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The title pretty much says it all.
As some of you may know, I play a myriad of instruments, most of the wind(ed;)) variety. I have had an epiphany, and thought about picking up the electric guitar for some added fun (been listening to a bit of Angus Young :D), but am not willing to spring for a Custom Shop Gibson just yet.

With the understanding that one indeed gets what one pays for, what are the consensus of opinions on the starter sets (Guitar/Amp/Tuner etc.) that Yamaha, Epiphone, Washburn, Squire put out?

We are talking about an armchair, weekend warrior addition to my repertoire, not a serious axe. I'm solidly in the Saxophone/Jazz camp, but a bit curious.


Let the comments roll in......
 

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SAXISMYAXE said:
The title pretty much says it all.
As some of you may know, I play a myriad of instruments, most of the wind(ed;)) variety. I have had an epiphany, and thought about picking up the electric guitar for some added fun (been listening to a bit of Angus Young :D), but am not willing to spring for a Custom Shop Gibson just yet.

With the understanding that one indeed gets what one pays for, what are the consensus of opinions on the starter sets (Guitar/Amp/Tuner etc.) that Yamaha, Epiphone, Washburn, Squire put out?

We are talking about an armchair, weekend warrior addition to my repertoire, not a serious axe. I'm solidly in the Saxophone/Jazz camp, but a bit curious.


Let the comments roll in......


Purely from the guitar standpoint, I'd say Epiphone out of that lot. But have you looked into Peavy? Very solid, reasonably priced gear on the lower end of their offerings.
 

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I started playing guitar again a few years ago and bought a slightly used Chinese made Fender Squire Strat for $99 that I couldn't be happier with. I believe It sounds, plays and looks as good as the "Fenders" costing 4 times as much. However, there are many varieties and variations made in different countries, and are not all as good. There are plenty of nice cheap guitars around these days.
 

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Oh no! They moderated the word ****. I meant the word ****, I mean, F_ A_ R _T! What has this world come to? I would have to agree with reedsplinter, and say Epiphone. They have great tone quality. Do not buy a cheap chinese Guitar, whereas, I am sure that you know what the Chinese saxes play like.
 

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If you are just starting out, get an acoustic.

You can buy quite good models by Ibanez for example, that are not expensive.

These have built in pickup and pre-amp so you can still plug 'em in if you so desire.
 

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When the oldest daughter wanted to start guitar, her teacher suggested the Fender Squire Strat w/3 pick ups, and a Crate amp. Plenty good enough for 'Farting' around with.
 

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rondomusic.com has great prices and they are surprisingly good.
Korean made I believe.
I bought an L5 copy for under $250 and it's outstanding.
This was too good a deal , or just didn't sell enough they stopped selling them. But ask what they have for archtops. Otherwise they have inexpensive stuff that's good quality.
 

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Good advice so far, keep it coming if you please.

I knew I'd get some pretty rapid responses.... If there is any group of musicians more gear-headed than horn players, it's the guitar crowd.:D
 

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Gear. Yeah, I used to say that the difference between artists and photographers was that artists don't stand around talking about brushes, easels and canvas. Then I started playing a saxophone. Hah.
 

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If you're in the jazz camp, I'd recommend humbuckers above narrow-field single-coil pickups. That means the Strat/Tele copies move toward the back of the line.

Scout for one of the low-line Ibanez jazz boxes used off EBay or Daddys.

As for me, when composing I reach for my Washburn J-4 Howard Roberts copy. Looks lovely. Sounds alright. $225 as a NAMM-show-ding special off EBay. It's more guitar than I am guitarist . . .
 

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You're also going to need a good pair of shorts and a distortion box.
 

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Epiphone Sheraton. A slimmer archtop that will get you some decent tone.

Swap the front pickup with a gibson 57 classic humbucker and switch the pots over the CTS and put some decent capacitors and a new switch. Epiphone's electronics suck.

If you want Fender which is going to be long scale fingerboard 25.5" as opposed to the short scale gibson/epiphone, I'd go with a mexican telecaster and put a Gibson 57 classic in the front, you may need to buy a new pickguard and route out the body a little. Something in sunburst would be sharp. There's a number of great jazz players that have used the telecaster for jazz. I'd go with a maple/rosewood fingerboard for a warm sound as it's easy to slid around on, unlike maple which tends to stick to your fingers because it's lacquered.

Single coils on Fenders hum when around fluorescent lights, but the best sounding pickup of all time is the massive single coil Charlie Christian pickup which you can buy from Jason Lollar. Put the Charlie Christian pickup in a tele neck position and it will smoke. Nothing comes close to this pickup trust me and they are exact copies of the real thing. You can even get the pickguard ready to match the pickup.http://www.acmeguitarworks.com/Charlie_Christian_Tele_Neck_(Black)_P1132.cfm

Throw on some pyramid flat wounds and your ready for some serious jazz playing.
 

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There are a lot of playable very cheap guitars out there these days, but you do have to check out the individual one you buy as quality control on the cheaper ones can be a bit variable, and wood is not a uniform substance. My friend and fellow band member who makes decidedly non-cheap guitars sadly observed that he couldn't even do a paint job on one of his creations for the price of one of these cheap but playable lookalikes.
 

