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How good a guitar do I need?

Postby Heavy Metal » Wed Jun 10, 2020 9:31 pm

Hi All

I am going to record music using an electric guitar. My current guitar is all chanky so I need to buy a new one.

I will likely never play it on stage or even play it through an amp - I'm just going to record it through an interface.

Given that, will the quality of the guitar make a big difference to the recording? I was thinking about buying a relatively expensive one to get a pleasing powerful and also warm sound but can I just use my computer to create the good sound?

Any advice gratefully received

Cheers :thumbup:
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Re: How good a guitar do I need?

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Jun 10, 2020 9:54 pm

Decide your budget and think about what guitarists you like play. If you can find a guitar that is within budget and looks and sounds close to what your hero plays then buy that. The difference between a decent budget guitar and a top spec custom shop special might be something like two or three noughts on the price but the difference in sound will be very much less and a well set up budget instrument can be as nice to play as a top pf the range one. FWIW I have a '75 Gibson Les Paul Custom I bought new in 1978*, my goto guitar for gigs is a £125 'bitsa' Strat I built about 12 years ago from inexpensive Chinese and Korean bits.

I suspect the differences will be even less if a big stage amp is not part of the equation. Modelling pedals and plug-ins are excellent these days and especially for high gain styles (which I assume from your forum name is what you plan on recording).

* I do still play the Les Paul regularly and it is lovely, and very nice to own but is it a 'better' guitar than the Strat? Not sure I'm the guy to answer that but the Strat is great too. If I just had to have one the LP would win for largely sentimental reasons but the Strat gets the job done perfectly satisfactorily and without the 42 years of history.......
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Re: How good a guitar do I need?

Postby CS70 » Wed Jun 10, 2020 10:09 pm

+1 on Sam's answer.

Modern "cheap" guitars are made with CNC manufacturing and some hand finishing, and the quality is astounding for the price.

Squiers come to mind.

However, something you may want to check on the guitar is the quality of soldering and wiring, because that can be a source of noise. You do simply by plugging several guitars in the same amp with similar settings, possibly with the gain pumped up and just listening. If you can pick up a "quiet" amp in terms of self noise (not a Mesa Mark IV, to say :))

Tuners are important to.. well, keep the strings in tune. If you don't use a tremolo, buy a hardtail. Pickups, so long in the same class, have imho a limited impact (I never found two guitars with which I didn't sound the same as I usually do, no matter the pickups) - of course there's a difference between humbuckers and single coils but it's more about the starting gain level (and the noise) than much else.

Move your hands on the sides of the neck to feel the frets - if you feel them too much, you may want to check another guitar.

But in the end the absolutely most important source of your electric guitar sound is you.
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Re: How good a guitar do I need?

Postby Heavy Metal » Wed Jun 10, 2020 10:20 pm

Thanks Sam and CS70

Very helpful :thumbup:

I have a budget of up to £1k but I'm thinking I don't need to spend that much
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Re: How good a guitar do I need?

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Jun 10, 2020 10:37 pm

You definitely don't. But I spent about two months wages on my Les Paul, and I got it trade as I worked in the business. I haven't regretted it for a moment but I also have much cheaper guitars that will do the job every bit as well.

Assuming you are playing heavy metal then a low to mid range Ibanez would be the obvious choice, better quality instruments do keep their value pretty well* and there is something about owning a quality instrument. Your budget is healthy so play as many as you can before buying and choose the one that makes you happy just picking it up**

* My LP has kept ahead of inflation for 40 years, but not by much and I did get it cheap. Add in the pleasure it has given me I'm well in credit.

** I have several like that, some cost me a lot of money, others very little but I liken it to when I had motorcycles, the day you stop looking at your reflection in shop windows is the day to buy a car...... (or buy a different bike.....)
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Re: How good a guitar do I need?

Postby Heavy Metal » Wed Jun 10, 2020 10:46 pm

Cheers Sam

It will be heavy music and also some lighter poppier stuff

I won't get a chance to try the guitar before I buy it as the shops are closed - I'm in a bit of a rush as I want to record while I'm furloughed. I suppose that should skew me to not spending a lot as it would be pretty stupid to spend a lot of money on a guitar I don't like.

Do you know if I bought the guitar from Guitar Guitar would it come ready to go or would I have to put the strings on? I really am clueless :headbang:
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Re: How good a guitar do I need?

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Jun 10, 2020 11:04 pm

Nowt wrong with being clueless HM, we all were once. But first question, do you already play guitar or are you an absolute beginner?
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Re: How good a guitar do I need?

Postby Heavy Metal » Wed Jun 10, 2020 11:40 pm

I already play guitar. Rythmn. No soloing. I'd say I was at a sub Taylor Swift level :)
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Re: How good a guitar do I need?

Postby Dynamic Mike » Thu Jun 11, 2020 1:20 am

I'm not going to recommend a specific guitar partly because I don't play metal, but mostly because there's a tendancy for guitarists to be slavish brand loyalists & to point people towards whatever we play!

The first place I'd look is Anderton's You Tube channel. Amongst the millions of videos uploaded they do a series titled 'How to sound like [insert artist here] without breaking the bank. These are aimed a getting closest to the sounds you need on a budget if you're more interested in how the guitar sounds than looks & aren't too bothered by the name on the headstock. I'm not suggesting you need to buy it from Anderton's but they might point you in the general direction you need.

