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I'm looking at buying my first electric guitar and had some questions regarding how I should make my decision.

The first thing I'd like to ask about is the pick-up configuration. From my current understanding, single coil pickups are better suited to clean sounds and have a much brighter tone while humbuckers are better suited to higher gain/distortion and have a darker tone. Is this correct? Is it possible/common for people to play clean on humbuckers and gain/distortion on single coils?

I'm not entirely sure if I'm going to be playing any specific type of music exclusively so I'm considering getting a guitar with a HSS configuration so I can have both a humbucker and single coils, but I'm not entirely sure that's necessary.

The second thing is about the pricepoint of the guitar. I know that these instruments are available at a wide range of prices, and I was wondering what approximate price range I should look at. I was thinking about getting a relatively cheap guitar (this one caught my eye) and modify/replace parts as I learn more about playing. That way I'd get "to know" my instrument and end up making something that's unique to me.

I'm not sure how feasible this actually is. I've heard that compared to other instruments, electric guitar is very customizable but I'm guessing there's only so much you can do to improve a cheap guitar.

The alternative to this would be investing in a pretty expensive guitar so that I wouldn't have to do much modding myself as I play. I'm not sure what pricepoint I should be looking at for either of these options. At what price do guitars start being considered 'good quality'? Are there any specific models that are recommended for beginners that are either great out of the box or can be modified as the player learns?

The final thing I was going to ask about was amp choices. There's a lot of different amps, and I'm not really sure which one to choose. I've been recommended the Boss Katana and was wondering if anyone had any other amps they recommended for beginners.

Thanks for reading, any advice or answers would be greatly appreciated.

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    Your breakdown of single coil versus humbucker is so oversimplified it’s not really accurate. Otherwise I’m not sure the question is a good fit here. I would never recommend someone spend a lot on their first guitar. It doesn’t matter a lot what your first guitar is. The truth is you can’t know what you want yet. Because of that, I’d get something cheap, even used, to start with and your ear and skills will develop as you save your money for your first “real” rig. Better to spend your money on lessons Jan 17 at 6:49
  • how big are your hands? Guitars differ in how closely the frets are placed and a few millimeters of stretch can make the difference between winning through and giving up because your hands hurt. Rule of thumb: gibson style will generally be slightly shorter scale (frets slightly closer together) than Fender-style As @Tim noted, playability is a huge factor for new starters Jan 18 at 10:44
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    Seems a little incongruous that there are ten answers, but only seven upvotes for the question. If it's worth answering, isn't it worth upvoting?
    – Tim
    Jan 18 at 12:32
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    You say it's your first electric guitar. Does that equate to your first guitar ever, or simply your first electric one? If the former, you're hardly likely to go into a store, as some answers may suggest, and try it out.
    – Tim
    Jan 18 at 12:44
  • If I had to write a terse answer about what your first electric guitar should be, it would have one word: cheap
    – Thomas
    Jan 19 at 18:00

14 Answers 14

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Playability is the most important factor for a newbie's first guitar. If the action is awful - like it can be on some cheaper electrics - and it won't stay in tune, you're going to consider giving up quite soon.

Any first guitar you get will at some point be outgrown.

The sound of a guitar these days can easily be moulded with modelling amps, so the pup configuration is not that important. There are plenty of good beginner electrics out there: Squier, Epiphone, Yamaha, JHS Vintage come immediately to mind - and pre-loved less than $100. That keeps some money back for the all important lessons, from a good teacher. Gear recommendations are offside here, so don't ask for more than my suggestions!

