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Did I mess up already?

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(@rsadler)
Reputable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 210
Topic starter  

I've been playing for a couple of months now, making decent progress I guess. I was in highschool band so the theory part isn't too hard. I bought a starter package from my local guitar center which was a Squier Strat with a Fender Frontman amp. I don't see myselg quitting anytime soon, so I've already been looking into a better amp or an effects processor. My question is did I make a mistake on this guitar? After reading a few posts here, I've seen that maybe the Squier isn't such a great guitar and maybe I should've invested in better equipment if I planned on staying with it. Are there things I can do to the Squier to make it a better guitar, or should I use it as is and upgrade once I know for sure what I want? Like I mentioned earlier, I don't see myself quitting :)


   
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(@apefeet)
Eminent Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 38
 

I think the only mistaken guitar purchase is the one that sits in the
closet that does not get played. I got my son a Squire bullet guitar
and it is a very well built guitar, very playable, and good sound. It is
perfect for him to learn on (now the guitar does not have quality or
sound of a american made fender, it is still a very good guitar).
Eventualy you are going to want to get another guitar and amp. Then you
can either keep your Squire for a different sound, sell it, or give it to
someone who is just starting out and can't afford a new one.

I would save my money and buy a good effects processor next, that can
totally change the sound of a guitar. As long as you like the sound and
feel of the guitar and want to play it you did not make a mistake.

Rich


   
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(@boudreau)
Eminent Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 22
 

I've got a squire strat pak myself and haven't been able to really say anything bad about my squire strat. I have since bought a Dean Vendetta and Roland Cube 60 amp but still play the strat as well. One piece of advise I can give you is take your guitar to a competent tech/luthier and have them do a complete setup on it. It will play like a new guitar and help you along alot faster than dumping more money in another guitar right away. The amp is where I learned a few things. The frontman is a cheap little practice amp with very few features. I looked at some of the multieffects pedals from digitech but really couldn't find any sounds I would love to use. Saved money and started trying amps in the $300 range and fell in love with the Roland and now play through that. The frontman and strat may go to the office for lunchhour practice sessions.

Get your guitar setup! It makes a huge difference. I couldn't believe it myself until they did both guitars.

Denis


   
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(@ricochet)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 7833
 

New guitars, especially inexpensive ones, will need a setup.

The first guitar in our house was a Squier Strat from a Strat Pak. It took setting up and a little bit of fixing, but it's still played. Sounds great, too.

Lots of that stuff is psychological; if you get the suggestion planted in your mind that "it's not good enough," you'll feel that way, too. Maybe an expensive guitar might give you a bit of confidence, or inspire you to play more, but a "blind" listener is going to have difficulty telling which you're playing. A great player will sound great on the Squier. A not-so-great player will sound not-so-great on a top end custom rig.

Buying "the right guitar" won't make you a terrific player. Playing lots will. (Or at least, a better one.)
:D

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


   
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(@metaellihead)
Honorable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 653
 

If you want, you could buy a new axe and turn your old squire into a high action slide guitar with a funky tuning. Or use it for weird Frankenstrat experiments...

-Metaellihead


   
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(@paul-donnelly)
Noble Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 1066
 

I've got nothing but good things to say about my Squiers. I'd get a new amp though, if I were you. Any guitar with a bad amp will sound bad, but even most bad guitars (which Squiers are not, in my experience) will sound okay through a good amp.


   
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(@undercat)
Prominent Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 959
 

I agree with the notion that a big part of everyone's sound has nothing to do with their instrument and everything to do with who they are and how they play.

On the flip side, there is something to be said for using high quality gear. Different equipment can inspire you to play different music. I have found that using respectable equipment is something that motivates me, I like the idea that I'm not being limited by my tools, that I'm confident that my equipment is reliable, durable, and allows me to really get the tones that I want.

Bottom line: If you feel you are being limited by your equipment, you've grown out of it, otherwise, enjoy the music!

Do something you love and you'll never work a day in your life...


   
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(@corbind)
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Joined: 22 years ago
Posts: 1735
 

I've always been a subscriber to the theory that you get what you pay for. If one guitar costs $50 and another $200 then likely the more expensive one will be “better.” Even if your Squire may be in the low spectrum for guitars, just keep playing. I started on a HORRIBLE guitar and almost quit because of the problems it had. Try to save up some money and buy a guitar that you like. It will be a friend you'll greet each day. You can always add pedals and effects later. The key is to learn to play well then worry about effects later.

"Nothing...can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts."


   
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(@metaellihead)
Honorable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 653
 

I think bigger issues with cheap guitars aren't so much the sound or tone, but the mechanical and physical attributes or problems that can crop up. It's simple things about an axe that effect every player no matter their skill level. If your tuning pegs start slipping after a few minutes of play, if your nut binds the G string, if the frets are uneven, and so on, ect... These types of problems really aren't things you can overcome with practicing a certain skill.

You're being limited by your musical tool. If the sound you get is 80% from your skill and your guitar is absolute crap you're only playing at 80% of your potential. I'm not saying equipment is the determining factor. But it can certainly help to give you a few extra notches of "Wow!".

-Metaellihead


   
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(@ricochet)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 7833
 

Nor are any of those problems things that the usual midlevel guitars are likely to be free from. New guitars need a careful inspection and setup.

