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Posted: 12/9/2007 7:13:46 PM EST
[Last Edit: 4/30/2009 10:13:06 PM EST by Gone_Shootin]
I decided to start this thread, to let those who are interested in buying their first guitar, know what to look for. My info here will only refer to things that effect function. I will not be addressing things like chipped paint, scratches, ect. Anybody who can add wisdom & knowledge to this thread is encouraged to do so.

So anyway, you should first check the neck by looking down the fretboard to see if there's any twist to it (side to side), to make sure that there's a little bit of a bow to it (legenth ways, also called relief) & to look for any raised frets.

Then look at the neck joint (where the neck attaches to the body). Look for cracks, seperation, ect.

You will also want to look the neck over in general to look for raised frets, to make sure that the fretboard isn't raising, & any glaring defacts like cracks.

Next, you will want to pick every note on every string listening for fret buzz, you'll know it when you hear it, it's annoying!

Then, check relief another way by holding each string down at the fret where the neck meets the body & at the 5th fret (I've also been told 6th fret, so whichever you want to use) & look at the next inboard frets in between where you're holding the string down. the strings should barely clear. This will illustrate how much of a bow that the neck has to it.

The reason that you want a little bit of a bow to your neck is to avoid fret buzz. Allthough fret buzz can also be caused by too low of an action, raised frets, raised fretboard, or a twist to the neck.

I've never had any trouble with bridges on any of my guitars, but a friend of mine bought a used Les Paul off of the internet. It kept snapping strings at the saddles (the notched part that each string rides in). So, he just took some fine grit sand paper & smoothed them out, viola, problem solved. It's a good idea to look for worn parts on the bridge before buying, and you can throw the nut in there as well. If something doesn't look right, pass it up.

With elecrtics, you will want to plug it into an amp to check for any "scratchy" sounding knobs by moving them. If a scratchy sound comes out of the speaker, that pot is gonna have to be replaced. Check any switches by moving them normally, & wiggle the cable gently in the jack as well, & listen for any pops or scratches. Any gutiar will cut out, pop, or scratch, if you wiggle the cable like a mad man, so don't over do it.

Anything else regarding function is an easy fix. Unless, of course, if some nimrod has broken off a knob or switch. That's something I let the guitar tech at my favorite shop fix for me (I'm lousy at soldering).

I think I covered the basics. If anybody has anyting to add feel free.
Link Posted: 12/9/2007 10:08:38 PM EST
Good Post.

Let me add on a few:

Fret Buzz - Remember unless you have fingers of Thor, every electric guitar will have a minor buzzing when you lift your fingers or drop them slowly. That is just normal, when the fret buzz is too loud, that's when it gets serious. Also make sure the buzz doesn't come through the amplifier.

Neck Radius - Necks range from 10 inches (extremely thin), 12 (fast action) and 14 (thick). Make sure you try out which necks you feel most comfortable navigating the fret board with. I personally need fast action fret boards to solo throughout the fret board as well as play chords, but a chord playing and hard rock player would want a 14" just as someone who strictly wants to shred would want a 10.

Tremolo vs Fixed Bridge - There is an argument for both sides. A tremolo, usually the famous Floyd Rose is where your strings start at, at the bottom of the guitar. It is pulled by string tension and on the other side it is being pulled by springs inside of your guitar. This makes it free floating. It is a wonderful tool for a lead guitar player, and I'll be honest. I completely hated tremolos for a long time but I'm starting to really like them. Tuning them is a pain in the ass, but Floyd Rose tremolos rarely go out of tune vs fixed bridges especially in my experience. Changing strings is annoying, but otherwise its a really fun tool to have. Fixed bridges are usually just a little metal piece held on by string tension. It provides more sustain, and you're less likely to break a string, and if you do all you do is replace one and tune it, unlike the floyd rose where, since it is free floating the entire guitar goes out of tune with 1 downed string. Fixed bridges are more of a rhythm guitar preference although one can solo with one just as well, but the tremolo is more of a lead guitar thing.

Active vs Passive pickups - Another argument for both sides. Active pickups are powered by a 12 volt battery usually inside the guitar, that needs to be changed about every 6 months to a year, depending on how often you play. Due to the additional power of the battery, the pickups amplify the vibrations about 50% more than it normally would, giving you a really awesome distortion crunch. Very heavy, excellent for metal. The problem is, active pickups tend to make guitar solos sound very nasty, especially in my experience. Passive pickups aren't powered by anything, no battery and it always works. The tones are heavy and the solos are clean as a whistle.

Bolt On vs Neck-Thru body - All in all, the Neck-Thru body is much better than a bolt on. It gives immense amount of sustain, doesn't loosen (because its one piece), and makes for a stronger guitar. Bolt Ons have one benefit and thats if your neck breaks you can screw on a new one. Otherwise, Neck-Thru is the way to go.

Fret Board Material - The three common fretboard materials are Ebony, Rosewood and Maple. Maple is an excellent bright tone that performs best with jazz/blues/rock/country. Rosewood is an oily wood therefore very warm sound, and is much better suited for hard rock. Ebony is a very strong, dry wood. It has extremely bright tones and with a maple neck it usually adds a little bit of warmth to it as well. Ebony is a wood with very high attack, thus best suited for metal.

Body & Neck Material - Body preference can change in many different ways. Weight/Tone/Sturdiness/etc.. The same rule applies for body wood. Mahogany is a very warm wood, Alder is a very bright attack wood, etc.

That's all I can think of for now.
Link Posted: 12/9/2007 10:08:43 PM EST
[Last Edit: 12/9/2007 10:11:40 PM EST by Hemi-Cuda]
Double tap.
Link Posted: 12/9/2007 10:37:41 PM EST
[Last Edit: 12/9/2007 10:45:21 PM EST by Gone_Shootin]
Good addition, thanks Hemi.

