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Decided to finally buy a guitar...

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BrettCB
(@brettcb)
Active Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 4
Topic starter  

Well, I've been reading these forums for a while and I finally decided to sign up and get started. I'm 22 years old and I've wanted to learn guitar for quite sometime but never actually took the plunge of buying a guitar and trying to learn. Recently I decided with Christmas coming up it was the perfect time to get started. I've been reading tons of articles, forums, and the like to get a good idea of what I want and where to look for the best equipment. I have a $550 (Maybe a bit more if I really need to spend the extra cash) and I've got my mind set on getting an electric guitar and amplifier. I'm planning on going to the store in the next few weeks and despite all my research I still feel intimidated by walking into the guitar store. So, I figure if you guys could give me some advice on what brands to ask for and try as far as guitars and amps go then I might feel a little more comfortable in my search for the "right" guitar and amp. I'm planning on learning to play in a rock/bluesy style of guitar and maybe a bit harder stuff here and there such as metal. Also, if you guys want to give me some suggestions on anything else I should pick-up I would really appreciate it.

Thanks for the help in advance and I just want to say that finding this place has helped to take the weight off my shoulders as far as getting started in this new hobby. You really have a great community here and I'm glad to have a chance to join.


   
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Musenfreund
(@musenfreund)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5108
 

Welcome to the Musical Madhouse.

Check out the recommendations in "I'm Looking for a New..."

Well we all shine on--like the moon and the stars and the sun.
-- John Lennon


   
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Rich_Halford
(@rich_halford)
Reputable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 225
 

I typed a nice reply and lost it.

Shorter version. Guitar stores are used to new players, so that shouldn't be a problem. If you do feel intimidated, find another store. If you can, take a guitar playing friend. Failing that, get a store bod to play the guitar/amp you are looking at in a stylee you like. You can even ask other customers to have a go and give you their unbiased opinion. Most people love having a go, so be brave and ask.

I prefer acoustics so don't know much about electrics. However, Yamaha Pacifica's seem universally liked and come in a decent range of prices and colours. Amps, try Roland Cube, Vox ADT (is it?) and Line 6 Spider.

Lastly, buy a guitar that you love the look of. For a first guitar, finding something that makes you want to pick it up and learn is the way to go. SUre, it needs to be okay to play, but I reckon thats kind of secondary. Be prepared to be frustrated, but stick with it and it'll come. Soon you'll be upgrading to other gear anyway.

Most of all, shop around and enjoy it!


   
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JoeyFiveThumbs
(@joeyfivethumbs)
Eminent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 27
 

Lastly, buy a guitar that you love the look of. For a first guitar, finding something that makes you want to pick it up and learn is the way to go. SUre, it needs to be okay to play, but I reckon thats kind of secondary. Be prepared to be frustrated, but stick with it and it'll come. Soon you'll be upgrading to other gear anyway.

I am in the same boat as you Brett. I went with Rich's advice. I bought a cheap electric, doesn't sound the best, but it is something I can learn on. If you want an electric guitar, get an electric. The last thing you want to do is finally take the plunge and then think "I wish I would have got an electric" every time you play it. It has been frustrating and fun all at the same time since I bought mine.


   
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mmoncur
(@mmoncur)
Estimable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 168
 

I would plan on spending about $400 on the guitar and the rest on a practice amp of some sort. That will allow you to skip over the really cheap beginner guitars and get something that will last.

You can't go wrong with a Fender (Made in Mexico) Stratocaster - should be $400 or less. I have one with a Humbucker pickup so it can handle harder stuff if I ever figure out how to play any.

Rich has good advice. Most importantly, pick up a bunch of guitars and try them. Look up an E minor chord (just two fingers) so you can strum something musical and see how they sound. Try them acoustically and with an amp. Take a guitar-playing friend with you if possible. If not, the staff is usually happy to demonstrate one for you.

If all else fails, pick one that looks cool or one that your favorite musician plays - it's always more inspiring to get to work when you're happy with the guitar.

Good luck!


   
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Steph
(@steph)
Eminent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 26
 

I was in the same situation 9 months ago when I first thought about starting guitar at 23. The best pieces of advice I can give you is to go to the guitarstore at a quiet time, early during weekdays or at opening time on saterday so there are less people hanging around which you might feel as intimidating. This also has the added benefit that a store clerk has more time for you and can actually help you the entire time instead of checking back every 30 minutes.
Depending on your musical tastes (you more or less cover the entire spectrum with your preferences, a single coil/humbucking combination might actually not be a bad idea :P), this and your budget it should make the choices a lot easier, if you talk with the cleric about it and use the help of people like on this forum. Chances are not everything is available, and you store might have less known brands that might actually be good.
Then take a guitar you find attractive in your style and budget (not everyone agrees with me here, but if a guitar doesn't look good, you are not going to want to play on it) and try the feel of it. Chances are it will feel awkward anyway, but some guitars are just balanced differently and you might like some more than others. Also the thickness of the neck will vary.

