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> Guitar buying advice for a newbie
Ric
post Nov 12 2006, 11:47 PM
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Hi everyone!

I am a complete newby to this guitar playing business - I've got a very cheap second-hand guitar (Fender Squire) about three months ago, just to see if I could do something with it.

Well I've given it a go, I'm enojying it and - thanks to my mate, Jeff, and GMC - I'm making progress smile.gif

Now I'd like to get a half-decent guitar and amp... but I've no idea what to look for. I think I'm going to need something with a thin neck, because I've got quite small hands... but apart from that, I'm a bit lost.

What sort of things should I look for when buying guitar and amp? I'd like to play a really wide range of music, and I'd like something that could take me as far as playing in a band (you've got to have a goal, haven't you? wink.gif ).

I'm not particularly after specific guitars/amps (although that's useful) - just general advice about what to look for.


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This Dougs For U
post Nov 13 2006, 04:59 PM
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Here is my suggestion for a guitar.

Find a good Fender made in mexico strat. You should be able to get one around 350 dollars. Get a Seymour Duncan hot rails bridge pickup probably (around 65 bucks), and hopefully someone at your local music shop will put it in for you. The Duncan HR is a very hot humbucking pickup, that is the size of a single coil, perfect for strats. For under 450 you can have a killer guitar. I also own a Gibson Les Paul, and a Schecter tempest custom, and while they are great for certain things, my fender (which was also the cheapest) is the most versatile.

Do you just want a small practice type amp, or one that eventually you could use to play out ?


Edit - Let me know if you don't know what single coil or humbucker means, or anything, I (and I'm sure many others) would be happy to help describe what this jargon means and how it works =)

This post has been edited by This Dougs For U: Nov 13 2006, 05:03 PM


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Ric
post Nov 13 2006, 09:28 PM
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Cheers Doug!

I'd welcome an explanation of the humbucker... as I understand it, the pick-up has a lot to do with the sound that the guitar produces, and the humbucker gives it a dirtier, rockier feel... is that close?

As for the amp: something that I could eventually use for gigs (in the vain hope that I might get that good!) would be ideal. Again, what would be really useful are tips about what to look for: which features are pretty much essential, and which ones are actually not half as useful as you might think.

Thanks!


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fretdancer
post Nov 14 2006, 11:26 AM
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Hi Ric

I remember being in exactly the same position as you.

When I bought my first guitar less than 3 years ago, it was a complete impulse buy. I was in the shop to buy a cheap acoustic for my 9 year old Daughter to learn on at school (she only lasted 2 weeks). I went in the shop and was amazed - I had never been in a guitar shop before and yet had always wanted to be able to play guitar but never done anything about it. Anyway, the cheap guitar and amp on display smiled at me and I bought it and here I am Today.

Once I had been playing a few weeks and understood a little bit about guitars, bought a few magazines - learnt a little bit about the lingo, I knew I needed a decent amp and so went out an bought a Vox amp that improved things no end.

Looking at all the lovely pictures and reading all the articles in the magazines made me lust after a shiny new guitar, and sure enough, before long I was upgrading - I bought a 335 copy. but the guitar lust did not go away - and soon it was like a drug - An expensive American Fender Strat followed - and an electro acoustic...If I had the best gear I would sound like my guitar hero's - all I needed was the same gear.

WRONG. I was getting better at playing, but one thing I did notice was that all the guitars I had sounded basically the same, I had Strats, Les pauls, 335, etc etc etc and to be honest I could not tell the difference - I did prefer to play my American Strat because it "felt" better. I realised one thing - its not the guitar that makes the greatest difference, its how your amp and guitar are set up together. The Amp is perhaps more important than the guitar in the final sound. In my experience anyhow. The amp you have, will to a greater extent than the guitar you play, will influence your final sound. and setting up an amp is an art - it really is !