Interestingly, 2 of the most perfectly set up (and constructed) guitars right out of the box that I've seen have been very cheap ones. An Epiphone Special II that I bought from Musician's Friend as a refurbed "blem" several years back, and the Agile AS-820 I just got from Rondo Music. The Epi had some problem at the factory and was stamped "2nd" in the back of the headstock, but whatever the problem was, the guys in Gibson's repair shop fixed it. That's been my main electric slide guitar for years, and I've got no complaints whatever. The Agile is just about perfect as is. It's beautifully put together and finished. The only discernible flaws were that the pickguard was touching the bridge pickup and making a buzz (which I fixed by slightly bending the bracket), some of the strings are slightly off center over the heads of the P-90 pole piece screws (as they also are on many of the Gibsons I've looked at), and the bridge pickup needed adjusting up closer to the strings for my taste. I have a Gibson acoustic with an MSRP over $5000 that doesn't look any better or costlier than this Agile. Putting them side by side and examining both with a critical eye, the only visual clue that the Agile is a "cheapo" is that the pearloid plastic fretboard markers don't have quite the "fire" of the Gibson's real mother-of-pearl. But the Korean workmanship on my Agile matches that of Gibson's Montana craftsmen. (Or the ones in Nashville.) Materials are another matter, you won't find expensive solid tonewoods on a cheapo, of course. (But Gibson's semihollowbodies are plywood, too.)

I know a guy who just got one just like it and his had some minor cosmetic blemishes including a crack repair. You are more likely to see variable quality in inexpensive guitars. But if you happen to be in town, I'll show you a new Gibson ES-335 with orange peel and runs in its bright red paint. (Not sold as a "second.") I'll show you my Fender Tele that came with a pickguard screw that was stripped out and fell out in the shipping box, and a loose jack that I had to tighten and Loctite. I'll show you how the music store guys do a full setup on all the new guitars they get in, because most of them really need it. I'll show you the Gibson (not Epi) tuner that fell apart a few days ago when the strings were changed. And that brand new $5000 Gibson jumbo of mine, lovely thing that it is, intonates 12 cents sharp on a third fret "G" on the sixth string.

It's NOT always true that "you get what you pay for" in guitars, but it's certainly true that you should expect better as you go up the price scale. I'm not picking specifically on Gibson, though I've offered several examples and comparisons with their stuff. Fender, Martin, and other manufacturers have quality control problems as well.

If you're willing to learn how to do a basic setup (which every guitar player ought to know), any but the very bottom of the line guitars will make a serviceable instrument. If you have a music store near you, hang around and get to know the folks who work there. If you're lucky enough to have a store staffed with knowledgeable people, they'll help to steer you right, they can teach you a lot, and they'll take care of you when you buy stuff from them. If you go the Internet route, as I have several times, be prepared to deal with whatever problems you may encounter yourself, else make sure the dealer's got a GREAT return policy!

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


   
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(@corbind)
Noble Member
Joined: 22 years ago
Posts: 1735
 

Wow R, that makes me worry about my SG. It may be a hunk-o-junk and I may not even know it. That's not cool 12 cents off for that G note. Yet I've never seriously tested the accuracy of fretted notes because I know everything goes sharp the further you fret notes up the neck.

Honestly, I'm like every consumer. I want to buy more bang-for-the-buck. I'd gladly pay $300 for a guitar that is supposedly not as good as a name brand. But I have, truly, no ability to decipher such. I think that only comes with experience of which mine is limited.

I'm just imagining if I could have bought two serviceable guitars for what I bought mine for. To be determined one day….

"Nothing...can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts."


   
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(@metaellihead)
Honorable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 653
 

Well, I've read an article a few weeks ago where a guy talked with a Gibson sales rep. Gibson goes through spuratic periods of good and bad build quality. Now, I don't know if it's true or not, this is just what the guy from Gibson says happens, you can beleive it or call BS.

When Gibson comes under new ownership/management the quality usually shoots up, and once word gets out demand also goes up. Gibson ends up having a hard time finding the best wood because they've used it up and has to rush production to keep up with demand. That's where stuff like running paint and clearcoat being used over laquer comes in. They also end up loosening quality control to fit the demand, too. And this variance of quality can really vary in EVERY model and every price range. From an LP Supreme to a Faded special, it doesn't much matter.

This guy from Gibby would bring in select guitars that he picked out special for an un-named guitar shop. Most of the time the owner or the guys working in the store would snatch them up, but there were still some that got through to the sales floor for people to buy. And quite often a real dog of an axe get's through and sombody buys it in most cases.

What the sales guy warned about in buying is to try every single Gibson model you can get your hands on in your area. Say if you want an LP, try every model and actual unit available to you. He also said the best and most reliable way to tell if you've got a good one is by playing unplugged, too. Listen for good accoustic resonance and compare with other guitars. Most of the time you're not going to find Gibby's best work, so the searching is worth it if you're paying out 1-3 grand on a Gibson. The sales rep says that heavy LP's should be avoided, those ones are usually made of overtly dense, compacted, and "dead" sounding african mahogony. They usually aren't as resonant as (I think) Brazillian mahogony unless they took the wood from the top of the tree where it's not heavily compacted under it's own wheight.

So, I'm aware that there are problems with guitars no matter what price range you shop in. I'm just saying that in general you'll have a higher risk of more technical issues on cheaper models. I'm talking sub $200-300 range. After that it's more of buying up to a better tone and less about mechanical failure.

And again, take that tale over Gibson build quality as unverified, but certainly possible.

-Metaellihead


   
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(@ricochet)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 7833
 

BTW, today three professional guitarist friends of mine played that new $260 Agile AS-820 of mine and were really impressed. One played it along with his own guitars in his blues band's gig tonight, which I've just gotten in from. He said it was really a great guitar and you couldn't beat it for the price. (Sounded mighty good from where I was sitting, too.) Can't say whether they're all that good, but I know they can be.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


   
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(@metaellihead)
Honorable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 653
 

Yep, I totally agree.

I beleive Henry Garza in Los Lonely Boys uses a Mexican strat, he doesn't suffer from it...

-Metaellihead


   
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