Hello all, I have always wanted to learn to play the guitar and due to income tax season coming up I finally got the chance. However, due to me knowing next to nothing about them I don't want to waltz into a shop with a big wad of cash and not a single clue.

So, let's jump right into it. This will be my first guitar, I have never really played. So I'll list some criteria and perhaps you all can give me some input on what to look for.

First off, I want an electric guitar, due to me not living alone. Don't want to disturb my roommAtes, so headphones will be a must.

Next up is budget. I have a budget of about 1,500. This is for guitar, amp, case, picks, etc. I chose this high budget for a number of reasons. I want to get a beautiful, we'll made guitar. That will work great for years to come. I know I'll enjoy playing it. I just feel more reassured with a quality product.

As far as my personal taste in music goes, it varies a lot! Rise against, breaking Benjamin, the offspring, some indie rock, blues and some jazz. Basically everything except metal.

Some extra tidbits. I will be transporting it back and forth to work daily (I work security all alone in an abandoned hospital at night lol, it's complicated) but I figured a huge space all to myself would be an excellent opportunity to learn. Therefore, a quality amp that isn't overly large will be needed. Also, I am left handed. Finally I really like the look and feel of a les Paul. So my preferences are obviously towards them.

So there you have it, my crazy long criteria and hopefully the start to my musical escapades. I live in cumberland md, I was going to go to a local place in lavale md. I have a friend, she plays mostly drums however, she does know a little guitar. She said she would go with me, however she is extremely shy, so I'll be the one talking to the sales person. I just woul like to know anything special to look out for. Such as brands, prices, proper terminology and questions to ask. Obviously I am going to be as polite as possible, after all I know nothing. I just don't want to feel terribly inferior and I definitely don't want to be taken advantage of.

I appreciate all who take the time to read and respond this. All comments is welcome. If you would like any further clarication place ask.
I honestly would rethink your plans a little, for example I wouldn't spend that much on your first guitar, especially you're going to be transporting it around constantly.

One problem with playing the guitar is no matter how much you want to do it, there's no guarantee that you will actually take to it. Spending a smaller amount initially means you're putting yourself at much less financial risk if you really don't get on with the instrument. You don't need to spend hundreds of dollars for a "quality product", 2 or 300 will be more than enough.

Likewise most amplifiers are not really designed for transporting around, and the ones that are do have other shortcomings. However for the purposes of playing at work whilst wailing on a loud amp sounds great fun you may well get fed up with lugging a large amp about. Something like a Roland Microcube is going to be ideal for that situation, and it also works with headphones for playing at home.

The other problem is that there's no substitute for experience, no matter how many people you ask and how many opinions you canvas nobody is going to be able to tell YOU what YOU'RE going to like! Guitars are very personal, and the longer you play the more you get a feeling for things like the body shape you prefer, the sounds you like, the neck type you like, and that goes for amps too. You can't know stuff like that before you've been playing a while, your own taste will develop and evolve over time. That being the case it's far more sensible and practical to spend a smaller amount at the beginning, then spend big after a year or so when you have a much better idea of what you like and want.

Besides, there's only one thing you can be absolutey certain off...as long as you get past the initial hurldes of learning to play your first guitar will not be your last!
Actually called Mark!

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I wouldn't put down $1500 for a first guitar/amp combo simply because without knowing how to play, you're not going to get much more out of it than you would a mid-range instrument. Besides, you don't really know what guitar you want until you play it. My first two electrics (an Epi LP Special II which I never played, and an Agile Dauntless) were LPs/LP copies, and now, after playing the Agile for an extended period of time, although I love the guitar, I'm hating how heavy it is and have been craving a Fender Jaguar--a guitar I used to think was hideous.

I wouldn't put down more than $3-400 tops for a first guitar. In that price range, maybe an ESP LTD EC330, if you're looking new. If you're willing to buy used you can get a little more for your buck.

As for an amp, I don't have much experience on that front. But I have a 30W Peavey Vypyr and it's more than served my needs.
Last edited by Bergey at Dec 15, 2013,
For a first guitar, I got a cheap beater acoustic guitar. For my next guitar, I bought a quality acoustic. For my first electric, I spent a lot of money, and I still have all but that first cheap acoustic.

Look more for comfort over style, and quality over looks. These days decent guitars can be found for $300 new, and if you're willing to go used, you can find some nifty deals!

As a lefty, you might want to look here:


On the amp/headphones/portability front, might I suggest one of the many portable digital modelers on the market- here is a non-exhaustive sample:

Boss Micro-BR 4 track

Boss Micro-BR 80

Pocket POD

Tascam GT-R1

Korg Pandora Mini

Korg Px4

Korg Pandora Stomp

Korg Px5

Here is a visual comparison of (left to right) Tascam, my PX-5 and one of my Px4s to my old Aiwa cassette player:

Only the Tascam has decent acoustic recording capacity. All DO have features like tuners, metronomes, drum synthesizers, and digital amp & pedal modeling.

So with decent headphones, you can rock out like you were playing Texas Stadium. And yes, they are all about the size of an old Walkman.

The ones I own: the Tascam has the external mics, a phrase trainer (loop & slow down stuff for practicing), and takes SD cards. Both it and the PX5 can connect directly to your computer via a USB port. The PX4 is discontinued, but it can still be easily found. It is less powerful than the PX5, but, oddly, the PX5 does not have a belt/strap hook.

The ones I don't own: The Line6 PocketPOD is, I believe, the most popular device like this; the Boss might be the most powerful (and priciest); the Pandora Mini is the smallest (its about the size of a stack of business cards), cheapest, and least powerful.
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 Dec 15, 2013,
i dont know if youre buying used or new, but spending 1500 on the first purchase isnt necessarily the best idea. for the amp, a roland microcube would be great. for the guitar if buying new i would say dont spend more than 200-300. if you do choose to spend the 1500, then buy used because then you can resell it for around the same price assuming that you didnt wreck it while playing it.
My Electric Guitars:
Ibanez GSA60
Ibanez RG3EXFM1
Peavey Raptor Plus
Epiphone Les Paul Custom
Squire Telecaster Affinity (Has many famous musicians signatures so only played once)