what advice would you give someone when they are going to purchase a new guitar? How do you identify a "dud" from the rest?
*Gibson SG
*Fender Strat
*B.C. Rich NJ Series Mocking Bird

*Ibanez PF series acoustic
*Ibanez AE 30
go and try some out
depends on personal preference really, you might like something someone else doesnt.
what you actually look for can depend on your choice of music though.
what you into?
Top lel.
he likes the same music as a i do. which is in my profile.
*Gibson SG
*Fender Strat
*B.C. Rich NJ Series Mocking Bird

*Ibanez PF series acoustic
*Ibanez AE 30
First thing I'd do, before anything else, is look at what guitars your favourite sounding players used. That can really narrow down the search.

Then it's simply a case of playing a bunch of guitars and seeing which combines playability and sounds best within your budget.
Ibanez PGM301
Ibanez GRG170DX
Fender Telecaster MiJ - 1986
Swing T-Through

Ibanez TS9DX
Sovtek Small Stone - c.1985
EHX Big Muff
Kimbara Wah - c.1974
Boss GE-7

Orange Rocker 30 Combo

an emanuel fan i see
you should maybe get them to check out something with a humbucker and single coils?
but yeah +1 to the guy above, check what your fav bands use
Top lel.
You know a guitar is a dud if it just doesn't feel "right" when you play it. Spend money on one that you really feel comfortable playing.
pay attention to how it feels, what its made of, how it sounds, where its made. make sure u do some research on a good review sight like harmonycentral.com