Once you have found some guitars, make sure all the frets are buzz-free and have no burrs (or ask someone else to do it, as it might be a bit hard if you never touched a guitar before) and there are no defects. Then take it to an amplifier and see how it handles plugged, for this you should ask the clerk/guitar playing friend/other customer. You want to use a neutral sounding amp on a clean channel to bring out the real sound of the guitar, don't only use a drive, crunch or whatever setting as these will vary hugely on all amps and you can buy great effect boxes later on that do it better than an amp in your budget ever will. (it is great to have though, so check out how that sound on your amp as well).
For an amp you have so many options it is hard to list them all, but I would look into a decent cheap modeler amp with at least a reverb effect built-in and when you ear develops you might look into a more specialized amp that gives you exactly the tone you want. The guitar is more important for you at this point imho, as you are learning to play and that should be made as easy as possible.

Last piece of advice I can give you is not be feel intimidated, good stores always take the time to explain stuff and help you make a good choice with the budget you have (if they don't, just leave and find a decent store somewhere else), and the other guitarists in the store had to go through the same phase as you are going through now.


   
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BrettCB
(@brettcb)
Active Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 4
Topic starter  

Thanks for all the help everyone. Great advice and I feel a little more confident that I'll make the right decision when it comes time to pick out my gear. Heard over the radio that my local Guitar Center is having a sale this weekend and I'm going to take my brother who can play a little to test some guitars out for me. As of now here is what I'm going in looking to test out:

http://www.guitarcenter.com/Fender-Standard-HSS-Stratocaster-Electric-Guitar-103814638-i1148871.gc
http://www.guitarcenter.com/Epiphone-Les-Paul-Standard-Plus-Top-Electric-Guitar-101392165-i1149996.gc
http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/Squier-Affinity-Series-Fat-Strat-Electric-Guitar?sku=510629

These are just the guitars that have drawn my interest. If you guys have any other options to suggest feel free. If I could save a little cash and get the Squire Stratocaster and achieve close or near the same sound as the HSS Strat I think I'd rather go that route. But again, I want to get a quality guitar that is going to last and make me want to keep with learning guitar.

Here are the amps I'm looking at:

http://www.guitarcenter.com/Roland-Micro-Cube-Combo-Amp-481169-i1175936.gc
http://www.guitarcenter.com/Roland-Cube-15X-Guitar-Amp-487030-i1169242.gc
http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/Randall-RX20R-20Watt-1x10-Combo-Amp?sku=481262

Also, with the last reply... I'm looking for a sound similar to that of Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Then, if possible, I'd like to be able to play some Metallica and the like at some point.

Once again, thanks for the help everyone.


   
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Nuno
 Nuno
(@nuno)
Famed Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 3995
 

Hi Brett,

First, welcome to GN! :D

My advice is go to the guitar store and play several guitars. While you are playing, close your eyes and try to feel the guitar: how does it vibrates, how does it feels to your body, is it comfortable? Play with the controls, select all the pickups, move the tone and volume knobs. Don't be in a hurry, your guitar has to select you! :wink:

Those guitars cover your musical tastes. Clapton and Vaughan play Strat (it isn't the same Strat and the same pickups). Page plays LP. Try both. I have a LP and Strat. I love my Strat but the sound of my LP when I play it unplugged is great (I like the guitar but I don't like the pickups... BTW it is a Epiphone).

On amps. Rolands are great. Try to search reviews here, several members own them. I played the Micro Cube and it is nice, perhaps it could be too small or perhaps the 15w could be too bigger. I don't don't anything about Randall.


   
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Steph
(@steph)
Eminent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 26
 

I think the options you listed are indeed very viable for what you want in your budget. Don't let yourself be limited to just the big brands though, ask the salesperson for similar guitars if you find one you like as Fender and Epiphone both make great guitars, but others might fit you better.
Good luck and have fun in the store!


   
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DennisF6
(@dennisf6)
Trusted Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 74
 

I agree that it helps if you find a guitar that you LOVE. I think a big factor in getting me through the early days when I couldn't do much at all with a guitar was that I just wanted to hold it and stroke it and fiddle with it all the time.

In my opinion Squire guitars are quite respectable. A few months to a few years down the road, when you want another guitar (and you will, no matter what you start with), you will have a lot more ability to judge what works best for you. So I think it makes more sense to start with a lower priced guitar, as long as it plays decently and you can still "love" it.

The Roland Microcube has something going for it that most other "starter" amps don't. It sounds terrific now and in a few months to a few years down the road when you want another amp (and you will, not matter what you start with), this amp still fills a niche for when you want something very small and very portable. Even when you have amps costing hundreds of dollars more, there will still be a place for a Microcube in your collection.

If you end up going with this advice you are going to have a couple of hundred dollars left in your budget. Use that to get a professional setup on your guitar (about $50) and at least a few lessons to get you started right.

I want to play guitar very badly -
and I do!


   
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mmoncur
(@mmoncur)
Estimable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 168
 

Sounds like some good choices (and you have that "additional 10% off" coupon for this weekend, right? If not there's one on their website I believe.)

