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Time for a shopping spree . . . help needed!


(@montezuma)
Estimable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 121
Topic starter  

Been away for a while and as part of my NY resolutions I am back to GN. So HI and HAPPY NEW YEAR to all.

When I joined about a year and a half ago I spent a lot of time here, it was great support for someone otherwise isolated from sources of advice and encouragement. I've missed the community - been browsing for some days and its good to be back. I went looking for the stickie on ‘Best xxx under $yyy and couldn't find it so I hope you can help here.

I have been learning on a steel string acoustic for about 18 months now. I've not had a chance to have lessons. I use internet videos, GN podcasts, books etc. I have always been interested in electrics but there is just so much to learn I thought I should keep it simple (keep the GAS at bay) for a while.

But I give up, I give up! The videos, the podcasts, the pictures and the stories in the forum – they all expose a big lacuna in my life - I don't have an electric guitar!! My other NY resolution is therefore to get one!

I have now spent hours, in the wonderful virtual world of online electric guitar information loving every minute of my confusion and indecision; drooling over all manner of axes from Agile to Yamaha, knowing I shall get my greasy mitts on one soon – but which one???. (I haven't even started researching the FX and the amps yet.)

Anyway here is the challenge. I am going on a trip to Washington DC soon and thought I should come back with a late Xmas present to myself (guitar) and an early birthday present to myself (amp) – my birthday's not till Nov but hey, that's GAS I guess.

Total budget - $750
Sounds I like – BB King, Clapton, 3 Doors Down, Nick Drake, Floyd, Deep Purple, Hendrix, Simon & Garfunkel etc etc.
I like to/want to play – Blues, classic rock, any easy song for guitar that I can sing along to. Just getting into soloing.
Other info – I don't want too narrow a neck (fat fingers, strings need to be as spaced as poss!). I play at home, don't have any intention of doing it in public. I live in a hot and humid country.

Since I have only ever played an acoustic I guess its natural to feel a guitar HAS to have some air in it so I'm thinking of a hollowbody or semihollowbody.

I have narrowed it down to:
1) Paul Reed Smith SE Custom Semi-Hollow
2) Epiphone Dot Archtop
3) Ibanez AF75
(Though if you ask me tomorrow it could well be very different)

Can anyone give advice on making a decision? :?

There are so many questions:
Am I going too cheap given my total budget?
What amp should I get?
Should I bother with FX at this stage?
What else do I need (hardcase, AND gigbag?) What sort of extra strings should I buy? Tuner? etc

Finally – can anyone recommend a decent guitar shop in DC (I will be in Maryland, south of downtown – can't travel too far).
I probably wont have much shopping time so I want to do as much decision making as poss before I go.

All advice very much appreciated.

Ola

“Poetry and Hums aren't things which you get, they're things which get you. And all you can do is go where they can find you.” - Winnie the Pooh


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

The Dot has a pretty slim neck. If it wasn't for your big hands, I'd suggest an Epiphone Casino, because it is an acoustic archtop with pickups (the dot and the casino have pretty much the same neck). You can play it as an acoustic guitar or plug it in. The P90 pickups on the Casino sound great too.

The Epiphone BB King model is a semi-hollow archtop like the dot without F-holes (per BB's request), it has a fatter neck (also BB's spec) and a varitone which is supposed to make it sound like either a Gibson or close to a Fender (I've never played with one so I cannot verify the claim). You can get one for about 550 scratch and dent http://www.americanmusical.com/Item--i-EPI-BBKING-LIST?SRC ="D0407FG0HAMS0000&utm_source=froogle&utm_medium=feed&" or you might get a good deal on ebay or craigslist. New they go for about 700 and that doesn't leave much room for an amp, but IMHO the guitar is much more important than the amp - it's easier to upgrade the amp in the future - especially if you are only going to play in your living room.

I've played a couple of Ibanez Artcores in music stores, and they sound good and have bigger necks, so you might think about that a little more.

If you want a bigger box, you might try Gretsch.

I'd go to as many music stores as I could, especially big stores like Guitar Center or Sam Ash. They usually have a good selection. A google search will let you know if there are any in DC.

Insights and incites by 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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(@daveadams)
Active Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 15
 

Montezuma,
I'm not going to have any sage advice as I'm just a little past the stage you're at (just got my first electric on Wednesday after learning on acoustic), but I can tell you how I approached the problem.

I struggled for a long time not knowing which guitar I wanted between a Stratocaster or an Epiphone SG or LP of some sort. All the advice I could find online was a little frustrating: "there's no right guitar, you just have to try them out for yourself". Unfortunately none of the shops in town even carry Epiphones and only one had Fenders.

