Looking for a new guitar.

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#1 Edited by The_Greg (548 posts) -

I'm looking to buy a new electric guitar, as mine are kind of bad. They don't sound too great and they're not comfortable to play. I've had them for years and never really took any of it too seriously, so didn't feel the need to buy anything better. Now I do.

I don't want to spend a lot of money (as I said, don't take it too seriously) but I want something that has a decent sound quality and feels nice to play for long periods.

Does anyone here play and have any recommendations? I don't know too much about guitars when it comes to technical details.

I've been looking at an Epiphone Les Paul and the Ibanez AS53, just to give you a rough idea of what I've been considering.

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#3 Edited by The_Greg (548 posts) -

@muftyriots: The 'action' is really poor and I can't fix it on any of them. The strings sit quite far from the fret board.

It causes a couple of major issues: My fingers hurt after playing for about 15 minutes and it spoils the note if I go beyond about the 12th fret.

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#4 Posted by grapesoda (142 posts) -

@the_greg: If the note goes bad beyond the 12th fret its a sign your intonation isn't properly set, you may not be able to fix that given your problem with the action though.

I'd recommend the Les Paul if you're looking to get something new. There is a wide range of models so finding one that fits your starting budget will be easier and replacing/changing parts later down the line will be easier too.

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#5 Posted by CheapPoison (1127 posts) -

Or what are you looking for?

If you don't mind a bit of 80ties, I'd very much jump on the Ibanez rg550 reissue. Japanese ibanez for under a 1000 dollaridoos is great, but if you don't use a floyd or don't like how they look. (There are plenty of reasons to be turned off that or Ibanez depending on your tastes. And guessing by the guitars you suggested this is probably a no go.)

So what genre's are you interested in?
Humbuckers vs single coils?
What kind of neck?
Not sure you'll be able to answer much of these without much experience, but any direction is helpful.

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#7 Edited by ltcolumbo (177 posts) -

30 years ago, when I was first getting started playing, someone told me that even if I’m just considering doing this for more than a few months, I should spend the few extra dollars and get a Fender Strat. They assured me that it was versatile, sturdy, and would give me a good feel for playing other types of guitars later, and it would be a guitar you’d keep playing for decades. I ignored them because I wanted something that Dave Mustaine or James Hatfield would play, and didn’t get one until 20 years later.

Spend the few extra bucks and get a Fender Strat.

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#8 Posted by The_Greg (548 posts) -

@grapesoda: Yea, I'm more interested in spending the money on a new guitar than faffing with my existing ones at this point.

@cheappoison: Just had a look at that model and it's a bit out of my price range. Not sure about the colour/design either. Maybe too 80s haha. I think I might end up going with an Ibanez though. I have a friend that swears by them.

In terms of genre, I like post-punk stuff. A bit of grunge, indie, garage, pop-punk. My tastes are quite pop-y. I'm not into metal and I've only dipped my toes in classic punk.

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#9 Posted by The_Greg (548 posts) -

@muftyriots: This might be it, to be fair. I just need to sit down and play with some and get a feel for what I like. All of the guitars I have were either bought off the internet, or in stores that don't specialise in guitars. As for the amp, I've definitely noticed a difference when playing on a better one. I lived with a guy that had a better amp than me and the sound quality was night and day. To be honest, it's comfort that I'm really looking for. I want to play for longer than 15 minutes without wanting to stick my fingers in ice.

@ltcolumbo: I just don't want to fork out £500 minimum. Would you recommend a Squier stratocaster, or is there no comparison?

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#10 Edited by CheapPoison (1127 posts) -

@the_greg: My huge message just got eaten for some reason.

That recommendation was probably made too much from my own perspective. Trouble is they are so taste sensitive that it is hard to not have it color things I say at this point. I like like a strat better than a les paul even a les paul is good and you can do cool things with it, I will almost always prefer a strat derivative over a les paul derivative. Those are things you are going to have to find out yourself, I love an Ibanez neck, but some people can't deal with it, same that I think Les pauls are a bit unwieldy(it is likely new ones will have weight relief so they aren't a huge brick around you neck, but some people claim at that point it is no longer the thing they want, so mileage may vary)

-Maybe look at sounds you like and with what they have been achieved. This will only be broad strokes, seeing there is quite a bit of overlap, but it will give you some direction.

-Cheaper guitar aren't as good as the high end stuff, but started and middle class models have gotten really good the past 10 years. You are not as likely to get a stinker as you were in the past. Squier will serve you well generally. The cheap models are the best bang for you bucks ( I mean below 500, not the cheapest thing you can find) in comparison to more expensive. Those are better, but they never are twice as good. They only get better in small increments.


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#12 Posted by The_Greg (548 posts) -

@cheappoison: No, definitely. I appreciate the suggestion. I'm not 100% sure what 'look' I'm going for, if I'm being honest. It's kind of like artwork, you see it and you either like it or you don't.

Can you elaborate on the point about necks? What is it about the Ibanez neck that you like?

