Hi Guys, I’m pretty new on the forums so go easy, ha. Recently over the last year I’ve actually picked up my guitar again after a baron spell (caused by a mass of uni work followed by travelling), and I am actually starting to progress nicely through the Rockschool exam grades in my spare time.

Anyways I think that I’m getting to a point where I would like to invest in a decent guitar, which I’m probably not ready for at the moment, however I am off on a conference at Michigan Uni in the next few months which could prove an ideal opportunity to pick up a good deal compared to the prices I would have to pay back in the UK.

To be honest I would hopefully aim to get either one of the new reissues of the Gibson Firebird V in Vintage Sunburst (UK price = £1199 = approx $1850) or a Gibson Explorer (UK price = £949 ~ $1460). Therefore I was wondering if anyone could recommend some decent guitar stores around the Chicago/Michigan area and what sort of prices/deal I could get on theses guitars. I noticed that most places do a price match so I suppose what I’m really asking is what’s the best price possible for them in the USA? Any help is much appreciated, cheers
Chicago isn't exactly close to U of Michigan, but I'll assume you can get there.
If you're going to buy from a big box store like Guitar center, don't bother going to chicago. They have 10% sales tax, which is nearly twice what it is in Ann Arbor.
However, going to somewhere like the Chicago Music Exchange would be worth your time. They won't have any better prices than anywhere else on a Firebird (the price will be exactly the same at any big store due to price matching, so whatever is on Musician's friend is the cheapest you're going to get) but they have a ton of used and vintage models, a lot of which fall within your budget.
cheers guys ive had a look at the sites suggested, prices arent that much cheaper than in the UK to be fair. The Chicago Music Exchange sounds pretty interesting will have to check that out, and thanks for the heads up on on 10% sales tax which i did not know about
The biggest difference between the US and UK markets are the used prices. There are in general a lot more deals to be had in the US, especially if you're around the Chicago area. If you can stomach craigslist and will be in town long enough to check out a few sales, you may come away with a great deal. The CME will be a decent medium between used and new. They generally cater to the higher end stuff but you should be able to find a firebird or explorer within your budget there.