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I have a 1980's Kramer Striker that has been collecting dust since 2000. That was when the bass player in my band at the time said it was time to get me another guitar. I could never afford to buy another one. I couldn't justify it at the time and I was living paycheck to paycheck. So he said He'd front me the money and I could pay him back a little each month. I reluctantly agreed...it was really a hassle tuning between every song on stage and when a song had an alternate tuning it was an even bigger nightmare. Add to that the guitar was so out of whack it took real effort to play. So we went out and I found a beautiful '00 Epiphone Les Paul Standard with a beautiful flame maple cap. It felt "right" and the action is so low you can barely slide a creditcard between the fretboard and strings. At that point the Kramer was used just for alternate tunings..and I dreaded those times. Eventually I picked up another Epi LP and the Kramer was mothballed. The stories it could tell though..I bought it used from a coke addict who needed cash to make a purchase...yes, I was there to make a buy too but ended up with the guitar and less coke lol. He was desperate and ai got it for $75us with the HSC. It is a super pointy explorer shape with 3 seymour duncan's, indiviual toggle for each, single volume and tone controls. It has the worst Floyd Rose ever released that I just blocked because the second you touched it the guitar was out of tune. It was pearl white until my ex-wife took a knife to it in the mid '80's and carved it up. I stripped it and painted it Volvo black (got the paint from my brother in-law whomworked as a painter at a Volvo dealership). About a month ago I started to restore it again so it's once again in pieces...but one of these days she'll be whole again. Now I own real Gibson Les Pauls and sold off the second Epi Les Paul...never really liked it. It had a 50's style neck and it never felt good in my hands...but that first one I bought is still in my collection and honestly, I would sell my Gibson's before I would part with that Epi...so I guess there are two that I could never sell now.
I prefer having a great amp over a great guitar because in the end - the sound comes from the AMP. Sure, everybody knows to say that it's neither because (fill in your favorite guitar god) would sound just as good even if he were playing an old Univox through a cheapy cube amp. Yeah, true, but I'm no guitar god. And both have a real effect on how I sound (at least in the context of the cover band stuff that I do...) For me, I'd choose the cheapest guitar in the PRS line and an HX/DA or an MDT with a 2x12 of V30s over the nicest private stock BRW neck uber guitar and a cheapy amp....or a Mexican Tele and a Twin Reverb over a custom shop Tele or Strat with a cheapy amp..... Or an Epiphone SG and Marshall Offset JTM45 over an R9 and a Marshal MG. It's just a thought experiment though since we don't necessarily have to choose.... But if I had to, I'd go all out on the amp, and not so much on the guitar. Ok, so the days of just playing in your bedroom are over, now. You sorted yourself a band with your mates and is planning to finally play live, soon. Only one problem - you don't want to spend a lot of money, so how do you know you can afford a guitar amp that's loud enough for gigging? Here's our guide to the best, affordable gig-worthy combos! If you're a solo act, even a small 15-watt amp could be suitable in a small room, playing in front of less than 100 people. If you're in a very loud rock band, with a loud drummer, playing a small-to-mid-sized venue, unmiked, you may need a guitar amp that's at least 50-watt loud (solid state) if you want your guitar to be heard clearly and without compromising the sound quality. HOW CLOSE YOU'RE LIKELY TO BE TO YOUR AMP? Louder amps have many advantages on their own: you'd be able to take it to bigger stages, you get more bass response and wider sound due to cab size, and more headroom when it comes to listening to your clean sounds. If you can afford one, sure, go for it! But we're talking of budget-friendly choices here, and in most cases, a 20-watt solid state amp (or a 5-watt valve amp, which sounds louder than solid state of similar wattage) can be loud enough for gigging. If you're playing in a small stage, maybe the back room of a pub, for instance, a loud amp wouldn't be necessary anyway, or even desirable. And if you're playing at one of Britain's many toilet-circuit venues, it's more common to be in a situation where your amp will be mic'ed up than not. In this day and age, it's very cheap for any venue to get a decent