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Croal Darksoul

Trying to decide on guitar purchase.....

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Ive dabbled in guitar over the years but have never had the time due to work and family to become as proficient as I would like to be. I am now retired and looking to accomplish my life long dream of becomming a competent player. I have owned and dabbled around with several styles and brands of guitars in the past but the two that have made the greatest impression on me have been the Gibson Les Paul and the Fender Stratocaster. Each has its own sound and pros and cons but I cant seem to decide which one I would prefer. I like the bright twangy sound of the strat but I also tend to like harder, heavier music more suited to the LP.

Im looking at either a nice Gibson LP or an American SSS Strat. Any advice as to which would be better for learning on? Any advantages one has over the other. I know that I am spending more for what would be a beginning guitar given my skill level but I want a guitar that I will be keeping from this point forward and one that will meet and even exceed my ability as I learn and grow in to it. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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You should buy them both, hehe. I think that getting on with some playing might be more of a priority than agonising over the "perfect" guitar. I can get easily sidetracked into not getting on with practice and worrying about whether my strings, action, amp setting, fingerboard width, slide weight, etc, etc are just right.

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Ive dabbled in guitar over the years but have never had the time due to work and family to become as proficient as I would like to be. I am now retired and looking to accomplish my life long dream of becomming a competent player. I have owned and dabbled around with several styles and brands of guitars in the past but the two that have made the greatest impression on me have been the Gibson Les Paul and the Fender Stratocaster. Each has its own sound and pros and cons but I cant seem to decide which one I would prefer. I like the bright twangy sound of the strat but I also tend to like harder, heavier music more suited to the LP.

Im looking at either a nice Gibson LP or an American SSS Strat. Any advice as to which would be better for learning on? Any advantages one has over the other. I know that I am spending more for what would be a beginning guitar given my skill level but I want a guitar that I will be keeping from this point forward and one that will meet and even exceed my ability as I learn and grow in to it. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Obviously, no one can tell you which guitar is "better" or even better for you as a student.

Personally, I went with the Strat for the simple reason it was the more comfortable guitar to play IMO. Thinner, lighter and with the shaved top side the Strat was the better guitar for me. I also tended to prefer the flatter fretboard of the Strat for single note solos and up the neck barre chords.

I would say the Strat is quite malleable when it comes to sound - as long as you are aware of the fact you are attempting to change the nature of a Strat to begin with.

Selecting the various pickups can radically alter the nature of what you can achieve from the Strat. Upgrading the existing pu's is somewhat less expensive on the Start in most cases if you get the feeling you could improve the guitar by improving on its OEM electronics. In fact, since the Strat can be disassembled and recreated with an almost infinite supply of parts, it is an exceptionally versatile guitar for the player interested in future upgrades. If you are interested in learning how to perform a set up on an electric guitar, the Strat is a snap at that too.

Best thing about a mid-priced Start though might be the idea you can just buy one and play it as is. Ignore all the mumbo-jumbo voodoo that surrounds a Strat and just play. IMO it's a perfect learning tool if your guitar tastes run towards the electrics.

The negatives I perceive with the Strat are two fold and relatively minor for the budget buyer.

First, I have never really been able to see or hear a distinct difference between many of the Start models other than a simple reading of their descriptions. The body material is IMO somewhat inconsequential to the overall sound of a Strat. I suppose I could justify the neck materials as a contributing factor to the Strat's sound but only by a very small amount given the far greater variability afforded via the electronics

This mild "criticism" seems to be a reason the mid-priced Strats are considered by many players to be the better values in the line. For me and for my ears, the difference between the mid-priced and the higher priced Strats suggested more of my funds could be directed toward other links in the chain.

Second and possibly a more important criticism would be, IMO, a Strat is always going to sound like a Strat. IMO its very difficult to achieve the "fat" sound of the Gibson if you are stuck with a Strat. For that, you would, and probably should, look to the Telecaster which IMO has a bit more sonic versatility than does the Strat.

