Back story: Piano player by background, have messed around on a Yamaha acoustic for quite a few years, really very limited electric experience. Been researching trying to figure out what guitar/amp for months now (so I am familiar with brands, general guitar anatomy etc.) and I'm desperate for help!

- Haven't gone into any shops to try because I feel like I don't know what to look for beyond what I've written below, and I don't want to be the dumb girl wandering around aimlessly
- Very unlikely to ever gig, just playing for pleasure in my apartment
- Because of the apartment situation will probably play with headphones often, or low volume
- I know I'll keep playing guitar for years to come, so I'm seeing this as a longer term purchase rather than a cheap and dirty beginner deal

Budget? - I know that good money should be spent on the amp, but for my needs does that still hold? I was thinking maybe not, so guitar under $600 (closer to the $400 range preferable, but willing to pay the extra if it's worth the jump in sound/quality), small amp under $200?

Favorite Artists? - Led Zeppelin, Black Keys, City and Colour, Foo Fighters are all favourites. Genres would be mainly classic rock, alt rock and indie, with a sprinkling of prog, death metal and blues

Preferences? - I find the LP body most attractive for looks, don't mind strats either but I really don't know beyond that...not a flying v, that I know!

Pickups? - Definitely passives, no need for super hot pickups. Prefer humbuckers, but depending on what's played like the sound of singles too, no idea on config.

New or Used? - Happy to buy used, have been hunting on kijiji for months, just can't decide

Location? - Edmonton AB, Canada

Current Gear? - none. Basically I've been looking up "best value guitars" and reviews as guitars come up used. At first I was thinking a semi-hollow like the Ibanez Artcore AS73, then thought solid body might be better.

Now my thinking is the Hagstrom Ultra Swede might be a great playing and sounding versatile choice/great value? . The Epi LP Custom Black Beauty also came up for a great price, then I started wondering about body weight and neck size and now I'm more confused than when I started!

Thanks so much for the help! I'm dying for an axe but man it's hard to choose...

http://www.kijiji.ca/v-guitar/edmonton/hagstrom-ultra-swede-price-drop/1017222871?enableSearchNavigationFlag=true (negotiated $400, but would prefer cosmic black)

If it was me id go with the Epiphone. I would imagine it would be easier to get what you paid for it as compared to the Hagstrom. Not that its better just easier to get the same value. Once you get good your gonna want a better guitar.
If resale value is not a concern, I'd probably go for the Hagstrom between those two. The Epiphone is a good enough guitar, but IMHO, Hagstroms are somewhat better. But that's MY opinion.

Given that you're in Edmonton, I'd also try out some of the Godins. They're made in Canada, so they might represent a better value for money. They're very well made.

Even though you don't play guitar right now, you can still get good info going into the store and trying some out. The single most important quality- again, IMHO- for a first guitar is comfort. If you don't like how it feels in your hands, you won't practice, and if you don't practice, the guitar just becomes an albatross around your neck.

As for what to play through? Well, if you're only planning on playing through headphones and/or interfacing with your PC for the forseeable future, consider a portable digital modeling device like one of these (some are discontinued, can still be easily found):

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. 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 Sep 29, 2014,
For anything you mention bar indie the Les Paul is very good. On what Epiphone Les Paul to get there are loads of threads already that will give you quicker and more informed answers than this one
but if you will only play sitting down that's in favour of the Les Paul.
Ibanez Artcore are generally beautifully made guitars, even my low-end one is very good. And you won't have to deal with any possible feedback issues in your room so that's not a problem. But soundwise I don't think it will be as aggressive as a Les Paul can be.
And playing Zeppelin on a single coil Strat is not really what you want, I think you could try Strats with humbuckers but if you like Les Paul anyway then... well.

Also Danny made a good point about modeling boxes like the POD, if you want people to hear you can hook it up to your HiFi system but it will also sound decent on headphones. Plus you get to mess around with all these basic effects without buying them.