P.A. setup, so very rarely you'd find yourself playing at a venue that's too big for a 30watt amp but which doesn't have the right gear to mic your amp! Fender Mustang I V.2 1x12” 20W Modelling Amp In most situations, amps with 1x 12" speakers will be loud enough for gigging, when mic'ed. This 20w Fender Mustang amp delivers a great range of tones, and could certainly be suitable for gigging. At just £90 (as of december 2014) it's great value for money! VIEW FENDER MUSTANG I 112 INFO Marshall MG30CFX Guitar Amp Combo w/ Effects If you're Slash you may notice a difference. But most people in the audience wouldn't say this little amp, when cranked up, sounds any different than a big, much more expensive Marshall model! For guitarists on a budget who love the classic Marshall tone (especially great with a Les Paul!) this MG30CFX is simply perfect! VIEW MARSHALL MG30CFX INFO Orange Crush 20 Guitar Amp Combo Orange makes some of the best-sounding cheap, solid state amps available. No amp-modelling here, just classic Orange tone in compact, affordable form. Few cheap solid-state amps sound as "tubey" as these Orange 20 models, which sounds VERY loud for a small 20w gigging amp! VIEW ORANGE CRUSH 20 INFO Blackstar ID Core 40 Stereo Amplifier Combo At 40w output, this Blackstar amp packs a goodpunch. And, unlike most amps at this price point, it has TWO speakers, for lush stereo effects! If you're on a tighter budget, the ,ID Core 20,, at half-the volume, is good enough for gigging, too, but the ID Core 40 is definitely the best option. VIEW BLACKSTAR ID CORE 40 INFO Line 6 Spider IV 30 Guitar Amplifier Combo Line 6 has a good tradition of making great, affordable amps, and this Spider IV 30watt amp is a great choice if you're looking for a small amp that can be used at gigs and which has a good range of sounds. From heavy-metal, to blues or classic Marshall plexi sounds, this amp delivers a lot for not much money! VIEW LINE 6 SPIDER IV INFO Roland Cube-40GX Guitar Combo Amp The new Roland Cube amps sound better than ever, and this 40-watt model is certainly great for taking to gigs, too. It's the ultimate "go everywhere" guitar amp for recording, practicing at home and gigs. It has a great selection of tools, top-quality FX and more... , VIEW ROLAND CUBE 40GX INFO VOX AC15VR The Vox AC15VR is the most expensive amp in this list, but the most classic-looking of the lot! It's basically a cheaper, hybrid solid state version of an AC15, with real tube preamp for a warmer, valve tone. It's rated as 15w, but thanks to its Valve Reactor technology, it sounds as loud as a 15-watt valve amp, and not like a 15-watt solid state amp (which would be too quiet for gigging). VIEW VOX AC15VR INFO As for your guitar, if you want a CHEAP and GOOD instrument, get a Squier Classic Vibe, Vintage Modified or Artist. Based on classic Fender® designs with a few modern touches of their own, Squier's award-winning Classic Vibe guitars and basses impart the vibe of classic Fender instruments with distinctive features that add up to great sound, vintage looks and unbeatable value. CLASSIC VIBE STRATOCASTER® '50S http://www.fmicassets.com/Damroot/Zoom/10001/0303000503_gtr_frt_001_rr.png Players have done it for years. Whether installing hotter pickups, different pickguards or just plain personalizing their instruments with distinctive paint jobs, modified means adding new twists to familiar designs. Squier's Vintage Modified series excels at just that, imparting hot-output chop-shop sound, feel and value to traditional instrument designs. ,http://www.fmicassets.com/Damroot/Zoom/10002/0301226541_gtr_frt_001_rr.png Artists inspire new generations of players. Always have and always will. Squier's Artist Series extends from great signature-model instruments in North America far afield to distinctive international artist signature models in Europe and Asia, inspiring players worldwide. http://www.fmicassets.com/Damroot/Zoom/10002/0301020506_gtr_frt_001_rr.png
I just finished building my first ever kit guitar despite zero electronics experience and a history of failed DIY jobs. Even though I made a few mistakes I’m pretty pleased with the results and would highly recommend this route for creating an instrument that is truly special. I’d wanted a Flying V for ages but couldn’t justify the $1000+ price tag to get a Gibson (used) or Epiphone (new) and I knew that I’d want to change the pickups to active EMG’s. I also wanted the V to be purple, which isn’t something I could easily find, and I really wanted to be able to see the wood grain. All these factors pushed me towards heading down the kit path. A few important lessons I’ve learnt from my build you