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    Mostly agree, except for “can easily be moulded with modelling amps”. Amp modelling does not do anything about the guitar sound itself, only about the amp response. (Sure, some super-distorted fuzz sounds will make almost every guitar sound the same, but it's no good taking that as the starting point for learning guitar, because it also completely squelches any playing dynamics etc.) Also, whilst is is true that normally a first guitar is just temporary, there's in principle no reason why an 11-year old kid can't learn on her father's Strat and then keep that guitar for the rest of her life. Jan 17 at 17:43
  • @leftaroundabout - of course not. One guitar can last a lifetime. But 99% of the time it doesn't. When one starts on that fantastic journey, one has dreams. Those dreams change with maturity, development, and simply, change of taste. So the first guitar will generally speaking, be just that. Over, say, a 50 yr timespan of a player's life, I'd be incredibly amazed if the guitar they started with was the guitar they ended with. Come on!!
    – Tim
    Jan 17 at 17:49
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    @leftaroundabout I think there's one exception: To my ears, Mesa/Boogie amps (and models/profiles thereof) seem to always produce the same tone no matter what guitar is plugged into them (in an undesirable way, to my tastes). Somehow even clean Mesa amps seem to obliterate the original guitar sound. Jan 18 at 4:38
  • @ToddWilcox hm, interesting. But, I'd wager it's not so much that all guitars sound the same through them, rather that there's always the same aspect you dislike (and you focus on). Mesa/Boogie have a particular kind of HiFi-ness about them, maybe it's that? I find in clean they actually work unusually well for acoustic guitar, whereas for electric they don't “warm filter” the sound in the way most other amps do. Jan 18 at 7:52
  • @leftaroundabout Well I don’t dislike the Mesa sound, I just can’t afford to have a whole amp that only does two sounds. To be sure I love listening to many albums recorded with Mesas. In any case that is my opinion, which I know is shared by a few but I doubt is shared by all (or even many). Perhaps it’s not that Mesas kill all tone as much as they preserve less original tone than the other major brands or boutique brands Jan 18 at 14:36
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I'm considering getting a guitar with a HSS configuration so I can have both a humbucker and single coils, but I'm not entirely sure that's necessary.

Great idea - then you can learn about the differences between those pickup types for yourself - much more valuable than collecting others' opinions.

The second thing is about the pricepoint of the guitar. I know that these instruments are available at a wide range of prices, and I was wondering what approximate price range I should look at.

There are fundamentally decent guitars available at most price points. Cheap doesn't mean bad, and expensive doesn't always mean good - though being able to pay more will give you more choice. If choosing something random I would steer away from the very cheapest ones though, which can lack even a basic neck/fret finish.

As Tim says, being playable is the most important thing, and unfortunately guitars at all price points (yes, even expensive ones!) can come from the shop set up really badly. Learning how to set up a guitar for yourself or finding a good local guitar tech who can set up an instrument for you may well need to be part of your learning journey... experienced friends can be invaluable here.

As far as amps go - there are so many great options these days and it sounds like you've done a little research. The advent of modelling technology means that cheap amps are so versatile compared to just a few years ago, so it's not a super-critical decision. One thing you might want to consider is whether you're likely to want to gig with the amp - if so, something that's loud enough to be heard over a drummer would be useful; if just for practice, even the smallest amp should be loud enough.

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    Having a tech set up a cheap guitar could cost as much as the guitar itself. Learning how to do it on a guitar that didn't cost the earth is a good thing. And - so satisfying. And - on the way to becoming a tech in one's own right !
    – Tim
    Jan 17 at 9:14
  • @Tim totally agree personally, although people do vary in their level of confidence with these things and how many random Allen keys they have in their tin of random Allen keys...
    – topo morto
    Jan 17 at 9:25
  • Did you mean competence more than confidence? I'm the proud owner of a couple of hundred Allen keys - and some of them actually fit things on guitars...
    – Tim
    Jan 17 at 9:47
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Good question!

In a nutshell I think that putting together a quality instrument is kind of like cooking. You need to have quality fundamental ingredients to make a delicious dish. Spice provides the fine tuning. You’ll never make lousy ingredients taste better with more salt, you can only hide their flaws behind the distraction. This follows the “Garbage in, garbage out” philosophy: you can’t polish a turd into a gem.

