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Old 08-01-2014, 06:34 PM   #1
LostHeaven
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Buying my first guitar; in need of advice from the pros

Hello, everyone.

As this is my first post here, I'd like to start by greeting the Ultimate Guitar community!

Short version, and following the stickied post's guidelines:
Budget: up to £300 ($500). Would be willing to spend a little bit more if the difference in the guitar's quality would be really, really worth the extra push.
Favourite artists: a bit tough to answer but guys like Satriani, Vai or Van Halen really inspire me with what they're able to do with a guitar.
Preferences: no preferences towards any type of body shape or brands. I'm an absolute beginner so, the chances are, I wouldn't even feel the difference. Mostly looking for overall quality and durability. With my little knowledge of guitar matters, I believe a slim neck would better suit the mentioned guitarists' style. I would, however, like something that would serve me well now, as a beginner, but that would also do the job when I reach an intermediate level.
Pickups: no preferences as well. Upgrading pickups seems to be something that can be easily done, so I would be willing to make that extra investment in the future, if needed.
New or used: currently looking to buy a new one (thinking it might be wise to spend the extra cash but having the piece of mind of having a 3 year warranty. Is this relevant for a begginer?), but not opposed to buy a used one if its quality is worth it.
Location: London, therefore limited to local physical stores and European online ones.
Current gear: A Fender Mustang I amp.

Long version:
After many years of wanting to do so, I recently and finally took a step forward and decided to learn how to play the guitar. Not having the luxury of spending a great amount on gear, I bought a cheap amp on ebay (a Fender Mustang I) and a cheap guitar (a used Ibanez GRX70). Turns out the guitar arrived damaged, with a considerable chip in the paint and an unusable tremolo bar, as the hole where it should be inserted was broken (part of the threads, inside, were broken, making it impossible to screw it in). The seller was kind enough to refund me and, during the time until the courier picked the guitar up again, I spent pretty much all of my time playing with it and got totally addicted and fascinated by it. So much so, I realised I would be willing to make an endeavour and invest a bit more than what I was initially willing to on a better guitar.

I've been doing a ton of research (the Reviews section here have been extremely useful!), and managed to narrow down my search to two models, which I feel would suit the type of music I'd love to play, one day. They are:

Ibanez RG440V-BK


ESP LTD M-330R


The Ibanez seems to have a better bridge (most reviews here praise the ZR over the Edge Zero II. I'm assuming the SynchroniZR, as a modified version of the ZR2, would also be preferable than the EZII) than the ESP (A Floyd Rose Rose Special which, from what I understand, most reviewers seem to rank below the original FRs but above the licensed ones), but the ESP's mahogany body is, from what I researched, preferable to basswood.

Of course, I can be totally on the wrong track so any recommendation and advice that could point me to the right direction is highly appreciated! This is going to be a considerable investment for me, so I'd like to make sure I get the most bang for my buck.
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Old 08-01-2014, 06:46 PM   #2
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as you are beginner I can't stress enough to try before you buy. specs are fine and all but nothing will tell you more than actually holding and playing a guitar. also keep an open mind. yes steve and joe use Ibanez but you never know something else might be better for you. let your ears and hands be your guide over looks an specs.
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Old 08-01-2014, 07:12 PM   #3
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Out the two, Id get the ibanez. But stock pickups will need changing. Same with the LTD too though.

But take a friend with you that knows guitars and spend like 2/3 hours in a big guitar shop and play everything you like the look of. Play guitars out of budget, under budget and in budget.

You will find one you like.
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Old 08-01-2014, 07:13 PM   #4
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Monwobobbo, many thanks for the input. I've thought of that before (and it makes total sense) but the thing is: being a beginner, I'm not sure I would know what to look for when actually trying out a guitar, other than how comfortable it feels on my hands. Other than that, I'm afraid I could have a mid-range guitar in my hands and a £5000 one and not being able to know which one would be better, because I'm barely able to play anything and try it out. I'll look into it, regardless.
Completely unbiased when it comes to brands, those two are just the results of my searches. I'm open to any suggestion.

Cheers for the recommendation as well, Carrot! Unfortunately, I've recently moved to London and don't really know anyone here but, again, will try to find a store with one of them in stock and try it.

Last edited by LostHeaven : 08-01-2014 at 07:16 PM.
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Old 08-01-2014, 07:15 PM   #5
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Since, based on your artist list, I assume that you plan on playing metal, then Ibanez and ESP are solid choices. From the Ibanez RG (I don't remember what model) I played, the only complaint I could come up with was that the middle pickup was put exactly where I pick, so my pick kept hitting it. Aside from that, I enjoyed playing it. It sounded good and played good. As for the ESP, I haven't played any of their M series guitars. I have played some of their other (granted higher level) guitars and wish for them. I also own one of their low end guitars and love it. Anything ESP is one of my recommendations if you plan on playing metal.

