So I am moving up from my starter strat knock-off (kind of), the Fender Starcaster, and I'm looking for my second guitar. First off: Budget is say $300-$700. I was looking at the Fender Mustang '65 reissue and the Epiphone Les Paul Custom. I ALSO just started looking at Ibanez guitars, but I don't know much about them. I'm looking to play all types of rock, such as Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Led Zeppelin... pretty much everything.

So my questions are: Are the Mustang and Les Paul Custom good SECOND guitars?? (Opinions on either would be great). AND Which Ibanez guitars are good for that price range? (I have no clue about locking tremolos, apparently they're hard to deal with? No idea whatsoever) And opinions between three choices.. (I would consider myself a n00b although I do know that I am ready to move to my second guitar)

I assume you still have the amp that came with the guitar

so i suggest you split the money for a amp.

You could buy a Ibanez Rg321 or a fat strat and maybe a vox valvetronix.
i suggest the epiphone
but everyone has their own taste
the fender will have a skinnier neck
as will the ibanez usually
epiphones are a little fatter but i love them
the les paul would be a great second guitar for where your at
next step would be an amp
12 inch or 2 12
depending on budget and use
a fender mustang will last forever.

The style of music you like fits it perfect and they get diverse (dont expect to play any death metal on it though)

they're pricey, but they're definetly nice guitars.
I'd say either get a Les Paul Standard or a G400
No real difference but looks in between the Custom and standard

And yes, you need an amp for sure.
Any $100-$300 amp isn't that good
Except, the Epiphone Valve JR Halfstack, Black Heart Little Giant, maybe even the Peavy VK Royal 8
One word for you man: Schecter.

If you want three words instead of one, I can give you: Schecter C-1 Hellraiser.

Lists for $999 but if you look around you can find it for cheaper. I can purchase one for $650.
Edit: I purchased a Schecter 006 Hellraiser for $650 instead because I like the look better, but the C-1 is a pretty well known guitar. Same hardware in the 006 HR and the C-1 HR.

You won't even believe how amazing Schecter guitars are until you demo a few. Beats any Jackson or Ibanez I've ever played.

Although keep your Strat, they're really comfortable and reliable guitars.
if you decide to also buy an amp, be sure to check craigslist.com, (search in nearby metro areas)

i found an older american made classic 50 in very good condition for $375
The guitars you mentioned here in the UK are £335 for the Epi and £499 for the Fender so I'll base it on that.

Ibanez are very good guitars, certainly an equal to Fender in my experience. My last guitar was a Fender Stratocaster Ricthie Sambora and while it was good, I wouldn't go back to it from my current Ibanez for anything. If you don't want a locking trem system, simply look at models with a hardtail. How about an Ibanez Art500 which is £399 over here. If you do get a guitar with a locking trem then there is no need to be afraid of them. They take longer to restring certainly but then they stay in tune longer and anyone here I'm sure would be happy to tell you how to restring it. If you can get hold of an Ibanez RGT42 like mine, they're a steal at the moment as it's being replaced and you'd be spending less than the cost of the Fender on a great guitar with a thru neck. You can buy one for only £399 here and that's a steal for what it is. Failing that, there are plenty other RG guitars within your budget and all are decent instruments for the price. They are primarily Metal guitars but I play everything from A7X to Blues and 60s material on mine and it's great. An alternative to an RG would be the S series; great guitars with a wafer thin body and still plenty of sustain. Again, there are plenty within your budget and certainly I'd prefer them to what you've mentioned. I don't think the Epiphone is anywhere close to being as good as these Ibanez guitars. If you want to try something that wasn't Ibanez, try looking at the PRS SE range.

If you needed an amp as well, which isn't bad advice if you're original amp is poor, I'd look at either the Vox Valvetronix range or a Roland Cube. Both are excellent amps. The Vox is a bit more expensive at £129 for a 30w; it has a lovely tube like tone but if you're needing any kind of heavy gain you'll need to look at the XL version and even that has its limitations. The Roland Cube 30 is £118, has a sturdier build quality and is much better at the higher gain models as well as offering more versatility in effects and amp models but low gain sounds don't have the warmth of the Vox. There's also a good 20w version of the Cube which is only £89.

Happy hunting.
Gibson Les Paul Studio with Catswhiskers pickups
PRS SE 'Floyd' Custom 24 with Creamery pickups
Fender Standard Stratocaster with DiMarzio pickups
Takamine GN30
BluGuitar AMP1