Guitar buying help

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by RitterSport, Jun 29, 2022.

  1. RitterSport


    Apr 20, 2020
    Talk about off-topic!

    I don't really know anything about guitars. Whenever I learn something accidentally, I crank my bass up really high to knock it out of my brain.

    However, my son is really getting into guitar playing and he's looking for recommendations for a good quality, used Les Paul-style guitar with a whammy bar. Barring that, any good quality, used guitar with a whammy bar. He has another guitar that he loves (G&L LSAT, passed down from my uncle), but he doesn't want to add a whammy to that for sentimental reasons.

    So, what brands are known to be not too expensive, punching above their weight, quality and price wise? And, what's a reasonable price to pay for a used guitar? I'm thinking $300-$500? Is that too little? Too much?
  2. Oddly


    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
    Just make sure he knows that if there's one thing designed to keep a guitar out of tune, it's a whammy bar.:)
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  3. Riff Ranger

    Riff Ranger Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2018
    Bigfoot Country
    If he wants to play hard rock or metal, look into the ESP/LTD Eclipse or Jackson Monarkh; I don’t recall seeing them with locking tremolo bridges, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they existed in that price range.

    If he wants to play blues or rockabilly, you could look for an Epiphone Les Paul with a Bigsby bridge; again, I don’t recall seeing an Epiphone with a stock Bigsby, but maybe.
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  4. Riff Ranger

    Riff Ranger Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2018
    Bigfoot Country
    If you lose the Les-Paul-ish requirement, you will find a ton of options in that price range. Double locking tremolos (Floyd Rose or similar) stay in tune, but they’re a lot of work when it comes time to adjust setup or change strings. Other tremolos are less of a pain to set up and maintain, but more prone to going out of tune. I prefer dirt cheap Ibanez with a non-locking tremolo (though I would go with something double locking if I had someone else to handle the maintenance), FWIW, but of course that’s highly subjective.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2022
  5. has the Xavier555 with a Floyd Rose.
    f you search eBay Kramer had a version of the Assault (I think was the model name) that had a Floyd also. I haven’t held, played or worked on either one but most reviews seem to indicate they’re decent for the price.

    Some context may be in order. The above suggestion for an Epiphone LP with a Bigsby is a good one and I, personally, like a LP with a Bigsby but if your son is looking to dive bomb and do Eddie VanHalen antics he won’t be happy with that and will probably want a double locking style vibrato.

  6. RitterSport


    Apr 20, 2020
    Thanks! He's going to have to get his hands on a couple, I think, to figure out what kind he wants (locking or no) and what level of guitar. There's a GC and a Sam Ash near me, so he should have lots to play with to narrow it down a bit. I'll come back with more questions after he's had a chance to try a few.
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  7. Riff Ranger

    Riff Ranger Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2018
    Bigfoot Country
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  8. Epiphone LPs are a great value, and used ones are everywhere.
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  9. I think this arena is where PRS really shines. Something like the Tremonti SE or if you have the budget an S2 standard.

    Otherwise, I'd look into a double humbucker superstrat. Maybe a Charvel or EVH.
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  10. Stevis


    Jan 14, 2016
    Washington, DC
    If he isn’t married to an LP style, I think that there are some good Squiers under $500. I don’t have any Squier guitars but I have two basses (Matt Freeman P and a Classic Vibe Jazz - very gigable instruments). The J Mascis Jaguar is a popular model Squier, with a whammy.

    I would also suggest checking out two YouTubers: Phil McKnight (Know Your Gear) or Ryan and Steve (60 Cycle Hum). In fact, I think that the former just did a “what would I buy under $500” the other day. And the latter is always getting and reviewing different Squiers (They are a bit cheekier in their reviews). I have no ties to either but enjoy their reviews.

    If he has a G&L ASAT (great Fenderish guitar), it could have a variety of pickups on it, from P90-like pups to single coils and/or a humbucker. You might also suggest that he think about “mixing it up” in terms of pups and not just fixate on the whammy bar. Then, he could arguably have two different “tone tools,” along with the ability to use a whammy bar on one. Just a thought . . .
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2022
  11. Honkey tonk

    Honkey tonk Turn it up Supporting Member

    Feb 10, 2019
    Lower 48
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2022
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  12. Yeah, LP with a whammy is not as easy to find as many other configurations.

    It might depend a lot on which direction your son is coming from:

    Is he thinking he wants a guitar that's a little bit more of a metal guitar than the ASAT, but just really likes the LP shape? Functionally, bigsbys are probably less ideal. And then aesthetically, metal guitars are a pretty slippery slope from a little metal to EXTREMELY METAL. So it also matters what his tolerance there is. He might want an Epiphone or Gretsch with a bigsby. He might want to get a guitar that is easy to find (a metal guitar) but has the type of trem he's dreaming of.

    Is he thinking that he wants to just have a different thing to try, and hey, twin humbuckers and a tremolo are two big differences from an ASAT? Then whichever RG pops up used for a good price or catches his fancy might be a good cheapest option. or an HH strat.

