My friend very far away from me is looking to get into guitar, and has told me the various groups and players he likes and stuff, and I'm trying to help him decide on a $300ish guitar to buy, but I'm not super familiar with that price range. I've recommended Schecter particularly, and told him I myself would probably buy a used MIM Strat. For someone new to playing though, buying a used guitar is obviously risky so that is an unlikely choice.

First off he likes Rise Against, said he really likes Tom Morello's tone, he enjoys Radwimps and I think he wants to do finger picking or so on like Miyavi or Mark Knopfler.

He has/had an F-body ESP/LTD bass guitar that he quite likes, so he had some interest in the F-body electrics, but I can't speak much to those personally. If he likes the feel of them, are they a good choice? He is unsure of if he wants a Floyd Rose or not, but I think not, based on the bands he likes and just the added maintenance and upkeep.

I've played C1 Schecters and around $700ish ones, but never a Damien or Omen or so on. If a Schecter were in his price range, particularly if GC or wherever had a sale, are those generally a safe bet?

Are Epiphone G-400s generally well regarded? I thought that might be another good one for him to try out.

He'll also need an amp, I suppose something inexpensive but decent quality, and he can upgrade later. I've told him the amp is more your tone than the guitar, but I think it's important, specially with a first guitar, to get one that feels good enough that you can play it happily for at least a couple years.

Any sorts of recommendations and opinions are appreciated. I know that "what do I buy?" topics are generally unpopular, but I'm just hoping you guys can help me give him a good range of guitars to try out and see what feels right to him since I can't go with him, and he said he doesn't know anyone else who plays.

Thanks for any help
For future reference, if you do a bit of research you will have familiarity with the $300 price range.. We live in the age of the internet these days dude, it's fair to everyone who hates these 'what should I buy threads' because the answers are out there for you to find..

With that being said, I did some research for you. Here you go:

Schecter Omen
Epi G-400
Dean Vendetta
Jackson JS32RT

All sub-$300, and floyd-rose-less.

Can't go wrong with any really, especially as a first guitar. The most important thing for him to do is to get out and to try and play a couple of them so he knows what feel he likes. I know you said he doesn't know any guitar players but give him those names and point him out a good place to go, GC maybe?

I pulled all of those off of musiciansfriend.com so if you want to follow up on those models, feel free.

As for amps, you don't mention a price range but I am assuming a small combo amp will suffice given his experience..

Peavey Vyper
Roland Cube
Vox Pathfinder

3 good sub-$200 amps, between 15-30W's. All are on musiciansfriend.com as well..

Hope this helps you and your friend out..

Schecters are good used, well worth the money. Mexican strats can be hit or miss, and it will need tuners and pickups to be acceptable, imo. If he decides he wants a floyd, the best thing in his price range is a used Ibanez S470. The ZR tremolo is great and some models are even neck-thru. It would probably need a pickup upgrade though.

For amps, Peavey Vypyr 30. Find one used to save cash, it is leaps and bounds above the 15 watt model. It has a 10 inch speaker, upgradable firmware, and the optional footswitch for storing many user presets. And of course, it simulates many amps and has lots of effects.

I think Epiphones are trash, especially the cheaper ones.
For guitars, my first guitar was an Omen 6. It's solid as a rock, comfortable to play all the way up the neck, though of course the bolt-on neck does get in the way at the top. The stock pickups aren't that great, kind of muddy, but they are sufficient until he figures out what pickups he wants for his tone and will still get the job done. It's a great guitar, I play mine all the time. I would recommend any Schecter guitars.
As far as amps, I have a Peavey Vypyr for a little practice amp, but I would also recommend a Roland Cube. The Cube has less effects but is still a great little amp. The Vypyr is more effects oriented... It really just depends what you want. Whatever you do, make sure he doesn't get a Line 6 Spider (at least the modeling type). They suck.

These are just based on my experience, but seeing as both of these are in your price range, I thought I would chip in my opinion.
for amps, I'd recommend a micro cube or vypyr 15w. I own both, and I love them as practice amps, so I think a beginner would be super happy with either, especially compared t other amps in that price range. both can be had for around $100, probably cheaper used.

Guitar-wise, The quality of entry-level instruments these days is amazing to me. Way better than the stuff that was around when i started playing back in the mid 90s. I picked up a cheap squire tele at guitar center the other day and was really impressed with the playability at that price range.

as for tone, your probably not going to find a really good sounding guitar for $300, but most everything currently on the market is decent and will do what he needs at this point.

i'm not very familiar with any of the artists you mentioned that he liked (other than tom morello and mark knopfler). I would recommend something with an HSS pickup configuration, just so that he can have a fairly diverse array of tones available to him. And because (to me) cheap Chinese humbuckers generally have better tone that cheap chinese singlecoils. At $300, Cheap chinese-made pickups are what you will get.

I would advise against any floating trem, because the added maintenance and trouble would probably be off-putting to a beginner.

I would also advise buying a guitar from a music shop instead of ordering one online. factory set-ups can sometimes be no-so-great, whereas most stores will do an in-house setup on a new guitar.

Personally, I would recommend a Dean vendetta, The pickups and hardware are pretty decent for the price range. Squire makes a lot of decent stuff as well. as does Jacksoon. I'm not real big on the low end Epiphones or schecters. but i havent played many lower-end guitars in over a decade. I have zero experience with any ESP LTDs but I've heard good things

EDIT: I forgot to mention Washburn. I still have a $200 (used) washburn, that I play on a regular basis. I put decent pickups in it years ago ( the stock ones were horrible) . It is one of the best playing guitars I own. I don't know what washburn's current line is like, though
Last edited by DeanRedneck at Sep 13, 2011,
Don't forget Ibanez. They make the highest quality guitars in that price range, IMO. Specifically, the RG2EX1/RG3EX1 and the RG321.
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