As everybody else is going to say, go to the store and try as many as you can. You never know, you might find something else that you like better than either of the ones you're looking at.
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Old 08-01-2014, 07:17 PM   #6
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Yes, Monowobobbo is right. You can walk into a music store expecting to buy a guitar you had your mind on, and once you tried it and a few others you totally change your mind. When I bought my first guitar, I walked in thinking I would walk out with a specific Les Paul I had my eye on. I left with an Ibanez.

Now from who your favorite players are, I'm guessing you want to use the whammy bar. I have no idea how good the Ibanez tremolo is tuning wise, but I know that with the Floyd Rose special, if it is set up right, it can stay in tune just as well as a Floyd Rose original. However, I would not get a Floyd Rose on my first guitar, as you will probably want to mess around with different tunings, and you just can't do that with a floating trem. The Ibanez bridge with the switching between floating and hardtail would be more ideal for a beginner/intermediate, so you can mess around with different tunings and not have to worry about spending 10 minutes tuning.

But overall, the best way to see if you like a guitar is by playing it.
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Old 08-01-2014, 07:18 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carrot
Out the two, Id get the ibanez. But stock pickups will need changing. Same with the LTD too though.

But take a friend with you that knows guitars and spend like 2/3 hours in a big guitar shop and play everything you like the look of. Play guitars out of budget, under budget and in budget.

You will find one you like.


^^^^^^^^me too. Ibanez in HSS or HSH configuration and swap the pickups. And avoid floating trems and locking nuts.
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Old 08-02-2014, 01:20 AM   #8
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Honestly, it makes little difference. Pick something you like the look of. Do the same thing you would do with anything new and check it for dings and problems. When you buy it, try to get a setup tossed in, and a new set of strings or two ("9's or 10's" will do).

Forget all the nonsense about swapping pickups. You're not going to hear the difference and you don't want to be spending your money there. Don't worry whether it has a locking trem or not; if it does, you'll get used to restringing it and maintaining it from the get-go, and you'll be a leg up on the folks who think it's complicated and scary (it's not).

Understand that you're going to develop preferences and make mistakes as you go. But the most important thing is to learn the correct technique (you're going to see a lot of rockers who have crappy technique and huge bank, so you're going to wonder about that) and develop the right kind of muscle memory. Pick up some theory, learn where notes are up and down the fretboard, learn to read music. Learn To Read Music. That's one of those things that's going to be hard at first that's going to make your life so much easier down the road. Latch onto some musical theory (beyond Mixomatchian scales). And finally, stretch outside your comfort zone. Explore other genres, and find the techniques that aren't easy or obvious (fingerstyle, chikken-pikken, etc.) and the sounds that aren't all the same-same.
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Old 08-02-2014, 08:21 AM   #9
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Depends if you want a floating trem or not. The ESP floats, the Ibanez doesn't. As for a guitar store, Guitar Guitar is in Epsom, just outside South London. They stock the Ibanez but not the ESP. Oh, also, the ESP has more humbuckers but the Ibanez has singlecoils and humbuckers.
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Old 08-02-2014, 10:05 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LostHeaven
New or used: currently looking to buy a new one (thinking it might be wise to spend the extra cash but having the piece of mind of having a 3 year warranty. Is this relevant for a begginer?), but not opposed to buy a used one if its quality is worth it.


The big problem is that, as a beginner, you probably won't be able to check a used guitar properly to make sure it's ok. That's not to say stores don't sometimes sell a new guitar which is a lemon too, but you have more comeback (and longer- minimum a year warranty, and bigger stores like thomann have 3 year warranties- you might not know much within the first week but by the end of the third year you should start to be able to know if something is wrong or not) if something does go wrong.

big problem with all the vai, van halen, satriani stuff is that it really benefits from having a locking tremolo. And good locking tremolos are expensive (and bad ones are more bother than they're worth).

a non-locking tremolo which can be blocked easily might be worth considering as a sort of compromise, though.
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Old 08-02-2014, 12:06 PM   #11
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I personally believe in the words of Mr. Miyagi: "First learn walk, then learn run."

I would apply that wisdom in this case by suggesting that beginners stay away from tremolos on their first electrics, and only get a guitar that has one aft they've gotten the hang of basic guitar maintenance, figured out what music they want to play with a trem, and (most importantly) can afford a guitar that has a decent tremolo.

