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Old 02-17-2017, 10:42 AM
Warrenaines Warrenaines is offline
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Default Suggestions for First Electric?

I have a couple of nice acoustics, including higher end Gibsons and Martins. Thinking about first electric. A few considerations:
  • Will just be for home use and at least at first will just be using a small Yamaha THR10C amp; may get into real amps and pedals later but unlikely I'll be looking for a ton of volume and would largely need to control volume with headphones out of any loud amp.
  • Inclined towards melodic tones more than heavy distortion -- Jerry Garcia, David Gilmour, Knopfler, Trey Anastasio, Bill Frisell are some examples (taste not my abilities) more than say classic hard rock like AC/DC, though like a wide range of music including 90's grunge so don't want to get too narrow to start.
  • Comfort/limited maintenance. In addition to wanting to experiment with sound, the wide bout and thicker strings of acoustic dreads aren't always the most comfortable. Bout and string gauge obviously isn't an issue for electrics, not sure if a heavy Les Paul for example would be uncomfortable over time (also recognizing there are now lighter Les Pauls). Also don't to spend a lot of time with a guitar that is likely to require a lot of personal maintenance, will have it professionally setup etc.
  • No set budget. Don't want anything high-end at this point without dialing in what I like and dislike, but also don't want to go too cheap and buy again soon, though I've heard good things about Squier J Mascis Jazzmaster
  • Are iconic guitars like Teles, Strats, Les Pauls, SGs a good place to start? Any suggestions among those (or specific models) or others? Should I consider any semi-hollow bodies? Used vs. new, particularly with respect to minor repairs/maintenance that I don't want to spend a lot of time learning?

Thanks!
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Old 02-17-2017, 10:52 AM
mr. beaumont mr. beaumont is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Warrenaines View Post
I have a couple of nice acoustics, including higher end Gibsons and Martins. Thinking about first electric. A few considerations:
  • Will just be for home use and at least at first will just be using a small Yamaha THR10C amp; may get into real amps and pedals later but unlikely I'll be looking for a ton of volume and would largely need to control volume with headphones out of any loud amp.
  • Inclined towards melodic tones more than heavy distortion -- Jerry Garcia, David Gilmour, Knopfler, Trey Anastasio, Bill Frisell are some examples (taste not my abilities) more than say classic hard rock like AC/DC, though like a wide range of music including 90's grunge so don't want to get too narrow to start.
  • Comfort/limited maintenance. In addition to wanting to experiment with sound, the wide bout and thicker strings of acoustic dreads aren't always the most comfortable. Bout and string gauge obviously isn't an issue for electrics, not sure if a heavy Les Paul for example would be uncomfortable over time (also recognizing there are now lighter Les Pauls). Also don't to spend a lot of time with a guitar that is likely to require a lot of personal maintenance, will have it professionally setup etc.
  • No set budget. Don't want anything high-end at this point without dialing in what I like and dislike, but also don't want to go too cheap and buy again soon, though I've heard good things about Squier J Mascis Jazzmaster
  • Are iconic guitars like Teles, Strats, Les Pauls, SGs a good place to start? Any suggestions among those (or specific models) or others? Should I consider any semi-hollow bodies? Used vs. new, particularly with respect to minor repairs/maintenance that I don't want to spend a lot of time learning?

Thanks!
I really think you can't go wrong with a tele. I'm very biased on telecasters, but I really think they're just the bees knees. And there's good ones at every price point.
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Old 02-17-2017, 10:57 AM
geetaruke geetaruke is offline
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I think a Yamaha Pacifica is at least worth a look OP. It's a great entry level Price guitar that punches above its price.
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Old 02-17-2017, 11:30 AM
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Bob Womack Bob Womack is online now
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Perhaps I can help. I wrote up a beginner's guide to electric guitars that is on my site, HERE. See if that gives you any ideas. There's also a quick comparison, HERE.

Bob
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Old 02-17-2017, 11:50 AM
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Imported Strat or Strat copy. Lots of tonal options with different pickup combinations, very comfortable (much more than a Les Paul style IMO), and they're popular so if you don't like it or want to upgrade, you can re-sell it easily. They run the spectrum, from Buddy Holly to Gilmour and Knopfler to the heaviest metal.
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Old 02-17-2017, 01:03 PM
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Play a few before you decide, but in the $500 and under range there are a ton of new and used guitars that are really quite excellent. Gibsons and the Gibson clones have a warmer, mid-rangier tone, and a shorter scale, on the whole, while fenders and all their clones tend to have a brighter tone and a longer scale, with a narrower nut width. I would personally go to a store and play a bunch, then scope out your local craig's list or a Facebook page for selling musical instruments in your area. You'll pick up a nice used instrument for around half price pretty easily. I personally have both fender and gibson clones (Godin and a Epiphone) and a real old Gibson Melody Maker.