In regards to price, I'm never taking it beyond some casual recreational use. I might play with friends, but nothing more than a little jam with a few beers or something. It's hard to justify spending too much money on what is essentially my new toy. Essentially, I'm trying to find the best quality guitar at around £250/$350.

There's a used Epiphone Blueshawk Deluxe at a guitar store near me, which is going for £250. It's caught my eye and the reviews are decent. I quite like the look.

No Caption Provided

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#13 Posted by The_Greg (548 posts) -

@muftyriots: My fingers are quite calloused at this point, I do try to play as often as I can so that I don't lose that. Having to press down so hard makes my fingers hurt regardless.

I played a Gibson a few years back. I can't remember the details, I just remember the guy telling me it was a Gibson. Anyway, it felt very comfortable and sounded better than when I played on my own guitar, simply because I didn't need to press down so hard. Kind of like if you learned to ride a bike with the brakes permanently pressed, then you got on a bike with working brakes.

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#14 Posted by CheapPoison (1127 posts) -

@the_greg: The thing about necks is hard to explain. Ibanez necks are very thin and very flat. Flat necks are great for some things, but not for others. Some people don't like chords on them or they don't feel as comfortable, but a flat neck feels way faster. I started out on a classical guitar(The radius on those things is infinite, so they are completely flat, so the 16" on an ibanez doesn't bother like it would some people. Hard to say more about that that is a thing you are either going to hate or like.
I also don't have the biggest hands so I appreciate a thin neck, but for some people a thin neck is just uncomfortable or it has a weird shape. (ibanez is more of a D shape instead of a c. Which refers to the thin and flat bit. Can look that up for some more info.) Part there might also be the way you play, do you play it more like a 'baseball grip' with your whole hand wrapping around it. Classic guitar made me just put my thumb on the back cause of the classical position. A flat ibanez neck might not be the most comfortable if you want the neck to rest inside your hand cause it isn't nice and round, it does feel a bit too flat for that.

That is something you'll quickly figure out if you pick it up though. I would recommend everyone to just force themselves to use the classical position though, there will be a period to adapt, but for me it is generally superior, and if you are using heavy bends, you can easily switch between the two to use whatever you need.


Second hand is also a good options for instruments, cause a lot of instruments are just for people playing in their bedroom. If they don't get played often, they are still pristine after a few years. You'd probably need to be a lot more confident on knowing what you want or what to look out for to take the risk. You can get a great thing for a lot cheaper. Especially some brands.

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#15 Posted by Dirty_Harry (724 posts) -

Get a squire vintage modified. As someone who has played for many years it's pretty conclusive that in that price range the vintage modified series is pretty much the most you will get. That doesn't mean that those guitar are cheap in any way, they are actually fantastic guitars to keep around the house and will always get played. As far as what model to get I would say stick to conventional teles or strats but just go and check some out and see what feels best in your hands.

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#17 Edited by ltcolumbo (177 posts) -

@the_greg: I would avoid a Squier. The quality varies, But all the squires I have played were not great. I do have actual Fender Strat that I got new, not long ago, for about $500US.

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#18 Edited by Ben_H (4204 posts) -

Whether you get a new guitar or stick with your current one, I highly recommend either getting a luthier/repair person to set up your guitar for you or learn to do setups yourself. It's well worth the money and time. This would solve the extreme majority of problems you are having. Unless your guitar has a broken truss rod (which it won't if you've never adjusted it), then it is possible to easily get the string height to a comfortable level by adjusting the truss rod a small amount and slightly lowering the bridge height. From there, fixing stuff like intonation problems and filing sharp fret ends is like a 30 minute process.

It definitely sounds like your current guitars need the truss rod adjusted (in this case tightened), as most guitars need adjustments a couple times per year as the seasons change. Because wood shifts with temperature and humidity changes, your guitar has to be adjusted to compensate for that. I have to loosen the truss rods on my guitars a quarter turn in spring, and tighten them in winter most years.

That Gibson you mentioned trying? Chances are the owner had it well set up. You can get a cheap guitar to play just as nice as an expensive guitar with a good setup. I have an old cheap Fender Precision Bass that I would easily put up there with my Music Man basses in terms of comfort, even though it cost about a fifth of the price, simply because I set it up comfortably.

Cheap guitars almost never are set up well at all from the factory and it is likely yours is still in that state. Good music stores will fix this before they put the guitar for sale but that isn't always the case. Either way, guitars still need to be adjusted once in a while in order to keep being comfortable to play.

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#19 Posted by BigBoss1911 (2936 posts) -

@the_greg: I would avoid a Squier. The quality varies, But all the squires I have played were not great. I do have actual Fender Strat that I got new, not long ago, for about $500US.

Seriously. If you want a fender just buy a Mexican. That couple extra hundred bucks goes a long way.

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#20 Posted by alien765 (41 posts) -

If you want good close action, I would recommend the Ibanez RG series. Those have a thin neck too which I find super comfortable. Complete opposite of anything Gibson though, so definitely a matter of preference there.