Since you make the distinction that this is your first “electric” guitar, I am going to assume you already play acoustic. If I am mistaken, please correct me.

Following that assumption, you should already have an ear for good (to you) acoustic sound. With that you should be able to judge the fundamental sound quality of an electric guitar by playing it unplugged. Does it sound musical to your ear? Do the notes ring out and sustain, or do they sound muted and immediately decay? Are there buzzes or dead spots anywhere on the fret board? Make these judgments before you ever plug one in, so you'll first find an electric guitar that has good fundamental construction and acoustics that are pleasing to you.

NOTE: Remember while you’re doing this that compared to most acoustics, electric guitars typically require far less force from either hand, and in fact will sound bad if adjustments aren’t made by the player in this respect. Instead of pressing the strings with fretting hand, you really only need to touch them to the frets, otherwise you will push them out of tune. Likewise your strumming/picking hand should be more delicate, otherwise the typically looser, lower-gauge strings of an electric, especially with a lower action, will buzz.

The first thing I'd like to ask about is the pick-up configuration… While your understanding of different pickup types isn’t complete, it’s a good place to start. To my ears humbuckers are typically louder and darker than single coils, but a whole lot of other variables can and do effect any particular pickup configuration. The HSS setup you reference might be a good place to start, but also realize that pickup location has a lot to do with tone, and that as a general rule closer to the bridge equals brighter/sharper tone, and closer to the neck equals darker/rounder tone. You can hear this even on an acoustic: picking/strumming closer to the bridge elicits a brighter tone than doing so closer to the neck.

The second thing is about the pricepoint of the guitar... You should spend whatever you can afford and feel comfortable with. How much time will you spend with this instrument? Let’s go with the nice round number of an hour a day, on average. That’s 365 hours a year. So a $300 guitar (for another round number) will cost you about 82¢ per hour (or day) for the first year, then it’s paid for. Also consider that, much like cars, new instruments lose value as soon as they leave the dealership. Conversely, if you buy a decent used instrument, and take care of it, it may well be more valuable if/when you decide to sell/trade it in for an upgrade.

I'm guessing there's only so much you can do to improve a cheap guitar... This is true and that’s why I suggested above that you focus on fundamental quality of construction, and its ensuing effect on the acoustics of the instrument, over other, more easily upgraded components.

The alternative to this would be investing in a pretty expensive guitar so that I wouldn't have to do much modding myself as I play... I would never discourage anyone from buying the highest quality they can afford, balanced of course against what value the instrument brings to you. Considering the math I provide above, an “expensive” guitar might cost less than what many will spend at Starbucks in a year. Which brings more value to your life?

At what price do guitars start being considered 'good quality’?... Again, kind of like cars, you can be thrifty and get an instrument that fulfills your needs, or be spendy and end up with a lemon. There is no real line in the sand, but just like everything else, bling is for the eyes. A $300 guitar with complicated components, neck/body bindings and fancy inlays, is likely to be less reliable than one at a similar price but without the bells, whistles and eye candy. I think it best to pick your own price point, then shop for best quality within that range. And again, used is likely to deliver better, longer lasting value than brand new.

There's a lot of different amps, and I'm not really sure which one to choose... Yes there are. The world of guitar amplification is expanding at an enormous rate. My guitar advice for fundamental quality over bells and whistles applies to amps, as well, whatever direction you chose to go, whether that’s a tube combo amp, solid state combo, or perhaps something digital with a lower physical profile. Of course you could go the amp head with external speaker cabinet route, but that’s not typically where you’ll want to start out. Consider where and how you will use the amp (Mostly alone with headphones? Quietly at home being careful not to disturb the neighbors? Along with a band loud enough to keep up with drums?) Then shop for what will best serve you in that scenario.

