I am new around these parts and just picked up playing after a 6 year hiatus. I currently play an epiphone LP deluxe that I purchased off of musiciansfriend about 8 years ago. I really enjoy playing now. Now that I have taken the hobby up so seriously I am wanting to invest in a nicer instrument. I have been reading and searching through various threads on a related topic but still have some questions regarding what may be the best guitar for me. It may be helpful if I list the style of music I like to play and my favorite artists. I love playing blues, classic rock, and modern alternative. I have an acoustic that I like to play folk on. My favorite artists include SRV, John Mayer, Tom Morello, Clapton, Santana, incubus, 311 etc. I am pretty set on either a strat or tele but could easily be convinced otherwise. I live in a small town with only one local shop that only carries Fender (as far as electrics go) so my ability to play multiple guitars is limited. This being said here are my questions:

1. Still being new to the game (although I do play 2-4 hours daily...college student who requires little sleep ), I am looking at MIM teles/strats. It seems that most everyone I talk to is super satisfied with the quality of the MIM fenders...any opinions?
2. There is much talk of the possibility of getting a lemon if purchased online. Is this a valid concern? If so, what should I look for in the store to insure that I don't? I worry that if the store doesn't have what I want in stock I still risk getting a lemon by ordering through them (their prices are very competitive btw...and I like to support local).
3. Knowing what I have mentioned regarding preference to music styles, which guitar do you think would suit me? (if you have any additional recomendations please let me know!)
4. Are there any additional things I should pay close attention to when trying these guitars out?

It should be noted that I am on a budget to keep the purchase under 500$ (for guitar only...already have a nice amp that suits me well). I apologize for the long post and extend my gratitude for your assistance!
Any particular reasons? I am definitely leaning towards a standard strat although a standard tele is still in my mind. I am wondering what other than feel that I will notice or should take note of (I want to enter the shop a little better informed as sales people have an agenda many times). I have also heard of the popularity of the HSS but I wasn't sure if that would favor my style/preference as much. In addition I am curious as to the difference of the FSR strat as compared with the normal standard? I love the natural ash finish but am hesitant if it is worth the extra 50$ if that is the only significant difference.
Last edited by ccrnnr9 at Feb 13, 2008,
there is a chance fo gettin a lemon if u order online
your best bet is to go to a guitar store and try a bunch
see if u like one
What are the main problems you speak of when you get a lemon? Also, is that risk still present if I were to order through my local store?