Real beginner here - not enough experience to go to the store and play and know whats good. I should probably just walk into the nearest music store and ask for advice, but the only one that's open when I'm not working is a Guitar Center w/ a bad rep.

Budget? Ideally, no more than $500 amp and guitar combined.

Favorite Artists? Jeff Buckley, Chuck Berry, RHCP. Jack White, George Thurgood

Preferences? Easy to keep in tune and forgiving to play. Something that can accommodate both blues solo (BB King) and the clear picking sound from stuff like RHCP - Scar Tissue, Weezer - Say it aint So.

Pickups? - I don't know enough to really say, though I did read the FAQ.

New or Used? - Either

Location? - Cali central valley (Fresno, Visalia)

Current Gear? None, other than a bread and butter yamaha acoustic.

I really appreciate any and all suggestions/tips!
Last edited by brobitussin at Feb 9, 2014,
You could probably get a MIM Strat for 250 used and a Peavey Valveking for another 250-300. Just beware that the Valveking is frickin' loud.
Dig through the six kajillion other "what guitar?" threads here and you'll likely see a lot of answers to this question. If you're a real beginner, you want a good guitar with a good setup (and you should have Gary Brawer's (in San Francisco) phone on speed dial). At your budget level, I'd probably recommend something like an Agile AL-2000 (rondomusic.com, and several of them are on sale for $195). If you drive it over to Gary's, pay him whatever he wants to set it up properly.

You'll probably also need (within your budget) a solid state amp that has some built-in FX and an earphone jack so that you can practice in quiet mode. The Line 6 Spiders and the Fender Mustangs top the list, but there are others. Get a decent set of earphones (not buds). Some of the crop of recording studio standards (such as the Sony 7506, AKG 240D, BeyerDynamic 770, Sennheiser 280) are in the $99 range. With these you can crank as high as you need to induce tinnitus and hearing loss while not disturbing anyone in the house.
Based on your musical tastes I'll second the Strat. If you can get a used MIM Strat within your price range I'd go for it.
For 500 you can get a nice MIM Strat and a Fender SCXD/Peavey Classic 30/Blackstar HT5 (or whatever amp might interest you). Marshall MGs/Line 6 amps can be had relatively cheap and are good newbie amps too.

If you go used you can get a nice sounding setup in your budget.
Last edited by cheesefries at Feb 10, 2014,