And, I would add, in what would amount to simple "blind" listening sessions in showrooms, I have found more quality in the mid-priced Teles than I have in the Strat sounds. That's just me though and I have arrived at my decision only by listening to other players with some talent playing an unknown guitar off to the side. When I look over, they almost always have the Tele in their hands. There seems to be a richness to that sound even in their mid-priced models that the Strat just can't quite match IMO. The Tele seems to me to be a midway point between the "scratchy/twangy" sounding Strat and the fat sounding LP. Possibly though, playing a Telecaster would make you look too much like a modern C&W player.

If you're after the most versatile guitar as far as musical styles go, try an Epiphone archtop. Last time I played a Dot it was a pretty nice guitar for the money and sounded like almost any genre of music you could conjure. Sheratons are great too but somewhat more expensive. They can both get Strat steely, both get LP fat and both get Tele smooth. They can cover Gospel, jazz, R&B, rock, classic rockabilly and "country" along with blues and I would think even some modern urban sounds. And, IMO, they can do the blues like no other guitars. But they're big bodies and not at all light guitars.

If you're considering an LP at all, I assume you aren't interested in the whammy bar. And the Tele isn't quite as comfortable to play as the Strat. The LP is the LP and IMO Henry shouldn't be rewarded for anything so, if you decide on the Gibson, buy it used. Epiphones are rather easy to find on the pre-owned market also. Just make sure you're looking at a fairly recent Dot or Sheraton.

And, of course, so many other manufacturers have an instrument that is quite similar to any of these guitars that you could spend days in a GC simply switching between the various options.

Whichever guitar you decide on, a modeling amplifier will make your choice less of an either/or decision.

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Thanks for the great advice guys. Ive been making the rounds at all of my local music stores for the past three days. Ive played around with lots of different guitars in seven different stores and basically narrowed it down to two distinctly different guitars. While neither of these turned out to be the American strat or the Gibson LP I was very attracted to both choices and still unable to decide between them as I loved each one based on different merits. I had originally decided to spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $1200-$1500 on either a Gibson or an American Strat. I changed my initial purchace idea just slightly and ended up purchacing two guitars but managing to stay within my projected budget.

I played several American Strats and MIM Srats. I was just as pleased with the MIM strat as with the American at about half the price. The "C" neck was very comfortable and I liked the medium jumbo frets. It was very comfortable to play and felt very good to me. I also liked the bright twangy sound of the single coil pickups as well as the versatility of the 5 way switching. I went with the Fender Standard Strat (MIM) in Lake Placid Blue.

Now for my darker side I fell instantly in love with the Epiphone Les Paul Prophecy Plus. A gorgeous guitar in Midnight Sapphire sporting EMG 85/81 active pickups. The heavy crunchy sound of this guitar and its beautiful finish, boning, and fret inlays just couldnt be ignored. I picked this one up as well.

Now I faced a new dilema. What amp to purchace. I wanted a tube combo for the nice warm sound of the twangy strat but I also wanted something with a lot of effects for the LP without needing a lot of extra pedals for specific sounds. I decided once again to go with two distinctly different amps.

I picked up a Marshall Code 25 modeling amp for versatility and a multitude of effects, cabinets, and amps. It is by far the best sounding modeling amp that I have heard but my experince with modeling amps in the past has been limited to the Mustangs, G-Dec, and Line 6 amps of years ago. I liked it so I picked one up.

I still was set on wanting a decent tube amp. My main concern was that it had to have a great sounding clean channel. I tried several brands and models out and settled on the Bugera V22 Infinium. Great clean channel, nice sounding lead channel, and for the price loaded with features to numerous to list here. I picked this amp up ax well.

Now I am in my man cave hidden away from society gleefully playing with my new toys. I have enough food and beer stockpiled in here that my family may not see me for a few days or more. Again, thanks for all the excellent advice guys. I will definetly be seeing all of you around on the forums. If I can figure out how post pictures here I will post some. I would love to show off my new babies.

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