Personally I don’t care for combos with a whole bunch of different voicings. I think it better to determine what kind of amp will best produce the sound you are after, then find the best value for you within that realm. Consider players you admire and wish to emulate, then see what they play through and use that as a starting point for building your own sound. Once you get a good basis for your sound established with the right guitar and amp, then you can explore adding some spice in the form of effects pedals and modifications. Remember: Garbage in, garbage out. You can’t effectively make a dirty amp sound clean with effects, but you can use them to make a clean amp sound as dirty as you please.

I hope that’s all helpful. Good luck and have fun!

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Your impressions about humbuckers versus single-coils are generally correct, although there are notable exceptions (Richie Blackmore and Yngwie Malmsteen playing hard rock and metal on Stratocasters, for example).

You may not need an explicit single-coil pickup on your guitar, though. Many guitars that have humbuckers offer options to access only one coil of their humbuckers (which effectively reduces them to single coils), either through the positions of the pickup selector (like in my Ibanez S420) or through push-pull "coil split" pots (like in my Harley Benton CST-24).

Regarding prices, playable instruments are affordable at all price levels these days, and Harley Bentons are known to offer excellent value for money in general, with the risk that their quality control is probably not as consistent as, say, that of PRS. On the other hand, you don't have much to lose. If you get a complete dud, return it; if you find after a while that your guitar is mediocre, save some more money for a somewhat better model next time, and the experience you have gained in the meantime will help you figure out what's best for you.

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    Malmsteen's Strats have stacked humbuckers. First with DiMarzio and now with Seymour Duncan. Jan 17 at 19:02
  • All 3 guitarists from Iron Maiden use strats too, although I'm not sure about the pickups they use
    – Tharwen
    Jan 19 at 8:05
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For the beginner, an inexpensive strat copy and a modelling amp would suit your needs nicely. We live in a golden age of inexpensive guitars, Harley Benton is, as I write, known for decent inexpensive guitars, and the Boss Katana is as respected as any amp in that class.

You can swap out things like pickups and bridges and tuners, but the main thing about a guitar is how it plays and sounds in your hands.

Pickups ... are a topic with much opinion. There are those who play clean with humbuckers and those who play dirty with single-coils. There are examples of both that are wound hot for more aggressive playing, and both that are underwound. The electronics can be changed to adapt to whatever characteristics you want.

The HSS configuration came about because Strat pickups started as interchangable but strings move more further from the bridge, so the bridge pickups were considered weak. Put in a stronger bridge pickup, like the PAF that Eddie used, and that is solved.

Stevie Ray Vaughn worked to play and sound like Albert King, and succeeded, when SRV played Strats and King played Flying Vs. Tone is in the hands.

The first stage is about you. These are chords, these are notes, this is time, this is a bend, this is a song. For this, the quality of the guitar is somewhat immaterial. As long as it isn't so bad you put it down and leave it (high action, fret sprout, whatever), the first instrument will do what it's meant to. If you still want to play it when you're ready for a stage is another matter.

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Under normal, non-Covid, circumstances,

(1) Go to a reputable guitar store with an excellent online rating (read the comments)

(2) Ask an assistant to rig up an inexpensive guitar and amp for you and to play it so you can listen to it and hear what it sounds like. They won't want to sound bad in front of their friends so they will pick a guitar that is playable. Make sure they play all over the neck so that you can hear if it is in tune on the higher frets

(3) If it sounds good, say you will have that particular one

(4) Don't buy one still in its box because inexpensive guitars very often don't come set up, unless ...

(5) If you do buy from the box, say you will collect in an hour and could they set the guitar up for you (for intonation at the bridge, string height, truss-rod etc.). It would be a poor guitar store where they didn't know how do do this or refused to do it for free


If you buy online, be prepared for the guitar not to be set up properly, especially an inexpensive one. Go on YouTube to find out how to do it.

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Tim has the best answer. All your other questions about pickups, amps, etc. are all pretty irrelevant to your needs right now. The most important things for you as a beginner are that the guitar can be setup to intonate properly with comfortable action and will stay in tune.

