#1
At what point do you upgrade your gear? I bought a cheap electric guitar and amp (an esp ltd ec10 and a $100 blackstar combo amp), at what point do I upgrade to a better guitar and a better amp? I know 6 chords and can transition between all of them, I can play two or three riffs. Is it worth buying pedals for the setup I currently have or should I wait until I upgrade?
#2
There is no right or wrong answer. Depends on your budget really. If you plan on upgrading than I would get a nice amp first, and get pedals based on the new amp if necessary. Buying pedals now and an amp later might leave you with a bunch of pedals you don't need down the road.

Secondly, it depends on your happiness as well as need. If you only want to play by yourself, and are happy with your sound no need to do anything. If you aren't happy with your tone, and want to start gigging than you would probably want to get a new amp.

My .02 is that just about any modern guitar (correctly setup) and free from any QC issues will not hold you back. Anything more expensive is simply visual, physical, or audible preference.
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Last edited by guitarkid8 at Aug 13, 2016,
#4
Quote by SloshOMyGosh
At what point do you upgrade your gear? I bought a cheap electric guitar and amp


I never did. My first guitar was a Vox SuperBeatle and a Gibson ES-335-12, both of which I still have. The mistake is buying a cheap guitar and amp, but it's one that most beginners make ("I really didn't know if I was going to continue with it").

The second time around (assuming you're going to be continuing with guitar), you might want to move to an instrument and amplifier that you won't have to upgrade. It's better to buy once...
Last edited by dspellman at Aug 14, 2016,
#5
Quote by dspellman
The mistake is buying a cheap guitar and amp, but it's one that most beginners make ("I really didn't know if I was going to continue with it").
Most beginners don't have a few hundred lying around for a hobby

The answer is when you want to and have the spare cash to get something worth upgrading to. I upgraded from my first guitar after a year because I didn't feel it was good enough to continue on. I went from a Squier Affinity Strat to an Epiphone G-400 (and from a Marshall MS-2 to an MG30), which was an upgrade worth making but one in which I could've done better for myself. I bought three more cheap instruments before I realised I wasn't really getting much more out of each successive buy so I sold them off and bought a Fender Tele and a Twin Reverb. That was an upgrade worth making, which happened after about five years of playing. If I'd done it earlier, when my tastes were different, perhaps my tastes would have changed and I would have regretted it, or perhaps I would've taken a different path in line with whatever gear I'd have then.
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#6
Playing a beginners/low quality guitar is like trying to whittle with a dull blade. You'll get a LOT of "buy a better amp" advise and it's sound (literally) but that's advise more in line with tone chasing. If the instrument you have does not inspire you to play you can have the best amp/pedal rig in the world and no good will come of it. Secure a QUALITY guitar (note = I did not use the word expensive) that suits your style/taste, one that you can actually progress your skills on and work up from there. You can plug it in to just about anything from a Plexi to a Spyder and it'll produce a tone of some sort, but IMO from a learning standpoint = guitar > amp.
#7
6 chords, well save some money and keep learning. what you have now is way better than the crap I had to learn on in the late 70s. I'd suggest going to a guitar shop and playing some different guitars and amps to see what fits you best. this is the biggest problem when you first start, what to buy. many just get a guitar that looks like what there fav player uses but often get disappointed. the best thing to do is to see what guitar feels best to you rather than worrying about copying someone else. amps tend to be a bit tougher without some experience. get an idea of what tones you like and then find an amp that can deliver them (within reason and budget).
#8
Quote by dspellman
I never did. My first guitar was a Vox SuperBeatle and a Gibson ES-335-12, both of which I still have. The mistake is buying a cheap guitar and amp, but it's one that most beginners make ("I really didn't know if I was going to continue with it").

The second time around (assuming you're going to be continuing with guitar), you might want to move to an instrument and amplifier that you won't have to upgrade. It's better to buy once...

Good for you.

But perhaps the vast majority of beginners don't get higher-end amps because they simply can't afford them? Most budding guitar players are kids with nothing more than their $10 weekly allowance from doing chores.

Makes you wonder how small cheap practice amps own the largest market share by far in the industry.
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Last edited by T00DEEPBLUE at Aug 14, 2016,
#9
T00DEEPBLUE

agree that most of us aren't as lucky as dspellman nor can I really advise new players to spend the money needed to get a setup like that. there are several good options for amps that are cheap that work for a beginner. you can find some decent guitars in the $200 bracket new so again no need to spend a ton of cash. small cheap practice amps are often bought by uninformed folks so having the largest market share isn't suprising. in many case they are bought as part of a starter pack by parents who definitely don't know any better.