should consider: Don’t think that painting is as easy as throwing on some lacquer paint if you want a professional looking finish., You will probably need to sand your guitar a fair bit when it arrives - at least to 320 grit to remove all of the glue, scratches and other marks in the wood to ensure a smooth finish. You’ll also need a ton of paint (8 coats on mine) and clear coat to ensure your finish isn’t easily destroyed. StewMac has a good guide to ,Finishing a Blue Guitar, that should be a starting point. Make sure everything fits and is properly aligned before you touch a paint can or screwdriver. ,A mock up build, where you ensure that the neck fits the body (at the right angle), strings are aligned and scale length is spot on will save you lots of pain later on. Wiring up Pickups doesn’t have to be daunting., If you don’t feel comfortable wiring up your own electronics then consider using pickups such as EMG’s that allow for solder-less installation. I’ve used EMG’s for three aftermarket upgrades now and it’s as simple as following along with a diagram and connecting a few cables. My new toy, fresh from laying down some wicked riffs:
As a player guitar, ALMOST everything is “worth it” because almost every guitar can be made to play like a dream and after that, you can make a guitar do almost anything in terms of its tone, or , voice. However, certain guitars have REALLY bad QC and some are notorious for sharp frets…like..”make your hand bleed” sharp. I would stay away from anything labeled “austin” Mostly, you want to avoid having to fix large issues. So avoid anything that looks like it has deep cracks. Some strats will have superficial paint cracks at the neck joint. These do noting and are fine as they are not structural. But avoid them if they seem extra wide and deep. ***neck gap if it is a bolt-on. the gap should not be more than 0.5–1.0mm. As a matter of fact, if it has no neck gap, that is even better. A small neck gap indicates better overall construction and also leads to a more stable neck. US made strats are well known for their necks that requires some force to pull out, even after neck bolts have been removed. Large neck gap (this is unacceptable) Normal (unsurprising and acceptable) neck gap Good Neck gap- (need to tug to remove neck after neck bolt removal) ***Sorry about the use of a black guitar, but I could not find “good neck gap” online, so had to use my own guitar. The flakes you see on the frets were just how US made strats with 1-piece necks were made back then (1995). It does not impede playing It is actually very hard to spot in person. I am just using a really good camera.. ***Playability. Play it. If it has fret buzz you need to remember that and judge it against the price they are asking for it. Also, how many places does it buzz? does it buzz in the open position? maybe just some neck adjustment will help. Does it buzz all the way up the neck until. the 12th fret? again, maybe just a neck adjustment. Does it buzz on one string, but not another string at the same fret?If it has been recently set up and still buzzes, NOW you are it needing fret work. Most of the time, with the cheapest of guitars, this is an issue that disqualifies them right off the bat. If the guitar requires a fix that is more expensive than the guitar, it is not worth it. Unless you are buying it for sentimental reasons. If that is the case, pay what you need to. Did it cut you? this is a NO straight away on a cheap guitar. It means no care went into its creation. If it is an otherwise decent guitar, like an Ibanez, ESP or Fender, The guitar may be experiencing “fret sprout” and can often get a big discount for it. In these cases, fret work is often worth the expense. ***Bridge if the bridge is a floyd rose, check to make sure it is a REAL floyd rose. Many “Licensed By Floyd rose” bridges are absolute dog shit. I hate REAL Floyd Rose bridges enough…but Imitations are worse. at least the real FR does what it claims to do. Most of the time, A real Floyd will fit in this spot. Similarly, if it is a strat knock-off, consider a Calliham or real Fender bridge. The same goes with a Les paul Copy Unless the copy is an Epiphone. Epiphone makes a decent enough bridge. But the real LP bridge is heavier. Low-end bridges often have sharp, unrefined corners that cause binding therefore causing tuning instability. This can be corrected, but they are also often lighter which can contribute to (I did not say CAUSE) poor tone (voice) and sustain. Install locking tuners. (and learn how to PROPERLY string them, NO they are NOT just like regular tuners STOP WINDING THEM AROUND THE PEG) This also often eliminates the need for string