I would submit that a good Squier Jazzmaster would be an excellent choice - but decide if you want a whammy bar or a stop tailpiece first.
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Old 02-17-2017, 01:47 PM
FrankHudson FrankHudson is offline
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A Telecaster answers a lot of questions. They are simple, sturdy with only one design shortcoming (the jack cup, which can be remedied with 3rd party replacements), woody sounding in neck and both pickup positions, usually not particularly heavy, amenable to most acoustic guitar techniques, and versatile.

When you mention players you like, only the Knopfler Strat "quack" isn't in the cards from a standard Tele. Three pickup (sometimes called "Nashville") Teles will quack nicely however.

I have a J Macis Jazzmaster. A very nice guitar and reasonably priced. I love Jaguars and Jazzmasters, but the standard bridge on them can be finicky to setup to work, particularly without heavier strings. The J Macis Jazzmaster uses a standard TuneOMatic type bridge and that avoids those problems. The Jazzmaster can cover a lot of territory sound wise, but again, that Stratocaster "quack" sound from pickup positions 2 and 4 is not there. Mine is also fairly lightweight.

Strats are probably the most popular electric guitar design of all time. They can sound just great. Guitars with "tremolo" bridges can take a little more time to get setup right, but of course are sounds that such bridges make too. I slightly prefer the Jazzmaster "tremolo" bridge design once the bridge issues is addressed (and the J Macis Jazzmaster addresses this out of the box) but a great many users of the "whammy bar" demonstrate that the Strat design works for them. Two of your target artists are identified with the Strat.

And of course there are many other choices. The usual suggestion to "play a few and see what you like" comes to mind.
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Old 02-17-2017, 01:52 PM
trevordj trevordj is offline
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Teles get my vote as well. Next to my acoustics, my Tele gets the most playing time. I just bought a second one because I like my first so much (both of them are custom shops that I bought used). I never play my Strat or my Les Pauls.

I think the versatility of a semi-hollow is nice too, that should be high on the list especially given you are looking to play more melodic stuff. My next guitar will be definitely be a Gibson ES-335, super fun to play.

Play a few and see what you like. I think buying used is almost always the best way to go.
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Old 02-17-2017, 02:12 PM
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Definitely used. Like the other poster a good tele covers 80% of sounds out there. Even Jimmie Page used one for the first couple of Zepp albums. You can get some nice used American Std teles at about $800 and some Mexicalis for $400ish. Also check G&L teles...some great prices in their import line- Tribute, I think, is the name.

Big fan of the semi hollow like a Gibson 335 or Heritage 535. If price is a hurdle I have tried some Guild semis that are really nice for $700 or so used. Also Eastman makes a nice semi, the T386, that is very nice and can be had used for $600 ish.

Finally the PRS SE imports are great. They are nicely made and very versatile.

There is one guitar that has a tone that other guitars struggle to match. THE STRAT. But I would try all and would tell you to lean Tele used American Std. If you buy it right you will lose little to nothing on sale..it is a keeper if you decide to expand and Teles just are so friendly. They are nice to others in the barnyard.
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Old 02-17-2017, 02:27 PM
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Fender Squier Classic Vibe 50s' Telecaster or Fender Squier Classic Vibe 50s' Stratocaster, depending on whether you like strats or teles. Done.

Just be aware that while the Classic Vibe line offers an incredible amount of guitar for not much money (under $400 new), there are some compromises, particularly on the hardware. For instance, on the strat, the trem is pretty much decoration. If you lay into it hard, you will massively pull the guitar out of tune. Really, the trem on a strat isn't particularly usable until you get up to the Fender American Std/Pro level. But that is OK, because most people don't use it anyway.
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Old 02-17-2017, 04:56 PM
Warrenaines Warrenaines is offline
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Thanks, this is all very helpful.

Also, with respect to used, without knowing much about electrics, should I just look at relatively new guitars in VG+ condition, or also consider 30+ year old guitars and educate myself and get some help from someone that knows electrics, or is that likely to fall into requiring too much maintenance?

