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(@apache)
Reputable Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 301
Topic starter  

Hiya,

I got a very cheap starter set when I started playing, and after having a go on my teachers guitar the other day - which sounded fab even with me playing it, I was wondering about upgrading...

I know it won't improve my playing ability, but I'm hoping it will sound a bit better. I've already swapped my amp a few months ago for a Line 6 - which improved things.

I like rock/metal, so want something with double pick ups.

I'm new to all this (as you've probably gathered by my posts!), I was fancying an ESP, but wondered what other peoples experiences where of these?

Thanks

Apache


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(@rahul)
Famed Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 2764
 

Hiya,

I like rock/metal, so want something with double pick ups.

You may get this misconception out of your mind. A Fender Standard Strat with 3 single coil pick ups will do enough rock/metal for you.

The key is to get the sound through your amplifier and through your fingers.

For humbuckers, an Epiphone Les Paul will be a good starting point.

Rock On!


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(@scrybe)
Noble Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 2246
 

What price bracket are you looking in?

If you're in the UK, I can't recommend Spear Guitars highly enough - really cheap but serious quality. I took my Spear Tomcat with me to a jazz workshop in Spain recently, and the guitar tech there, and the advanced (pro jazzers) students thought it amazing quality. They do a range of guitars. The Spear Gladius is a bit of a metal/shred guitar that has me seriously tempted, even though I don't shred and hate floyd rose tremolo systems.

I'd second the recommendation on the Epi LP and on a Made In Mexico Strat or Tele. Ibanez also do a bunch of guitars in a similar price range to those. But it is worth trying them out in person. If you go with an Ibnez guitar with a Floyd Rose (or any guitar with a Floyd Rose) it is owrth checking tuning stability with it - some of them can be very unpredictable on the cheaper models. Even if you don't currently used it, just depress the bar as far as it will go a bunch of times, then recheck the tuning. If the tuning is out, don't get it. If you want to use the Floyd Rose and it has that problem, you wont be able to. And in this price range, a guitar with a FR, you're paying for FR as a key feature of the guitar.

I'd play before you buy, though. In that price range, two guitars of the same model can vary a lot - some will be amazingly good, others will just be okay. So don't order it off the internet, go to a store and try one out.

Then get it set up properly. A great guitar can sound and feel awful to play if it is badly set up, and a cheap guitar with a good set up will sound much better (and be cheaper). If you're UK-based, you can expect a basic set up to be £40-50 depending on whether it has a tremolo system on the bridge or not (tremolo system = more costly to set up, but only by about a fiver). It's difficult to explain just how important a good set up is to making a guitar sound good. This may have been the key difference between your guitar and your tutor's guitar when you tried it.

Hope this helps.

Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe


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(@alangreen)
Member Moderator
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5366
 

Whatever brand you end up getting, buy the absolute best you can afford, even if it means waiting another six months or selling your family for medical experiments to raise the cash; it'll be a long time before you feel the need to upgrade again.

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at: http://www.rollmopmusic.co.uk


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(@scrybe)
Noble Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 2246
 

even if it means waiting another six months or selling your family for medical experiments to raise the cash;

If you have any siblings, I suggest ebay.

Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe


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(@apache)
Reputable Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 301
Topic starter  

LOL - now there's a good idea :-)

I was thinking of buying 2nd hand, then I could maybe get something better - are there any pros / cons with that?

Thanks


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 Nuno
(@nuno)
Famed Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 3998
 

+1 on Alan: get the best you can afford.

Probably you could get better/cheaper guitars on second hand.

Are there stores near to you? Try as many guitars you can: ESP, all the Scrybe said, and all you think you like them (and the others as well). Listen the sound but also feel them, feel how they vibrate. Are they comfortable for you? For you hands? For your body?

Take your time, don't be in a hurry!


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(@rahul)
Famed Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 2764
 

You should be fine with Fender Standard Strat or an Epi Les Paul. Personally, I won't be in favour of a second hand guitar unless you're on budget esp. while looking for a first decent guitar.


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(@notes_norton)
Noble Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 1497
 

<...>I'm new to all this (as you've probably gathered by my posts!), I was fancying an ESP, but wondered what other peoples experiences where of these?<...>

I own an ESP EC-50 - the bolt-neck bottom feeder of the line. I got it for almost nothing (a deal I couldn't refuse).

I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the guitar. The fit and finish is very good, the neck is straight and true, the frets are finished nicely, and even the inside of the electronics cavities are painted, smooth and the wires were dressed nicely.

There were a couple of things I didn't like:

  • The cheap pickup switch - it broke way to soon so I replaced it with a Switchcraft switch
  • The over-wound pickups were not bad sounding, but for the kind of music I play they were too buzzy - of course others might love this tone
  • Since I got the guitar for almost free, I decided to make it my first 'mod' attempt. So I:

  • replaced the pickups with GFS Mean 90s,
  • re-wired it for one volume/one tone control,
  • installed a Big D Varitone,
  • enlarged the fret dots with some reflective tape (for those dark stages),
  • and put my duo's logo on it.
  • Now I leave the Gibson and Epiphone at home, and take the ESP to the gigs.