trees as locking tuners are often staggered. But be sure to check to make sure. You may STILLL need your string tree or trees. Nothing bad comes from installing locking tuners unless you are trying to go “authentic” But we are not talking about “authentic” guitars. We are talking about “player” guitars. Install “rolling” string trees. Some actually “roll”; others, like those found on American strats and teles, do not actually roll. They are rounded, therefore preventing binding at the string tree. Binding is a major cause of tuning stability issues. “butterfly” string trees are the mark of cheap guitars. NOTE: “butterfly” string trees ARE the mark of cheap guitars, but NOT of vintage instruments or Re-issue vintage instruments. These guitars use Butterflies because that is what was used on the model they are mimicking. OTHERWISE, any other guitar has not reason to use butterflies. They are just being cheap, not “authentic” Nut- This can pretty much be fixed and upgraded for any guitar Expect to be doing it because it really improves the sound of open strings, not fretted ones. ***Electronics. Be prepared to upgrade. MOST budget brands use small pots and crap-tastic caps. While these contribute almost NOTHING to the voice of the guitar (save for the cap or pot VAUE) They are almost never even close to the value that is marked on them. In electronics, this phenomenon is called “tolerance”. These cheap caps and pots have VERY wide tolerances. Replace them with something like CTS pots (500k for humbuckers, 250K for single coil) Or bournes pots of the same value. the switches are also crap having a low lifespan. when they fail, they fail spectacularly. replace those with Fender, Oak Grigsby, or CRL 3 or 5 way switch, as the situation dictates. I have never had one of these fail Replace wiring with proper gauge, braided, insulated wire. You can get 20 AWG wire from amazon in seven different colored rolls, 23 ft each for about $16 USD for all seven rolls. You want it insulated because this resists Electro-magnetic interference and Radio frequency interference in conjunction with regular Guitar shielding. Pickups- There are a number of bargain pickups like Wilkinson that are great, all the way up to $1,000 “vintage original” pickups. I would avoid “musically” on amazon. If you are building a guitar with single coils, you can find Fender American sets for just around $100. Good humbuckers go for a a good bit more. I can’t advise you on what to use before I know what style you play. Generally speaking for versatility, a set of fat 60’s single coil pickups are great For Humbuckers, I recommend a Seymour Duncan JB. But there are literallly hundreds of other great options that may work better for you than these. ***Damage that mean the guitar is not worth fixing. a full body break —-on a guitar that is not a bolt-on. On a Fender, you can just replace the body. You can replace the neck. On a glue in or a neck thru costs get prohibitive to fix either of these issues unless the guitar is still worth more in working condition than the cost of the repair. A neck or headstock break on a Gibson les paul standard is repairable and still worth such a repair. However, a body break, however rare, is typically not worth the time and investment required to fix it. Binding—-on low to mid range guitars is usually not worth the money to fix. Cracks on or near the bridge on a low to mid range strat. —- If a crack is present in the body in the area of the bridge either on the outside of the guitar or especially in the bridge cavity under the springs. This is usually not easily repaired given how many special clamps are needed. This work requires refinishing the guitar or doing a touch job. not really worth it on a low to midrange guitar. Headstock damage on Low-midgrange guitars. —- headstock repair stays the same cost no matter the cost of the guitar. It is never cheap. Most glue is not strong enough to have both sufficient Tensile strength AND sheer strength to be used for structural repair of a headstock. For a Fender, Just buy a new neck. For glue in style necks in the low to mid range; buy a new neck. Unless you want to learn how to use a heat gun to remove the rest of the neck and then glue in another neck after scraping ALL the old glue out of the pocket. This is not a fun job.
I’m no luthier, but it looks like an easy fix. I would suggest contacting Epiphone/Gibson for a jar of touch up paint. Fill the gouges in with a small amount of wood putty, sand it smooth after it dries, then apply the touch up paint. To be honest, As long as the guitar sounds good I wouldn’t care about scratches like that. I think it adds to the character.
