Hi, total beginner here, about to buy my first (beginner) guitar.

In short, I'm looking for a versatile fixed-bridge metal guitar with nice clean tones. Please note that I'm not so much into heavy riffs, but more like melodic metal music. Also, there will be no gigging, only private practice.

Budget? No more than 400GBP.

Favourite Artists? In no particular order: Marty Friedman, Gary Moore, Vai, Satriani, Charlie Parra, Kirk Hammet.

Preferences? Traditional body shape, 6-string, 22-24 frets. Brands I've considered are mainly Ibanez RG and LTD M and MH, but also Schecter, Jackson and Epiphone (LP Standard). Bridge type is probably the greatest question mark. A floating bridge (or tremolo?) might mean trouble for a total beginner like me, I don't even know how much I'd use it. So probably fixed-bridge. Problem is that I really like the sound (and looks!) of Ibanez RG and LTD M and MH, but most of theirs have floating tremolos. I think Epiphone LP Standard could be a great guitar, but I'm just not as excited about that.

Pickups? Being a total beginner, I suppose I'd like active pickups since I like metal. Not really sure about the single coils, but I'm looking for a versatile metal guitar that can also produce nice clean tones, so perhaps 2 x humbuckers and 1 x single coil mean more versatility?

New or used? New for sure, at least for my first guitar purchase.

Location? Not there yet, but let's say London UK.

Current gear? None.
The Epi LP is a solid guitar that will cover most styles of music you will want to play.

Chapman guitars are nice and cheap

Vintage guitars are nice and a little cheaper than the Epi's

You may want to try a LTD EC 401
2002 PRS CE22
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2009 Epiphone G-400 (SH-4)
Marshall JCM2000 DSL100
Krank 1980 Jr 20watt
Krank Rev 4x12 (eminence V12)
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MXR Smart Gate
Well I'm quite new myself, and I've really only played on about 4 different guitars. But I LOVE my Ibanez RG. I think I spent around $450 on it new, the stock pick ups sucked so I threw in an EMG 81/60 combo and it sounds great. The action is nice and low and the neck is just comfortable. I can nail the Metallica sound pretty good with the EMGs and a decent amp.

The only LTD I've ever tried was a viper and I didn't really care for that neck. But like I said, I'm still very new to guitars myself and I'm just going off my experience so far.

As for the future, I will definitely be buying a higher end RG when I decide it's time for an upgrade.
If you're willing to stretch your budget a little, there's the Ibanez RG1451, which would be perfect for you. If not, I'd recommend getting a cheap GRG, and saving, it really depends on what amp you have. My first proper guitar was an RG350, it had a good tone, just tuning stability issues because of the floating bridge, so if you want something midrange, a fixed bridge RG is something to consider, if you have a decent amp.
Check out the Ibanez RG421 and RGR321EX - they're both fairly affordable RGs without tremolo bars. They should also leave enough room in your budget for a pickup swap if you decide you want to upgrade later (most people do swap out the pups on low-end Ibanez models eventually, but if you're just practicing then you may not consider it worthwhile bothering).
You'll also need an amp - don't forget about that in your budget!
You're on the right track with what you're looking at. I'd just make sure you get your hands on a few before buying. For example I HATE ibanez guitar but I understand theyre well made and people like them, theyre just not for me.

Also I'd avoid the floating bridge too. I had one of those when I first started out and it was a pain to maintain without the know how. Someone said an EC-401 and I'd agree if you could afford one or a used EC-500 or 1000 with EMGs. Classic looks with a modern edge.
The Jackson SlattXMG3-6 Soloist is a good option. It's about 550 to 600 USD which is right around your price range. It's a fixed bridge, has active EMG pickups and a thin neck and body. It's specifically built for shredding. I've always wanted an Ibanez s5470 which IMO is the nicest non-signature guitar Ibanez offers because of it's incredibly fast neck and thin, great floating trem and comfortable body. But the Jackson Slatt is probably the thinnest and most comfortable guitar I've played at that price range you said and more comparable to an Ibanez S5470 than an RG is.
Just another option in case you didn't want to go with an Ibanez. Schecter also provides some good alternatives in both fixed bridge and floyd rose and both 6 and 7 string options (if you think you'll one day want to start playing some 7 string metal stuff) such as the Damien or if you got a bit more cash, the Hellraiser.
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Last edited by LightxGrenade at Mar 30, 2013,
LTD offers hard tail versions of almost all of their models - Ibanez have historically not offered fixed bridges, but as time goes on, especially now they offer more and more fixed bridge options.

