound.

What's a cutaway, and how do you use it?

"Cutaway" refers to an indentation on a guitar's upper bout, right next to its neck. It gives you easier access to the upper frets. Depending on your anatomy, it may be more comfortable for you. This feature also has aesthetic appeal. Some models feature dramatic cutaways that are very deep, resulting in upper bout shapes that resemble lightning bolts or other unique geometric silhouettes. These creative shapes are often found with rock and pop musicians.

What is Masterbilt?

"Masterbilt" is the line of luxury acoustic and electro-acoustic models by Epiphone. Most of the models are cutaway-free, and they are predominantly archtop. Classic archtop models are hollow, steel-stringed, and have full bodies with an arched top at the end of the fretboard. Masterbilt models tend to have Cleartone strings, which consist of a mixture of metals that emit a bigger, more silvery sound. They also have enhanced frequency response.

Masterbilt models have very 1960s-inspired silhouettes, with solid spruce tops, laminated mahogany bodies, aged nickel hardware, rounded C-shaped necks, a faux tortoise pickguard, and "f" holes. Pickups are conveniently tucked under the saddle, and high definition preamps boost low signals, clean up degraded harmonics, and reduce feedback.

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