Buying first 'real' guitar

Discussion in 'Musicians' started by ex4n, Jan 31, 2019.

  1. ex4n

    ex4n Member

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    Hey guys,

    I've been trying to teach myself guitar on and off for a long time, but lately, I've started enjoying it more and taking it more seriously. I'm in my 30s now and I've never had lessons or anything, but I'm going to start taking them soon, and I want to buy myself a reasonable mid-range guitar, which plays nicely, to continue learning on. I was also considering a 7 string but I might hold off on that for a while.

    I currently have a cheap Epiphone SG I bought a few years ago as I thought it looked nice, and I was really into learning Black Sabbath songs at the time, but I'm not the biggest fan of it after having tried a few other guitars since purchasing it. I've played an Ibanez SA, which I prefer, as the neck is a bit more accessible, the first few frets feel a lot further away on the SG, and it's a bit slimmer and feels more comfortable overall. TBH I rarely play through my amp, mostly just play unplugged to keep the noise down while practising, and I only have a small practice amp anyway, so I am mostly looking for a guitar that feels good to play, and I know pickups and stuff can be changed down the track once I know what kind of tone I'm looking for etc.

    I don't really want to spend more than about $500-750 so I'm considering trying to find something used and of high quality. For that price range new, I'm not sure what the quality would be like. I have found a late 80s (88-89) Fender Strat (MIJ) for sale which has caught my eye, completely original/standard I think, black with a maple neck. From what I've read online after some quick googling, the Japanese made guitars are of great quality, but being about 30 years old now, and my being an inexperienced used guitar buyer, I'm not sure what to look out for with something like this, any red flags here? Although I'm mostly into metal, I don't think I could go wrong with something so versatile, plus some guitarists I really respect like Isaiah Mitchell use strats and get an amazing sound out of them ;)

    As I'm pretty much a gear noob and I'm not on any music forums or anything, I thought I'd ask here and see what the OCAU guitarists think would be a nice mid-price-range, versatile, guitar to learn on, new or used, just after a quality instrument so I can only blame the player if it doesn't sound right :) Cheers!
     
  2. Benno1988

    Benno1988 Member

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    Mexican Strat my pic!
     
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  3. OP
    OP
    ex4n

    ex4n Member

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    cheers, I have seen a couple of these for sale too, one that I did consider was a 2014 MIM strat with HSS pickup config, for about $500 so it's cheaper than the MIJ but are they as nice?
     
  4. broccoli

    broccoli Member

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    fret wear (getting a re-fret costs serious money), straight neck and no repaired neck breaks.

    You really just need to pick up the instrument you are looking at and decide whether it suits you.

    If I were you, I'd start in shops. There you can pick up a range and really figure out what to go for. There are a zillion options even within a brand and model, and you might like one strat but not another. With a reputable second-hand dealer, they'll have (hopefully - cynical, who, me?) set it up properly and you won't be having to figure out for yourself whether it's just out of tune and needs fiddling with, or whether it's got some problem that is messing up the tuning/intonation that you'll be looking to get fixed.

    Your price range is quite low and if you are comfortable buying something you like that might be a dud, just go for it.

    (if you go Fender, get a tele, they are better than strats.... :D)

    What is it that you don't like about the epiphone you've got?
     
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  5. Boneman

    Boneman Member

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    Slide your hands up and down the neck of the MIJ strat a few times. If the fret edges arent cutting you open, buy it.
     
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  6. Benno1988

    Benno1988 Member

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    I have a sunburst one brown/orange, dark rosewood type neck. Quite nice. Was $1100 new about 10 years ago. Not sure prices now.
     
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  7. OP
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    ex4n

    ex4n Member

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    Thanks mate, I was planning to check out some similar new guitars in that price range at the shops this weekend, to see how they feel, as I've not played many guitars personally, then I will have a bit of a reference to compare to any older used guitars I go and look at too. I know it's not a huge budget, but I'm not trying to buy anything too high end, I'm just after something that's 'decent' and plays nicely, and that I probably won't grow out of.

    I've played around with the setup on my SG and adjusted everything up and down, measured things like string height with feeler gauges and I've got it playing about as nice as I can. When I drop the action there is a little bit of buzz so I am not sure the frets are completely level, or there maybe isn't enough fall away, but I'm not going to spend time or money doing that on this guitar, it's a real cheapie. I also found when adjusting the saddles to get the intonation exactly right, they didn't really move nicely which made it a bit of a pain to get right, felt a bit cheap overall. It does play fine, and it's been good for learning, but as I mentioned after trying out a few other guitars, I don't find it super comfortable, and the total size of the guitar is probably about 6" longer than a strat style Ibanez I've played which makes the first few frets just that little bit further to reach, so I'm just looking for something which feels better to play to me. As a beginner, I still play a lot of open cords and practice switching between them as fast as I can, so easy access to the first few frets helps there. It does make a difference to comfort in my opinion.

    What makes you suggest a Tele over a Strat?

    Haha thanks, I'm pretty sure I can confidently test that. Nothing else you would check, or consider around that price range? One other detail I didn't mention is the seller is the original owner, purchased new in 1990 so I think it's quite well looked after.
     
  8. Boneman

    Boneman Member

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    Fret wear could be an issue but only if hes a working guitarist and played it 10 hours a day for years, but those guys refret anyways so no stress.