Ultimately, I decided that at this point in my guitar playing journey, I should just get a guitar that I like the looks of and that feels good in the hands at a decent price level (I was shooting for ~$400 for the guitar only), and start playing. In my experience with nearly everything else of this sort, I never *really* know what I want until I actually own and use one of whatever it is.

So what I did over my Christmas travelling was to stop by a few big guitar stores (Sam Ash and Guitar Center among other local places) and I played each guitar I was seriously considering. It's a little awkward, especially when you've never played an electric before, but really no one's paying attention to you in a place like that anyway. Mess around, play a few licks you know and check out all the sound controls on the guitar (through the clean channel on the amp) so you can get a feel for the types of sounds the guitar can make (since the amps they have out for testing are usually more expensive than the guitar you are trying out).

In the end for me the Strat won out. Since I couldn't get exactly the options I wanted locally, I ended up ordering from Musician's Friend, which turned out to be a great experience (although waiting a few days for the guitar to arrive was killer). Since you live in DC, you might find a decent place locally, which can be preferable in a lot of ways.

As for guitars, the Telecaster seems to be really popular on this board; it has a rep of being very flexible stylistically. Since you're into hollow-bodies you might check out the Tele Thinline, which is a semi-hollow.

On the amp subject, I got this cheapo Behringer practice amp with the idea that it would get me through while I learn the basics:
http://guitars.musiciansfriend.com/product/Behringer-VTone-GM108-15W-Modeling-Guitar-Combo-Amp?sku=480698

Thus far I'm very pleased with the thing. It doesn't have an effects loop, but it has several switches for getting various levels of distortion that are fun to play with, and can usually dial into something close-enough to whatever I'm trying to duplicate for a riff or whatever. It's plenty loud and sounds decent. I have no complaints. If you're only going to play for yourself, I think you should go for a low-end amp like this for the time being.

Anyway, like I said, no great wisdom here, but just a few thoughts from someone who was recently in your shoes.

-dave


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(@gnease)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5058
 

a Telecaster is a very good suggestion. it does not matter if it's a Thinline or not, a Tele provides a very visceral, near acoustic experience, and yet is very electric. it will work for nearly any style of playing, and certainly all the styles called out above.

PRS SE line offers many fantastic values. but don't limit yourself to the Custom Semi-hollow. it's not the best of that line.

Casino over Dot ... any day.

Ibanez Artcore: another solid value line, sporting many v nice guitars.

-=tension & release=-


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(@lue42)
Reputable Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 356
 

You may want to consider used as well... you can get some great deals on guitars...

Kijiji and Craigslist are good sites to check out...
http://washingtondc.kijiji.com/f-For-sale-Musical-instruments-W0QQCatIdZ100108

All 3 of mine (Schecter S-1 30th anniversary, Yamaha classical, Fender DG-16 acoustic) were bought used, in mint condition for less than 1/2 retail.

My Fingerstyle Guitar Blog:
http://fsguitar.wordpress.com

My Guitars
Ibanez Artwood AWS1000ECE-NT
Schecter S-1 30th Anniversary Edition
Ovation CS257
LaPatrie Etude
Washburn Rover RO10


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(@lue42)
Reputable Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 356
 

By the way, the latest Guitar Player magazine (February 2009) has a roundup of 7 semi and hollowbody guitars...
Collings I-35 Deluxe ($6500)
Gretsch Electromatic 5122 ($700) < which I love
Hitchins Memphis ($1000)
Normany ATG-CG ($2400)
Prestige Musician ($950)
PRS SE Custom ($650)
Reverend Club King RT ($700)

also, you should check out the Schecter Corsair... if you can find somewhere to check it out in person... I love Schecter guitars... the build quality for the money can't be beat.
http://www.guitarcenter.com/Schecter-Corsair-Bigsby-Electric-Guitar-513843-i1177853.gc

My Fingerstyle Guitar Blog:
http://fsguitar.wordpress.com

My Guitars
Ibanez Artwood AWS1000ECE-NT
Schecter S-1 30th Anniversary Edition
Ovation CS257
LaPatrie Etude
Washburn Rover RO10


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(@montezuma)
Estimable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 121
Topic starter  

Hey, many thanks all for the great advice - lots of food for thought:

Your're right Dave - I've definitely got to play them and I'm sure I will know what feels & sounds right.

Dunno how i'd failed to come across the Epiphone BBKing/Lucille - definitely gonna check that out - thanks Notes

I had not considered Telecaster atall - i'll take your advice gnease and have a look at some.