For people who don't know a lot about buying guitars I usually recommend Yamaha. Maybe not currently the prettiest, sexiest, trendiest choice but I've never played a bad one. I think they are the safest bet, especially if you're buying online because in my experience their quality control is better than anyone else & they tend to come set up for the average player out of the box. Having said that, it's a lot harder to buy a crap guitar than it was back in the seventies, & there are plenty of good makes to choose from.

I'd also consider getting an active guitar (one with a battery) if you're going to be using high gain settings as they tend to be quieter, especially at budget prices. Also an active mid boost will get you into metal territory without too much EQ tweaking after the interface.

One final word of warning. Anderton's also do a 'Sound like [x] WITH breaking the bank'. Best to cut up your credit card before watching these. :o
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Re: How good a guitar do I need?

Postby shufflebeat » Thu Jun 11, 2020 2:48 am

I have a metal-head in the house and can confirm the Ibanez suggestion is a safe bet. For your kind of budget I would consider an Ibanez two pickup "Strat" type, possibly second hand as I've seen some crazy bargains in this corner of the world, in fact our kid ended up with his 7 string Ibanez because I walked into a second hand shop for a used playstation controller.

To go with that I'd put a Mooer Radar amp/cab simulator and a couple of decent guitar leads. There are many great multiFX boxes but they are a bit of a rabbit hole if you don't have a clear idea what you want.
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Re: How good a guitar do I need?

Postby ef37a » Thu Jun 11, 2020 7:12 am

Hi HM!
I see you have already made it.

Dave (aka ecc83)
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Re: How good a guitar do I need?

Postby Chet Leeway » Thu Jun 11, 2020 9:51 am

Heavy Metal wrote:I already play guitar. Rythmn. No soloing. I'd say I was at a sub Taylor Swift level :)

For metal style chugging rhythm guitar you don't really need a shredder type guitar, which tend to be more expensive. You may want to google around a bit on themes like "chug", "palm mute" or simply "metal rhythm guitar". Or you can use the time honoured method of checking out the equipment that your favourite metal rhythm guitarists use and try to get something similar. There are loads of "how to get ******'s sound" tips out there.
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Re: How good a guitar do I need?

Postby blinddrew » Thu Jun 11, 2020 10:19 am

Without getting into genres, I will just echo the point that's been made about sticking to brands with high quality control if you're buying online. Yamaha and Ibanez have already been mentioned but I'd lob Epiphone in there and it's also worth looking at the Harley Benton range from Thomann. Some might suggest the quality isn't quite up there with the other brands mentioned but they're not far off and I've played some very nice machines with that label on.
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Re: How good a guitar do I need?

Postby CS70 » Thu Jun 11, 2020 10:47 am

Chet Leeway wrote:
Heavy Metal wrote:I already play guitar. Rythmn. No soloing. I'd say I was at a sub Taylor Swift level :)

For metal style chugging rhythm guitar you don't really need a shredder type guitar, which tend to be more expensive. You may want to google around a bit on themes like "chug", "palm mute" or simply "metal rhythm guitar". Or you can use the time honoured method of checking out the equipment that your favourite metal rhythm guitarists use and try to get something similar. There are loads of "how to get ******'s sound" tips out there.

This that Chet makes is a kind of "importantish" distinction. While of course a guitar is a guitar and you can play both rhythm and leads on any (well at least, any well setup) guitar, metal oriented guitars (like some Ibanez or Schecters) may come with tweaks that make it easier to do one or the other thing.

Specifically, lead-oriented guitars may lack some of the flexibility - you may end up with just a bridge pickup, for example, with the saved money going into a simil-Floyd-Rose and so forth.

Again, a guitar is a guitar (and frankly at the beginners level it's all good if you can make some sort of decent noise, usually) but keep in mind that if you want to djent or chug, you may want a (slightly) different guitar than if all you want to do is to play Panama..
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Re: How good a guitar do I need?

Postby Chet Leeway » Thu Jun 11, 2020 10:51 am

blinddrew wrote:the Harley Benton range from Thomann.
As a non-bassist who needs to lay down bass lines for my home recordings on a hobbyist level, I have a HB bass that worked fine from day on and I'm pretty satified with. BUT ... recently I started looking into string types, gauges and setup in general. It turns out it's impossible to adjust the truss rod. First of all it's hard to get to, and secondly the allen key doesn't fit. Apparently the hexagonal shape has rounded corners, so there's no grip. Possibly a returned item that a previous buyer who has messed up before returning it? At any rate, I bought it as new (not B stock) from Thomann, and it turns out it can't be set up. So I'm probably going to get another, more expensive bass.

That's pretty typical for budget gear in my experience ... I always end up realising that it would have been better to go for something a bit more upmarket. So if the OP has a max budget of about 1000 £, I'd say spend about half of it on a decent guitar and maybe the rest on pedals, DI box or whatever it will take to get a good signal into the computer. Plus useful things like a floor stand and/or wall hanger, a good shoulder strap, cables of a practical length, things that make you want to play the guitar and remove hassle.
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