Electric Guitar
November 24, 2004 4:16 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone have a recommendation for a cheap, but great sounding electric guitar, say in the $300-600 range? [more inside]

I'm currently living in Southern Connecticut, but starting up a new band project (rehearsals 2x per week) in Brooklyn. I'm looking to get a cheap axe that I can leave behind in the space (a locked space in a friend's bar, so low danger of theft), so I don't have to shlep it back and forth on the Metro North and the Subway to Fort Greene. Problem is, I'm a bit spoiled as far as quality, goes -- my principal guitars for the past 7 years have been a '56 Les Paul Goldtop (reissue) and '62 Fender Jazzmaster (the real thing) -- so something crappy like a Squier would be a little too uninspiring to play with. I have been reading good things about ESP and Ibanez guitars, but have no experience with them. Anything I’ve overlooked?

Thanks in advance for your consideration.
posted by Tommy Gnosis to Shopping (14 answers total)
A nice used Epiphone LP is well within your range, with money back. When I put down my Gibson-brand LP and pick up my Epi I truly don't get any feeling of "this guitar doesn't sound as good" or "this guitar is harder to play."
posted by jfuller at 4:38 PM on November 24, 2004

Ibanez is not a bad choice. I started electric guitar on my father's Ibanez and now am playing a Les Paul Studio, but as I recall it was a decent quality/sounding guitar all around. Depends on the model of course.
posted by rooftop secrets at 4:53 PM on November 24, 2004

I second Ibanez. I've had one for years and still love it. Plus, they make 22 fret necks. I HATE 24 fret necks. I had a custom carvin that was a translucent green and they mistakenly gave me curly maple- beautiful guitar. I had to trade it for a bass, though, because it was a 24 fretter.
posted by pissfactory at 5:04 PM on November 24, 2004

I'm partial to weird 70's gibsons meself. They sound great, look nifty, and are sorta vintage. My main geetar now is an L6S actually. Followed by a Midnight Special.

I like old crap though.
posted by glenwood at 5:57 PM on November 24, 2004

A Mexican or Japanese Strat might fit the bill. The Mexican ones tend to vary quite a bit in quality so you might want to try a few before you buy one.

What kind of sound are you looking for? In my mind a Les Paul and a Jazzmaster are two very different guitars (neck length, tone, fingerboard radius, sustain...). If you're not picky, a Danelectro might be nice. Really cheap and easy to play. They tend to be a little quiet but you can just turn of your amp to make up for that.
posted by mexican at 6:36 PM on November 24, 2004

Response by poster: What kind of sound are you looking for? In my mind a Les Paul and a Jazzmaster are two very different guitars

My Les Paul has the old P90s in it, which give it a lot more bite than what you might be thinking from a std Paul with beefy sounding alnicos or 57s. Both guitars are very bright sounding, but I generally use the Jazzmaster for arpeggios or jangly rhthyms and the Les Paul for crunchier tones, power chords or bluesy riffs. In either case, I use both of these pretty extensively in my home studio, where I record a lot of two guitar demos for song sketches and such. For this axe, it's just for banging out tunes in the practice space, so any guitar that's durable, reasonably versatile in tone, sounds good and stays in tune will do.
posted by Tommy Gnosis at 8:32 PM on November 24, 2004

The 70's Ibanez knockoffs of various Gibson models have a very good reputation, and can be had in that price range... I own the "Lee Ritenour" model. I also have played a few Hamer guitars (the more expensive archtops, not the "slammer" models which are quite crappy) that have good playability and tone in that price range. You might even be able to find an 80's strat plus deluxe in that range. The maple neck models in particular are great guitars.
posted by mzurer at 10:17 PM on November 24, 2004

For this axe, it's just for banging out tunes in the practice space, so any guitar that's durable, reasonably versatile in tone, sounds good and stays in tune will do.

I would probably want a Danelectro for this. They play pretty well, stay reasonably in tune (for a $200 guitar) and are cheap. Strats in lower price ranges very too much for my tastes. The only way to get a good one is either thru luck or lots of looking.
posted by mexican at 12:00 AM on November 25, 2004

On a similar note, I've been trying to find out what the quality of Squier Tele's are like these days. I really, really want a Telecaster again, without breaking the bank. I had a Squier Tele a few years ago, and it was horrible. But I have come across Squier Tele's in the past that were pretty nice. It all seems to come down to the point of production, which seems to currently be Indonesia. Anybody have any firsthand experience?
posted by influx at 4:54 AM on November 25, 2004

Also, just to round out the options, for about your price you could pick up an LP Custom or PRS that was dropped out the back of the band's van and run over by a Peterbilt diesel. (The ad will say "needs minor headstock repair.")
posted by jfuller at 10:30 AM on November 25, 2004

I bought an '83 USA-made Tele a few months back for about $550. I think this may have been an exceptionally good price, but it's worth checking out. My other guitars are a '64 Strat and an '82 Les Paul, and the Tele holds it's own, particularly with the Lindy Fralin pick-ups I put in. There are deals out there...
posted by fingers_of_fire at 1:49 PM on November 25, 2004

I play a Shecter Omen 6 and I have no problem recommending it to anybody. Fantastic guitar.
posted by baphomet at 6:29 PM on November 25, 2004

In that price range you can pick up a brand new Korean made PRS. They're awfully nice guitars for the money, although like most guitars in your price range they will need a pickup swap to make their full potential.
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:23 PM on November 25, 2004

Actually, as I think about it, that's not what I'd do. I'd look for a 1985-1987 Made in Japan Fender - Strat or Tele. (Actually I *did* do that - I have one of each and they are fine, fine instruments, equal to my handmade Custom Shop Strat in quality.)
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:25 PM on November 25, 2004

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