ETA: WOOT! My first thread with a thumb tack!
Link Posted: 12/9/2007 11:02:15 PM EST

Originally Posted By Hemi-Cuda:

Bolt On vs Neck-Thru body - All in all, the Neck-Thru body is much better than a bolt on. It gives immense amount of sustain, doesn't loosen (because its one piece), and makes for a stronger guitar. Bolt Ons have one benefit and thats if your neck breaks you can screw on a new one. Otherwise, Neck-Thru is the way to go.



I think that this point is over hyped. Some of the best guitar players ever played on bolt neck guitars. Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapton, Eddie Van Halen, Yngwie Malmsteen, Eric Johnson, Jeff Beck and even me.
Link Posted: 12/9/2007 11:47:37 PM EST

Originally Posted By motown_steve:

Originally Posted By Hemi-Cuda:

Bolt On vs Neck-Thru body - All in all, the Neck-Thru body is much better than a bolt on. It gives immense amount of sustain, doesn't loosen (because its one piece), and makes for a stronger guitar. Bolt Ons have one benefit and thats if your neck breaks you can screw on a new one. Otherwise, Neck-Thru is the way to go.



I think that this point is over hyped. Some of the best guitar players ever played on bolt neck guitars. Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapton, Eddie Van Halen, Yngwie Malmsteen, Eric Johnson, Jeff Beck and even me.


Very true, but all in all Neck-Thru is the better performer.
Link Posted: 12/12/2007 1:04:45 AM EST
Someone once told me that neck-through guitars had much better sustain.
I told him he wasn't playing loud enough.

Cool lists. When my (potential) students/parents asked me what to look for; it always came up function + application + cost = __________?

The general consensus was if it was a younger person, they'd just buy something that looked closest to the style of music they wanted to play. If it was an older person, they'd pick something that looked closest to what they wanted to play....only more expensive.

All that crap said; I feel guitars are a dime a dozen these days and everyone makes something good.

My personal advice to anyone starting out?

Find a price point, take someone knowledgeable in your criteria, and go lay some hands on some shit. Stores generally WANT to help you (at least in 90% of my experience).

For a first guitar; I wouldn't go off spending more than $350 if even that much. Find what you like, stick with it and a year later--go back with an agenda.


That said.....my wife was looking for her first guitar. She LOVES Hello Kitty; went to Pianos N' Stuff in Pittsburgh and hit pay-dirt. It didn't play bad at all (certainly there is better) but, for 200 bucks and through a bunch of Marshalls....Kitty was kinda growly.
Comedy factor of 10 when the clerks gave me dirty looks for playing Slayer and Iron Maiden and about 30 other styles I have no business playing on such a pink guitar.
Link Posted: 12/12/2007 8:38:21 PM EST
I don't have much to add that hasn't already been covered.

But I will give this advice. Try out as many guitars as you can, even the ones you can't afford. That will give you an idea in what you are looking for in terms of sound, tone, and feel.

Buy something that is comfortable for you to play. You would be better off saving a little bit more money on something halfway decent that is comfortable to play. If your guitar won't stay in tune, has sharp frets, consistantly breaks strings, or just plain sounds bad, but you bought it because the price was good, you won't play it and you will ultimately lose interest altogether.

It's all about having fun and enjoying the art of playing.
Link Posted: 12/13/2007 2:41:22 PM EST

Originally Posted By pvc1984:
I don't have much to add that hasn't already been covered.

But I will give this advice. Try out as many guitars as you can, even the ones you can't afford. That will give you an idea in what you are looking for in terms of sound, tone, and feel.

Buy something that is comfortable for you to play. You would be better off saving a little bit more money on something halfway decent that is comfortable to play. If your guitar won't stay in tune, has sharp frets, consistantly breaks strings, or just plain sounds bad, but you bought it because the price was good, you won't play it and you will ultimately lose interest altogether.

It's all about having fun and enjoying the art of playing.


Agreed. This is the biggest issue with buying a guitar online. Ultimately everything comes down to what sounds the best and plays the best and sounds the best to you.

When buying your first guitar, you probably haven't played much if any, so obviously you wont be able to rip out Texas Flood or anything.

Go to a Guitar-Center or a music store. Have an associate sit down and play some guitars for you. It doesn't matter how good they are at playing. Listen to which ones fit your style the most, and then strum a couple chords on them. Find which ones you can most easily control, and press the strings down near the nut and around the 12th fret. Find which action suits you best.
Link Posted: 12/14/2007 9:26:38 PM EST
I've never bought a guitar online, I've sat down & tried out every one of 'em I have ever owned. It's the only way to find "the one".

One more thing to add, it is probably best to buy a new guitar at a reputable shop. New NAME BRAND guitars have a warranty & reputable shops have service after the sale. This has paid off for me in the past.

Once you've been around guitars enough, it'll be easy to spot a good deal.
Link Posted: 12/16/2007 10:42:47 PM EST
I am struggling with this right now as a non-guitar player that wants to pick it up.


I talked with some players at work and they said to buy the kind of guitar they all played.
I went to the guitar center and listened to the things a manager could play.
I researched players I liked on U-tube and Wikipedia and cross-referenced their guitar choices trying to find “the sound” I wanted to make.
I came up with the number $1000.00. $550 for the 60 watt tube amp and $450 or so for the guitar. That is a lot of money to spend just to figure out if you want to play…
I guess it is kind of like buying a AR15 and all the trimmings just to shoot a few rounds and see if you like it.

But what else could I do? I didn’t want to throw money away. I didn’t’ want to buy junk and have it crap out.

So I need a cheap but good quality guitar and amp that I can practice on and get good with. my plan is to spend $200.00 on a Fender Starcaster. From all the reading I have been doing this is about like buying a Remington 710. it comes with a scope ready to load and fire. Sure it’s a dead end. But I think I can “get good” with it and more importantly see if I like the hobby. I can get the tube amp first Like upgrading the 710’s scope. Then when I get the hang of it I can get a real guitar. kind of like buying a rem. 700 LTR.
I would still have the little amp and basic guitar plus a big dog to play.
Link Posted: 12/16/2007 10:52:28 PM EST

Originally Posted By hk940:
I am struggling with this right now as a non-guitar player that wants to pick it up.