I only differ from his opinion that your first guitar will necessarily be outgrown. If you go cheap, sure. My advice would be to invest some extra money in a good-quality used guitar. The reason is that you will generally be able to get your money back out of it very easily when you want to sell. Your instructor (you have an instructor, right?) will be able to help you source and evaluate good used gear.

ps: I've kept (and played) my first guitar (an Ibanez) for almost 40 years now.

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I totally agree with @ToddWilcox.

Furthermore I do not suggest the "cheapest" guitars because often they are quite annoying and have some difficulties for a newbie. Maybe you can take a look at PRS guitars. They are relatively cheap and suits well If you are newbie. (I am not adverstising the brand just take a look and choose yourself).

Also look at the bands you like to listen. What do they play? For example If you would like to play mostly led zeppelin songs then you should look for "Les Paul" guitars.

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I believe this is the key fact to choose a guitar especially If you are a newbie because it is more difficult to get that sound If you are playing it with another kind of electric guitar.

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    PRS is not the first brand that comes to mind when someone says "relatively cheap" - both in the high-end tier and in the budget tier (the Asian models), PRS is more pricey than Fender/ Squier and even Gibson/ Epiphone. They have a reputation for very solid quality and versatility, though. Jan 17 at 12:19
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    Thank you for your comment. I meant relatively to Fender and Gibson. I suppose its prices are in somewhere between Squier/Epiphone and Fender/Gibson
    – Nabla
    Jan 17 at 14:03
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    Jimmy Page used a lot of guitars in the studio. At least the first album and the solo to "Stairway" were recorded with Telecasters. I mean, your greater point is valid, to a point, but it can go to far. Jan 17 at 21:58
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    I learned to play guitar because of Jimmy Page and of the first 50 songs I learned I think about 40 of them were Led Zeppelin songs. The first "real" guitar I bought was a Les Paul studio because of Page, and while I love that guitar and still use it and play it, the tones I was most chasing from Zep's catalog I came to discover were the Telecaster tones. If I met a young Page fan today and they asked what guitar they should get, I'd definitely suggest they play a Telecaster before buying a Les Paul. Another benefit of considering a tele is the Squires are better than the Epiphones. Jan 18 at 1:58
  • Of course I did finally end up picking up one of the blonde Page signature Telecasters last summer. :) Jan 18 at 1:59
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Hi I am also a newbie to electric guitars and after very much research bought Yamaha Pacifica 012 from kennys Music. It was the best price at the time - £149(it is still about the same if you look) and has HSS pick up with single or double playing. It can be played without an amp and has a very good action with a smooth neck. I decided that a combo amp was the answer and chose a Mustang LT25 Combo from the Music Store Not there at the moment but still available at £130 elsewhere. It is amazing and you will find the style you are looking for. The volume is also very loud but there is a headphone socket. It has 30 presets - all adjustable - and a hundred more on the app with, it says, 10,000 more for download!! I ordered without trying and kept my fingers crossed but the end result was amazing. My advice before trying anything about at the moment is to go to You Tube. There are many, many videos on both and others such as the Fender Squire and they will help you choose. Take time. It will be worth it.

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Not sure if there's a definite answer here, but will give you my take. (personal opinions incoming...)