Thanks for the pointer to kijiji.com lue42, theres a Samick Royale on there that sounds interesting - anyone got any comments on that make?

The Schecter is a beaut!!

This is really helpful and if anyone else has any comments pls do chip in.

Ola

“Poetry and Hums aren't things which you get, they're things which get you. And all you can do is go where they can find you.” - Winnie the Pooh


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(@vic-lewis-vl)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 10340
 

If I had the money, the line I'd be looking at would be the Epiphone Prophecys....they look beautifully crafted, choice of humbuckers or active pickups, and a range of styles....LP, SG, Explorer and one that I'm not sure of. I know TRGuitar's recently bought an Epi and is pretty thrilled with it.

I'm biased in favour of Telecasters though - I love the versatility of the guitar.....blues, rock, country, funk, you can play anything with a Tele.

As for an amp....have you considered a modelling amp? Something along the lines of a Cube30, or a Vox ADT30V? Again, very versatile amps, they'll emulate any amp sound.....you might want to think along those lines. I'm not a fan of pedals - never owned any - but the one drawback of a modelling amp is that you've got to bend down and change the settings manually if you want to change your sound mid-song, although I think with the Vox amp you can switch between pre-sets with a foot pedal....

Anyway, best of luck with your spending, and I hope that - unlike U2 - you DO find what you're looking for!

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


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(@the-dali)
Noble Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 1507
 

Based on your musical interests, you should also check out the Epiphone Sheraton.

-=- Steve

"If the moon were made of ribs, would you eat it?"


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(@montezuma)
Estimable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 121
Topic starter  

Thanks all for your input.
I shall of course let you know what I finally bought - plus pics!
Ola

“Poetry and Hums aren't things which you get, they're things which get you. And all you can do is go where they can find you.” - Winnie the Pooh


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(@teleplayer324)
Noble Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 1512
 

Well, for everything you mentioned, I'd have to say the Ibanez AF75 and a Peavey Delta Blues amp would be the perfect combo for you. Go for a Delta with the 15" speaker instead of the 12", the difference in sound is amazing.

I own both so I speak from personal experience of those instruments. A MIM Strat or an upper end Squier would also work very nicely if you decide to consider a solid body.

Immature? Of course I'm immature Einstein, I'm 50 and in a Rock and ROll band.

New Band site http://www.myspace.com/guidedbymonkeys


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(@ricochet)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 7850
 

Didn't know they made the Delta Blues with a 12", I've seen the 1x15 and 2x10. I love the sound of the 15".

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


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(@bmancv-60)
Estimable Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 135
 

As for an amp....have you considered a modelling amp? Something along the lines of a Cube30, or a Vox ADT30V? Again, very versatile amps, they'll emulate any amp sound.....you might want to think along those lines. I'm not a fan of pedals - never owned any - but the one drawback of a modelling amp is that you've got to bend down and change the settings manually if you want to change your sound mid-song, although I think with the Vox amp you can switch between pre-sets with a foot pedal....

Anyway, best of luck with your spending, and I hope that - unlike U2 - you DO find what you're looking for!

:D :D :D

Vic

A BIG +1 for the Vox; I had this amp for four months and would still have it if I hadn't caught tube GAS and picked up a Peavey Windsor Studio. The amp with wattage control ( 1-30 watts) sounded good enough to me that I sold my Boss Blues Driver pedal. Built in effects were just icing on the cake, but I really didn't use them much. I also did a speaker change which to my ears was fantastic (Eminence Rajin' Cajun).

I can personally recommend two great stores in the DC area:

Bill's Music in Catonsville (DEFINITELY worth the trip)
http://www.billsmusiconline.com/

Chuck Levin's Washington Music Center in Veirs Mill (closer to you and also very good)
http://www.wmcworld.com/

There are several Guitar Centers in the area, but I encourage you to check these two out; the selections can't be beat, and you won't regret the visit!

"...I don't know - but whasomever I do, its gots ta be FUNKY!"


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(@montezuma)
Estimable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 121
Topic starter  

I can personally recommend two great stores in the DC area:
Bill's Music in Catonsville (DEFINITELY worth the trip)
http://www.billsmusiconline.com/
Chuck Levin's Washington Music Center in Veirs Mill (closer to you and also very good)
http://www.wmcworld.com/

Thanks - they look great - I can tell I won't see much of DC when I'm there, (in fact they'll be lucky if I turn up at the conference at this rate!)

Thanks for the advice on amps guys.

I cant wait!!! :D

“Poetry and Hums aren't things which you get, they're things which get you. And all you can do is go where they can find you.” - Winnie the Pooh


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