Guitarists, newb in market for electric, help

I love listening to music, anything from Grateful Dead, Clapton, Pearl Jam, Beatles, Phish, I could go on for hours.

A couple months ago I found a really really cheap acoustic guitar in my grandparent’s attic. I have used it to learn chords and fool around.

I’m thinking about getting a new guitar, I figured electric would better suit me b/c electric seems to have more potential and looks more fun. I’ve never played an electric yet, and I definitely want to before I go out and spend 200 bucks.

Musiciansfriend has a semi hollow body (Oscar Schmidt OE30) for $150 on sale. Does anyone have experience w/ this guitar?

What’s the sound difference between a humbucker and a coil, please be more specific than “warm” or “bright”. I am somewhat knowledgeable with musicians, so you can cite examples. Also, what are characteristics of the sound of a hollow body? Is it kind of like a muted electric; that is, between acoustic and a screaming electric?

Does the amp really make or break the sound of a guitar? If I’m spending $150 on a guitar, I don’t want to spend more than $50 on the amp. I have seen battery powered amps for as low as $30, and I’ve seen plug-in amps for (I think) $50.

Sorry I’m jumping all over the place. TIA

I’m just going to give some tips on buying a guitar, if that’s fine. It’s kind of like buying a car, though I’ve never bought a car.

Go to the store. You don’t have to buy from them, but you can go in there, mess around, and leave. You can try out anything in the store. And you should. Just ask someone. You already know how to play, and you know what sounds good, so give the guitar you chose and others in its price range a try. (BTW that’s a gorgeous guitar you’ve chosen. I wish my first looked like that).

Also, if you remember nothing else, remember this: Do not trust the salesman. He doesn’t know squat, he doesn’t know what sounds great, he doesn’t know what works for you, he wants your money, and he wants as much as he can get. You probably won’t even be buying from him. Ignore him.

Pickups I don’t know that well, so I’ll be brief with what I think I know and go on. Single coils, to me, sound more bluesy. I have a single coil and a humbucker on my guitar, and when I switch to the single coil, it sounds more smooth, low(bassy) and forgive me, warm, like say, SRV or Clapton. If you hear a guitar that sounds pretty, it’s probably set to the single coil. Humbuckers are a bit noisier, and louder, more for fast rock, say punk or metal.

As for amps, no, they don’t make or break anything (someone will probably argue with this). At your position, they don’t really matter. If it sounds good to you, and it’s what you’re willing to pay, get it. A $70 amp doesn’t sound much better than a $50 amp.

You can get a battery powered pocket amp for $10-20. They don’t sound fabulous but neither do the low-range plug-in amps. Actually, the tone on my $10 headphone pocket amp is pretty swell. The problem with them is mostly that the speakers aren’t great. I’d recommend against them, and at that price, you could get both a pocket and a plug-in.

The shipping cost for online guitar shopping isn’t trivial. If you can find it at a store near you for the same price or less than what the online store is charging (cost + shipping) go with the store. I’m sorry if that’s obvious, though. Sometimes it does work the other way and you can get a better deal at the online store.

Anyway, I’m done rambling. Good luck and feel free to ask some more.

We should have a generic post for this question by now.

The OE30 looks fine but may not be particularly versatile. Apologies if this is a little terse but I am supposed to be working :smiley:

Humbuckers: Block interference from dimmers/tarnsformers/mini-cabs etc. More volume than single coils but less top end. Hard to get “jangle” out of humbuckers.

Single coils: More top less volume and vunerable to interference. If you want to be able to sound at all like SRV or Hendrix you need these. More versatile - you can get single coils to sound like humbuckers but not visa-versa.

What Moo tMC says. Mooch around guitar shops and try everything. They don’t know you’re only gonna spend $150.

The amp does matter. Sooner or later you will want to spend more than $50 on an amp (a valve amp - back me up guys).

Buying a guitar is actually a bit different than buying a car. Every guitar is individually different. You can have two identical models and one will play fine and the other sucks. If you don’t have enough experience to judge this you need to find a friend than can. I would never buy a guitar unseen/played (well a brand new top line Gibson or Paul Smith maybe).

Beginners error: “strings last until they break”. No they don’t. Depending how much you play them they may only last a week or two maybe a month before they go dead. Pick up at least a couple of spare sets when you buy the guitar.

I’m out of time- gotta do that work stuff. Maybe someone else can chip in with the Les Paul vs Strat etc. stuff.

The “sound” of your guitar is directly related to your hands.

If you’re a beginner, that guitar that you’re going to buy is going to sound a certain way. Five years later, it’s going to sound different. Did the guitar change or did you?

However, it should “feel” compfortable to you. It has to “look” good to you. When you walk by, do you want to pick it up and play it?

These things are probably most important when starting out. The sound will come.

I agree with Omnipresent (on guitars, anyway!) - you need to pick a guitar that makes you want to play it. To that end, looks matter.