I think all of the answers given so far are excellent. There’s no mention whether or not your currently playing another type of guitar and looking for your 1st electric or shopping for your first guitar. Since the question specifically states first electric let me ask a question that I don’t think the other answers have touched on. Do you already own a amp or have access to one? While you can certainly practice playing electric without one let’s face it. A decent amp is half the fun. So you may want to include the price of a new or used starter amp in your budget. And if your plan is guitar first amp later that’s fine too. That gives you a bigger initial budget to spend on the guitar. But let’s talk about amps very briefly before moving on. Like guitars you have a number of sources with varying degree of risks involved. A new amp from a authorized retailer will come with some type of manufacturers warranty. Not all online sellers are authorized retailers and there’s a lot of B Stock amps being sold as new online by sellers that are not authorized resellers. Should it break while under warranty whether or not it’s covered may be entirely up to the graces manufacturer. It’s something to think about. And other times the deal may be worth the risk if the price is right. Purchasing new or used from a local retailer has the advantage that most have a 30 day return period and normally if something like a new or used amp breaks they can simply exchange it or refund your money. Policy’s very by store so ask up front. Used items bought from third parties such as Craigslist and eBay and Reverb or Guitar swap meets need to be viewed as being sold As Is Were Is without any obligation on the seller. It’s used gear and priced that way. You assume the risk. And the same situation applies to guitars. It’s something to consider when your are making your purchase. Any purchase. That said over several decades my experience buying used and new from both businesses and private sellers has been overwhelmingly positive. Now that that word of caution or advice is out of the way let’s talk amps one last time. All the major players like Squier(Fender) and Epiphone(Gibson) along with Yamaha and Ibanez offer “Starter Packs” with student grade instruments and amps and straps and cords and usually a tuner etc. These are a great way to hit the ground running and during big sales like Black Friday or the holiday season these are often priced attractively. And if your buying from a local retailer or authorized re seller normally have some type of warranty. They are definitely worth considering. If there are any downsides it’s that the guitar may have been sitting that Players Pack for months or even a year in a warehouse. While it’s going to fresh and new it may require some setup or adjustment just from being in storage. Normally the needed Allen Keys are included and the web abounds with How To videos. If it’s a local store and the action is mile high chances are you can get a free adjustment or mini setup for free. Or they will give you some money off a more inclusive set up. But chances are good it will come out if the box perfectly playable. The other downside is that these Starter Pack guitars are sometimes of slightly different spec than the standard stock. But basically the guitar comes off the assembly line and into the box it goes. As long as it passed quality control it’s good to go. And it gets shipped. I’m not trying to down rate these as a purchase. I think they are a great value and cover the basics. Just be aware like any guitar in this price range it may have sat in the warehouse or back room for awhile and need a little extra attention out of the box. While Starter Packs are excellent you may find that you out grow the guitar or amp in fairly short order. So if you know or have a idea of what your really looking for tone wise you might be better off buying exactly what you want if you can afford it. I’m a big fan of trying what your buying first and the advantage here again points to your local store. While I recommend taking a more experienced friend or colleague with you at buying time I’d also simply recommend trying a lot of different guitars in your price range before you shop to buy. Just to hold them. Play them a little and get a feel for how they feel and play. You may find you prefer something different than what your initial thoughts where. And your only going to get that by handling a number of guitars. How do we define a great deal? That’s getting what we need or want at a price we are comfortable with and someone made a suggestion to check eBays Sold listings to get a handle on price and condition. But when you do remember to add shipping into the equation. And don’t forget about adding any local sales tax in. It’s easy to forget about that factor but it is part of your actual purchase price. I’m a giant fan of good clean used gear because that’s where the best deals seem to be. And I can inspect and analyze used gear. Repair it or set it up. It’s not difficult but it’s based off of years of experience. And you as a first time buyer simply do not have that. So take a more experienced player along and if they have enough experience to inspect both new and used gear that’s a big plus. Chances are they already have some experience buying gear and are known at the store already. Follow their advice. And if they have a good working relationship with the store it may be wise to leave the wheeling and dealing to them. Since they are a established customer they stand a chance of getter a better deal without a bunch of of protracted haggling. They already have a good idea of what the store can and cannot do. So let them do the taking. But pay attention and go for the introduction. That sales clerk may be your new best buddy at upgrade time. The internet likes to paint music store employees as shifty used car sales men out to scam you. That’s not always the case and a good salesman is wisely viewing this particular lower end transaction is a way to gain a repeat customer. So being “Bobs” nephew or “Wayne’s” student or “Bills” buddy doesn’t make you easy prey. It means that your less likely to get taken advantage of because the store wants to continue their business with you in the future. I think this is a better route than simply pushing someone towards a salesman and telling them to “Go make a deal” so if your new player use this first purchase to network a bit. Remember faces and names. It’s not Walmart but a much smaller world. And in time relationships form. You learn which sales clerks will make a deal and they learn your serious and not just tying up thier time. And at some point in the future you’ll find the elusive deal is easier make. Last but not least if your completely new to playing it’s hard not to recommend a Squier Starter Pack. The price is reasonable and the package is inclusive and as importantly the guitars themselves are a modders or hot rodders delight. So the guitar may grow with you as a player and should something wear out or break parts are easy and affordable to obtain. Still got my first Squier. It’s a 1983–84 and it’s seen many a guitar come and go.