Ive been playing guitar for about a year now, and a couple months ago I bought an Epiphone Speical II. This is my first electric guitar. I previously owned a Drifter classical guitar (what the hell is a drifter anyways) and a Copley acoustic. I taught myself how to play , and i think I'm pretty good for my level. Heres a few things i need help with:

First off, my amp is a 5 watt Epiphone Studio 10. Whenever I put the volume and gain past like 2 or 3, i get unwanted static. The louder i make it, the more static i get. Is there any way to solve this?

Ive heard about waxing humbucker pickups, covering them and other things to get a better sound. How do I do this and when should I do it?

Some guitar guru and a local guitar store told em that when I restring my guitar to get .10 strings instead of .8. He said this will give it a better sound. I just snapped my B string and I might get it restrung today. Will this help?

I am REALLY confused on the whole improvising/scales thing. I understand that certain notes go to gether and sound good together and others don't. How do i figure out what notes go good together, what key the song is in, and how to figure out where the notes are on the fretboard without having to look at a box diagram ever time I want to find a note?

The problem I want solved the most is the unwatned static in my amp. I hope you can help!! Thanks!!
i dont know about your amp, but in improvisation just try to hit the note that is the same note as the key of the song the most. example: with a song in a key of A try to hit a lot of A notes
Quote by Rockford_rocks

if you get .10 instead of .8 you'll need to readjust your intonation slightly, and possibly your action too
thanks guys its a big help. What i really need to solve thoughi s my amp problem. I would really appreciate it if u help me with that.
allright buddy sorry nobody really gave you a real answer yet, i'll do my best:

your first problem is the fact that your amp is only 5 watts. i won't tell you to go buy a new amp cause i know that not eveyone can afford to do that, but if you have been playing for a year now and are seriously making guitar a hobby, it would be a wise investment to move up to 30 amps or so, which is plenty for room practice. i recommend the marshall MG series, the Vox valvetronix series, or fender 30 watts, all of which are reliable amps that you can get some great sounds out of.

now until you start using another amp, i would recommend turning down the volume on your guitar in order to try to get the static down, that should help, but i can't promise you anything. try to keep in mind that the reason your amp is staticky is that too much power is going into that little speaker, so anything you do to try to reduce that power should help. if you are wanting a good distorted sound your best bet is to turn the gain where you want it, then keep the master volume REALLY LOW. for lots of smaller amps like yours, gain will make a HUGE difference in volume, so master shouldnt need to be that high to be able to hear it. also rememeber to play with all the settings, you never know what you will find hidden in that little amp that you didnt know about. it's funny how sometimes i come across a sound i've NEVER gotten from an amp i've had for a couple years just because i had the balls to change the settings from what i was used to.

as for wax potting, with the guitar you described i am 90% sure they are already wax potted. if they aren't, don't try it yourself. it's not a home project if you dont already know what you are doing. sadly, i can't tell you how, but i would recommend not even worrying about it, epiphone pickups won't be worth the work. the point of wax potting is to reduce background hum, so remember if you do try this and accidentally put too much wax in there there is a good chance you will change the sound of the pickups significantly, for the worse.

this guitar guru you speak of sounds more like a know-it all. everyone and their grandma these days says that .10's are the way to go, but honestly it's all about your sound. i play nines, and i find the sound difference to be insignificant and they are MUCH easier to play. i've never tried eights, so i cant say what difference a change in strings will make. just choose, and if you don't like the sound then next time you can change to a new string set to find out what you like, its all trial and error. the guy who posted earlier was right about intonation and string tension though, you should probably have someone at a guitar shop set it up for you with the string caliber you want, it's much easier that way and you don't have to worry about messing it up. later on you can learn how to do this and it's no big deal, but for now it's worth the money to have them do it. on top of that, i realize that i just said you should have them set it up for you, but you have really gotta learn to change your own strings. it can be a little intimidating at first, but just jump into it. there isnt really any permanent damage you can do to your guitar by trying this unless you just go crazy and try to tighten a string too much, and even then there is a good chance the string will break before any damage is done. just remember, if it's in tune at the end you probably did it right!

as for improvisation, its a LONG story, but there are lots of great articles here on improvisation, just go to one and start reading buddy its probably your best bet to learn anything. i'll try and give you a little heads up though. most songs stick to a certain key. if you can find this key, then generally you can find all the notes that are going to be played in the song by checking the scale, which is a series of notes that go together and sound "right." now i will tell you to go look at the Major scale and the Minor pentatonic RIGHT NOW. not only will you learn about scales, playing through them is great practice and you will see huge jumps in your abilities after taking some time to run through the scales in several keys. this means that if you find the key to a song, just by chance you recognize the root note (usually the one that starts the song or chorus), then you can find the major or minor pentatonic scale for that note and start playing.

i hope i helped you out, i know what its like to be in your shoes. just remember to have fun with guitar, it'll serve you well in the future!
^ Even though strings is a personal chice, I recomend strongly against .8's They release shrill noises, and cost more money, because they break way easier. .9 and up are they way to go.
My suggestion is to get a new amp and to learn the pentatonic scales. Pentatonics are the easiest to improve with, probably. Also, listen to your favorite guitarists and figure out how they play (AKA phrasing).
"Notes are expensive. . .use them wisely"-B.B. King

"It's been very important throughout my career that I've met all the guys I've copied, because at each stage they've said, 'Don't play like me, play like you."-Eric Clapton
to solve the amp problem, mainly, buy a new amp, but untill then, try turning down the treble some, that might help.
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hey thread starter..just wanna ask u, ur nick is halfback_712..are u a rugby player or something??
Billy Gibbons had said that he used to use huge strings... 13's, but moved down to 8's after some advice from B.B. King. I personally use 9's, because they're still easy to bend and play, but it's a little bit easier to not have them sliding around while holding chords.