When you think you're ready, because you have already played a bit acoustically you can go to the store and try the guitars out, you will notice some feel nice to play to you and some don't. If you can't decide between the ones you like take the UG info
Also hold them together knock on the woods, see which knocking-sound you like better
Phrases Label
The Bohemes
The White Strat w/Dimebucker
Tokai Explorer Korina
Ibanez RG570 Purple Neon
Gibson Les Paul Deluxe Ebony
Fender Telecaster Apple Red
Dano '59 Burgundy
Ibanez Artcore AM-73
I own the korg Pandora mini and its pretty sweet. It eats batteries though, I believe they make an ac adapter for it which I would highly suggest. It can also be used with your computer, super compact and gives you loads of options, drum tracks, metronome and a ton of others. Amazing if your headphones only, i use it when my wife has had enough of hearing me struggling to learn. Great value for a hundred bucks (Canadian). Danny Alcatraz advice is great. Since I too am Canadian, I'm sure there's a Long and McQuade close to you as there all over the place, do as he says go try out some models. There great and have a great financing plan. I swear I'm not promoting them there pretty much the only chain music store in the great white north.
I'd look for an used Paul Reed Smith SE Singlecut or SE 245.

As far as the amp goes, I'd get a Peavey Vypyr VIP 2 (brand-new) or an used Peavey Vypyr 60 Tube.
Squier "VMC" Stratocaster
PRS SE Singlecut
tc electronic polytune
CMAT MODS Signa Drive
Blakemore Effects Deus Ex Machina
DIY gaussmarkov Dr. Boogey
EHX Small Clone
Mooer ShimVerb
DIY Beavis Devolt
T-REX Fuel Tank Chameleon
Ampeg GVT52-112
Go to the shop. I'm sure it's a different experience being a woman and walking in there, but you really need to go try it out for yourself. The last thing you want is that the sellers on the used market don't let you try it before purchasing and you don't get a chance to get a feel for it, then you buy it and end up disliking it but now you're down a few hundred dollars.

That said, I haven't tried the Hagstrom, but the Epiphone does achieve your sound. If I remember correctly, it felt quite heavy to me (to give you an idea, I'm 5'9"or 176 cm, 195 pounds or 88 kg; but I play a Strat and a Tele mostly), but the neck wasn't a huge problem ('60s profile-esque, I think).

Linkerman suggested to try some PRS guitars, which I'd advise you to do as well. The brand makes great guitars, even the affordable ones are good purchases. My favorite of the lot is the SE Custom 24.
Last edited by chrismendiola at Sep 30, 2014,
I agree with chris, that's my standard advice, look around and play whatever looks good to you and get a feel for it.

For the styles you mentioned, a Les Paul or Strat style would work, don't overlook telecasters either. I won't go into brands, I've played plenty off brands that were very good, even if they weren't the Gibsons or Fenders everybody swears by. I also always check pawn shops for deals on good used guitars, that's where most of mine came from.

But always play them first, and don't grab the first one you see that seems ok, shop around. Once you've been playing a while you'll have a better idea what to look for, but I look them over pretty close. I want to see a straight neck and definitely no twist (I've seen that plenty times) with just a slight dip in the middle for string relief, decent looking finish if it's used, good hardware, no stickers, then play it.

Play unplugged first, and listen close. If it sounds dull and lifeless, put it down and move on. If it sounds pretty good, plug it in. Even with dead strings I can still hear if a guitar will sound decent plugged in and with good strings.

Check out and play several then get the one you like best, but it has to play and sound good to you.
Hmmm...I wonder what this button does...
Thanks guys, I really appreciate the advice! I had wondered about PRS as well, since they seem to have a pretty fantastic reputation. Sounds like I just need to put my big girl pants on and go try some guitars!
Well I would suggest you try a Gretsch guitar. I just got a Gretsch Pro Jet and it sounds so good. It is similar to a Les Paul Shape but a bit longer the pickups are what make it they are brighter and more detailed than your typical Les Paul pickup. You can find some pictures of it in my profile.
Last edited by Zhaezzy at Oct 1, 2014,
If you have any questions about brands you see, ask!
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!
This is my first time on a forum, forgive me if im not down with the lingo.
Someone with your budget is just spoiled for choice these days. I have big time respect for the current squire range.. I purchased a Squire vintage modified telecaster custom ii and it is so so so very awsome!
It has two p90s and reminds me a lot of an eppiphone in that way... Prob not the best metal guitar but very capable with a lot of gain!
Anyway dont let anyone tell you the new chinese fenders and squires are not good guitars, considering the equipment you get for the money they are tops!

That said I was borrowing a mates epi LP standard a few weeks back with the two and that too was a fine guitar, I guess the crux of what I am saying is that there is so so so much good shit out there right now!