#1
Hi,

I've been learning to play guitar since the middle of last October on a Squier Affinity Strat. I bought cheap as I wanted to make sure I was going to stick with it before shelling out bigger and whilst Im not really playing anything difficult I've spent a lot of time and effort to get the get the basics really sound. I have also spend most of my time on my acoustic because I figured if I can master chords and barres on that it should be a doddle on my electric.

I wouldnt say Ive outgrown the guitar at all but I do find the pickups really noisy and the neck pup seems poor considering I eventually want to play a lot of blues. I have started thinking about buying a nice guitar that I can really grow into now that I have the basics under my fingers.

However here is where it gets a little complicated, I currently live in Nottingham(UK) and there are quite a few excellent guitar shows here with a huge selection of guitars and staff who have always given me good advice. BUT in June I will be going backpacking for 3 months in the USA and plan to keep my technique strong on a $100~ acoustic that Ill buy once Im there. When I come back Im going to be working in Poland for two years while I plan my wedding which means that if I buy in the UK I will have to buy a hardshell case and pay for shipping.

That said waiting til Im in Poland to buy seems risky because Ill have no idea what choice Ill have until its potentially too late and from the research Ive done there arent that many music shops over there and it sounds like they have a lot of knock offs.

I'll probably get more for my money in Poland but if I buy in the UK I can spread the cost over 12 months so my budget will be bigger anyway.

Sorry this is a bit meandering, I would just like different insights as I feel like choosing my second guitar is a really big deal. For my first I just bought the best rated beginner pack i could afford...
#2
Choosing your first quality guitar IS a big deal. I felt the same way when I get my Parker after my Squier Strat starter pack like 10 years ago or something.

It doesn't matter what your skill level is. You can appreciate a guitar that doesn't go out of tune, feels well, and sounds really good. It's not about how fast you can shred, man, it's about what it means to you. It sounds like you really enjoy playing. Upgrading, in my opinion, is definitely the right move.

My advice would be to save up to buy a new combo, however. Get a small-mid sized used tube amplifier, and then a guitar of similar or higher range. Till then, suppress the GAS and just play around at every guitar store you fan find until you get your hands on that guitar that just feels right. You'll find your brand. You can change pickups and hardware, but you can't swap out feel.

Can you tell us what sort of budget you're working with?
OBEY THE MIGHTY SHITKICKER
#3
I'd buy in the UK if you don't want a knock off. Atleast you can almost garuntee it'll be genuine (unless it's off ebay). And if it's a big deal, all the more reason to get one whilst you have a huge selection.

Or, if you can't decide, you can always buy new pickups for your old guitar if you still like it. That should get rid of the humming.
#4
Backpacking with a guitar makes you "that guy."

If you buy a nice guitar as your 2nd, it should come with a hardshell case. If not, budget one in. It'll be better in the longrun than a gig bag anyway.

If you're looking for a guitar recommendation, there are a lot of directions you can go for a stereotypical "blues" guitar. Also, your amp is very important in shaping your tone, so investing in a nice guitar doesn't make sense if you have an awful amp.
Hi, I'm Peter
#5
Where are you going in poland? that makes a big difference. If you're in a big city like Warsaw then you'll have ample guitar stores to choose from, if your in some back end of nowhere mountain village then don't expect to have good choice.
The only 6 words that can make you a better guitarist:

Learn theory
Practice better
Practice more
#6
I currently have a Fender Frontman... its really noisy and cant handle any sort of bass or high pitchs however I am planning to get a Vox VT30 shipped in when Im in Poland. The guitar worries me most because Ive never played anything other than the one I have and a US Fender Strat and it sounds petty but I dont really want two strats.

My budget excluding a new is about £500 but I can push to £600 within reason and while I want something that can play a nice bluesy tune I dont want something too pidgeon holed because id like something that can handle a bit of metal and post hardcore.

Also hopefully I wont be 'that guy' cause by backpacking I mean traveling with my fiance and little brother whilst staying with various friends that i know from when i worked in america,
#7
and yeah its Warsaw, Ive also asked a few friends I have that live there for their advice
#8
My best recommendation, then, is to just go for an afternoon and play a bunch of guitars since you seem to have more of a broad concept than a focused idea of what you want. You're never going to find a guitar that can cover all your bases. It just won't happen. Pick what sounds you're going to use the most and then just deal with the deficiencies. If you don't want a Strat, then check out some semi-hollows or two-humbucker solid bodies. Epiphone makes some nice guitars in your price range. The Ibanez Artcore series is a consideration, as well. Also check out the Fender Tele Thinline.
Hi, I'm Peter
#9
Again, just go put your hands on everything and see what you like. A great blues tone doesn't come from the equipment, it comes from the fingers.
OBEY THE MIGHTY SHITKICKER
#10
^ I find your user title funny. I worked for a guy named Adam Shaw once. He's a partner at one of the most powerful corporate litigation firms in the country.
Hi, I'm Peter
#11
Go play a guitar, and buy one that you like, that fits your budget. Soon. And just keep it at wherever your permanent address is or put it in a hardshell case and send it with your stuff to your new residence in Poland.

Don't bring it to the US, in fact I would say if you're backpacking don't even bother bringing one along/buying an acoustic, you'll have plenty more to do and 3 months won't kill you of not playing.

Then when you are more or less settled in the Poland, you'll have your baby waiting for you.