Of the 20 or so electrics I own, only 4 have tremolos: 2 Bigsbys, a Wilkinson, and (I think) some kind of FR (I never looked that closely at it, and never asked the luthier what kind he used).
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Old 08-02-2014, 12:18 PM   #12
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I'm not sure. I understand that logic and don't even necessarily disagree with it, but at the same time it depends on how badly you need and want that tremolo. When I started playing all my influences went mad on the trem for a living (vai, satch, evh etc.) and I'd have been very annoyed had I not been able to do those tricks from the get-go. To the extent that I may well have got pissed off and quit. (Sure, I'm annoyed that I didn't know the trem on mine wasn't great and that I didn't just bite the bullet and get an rg550 instead of the 470 I went for, but at the same time I'm not sorry I got a locking trem on my first guitar.)

I guess what I'm saying is, for someone who might occasionally use the trem, I agree with you 100%.

For someone whose main (or maybe all of whose) influences use a Floyd Rose (or similar) as an integral part of their playing, not having a tremolo might put you off. It'd be like telling someone who only wants to play metal to get a guitar with strat-style single coils alongside a twin reverb. Sure, it's still a guitar, and maybe the really most stoic and patient beginners might still be able to stick with it and get something out of it. But I wouldn't be able to, and I'm guessing I'm not the only one.
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Old 08-02-2014, 12:32 PM   #13
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It's not advice for everyone, to be sure, but I stand by it. If you look in my UG profile, you'll find Vai, Satch and a whole bunch of other whammy wizards on my list of favorite guitarists. But I started off with and still predominantly buy hardtail electrics- it didn't dissuade ME because:

1) I started on acoustic instruments- cello, acoustic guitar- so my fingerboard vibrato technique was pretty solid
2) while I enjoy listening to dive-bombs and squeals as much as any metalhead, I felt I probably wasn't going to be a whammy wizard myself because I REALLY prefer rhythm to lead techniques.
3) I have been described as "having the patience of Job"
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Old 08-02-2014, 02:21 PM   #14
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1) I rarely ever use a floyd for vibrato, either, I use my fingers for that too. There are still a ton of floyd-type tricks, besides vibrato, which are near enough impossible to do without a Floyd.

2) That's absolutely your prerogative, but if someone says he/she likes killer lead players like satch etc., there's a fair chance he/she might want to learn lead. I presume, could be wrong.

3) Again, that's awesome, but not everyone does.

Granted, a cheap/crap floyd of the kind which comes on most guitars under about £500 (and on some more expensive ones than that) is no fun at all. And in that respect I'd kind of agree (as I said above, maybe a non-locking trem might be a decent middle ground).
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Old 08-02-2014, 02:37 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave_Mc
1) I rarely ever use a floyd for vibrato, either, I use my fingers for that too. There are still a ton of floyd-type tricks, besides vibrato, which are near enough impossible to do without a Floyd.


Oh, I agree, but again, those techniques are (generally speaking) a bit more advanced, and subject to the Miyagi rule!

Quote:
2) That's absolutely your prerogative, but if someone says he/she likes killer lead players like satch etc., there's a fair chance he/she might want to learn lead. I presume, could be wrong.


Absolutely true.

Quote:
3) Again, that's awesome, but not everyone does.

I know, I know...which is why it gets remarked upon.

Quote:
Granted, a cheap/crap floyd of the kind which comes on most guitars under about £500 (and on some more expensive ones than that) is no fun at all. And in that respect I'd kind of agree (as I said above, maybe a non-locking trem might be a decent middle ground).


THAT'S where my concern lies. Beginners most often are working with tight budgets, and a guitar that is no fun to keep in playing shape or that can't hold tune is likely to frustrate many an aspiring shredder.

Now, those that CAN afford a guitar with a good tremolo system? GO RIGHT AHEAD! You'll learn the techniques you want earlier, and you'll also get the hang of replacing the strings on such a guitar early on. Sooner than people like myself, at least.

But to me, those cheap trem systems on entry-level axes are just land mines that could very well cut someone's enjoyment of the instrument off before it has truly had a chance to root or blossom.
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Old 08-02-2014, 02:43 PM   #16
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(a) Oh, I agree, but again, those techniques are (generally speaking) a bit more advanced, and subject to the Miyagi rule!



(b) Absolutely true.


(c) I know, I know...which is why it gets remarked upon.



(d) THAT'S where my concern lies. Beginners most often are working with tight budgets, and a guitar that is no fun to keep in playing shape or that can't hold tune is likely to frustrate many an aspiring shredder.