  • I don't think pickup configuration is that much of an issue at this point. If you can play the guitar before purchasing it (wear a mask, bring sanitizer, etc...), just make sure the switch positions can make one or two tones that you like and that you like the weight, neck feel, fret feel, etc... Once you've found "it", get it 'setup'.
  • (Single coils can pickup a 'hum' that humbuckers are designed to 'buck', but will also have a different tone due to these design differences. You can try to listen for humming and the tone differences to see what you like. Either way, I wouldn't say it's something that will exclude a genre of music from you. You can play metal on a stock telecaster or a 335, as well as blues, folk, outlaw country, whatever. Tone can give a little edge for some styles/genres (like a twangy tone), but for the most part you'll be able to and just will play what you like. Plus there are tons of workarounds out there, for example things like EQ pedals (or knobs on amps) and noise gates.)
  • For price point, a little hard to say. People have only gotten better at making guitars and I've heard good things about various entry level lines (sub $200). However, when I go to the store and play random things, I'm still inclined to say the bottom is like $300-$600. For things at this level, I'd generally recommend (just to give examples) Schecter, Gretsch, or a Mexican Telecaster (just out of this range). (I'm not really a strat person, so grain of salt.)
  • The amp is also a little hard to say. Tech has improved and so there are things to consider like modeling amps, smart-device interoperability, built-in effects, etc... Personally, if you know you'll eventually be interested in pedals and signal chains, I'd say go for a micro orange setup (like a micro dark + small 1x8 cabinet) with some pedals (like the mini Ibanez: Analog Delay, Tube Screamer, and Fuzz). It's a small foot print, isn't overkill on loudness (for the shared house), fx-loop, headphone jack, sounds good... and looks cute as hell (imo).
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  • Most guitars with multiple single-coil pickups have at least one switch setting which will operate two single coils in a way that achieves much of the noise-cancelling benefit of a humbucker, while yielding a sound closer to a single coil.
    – supercat
    Jan 18 at 15:37
  • Yep, definitely. With respect to the OP, it's also worth noting that getting different switches and wiring up pickups in different ways (or getting pickups meant to be wired up in different ways) is also a not-unusual modification people make to electric guitars. For example, a twisted tele usually has a 4-way selector and a switch on the volume. The selector runs the bridge/neck either alone, in-series, or in-parallel, with the volume switch deciding whether they're combined in phase or (to some degree) out of phase.
    – Derek E
    Jan 18 at 16:19
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With regard to pickup configurations, single coils generally have a sound which is different from that of humbuckers. I wouldn't describe either as being necessarily brighter or darker than the other, since some single-coil pickups can be very dark and some humbuckers very bright. The quality of the brightness is very different, though; a dark single-coil (or a single-coil with the tone knob cranked down) might be mistaken for a dark humbucker (likewise), but a bright single-coil and a bright humbucker sound nothing alike. The difference in sound might be viewed as analogous to the difference in sound between a tin whistle (single-coil) and a violin (humbucker).

For many purposes, I think the HSS configuration is apt to be best. Most HSS guitars have two almost-noiseless switch settings (out of 5): pushing the switch all the way down (position #5) uses just the humbucker, while using it second from the top (#2) uses the two single coils in a noise-cancelling configuration. Note that part of the unique sound of a humbucker comes from the fact that they have two coils at different parts of the string, but a bigger part comes from the two sets of magnets in a humbucker being able to interact with each other. Thus, switch setting #2 will sound more like a single coil than like a humbucker.

HSS guitars are available with three tone knob configurations:

  1. One volume; one master tone knob. A fine choice. The only downside is that when switching between pickups during a piece, it may be necessary to adjust the tone knob at the same time.

  2. One volume; tone knobs on the two single-coil pickups. A more common arrangement, but my least favorite since there's no way to control tone when using just the bridge humbucker, and since I rarely use the single coils separately because of hum. Can generally be converted to the third form--or essentially always converted to the first form--with some rewiring.

  3. One volume; one tone knob for both single-coil pickups, and one for the bridge humbucker. This is my preferred configuration, but most guitars don't ship this way.

There's probably no need to worry too much about knob configuration, though, since it will usually be possible to adjust brightness using the amplifier's tone knob.

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Since this is your first guitar, you'll use to it learn to play the guitar, not fine-tune your sound. Therefore the choices you make here aren't so important because you'll certainly change your mind when you get proficient. You don't need to try to invent "your sound" yet. You're going to learn technique and so a guitar that makes that easier will be better.