I talked with some players at work and they said to buy the kind of guitar they all played.
I went to the guitar center and listened to the things a manager could play.
I researched players I liked on U-tube and Wikipedia and cross-referenced their guitar choices trying to find “the sound” I wanted to make.
I came up with the number $1000.00. $550 for the 60 watt tube amp and $450 or so for the guitar. That is a lot of money to spend just to figure out if you want to play…
I guess it is kind of like buying a AR15 and all the trimmings just to shoot a few rounds and see if you like it.

But what else could I do? I didn’t want to throw money away. I didn’t’ want to buy junk and have it crap out.

So I need a cheap but good quality guitar and amp that I can practice on and get good with. my plan is to spend $200.00 on a Fender Starcaster. From all the reading I have been doing this is about like buying a Remington 710. it comes with a scope ready to load and fire. Sure it’s a dead end. But I think I can “get good” with it and more importantly see if I like the hobby. I can get the tube amp first Like upgrading the 710’s scope. Then when I get the hang of it I can get a real guitar. kind of like buying a rem. 700 LTR.
I would still have the little amp and basic guitar plus a big dog to play.


Well let me ask you hk, what kind of music do you intend on playing?
Link Posted: 12/17/2007 4:20:20 PM EST

Originally Posted By hk940:
I am struggling with this right now as a non-guitar player that wants to pick it up.


I talked with some players at work and they said to buy the kind of guitar they all played.
I went to the guitar center and listened to the things a manager could play.
I researched players I liked on U-tube and Wikipedia and cross-referenced their guitar choices trying to find “the sound” I wanted to make.
I came up with the number $1000.00. $550 for the 60 watt tube amp and $450 or so for the guitar. That is a lot of money to spend just to figure out if you want to play…
I guess it is kind of like buying a AR15 and all the trimmings just to shoot a few rounds and see if you like it.

But what else could I do? I didn’t want to throw money away. I didn’t’ want to buy junk and have it crap out.

So I need a cheap but good quality guitar and amp that I can practice on and get good with. my plan is to spend $200.00 on a Fender Starcaster. From all the reading I have been doing this is about like buying a Remington 710. it comes with a scope ready to load and fire. Sure it’s a dead end. But I think I can “get good” with it and more importantly see if I like the hobby. I can get the tube amp first Like upgrading the 710’s scope. Then when I get the hang of it I can get a real guitar. kind of like buying a rem. 700 LTR.
I would still have the little amp and basic guitar plus a big dog to play.


you can get a lot of amp for 550. what were you looking at spending that much on? i would spend less and get a smaller amp. spend the difference on a guitar to get a little more quality. a more quality guitar could resale for a good price if you decide it isnt for you.
Link Posted: 12/18/2007 11:27:11 PM EST
HK,

I did a little poking around on Musician's Friend (www.musiciansfriend.com) & this seems to be the best deal out there right now:

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/Squier-Start-Playing-HSS-Strat-Pack-with-GDEC-Jr.?sku=512577

It says that there's a drum machine/bass accompaniment/metronome built into the amp, this will help you learn to keep time & play in key.

And again, I do recommend buying in an actual store, because of the whole service after the sale thing.
Link Posted: 1/5/2008 10:48:21 AM EST

Originally Posted By Hemi-Cuda:

Neck Radius - Necks range from 10 inches (extremely thin), 12 (fast action) and 14 (thick). Make sure you try out which necks you feel most comfortable navigating the fret board with. I personally need fast action fret boards to solo throughout the fret board as well as play chords, but a chord playing and hard rock player would want a 14" just as someone who strictly wants to shred would want a 10.



Excellent post Hemi. I wanted to make one correction. You combined two components with "Neck Radius".

Remember these are just guidelines, a shredder can shred on whatever guitar they are used to regardless of what industry or others refer to them as.

Neck Profile: relates to the portion of the neck that faces the palm-side of your hand, and where your fretting hand thumb guides along the neck. There are varying styles:
Thin (Think Ibanez) and flat in the center. Variations on a V-shape, Semi or Hard V, U-shaped or and thicker some refer to as "baseball bat" '59 older style of Gibsons. '60 Gibson is a slimmer taper than a '59 ('59 and '60 refer to 1959 and 1960 style tapers). Fender's Modern C is about midline between the Ibanez and Gibson styles. All manufacturers have different naming conventions, ultimately what fits your hand best is the best for you.

Fretboard Radius: Is the measurement of curvature across the fretboard (arc). The smaller the number the more curvature. Think of a bridge on a violin or cello. Lower at the edges higher in the center.

7.25" Radius - rarely used any more -very vintage, "easier Chording" more difficult for leads and string bending usually due to smaller fret wire, until you're used to it.

9" radius - the "new Vintage" radius easier chording usually has smaller fretwire as well. Joe Satriani's Ibanez sig uses this with vintage fretwire. That takes some skill IMO.

10" radius - Standard for most Fender strat flavors good combination of ease of chording and lead.

12" radius - starting to feel a little more flat. Depending upon the frets it can be a little trickier for chording (Other than rock/barre chords), but good for leads.

14 -16 " radius - freakin' flat! Trickier to chord notes, some shredder types love them.

Most of the shred guys I know play between 12" to 14", but there are no rules here.

Compound radius: Just like it says. usually begins at a 10-12" radius at the first fret and tapers down to a 14-16" radius above the 12'th fret. These are usually custom necks. Why a compound radius neck? The general thinking is that most chording is going to be below the 12th fret, the fingers rest easier for chords with with a 10-12 " radius. Flatter above the 12th fret is focused for more lead/melody work.

Fret wire:

Vintage: small and low in height, more difficult to bend strings and more difficult vibrato (finger wigglin')

Medium Jumbo - middle of the road height. Moderately easy string bending.

