I started playing the guitar about a year ago starting on an acoustic and gradually transferred to an electric. I do not have control over when I get equipment or even what I get usually so when I get the chance to choose I want to make the best decision, obviously. I like things that sound like "When I Come Around" by Green day or "The Middle" by Jimmy Eat World, etc. so I want something that will help me achieve that sound. If things get too metal-ish I start to dislike the sound, but if it sounds too clean I like it even less. I practice on acoustic and transfer to electric when I think I'm "good enough" to play the song in question and then work out how to dial it in. I often play with headphones attached to the respective port so I hear what the amp is putting out and not what the guitar is producing (I practice in a small room)
My current gear is:
- Fender Mustang I modelling amp (I usually keep it exclusively set to the Fender '57 Deluxe model with no effects. I like to pretend it actually is a Fender '57 Deluxe. I hate that I have to open up the FUSE software to adjust mids. I wish there was a knob on the amp for that)
- Cheap knock-off strat probably purchased from the likes of Wal-mart, etc. (says "spectrum" on the headstock)
- A good cable leading from the guitar to the stompbox
- A defective cable leading from the stompbox to the amp (will eventually replace, right now I just turn up the master volume intensely to compensate)
I also have a Boss HM-2 stompbox (hammydown. hasn't been touched in 20 years) I want to sell and replace with another box that will produce a better sound with this equipment. The problem is, I don't know anything about pedals. I know that a Tube Screamer or a Big Muff is classic but I don't actually know if they're what I want. (I'm also concerned that an overdrive/boost pedal like a Tube Screamer wouldn't fare well with a solid-state amp, modelling or not) Also I want something that will sound good with what I have right now because I am not in control of what I have atm. ;)
Note: Please don't recommend specific products. A generic discussion that would help me make an educated decision on my own would be appreciated.
Update (few weeks later): I got an Ibanez TS-9 Tube Screamer and replaced the faulty cable. It does exactly what I wanted, and I am now focusing on improving accuracy in my right hand (I strum the wrong notes and especially extra notes even if I have the left hand correct). As far as gear goes, I think I'm set for my current skill level.
Update (few months later): I find myself worrying about tone much less and being able to focus on playing more now. I also find myself using the TS-9 pedal less (though I do love it). Now I usually put the EQ on flat (12 o' clock) and crank the gain on the JCM800 model of my amp, turning the master volume down very (very) low and play through the bridge pickup. My advice would be to not worry about tone and equipment that much at first and just focus on learning how to play the instrument. :)