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Off to blow my Christmas money ...


(@louisvillenoo-b)
Active Member
Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 15
Topic starter  

I've decided that after sticking with my lessons and practice for a whopping 9 months, I'm going to take my Christmas cash and invest in a first new guitar for myself. (I've been playing a hand-me-down Epiphone during this introductory time.) I'm 99% certain that I'm going to go with a MIM Strat or maybe a Tele, since my budget is about $500 and I'm looking for something with a pretty versatile array of tones and sounds.

Having said that, I'm curious what the consensus is on pickup configurations. For example, would a HSS combo be better suited for modern rock songs (not that I'm necessarily pigeonholed to that genre) vs three single coils? I've also played around with some of the HH formats (in both Strats and Tele's, actually). And while I do like the sounds from those guitars, it's basically a Gibson concept right? (I say that as a complete layman.). Ideally, I'd like to add to my arsenal in the coming years, so if I plan on buying a Les Paul eventually, I might as well get a Les Paul, right? Does that make sense?

Also, what are the thoughts on the Chinese/Modern Player fenders? Is the quality good enough compared to the MIM's, or is there a considerable drop off?

Anyway, I know that everyone will say "just play what feels good", and I completely agree with that. But at the same time, I'm still green, so it's almost a situation of "you don't know what you don't know".

Thanks for allowing me to vent, and I welcome any feedback or suggestions you all can offer. I look forward to being a proud new papa of my first true guitar by the end of the week.

Merry Christmas to all, unless you're not Christian (which is fine too), in which case I'll say Happy Tuesday!


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(@anonymous)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 8306
 

you can play any style on any guitar. there are tone differences, but les paul, jimmy page, metallica, and tool all used the same guitar. amps and pedals and playing style are the difference between country and metal.

i personally like the traditional pickup configurations. tonally, i haven't liked the fat strats or teles that i've played. i think they use shoddy pickups or it doesn't sound right with the wood or something.

i know when i sold guitars there was a small drop off between mia and mim, but a huge drop off between fender and squier. that was a decade ago. i doubt too much has changed. don't let the salesman talk you into anything. your guitar should sound, feel, and look like something you want to play forever. there should be no struggle or strain or sour sounds or places that fret out or shoddy connections or warped neck or anything. the paint job shouldn't be super thick and opaque. that's often covering for bad wood. for 500 bucks you should definitely be able to find a guitar that you won't want to trade up from in a year or two. it should feel like butter and sing and be easy to play. bring a friend you trust (maybe your instructor) who plays if you don't trust your judgement yet, but play it yourself regardless, because not everyone has the same hands. it should also come with a hard shell case and new strings, or i'd haggle down the price as much as possible at the very least, because you need to protect your guitar and they never change strings on floor models. also, many of the best deals are used guitars, or you can wait until people start returning their stuff after christmas. you want as much guitar for the money as you can get. a few minutes of searching for the right one will pay off every time you play it.

personally, i own a g&l legacy, which i found used for about 4-500 on ebay. the l in g&l stands for leo fender, who started the company after selling fender to cbs. it's nicer than a strat, and a steal at that price. if you can't find one that cheap, or if you want to buy new, their tribute line is pretty good. i've played some nice prs's at that price, as well, but also one with a floppy neck, so look for a sturdy build. carvin makes decent lp copies in that range, i think. regardless of your choice, make sure you completely check it out before you buy it.


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 Nuno
(@nuno)
Famed Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 3998
 

Go to the stores and play as many guitars you can. G&L are great guitars. You can play practically any kind of music with a Tele. You can play practically any kind of music with any guitar. Humbuckers and single-coils sound different. But also the wood, the neck, your fingers and many other things make a different sound. You must choose which do you prefer.

Don't worry about if you buy a Strat or a LP now, you will buy the "other" in some months or years.

Happy shopping!


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(@liontable)
Estimable Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 146
 

The biggest difference in sound will come from your amplifier and pedals. The most important part, in my opinion, is playability for you. If the guitar feels good in your hands, you can put the pickups in later on if you want (which isn't very expensive or easy to do yourself). There are companies specialised in making loads of pickups, or custom ones if you desire, so tone can be changed.

Things I would consider:

- Going used: You can get an amazing guitar in the USA if you have some patience and if you go used. You might like the idea of buying new, but it's still a consideration.

- The MIM's sometimes have sloppy fretwork/sharp frets, so be sure to try a few before you buy one. Some guitar models are better value than others (the Squier '50s Classic Vibe series are amazing guitars, on par with MIM Fenders, while Squier Bullets are trash), so you'd have to ask for specific models to know their strengths/weaknesses/value. You might find a diamond between a series that's often complained about, but often there'll be a certain trend.

