Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #156739  by Merkin
 Sat May 27, 2017 4:44 pm
Hello all!

I've decided to take up guitar. I grew up both playing music (sax, harmonica, a little banjo, and other miscellaneous stuff) and listening to the GD, but I've never learned the guitar. As much as I would love nothing more than to shell out for something super nice like a replica Wolf, Tiger, or Rosebud, that would be foolish at this point. As such, I've been doing some reading and researching about Alligator. The following is what I've come up with in terms of the least expensive straightforward path to getting a reasonable Alligator tone for learning and home practice:

Squier 50's Classic Vibe Strat
Alembic Blaster
Fender 57/62 pickups
Fender Mustang GT 40 amp
.010-.047 strings
Adamas picks
And I'd have a guitar shop block off the trem system and install a brass nut.

Am I missing anything crucial? Is there anywhere I could make a significant cost savings without further sacrificing on the tone? I'd rather go ahead and spend the money once than end up with something I'm unhappy with that I need to keep replacing. Thanks!
 #156741  by milobender
 Sat May 27, 2017 7:42 pm
I'd go with a Quilter Mach 2 head and JBL D or K120 instead of the Fender Amp. You can get some killer 70s tones with the Quilter.

(Just for being on the level... I've just become a Quilter dealer... Not trying to sell you one, I just like what they can do. Listen to gdeloian's stuff for an example "o)
 #156742  by Merkin
 Sat May 27, 2017 8:22 pm
I typed a reply, but it apparently didn't post, so here goes again :D

I'm probably just going to go new, for a couple reasons. First, I don't know enough about guitars to trust my judgement buying off of craigslist. Second, if I went down the used route, I'd end up trying to track down a laquered maple necked natural finished ash bodied MIM strat with the small headstock, and that could take months.

As to the amp, buying new is the only option, since it is a newly released amp.

I appreciate the amp recommendation, but for now I just need a small practice amp, as I won't be doing any gigging, and the GT 40 does a pretty decent approximation of a Twin Reverb for the size and price point, and it is customizeable in terms of the tones, so I suspect I can dial in something that will get me close enough while I learn and practice.
 #156744  by Bigfoot Co.
 Sat May 27, 2017 10:40 pm
right on. I'd recommend a used blues Jr., which I think would allow you to hear the benefits of those guitar upgrades. Not sure a digital modeling amp is going to do that, even with a twin preset and a fender logo. But I've been wrong before! :cool:
 #156745  by aiq
 Sun May 28, 2017 5:50 am
I got a Mustang II v.1 for a home amp. Excellent for that use. The models are not bad, I run about three Twin setups with different effects.

Took it to a couple rehearsals and one sit in. Didn't really cut it in band setting for me but others may have better luck, maybe the higher watt versions.
 #156746  by eric
 Sun May 28, 2017 10:11 am
Hey man to each his own, but you're essentially asking what race car to buy before you've even got your learners permit, let alone a normal drivers license. I wish you luck in your journey, and yes that Alligator setup sounds great, but here's my 2..

Buy a decent used acoustic FIRST.
Learn your basic open chord fingerings etc... You'll need to build your callouses and develop finger strength. This will take time. There's no way around it. If you're that familiar with banjo, some stuff will transfer over and help speed the process, but it won't negate the basic building blocks.

Do not try to learn while amplified.
Even after 10+ years (relative intermediate) I learn, work out, and practice most new material unplugged. Amplification *amplifies* everything. In other words, if you're new, it will amplify the shit out of that, both literally and figuratively, and most likely will have the opposite effect you are looking for, and may discourage you even more. Learning while plugged in will be the most painful thing you've ever heard.

I love your enthusiasm but you're getting way ahead of yourself.

Keep us posted.
 #156748  by strumminsix
 Sun May 28, 2017 6:28 pm
I think you're on the right track with the guitar, picks, pickups and strings for starting. IMO, your amp is off. I'd look for an older Deluxe Reverb or Princeton Reverb.

My at home amp is a Dr. Z Maz 8. Absolutely amazing amp at low volume. But not Jerry ish. But the cleans are great and lush and stronger bass than Fenders, IMO.
 #156749  by Merkin
 Sun May 28, 2017 7:07 pm

I appreciate it, but I have to respectfully disagree.

First of all, a $700 guitar and a $300 practice amp is hardly a 'racecar' in the grand scheme of things. We are talking about a Squier, after all. It's hardly a Les Paul Custom or a Scarlet Fire Tiger.

An acoustic guitar just doesn't get me where I'm trying to go. The acoustic guitar music I'm most interested in tends to be old open tuning blues numbers, and my goal is to learn standard tuning. I can already hack away at a guitar in open tunings- yank the low E string off of a Tele, put it in open G, and I can do a passably mediocre impression of Keith Richards.