Now, those that CAN afford a guitar with a good tremolo system? GO RIGHT AHEAD! You'll learn the techniques you want earlier, and you'll also get the hang of replacing the strings on such a guitar early on. Sooner than people like myself, at least.

But to me, those cheap trem systems on entry-level axes are just land mines that could very well cut someone's enjoyment of the instrument off before it has truly had a chance to root or blossom.


(a) Yeah. I'm not even sure of the miyagi rule, it's a fine line between not trying something impossible and going slower than you need to, but that's an argument for another thread (plus this entire point is pretty much irrelevant once I get to (d)). Plus some of the floyd techniques aren't actually that hard, and might cover for you to make things a little more interesting until you get better (e.g. vibrato you mentioned above, even the odd divebomb or whatever to add interest to lead lines).

(b)

(c) Yep absolutely.

(d) yep bang on And while you can block them, you pretty much have all the negatives of the floyd system with none of the positives, whereas with a non-locking trem you can block it pretty easily and have more or less a pseudo-hardtail guitar.
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Old 08-02-2014, 03:28 PM   #17
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http://usa.yamaha.com/products/musi...=product_lineup

These are pretty much always recommended around here.

There's something that hasn't been mentioned and I think it might be because the pros have forgotten what it's like to be a newb, but I still remember.
(cause I'm still a newb)

When you want to change tunings the tremolo can be a pain in the butt. I was spoiled with my Epi Les Paul until I got a nicer guitar and realized that you can't tune to Drop D without re-tuning all of the other strings as well. If I could tune as quickly as these guys probably can then it wouldn't be such a big deal. Perhaps...

The other thing - if there's any chance at all that you're going to be into single-coil sounds then you might regret it if you get a guitar with just the 2 humbuckers. There's tons of guitars with a humbucker in the bridge and 2 single coils up top. It gives you a chance to try both.

So I'd be trying to find the Ibanez if I were you, but I'd keep my eyes open for one of those Yamaha Pacificas as well because they have a reputation for good build quality and it might be a safer choice for someone like yourself who might not be capable of judging quality just yet. You're absolutely right about that by the way. Today I played a used Peavey Predator (MiA) that I would've bought at one time, but now I've got a little bit more experience and I was able to see that the frets had been leveled more than once and I wasn't sure if there was enough fret left to put a proper crown on them anymore. It was leveled and it played pretty well for a 170$ guitar but it might have needed a few hundred more to replace all the frets.
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Old 08-02-2014, 05:09 PM   #18
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^ yeah that's a good point about the tuning

i can't retune quickly on a floyd I just keep different guitars for different tunings with floyds
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Old 08-03-2014, 09:23 AM   #19
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That Ibanez looks quite sexy.If it was me in your position i'd get that(just personal preference though).You will gradually learn what you like the more you play.
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Old 08-03-2014, 08:21 PM   #20
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Many thanks to all for chipping in with these advices! Found the tips about the bridges particularly useful, since this is one of the causes of my indecision between those two models.
I do have some questions, though:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave_Mc
And while you can block them, you pretty much have all the negatives of the floyd system with none of the positives, whereas with a non-locking trem you can block it pretty easily and have more or less a pseudo-hardtail guitar.

Quote:
Originally Posted by StaticBacon
I would not get a Floyd Rose on my first guitar, as you will probably want to mess around with different tunings, and you just can't do that with a floating trem.

I apologize if this is an ignorant question, but would I be able to circumvent that issue with something like a Tremol-No? Would this be what Dave_Mc was suggesting? Also, would there be any advantage in this, or would I simply be spending money to achieve something that the Ibanez already offers?
Also, as dspellman suggested, if it's just a matter of spending some extra-time maintaining the guitar, I don't mind it. I'm pretty patient and actually appreciate that extra knowledge and practice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Done
And avoid floating trems and locking nuts.

Could you please explain why I should avoid locking nuts? Searched Google for a while trying to find a clear answer, but wasn't successful.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dannyalcatraz
I would apply that wisdom in this case by suggesting that beginners stay away from tremolos on their first electrics

I completely understand your reasoning, but I'm wondering: is a budget of £300 that tight that I'm not able to find a guitar with a decent enough floating bridge that will serve me well until I reach an intermediate level? Buying a hardtail now would save me money but, if I found out I really wanted to use a tremolo, that could mean I would have to buy a second guitar sooner than I would like to.

Paul, thank you for the heads-up on the Yamahas; browsing their site right now. This leads me to a final question: besides the two guitars that I mentioned, do any of you recommend any model in particular that I should consider with this budget?
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