Since you mentioned SRV and Clapton, I'd vote for one of the Fat Strats... I have the first one you linked to and it's sweet, but the Squier is at least 90% as good. You could eventually put new pickups in it, new tuners, etc. and have quite a respectable instrument. (I'm planning on eventually replacing the pickups in my $400 strat anyway...) The Epi Les Paul is nice too - I played one today at GC and was tempted - but it's not as versatile as the HSS Strat.

If you buy the Squier, spend the $250 you saved on 5-10 guitar lessons - no single thing I've spent money on has done more good than two months of lessons. In retrospect, if I had to step down to a $99 guitar in order to afford lessons, I would have done it in a second.

I'm thinking of picking up a Roland Micro Cube this weekend myself... I have some studio monitors, a nice mixer, and a Pocket Pod, but nothing beats a small portable box that can instantly make noise. My friend has one and it sounds fine to me in his apartment - you won't be gigging with it, but that's not what you need right now anyway.

coupon link here:
http://gc.guitarcenter.com/guitarathon/


   
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BrettCB
(@brettcb)
Active Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 4
Topic starter  

Just got back from Guitar Center and ended up with a Fendor Standard HSS Stratocaster w/ a Black Sunburst finish. This baby is beautiful. While I was there I also grabbed the Roland Microcube and this little thing is amazing. I'd seen pictures and what not but I wasn't prepared for how small this thing actually is. Not to mention, it puts out a great sound. Sadly, it is going to be hard to wait until Christmas to start playing.

With my guitar/amp bought I was just wondering if you guys could point me in the right direction as far as what accessories to grab? I'm looking at picking up some extra strings, picks, tuner, strap, and a metronome. I'm sure the choices on these won't make quite as much of a difference but I thought I'd see if you guys had any suggestions.

Anyway, great advice all around here and I'm glad I came across these forums. Much appreciated everyone.


   
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Steph
(@steph)
Eminent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 26
 

Congratulations with your first guitar and amp Brett!

As far as accessories, I would grab a couple of picks in a few sizes and thicknesses. When you start out slightly thinner picks are easy to handle (around 0.5 mm) but make a floppy sound when you strum with them. Thicker picks yield a more solid tone but tend to "get stuck" behind the strings, causing you to lose grip easily. Just play around with them until you find a size and thickness you find comfortable.
You will also need a spare set of strings, as nothing is more frustrating than having a good day on the guitar and having a string snap on you without a replacement. Any set obtainable from your GC will do, and it won't hurt to try a few brands the first times you change strings as there is a slight difference between all of them. Depending on your current string gauge I would stick to 9's or possibly 10's, as changing the gauge can require you to redo the setup, something you don't want to mess too much with at this stage. (different gauges exert a different force on the guitar neck, which has to be compensated by adjusting the metal truss-rod in the neck)
If you are into playing guitar while standing get a nice guitar strap + straplocks (quite important if you want to keep your guitar intact) as well.

There are of course many other accessories to buy, but for now these will get you started at least the first month.
If you feel it is hard to tune the guitar by ear or by example (such as http://www.chordbook.com/guitartuner.php ) you might want to look into a guitar tuner with a built-in metronome. I heard Korg is a good brand for those, although I do not use one myself.

Keep in mind though, that even though you cannot play the guitar yet, these are lots of things you can practice with already, such as ear training and learning to read standard notation.
Wish you lots of fun with your new baby!

Steph


   
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97reb
(@97reb)
Noble Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 1196
 

For a newbie, Steph sounds like a fairly wise musician. There will be lots of good advice here Brett. Hang tight and try to enjoy playing. I had friends that were playing at the same time I started and they ended up quiting, I have been playing now for 24-25 yrs. I hope they (my friends who Quit) came back to it. Playing guitar or bass is just great fun and can be a heck of a stress reliever. It is not easy!!!!!!!!!!!!! Nothing good is easy. Just try and have or learn patience. And... welcome to Guitarnoise

It is a small world for metal fanatics. I welcome you fellow musicians, especially the metalheads!


   
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mmoncur
(@mmoncur)
Estimable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 168
 

Congratulations Brett! Excellent choices. I just came home with a Micro Cube and tried it with my HSS Strat (just like yours) and I love the sound - I think you'll be very pleased.

Steph covered the accessories pretty well. I'll add a bit:

- Picks: Definitely get some thin ones to start. I bought about 10 different kinds of picks and tried them all, settled on thin Fender ones for a while, and just moved to medium ones now that I can strum a bit.

- Strings: Your guitar should have come with 9's (a.k.a. .009 to .042). Your fingers and your guitar will thank you for sticking with 9's for now. Get a couple of spare sets, they're about $5 each. (The strings that came with my Strat weren't very good, changing strings greatly improved the sound.)

- Tuner / Metronome: I use one made by Boss that cost $30. There's a Korg model that costs a bit less. I've used both and they're both OK.

- Strap: buy one that looks good to you... I dug through all of the tacky ones until I found a plain black one, but that's just personal preference.

- Cable: You'll need one if you didn't think of that already. I usually just buy whatever GC has on sale, but the Monster Cable ones are consistently decent if you don't mind spending $20.

- Chair: Having a comfortable chair or stool helps when practicing for hours. I use a $40 chair from IKEA. Anything with no arms should work fine.

Congratulations and Merry Christmas!


   
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