To me, the neck is most important. It needs to fit in your hand, and you need to be able to reach all of the strings. Classical guitars tend to have flat fretboards with strings which are super far apart, making it easy for big hands to avoid anciently hitting the wrong string, but making the reach for small hands harder. I originally chose a maple neck and I'm glad I did because it was such a smooth neck that it was very easy to slide and bend. I also chose a guitar with the strings set very close to the neck so I didn't have to press hard which also made it easier. This is something you can customize, but it's nice to have out-of-the-box before you know what you're doing. Thin, strings (guage 0.09) also made it very easy to play. Even though I couldn't slam on the strings without causing a buzz, this combination helped my left hand tremendously.

The first thing I'd like to ask about is the pick-up configuration.

Something like a telecaster/stratocaster will have several single-coil pickups that you can choose from. The further forward one is the most mellow, while the rear slanted one is more twangy. But single-coils always sound brighter to me.

Gibsons will generally have the dual humbucker setup that sounds more mellow to me.

The guitar you linked has a double-set of single-coils at the back. That's pretty much identical to having a humbucker back there.

You can always add effect for distortion, so think about clean players and who you want to sound like. Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix both played on single-coils. BB king, Carlos Santana played on humbuckers.

I started with a stratocaster, and got a very clean sound from it which was probably good for learning technique, but I always wanted a forward humbucker so I could have better sustain and an even mellower sound.

The second thing is about the pricepoint of the guitar.

You don't need to spend a lot to get a decent guitar. You probably want to stick below 250 EUR. Once you get below 75 EUR things start to get a bit too cheap to work well. The one you linked looks like it would be 88 Euros which seems fine.

electric guitar is very customizable

Just ensure the parts are screwed into the body instead of being glued to it. That includes pickups, bridge and neck. Ensure there's an unscrewable panel on the back so you can access things inside. Eventually you could replace the neck, bridge, and pickups, but by the time you want to do that, it might be worth upgrading to a better guitar.

a pretty expensive guitar so that I wouldn't have to do much modding myself

You shouldn't ever HAVE to mod your guitar. Adding fine tuners to the bridge is practical so you can do easy right-handed tuning. I might replace some tuning pegs if they break. But other than that, modding is really only if you're doing it as a hobby.

Bridge tuner

Most guitarists spend most of their "chasing a sound" time playing with different combinations of effect pedals.

At what price do guitars start being considered 'good quality'?

I'd be hard pressed to recommend an exact number. I'm not sure what your budget is. <250 EUR is fine, but eventually you'll grow out of it and want something better. If your sure you'll stick with it and want the guitar to be usable even after you've developed some skills, then 400-700 EUR is probably a good range. Anything over 1000 EUR would be for the case where you know how to play and you know what you need to sound a certain way. I have 5 guitars, have been playing for 26 years, and they were all <600 EUR: Fender stratocaster, Ovation acoustic, Yamaha classical, Yamaha fretless electric Bass, and Takamine 12-string acoustic.

The final thing I was going to ask about was amp choices.

The amp is another thing you'll likely upgrade eventually. First start with size:

You can get amps that run off of a 9V battery and fit in your backpack... don't do this. It sounds awful. I'd go with the next step up: about 20-50 watts is what I would call a practice amp. It's large enough to fill your bedroom with sound but too small to play with a band. To play with a band, the amp should at least be large enough to sit on.

Amps get really expensive when you go from solid-state to tubes. Tubes aren't necessary unless you're going pro and need that sound.

Instead look at the features an amp has. 2 channels is nice so you can jam with your friend in your room (though I've used splitters before). A gain knob is a MUST to introduce distortion. Other effects like tube-screamers, delay, reverb or flange are great. I grew up rocking on a Fender Champion amp. You can find lots of demos of different amps on youtube.