I am a big fan of both brands for different reasons - if you go Ibanez, pick up an RG321. It's a very good guitar for the price (about $300, not sure where you live), very solid workhorse that isn't something you'll want to throw out in a year, it can be a viable backup indefinitely.

From LTD, I'd say check out an H-51, save some cash (there aren't really any significantly better models you could afford). However, in this case, please try before you buy - in my experience, LTD's low end is not great, and has very questionable QC. Ibanez's low end on the other hand (mind you, NOT Gio stuff) is very consistent and solid, I've had much better experiences with them.

I wouldn't recommend active pickups to a beginner - more importantly, you're not going to find anything with good active pickups (EMGs or SD Blackouts) in your budget unless you go used (again, might be mistaken to to currency/availability). But active pickups require batteries, which is not a big deal, but it's something you probably shouldn't be worrying/thinking about as someone just learning. An active pickup guitar with a dead battery sounds absolutely TERRIBLE, and that can be very discouraging to a learner.

Now about pickup configurations, please note that this is strictly my opinion: A lot of metal guitars (especially Ibanez) come in HSH setups (humbucker bridge, single coil middle, and humbucker neck). I find this combination to have "psuedo-versatility", because a single coil in the middle position doesn't really offer anything useful to most people's tonal pallet. Most SC tones you hear are coming from either the neck or the bridge. An SC in the middle combined with the neck or bridge can give you better clean tones, but usually not anything really worth having one over not (The SC gets in the way of picking for a lot of people). However, you may find the exact opposite if you play them.

It's very important to sit down at a store and hold some different guitars. You may not be able to play anything yet, and that's okay. But you should get a feel for how guitars feel in your hands and against your body, and try to make a decision that way. It's good you've come here, because it's extremely important to learn early on - your amp shapes your tone. Your amp and your pedals are doing 90% of the job of tailoring how you sound. The most important purpose of the guitar is to feel good in your hands, and to look good to you. The pickups help you fine tune your sound so it suits what you want best, but they aren't ever going to make any big change in your sound. Pickups won't change a Fender Twin into a Ampeg.

It breaks my heart a little when people talk about playing uncomfortable guitars to nail a certain tone, when all they needed to do was swap pickups in a guitar they like playing. And that happens all the time, because people don't read/research or come to forums to learn.
Spin 'round carousel when your horse isn't screwed in.

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Fractured Instinct
(For fans of Death/Groove/Prog Metal)

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Last edited by Offworld92 at Mar 30, 2013,
Thanks for all the replies.

I think I have to do more research on passive/active pickups. Don't all electric guitars require electric power through batteries?
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Thanks for all the replies.

I think I have to do more research on passive/active pickups. Don't all electric guitars require electric power through batteries?

No. Only active pickups require batteries.
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I also have to do that. Cottaging this weekend
I started with a Schecter C-1 Hellraiser (for a metal guitar), but the Ibanez RG Series is really hard to beat.
Blah blah blah RGD2127Z blah blah blah ENGL E670 blah blah Axe-FX II blah blah *vomits*
The Ibanez models that everyone has suggested are awesome, definitely all solid choices there. I learned to play on an Ibanez and have always loved them since.
What about a used PRS SE 24
2002 PRS CE22
2013 G&L ASAT Deluxe
2009 Epiphone G-400 (SH-4)
Marshall JCM2000 DSL100
Krank 1980 Jr 20watt
Krank Rev 4x12 (eminence V12)
GFS Greenie/Digitech Bad Monkey
Morley Bad Horsie 2
MXR Smart Gate
I'm really excited about Ibanez RGR321EX.

There's also another one, RG331M, but I haven't found any comprehensive reviews on that.