I used to teach and lets face it probably 7/10 guys that start don't get past the first 3 months before giving up. out of the 3 left probably only 1 will go on to play even in a semi serious manor. tough to tell them they need pro level gear that will likely collect dust in a few months. now steering folks to gear that will be usable as a beginner and not impede playing and sounding acceptably good seems to be the mission. the OP has acceptable beginner gear so really needs to concentrate more on the actual playing.
#10
Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Good for you.

But perhaps the vast majority of beginners don't get higher-end amps because they simply can't afford them? Most budding guitar players are kids with nothing more than their $10 weekly allowance from doing chores.

Makes you wonder how small cheap practice amps own the largest market share by far in the industry.


I get the money thing. But "cheap" and inexpensive are two different things.

I already knew I was going to play guitar long-term, so I didn't want a cheap guitar and amp. I was already gigging as a keyboard player, so I knew this stuff wasn't going to be "bedroom" for long as well. I had a part-time day job working for a music store and found the ES-335-12 ("nobody wants a 12 any more; the Byrds died or something...") covered in dust and dirt back in the used bin, essentially waiting to be tossed. $75 (no, seriously) and some time doing cleanup and some tweaking. I found another 335 (non-12) shortly after for the same price ("nobody buys these things any more; they all want Fenders and SGs" -- I love that my boss was an idiot), but in much worse condition. It later got a badly needed refinish. Good amps aren't difficult to come by, but they may not be what the cool kiddies are using at the time. I found two amps at church rummage sales for under $100 -- the Vox SuperBeatle is solid state, 120W, has built-in FX, comes with a 4x12 cabinet that also has tweeters and is suspended in a tubing "cage" that allows the cabinet to be wheeled around and tilted back. The other was a 1971 Carvin solid state amp (275W) with a huge cabinet with 2x15's and a mids-high horn. Both needed a lot of cleanup and doses of DeOxit and new AC cables. Because they were ancient solid state amps, no one was interested but me.

I ended up with 400W worth of giggable power and a pair of real Gibson guitars in exchange for cheap money and some effort. It wasn't luck; I spent a lot of time in and out of those silly church bazaars and goodwill-type stores and pawn shops, and I didn't worry what things looked like or if they were "consensus approved" on some forum. The stuff wasn't new, but it also never depreciated. And, except for the Vox, it's all still around.
#11
Quote by dspellman
I get the money thing. But "cheap" and inexpensive are two different things.

I already knew I was going to play guitar long-term, so I didn't want a cheap guitar and amp. I was already gigging as a keyboard player, so I knew this stuff wasn't going to be "bedroom" for long as well. I had a part-time day job working for a music store and found the ES-335-12 ("nobody wants a 12 any more; the Byrds died or something...") covered in dust and dirt back in the used bin, essentially waiting to be tossed. $75 (no, seriously) and some time doing cleanup and some tweaking. I found another 335 (non-12) shortly after for the same price ("nobody buys these things any more; they all want Fenders and SGs" -- I love that my boss was an idiot), but in much worse condition. It later got a badly needed refinish. Good amps aren't difficult to come by, but they may not be what the cool kiddies are using at the time. I found two amps at church rummage sales for under $100 -- the Vox SuperBeatle is solid state, 120W, has built-in FX, comes with a 4x12 cabinet that also has tweeters and is suspended in a tubing "cage" that allows the cabinet to be wheeled around and tilted back. The other was a 1971 Carvin solid state amp (275W) with a huge cabinet with 2x15's and a mids-high horn. Both needed a lot of cleanup and doses of DeOxit and new AC cables. Because they were ancient solid state amps, no one was interested but me.

I ended up with 400W worth of giggable power and a pair of real Gibson guitars in exchange for cheap money and some effort. It wasn't luck; I spent a lot of time in and out of those silly church bazaars and goodwill-type stores and pawn shops, and I didn't worry what things looked like or if they were "consensus approved" on some forum. The stuff wasn't new, but it also never depreciated. And, except for the Vox, it's all still around.


cool story but lets face it there was a lot of luck involved with it. the days where you cold get deals like that are long gone thanx to any idiot being able to look things up on line (even thrift stores and churches do this now). I bought a few things like that back in the day (Supro Dual-Tone guitar for $20, Danelctro made Silvertone guitar in amp case etc) you also were also a musician of sorts which most aren't. did you start with good keyboards or playing that old not so in tune piano like most?
#12
Quote by monwobobbo
cool story but lets face it there was a lot of luck involved with it. the days where you cold get deals like that are long gone thanx to any idiot being able to look things up on line (even thrift stores and churches do this now). I bought a few things like that back in the day (Supro Dual-Tone guitar for $20, Danelctro made Silvertone guitar in amp case etc) you also were also a musician of sorts which most aren't. did you start with good keyboards or playing that old not so in tune piano like most?