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I just went through this myself. I thought some of the best bargains that I saw were 80's japanese guitars (mostly Fenders Made in Japan) or the Tokai/Fernandes copies of Fender guitars. These are good guitars and can be found cheap on ebay. In the end, I sold a 82Z tenor that I liked but didn't love and I took the money and bought a relacq 10M and a Fender telecaster from the 70's.
 

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Woodwinds were my first instruments, but guitar is what I played for 37 years, after I put down the reeds. I recently picked up a tenor sax, and I'm loving it (I've always heard horn section parts in my head . . .along with the voices) lol.

Guitar -

Take a look at the Line 6 Variax300. It's an electronics miracle that models 25 different classic guitars, including accousitcs, 12-strings, Les Pauls, Strats, Tele's, Rickenbackers, jazz guitars, a banjo, a sitar, and more. The modeling is pretty good. This is more than a toy.

I picked one of these up about six months ago when Line 6 dropped the price to $300. For that price, I couldn't resist, but I considered that it would be just a novelty. It has since become my #1. I even play it out in live situations.

My Les Paul and my American Dlx Stratocaster sit on the wall and get an occasional pity play. The expensive guitars have become my backups.

The only problem is you probably will not find a local retailer that has one in stock. Best bet is to order one from Sweetwater Music. They'll check it out and do a set-up (regulate) on it before they send it out.

Amplification -

If you don't need an "out-loud" amp, you might also want to consider an amp modeler that works through your computer. Take a look at the Line 6 Toneport UX-1. It models a boatload of classic amp rigs and effects, and includes a PC recording interface that you can use for both mics and instruments - about $129. There is also an upgraded model (UX-2) that goes for about $199 that has a few more controls, and will furnish phantom power if you need it for a condenser mic.

I have used Line 6 products for about 7 years and recommend their products highly. There may be better products out there (although the Variax is pretty unique), but I believe that Line 6 stuff gives you the most bang/$$.
 

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Well, I can weigh in here. I've recently picked up sax as diversion from guitar..and so far I'm loving it!

Let's see, at last count I have 12 guitars: a Custom Fender American strat, a 1960 Les Paul Classic, a Gibson 333, an Epiphone Casino, a Rickenbacker 360/12, A Fender Zone bass, a Martin Sigma acoustic, a Larrivee acoustic, a Taylor baby, a Yamaha classical, and a Takamine EAN40C and a cheapo esquire strat. There is also seven amps or so.

Out of all of these, the Takamine EAN40C is by far the guitar I pick more than any of the others. It has a cedar, rather than the usual spruce top, which gives it a warmer sound. The neck is just right, not too small and cramped, not too spread. It is not a loud acoustic, having a little smaller top which is nice especially when picking out new tunes. (I took up finger picking when my daughter was a toodler and would charge into the room and start banging on my guitar when I played with a pick.) It has a built in tuner which I find darn handy, and you can plug it in if you happen to get in a situation where you need to play louder, but from the sound of things, that won't be too soon.

If you want to go electric, check out the Gibson 333, which is a poor man's 335. The semi-hollow 335 is probably the most versitile guitar out there. Rock , jazz, twang, country--you name it. It is a semi-hollow guitar that can ussally be picked up on ebay for just under a grand. Some of the pickup switch-outs can be done after you develop your preference for sound (Kind of like trying out different mouthpieces) Get a groovy tube amp. You won't need more than ten or twenty amps unless you want your ears to bleed.

Most of the guitars that sell under 500 dollars, regardless of the name on the headstock, are made by Samick, a huge Korean and Taiwanese manufacturing company. My cheapo squire strat that I bought for 90 dollars sounded great when played by my teacher. But I don't get a groove out of playing it.
 

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It's a lot easier to get ripped off in the guitar market than it is in horns.

Nevertheless. . .

Epiphone and Ibanez have established good reputations for affordable quality guitars. Both make very nice archtops for under $1000. They are laminated-top guitars with reliable intonation and good tone. (Most Gibson archtops after the 1940s are also laminated, so it's not a bad thing.)

If you want to play like Angus, you can get an Epiphone SG for under $500.

If you want to spring for a little more in a jazz guitar, Eastman is a violin maker in China that produces outstanding hand-carved archtops at prices that have staggered the industry--$2000 to $2500. (Eastman aside, avoid Chinese guitars.) I've played a few, and they're beautiful.

Heritage is a bunch of old Gibson builders who took over the company's factory in Kalamazoo. They make the same guitars they did for Gibson at a lower price.

Fender and Gibson are the GM and Ford of guitars--each company builds guitar equivalents of mustangs and corvettes. But they also put out cavaliers and escorts. In the past decade or so, both companies have been producing dozens of variations on stratocaster, telecaster, les paul, and SG.

With Fender and Gibson you pay a hefty markup for the name, however the name does retain value.

Squier guitars are junk. They are not built to last or play in tune.
 
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