This might belong in MPSIMS, but Guitar threads have been hanging around the Cafe lately.
First of all, thanks much to all who participated in my “Please explain Stratocaster models, I’m sooo confused!” thread. The guitar wisdom was very very much appreciated.
Today I went guitar shopping and managed to glom onto a non-stupid (and not all that experienced, but he did actually play guitar and knew the inventory pretty well) Guitar Center guy today, who basically spent 2 1/2 hours fetching instruments for me, and he was good natured about it and actually really helpful. Unlike some previous GC excursions, the store wasn’t very full, and the shredder kids were mostly missing. And I got time on some instruments, and played perhaps 15 or so guitars (maybe 20, I lost count), and I could actually hear myself play.
The standouts in my tour were:
- Baja Tele: wow, Wordman was right about this one! Sweet! Not perfect, but not bad. $700ish.
- American Strat, Maple neck. Sassy! Awesome tone, very very bright, perhaps almost too much so, but I was liking it. I rolled off the tone a bit, and it was still cutting glass shards at 20 paces. Awesome axe. $1000ish
- Some Schecter monstrosity, I don’t know the model. Inlays that looked like vines up the neck, i wasn’t too fond of that, but this thing was a shredder, very flat, very fast neck, sustain for days, and the tone was metal-sassy – picking harmonics up the wazoo (what are these really called? You know, when you give the pick some thumb-flesh and it “squawks”?), hot - hot tone. No active electronics, it just had hot pickups I guess. I really really liked that instrument, even though my style is not metal shredder, more bluesy, but I follow all kinds of styles if the mood strikes me. But it doesn’t seem like a good “all around” instrument if you play different styles. But the price is right at $700ish.
- Deluxe Tele. Oh my lord, this was the finest guitar I played today. Really. It felt very very nice. Very pretty, too, with a sunburst-ish finish. I felt at home on this guy when I picked it up, and I played it 3-4 times, switching with Les Pauls, Strats and other things, and it just shown each time, even in comparison. $1200ish.
Good, not great (for me):
- American Strat, Rosewood and Ebony (I think) fingerboards. Surprisingly (considering my strat clone is rosewood), I really like the maple neck Strat better, that tone just about knocked you flat. These guitars did not.
- Les Paul 60’s neck. Wow, these are so pretty. But I can’t get past the high neck access issue, so I’m thinking Les Paul isn’t my cup of tea. $2300ish
- Les Paul 50’s neck. Very pretty but very heavy guitar, but I really liked the fat neck, and I have small hands, go figure! $2400ish
Give me a break/ fuggedaboutit:
“Standard” (MIM?) strat – grade C-. Dead from the neck up, OK tone. Fit and finish was mixed. Just not really very good. I played three of them, and they all were just OK at best.
“Standard” Tele – Grade C. Better than the Standard Strat, but still missing charm. At this point the Deluxe Tele had spoiled me.
A couple of lower-end Ibanez models that felt like lower-end models. I hear the higher end is better, and still cheaper than the big two.
I still need to play more instruments, like an Ibanez or some of the other “second tier” brands, and definitely more Schecters. But at this point I’m thinking about getting a Schecter like the one above (if I can lose the weird inlays and get a color that isn’t black or worse) and a Baja or Deluxe (squee!) Tele. I don’t know if my budget will let me get two, but I’m in a serious love triangle with those two instruments right now.
I asked GC guy when the store was just about dead, and he told me week days just before lunch through maybe 2pm the store is pretty much evacuated, so I’ll go back next week and go through all this again.
I also spent some time looking for an instrument for SqueegeeJr. He’s going to play my 70’s (beat to shit) SG, but that instrument’s got issues, so perhaps something newer and less quirky would do better. He starts lessons next Wednesday, so I want to see how it goes for him, but I thought I’d start my homework.
The Squire and Ibanez starter packages weren’t terrible, but they weren’t that good, either. The Ibanez starter guitar was OK, but oddly the frets were sharp on the edges of the fretboard! I was almost afraid I was going to cut my hand doing a glissando/slide. Aside from this it was fairly serviceable, but that’s a pretty surprising flaw! The starter amps were pretty awful, but you could play a relatively clean tone, and a somewhat dreadful overdrive.
I asked my helpful GC guy that, if I don’t care about the amp, what might I buy as a starter guitar in the $250ish range. He thought perhaps an Epiphone SG might be good, and I looked at a couple, and they seemed OK, better than the Ibanez and especially Squire starters.
Question: re provenance of Fender guitars – I was told to look at the back of the headstock or stamping on the neckplate (where it bolts on) . In all but the American guitars, I didn’t see an indication of where the guitar was made. The American guitars were stamped with some town in SoCal, I don’t remember where, but it was easy to tell where it was made. beyond that I couldn’t tell MIMs from Far East guitars. What was I missing?
Also, what’s the best amp to really test guitars on? – I used some Fender combo, it would have been called a Twin Reverb in my day, and started with the overdrive at like 3-4 for some warmth. If I liked the guitar, I’d switch it to the clean channel and pretend it was an acoustic for a bit, just to feel the basic guitar sound sans amp tone. But I’ve got a whole store full of amps, so I could really pick almost anything that wouldn’t blow out the front windows of the store.