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advice on buying a used guitar

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Ewo, Nov 27, 2017.

  1. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    So...I'm a bassist. That's the instrument I'm competent on, and get paid to play. Been doing it for a long time, and I'm musically literate.

    But I've been thinking it'd be nice to have a guitar around, just for fun and for writing tunes. Budget is modest and condition doesn't need to be perfect as long as the thing plays well.

    Wanted to ask for advice about shopping for a used electric guitar. I'm thinking in terms of a Strat with a rosewood board--but I'm not clued as to all the various models of Squiers, MIMs, MIJs, and MIAs. And I'm open to other makes and models, but I'm pretty solid that my tone preference is for the Fender kind of thing.

    Would value whatever suggestions you have to offer!
    Farseer and Killed_by_Death like this.
  2. Oddly

    Oddly Unofficial TalkBass Cartographer! Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
    All I can advise is to get yourself to some guitar stores and play everything they've got.
    Then forget this silly notion and get back to playing a real instrument!:D
  3. If you're not really intending on using the vibrato arm, get something with a fixed bridge.
    The floating bridge on a Strat is just an unnecessary nuisance if you're not going to make use of it.
    and then there's the single coil noise

    Check your local pawn shops. I've found gems in my local pawn shops over the years & I finally surmised that LTD is the best bang-for-buck, and Ibanez is 2nd.
    only because Ibanez puts pretty crap pickups in their cheaper models

    I've got a LTD MH-1000NT with Seymour Duncan pickups.
    These are easily bought off GC.com for less than $500, and they're originally $1,000 guitars.

    MH-1000NT DUNCAN

    A lot of folks think the JB pickup in the bridge of these is the best.
    and this particular model has locking tuning machines, which is a bonus
    add: mine is less than 6-3/4 lbs., even with a mahogany body

    If you really want to go nuts with the vibrato arm, get something with an original Floyd Rose, which I've found Jackson has good options for those.
    The only thing is, Jackson isn't really clever with their wiring & will just have a 3-way switch where others have a 5-way.

    Guitars :: Pro Series Soloist™ SL2Q MAH, Ebony Fingerboard, Cherry Burst

    by Original Floyd Rose, I mean not a "licensed" one or a Special
    those use cheap metal & are crap at holding the strings in place, they slip
    Chico Ruger and Ewo like this.
  4. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    Yes, get out and play some to find out what you want. As for Strats, I recommend one with a bridge humbucker as a "do it all" electric. Fender has offered a dizzying array of models over the years, so it's difficult to narrow it down, but the U.S. American Series/Standard/Pro have been good for a long time, and the MIM Standards have been great for about the past ten years. Also, pay close attention if you encounter any G&L Legacy models, because the USA and import Tribute versions are excellent.

    I understand the point about avoiding the vibrato, but hardtail Strats (at least Fenders) aren't the easiest to find, and IMO the trem cavity and assembly is partly responsible for the Strat's distinctive tone. You can always lock the trem in place if you want, and my Strats stay in tune if I don't use the trem.
    Lvjoebass and Ewo like this.
  5. Zoobiedood, Atshen and Ewo like this.
  6. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Looking for a gig around East Islip, NY!

    Jan 13, 2008
    You missed out. I picked up a Fender AmStd strat with a maple board when they were discontinuing the line. Very nice guitar, and it has been an absolute pleasure to learn on. I also got a Fender Blues Deluxe which is a pretty sick amp.

    Attached Files:

    Ewo likes this.
  7. Sorry to hear that about the amp :smug:
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2017
  8. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Hey, thanks for the replies! Very helpful; please keep 'em coming.

    About the MIM standard strats:
    I've seen a good number of them from the '90s, on Reverb. How's the quality, compared to MIMs built in the last decade?
    Killed_by_Death likes this.
  9. I had a 96 Mexican Strat that was quite good, but heavy:


    If you can grab one with Lace Sensors, the single coil hum problem is solved.
    also, Rail pickups are great for noise cancelling

    S.D. also makes some single-coil sized humbuckers:

    This^ one is called the JB Junior!

    Here's one that has it all, an original Floyd Rose vibrato bridge, & three humbucking pickups:


    That^ is a Dave Murray signature Strat:

    Dave Murray Stratocaster®
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2017
    Ewo likes this.
  10. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    Good call on the ESP LTD stuff. I've also noticed they're amazingly good for the price. A few years ago, I tried a LTD Strat copy that cost less than $200 new, and it actually felt pretty good and seemed well-built. Their EC Les Paul copies are excellent, and I seriously considered buying one -- until I happened upon a 2001 American Series HH hardtail Strat with OEM Seymour Duncans.
    Zoobiedood, Ewo and Killed_by_Death like this.
  11. If you want a Strat on steroids, get a G&L with MFD pickups:

    G&L USA S-500

    The Deluxe models come w/o a pickguard & they are beautiful:


    The vibrato bridge on these is superior to those on Fenders. They come default with bass & treble cut knobs, which makes sense, because the timbre of those MFD pickups is probably the broadest of any single coil pickup out there.

    My G&L also had a mini-switch on it that you could use to turn on all three pickups at once or bridge + neck.
    A Comanche (also MFD pickups) KILLED my Strat so badly that I sold the Strat immediately!

