I apologize for this, I know these threads show up every day, in and out, millions upon millions of times, so I'll try to keep this relatively easy. I thank you for any patience and advice you've to offer.

I'm new, with very little experience at guitar, but I'm not entirely inexperienced with music, I've been at keyboards and synthesizer for several years now. I'm not a youngster, I'm 25, have a full-time job and whatnot, so budget is somewhat more flexible, less immediate. I'm interested in learning a second instrument, doing my research, and feel I'm ready to start looking at electric guitars and amplifiers, but having a hard time quantifying a lot of things. What would you all recommend for someone with a budget up to around $700-$800, preferably closer to $500 unless there's something I just cannot pass up, for a solid guitar and amplifier?

So far as music I'm interested in learning to play other than the things I write, I tend toward classic rock, harder blues, and more old style metal. Random examples would be Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest. I do like modern acts, tending toward power metal, Blind Guardian, Iced Earth, and an assortment of miscellaneous others like Mastodon, The Sword, Volbeat.....So I suppose I'm ultimately looking for what I'd want to categorize as the somewhat cleaner side of distortion up to fairly heavy, but not the tones that sound a bit like someone doing a haphazard job of chainsawing a donkey.

I don't really gig, so great volume isn't necessary, and if I really had to, I can mic the amp through my PA gear. I live in the USA, the closest major city is Pittsburgh PA, with Wheeling WV roughly equally away. My current play ability is rather low, I've a borrowed acoustic I've been learning chords, basic picking skills and similar on, as well as working to build up some callus. I am perfectly fine with used or new gear, and if really need be am okay with doing some electronic work, while I haven't worked on guitars, I've done quite a bit of that elsewhere and would enjoy the learning process. As for pickup type, I am not quite sure what fits best, though I do think I'll be looking at some sort of humbucker, active or passive. I was somewhat looking at Schecter's lineup for the coil tapping, which to a beginner with an interest in sound variety sounds like a lovely feature.

I fully understand that in the end, it's up to my ears and what feels good in the hand, but I'm without solid direction. I think that's about covered it, thank you kindly for reading, thank you even more for any advice you have to offer.
Last edited by Agrinja at Sep 9, 2013,
I don't know what it takes for guitars o have a good sounding hookup to PA systems, but I know it can be done. Perhaps someone else can help you out. If so, that may save you some bucks.

From your description, it sounds like you'd want to get something with at least one if not two humbuckers- a HH, HSS or HSH array. A good Superstrat, SG or LP design from Epiphone, Schecter, Ibanez, Dean, BC Rich or LTD would fit the bill.

Depending on your location and your willingness to scour the Internet, you may also find nice deals on similarly suitable guitars from brands like Godin, Reverend, and many more.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
Last edited by dannyalcatraz at Sep 9, 2013,
Thank you kindly, I'll have to steer my hunting around in that direction then, see what I can find. As for running a guitar into a PA system, that'd be what, some sort of cabinet simulator? The PA is very flat response, chosen as something to run a synthesizer output to, but that flat as I understand it isn't a good idea for a straight up amplified guitar signal. I vaguely remember hearing mention of someone using something like a Rockman to play directly into a mixing console...
A bit more on the guitars, since that's where I can help most:

1) shop more with your hands and body than with your ears or eyes. Looking good matters, but you really want the guitar to feel good in your hands and on your shoulder. And even though your sound is the most important thing to come out of the guitar, if it doesn't feel good to play, then you won't practice enough to sound good anyway.

2) since you're not new to music, don't buy a new guitar under $450 unless it is deeply discounted (think clearance sale, a b-stock or the like). Those guitars are generally aimed at new or casual players, and may not stand up to the rigors of serious musicianship. USED guitars that price and below may still be great deals, however.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
Appreciated! That's about where I was thinking so far as shopping around, but I thought it best to ask a little guidance instead of standing there and trying literally everything in every shop. Seems a bit best to wander in knowing a bit more about what you want. I am somewhat looking used, especially because I don't care too much about looks. Not going to buy something that's been obviously abused, but a few scratches or dings aren't going to be a turn off. My original thought for buying used was being able to let my budget punch a little bit above it's weight.
Speaking as someone who treats his axes like babies: Don't let "beauty marks" scare you! Some of those beaters can have serious mojo! Seriously, if the guitar feels good and sounds good, some battle-scarring that doesn't affect the playability might be worth a discount...and gets you some artificial street-cred in the process.