    Is he thinking he wants a guitar with a tremolo, but dislikes how common the strat and super-strat shapes are? IIRC, they aren't always easy to find, but yeah, there have been a couple models of ESP LTD Eclipse that should fall in that price range. Brands that are cheap but specialize in pseudo custom options like Xaviere or Agile are good places to look. ..pretty sure all the Gibson floyd rose models are much too expensive.

    There was also a Charvel series about a decade ago that had a floyd rose on mahogany neckthru bodies with EMGs. They were very flame-maple / abalone / cosmo black hardware—depending on his tastes. But besides a super-strat shape, there was a LP (or PRS single cut) -looking one and a jazzmaster (or surfcaster actually) -looking one.

    I guess the other thing to consider is how much setup work you're able to do with him. If you get something with halfway decent parts and that hasn't been abused, you can fix it up to be fantastic. Can you fix a nut that's too high? Do you know when you need to? But if you're not able to do stuff like that, then you might need to budget for a tune up or get something that has a high likelihood of having the kinks already worked out.
  13. King Harvest

    King Harvest

    May 13, 2022
    $500 is a good place to be. A Gretsch Electromatic Jet with a Bigsby will likely be better quality and a better value than an Epiphone with the Bigsby added after the fact. It’s a vibrato though— “whammy bar” has a much different connotation, IME.
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  14. definenredefine

    definenredefine Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2022
    North Carolina
    My suggestion has the caveat that I doubt you'll find one close by to try out, but here goes -

    Any of the double humbucker models from the old Matsumoku brands (Aria, Vantage, Westone, etc)! Many within your price range with single and double cut styles available. Some are direct LP or SG clones, others are a little more unique. Most of the ones from the 70s/80s were made in Japan (some in Korea), and are generally well-regarded quality-wise.
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  15. Stevis


    Jan 14, 2016
    Washington, DC
    I am not sure that this is as authoritative a source as Guitar Player but it is an interesting read and has a sort of potato/patato take on terms. It does point out how it really isn’t a tremolo, as Leo F. incorrectly termed it. I think that I have favored whammy because it is so easy to forget and default to calling it a tremolo. But I can see the distinction that you make between whammy and vibrato.

    Whammy/Vibrato Article
  16. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    The G&L Legacy Tribute is a S style (Strat) and Tribute is like the Squier of G&L but the quality is really great. Check into them.

    Another option since the ASAT is a Telecaster type, look up Vibramate V5 or a handful of similar no-drill mods to fit a Bigsby to a Tele style bridge.
  17. Schecter produces some guitars that really punch above their weight for the $$$.
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  18. pbass2

    pbass2 Supporting Member

    Jan 25, 2007
    Los Angeles
    Eastwood makes a crazy number of different guitars with whammys---all manner of body styles and pickup configurations, usually very affordable too. I have one of their Univox reissue style guitars and it's a solid instrument. Otherwise as others have said if he'd consider something other than an LP style, you can't go wrong with a regular 'ol Strat with a whammy. It's a classic - one of those "essentials" in a well-rounded guitar quiver. I have a Squier Strat from the early 90's that is KILLER. People ask to borrow it all the time.
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  19. nnnnnn


    Oct 27, 2018
    Les Pauls (Gibson or Epiphone) with any kind of tremolo are pretty uncommon - one sometimes sees one with a Bigsby, but to me "whammy" implies a more hard rock or metal type dive-bomb capability, and either a double-locking (Floyd Rose style) configuration or at least a modern two-point trem. I find the position of the bar on a Bigsby is too far back to allow it to be really integrated into playing for things like "scooping" into notes, so it really isn't interchangeable with other types of tremolo bridge.

    ESP/LTD makes approximately Les Paul shaped guitars with double-locking whammy. Here's one such: GH-200

    Alternatively if the body shape doesn't matter so much and the aim is just to go for a twin humbucker guitar with a whammy then there are zillions of options. Get your son to browse in a local music shop and see what catches his eye. For "reasonably priced" I would start with Ibanez, they're very good at whammy guitars. In higher price ranges: still Ibanez but also Charvel, Chapman, Schechter, ESP/LTD, Music Man (SBMM or EBMM depending on budget) .

    I find string changes very easy on my double-locking Ibanez, and tuning stability is better than on my other guitars. But yes, set up changes are much more hassle than on a non-locking bridge.
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  20. Riff Ranger

    Riff Ranger Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2018
    Bigfoot Country
    That’s because Ibanez is AWESOME :woot: I bought a dirt cheap, no-trem Ibanez RG on a whim and immediately liked it a bajillion times better than the ostensibly much fancier, Floyd-equipped, non-Ibanez I had consciously chosen for lead work; I’m now in the process of replacing the latter with another dirt cheap Ibanez with a Strat-style tremolo, since I don’t take advantage of what Floyds do often enough to justify the hassles associated with them. If the Ibanez Edge tremolos are at least somewhat less hassle, and lead guitar becomes a bigger part of what I do, I might go for a fancier Ibanez.
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