Help me find my new guitar setup

I have been stuck with my first ever guitar amp combo for well over a year now and its definatly time i got myself something new and i have been looking around for a while. I need both amp and guitar and i think i would rather spend more money on the amp as the amp will make a good guitar sound even better rather than an excellent guitar sounding underrated on a poor amp.

I would say i have roughly £500 between the two, but obviously would like to keep it as low as possible. I basically want to be able to jam with others on a good quality clean sounding amp, and have a nice guitar to use, although the one i have would probably sound ok on a good amp.

However i have not that much musical kit knowledge so I would appreciate any advice infomation from more experienced Dopers and any links would be great. And I really want any kind of Les Paul style guitar.Cheers:)



About 473£, but probably a lot more in the U.K. My general advice is to spend as much as you can if you think you might be using the equipment frequently.

Assuming you may want to play live somewhere, 100W is well worth the extra few quid. I’d suggest a Marshall MG100DFX.

As for guitars, I’m an Ibanez widdler myself but you can get half-decent Les Paul copies second-hand for a couple of hundred - look around.

And, importantly, budget for a quality long lead! You won’t regret spending 20 pounds/dollars more on something which you can trust for life.

Wow - lots of comments - I am not comfortable offering specific makes or model types; guitars and amps can vary so much, even if they come out of the same factory, one after the other. Here is my initial thinking in terms of guidelines:

  1. Don’t buy it until you’ve played it - buying over eBay only makes sense if: a) you’re a collector and the guitar/amp you’re buying is more for collecting than playing; b) there is a generous return policy on the item; c) you have so much money that you don’t care if you don’t like playing the guitar/amp once it arrives.

  2. Keep it simple - at any given price point, you can typically buy a guitar/amp that has lower-quality design/parts but tons of features, or higher quality design but limited features. Always buy the better, simpler design - a guitar with active tone controls but a warped neck still sucks. Amps are almost always better when they are super simple - in fact, the big trend in amps right now are “boutique” amps made by small shops - these feature the simplest possible construction based on the theory that fewer parts/features means fewer things to “corrupt” the basic tone of the amp.

  3. There are plenty of exceptions, but when in doubt, tubes amps sound better. Plain and simple - sure, some folks say that because it is the cool thing to say, but there is truth to it, too - tubes provide the natural distortion and compression that is pleasing to human ears. Solid-state amps have come a long way, though, and it is very possible to buy one that sounds great.

  4. Listen to what your ears are telling you - when in doubt, ask yourself: do I genuinely like what I am hearing? Play a super expensive guitar amp combo - play a bunch until you get the perfect “you” sound - a Les Paul with a Vox amp or an SG with a Marshall or PRS with a Mesa/Boogie - whatever - then grade any affordable combo based on how close it sounds to your ideal sound.

  5. Bring a friend who is a more accomplished player - if you have only been playing for a year, you may not know what to look for (e.g., a lot of young played really value a “scooped mids” sound, not realizing that trying to replicate that tone in smaller amps almost always results in a crap tone).

  6. Be open to lower-priced / high quality brands and used stuff - Gibson is the standard for humbucking guitars - if you can afford one that is well made and sounds ideal, by all means get it. If you can’t, then Yamaha, Ibanez, Hamer, Heritage and a ton of other guitars can replicate the Gibson tone for a lot less. Gibson’s second-tier Epiphone line can be great guitars, but you have to be willing to play a ton of them to find one that is well-made and sounds great (true for any purchase anyway). This is where having a knowledgeable friend can help - they can help you sort through alternative brands and used copies and match them against your ideal combo.

  7. For guitars - see how you like how it sounds un-amplified - folks argue about this, but I think it matters. If a guitar feels great and sounds good un-amped, it may be that you need to swap the pickups - easily done. That way, you can get a great, low-priced guitar and for another $100-200 upgrade the tone a ton. A lot of folks do this with Epi’s and Ibanez guitars…

This just scratches the surface, but hopefully it helps.


WordMan nailed it, always try it before you buy it. And try lots and lots of stuff. It’s hard to make recommendations since you didn’t comment on the type of music you like to play and the type of instrument you are interested in.

I own a Fender Strat and Gibson LP, they are both very different guitars with very different tone and playability. I love them both.

I own a tube amp and it sound much better than any solid state amp I’ve ever played, but if you can’t afford an all tube amp maybe consider a combo amp such as the Marshall AVT series. They do a pretty decent job of mimicking a tube amp without the price.

Listen to WordMan. Go with a super simple amp and add your own effects later. The Boss stomp box floor pedals are a quality line. About the only feature I’d look for on an amp is selectable “clear” and “lead” channels. Don’t pay big bucks for chorus and delay features. These can all be added later using a higher quality effects synthesizer or some floor pedals. In general, get an amp with a larger speaker and less features. The bigger cone will better express the nuances of sound you seek to produce.

Others here have already given you great guitar advice. Get a more experience guitar playing friend to help you out. Test drive a lot of different rigs and look at used equipment and vintage gear. For jollies, here’s what I play: (note that the amp and speakers are extremely simple)


Custom designed and built Fender Pseudocaster with:

Schecter solid rock maple fretboard, walnut inset bareback neck
Ibanez Blazer swamp ash body
Schaller gold finish sealed tuning machines
Classic Floyd Rose gold finish tremolo bar system
Seymour Duncan SHR-1 Hot Rails high output neck pickup
Seymour Duncan SLS-1 Lipstick Tube middle pickup
Seymour Duncan TB-4 Trembucker bridge pickup special issue gold finish
Five way pickup selector switch
Tone control pot with pullout vintage Bill Lawrence L-Pad
Volume control pot with pullout phase reversing for middle pickup
Schaller gold finish strap lock pegs
Classic nitrocellulose high finish black paint job
Four layer tortoiseshell pick guard
Vintage Fender head stock decal

DOD FX-17 Wah / Volume pedal w/0-5 VDC scaled output

FX-105 Power Supply pedal board with:

FX-50B Overdrive
MXR distortion +
FX-80B Compressor Sustainer
DFX9 Digital Delay (up to 250 ms)
FX-75B Stereo Flanger

Gallien-Kreuger 200RG solid state amp
(Same as Santana played at Woodstock)

Vintage 4 x 12" Gallien Kreuger paper cone speakers

Who do you want to sound like?

Once you know that, go here to find your new setup.