Ok so after 15 yrs of playing acoustic I want to try out electric for awhile (for the first time!)
Little did I know you almost need a degree before you can begin to understand this science of the electric guitar!

Can someone read some of my specs below and give me a few models to start looking at?

First question I have off the bat is (and I may be too late for this one).. how much of one's budget should be spent on the amp and what percentage on the guitar? Is it a 50 50 thing?

Here's what I know:
1. I will be using a Vox VT30 in the bedroom
2. I would like to spend $300 or less, but maybe I'd go to $350
3. I know I'd like the guitar to be able to play 70s and 80s crunch, LZ and ACDC. I am almost certain I would use the guitar for only those kinds of sounds.
4. I do not mind buying something used and/or vintage equipment, dealing on ebay or craigslists for certain older models that might fit into that budget.
5. I think I know enough that I want to stay away from the floyd rose tuning system, as I am a beginner with electric but not with tuning -- sounds like its easy to screw that up.
6. I *think* I dont want coil pickups, just in the research Ive done so far.. but whats the deal with EMG pickups vs humbucker, etc. I just want whatever pickups will provide the best crunch sounds !
7. I assume I want a neck thats very easy for my average sized hands to move around on, but I dont understand (yet) why anyone wouldnt want that? (eg I heard the gibson les paul has a thicker neck vs. say an ibanez rg series.) and I also assume Id want jumbo frets to make it easier to play. But again, why wouldn't someone want that?
8. seems like I had more criteria but now I am not remembering it.

Hopefully if enough of you experts aren't rolling their eyes (because you've read this same post thousands of times) I can get some great advice based on my humble needs.
Last edited by judebarnes at Oct 28, 2009,
If you live in the USA i can strongly recommend you to buy an Agile guitar. They are very very neat copies at a low cost since it is a one-man company!

check them out at rondomusic.com!
Ibanez RGT6EXFX -> Ibanez TS9 -> Korg Pitchblack -> Peavey 5150 II head -> Mesa Rectifier 2x12 cab
Ideally you would have $500-1000+ to get a good guitar that will last you another 15 years.

Led Zep and AC/DC calls for humbuckers, and preferably a mahogany body and neck. EMGs are more aimed at the metal side of things, so you probably won't want them - though you may try them and decide that they are what you want, to give your playing some hair on its chest etc.

Les Pauls and SGs (main guitars of the aforementioned bands) do indeed have thicker necks than the Ibanez RGs, but some people actually prefer this. As for the frets, I can't actually think of a modern electric that doesn't have "jumbo" frets on it (and I have yet to discover what classifies as jumbo).

It's ultimately best for you to go to lots of guitar shops and try out as many as you can. They all feel, look and sound different; and you may be tempted to stump up the cash for a better quality one - the law of diminishing returns doesn't really kick in until around the $1000 mark.
first of all thankyou for a fantastic what to buy post. secondly, i'm a massive hagstrom fan and i thoroughly recommend a viking. it does 70's crunch/hard rock very well and has beautiful clean tones. you can often get them for much cheaper than retail on ebay as b-stocks (tiny blemish in the paint or something) for around $400 or so.
Get something with regular humbuckers. All pickups have coils, it's just how many they have. Humbuckers have 2, single coils have 1. EMGs are active humbuckers. Stick to passives for now. And you probably can't afford anything with EMGs anyway. Just get an Ibanez RG or S since it sounds like that's what you want. It seems like you desire the playability they offer. Most of them come with trems though. The modern S's come with one that's very easy to adjust though. I wouldn't really worry about the Edge ZR.

When it comes to the amp, a lot of people say spend more on the amp than the guitar no matter what. You have to look at the whole picture. When you're talking about a budget of $600 or so, you're not going to get anything great. It's really more relevant when you have a bigger budget. But keep in mind that you'll be playing the guitar. The amp only defines the tone. People get so hung up on bad amps, but it's not like they'll turn an A into an E. All amps amplify what you play on your guitar. If you play well, you'll probably sound good on any amp that's not complete rubbish.