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#21 Posted by The_Greg (548 posts) -

Thanks everyone for the helpful advise, I really appreciate it. A lot to think about!

I'm going to head down to the store this weekend and just play around for a bit, really get a feel for what I actually want out of a guitar.

Based on what I've been told here and elsewhere, I think I'm swaying towards something by Ibanez.

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#22 Posted by Darkaileron (205 posts) -

Ibanez has good guitars at most price ranges, for shreddy types

Jackson's are great substitutes for Strat type guitars, but the good models come at a higher price range (800$+)

Epiphone's doing great work with Les Paul type models. Their Gibson knock offs are almost as good as the real thing, most of the time. Epiphone's usually pretty cheap.

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#23 Posted by cikame (2910 posts) -

I own 5 guitars but i can't recommend any of them as they all have pluses and minuses, i haven't found one yet which i'd buy again if i needed to.
I primarily use a Les Paul Studio, but it's heavy and hurts to use while sitting, it also doesn't deliver the tone i'm after but that might be amp related, which is another part of my setup i'm not happy with.
Sorry for the zero advice.

But it sure does look nice
But it sure does look nice
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#24 Posted by DanishingAct (414 posts) -

@bigboss1911: absolutely agree, Mexican fenders are amazing. Super easy to find a good one used, and won't lose value if you decide to upgrade down the line.

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#25 Edited by csl316 (15000 posts) -

My main guitars are an Ibanez, PRS, and Jackson.

The Ibanez is my most versatile and I bought it over 15 years ago for $400 (they don't make my model anymore). The price range was fair and it has been my go to for just about any clean or distorted sound. So if you can find a good, well-reviewed Ibanez, that's been my most reliable brand over the years. No need to overspend.

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#26 Posted by DavoTron (182 posts) -

Fender and Squier you can get usually quite cheap and they are generally all pretty good. I've got two Fender guitars, two Fender basses, and a Squier J Mascis Jazzmaster is my main guitar at the moment (Because the rest are in Drop Q for some reason), and they all very reliable. You had a pound sign in one of your posts, so naturally I'm going to assume you're in the UK - If you live in range of a GuitarGuitar, PMT or Andertons, they are stocked full of things for you to try out.

Additionally, Yamaha Pacifica's ALWAYS get a good write up, but I've never played one myself. I was never impressed with the more 'budget' Epiphone range, but I found I prefer my guitars to have a bit more of a smoother neck than the gloss finish they tend to have. I find Ibanez / more 'metal' guitars like ESP and the like don't seem to have much resell value either, whereas a half decent Fender will probably do alright.

Oh, and also ask your shop if they offer 0% Finance. I've managed to get gear that's a little out of my price range because I can get that cost over 9 monthly payments rather than losing all my money for the month. It's a great system in the UK, and the last few major bits of gear I got have all been through that.

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#27 Posted by Stonyman65 (3812 posts) -

First if all if you are in the US, I would look at Guitar Center used. There are lots of great deals for used gear there and if you buy something that you aren't into you can return it for money back (have it shipped to your local store so you don't have to pay to ship it back).

I'm a big Ibanez and Fender fan so naturally I'd say to go with those but it's all up to you. I would suggest playing a bunch of guitars in a store, even stuff that you can't afford or that you think you might not be into, and then when you find something you like you should look for a similar model used and save some cash. You can get a REALLLY nice guitar for not a lot of money if you buy used gear and wait for some good deals.

Once you settle on a guitar, a good setup from a tech goes a LONG way not only making the guitar more comfortable but also playing in tune. It's totally worth it.

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#28 Posted by slo234 (6 posts) -

Only Epiphone les paul

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#29 Posted by Paliv (251 posts) -
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I have a couple guitars. I really liked playing this American Standard Strat, which they don't even make anymore, but I never really play the electric at this point. Considering selling it, but every time I decide it isn't worth the hassle and it's a very comfortable guitar on the rare occasion I pick it up. Plus it's a great guitar that you can't get for that price anymore. Looking around is a good idea, there's always somebody who takes care of their guitars selling something decent.

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#30 Posted by KillEm_Dafoe (2657 posts) -

I'm always going to recommend getting a PRS. They're relatively lightweight compared to a lot of other brands, they play smooth as butter and get amazing tones. I've had a Tremonti PRS SE for the last 8 years I think? It still sounds great at a variety of tunings, as low as drop A before it starts getting too muddy. It also gets a very warm and pleasant clean tone. That particular model runs around $600. In my opinion, that's a steal for a guitar that plays just as well as any of its more expensive peers. It's only slightly more expensive than your typical starting guitar but will hold up indefinitely as long as you take care of it.

No matter what you get, though, I would definitely recommend going to a local shop and getting a set-up done at least once a year. That should solve any action or intonation problems you have. You also would want to get something with an adjustable bridge so you can suit the action to your comfort zone.