When it comes to leading worship, the right electric guitar can make or break the song. The sound, durability, and dependability of an electric guitar are all important considerations when performing in a worship setting. If you spend much time with an electric guitarist, you’ll find out quickly how important finding the right tone can be.
The guitar is the backbone of good tone, so choosing the right guitar can be difficult, especially with so many options on the market. However, we’ve got you covered!
We will discuss the needs of worship guitarists, popular electric guitars for worship, and how to choose the best electric guitar for your needs no matter your budget.
Many worship leaders use an acoustic guitar to lead; however, as a worship musician, having an electric guitar with a sound that can cut through the mix and be heard clearly by the congregation is essential. However, if it cuts too much, it will sound shrill.
Your guitar should be able to produce a clear and powerful sound that fills the room and connects the congregation to the music. Sometimes, you’ll also have the role of swelling (using pads) to create an ambient bed of music behind the band.
Sometimes, you’ll need a little more grit to drive a driving song.
By the way, if you frequently perform or tour, you’ll need a guitar that sounds good and that is both durable and dependable. Your guitar should be able to withstand the rigors of live performances and travel without failing or requiring repairs.
Also, when you enter in to the world of electric guitars, you’ll find an endless selection of boutique options or vintage options. Some guitars look worn to the bone; however, that’s just how a lot of players like it!
Tone, durability, and certain extras will make the price of an electric guitar vary greatly. So get clear on a reasonable budget before making your purchase, and make sure you know what you need, verses what you want.
It's important to remember that a higher price tag does not always indicate a higher quality guitar. It is critical to strike the proper balance between quality and cost.
Electric guitars are popular among worship musicians in a variety of styles. I’ll cover a few common options as well as what I personally use.
Let’s start with the basics. Fender Stratocaster, Gibson Les Paul, and PRS SE Custom 24 are some popular models and brands. Each of these guitars has its own distinct set of features and specifications.
The Fender Stratocaster is known for its sleek design and versatile sound, and is used by a lot of blues players, like John Mayer.
A Gibson Les Paul is known for its classic appearance and rich, warm tone. It’s typically used in heavier rock type settings.
The PRS SE Custom 24 is a newer model with a more modern appearance and a versatile sound that can adapt to different musical styles. It’s also typically used for more aggressive styles.
While the Strat, Les Paul, and PRS guitars are some of the most well known brands, I don’t actually recommend them for worship music. Remember, we’re looking for a particular fit, not just a well known brand.
When it comes to guitar sound, it's important to consider the type of music you'll be playing as well as the sound you want to achieve.
The Gretsch guitar is my top recommendation.
It has an overall smooth, rounded sound and is able to stand out without being harsh. It can do wonders with swells and rhythm!
It’s also versatile enough to create some cutting driving sounds, if you’re running it through the right pedals and amps.
If you’re looking for a solid mid-range Gretsch, I recommend a G5420tg. This guitar can handle most anything in worship music and sounds great through a solid tube amp or through a Helix modeler.
If you’re ready to break the bank, a Gretsch White Falcon is an incredible guitar. You’ll see this guitar commonly used by top worship artists.
If you don’t have a lot to spend, look for a Gretsch G5657T. This guitar is incredibly impressive for the price. I’ve personally used it and think it’s a go-to worship guitar for someone starting out.
My only complaint about this guitar is that the intonation can go out if you’re on the higher frets. However, the value overall and tone you’ll get with this guitar is worth it if you’re on somewhat of a budget.
Now, if you’re willing to get into more specialty guitars, your options open up quite a bit. In fact, you can get several guitars suited for different types of songs.
Click Here to view Gretsch electric guitars on Amazon. Browse through to see what is offered, and keep an eye out for the models listed above.
You might not think of worship music, when you hear about a Telecaster; however my LSL T-bone tele is my go-to guitar. It has custom pickups, and I mostly leave it on the bridge pickup. It sounds incredible, but it’s also not cheap!
I wouldn’t normally recommend a Tele, but if you’re able to try out higher end guitars, you might find a great fit.
Another guitar that’s in my collection is a Deusenberg guitar. This guitar is reminiscent of a Les Paul style; however the tone is different. The hollow body version of this guitar is what I recommend, since it has a sound that’s closer to a Gretsch.
This is the sound that you probably associate with Hillsong United worship. Pair it with a Divided by 13 amp or a Sampson era Matchless amp, and you’ll have an unbeatable tone. However, we’re still in the boutique guitar world, which comes at a high price.
Depending on which guitar you choose, the pickups must be considered because they have a significant impact on the sound of the guitar. Single-coil pickups are known for their bright and clean sound, whereas humbucker pickups are known for their warm and rich tone.
Another important factor to consider is the guitar's playability. This includes the overall feel and comfort of the guitar, as well as the ease with which different techniques can be performed. It's critical to try out different guitars and find one that you can play for long periods of time.
The neck and body shape, as well as the fretboard radius, can all have an impact on the guitar's playability. It's also important to consider the weight of the guitar, as this can impact overall comfort, especially if you'll be playing for long periods of time.
If you land on a heavy guitar, consider a padded strap or even a bass guitar strap to help offset the weight.
When it comes to durability and dependability, the overall construction of the guitar is critical. Guitars with solid construction and high-quality materials last longer and are more reliable than those with poor construction.
The type of wood used in the guitar's construction can also affect its durability. Because they are lightweight and resonant, alder and ash are popular choices for electric guitar bodies, while mahogany is a popular choice for guitar necks because it is strong and durable.
As you shop, try to get a sense of all of these factors as you compare one guitar to another.
How to choose the best electric guitar for worship
It is critical to identify your specific needs and preferences when selecting the best electric guitar for worship. This can include the type of sound you want, the durability and dependability you require, and your budget.
Do your homework and compare different guitars to find the one that's right for you.
This might go without saying, but it is also critical to try out various guitars before making a final decision. Go to a guitar store or borrow a guitar from a friend.
If you’re playing live, make sure to try out the guitar in a live setting or a similar setting to get a sense of its sound and how it performs under different conditions.
Consider playability, comfort, and the overall tone and character of the guitar.
[You might be interested in How to Play Worship Songs on Guitar]
It's also worth noting that playing the guitar is only one aspect of leading worship. A good worship leader uses the full range of music and their presence to connect with the congregation and lead them in worship.
A good guitar can improve your performance, but it is not the only factor to consider when leading worship.
To summarize, you can find the perfect electric guitar for your worship performances and improve your abilities as a worship leader by understanding your needs, testing out different guitars, and making sure to factor your personal circumstances.
My recommendation is to start with one the Gretsch guitars mentioned above that fits your budget. From there, compare other guitars in terms of what fits you best.