I'm still finding deals like that, honestly. About a year and a half ago a friend of mine found (in Vancouver) an Agile AD2300 on the local Craigslist, and we negotiated $130 for the guitar, shipped to Los Angeles. It arrived in perfect shape with not a nick on it and with a set of custom hand-wound P90's ($185 the pair) from Mike Reilander. I have an ES-175 (1948-49 ish, real Gibson) single neck position pickup (P90) guitar that had somehow been stripped to bare wood, that had a definitely-used fretboard and a 1" x 3" hole in the side where the output jack usually lives. Free. The guitar was repainted to a standard burst (mostly amber and black) with nitro lacquer, repaired and hardware was replaced, but it still has the original beat-to-shit brown case with a brown interior and a coathanger handle. I've currently got an old Gretsch Synchromatic (no cutaway) archtop from the '50's that was tossed. It's waiting its turn at a refurb.

I started at about 5 years old on a spinet piano I could barely reach that was pretty decent (and in tune; my mother played), moved to a Hammond M1 and then to a B3. At that point, I should note, I was mostly playing classical music (pipe organ with both feet, heel and toe) and eventually moved to theater orchestra pit and then to old folks show tune wedding reception stuff at the local service club "lodges." Started doing that last at about 11 years old. Four hour gigs. Got shanghaied into playing rock and did that seven days a week for quite a while.
Last edited by dspellman at Aug 14, 2016,
#13
When you really know what you are missing, it's time to upgrade. As others have said, learn about amps and guitars and hit the yard sales, Goodwill and thrift stores, even CL still has some great deals available if you know what they are. Buy used, buy low, buy quality stuff.

A friend recently found an old dusty JTM45 for $50 at a yard sale and he paid another $10 for the SM58 mic with cord. Another player in TX got a Silverface Super Reverb at a yard sale for less than $100. In both cases the original owner moved out or passed away and the family was just clearing stuff out of the house. If you don't have much money, you probably have lots of time. Spend your time wisely, search and find gear you can clean up and use for pennies on the dollar.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
#14
I first upgraded based on need. Had a vypr 15 combo because I got a guitar as a gift and needed an amp. Then I started gigging, so I got a Valveking combo. I knew enough that tone would be an upgrade, but it wasn't the priority.
I upgraded as my ear for tone and understanding of when and what to upgrade/change improved, and my feel for what I wanted to do/features I'd need improved. Got a Peavey XXX and sold the ValveKing based on objectivelybetter speakers and distortion quality. However, the general shift in tone (ie XXX distortion is brighter, VK100 darker) is something that I wanted, but what's important is that what worked for me isn't objectively better overall. Make sure whatever piece of gear you get is good to your ears.

Quote by Cajundaddy
When you really know what you are missing, it's time to upgrade. As others have said, learn about amps and guitars and hit the yard sales, Goodwill and thrift stores, even CL still has some great deals available if you know what they are. Buy used, buy low, buy quality stuff.
Yep. +All the numbers
Upgrade your amp regardless of your music lifestyle if you can't get the tone your after, it will be the most. Play around with as many amps as you can that best fit your genre within your price range. Make sure to check used deals. Upgrade your guitar if you don't like the feel of it when your just playing it, amp or no amp. If you do like the feel/how it plays in your hands, then do a better and/or more appropriate amp first and assess the guitar after.
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Last edited by Maidenheadsteve at Aug 15, 2016,
#15
When you start jamming with a drummer and your amp cant keep up, its time to upgrade the amp. For the guitar; when you learn a few songs and can play and enjoy it and then find a guitar that you enjoy playing even more than your current guitar.
#16
Quote by dspellman
I'm still finding deals like that, honestly. About a year and a half ago a friend of mine found (in Vancouver) an Agile AD2300 on the local Craigslist, and we negotiated $130 for the guitar, shipped to Los Angeles. It arrived in perfect shape with not a nick on it and with a set of custom hand-wound P90's ($185 the pair) from Mike Reilander. I have an ES-175 (1948-49 ish, real Gibson) single neck position pickup (P90) guitar that had somehow been stripped to bare wood, that had a definitely-used fretboard and a 1" x 3" hole in the side where the output jack usually lives. Free. The guitar was repainted to a standard burst (mostly amber and black) with nitro lacquer, repaired and hardware was replaced, but it still has the original beat-to-shit brown case with a brown interior and a coathanger handle. I've currently got an old Gretsch Synchromatic (no cutaway) archtop from the '50's that was tossed. It's waiting its turn at a refurb.