Jumbo - usually the highest in height not necessarily width, Fender jumbo is more rounded where Gibson uses a more squared off or trapezoid shaped fret wire. Easiest string bending, if you grip too hard you can cause the note to go sharp, but not as extreme as with fretboard scalloping (Yngwie's fretboard).
Link Posted: 1/22/2008 11:28:29 PM EST

Originally Posted By mavrick102000:

Originally Posted By Hemi-Cuda:

Neck Radius - Necks range from 10 inches (extremely thin), 12 (fast action) and 14 (thick). Make sure you try out which necks you feel most comfortable navigating the fret board with. I personally need fast action fret boards to solo throughout the fret board as well as play chords, but a chord playing and hard rock player would want a 14" just as someone who strictly wants to shred would want a 10.



Excellent post Hemi. I wanted to make one correction. You combined two components with "Neck Radius".

Remember these are just guidelines, a shredder can shred on whatever guitar they are used to regardless of what industry or others refer to them as.

Neck Profile: relates to the portion of the neck that faces the palm-side of your hand, and where your fretting hand thumb guides along the neck. There are varying styles:
Thin (Think Ibanez) and flat in the center. Variations on a V-shape, Semi or Hard V, U-shaped or and thicker some refer to as "baseball bat" '59 older style of Gibsons. '60 Gibson is a slimmer taper than a '59 ('59 and '60 refer to 1959 and 1960 style tapers). Fender's Modern C is about midline between the Ibanez and Gibson styles. All manufacturers have different naming conventions, ultimately what fits your hand best is the best for you.

Fretboard Radius: Is the measurement of curvature across the fretboard (arc). The smaller the number the more curvature. Think of a bridge on a violin or cello. Lower at the edges higher in the center.

7.25" Radius - rarely used any more -very vintage, "easier Chording" more difficult for leads and string bending usually due to smaller fret wire, until you're used to it.

9" radius - the "new Vintage" radius easier chording usually has smaller fretwire as well. Joe Satriani's Ibanez sig uses this with vintage fretwire. That takes some skill IMO.

10" radius - Standard for most Fender strat flavors good combination of ease of chording and lead.

12" radius - starting to feel a little more flat. Depending upon the frets it can be a little trickier for chording (Other than rock/barre chords), but good for leads.

14 -16 " radius - freakin' flat! Trickier to chord notes, some shredder types love them.

Most of the shred guys I know play between 12" to 14", but there are no rules here.

Compound radius: Just like it says. usually begins at a 10-12" radius at the first fret and tapers down to a 14-16" radius above the 12'th fret. These are usually custom necks. Why a compound radius neck? The general thinking is that most chording is going to be below the 12th fret, the fingers rest easier for chords with with a 10-12 " radius. Flatter above the 12th fret is focused for more lead/melody work.

Fret wire:

Vintage: small and low in height, more difficult to bend strings and more difficult vibrato (finger wigglin')

Medium Jumbo - middle of the road height. Moderately easy string bending.

Jumbo - usually the highest in height not necessarily width, Fender jumbo is more rounded where Gibson uses a more squared off or trapezoid shaped fret wire. Easiest string bending, if you grip too hard you can cause the note to go sharp, but not as extreme as with fretboard scalloping (Yngwie's fretboard).


Thanks mav.
Link Posted: 1/22/2008 11:38:05 PM EST
[Last Edit: 1/23/2008 3:48:03 PM EST by briansmithwins]
>Removed thread hijack attempt.<

BSW

Edited: Sorry for the ill-advised attempt at humor. BSW
Link Posted: 1/23/2008 12:53:46 PM EST

Originally Posted By briansmithwins:
Good steel?

i2.photobucket.com/albums/y3/briansmithwins/151986358-L.jpg


BSW


Uh, wrong thread?
Link Posted: 1/23/2008 3:12:40 PM EST

Originally Posted By Hemi-Cuda:

Originally Posted By briansmithwins:
Good steel?

i2.photobucket.com/albums/y3/briansmithwins/151986358-L.jpg


BSW


Uh, wrong thread?


Kinda what I was thinkin'.
Link Posted: 4/6/2008 1:32:14 PM EST

Neck Radius - Necks range from 10 inches (extremely thin), 12 (fast action) and 14 (thick). Make sure you try out which necks you feel most comfortable navigating the fret board with. I personally need fast action fret boards to solo throughout the fret board as well as play chords, but a chord playing and hard rock player would want a 14" just as someone who strictly wants to shred would want a 10.


Just to clarify, radius refers not to the neck, but the fretboard. Imagine the curve of the fretboard as part of a circle. The radius is described as the radius of that circle. Meaning a 10" radius will have a more curved fretboard, because the circle is smaller. A 14" radius can be installed on a thin neck; this is what Ibanez commonly does. In contrast, vintage Stratocasters often have a 7 1/2" radius. Metal shredders prefer a flatter radius, because it gives them more control.

The back of the neck is described in terms of contour, like a V-contour, or a C contour. They are further described as thin, or wide, contours.

Here's another suggestion I always give to new purchasers. Check the guitar's setup and intonation. A chord that sounds sweet at the nut should sound just as sweet at the 12th fret. And while intonatioin can always be adjusted (especially on electric guitars), It's always nice to start off at a point where you don't need to do that work (or have it done). Intonating a guitar is a pretty time-consuming process, unless you possess a strobe tuner. With most acoustic guitars, intonation is VERY important, because the guitars don't have adjustable bridge saddles, so adjusting the intonation cannot be done. Also, never, ever, adjust the truss rod to change the action. Adjust the bridge saddles, or the nut.

On general principle, when I'm shopping for guitars, I must play it before I'll buy it. If the store has a policy that you can't play the more expensive instruments, then they've lost a customer. I had Sam Ash order me a Classic Vintage '50's Strat, because they didn't have the color I wanted, but I made sure to reserve the right to reject the instrument if I didn't like it. The first one delivered was perfect, but had it not been, I'd have made them keep ordering more until it was.