Last edited by Warrenaines; 02-17-2017 at 05:02 PM.
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Old 02-17-2017, 05:24 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Warrenaines View Post
...Thinking about first electric. A few considerations:
  • Will just be for home use at least at first...unlikely I'll be looking for a ton of volume...
  • Inclined towards melodic tones more than heavy distortion...though like a wide range of music including 90's grunge so don't want to get too narrow to start.
  • Comfort/limited maintenance...the wide bout and thicker strings of acoustic dreads aren't always the most comfortable...not sure if a heavy Les Paul for example would be uncomfortable over time (also recognizing there are now lighter Les Pauls). Also don't want to spend a lot of time with a guitar that is likely to require a lot of personal maintenance, will have it professionally setup etc. ...
  • No set budget. Don't want anything high-end at this point without dialing in what I like and dislike, but also don't want to go too cheap and buy again soon...
  • Are iconic guitars like Teles, Strats, Les Pauls, SGs a good place to start?...Should I consider any semi-hollow bodies?...
In order:
  • You might want to consider something with lower-powered pickups that won't automatically drive your amp into distortion; many vintage-style units - Gretsch Filter'Tron/Hi-lo'Tron, Gibson mini-bucker/P-90, Guild soapbar/LB-1, original-style Fender units - fill the bill...
  • Unless you're specifically inclined toward the glassier Fender-type tonality, any of the Gretsch/Gibson/Guild units mentioned should give you what you're after - clarity with enough midrange/low-end weight to cover all but the heaviest styles effectively...
  • If weight is a primary consideration, you'd probably be better off steering away from most solidbodies (the exception being the 2017 Gibson - not Epiphone - SG Special, where most examples scale in around 6 lbs.) in favor of a full- or semi-hollow instrument of some kind; although you're not a fan of larger-bodied guitars, my Godin CW II - a dual P-90 single-cutaway hollow in the mold of the early-50's ES-175 - scales in at just a hair over five pounds (about the same as many acoustics), uses the same neck/scale length as the Seagull acoustics (there's something to be said for familiarity), has tone for days (TMK Tony Bennett's guitarist is using one), has the customary Godin QC, and is no harder to negotiate than a 000/OM. If you're looking for a smaller body, the Guild Newark St. M-75 - a Les Paul-sized hollow-body with two soapbar pickups - also comes in just over five pounds, and either one would be a good choice in the $1K range, which leads me to:
  • If you're used to playing high-end Gibsons and Martins you undoubtedly know something about what makes a quality guitar tick in terms of tone and playability, so you definitely don't want to go bargain-basement; that said, I'd be looking in the circa-$1K range new, $500-750 used - while there are some low-rent gems to be had IME the MIC Squiers, Epiphones, Ibanez, etc. can be spotty, so unless you're willing to take your time finding "the one" you'd be better off, as you said, doing it right the first time...
  • The good thing about "iconic guitars" of whatever type is that they're tried-and-proven designs - for better or worse, you know exactly what you're going to hear when you pick up a Strat, LP, 335, Tele, etc. The bottom line here is whether or not that's what you really need: if your playing style/tone/touch/artistic vision/stage persona are markedly different from most of the musicians you jam with (as well as those you consider influences) then you may well require an equally out-of-the-ordinary instrument to free those tones you've been hearing in your head - back in the early-60's Gretsch was largely an also-ran outside of country-music circles and Rickenbacker/Hofner were virtually unknown, until these four kids from Liverpool turned the world upside down...
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Last edited by Steve DeRosa; 02-17-2017 at 10:00 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 02-17-2017, 08:50 PM
trevordj trevordj is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Warrenaines View Post
Thanks, this is all very helpful.

Also, with respect to used, without knowing much about electrics, should I just look at relatively new guitars in VG+ condition, or also consider 30+ year old guitars and educate myself and get some help from someone that knows electrics, or is that likely to fall into requiring too much maintenance?
I would get a newer used one. I have picked up a couple "used" guitars from Dave's Guitar that were mint condition but 33-50% less expensive than new. Most (especially Tele's and Strats) are so easy to setup that you run very little risk if you buy them from a reputable source. I think you will pay too much of a premium for a vintage model although you may be able to find a good deal

Last edited by trevordj; 02-18-2017 at 12:49 AM.
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Old 02-18-2017, 04:53 AM
LSemmens LSemmens is offline
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As far as sound goes, that is a personal choice. I like the warmer sounds of my Ibanez Blazer. Pickups can be changed if you don't like what you hear. As far as playability is concerned, try a few and see what you are comfortable with. I like the Strat style body, but could never warm to a Strat for playability. Always wanted a Les Paul but having tried to play (albeit a clone) one I found that I could not cope with the weight of the body. I do play Bass so overall weight is not my problem, I just could not cope with the balance. Don't lock yourself into a particular Brand as you may find that a cheaper Squire Strat might serve you as well as the equivalent Fender (e.g.)
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Old 02-18-2017, 05:03 AM
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Fender Stratocaster for mine. (Classic guitar with a five way pickup switch, tremolo arm and contoured body together with options on fingerboard type and colours).
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