Like most instruments, electric guitars can significantly vary in weight. Some weigh less than 3 pounds, while others weigh more than 10.
Although most prefer lightweight guitars, professionals often recommend heavier variations. Due to how they’re constructed, heavier guitars produce warmer sounds than lighter guitars. In comparison, lightweight guitars produce brighter and more “open” sounds.
For many, the difference between these two sounds is quite substantial. So, this article discusses everything you need to know about guitar weight. How much does an electric guitar weigh? Does weight even matter? Are heavy guitars better than light guitars? Let’s find out.
How Much Does an Electric Guitar Weigh?
On average, electric guitars weigh anywhere between 6 to 8 pounds. Double-neck electric guitars weigh around 10 to 13 pounds.
Here are some of the most popular electric guitar models and their weights:
- Epiphone Dot – 8 pounds
- Epiphone Les Paul – 9 pounds
- Fender Jazzmaster – 8.5 pounds
- Fender Stratocaster – 9 pounds
- Gibson ES-335 – 8.5 pounds
- Gibson Flying V – 7 pounds
- Gibson Les Paul – 13 pounds
- Gibson SG – 6 pounds
- Ibanez JEM – 8 pounds
- PRS Custom 24 – 9 pounds
- Squier Stratocaster – 8 pounds
- Yamaha Pacifica – 12 pounds
Does Weight Really Matter?
Absolutely. Weight is one of the most crucial elements of electric guitars as it not only reflects the instrument’s construction but also its sound.
Generally, heavier guitars resonate longer than lighter guitars. This is because the vibrations produced by the strings take a fair bit longer to disperse than the latter. Heavier guitars also have a better sustain and produce a richer, warmer sound overall.
With that said, heavy guitars don’t come without their disadvantages. Due to their weight, they’re much harder to use than light guitars. Plus, they’re fairly chunky and lack ergonomic features. If you use your guitar for hours-long live sessions and concerts, you’ll quickly get fatigued. After a while, your shoulders and hands will ache, thus affecting your performance.
On the other hand, lightweight guitars produce brighter sounds. Although they don’t sound as full as heavyweight guitars, they’re far more responsive as there’s less inertia produced when the guitar string is struck. The strings resonate more equally, as well, creating a more “true to life” sound.
Musicians who perform on stage almost always use the lighter variety because they’re easier to handle. This is especially true for individuals who play the guitar standing up rather than sitting down. Lightweight guitars are also ideal for beginner guitarists and those who suffer from spine or neck injuries.
Factors That Affect the Weight of an Electric Guitar
There are multiple factors that impact the weight of a guitar, including body type, body shape, hardware, and, of course, construction material. Let’s discuss each aspect in further detail.
Electric guitars have four main body types: solid, hollow, semi-hollow, and chambered.
Solid-body guitars, as the name suggests, are made from solid slabs of glued-together wood. This makes them fairy heavy compared to the other three.
Hollow-body guitars are completely hollow on the inside, barring the structural supports under the bridge and neck.
Semi-hollow guitars are a combination of both solid body and hollow-body guitars. They’re partially hollowed out to reduce the weight without impacting the overall richness produced by a solid body guitar. Semi-hollow guitars are known for the “F-holes” on the body’s face.
Chambered guitars have routed out solid bodies to create air pockets inside the guitar. This not only makes them lighter than solid body guitars but also adds a slightly airy acoustic character to the instrument. The air pockets (also known as chambers) increase a guitar’s resonance, imparting a certain “roundness” to the notes.
Chambered guitars weigh less than solid guitars, but more than hollow and semi-hollow guitars.
The type of wood used in an electric guitar greatly affects its weight. After all, different types of wood have different densities. Some of the most common woods used in guitars are as follows:
- Alder: 400 – 700 kg/m3
- Basswood: 300 – 600 kg/m3
- Mahogany: 450 – 640 kg/m3
- Maple: 550 – 700 kg/m3
- Swamp Ash: 450 – 550 kg/m3
- Walnut: 650 – 700 kg/m3
Body Shape and Size
Headless guitars are lighter than double-neck guitars. Thicker guitars are also often heavier.
For instance, a mahogany-bodied Les Paul weighs almost twice as much as a mahogany-bodied SG because the Les Paul has a single-cutaway body compared to SG’s double-cutaway design.
The Les Paul also has a thicker body than the SG, measuring 2.5 inches thick, whereas the SG is only around 1.5 inches thick.
Hardware refers to the internal and external components of an electric guitar, including the bridge, the pickups, the tuners, and the controls.
These components don’t add a significant amount of weight to the guitar (only half a pound or so), but they’re still worth mentioning. The components used depend from manufacturer to manufacturer. For instance, Les Paul uses locking tuners rather than traditional tuners, which are usually 0.5-1.0 ounces heavier than the latter.
Should You Get a Heavy or a Light Guitar?
No rule states that heavier guitars are better than lighter guitars and vice-versa. Each has its own pros and cons, so it really depends on personal preference. Some guitarists prefer heavier guitars for the rich sound they impart, while others prefer lightweight guitars because they’re way easier to use.
If you’re a beginner, it’s best to start off with a lightweight guitar. Although you can get used to playing a heavy guitar in the long run, you can’t change its playability. On the other hand, you can improve your guitar’s tune by upgrading your pickups and amp.
Electric guitars typically weigh between 6 to 8 pounds, but it isn’t uncommon to find guitars weighing over 10 pounds.
Heavyweight guitars, while difficult to maneuver and play, sound bolder than lightweight guitars. This isn’t to say that lightweight guitars sound bad; quite the opposite. Lighter guitars emit brighter sounds than heavier guitars. Plus, they’re way easier to play.
When choosing a guitar based on its weight, closely consider your play style and preference. At the end of the day, there’s no “right” or “wrong” answer. Simply choose the guitar that suits you most.