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I am a beginner guitar player, I started playing 9 months ago. I got a second-hand strat copy (the headstock reads Thunder) as my first instrument. I also bought an ultra cheap ($30) amp which does not even have gain controls as I was not sure if I would even play it after a month or so.

After 9 months I have not achieved much but I can play all the standard open and barre chords correctly. So I have a few questions:

  1. I never got my guitar set up professionally. Should I take it to a guitar shop or can I do something manually to make it more playable? I have some fret problems as sometimes my high E string gets stuck to the fret when I try to bend/play it.

  2. Should I invest in a new Amp or invest in pedals to get that rock sound on my guitar? My budget is like Rs. 7000 or $100 roughly to improve my setup.

  • Don't ask maintenance ques and playing ques under the same question. May get closed for not being focused. – RishiNandha_M May 21 at 12:11
  • There are just too many questions here. It needs splitting, as they're too diverse. – Tim May 21 at 13:16
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A few answers:

  1. I'd definitely suggest that yes, go ahead and learn a few solos you like. It'll give you many satisfactions and you'll learn a lot of useful things.

  2. If your strings break that often, it may be that you play a little too hard, or there may be some sharp edges on the bridge saddle, the nut, or even on some frets. This is common on cheap instruments. Next time you chance strings -- or even now -- loosen the strings and see if you can ensure that all the places that come in contact with the strings are smooth and free from sharp edges.

  3. If you guitar has a straight neck and good action (i.e. strings not too far from the fretboard) then you don't need to be in a hurry to change it. Instead, watch some videos that show you how to "adjust the truss rod" (google that) and also how to fine tune the bridge saddles (for best tuning and good action). It's not too hard to do, every guitarist should be able to do at least a decent job with that, and you'll also learn useful things about how you playing is affected by different string actions (i.e. by the change in distance between strings and fretboard).

Lastly, about amps/effects: to a beginner with a limited budget I would suggest a multi-effect processor / amp simulator. There are some cheap ones that are quite decent and versatile. This will allow you to experiment with a lot of different effects -- not just distortion, but chorus, echo, reverb, flanger, compression, etc. and the the sound of a few different types of amps.

You can send the output of the processor to your current amp (clean channel, let the processor do the rest) or even in the headphones or to a laptop. Look around for "guitar multi-effect processor" and see what your budget allows. With a bit of luck you may even find a cheap used one in good conditions -- it's common for people to buy gear and then not use it for one reason or another, so their loss can be your gain...

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  • Thanks for the reply. Can you please suggest if I should buy a better amp or a pedal for distortion? – harshit54 May 21 at 13:43
  • @harshit54 I'd suggest a multi-effect processor, see the two new paragraphs I added to the answer. – MMazzon May 21 at 17:09
  • By an Amp Simulator, you mean a software(like Amplitube) inside my laptop, right? I thought this was used for recording purposes by professionals only. Should I start using them as a beginner? – harshit54 May 21 at 18:33
  • no I don't mean software! I mean a multi-effect pedal. See here on ebay for example: ebay.com/sch/… or maybe the MOOER PE100 (google it) or the older but still decent Zoom 505/506 etc. you can sometimes find used and very cheap – MMazzon May 22 at 5:45
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My thoughts on whether or not to buy another amp or effects pedal: if it were me, I'd go down to the music shop and try out a few effect pedals and while I was there I'd play through a few different amps to see the differences in sound. At that point I might decide to buy a pedal or I might choose an amp. A third possibility might be that I'd choose to wait and shop around a little longer. I would also talk to other musician friends that might be looking to sell their stuff at a good price.

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  • Thanks for the answer. Can you please tell me if I need stuff like lemon oil for my fret board and how to fix the high E string getting stuck on one of the frets? – harshit54 May 21 at 15:57
  • @harshit54- When the fretboard gets dried out you can remedy that with lemon oil, but it is probably not something that is needed very often. Concerning the E string and the fret hang-up, if you run your finger down the edge of the fretboard and you feel frets protruding from the side of the fretboard, this happens because the wood in the fretboard has dried out and shrunk. the protruding fret can catch the string or even your finger. The common solution for this is to file the end of the fret back to being even with the edge of the fretboard. Be careful not to file it back to far though. – skinny peacock May 21 at 18:20
  • About the e string getting stuck: besides filing the fret (carefully) if it sticks out, you may also see if the fret has come off vertically from the fretboard a little, in which case you may (carefully!) lightly hammer the end if the fret back into the fretboard. In that case, put something like 50 pages of a magazine above the fret, so you don't damage it when (gently!) hammering it back down toward the fretboard – MMazzon May 22 at 5:50

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