Hi, I am just learning to play (at age 55) and would appreciate some recommendations on an electric guitar.

I recently purchased a used Fender Standard Strat (MIM 2005) at a store with a 30 day full refund policy. After purchasing, I read that fret wear can be a problem and saw that this axe has some dings on the first two frets. Though I can hear no issues at this time, to avoid the risk I will return the guitar while I can, probably tomorrow, and get another instrument.

My musical preferences are centered in classic rock / blues based rock but I do have eclectic tastes (r&b, hard rock, pop, jazz, classical, old school country...). I'm looking for something that is suitable with multiple styles and is something that I won't regret buying after I have learned more about the instrument. Ideally it will be easy to play also.

I paid $300 for the Strat, and it would be nice to stay around that price level, but I would consider going up to maybe $500 for a persuasive value proposition. :-)

I can get an LTD EC256 for $250, from what I've read that appears to be a good value.

All suggestions are welcome and appreciated!

Thanks in advance...
Yes, that is a pretty good price. I think that if you play them, really paying attention to the feel of the neck/other features, you will know if you have found the one. Those guitars will be quite different but I would just look around and play them. Telecasters or Stratocasters would fit well into your music choices and maybe a hss if you can find one. Almost every time I have purchased a guitar I wished I would have maybe spent a little more time deciding because it is easy to rush things, not to saying that I don't like my guitars but.....

Best regards,
Raconteurs Fan Guy
I would have to second an HSS strat, I feel like that would be a versatile instrument well suited to the styles of music you are interested in playing. If you're looking at the LTD, definitely go play one and see how it feels, it may well turn out that's "the one". If you are just starting it's really important to make sure you buy an instrument that is not just easy to play, but makes you want to get up and play it. I really think that's key in a first guitar.
a MIM strat is a fine instrument. the key here is feel, and the condition of the guitar.

you need to learn what to look for in playability and issues there. is the nut chipped? do the tuners work well and turn smoothly? do teh knobs turn smoothly? all the switches work well with no scratchy noises? the jack is tight? etc? the guitar may look like a million bucks but if the electronics are all jacked up, on a used asian guitar....heck man you may have 50-100 bucks in labor on a 200-300 dollar guitar! thats go good.

the feel thing - well you will deveop your own preferences and after time of testing strats, les pauls etc etc will learn the differences. for now, go with your heart. pick something that when you hold it, it just feel right in your hands, against your body. strap it up standing and see how you like that. does it seem easier to play? does one have a better sound to your ears?

a MIM strat is hard to beat unless you want to start out playing more higher gain hard rock and metal, in which case i would recommend a humbucker equipped guitar.

i dont care who you are or what you play. at some point if your guitar playing life, you have owned or played a strat, jammed on a buddies, hopped on stage and used one, something. a strat is a strat. its like a hammer. what dude hasnt used a hammer before. so if you get a MIM strat no harm there, it will suit you well until you develop your own preferences and make your second move.

edit - i like frankenstrat's idea. get a HSS strat (humbucker bridge, and 2 single coil pickups). you may lose some iconic tone by not having a single coil in the bridge, but you will gain some hum canceling and some more balls for your hard rock jamz. it will also teach you the difference in feel and tone of a HB and a single coil.

i fully support that. that would be a VERY versatile instrument for a beginner. MIM strats are solid to assuming good condition. i know a guy whos been playing his whole life. one of the best guitarists i know. he has been rocking a MIM strat for over a decade. he really has no good reason to switch. he sounds good, and loves it. why change.
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Last edited by ikey_ at Dec 18, 2013,
Thanks so much for the replies. My store does have black HSS Strats. Why specifically do ya'll recommend the HSS?
The reason is that I have a strat with a single coil in the bridge. It is great but there are times when I wish I had a humbucker still and especially if you are going to play hard rock. Like I said though you should just play both try to play them through a set up similar to yours if you can. You can get a lot of tones with a HSS so that is why I recommended it but only you will know which one sounds better to you.

Best regards,
Raconteurs Fan Guy
I have a (modified) HSS and I think that given the styles you are interested in, that guitar will definitely cover the kind of tones you would want. You can have the quacky strat tones but also some more chunk from the humbucker. It's the best of both worlds, in my opinion, and it's good to have that kind of option when you're just starting to explore the instrument.
I pretty much have one guitar with each type of pickup (except p90s). I tend to like a passive humbucker the best. You will still get good cleans but the lead tones will be thick and screaming. I don't really like the EMGs in my EC 1000 that much because I think they are kind of over hyped still a great guitar though.
Raconteurs Fan Guy
Agreed I definitely like passive humbuckers over anything else. EMGs are just not my thing, there's no life in them. I like single coils too, sometimes you just need that sound but I feel more at home with humbuckers. Probably because that's what I started with.
If you are just starting it's really important to make sure you buy an instrument that is not just easy to play, but makes you want to get up and play it. I really think that's key in a first guitar.

These are true words.

I don't know how many players have their first guitar, but I know I certainly don't. Why? Because I played it so much I killed it. It was cheaper to replace it than to repair it.

So, if you like what you have- it feels nice in your hands, stays in tune pretty well, and you like to play it- don't worry 'bout the dings. Play it 'till ya kill it, say some kind words, and buy another, better one based on what you learned playing your first one.

Why specifically do ya'll recommend the HSS?

The HSS configuration is extremely versatile, especially if it has coil splitting, which allows the bridge humbucker to emulate a singlecoil. But even without that, being able to have humbucker and singlecoil tones in one guitar allows for greater experimentation. The only true Strat style guitar I own- a Fret-King Super 60HB- is HSS. The Dean Zelinsky Tagliare I want to buy? HSS. Some of my favorite Godins? HSS.

One of my custom guitars that isn't really a Strat? HSS.

Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of guitars without singlecoils! But those I do own are almost all HSS guitars.
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Last edited by dannyalcatraz at Dec 18, 2013,
Thanks again for the feedback folks, it was very helpful. I did return my used Strat today and ended up coming home with a new Gibson SGJ.

I gave an HSS serious thought and finally concluded that, assuming I stick with guitar, I'll ultimately want both a Gibson[-ish] humbucker instrument and Fender[-ish] single coil, so would prefer a representative example of one or the other now and not a combination.

When I arrived at the store, I expected to come back with a Standard Stratocaster but did want to sample a few others. The new Strat that I tried was a lot like the used one that I returned, i.e. felt great, was easy to play, I really do like this guitar.

Ultimately, I tried about 6 instruments (including an HSS Standard Strat) and frankly, I wasn't able to judge the tone of them in the store. The setting was noisy and so different from playing at home, and my own technique and tonal memory so limited, I couldn't make a valid comparison. So I primarily want by playability and feel.

I found the Gibson comparable to the Stratocaster in terms of my preference, and couldn't choose between the two. But the SG4 was $60 cheaper and came with a gig bag, and those were the tie-breakers.

I've fiddled with it some, my first impression is a preference for the Strat when playing the simple single note tunes that I'm able to play now but like the fatter chords on the SGJ. I do have a new 30-day return window if I change my mind.

Thanks one more time, I really appreciate your help.
Happy New Gear Day, then!
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!