    Some key points to consider -

    MIJ will always hold value if you sell
    It may have a baseball bat neck/radius that you arent comfortable with (compared to the Ibanez Wizard style flat necks/fretboard)
    Most likely has 21 frets (not an issue but if you want to play/perform certain songs could be limiting)
    Single coils will not work for traditional metal (in bridge position)
    Upper fret access is limited
    Its just a piece of wood

    Basically the sooner you start playing the better, just buy something and get on it.
     
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  9. Tinian

    Tinian Member

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    David Gilmour is selling a bunch for charity. Don't be put off, expectations are 'a number of less famous guitars going to auction with estimates for as little as $300.' :thumbup:
     
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  10. OP
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    ex4n

    ex4n Member

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    Thanks for the solid advice, I will go and check it out and see how it feels, that's the most important thing to me really. I do like the Ibanez neck's I've played but I also have pretty large hands so a bigger neck isn't a problem, even a 7 string felt OK to me. I also don't think I've ever even played above the 15-17th frets before so 21 frets should be heaps! I understand this wouldn't be a metal guitar in any way, but although I enjoy listening to metal, I find it a bit boring to play so I'm looking for something more versatile overall, and maybe I'll get a 7 string with EMGs or something completely opposite of this down the track for metal ;) I'm basically just trying to avoid buying something new which is of sub-par quality andI'lll only be able to sell for half the price in the future, ideally something I can hold onto for a while though, which is why I'm looking at these late 80s japanese strats etc.

    Interesting suggestion, I'm not sure how practical it would be to buy one without being able to see it or feel it first, would be nice to own something he has played though, even if it was 'lesser known'. I'm not sure it would end up being within my budget though, and I don't think they will be on sale any time soon.
     
  11. Radley

    Radley Member

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    My first guitar was an Epiphone SG, and my second was an Ibanez SZ... You sound like you have good taste! After that I got an Ibanez RG, BC Rich 7 string and a Gibson Les Paul...
    A couple of times I went into a guitar store with my mind on one guitar, then I picked it up and played it and it didn't gel so I bought a totally different one. Just go and have a play and see what feels best for you. Don't worry about tone at this stage, you can always upgrade pickups or get a better amp down the track.
    Jump on Facebook and look for guitar trading pages, there's a few good Aussie ones.
     
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  12. broccoli

    broccoli Member

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    I can pretty much guarantee that, no matter how happy you are with whatever you end up with, you won't stop looking....

    I just prefer the look of them.... :D
     
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  13. OP
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    ex4n

    ex4n Member

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    Thanks for everyone's advice so far, is there anything brand new I could walk into a store and buy at this price range you think would be worth considering? I have a feeling that new, I'd still be at the high end of the budget/cheap guitar range, I could probably still get something OK though. Cheers
     
  14. broccoli

    broccoli Member

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    You might want to consider these


    Some models at $799 - you might get a deal and bring within the top end of your budget range if any appealed. It's very much personal opinion. The gretsch is chinese, not sure where they make the yamahas, but they look nice/well constructed. Too heavy for me though.
    I just realised you are in Perth. Have you checked out Rock Inn? They have secondhand.
     
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  15. Boneman

    Boneman Member

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    No reason to buy new unless its the exact specs you want and/or need for a certain sound or show. Sell the SG and get a used Les Paul along with the strat.
     
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  16. OP
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    ex4n

    ex4n Member

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    Thanks mate, planning on checking out a few new guitars on the weekend, then one or two second-hand ones I've been looking at online and hopefully one of them will feel just right. I'm sure I'll end up with more in future as my skills grow, seems everyone does.

    The Rock Inn is actually where I got my SG a few years ago, their prices are a bit high though, compared to private sales.

    Think you've pretty much convinced me to jump on the Japanese Strat, as long as it feels right in my hands, I'll probably take it home. I've already put my SG up for sale, which is how I plan to increase my budget a little if necessary. Have someone keen to have a look on the weekend so that might line up nicely.
     
  17. Radley

    Radley Member

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    You'll get peanuts for it. Keep it and use it as a tinkering guitar if you're into that kind of thing. I think mine was $350 when I bought it about 18 years ago. I've since replaced everything that's replaceable on it and spent probably $800 all up on parts just because it's fun.

    A good alternative is a Greco Les Paul.
     
  18. broccoli

    broccoli Member

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    Yes, but if you're buying vintage (as in 1980s vintage) you've got a bit more recourse against getting totally dudded by not knowing what might indicate expensive trouble.

    Out of curiosity, what model is it?

    When you're looking, if you find something else you like the feel of, note down the fretboard radius and scale and the neck shape, then you can use those parameters when gumtreeing for a bargain, instead of trying to wade through the multitude of models, years, manufacturers yada yada.
     
  19. OP
    OP
    ex4n

    ex4n Member

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    Fair point about the recourse, although I hopefully won't have any issues there, or any issues I can't fix if there does turn out to be a problem.
    My SG is an Epiphone G-400.

    Good point, seems it's the subtleties like that which make up the difference between a lot of models, more than anything else. The main thing for me is something that is comfortable to hold and play, if I can figure out what I like in the shop, might make finding a cheaper used model easier too, rather than driving around to 20 people's houses and checking out their guitars then not buying it.
     
  20. broccoli

    broccoli Member

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    Same as mine.

    It's what I used to suss out what I was likely to like and yes, being comfortable to hold and play is what's important. Another thing I've noticed when picking up guitars here and there when I was looking is that some seem "unbalanced" to me compared to others.
    It really can be quite a palaver, looking at guitars.
     

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