- Try some different things. Ibanez has some very thin necks which you might like, or you might enjoy the baseballbat-thick necks of Gibson. A Floyd Rose might be quite difficult so I'd watch out for that, and despite liking metal I generally don't trust the non-top-end pointy guitars.

In short, playability comes first for me when buying a guitar, sound can be changed by switching pickups or a different amplifier.


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(@peaveyusa)
Trusted Member
Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 75
 

I bught my MIM strat from a player of 40 years. This thing is gorgeous. Its sunburst with mapel neck and a gold guard. I never played any other instrument when I was shopping for my MIM Strat cus thats what I wanted. I did not want to murk up my decission. Every time I play it, I feel I made the right decission:)

Love my strat, though I did take out my old vintage Peavey this weeked and its still cherry. You'll love the mexican strat if thats what you choose to get


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(@ezraplaysezra)
Reputable Member
Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 487
 

Find a cheap used strat or tele and buy it. That's step one. Guitar Fetish sells great inexpensive guitars with much better electronics than MIM fenders and Squires for peanuts. They usually have blowouts, blems and returns for less than $150. And they are easy to work with. But really any good luithier can make a decent guitar play and sound pretty good with a $40 set up. The great thing about Teles and Strats are the availability of inexpensive up grade parts. Epiphones can't except Gibson parts too easily (not as easy as Squier and other imports to fender). I would go with a Tele, fixed bridges are more reliable and you have a simpler circuit and less parts for later upgrade. But when I say cheap I mean cheap. Buy as cheap as you can get - the vintage modified squiers are VERY good. Me and my luthier were marveling over one last night - two peice body! You can't get a USA strat with a two peice body! So find the Cheapest full size bodied Tele you can find (GFS is awesome as well as Guitar Center used online) Because the best advice I can give you is blow as much of your money as possible on the best 20-40watt amp you can get your hands on.
If you're spending $500, you should be spending no less than $350 on an amp. A good amp can make a bad guitar sound good the same is not true in the other direction, a $5000 custom strat is going to sound like crud through a quantum amp (remember them?). Admittedly, you don't know what a good guitar is, you'll figure it out. With a good platform to grow with you can add to the guitar latter or trade it towards something better but what good is your updated or next guitar going to be through some crap modeler you have? You wont follow this advice... we all love shinny new guitars, most of us own 10 guitars and 1 amp, we write about pickups and neck shapes, but never tubes and chords. But I promise you a good amp will give you more millage and better results than any $500 guitar you can buy.
Jet city (I own 3 now) make a great 20 watt amp, I just saw one at GC for $199 used with a 12" celestion. Kustom, Fender and even marshall make good inexpensive tube amps within your budget. The Jetcity JCA220, The marshall Class 5 and the Epphone Valve jr. are especially tasty for very little folding green.


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(@louisvillenoo-b)
Active Member
Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 15
Topic starter  

Thanks for the advice all. I took a much more guitar-savvy friend with me who helped me get a great deal on a beautiful MIM Strat. Id be lying if I said that esthetics didnt play at least a small part in my decision. I also took (at least partial) advice from you all and invested in a nice Mustang amp. Admittedly, there are probably better amps out there. However, all of the modeling and effects was a huge turn-on.

Thanks for the help. Happy playing!


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 Nuno
(@nuno)
Famed Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 3998
 

Enjoy!

FYI we love pics 8)


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(@askaguitarpro)
Eminent Member
Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 38
 

What a great feeling. Did you have it set up? You may like it now, but a setup might even make it better. This ensures you have the action (string distance from fretboard) set the way you want it. The intonation is also properly set so your guitar stays in tune.

Jake

AKA "AskAGuitarPro"
http://www.askaguitarpro.com
http://www.youtube.com/user/AskAGuitarPro?feature=mhee
[email protected]


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(@louisvillenoo-b)
Active Member
Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 15
Topic starter  

Trust me, I'd love to post one. Is there a way to do it from an iPad? If so, I'm not seeing it. I'll admit, this is kind of like showing baby pictures. Strangers may not really care about your kids pictures, but you want to show them off anyway.


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 Nuno
(@nuno)
Famed Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 3998
 

We usually upload the pictures to a free site and we include a link in a post. For example, try one of those services for pictures http://imageshack.us/ or http://beta.photobucket.com/ (I used PhotoBucket but lately I use ImageShack) or a general cloud storage service like box.net, dropbox.com, etc. You can take the picture with the iPad.

To add the link to the image write the link url between the "img" tags as below. You can use the button above the edit box when you are composing the text.


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