Looking for an electric guitar after playing acoustic guitar is always difficult especially since you've been playing for 15 years. They have different qualities and are meant for different styles. You're first instinct is to go to a store and find something comfortable, but you don't know whats comfortable for your playing yet. With electric guitars, it's common to get into different stuff than you intended because the ceiling of what you can do is higher than on acoustic guitars. You're playing will develop and you'll find out what you need in a guitar.
a few things...

first and foremost...if you've been playing for 15 years you are obviously serious about your music...you may want to consider upping your budget for an electric...if you absolutely cannot do that then you may want to look at Squier or Ibanez...unfortunately...if you can however, you can find some great PRS, Schecter, and even Reverend guitars within the 500-800 range...as for pickup selection, if you are going to be playing old school rock, you'll probably want something with at least one single coil pickup or some old school P-90 style pickups (called Soapbar pickups) and you will probably NOT want active pickups (which take a 9v battery), as they run hotter, they're more made for really high gain stuff.

As for construction, again going with the old school rock idea here, you will probably want something with a maple neck and mahogany or basswood body...the reason being a maple neck offers a little bit more bite and definition than a mahogany neck...mahogany tends to have a very warm dark resonance to it. The reason i am suggesting mahogany or basswood body, mahogany is slightly more expensive, but not as acoustically resonant as basswood. A fairly tried and true body/neck combo is Mahogany/Maple...

as for neck profile (or shape)...there are only a few options but they make a huge impact on playability and tone...you can get C, or U shaped profile...C shaped is thinner and faster, but the tone tends to be somewhat tinny sounding depending on every other aspect of the guitar its on (usually Ibanez, Jackson, ESP's all have these thin necks)...U shaped is fatter and slower, but there seems to be more control and more comfortable to play in 1st through 5th position (usually Gibson, Schecter, and most PRS's have these necks), but the tone is more beefy with a fat bottom end and plenty of punch all the way up the fretboard (great for knocking out blues chords in any position)...

In the end however, it all depends on your preference. Go to a shop, pull every friggin guitar off the shelf and try each one out, you may be surprised what you find out, I went to guitar center and bought a $750 Schecter C-1 Hellraiser after trying out $2000 gibsons and ESP's (budget was not an issue)...so make sure you try everything. I hope this has helped somewhat

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A standard series Squier HH Stratocaster might be a model to look into. That way, you get the two humbuckers, a comfortable neck, plus you can pick them up for anywhere between $100-$600, depending on age/condition.
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epiphone vintage G-400 $299 should last you a couple of years so save up for a gibson or whatever
A guitar if your an AC/DC fan to look at is most definately the Epiphone SG i think its a good guitar for this kind of music my mate uses one and he mainly plays Hard rock and its a great guitar for this purpose and its got Humbuckers which is pretty much the standard of the genre.But i have no clue how much one sets you back now.

Also look at Epi LP's with Humbuckers would also be another fine option.
Guitar Gear
Guitar: Ibanez GRG140 (black)
Amp:Peavey Vypyr 75

Bass Gear
Bass: Fender P-bass MIM,Peavey Millenium 5 BXP (x2),Epiphone Thunderbird
Amp:Ampeg PF500 w PF210 cab
Pedals: ODB-3,Big Muff.
Look around for a used PRS SE

if you can't find one in your price range, check out Vintage guitars by JHS (only in the UK), in the USA check out Agile, and wherever you are, make sure you scan ebay for used deals!
EMG's are great pickups but a little more suited for metal, and most guitars with active EMG's tend to be over your budget anyway. ESP LTD and Ibanez make good guitars, once again they are a little more suited for metal but I think they'd do rock well. If you don't like those just look for a Les Paul or SG copy with a good feel and sound. I'd say go to a store and try some out but if you're definitely buying online, Epiphone is a good choice. Obviously a little later you'd be aiming for a Gibson of some sort, so Epiphone are basically lower-end versions of Gibson guitars.

If you're getting an Ibanez watch out for the Edge III trem on lower end RG's. Aparrently they're made of cheap material and have a bad reputation. Just make sure whatever guitar you're getting, that it has humbuckers (it's like two pickups stuck together) for that thicker distortion.
Yamaha F310 acoustic
Ibanez RGR321ex
Peavey Vypyr 30
Last edited by falconthefirst at Oct 28, 2009,
That was the best "What guitar shall I buy?" post I have ever read!
For the type of rock you want to play, you'll probably be wanting to look at something with humbucker pickups. You'll want to look at SG styled guitars and Les Paul styled guitars. Les Pauls have a heavy and thick body which gives good sustain. Depending on your budget, you'll be wanting to look at Gibson, Edwards, Agile, Epiphone, and Vintage.

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An Epiphone SG or LP would be perfect for what you want. I personally prefer the SG, but it really comes down to whichever you prefer. Just get to a store and play everything you see.