I'm also not trying to start a guitar collection. I just want to get one guitar up front that is reasonably priced yet capable, that I know for certain is capable of producing fantastic sounds. Yes, that means a guitar that I simply won't be able to do justice at first, but I won't be able to do any guitar justice at first. This isn't something I'm taking on because I have dreams of joining a band, picking up women, or jamming around a campfire. It's purely for the challenge, for my own personal benefit.

Of course it won't sound pretty for a good long while, but the output from a cheap acoustic guitar won't sound pretty either. I've got at least a year of interminably running scales, chord progressions, picking exercises, and refreshing my music theory before anything is going to sound pretty. What I will have is an instrument that I don't want to put down, one that I know for certain is capable of making the exact noises I want to be able to make, and that instrument is just as capable of building up finger calluses and increasing finger strength as any. Besides, it isn't like it has to be plugged in and cranked up to 11 all the time. Electric guitars still make sound unplugged.

Besides, Jerry's first guitar was a Danelectro, so at least some people are capable of learning effectively with an electric guitar 8)
 #156751  by eric
 Sun May 28, 2017 9:45 pm
Since you've already mastered Keith Richards, you're probably already aware of his view on the topic, "An acoustic guitar is the most important thing for a guitar player to start with. Learn the feel and the touch of that string and what it does against the fret, learn that, and that you can add the effects later on.

"If you want to be a guitar player, you have to have your grounding. It's like anywhere else - an astronaut doesn't start in space, somebody's gotta build a rocket [chuckle]." Does my anology make a little more sense now? Hey but what does he know! You disagree right?

You seem to be under the impression that scoring some sweet ballpark Jerry gear and running through a year of rudimentary fundamentals and it's game on.. I'm not trying to piss on your parade, but rather bring you back to reality.. The proper gear only gives you the potential to sound a certain way, but without years of a proper foundation, means you'll still sound like ass no matter what you play.

And as far as Jerry is concerned, ya his first guitar was a Danelectro, before he switched to banjo then acoustic, which you bet your ass he spent an enormous time on, throughout his entire career. And you're not Jerry.

Good luck
 #156752  by Merkin
 Sun May 28, 2017 9:54 pm
Being a typical internet jerk doesn't help your arguments, buddy.

I assumed that a place called 'rukind' would be free from keyboard cowboys with a case of crainiorectal fusion. As such, I hope you all have a nice life and I'll show myself out.
 #156753  by eric
 Sun May 28, 2017 10:23 pm
Dude I wasn't trying to be jerk at all, I know I do have a way of coming off that way, my apologies. It's weird because in real life I'm a super laid back normal guy, but I just write in a really blunt style.

Play whatever inspires you to play, that really is the only thing that matters. So stick around, this place is an amazing treasure trove of great info.
 #156754  by Bigfoot Co.
 Sun May 28, 2017 11:12 pm
There's a two tone burst cv strat on reverb right now for$295 plus shipping. The seller is a well regarded shop in WI, and they classify it as in excellent condition. If your gonna mod the guitar to the extent you are planning, you might as well save some bucks and buy a nice used one. You can always return it if you don't like it upon arrival.

Best of luck!
 #156755  by Jon S.
 Mon May 29, 2017 8:20 am
Merkin wrote:I've decided to take up guitar. I grew up both playing music (sax, harmonica, a little banjo, and other miscellaneous stuff) and listening to the GD, but I've never learned the guitar.


the least expensive straightforward path to getting a reasonable Alligator tone for learning and home practice


I'd rather go ahead and spend the money once than end up with something I'm unhappy with that I need to keep replacing. Thanks!
1st off, welcome, Merkin. If it makes you feel any better, I pretty much disappeared from here for the past 3 years for much the same reasons as turned you off. Not a bad response if that's your preference, as others have noted, you can still search and read to your heart's content.

FWIW, here's my take. What's so bad about spending your money twice while you're learning? In the music gear world, Fender guitars and amps are as close to liquid assets (easy to sell or trade) as you can get. As they say, "Buy used - play for free" (i.e., when it's time to sell, you'll get back your full initial investment or close to it).

So my recommendation is similar to some of those you've already gotten. Forget the fancy accoutrements. Buy yourself an inexpensive, used Fender Strat (MIM or Squire, even), and a Fender or Fender-sounding amp (used Blues Junior, for example - or even a 50W Boss Katana new for $199, the clean channel on that amp is more than adequate for your purposes). Play them through until you're at the point where you're ready to advance, both out of your house and to more advanced material/techniques.

Just enjoy yourself.