My $.02: Get a guitar that can be tuned and stays in tune:

  • The neck must be straight - can usually be adjusted
  • the action (distance between neck and strings) should be reasonably low - can be adjusted, but only after the neck is straight
  • the intonation of the guitar must be set - each string set to its proper length - complex to explain why, but that is why the bridge on most electric has 6 saddles, I for each string. This must be done after neck is straight and action set.

Bottom line? If you can play a G, a D and some more complex chords and they sound in tune up the neck, you are much more likely to play the guitar because it will sound good.

Single vs. Humbucker - Singles can be noisy (hum when strings are strummed), but are bright and chime-y clean and can be SRV/Hendrix when overdriven; Humbuckers are quiet - they “buck the hum” - but are not as chime-y clean and more aggressive when overdriven. Honestly, for just starting out, if you have a specific player/sound you want to emulate, get the type they have, otherwise, get a guitar that plays well and you like.

Amps are critical - but for now, just get one that sounds decent clean and overdriven…

Good luck.

Oh - and expect to pay $25 - $50 US for a set up (neck, action, intonation). If you buy the guitar at a store, demand to have it done before buying at no extra cost - one reason you might consider a store for this first guitar…

Take your time - hand out at one or more stores over a few weeks and try everything. Something that felt great at first may change once you’ve tried something else…

I agree with Omnipresent (on guitars, anyway!) /QUOTE]
Whatdya mean “on guitars anyway”. We’re not gonna get on that “stay right - pass left” thing are we? :slight_smile:

Rock on!!!

It’s what feels right to you. Maple neck has a different feel than say rosewood.
If you are going to be a string bender (I talking 2-1/2 steps) you might want something with a locking nut to keep it in tune. But now your getting expensive.
A “better” guitar will allow you to play closer to the neck. And as you get better, and start using all the frets, you’ll realize how important intonation is.
Yes you will play better or I should say learn to play better on a better guitar, to a point. But don’t spend too much unless you know you are going to stick with it.
You might find a better choice if you go to say … the $200 to $250 range.
That’s NOT to say you won’t find something good for 150. In fact I think Fender makes something similar to a Strat for about that. Go to one of the big outlets.
That said, I have a few guitars worth thousands of dollars, but truth be told… the one I play all the time is a cheapo Strat knock off cause it “feels” right and sound great. Check the newspaper for used stuff too.
Hope this helped.

I actually just bought an OE30 from Musician’s Friend, and I think it’s a really good guitar. Not just a good guitar ‘for the money’, but a good guitar period. It compares pretty darn well to some much more expensive ones I’ve played. It’s the least expensive guitar I own, by a fair margin, and I enjoy playing it quite a bit.

The hollow body mellows out the tone a little bit, it increases sustain, and makes feedback easier to achieve/harder to avoid (it all depends on your perspective!). The humbuckers on this guitar have a more bluesy type sound than a screaming hot sound, to my ear. You can certainly get some heavy overdrive sounds out of it, but if you’re really interested in a heavy metal type sound, I don’t think this would be the right guitar. I would classify the type of tones I’m getting out of it as similar to B.B. King, Carlos Santana, and Mark Knopfler’s Les Paul stuff (if only I could *play * comparably. . .). You can also get a nice jazzy tone with the right amp settings. It’s got one of the shorter common scale-lengths, which can allow you to have lower string tension or to put on heavier strings for better tone. I’ve got a set of flat-wound 11s on mine and they sound great but aren’t any harder to play than the 9s and 10s I usually use on my other electrics.

However, there are some downsides to this guitar (really any online ordering), especially for a beginner. I don’t think this guitar can be found in stores, so you wouldn’t be able to go and play one before buying. As has been mentioned, guitars vary a lot from one to another, even of the same make and model. My experience has been that this is especially true of inexpensive guitars, probably due to lower quality control standards. When you compare a bunch of PRS guitars, you’re not likely to see nearly as much variation as among a group generic Strat-clones. That’s why you’ll generally hear the advice to play the guitars yourself and bring a knowledgeable friend if possible. The OE30 I just bought might be something of an anomaly in being so good, or maybe not. No way to know! Also, as good as it is, it did need a little bit of work out of the box. Nothing significant, just a general tightening of all the fasteners and an intonation adjustment. But if you buy locally, the store will take care of that stuff for you.

I figured the OE30 was cheap enough that there wasn’t much for me to lose if it didn’t work out and I had been interested in that type of guitar for a while. If you have some friends who can help out with any adjustments the guitar might need, or you have access to a good shop, you might make the same choice. On the other hand, you can get some great guitars in stores for not too much money. A few years ago, I bought a used (but basically mint) Mexican-made Fender Strat. That guitar played and sounded better than most of the other Strats in the store, even some of the top-models. The guitar next to it on the rack looked almost identical, same model, Mexican-made, only the body color was different. But that one sounded dead compared to the one I bought. If you can try them out in the store, you can sometimes find a really outstanding guitar that rises above it’s price point.