Make sure you play the guitar unplugged for the first few minutes, and check the resonance unplugged. A guitar that sounds good unplugged, but crappy plugged in, can still be made to sound good with an electronics upgrade like new pickups. If you consider the price of the instrument plus the new pickups, is it more cost effective than a more expensive guitar that doesn't sound good unplugged? Case in point, every once in a while Epiphone actually makes a decent Les Paul. Switching the pickups might give you a Les Paul that sounds as good as any Gibson. So bear that in mind.

When you play the guitar plugged in, check for things like microphone squeal (this might require you to crank the amp...beware). Check the volume and tone pots, are they scratchy?

As for the neck-through vs bolt-on argument: it's a myth that a neck through guitar will sustain better. The only way one guitar would sustain better in this instance is if the whole thing was carved out of one piece of wood. A lot more goes into sustain than the neck joint; finish, wood selection, the type of wood on the fretboard, weight of the guitar, ad nauseum. A bolt-on guitar with a tight pocket will sustain every bit as well as a neck-through or glued-in neck (in fact, moreso than the glued neck joint, because the glue used generally is not very resonant).

That's about all I have time to add.
Link Posted: 4/6/2008 1:34:45 PM EST
Oh, and I forgot to add this: A neck-through guitar is going to be a LOT harder to repair in the event of the neck, or headstock snapping. The whole myth came about as a way to justify the prices on neck-through guitars, because they're more expensive to make. Eric Johnson gets plenty of sustain and he plays Stratocasters.

Link Posted: 2/5/2009 8:23:23 PM EST
I know it's an old post, but good God, a 60-watt tube amp for a beginner?

I can't turn my 30-watt past 2 without the wife givin' me the what for...that's without the boost

Try 5-watts for practice and home use, unless your single and your neighbors like the same music you do.

Expensive gear won't make you a good player. I've heard salesmen at guitar stores play $150 guitars like SRV. The tone is in the fingers and soul of theplayer, not the hardware. I could have an original '57 Gold Top and still sound like the crap hack that I am. I love playing and learning new riffs, but I know I'll never be anything more than a flubber.

One of my favorite guitars to play is my first. A Kramer that I paid $100 for, including a 15-watt practice amp, cord, bag, etc. My American Strat doesn't sound $1000 better.

Link Posted: 5/16/2009 3:31:37 PM EST
what ross said is totally true. for years i played on a washburn strat copy through a little Crate 15 watt solid state amp. no need to waste money on expensive guitars and/or amplifiers when you're starting. but later on you can move on up the ladder as your skills advance.
Link Posted: 5/19/2009 2:44:26 PM EST
First guitar buying tips? Look for the name Gibson and buy it. Quite simple.

lunyou
Link Posted: 5/19/2009 4:01:30 PM EST
Originally Posted By lunyou:
First guitar buying tips? Look for the name Gibson and buy it. Quite simple.

lunyou



So you are suggesting a beginner with no expirience should drop $2000 +/- on an instrument they may never learn to play. Not sure I follow your logic here.




Oh yeah... That's right, you weren't using logic.
Link Posted: 5/19/2009 6:08:22 PM EST
Link Posted: 7/27/2009 7:24:52 PM EST
Originally Posted By Green_Canoe:
Originally Posted By lunyou:
First guitar buying tips? Look for the name Gibson and buy it. Quite simple.

lunyou



So you are suggesting a beginner with no expirience should drop $2000 +/- on an instrument they may never learn to play. Not sure I follow your logic here.




Oh yeah... That's right, you weren't using logic.


There are numerous Gibsons well under that price point. Once I learned that I was able to learn and wished to continue, I went straight from an entry level Alvarez to a Martin, on my second Martin now. And as with Gibsons, the prices for them are all over the board. In other words, "look for Gibson" was, in fact, good advice. Quality matters.
Link Posted: 9/16/2009 11:32:54 AM EST
Godin Redline greater than Gibson.
Link Posted: 12/14/2009 5:55:20 PM EST
The higher priced Squire guitars are really good starter guitars a line 6 amp will do the job it will have the basis for fun. . Then when the guitar playing gets to the next step a good quality lowest power tube amp which will serve for years as a practice amp. But then a Fender Strat whether Mexican or American has the best possibiltiy of being able to sell it if the new player decides that guitar playing is not his/her cup of tea. A Strat looks good as a piece of art hanging on the wall, It has a cool factor. Fender guitars are rock and roll tough .
Link Posted: 1/14/2010 7:41:45 PM EST
I'll just throw my adventure up there, I can't really offer advice persay.

First off I'm a trumpet player. I've played for about 15yrs and my favorite music is movie music and marching band music (not Sousa! )

I really dig epic music and so I figured I'd probably be playing more of the same on the guitar, which I was interested in learning. My uncle plays and my brother in law was a year or so in. I don't have a lot of money so here's what I did....

First decision was: Acoustic or electric? This one was pretty easy for me. I have a 5 yr old son, 2yr old husky and 2 cats. I totally went with the more durable electric.

Second decision: Where to buy? I didn't have a lot of money, or really hardly any. I figured I wanted one under $50 and didn't need an amp yet since I was in an apt and wouldn't really be able to use it. So I just sat back and was patient while browsing through Craigslist for a few weeks.

I wasn't sure what color/style I wanted, but in one of those inspired moments I *knew* I'd end up with a red strat. Sure enough, that's what happened. Though it wasn't straight red and had a neat sunburst effect in the middle (all very low key.)

Third decision: I had my $20 guitar and stand (nice little add) and was promptly shown how to swap strings. Next question: Where to learn to play?
I couldn't afford lessons, infact I really couldn't even afford a music book atm. And I didn't want to grab just any music book b/c after all my trumpet experience I knew that a bad music book could doom you pretty quick.