I started at about 5 years old on a spinet piano I could barely reach that was pretty decent (and in tune; my mother played), moved to a Hammond M1 and then to a B3. At that point, I should note, I was mostly playing classical music (pipe organ with both feet, heel and toe) and eventually moved to theater orchestra pit and then to old folks show tune wedding reception stuff at the local service club "lodges." Started doing that last at about 11 years old. Four hour gigs. Got shanghaied into playing rock and did that seven days a week for quite a while.


ok well not typical. my dad was very musical as well and an antique dealer so I was taught to look for deals in odd places at a fairly young age. again not typical of many young players. you can't really advise new players this way though (despite it being a good idea) most lack the skills to know what is "good" or not. you were already into playing music which made the transition to guitar easier and with a lot more confidence. most who ask this type of ? here aren't so perhaps not the way to go.
#17
So, I got my first guitar when I was 12. My pops bought it for me. Never fucking played it. Then when I was 16 I started playing but got really into trombone (gigging and playing in high school as well) so I stopped. 6 months ago I picked up guitar and have been going steady ever sense. I bought a $700 Ibanez RGIR20 5 days ago. I was at the music store to buy picks and I one of the workers is my buddy from college. He is lead Bass in the symphonic band and a member of string quartets and shit. Him and I were just dicking around upstairs, y'know. And I played this Ibanez. I knew I was walking out with it. I had no intentions of buying a guitar that day, or at all. Wasn't even really looking at em online or anything. Just played it and wanted to own it because it played so great and so comfortably to me. So, there is no exact answer or anything to "when do I upgrade?" But, I promise when you play something that you really enjoy you'll know it.
#18
Quote by monwobobbo
ok well not typical. my dad was very musical as well and an antique dealer so I was taught to look for deals in odd places at a fairly young age. again not typical of many young players. you can't really advise new players this way though (despite it being a good idea) most lack the skills to know what is "good" or not. you were already into playing music which made the transition to guitar easier and with a lot more confidence. most who ask this type of ? here aren't so perhaps not the way to go.


Okay, then, I guess my suggestion is that you need to upgrade your gear when you know that you're serious about playing guitar. I was there from the get-go, but some aren't. I personally think that cheap "beginner" gear drives a lot of people away from guitar, especially when it's difficult to play or when it sounds like crap. It's sometimes like trying to learn trumpet on a plastic version that has sticky valves (I don't know that there IS a plastic version, of course, but someone's bound to 3D Printer one up).

You may want to upgrade your gear when you know a lot more about the gear as well. People buy guitars every day that have terrible setups because they assume that the guitar companies intend them to be played that way and because blah blah brand name. Probably not a good idea to "upgrade" to new gear based on fanboi-ism, acquisition syndrome, forum fame or "consensus."
#19
IDK I started out with a Harmony Les Paul copy and a Crate CR1 purchased from my friend who had bought them from Fingerhut, they lasted for about 3 years or so before I felt I really needed to upgrade. When you realise your equipement is holding you back it's time to start saving for better gear.
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#20
Quote by Evilnine
IDK I started out with a Harmony Les Paul copy and a Crate CR1 purchased from my friend who had bought them from Fingerhut, they lasted for about 3 years or so before I felt I really needed to upgrade. When you realise your equipement is holding you back it's time to start saving for better gear.
Yeah, I'd say (as several others have already said here) the time to upgrade is when you know what you'd be upgrading for.
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#21
Quote by dspellman
Okay, then, I guess my suggestion is that you need to upgrade your gear when you know that you're serious about playing guitar. I was there from the get-go, but some aren't. I personally think that cheap "beginner" gear drives a lot of people away from guitar, especially when it's difficult to play or when it sounds like crap. It's sometimes like trying to learn trumpet on a plastic version that has sticky valves (I don't know that there IS a plastic version, of course, but someone's bound to 3D Printer one up).

You may want to upgrade your gear when you know a lot more about the gear as well. People buy guitars every day that have terrible setups because they assume that the guitar companies intend them to be played that way and because blah blah brand name. Probably not a good idea to "upgrade" to new gear based on fanboi-ism, acquisition syndrome, forum fame or "consensus."


totally agree. I will point out that even the crappiest guitars these days are light years better than the junk many had to start with in the 60s & 70s. a good setup can be an eye opening change even on beginner gear and of course is highly recommended. I think the trick for beginners is to not spend a fortune but rather spend enough to get something that will encourage you to play. say a lower end (but not bottom) Epiphone, Squier or LTD guitar and a modeling amp of some sort.

I think that most new players are fairly serious about playing until they find out it's not that easy.