I have $300-$500 dollars to spend on a guitar. I play pop, classical, jazz, and blues all the way to rock, punk, and metal. I have a Peavy Blazer 158 40 watt amp. I'm looking for something durable that can go back and forth to schools, lessons, and gigs. Also preferably something that's not too heavy for a skinny kid. And last but not least, looks good.
A few guitars I'm looking at are:
Epiphone G-400
Ibanez RG
Fender American Stratocaster
Epiphone Les Paul
Ibanez RG is pretty good for heavy metal. The Epiphone are good, but you may need to change the pickups in them to get the feel you may want. As for the Fender American Stratocaster, I do not think you can get a new one for that price range, unless its used. If you really want a Fender the ones in Mexico are good (they are the same as the American version but the parts used for the Mexico made are the ones that were rejected for use in the American Starts). I hear that the MIJ ones are good (the ones from the 80s early 90s). Best thing is to go to local shop and try them out.
Go used and shop around.

Given the super wide range of music you mentioned I'd go with an RG550 or a radius/JS type Ibanez, or a strat.
Want: EH Deluxe Memory Man, Warmoth Strat, Budda Superdrive 45
Strat, but not MIA. Mexi Fender aren't US rejects... The necks are but because they couldn't milk a 22nd fret out of them (MIM's have 21) but everything else has some notable differences. Not to say they're bad.

I'd seriously recommend trying some different models... Telecasters ARE NOT country guitars and would take care of you genre sweep brilliantly, particularly if your middle ground is pop, blues, rock or punk. They do metal well, but very uniquely (Metallica uses them a lot in studio, not MIMs but whatever)... Their biggest weakness would be jazz... Tele's have a lot of bite and mellowing them out takes a good deal of knob-tweeking on both the amp and guitar. The Epiphone G-400 is a great option as well so long as you find a good one (Epi's are VERY play before you pay)...

The Gibson Melody Maker isn't a bad option either... But don't order any of these. Even if you have to drive several hours go somewhere that you can play the instruments and don't shy away from used or weird ones. My main guitar is an MIM tele I got used modded to hell and back for $350... I have 5 other guitars, 4 of which are electric, and it sees more playing hours than the rest combined. I love it.

If you decide to order go to Rondo Music and pick out an Agile... They're FANTASTIC for the money, but you might have to take it into a shop to have it professionally set up. Seriously though, the high-end Agiles are every bit as good as comparable Gibsons, PRSes, or Fenders for half the price...
Quote by Ryan Rage
A few guitars I'm looking at are:
Epiphone G-400
Ibanez RG
Fender American Stratocaster
Epiphone Les Paul

Would this be your first guitar? If not, what do you have now?

My advice is like the rest: buy used.

No shame in it, and it can save you a bit of money. A lot of the time, guitars for sale are just a few years old anyway.

I can tell you that about the Epi G-400 and Strats.

I was looking to get an Epi G-400 for my younger bro for christmas, so I was shopping around awhile.
Main thing is to make sure it's a G-400. I believe my 1st post here at UG was about how to identify a G-400 from, say an Epi SG Special.

You might be hard-pressed to find a MIA Strat in your price range, and I'd encourage you to try out an American Standard and a Standard and see if you can tell the difference. Also try SSS and HSS to see which you prefer.

Regardless of what you buy, spend a little time at a music store and try out all the guitars you are considering, and make a decision. Even if you don't buy it there, you'll leave knowing what to look for, and that's important.
When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace. - Jimi Hendrix
My friend has had an Epi G-400 for quite a few years now and he loves it, I like the sound of it, I am not a fan of the neck personally.

I say find a cheaper Epiphone Les Paul if you are looking for a thicker blues tone, perhaps an Epiphone Les Paul Studio, and then do your own work on it i.e. replace pickups (since epiphone doesn't have very good factory pickups in any of their models).

If LPs are too heavy look into used PRS SE models, they are light and also they are better sounding than just about any guitar in their price range.
I'm gonna be really honest here. It's not my first guitar, it's my technically fourth, I have an old epiphone acoustic of some sort, a yamaha bass guitar, And a very cheap electric one from a pawn shop. I've been playing six years and I think I should get a new one, I also think I'm quite skilled.
just get an esp ltd. they are road worthy guitars.
i have one and i beat the hell out it.
What kind of necks do you prefer? Pickup configuration preference? Bridge preference?