My brother-in-law suggested http://www.justinguitar.com
It was pretty nice to start out with and very friendly for the newbie.

After a bit I wanted to play some music and when I had some money went browsing music books. Found a few I liked and just started dinking around with them.

Shortly after that I got an actual guitar lesson book that really worked for me and incorporated that.

Fourth Decision: I was now playing enough that I wanted to hear myself. I didn't want an amp still b/c I didn't have the room for one in the apt. So I got a vox and was very happy with it!

These days I pay mainly with the vox and borrow my brother-in-laws amp once in a while since my son also has a small electric guitar now too (another craigslist special.). And he loves to "rock out".

Fifth Decision: Where to learn more about guitars, guitar care and general playing styles? I don't have a lot of extra time so I tried the "Guitar for Dummies" book. Dummies books can be hit and miss, but I was pretty happy with this one. It saved me a lot of time online googling through guitar sites and excessive amounts of info.

So, there you go! Not sure if it'll help any, but hopefully it does.
Link Posted: 1/15/2010 10:24:08 AM EST
Just start a thread if you have a question. There's several ARFCOMers that have answers.

Congrats on your new hobby.
Link Posted: 1/15/2010 10:45:26 AM EST
Other guitar issues that haven't come up yet, especially for acoustics:

1) Tuners: make sure they "look clean" if the threads are exposed, and that they hold it in tune well. Some tuners wiggle and creep.
2) The case: often overlooked, but a bad case is a real hassle and has to be replaced.
3) Make sure you know what weight (light, med, heavy) strings the guitar has been setup for. I had a guitar that I couldn't get tuned until I realized it was set up for Medium strings and I was playing light strings. Chords down low on the neck were fine, but chords up high on the neck were out of tune ..until I changed the strings.
4) Look in the sound hole (with flashlight and mirror) for cracks and loose glue joints on the inside.

Key point: The cheap guitars today are much. much better than cheap guitars of 10 years ago. They are using computer controlled machinery now to cut manufacturing costs, but they also hold tolerances better than they used to. In addition, they have more durable finishes now. All in all, it's a good time to purchase low end guitars. (Of course, my Taylor 512CE cringes when I say that.)
Link Posted: 2/21/2010 9:05:02 PM EST
Link Posted: 3/15/2010 4:15:28 PM EST
Just when you find the guitar you want to buy, go and see how many there are on Ebay and how cheap they are there. That will indicate what the guitar is really worth.

Having played and traded guitars for oer 30 years, I recommend you spend about twices as much as your original budget. By it used and buy a popular name brand made in the USA (Gibson, Fender, PRS, Martin, BC Rich). These will always hold their value better than foreigh made guitars; always. That way, when you quit and want to sell it, you may very well get your money back and sometimes more.


Link Posted: 8/20/2010 4:05:29 PM EST
Originally Posted By otcconan:
Neck Radius - Necks range from 10 inches (extremely thin), 12 (fast action) and 14 (thick). Make sure you try out which necks you feel most comfortable navigating the fret board with. I personally need fast action fret boards to solo throughout the fret board as well as play chords, but a chord playing and hard rock player would want a 14" just as someone who strictly wants to shred would want a 10.


Just to clarify, radius refers not to the neck, but the fretboard. Imagine the curve of the fretboard as part of a circle. The radius is described as the radius of that circle. Meaning a 10" radius will have a more curved fretboard, because the circle is smaller. A 14" radius can be installed on a thin neck; this is what Ibanez commonly does. In contrast, vintage Stratocasters often have a 7 1/2" radius. Metal shredders prefer a flatter radius, because it gives them more control.

The back of the neck is described in terms of contour, like a V-contour, or a C contour. They are further described as thin, or wide, contours.

Here's another suggestion I always give to new purchasers. Check the guitar's setup and intonation. A chord that sounds sweet at the nut should sound just as sweet at the 12th fret. And while intonatioin can always be adjusted (especially on electric guitars), It's always nice to start off at a point where you don't need to do that work (or have it done). Intonating a guitar is a pretty time-consuming process, unless you possess a strobe tuner. With most acoustic guitars, intonation is VERY important, because the guitars don't have adjustable bridge saddles, so adjusting the intonation cannot be done. Also, never, ever, adjust the truss rod to change the action. Adjust the bridge saddles, or the nut.

On general principle, when I'm shopping for guitars, I must play it before I'll buy it. If the store has a policy that you can't play the more expensive instruments, then they've lost a customer. I had Sam Ash order me a Classic Vintage '50's Strat, because they didn't have the color I wanted, but I made sure to reserve the right to reject the instrument if I didn't like it. The first one delivered was perfect, but had it not been, I'd have made them keep ordering more until it was.

Make sure you play the guitar unplugged for the first few minutes, and check the resonance unplugged. A guitar that sounds good unplugged, but crappy plugged in, can still be made to sound good with an electronics upgrade like new pickups. If you consider the price of the instrument plus the new pickups, is it more cost effective than a more expensive guitar that doesn't sound good unplugged? Case in point, every once in a while Epiphone actually makes a decent Les Paul. Switching the pickups might give you a Les Paul that sounds as good as any Gibson. So bear that in mind.

When you play the guitar plugged in, check for things like microphone squeal (this might require you to crank the amp...beware). Check the volume and tone pots, are they scratchy?

As for the neck-through vs bolt-on argument: it's a myth that a neck through guitar will sustain better. The only way one guitar would sustain better in this instance is if the whole thing was carved out of one piece of wood. A lot more goes into sustain than the neck joint; finish, wood selection, the type of wood on the fretboard, weight of the guitar, ad nauseum. A bolt-on guitar with a tight pocket will sustain every bit as well as a neck-through or glued-in neck (in fact, moreso than the glued neck joint, because the glue used generally is not very resonant).

That's about all I have time to add.