That said, if your eye DOES fall favorably upon something that looks like its been to war, definitely try before you buy.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
I'll keep that in mind! Can't really complain too much about pretty or not pretty, a lot of my home done stuff is very functional, but pretty ragged "Hm, Goodwill suitcase? Portable effects+Mini-mixer housing!" sort of thing.
Definitely get something that looks good and feels right first, worry about what it sounds like second. Don't get hung up on "is this a metal guitar?" or whatever. As far as the amp, try a few out and see what they sound like. I played solid state fender amps for years. Nice clean tones and they took pedals pretty well. They should be pretty affordable on the 2nd hand market, too. If you are planning to gig later, you will do better to mic it through the PA anyway, so don't worry about getting anything super loud.
Can't speak much for going directly into the PA, I don't have much experience with that.
Harmony: Stratocaster
Alvarez: F-200
Schecter: Omen 6
Fender: BXR-60
Dean: Metalman Z Bass (Betty)
Egnator: Tweaker 15
Pearl: Maximum
Custom: Harley Quinn Bass
Custom: TK-421 Explorer
A steadily growing supply of pedals
I came into guitar from a long keyboard background. What's interesting is that after a lot of years of playing guitar and bass, I'm adding keyboards again <G>.

All you really need to add to your current setup is something like a Pod and a guitar. The Pod provides all the amps, cabs and FX models you're likely to need for a good long while, and a used Pod (such as the Pod XT or X3) would be relatively cheap and can provide outstanding capabilities up to and through professional levels. The Pod is a perfect interface between you and the mixer to a decent PA; it's designed to be used with a full range flat response system like that.

The guitar itself is pretty easy; the obvious first choices would be some kind of strat copy or a Les Paul copy. LPs tend to be a bit heavy, but they have the advantage of a shorter scale and high recognizability. Strats are ergonomically excellent, usually a bit lighter, have a longer scale (nice if you have larger hands) and are equally recognizable. Both are usable across an extremely wide set of music genres; they're both the most classic of rock guitars over the plast 60+ years. They're also fairly easy to buy inexpensively, and a good Korean guitar can often be used well into professional gigging.

My very best advice is to:
1) spend some time with the Pod learning to tweak it properly. The built-in presets are there to demonstrate the capabilities of the unit, not to provide a good starting point for your playing.

2) Find a really good tech to inspect and set up your new guitar properly. Ignore Internet forum suggestions to modify the guitars' hardware or electronics or to increase or decrease your string gauges significantly. DO plan on changing your strings regularly and keep your guitar clean.
Last edited by dspellman at Sep 9, 2013,
It looks like you have some great starting points for guitars and amps. As for getting your amp pumping through a PA system, there a generally two ways to accomplish that: 1.) dropping a mic in front of your amp, or 2.) if the amp you purchase has a direct out, you can plug your amp directly into the PA.

I tend to be a bit of a purist and prefer to drop a mic in front of the amp - I find that captures the tone a quite a bit better. I have had success with mics as simple Shure SM57's ($100 or less) or you can step up to a Rode NT1A ($250). The sky is the limit with mics, but these are a couple good options that won't break the bank.
Thank you all! I am wondering if I should lean more toward a dedicated amp, or if I should look into something to run directly into my PA. For general living room jamming, was looking at something like one of the smaller Oranges, a MicroCube, a Vypyr, or one odd notion I was considering was going digging for one of the original RockMan dealies. I thought they sounded nice, and the option of being able to practice at night is a plus. As a general rule, I do my music around midnight. I actually like the sound of the Oranges, was even considering one at one point to noodle a synth into for the color you get so long as you keep your signal low and stay out of the lower registers. I like the old RockMans, and I've heard wickedly nice things about the MicroCubes, I believe that's what a good friend of mine had...yeesh. Back in the highschool days really, and it had quite a nice sound to it. On one hand, I'm reluctant to plunk down for an ubersnazzy tube amp, and am fine with a good sounding solid state, but on the other hand, I have little need of built-in effects, I'd be happy with something that's got some EQ, maybe a reverb. I'm somewhat stuck on how I ought to split my budget between the two, I understand the amp is quite a bit of the sound, but I've got some side sonic options enough that I almost feel like I'd be best putting the money into the guitar. However, that might just be a newbie guess-timation.
Last edited by Agrinja at Sep 10, 2013,
So, as a followup, I figured I ought to mention that I ended up getting an Ibanez RG321FMSP. I tried damn near everything I could get my hands on, and while there were a few things I liked the sound of (slightly) better, I could not find anything that felt so good to play as that little Ibanez. It's comfortable, and poking through the wiring arrangement, I feel like I can do some rather snazzy little upgrades in the future, I probably am going to end up replacing the pickups at some point, but for now, I've found a tone I like on one of the little Yamaha modeling practice amps, fiddling gain out until I hit that sweet spot where light play comes out clean, get a little rough with it and it starts to roar. Thank you for your assistance, I am happy.
I think I know where that's at. Nifty when you see someone on the net that isn't across an ocean or a good plane ride away.