If you're thinking of getting into bass, try a keyboard amp instead of a guitar amp. Keyboard amps lack the effects of guitar amps, but have better low-range that will be necessary if you want to play a bass on it in addition to your guitar.

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  • Fine tuners on the bridge? What have I been missing? Agree about k'bd amps for bass, but not so good for guitar.
    – Tim
    Jan 17 at 13:43
  • Sure, they are great. Course tuning at the neck and fine tuning at the bridge. They are also the only way to tune headless guitars. I added a picture to the issue description.
    – Stewart
    Jan 17 at 14:53
  • I have a 5 string Steinberger headless bass, so am well aearw it's the only way to tune headless! But never felt the need for fine tuners. In fact, I use harmonics to tune, so my left hand stays on the machine heads all the time, so for me, they'd be a bit of a waste.
    – Tim
    Jan 17 at 15:42
  • The fine tuners at bridge are really used only with locking nut to allow tuning without taking out hex wrench and unlocking the nut. Talking about prices, don't forget inflation. 600 1995 dollars are around 1000 today.
    – ojs
    Jan 17 at 16:23
  • 1
    I’m not trying to beat up on you or diminish your effort. Supported opinions are fine, but misguided statements don’t help the OP. A few examples of unsupportable, arguably misguided advice/opinions: “… ensure the parts are screwed into the body... That includes... neck. Ensure there's an unscrewable panel on the back so you can access things inside.” “… modding is really only if you're doing it as a hobby.” "20-50 watts is… too small to play with a band... the amp should at least be large enough to sit on.” "Tubes aren't necessary unless you're going pro and need that sound.”
    – wabisabied
    Jan 17 at 22:43
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The placement of the pickup on the guitar has a lot to do with tone. There are plenty of guitarists who play dark distorted music on single coil. So That is not really the issue. Also, most guitars come with at least 2 pickups, sometimes 3. The one near the bridge will produce a much brighter tone than the one closer to the neck.

You will also want to look at different bridges. You have the classic tune-o-matic on Gibson and a variety of floating bridges with a whammy bar, Floyd Rose, Kahler, Fender, etc. FR bridges can be tricky to adjust and even changing strings can lead one down a rabbit hole in need of professional help. If you know you want to play the kind of guitar that needs a whammy bar then do some research on this.

Are you taking lessons or planning to take lessons? If so you can get some help there.

I have never seen the guitar you posed and it looks like it's under $100 US which is pretty cheap. I could not evaluate the quality of this but thinking back on my first guitar I would say that something in this range may not be reliable. As for "upgrading" or "customizing" it later that is a lot of work. If you are handy with electronics then why not try. But if you're not you may wind up destroying it, or paying someone a small fortune to upgrade it for you. Quite honestly I would look in the price range of $250 - $500 for a new guitar. In this range you can get a nice Squire Strat, Epiphone, or an LTD. There are all very nice starter guitars. If you are willing to look at used gear (highly recommended) you can get something for half the new price, which might bump you up to higher quality options.

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I have a newbie guitar that I hated even as a newbie. It's got a pine neck, the action is terrible and can only be adjusted so far, you can't adjust the pickups, in a word -- it sucks. I happened to remember after a few months of trying to play with that garbage that I had left a beater of a guitar in my brother's closet in my parents home 10 years before when I left for college. That thing was something that I got in a trade with a friend, but lo and behold it had a maple neck, much better action, and adjustable pickups. I did however have to re-string it (which is good practice for a n00b anyway), and I had to replace a screw and solder a single connection point. The result is a guitar that's a little banged up but is still my favorite electric to play -- and part of that reason is that I restored it to working condition myself. So my advice would be to look for a 2nd hand guitar that doesn't suck, and even if you have to take it to a luther (aka the guitar center guy) or repair it yourself, it can be totally worth it, and you'll get it much cheaper than something you buy off the shelf. Plus, an old guitar often comes with more respect than a new one because people know that it's seen proper usage.

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