I'm confused, never use the truss rod to adjust the action? What about on an acoustic? Is there another way? And what are they there for than?
Link Posted: 8/20/2010 9:50:46 PM EST
[Last Edit: 8/20/2010 9:52:46 PM EST by Gone_Shootin]
Basically, the only thing a truss rod adjusts is the neck relief, or curve in the neck.

Also, I've always been told that if you need to adjust the action on an acoustic, you either need to shim (raise), trim (lower), or use a taller bridge and/or nut.
Link Posted: 8/21/2010 12:51:47 PM EST
Originally Posted By Gone_Shootin:
Basically, the only thing a truss rod adjusts is the neck relief, or curve in the neck.

Also, I've always been told that if you need to adjust the action on an acoustic, you either need to shim (raise), trim (lower), or use a taller bridge and/or nut.


I've heard that about acoustics, but never seen it done. I did adjust my Mom's "Starcastor" right after she bought it from a rummage sale. But I see now that there isn't any bow in it and I need to adjust it back some and lower the action on the bridge. Which I can do, this is just new for me. I had an old acoustic once that was so bowed that I think the right course of action was to adjust the truss rod, but I think in this case of my Mom's electric, I shouldn't have. I'll have to remedy that. I need a super small allen wrench for the bridge thingys. Whatever they're called.
Link Posted: 8/21/2010 2:38:42 PM EST

Originally Posted By JJREA:
Originally Posted By Gone_Shootin:
Basically, the only thing a truss rod adjusts is the neck relief, or curve in the neck.

Also, I've always been told that if you need to adjust the action on an acoustic, you either need to shim (raise), trim (lower), or use a taller bridge and/or nut.


I've heard that about acoustics, but never seen it done. I did adjust my Mom's "Starcastor" right after she bought it from a rummage sale. But I see now that there isn't any bow in it and I need to adjust it back some and lower the action on the bridge. Which I can do, this is just new for me. I had an old acoustic once that was so bowed that I think the right course of action was to adjust the truss rod, but I think in this case of my Mom's electric, I shouldn't have. I'll have to remedy that. I need a super small allen wrench for the bridge thingys. Whatever they're called.

There should be a little bit of a bow to it, other wise you'll have alot of fret buzz.
Link Posted: 8/21/2010 2:43:04 PM EST
Cheap guitars or expensive guitars sound like absolute shit if you dont know how to play.
Ive heard some of the best playing ever ona cheap harmony guitar.

Concentrate on practicing, buying a guitar is differemt than buying a car, or other object you must have an EAR for music
Link Posted: 8/22/2010 1:25:42 PM EST
[Last Edit: 8/22/2010 1:26:12 PM EST by JJREA]
Originally Posted By Gone_Shootin:

Originally Posted By JJREA:
Originally Posted By Gone_Shootin:
Basically, the only thing a truss rod adjusts is the neck relief, or curve in the neck.

Also, I've always been told that if you need to adjust the action on an acoustic, you either need to shim (raise), trim (lower), or use a taller bridge and/or nut.


I've heard that about acoustics, but never seen it done. I did adjust my Mom's "Starcastor" right after she bought it from a rummage sale. But I see now that there isn't any bow in it and I need to adjust it back some and lower the action on the bridge. Which I can do, this is just new for me. I had an old acoustic once that was so bowed that I think the right course of action was to adjust the truss rod, but I think in this case of my Mom's electric, I shouldn't have. I'll have to remedy that. I need a super small allen wrench for the bridge thingys. Whatever they're called.

There should be a little bit of a bow to it, other wise you'll have alot of fret buzz.


Yeah, something I didn't realize how much it took out until it was done. Now I have to rewind what I did and go at it from the other angle. I just thought if you wanted it lower, you adjust the rod. I'm learning so much new stuff lately. The internet is great. I wish I had this resource when I used to play a lot in bands and stuff. You couldn't just go online, find what strings you want and order. You had to get what was available at your stores. I suppose there were catalog stores back then, but I didn't know about any of them. Much less a resource of helpful people.
Link Posted: 2/28/2011 5:06:28 AM EST
I am afraid to go into the local guitar store. I can't help but think of a new gun owner who has never fired a gun that goes into a gun store and the clerk tries to sell him some $1500 custom 1911 because ya know...everything else will just get ya killed.
Link Posted: 2/28/2011 8:15:18 AM EST

Originally Posted By TwoBravo:
I am afraid to go into the local guitar store. I can't help but think of a new gun owner who has never fired a gun that goes into a gun store and the clerk tries to sell him some $1500 custom 1911 because ya know...everything else will just get ya killed.

Nah, most guitar shops won't try to get you to buy something you can't afford, or at least the ones I've dealt with.

Just tell them what your budget is, what kind of music you want to play & tell them you want one that's set up well.
Link Posted: 9/3/2011 8:21:04 PM EST
Are there any decent brands/models of accoustics or electrics that are relatively safe to buy without trying them. For example I know as far as trumpets go, Bach Strads are excellent but you have to play 15-20 to get a good one, whereas your chances of getting an excellent Yamaha Xeno out of the box, sight unseen are pretty damn high. Anything like that in an affordable (sub $500) guitar?
Link Posted: 9/3/2011 11:24:26 PM EST
[Last Edit: 9/3/2011 11:25:30 PM EST by Gone_Shootin]
Originally Posted By Trumpet:
Are there any decent brands/models of accoustics or electrics that are relatively safe to buy without trying them. For example I know as far as trumpets go, Bach Strads are excellent but you have to play 15-20 to get a good one, whereas your chances of getting an excellent Yamaha Xeno out of the box, sight unseen are pretty damn high. Anything like that in an affordable (sub $500) guitar?


There are quite a few decent guitars out there for less than $500. Not too long ago, cheap guitars were crappy & inconsistent, but now in the age of CNC machining, they're much better & more consistent in quality.