    Pictures follow:

    Before:


    (The white is from my flash, not a bad paint job)

    Intermediate:

    After

    I've since replaced the tuners with chrome ones, and put an off-white cover on the pup switch.

    The thing that surprised me most is that I bring the ESP to the gig (I play music for a living) and leave these two at home!

    I like the volume control near my picking hand, the Mean 90s don't sound quite as good as the Duncans in my Epiphone, but close enough, the solid body gives me more sustain (but less complexity of tone), and the Varitone thins the tone out so it can sound a bit "Fender-ish".

    Notes ♫

    Bob "Notes" Norton

    Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com Add-on Styles for Band-in-a-Box and Microsoft SongSmith

    The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<


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    (@notes_norton)
    Noble Member
    Joined: 14 years ago
    Posts: 1497
     

    LOL - now there's a good idea :-)

    I was thinking of buying 2nd hand, then I could maybe get something better - are there any pros / cons with that?

    Thanks

    All the guitars in the above pictures were purchased second-hand.

    I agree, try before you buy, and if possible, do all your business at local Ma & Pa stores. Once you are a customer, the services they offer far exceed any minor price difference.

    And yes, get the best you can afford, but on the other hand, if you are unsure of what you want, trying a few cheap guitars until you decide what you want isn't a bad idea.

    I bought a cheap Kramer/Focus/Faux-Strat to discover that I didn't like short-radius fretboards. I spent less than $100US on the Kramer to find that out. If I spend ten times that on a real Fender, I would have been bummed (as a working musician, I also have budget challenges).

    So now I know when it's time for me to get a Strat, it will be a Strat clone, probably from either G&L or Carvin as they offer 12" and 14" neck radius options. (The only Fender with a 12" radius has gold hardware, and in Florida that would look too ratty too soon).

    Sorry if I'm confusing the issue.

    Notes ♫

    Bob "Notes" Norton

    Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com Add-on Styles for Band-in-a-Box and Microsoft SongSmith

    The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<


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    (@mac-manc-mcmanx)
    Estimable Member
    Joined: 16 years ago
    Posts: 142
     

    Personally i'm not a huge fan of Epi Les Pauls. If you can afford an Epi LP, I would strongly recommend looking at ESP-Ltd/Schecter/Jackson guitars with Seymour Duncans. They are in the same range (slightly pricier i think) and have superb playability. I own an ESP EC400VF and the pick ups are fantastic. You can check clips of my guitar in the beginner thread (Hear Here forum). When i got them new, it was nicely setup from factory.

    I tried the Jackson Dinky in Guitar Center and the neck on it is amazing. Ditoo with most Ibanez guitars as well. That said, buy what you will be comfortable playing. Go to guitar center and try out all the guitars in the range. You'll get a feel for the neck/action etc. I haven't played Strats much so can't comment.

    Buying used is definitely worth it but be careful and dont make hasty decisions. Say no if you're not completely happy with the guitar or if it doesnt suit you. Just my two cents, from someone who upgraded from a starter to a better guitar a couple of years ago.

    When you wanna rock hard children, lean on F sharp


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    (@apache)
    Reputable Member
    Joined: 12 years ago
    Posts: 301
    Topic starter  

    Thanks everyone, really appreciate the advice.

    Notes - thanks for the pics the ESP looks fab :-)


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    (@notes_norton)
    Noble Member
    Joined: 14 years ago
    Posts: 1497
     

    <...>Notes - thanks for the pics the ESP looks fab :-)

    Thanks.

    What I like about the ESP/LTD LP guitar are (1) the contoured shape makes it more comfortable, especially on the right arm and (2) it is much lighter than a "real" LP -- I stand up and gig and play sax, guitar, flute, wind synth, vocals, drum controllers and sometimes percussion, so I'm switching instruments quite a bit and after a few hours without a break, a heavy guitar feels like weight lifting ;-)

    I think I'd like a Viper too. I like the "SG" looks but the strap hook is in a better place on the Viper and there is only one volume control. I use the volume control a lot when I'm playing, boosting it for solos, compensating for different levels on my Varitone and Multi-FX patches and having one Vol near my right hand is a blessing.

    When you decide on your guitar, make sure you like the way it feels in your hands, how it sounds, and how it looks. Your personal taste is important, not mine.

    Notes ♫

    Bob "Notes" Norton

    Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com Add-on Styles for Band-in-a-Box and Microsoft SongSmith

    The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<


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    (@estrago1)
    Active Member
    Joined: 12 years ago
    Posts: 5
     

    Well, I've always favored strats, and I think that a Fender HSS Stratocaster would be good choice, because it has 2 single-coils and a humbucker. So you can play some of the heavy stuff, switch pickups, and play some of the lighter stuff.


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    (@trguitar)
    Famed Member
    Joined: 16 years ago
    Posts: 3711
     

    I have almost one of every guitar style but even though it is not the same one Notes has (The LTD) I just purchased a very similar guitar that is an Ibanez. It is the ART100 and has many similar features that make it a nice guitar and it is $300 US. Now mine is a set neck, their bolt neck "bottom feeder" is the GART line. They are in the $200 range.

    "Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard,
    grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em."
    -- The Webb Wilder Credo --


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