I had been looking at other guitars and had seen ads for Variax guitars but had dismissed them as a cheap trick - some electronic piece of crap that would be of no interest to me - I wanted to play a real guitar and from what I had read - I needed a tube amp - nothing else would do.
Anyway, I was checking out amps one day and was recommended by the guitar shop to try a line 6 amp - one of the £1000 pound top of the range jobs. I had thought it was a tube amp and I was highly impressed - the sounds that came out of a guitar put through one of those boys is completely awesome. I could play a Zeppelin riff and sound just like Jimmy Page, or Pink Floyd and sound just like Gilmour, just at the press of a switch - fantastic stuff - I went home and read up a little more and realised that I had not been playing a Tube amp but the latest in electronic wizadry and yet it sounded soooooo good.
I then read up about the Variax and on the line 6 website heard some sample sounds which made me think a bit. I went back to the guitar shop and had a play with a Variax.
Sheer Heaven. I had every guitar sound I ever wanted in a single package - and its not expensive.
I had just learnt to play "Wish you were here" and thought I sounded good, I turned the Variax to 12 string acoustic and played a little and I swear I could not tell the difference between what I was playing and what I heard on the original - then I tried Zepps "Black Dog" through a Les Paul setting - again - absolute perfection. I realised for £300 I could buy the perfect guitar, so I did.

Now I already explained that the amp is the biggest influence on what you play...along with pedals etc, well my Variax was being played through a VOX valvetronix amp which was OK but nothing like as good as the line 6 amp I had tried, the "VETTA" but that is horribly expensive, but I almost bought one along with a POD. I realised that the Pod replicated most of the things the Vetta did anyway and ended up buying a POD XTLive, matched with the Variax, this is tone heaven - you really can achieve any sound you want or have ever heard in just a few seconds. They dont sound so good through a guitar amp as the sound has already been created before reaching an amp and so a guitar amp changes it somewhat - so play that rig through a flat response amp like a keyboard amp and I guarantee you will never look at any other guitar/amp/pedal again.
I know many people will read this and say that they like a traditional guitar and amp, I was just the same - I could not ever imagine that an electronic computerised guitar modelling thing would ever interest me, not one tiny bit - but having tried it - I cannot tell you just how good it is with words - its unbelievably good.
I have sold all my other guitars now - I have one guitar - one POD and one Keyboard amp and I am in heaven - and I dont want any other guitar - my guitar lust has totally gone away.

I know that if I had a Strat, I would lust for a LP - If I had an LP, I would want an Ibanez etc etc etc - Now I have all those sounds in one simple package.


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Ric
post Nov 14 2006, 08:48 PM
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Cheers fd - that's fascinating stuff! I'm going to have to try one of those out.

(Though I have to be careful... I'm a bit of a sucker for gadget thingies, and a "window shopping" trip to the music shop might accidentally turn into a "Oh my God! I'm hundreds of pounds poorer!" trip smile.gif )


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Guitar1969
post Nov 14 2006, 10:23 PM
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QUOTE (fretdancer @ Nov 14 2006, 02:26 AM) *
Hi Ric

I remember being in exactly the same position as you.

When I bought my first guitar less than 3 years ago, it was a complete impulse buy. I was in the shop to buy a cheap acoustic for my 9 year old Daughter to learn on at school (she only lasted 2 weeks). I went in the shop and was amazed - I had never been in a guitar shop before and yet had always wanted to be able to play guitar but never done anything about it. Anyway, the cheap guitar and amp on display smiled at me and I bought it and here I am Today.

Once I had been playing a few weeks and understood a little bit about guitars, bought a few magazines - learnt a little bit about the lingo, I knew I needed a decent amp and so went out an bought a Vox amp that improved things no end.

Looking at all the lovely pictures and reading all the articles in the magazines made me lust after a shiny new guitar, and sure enough, before long I was upgrading - I bought a 335 copy. but the guitar lust did not go away - and soon it was like a drug - An expensive American Fender Strat followed - and an electro acoustic...If I had the best gear I would sound like my guitar hero's - all I needed was the same gear.

WRONG. I was getting better at playing, but one thing I did notice was that all the guitars I had sounded basically the same, I had Strats, Les pauls, 335, etc etc etc and to be honest I could not tell the difference - I did prefer to play my American Strat because it "felt" better. I realised one thing - its not the guitar that makes the greatest difference, its how your amp and guitar are set up together. The Amp is perhaps more important than the guitar in the final sound. In my experience anyhow. The amp you have, will to a greater extent than the guitar you play, will influence your final sound. and setting up an amp is an art - it really is !