If you're thinking of ordering from Musician's Friend, Sweetwater, or Sam Ash, they have good return policies. But I still recommend looking one over in person. Although I know people that have ordered from the mail order houses I mentioned & even off of EBay & have been satisfied with what they got.

Then you also have to consider what kind of music you want to play & choose a guitar accordingly.

Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile
Link Posted: 9/3/2011 11:35:35 PM EST
The advice to buy a Gibson is, in my considered opinion, probably not guaranteed GOOD advice.


Sorry to say, but Gibson's quality control is absolutely random. Pick the next 10 Gibsons to come out of the factory, and one will be awesome, two will suck, and the other seven will be varying levels of good to mediocre.


I would never counsel anyone to buy a Gibson without trying it first. Seriously. While the company CAN make a great guitar, they make a lot more
that just don't quite meet the standards they should...or even come close.


Incidentally, Gibson was also rated as the WORST company to work for among a long list of companies that were rated, not too long ago.


I like Gibsons. I really do. But the company has major problems with quality control and the problem comes from an idiot CEO at one end of the company, and an unhappy, poorly skilled (on average) workforce that doesn't give a shit about their job at the other end of the company.


CJ
Link Posted: 9/4/2011 9:04:27 PM EST
[Last Edit: 9/4/2011 9:10:55 PM EST by Trumpet]
Well, I'm looking for something versatile and durable. Problem is, I like everything so I need as close to an affordable "do it all" guitar as I can find.
Are the Ibanez semi-hollows decent?
Link Posted: 9/4/2011 9:57:48 PM EST
Durability really isn't a consideration. Most any guitar of some quality is going to be able to last a lifetime with reasonable, or even minimal, care.


If you don't drop it or knock it off the stand, odds are you'll never break it.

Of greater concern is simply to ensure that the instrument was built with good, seasoned, stable woods. You don't want to end up with a guitar
that has a neck that will turn into a ski jump come the winter due to humidity changes, and then change back to a recurve bow when summer comes.



I would definitely make one specific recommendation. Do NOT buy a guitar that is made in CHINA. I'm very serious about that.

ANYWHERE else, OK. But NOT China.


CJ
Link Posted: 9/4/2011 11:04:12 PM EST
[Last Edit: 9/4/2011 11:07:31 PM EST by Gone_Shootin]
Originally Posted By Trumpet:
Well, I'm looking for something versatile and durable. Problem is, I like everything so I need as close to an affordable "do it all" guitar as I can find.
Are the Ibanez semi-hollows decent?


The closest thing you're gonna find to a do-all guitar is a Strat style with a humbucker in the bridge & single coils in the middle & neck, also known as a HSS setup. And as far as that goes, a dual humbucker strat with the 5 way switch or a Les Paul style with push-pull pots to spilt the humbuckers can also get a wide range of tones.

But even that is a compromise. You'll eventually realize the shortcomings & wind up with specific guitars for specific tones. It's just part of the hobby, nothing you can do about it.

ETA: I wouldn't consider any hollow body for a do all guitar, imho.

Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile
Link Posted: 10/12/2011 10:06:34 PM EST
[Last Edit: 10/12/2011 10:06:47 PM EST by an_hero]
Originally Posted By Hemi-Cuda:
Neck Radius - Necks range from 10 inches (extremely thin), 12 (fast action) and 14 (thick). Make sure you try out which necks you feel most comfortable navigating the fret board with. I personally need fast action fret boards to solo throughout the fret board as well as play chords, but a chord playing and hard rock player would want a 14" just as someone who strictly wants to shred would want a 10

....

Bolt On vs Neck-Thru body - All in all, the Neck-Thru body is much better than a bolt on. It gives immense amount of sustain, doesn't loosen (because its one piece), and makes for a stronger guitar. Bolt Ons have one benefit and thats if your neck breaks you can screw on a new one. Otherwise, Neck-Thru is the way to go.





Have you actually played a guitar, or are you basing your opinion on what you've read on Ultimate-Guitar forum?
Link Posted: 10/12/2011 10:23:33 PM EST
Originally Posted By an_hero:
Originally Posted By Hemi-Cuda:
Neck Radius - Necks range from 10 inches (extremely thin), 12 (fast action) and 14 (thick). Make sure you try out which necks you feel most comfortable navigating the fret board with. I personally need fast action fret boards to solo throughout the fret board as well as play chords, but a chord playing and hard rock player would want a 14" just as someone who strictly wants to shred would want a 10

....

Bolt On vs Neck-Thru body - All in all, the Neck-Thru body is much better than a bolt on. It gives immense amount of sustain, doesn't loosen (because its one piece), and makes for a stronger guitar. Bolt Ons have one benefit and thats if your neck breaks you can screw on a new one. Otherwise, Neck-Thru is the way to go.





Have you actually played a guitar, or are you basing your opinion on what you've read on Ultimate-Guitar forum?


You won't get an answer since he got the ban hammer a couple or three years ago.

But that said, he has played quite a bit.
Link Posted: 4/6/2012 9:41:26 AM EST
I'd generally recogmend buying your first guitar at a reputable music store. They generally have warranties even on their used gear and at least check the merchandise over. Extreme caution if buying from pawn shops or private individuals (ie Craigslist). I've seen a few 'cheap' guitars that turn out to be awesome with a little TLC with the setup. But sometimes there's things that can't be fixed...these often end up getting dumped on pawn shops. Check out a pawn shop sometimes for an education on what you don't want to see in a guitar...potato chip warped necks, cracked headstocks/necks, stripped screws, etc. For example, my local pawn shop has a awesome 80's-ish Kramer guitar. They want over $400 for it and it's got a major crack in the headstock. Enough people must have pointed that out because now they have a note on it mentioning the crack. This is rather unfortunate because the location and severity of this crack would be difficult if not impossible to fix. It's also not obvious to the average person. The defect is essentially fatal and renders a normally awesome guitar only good for spare parts. They must have really overpaid for this thing cause they won't budge on the price and it's been collecting dust there for almost 2 years now.
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