    Here's a shot of my Comanche, flamed maple top on a ash body with a birdseye maple neck:


    Only downside, it was heavy!~

    ICYMI, G&L is George & Leo. Leo being Leo Fender.
    IMHO, Leo did his finest designs with G&L.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2017
  12. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    Lost Wages, Nevada
    EA-250 Epi-2. When I do play a guitar, it's usually this one; otherwise it's an Epiphone Sheriton II. I have almost no experience with Fender guitars, but.. I was in my local Sam Ash last Saturday, and met a professional local Jazz/Blues guitarist who was looking at a MIM hardtail(?) Strat "Just for fun". He plugged it into a Fender Twin Bassman amp; and once the strings stopped stretching, the sound that came out of that thing was... amazing. He had the whole store just standing and listening to him. No pedals, amp set pretty much flat, too. Just him and the Strat. When I asked him if he was going to take it home with him, his answer was just a huge smile... which I assume meant "Oh HELL yes". Got to admit; if they had had any leftys, I might have taken one home too...;)
    Ewo likes this.
  13. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Agreed that if you aren't planning on using the tremolo arm, try to get a hardtail bridge. I think what can be said for Fender/Squier basses pretty much translates to their guitar re: line and year.
  14. C_Becker


    Mar 30, 2017
    +1 on the LTDs. Check out Squier Classic Vibe or Vintage modified as well.
    All three are great bang for the buck
    Jimruth, Ewo and Killed_by_Death like this.
  15. ezstep


    Nov 25, 2004
    north Louisiana
    My old guitarist has one of those with the split, P-style pups. That sucker NEVER goes out of tune, even with a guitarist who tends to tune every two or three songs. Rock solid! He also had the old, 2x10 MusicMan amp. Killer combo!
    Killed_by_Death likes this.
  16. I’ve had a few over the years for writing purposes. Acoustics guitars are always great for writing. Not so much for fast metal stuff but for hard rock and just about everything else I pretty much have the view that if it’s really a good song it will Work on both acoustic and electric. Don’t have to spend $2k on a Gibson or Taylor. A fender or Ibanez acoustic guitar will do just fine for writing. Plus the other nice thing is you don’t need an amp

    For low tuned metal stuff I used a esp ltd sc607b baritone into a pod HD. Guitar felt good being a little bit longer scale and wider neck. I’m not a big fan of line 6 stuff. It’s certainly not the be all end all of tone but they are convenient. Simple things like being able to connect the pod Hd straight to my laptop and using it as an interface to make demos on my laptop was cool.

    Most of the Guitar parts that I write for my band I come up with on Guitar or keyboard. It’s fun to go between the two because I teach myself new chords and stuff by learning to play a keyboard part on guitar or a Guitar pet on keyboard. Same pretty much goes for keys and extended range bass. For example a lot of the high melodic stuff and two hand tapping type parts I play started off as keyboard parts.
    Ewo likes this.
  17. mikewalker

    mikewalker Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2017
    Canada, Eh!
    Strats? Even if you don't use the vibrato, you do get the cool bonus 'built in reverb'. Strat doesn't seem the same without that! And you can throw some Kinmans in it, to get rid of any single coil noise :thumbsup:
    Ewo likes this.
  18. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    It seems @Killed_by_Death and I have similar tastes for Strat-type guitars, because my 2004 MIA Fender (SSS) has Lace Sensors, and my most recent is a 2015 G&L Comanche! These are, IMO, two of the best ways to have a Strat-type guitar with little or zero single coil hum.

    The G&L S-types with MFD pickups, the S-500 and Comanche, are excellent, with more punch than a conventional Strat. IMO, the Comanche is much better because it's completely noise-free. To me, it produces a bigger, stronger version of traditional Strat tone in positions 1-4. The neck pickup can't duplicate the glassy twang of a conventional Strat, which I prefer, but it sounds great. It reminds me of some dual-rails Strat pickups I've heard. Sometimes conventional Strats sound thin in a band context (probably mostly because the players don't adjust their amps properly), but the Comanche just rocks on through.

    I get plenty of glassy twang with the Lace Sensors in my Fender. I have the Hot Gold set with overwound hot bridge pickup, and IMO they are incredible pickups. I've never heard any hum, and the hot bridge pickup gets rid of the harsh "ice pick" effect of some traditional Strat bridge pickups. It punches harder while retaining Strat-like single coil tone. At a jam session a few years ago, I ran it through a bandmate's Mesa guitar rig, and the tone was unreal. I love my Comanche, but if forced to choose, I'd go with the Hot Golds.
    Ewo and Killed_by_Death like this.
  19. Drgonzonm


    Sep 4, 2017
    American SW
    Dan Erlewine (early wine), has a dvd out on how to check out instruments. I found a copy at my local library. He shows how to check necks for bad frets, bad pots. His dvd also shows how to adjust truss rods. I'm just guessing, that if you pick Elrewyne's DVD and tools up, you will be able to talk the Pawnshop down on some instruments.
    Ewo likes this.
  20. The guys in my local pawn shops could not care less about the condition of the instruments & won't haggle over items missing or broken off.
    Last time it was a stuck pot on the EMG version of the LTD guitar I bought.

    The guy acted like a jerk when I didn't buy it, so I came straight home & bought the Duncan equivalent from GC.

    It's also not like I only look & never buy.
    That Strat in the photo above I bought from the same shop & back in April I bought two Ibáñez basses from them.
    Last December I bought a Yamaha RBX there.

    Anyway, they served their purpose, because I liked the guitar, hated the pickups & the non-locking tuning machines:

    this one is also prettier than the one in the pawn shop
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2017
    C_Becker, Zoobiedood and Ewo like this.

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