I had been looking at other guitars and had seen ads for Variax guitars but had dismissed them as a cheap trick - some electronic piece of crap that would be of no interest to me - I wanted to play a real guitar and from what I had read - I needed a tube amp - nothing else would do.
Anyway, I was checking out amps one day and was recommended by the guitar shop to try a line 6 amp - one of the £1000 pound top of the range jobs. I had thought it was a tube amp and I was highly impressed - the sounds that came out of a guitar put through one of those boys is completely awesome. I could play a Zeppelin riff and sound just like Jimmy Page, or Pink Floyd and sound just like Gilmour, just at the press of a switch - fantastic stuff - I went home and read up a little more and realised that I had not been playing a Tube amp but the latest in electronic wizadry and yet it sounded soooooo good.
I then read up about the Variax and on the line 6 website heard some sample sounds which made me think a bit. I went back to the guitar shop and had a play with a Variax.
Sheer Heaven. I had every guitar sound I ever wanted in a single package - and its not expensive.
I had just learnt to play "Wish you were here" and thought I sounded good, I turned the Variax to 12 string acoustic and played a little and I swear I could not tell the difference between what I was playing and what I heard on the original - then I tried Zepps "Black Dog" through a Les Paul setting - again - absolute perfection. I realised for £300 I could buy the perfect guitar, so I did.

Now I already explained that the amp is the biggest influence on what you play...along with pedals etc, well my Variax was being played through a VOX valvetronix amp which was OK but nothing like as good as the line 6 amp I had tried, the "VETTA" but that is horribly expensive, but I almost bought one along with a POD. I realised that the Pod replicated most of the things the Vetta did anyway and ended up buying a POD XTLive, matched with the Variax, this is tone heaven - you really can achieve any sound you want or have ever heard in just a few seconds. They dont sound so good through a guitar amp as the sound has already been created before reaching an amp and so a guitar amp changes it somewhat - so play that rig through a flat response amp like a keyboard amp and I guarantee you will never look at any other guitar/amp/pedal again.
I know many people will read this and say that they like a traditional guitar and amp, I was just the same - I could not ever imagine that an electronic computerised guitar modelling thing would ever interest me, not one tiny bit - but having tried it - I cannot tell you just how good it is with words - its unbelievably good.
I have sold all my other guitars now - I have one guitar - one POD and one Keyboard amp and I am in heaven - and I dont want any other guitar - my guitar lust has totally gone away.

I know that if I had a Strat, I would lust for a LP - If I had an LP, I would want an Ibanez etc etc etc - Now I have all those sounds in one simple package.


But the effects and modeling won't make crappy technique sound good, nor a bad guitar sound good. As one who uses a Zoom G2 effects modeler(there are tons of them - but the latest G series sounds really good) - with an American Strat, as well as a Es335 copy guitar(Washburn) - $150 - they both sound totally different but complement each other nicely. What goes in(Guitar) affects what comes out. I love effects but when I am practicing scales and such, I have the effects turned down to a minimum.

Ultimately - you need a good sounding guitar(Not necessarily an expensive one), and effects modeler and a good amp(But he's right that a sterile amp like a Roland Cube 60 will get the best sounds from your effect processor). If you truly want a Fender Strat style - look at the Highway 1 series which is an entry level American Strat (About $500-$600) - Right now its the best bang for the buck if you want a real strat that will hoild its value.

Go to www.harmonycentral.com and go to the guitar user database - You can read postings by users of various models of guitars, amps, effect and get real world feedback, and then you need to go to a guitar store and play different guitars, as they all have a different feel(You don't necessarily need to buy it from the store, but you need to play a few and figure out what you like and dislike.

But again - its like a drug - you will always want more guitars - Because their shiny and cool!!!!


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Ben C
post Feb 12 2007, 04:27 AM
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QUOTE (This Dougs For U @ Nov 13 2006, 10:59 AM) *
Here is my suggestion for a guitar.

Find a good Fender made in mexico strat. You should be able to get one around 350 dollars. Get a Seymour Duncan hot rails bridge pickup probably (around 65 bucks), and hopefully someone at your local music shop will put it in for you.


Sorry for bringing this topic back up, but do you think it would be worth it to put a hot rails pickup in the neck position, as well as the bridge? I've got a mexican strat, and i'm looking for a more Les Paul/ Humbucker type of tone. Is this worth doing?

This post has been edited by Ben C: Feb 20 2007, 12:21 AM


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