I had a friend ask me today what I would recommend on a $300 budget for a guitar and amp. Someone else said the guitar is more important, spend more on the guitar. I’m not entirely sure I agree with that.
In my opinion the amp is more important and is what will keep you playing. A shitty, tinny sounding amp is going to make you want to bin both your guitar and amp. Try this: go to a Guitar Center, find a shitty $150 squier brand guitar, go plug it into the smallest amp in the store. Sounds shitty, right? Now go find the biggest, baddest amp not sealed off behind glass. Go plug that guitar into that amp. Sounds amazing!
The amp is as much a part of the instrument as the guitar. Ten years ago a $150 guitar was something that would shred your hands apart and sound horrible, go out of tune and eat strings like no tomorrow. Nowadays brands like squier are producing incredible guitars for under $200. Hadlock’s rule for amps is “Buy an amp that is 60% the cost of your guitar, or at least $140, whichever is higher”.
Yamaha Pacifica (Fender Stratocaster knockoff) – $179
—-Second option, Squier Stratocaster (Fender Strat knockoff) – $179
—-Third Option, find something pretty that you like from Rondo – $119 to $400+
Vox VT15 amp, 8″ speaker, lots of built in effects, very easy to use, proper 8″ speaker, includes an analog “tube” in the preamp – $169
—-Second option, Crate 15 watt amp, full size 12″ speaker. Supply your own effects pedals. – $99 (I own one of these)
—-Third option, troll craigslist and lowball someone on a good looking amp that gets good online reviews.
Monster instrument cable, 12′ – $20 (I own many, many of these)
I recommend the Yamaha simply because Yamaha doesn’t make bad instruments. It’s a rule. Otherwise you can get a Squier which will be roughly the same price and quality, with roughly the same resale value. It’s a Strat(ocaster) style, which means it should be able to reproduce most any sound you ask of it. The Vox valvetronix amp comes highly recommended if you read back a few pages. I don’t recommend below a 10″ speaker, but an 8″ speaker will get you started and have enough low end to at least make it sound like a real guitar. The crate amp has a 12″ speaker, I own one of these and have converted it into a speaker cabinet for a different amp head. It sounds really good and has a lot of excellent low end response. And of course you’ll need a cable to connect the two. Monster makes trash products at markup prices, but their instrument cables have a tendency to not fall apart or need repairs so I recommend them in this case.
Other notes: Get a Telecaster if you like the style they are roughly equivilent to a Strat but are slightly more “twangy”. The other style is Les Paul, which is a bit more rounded and tend to have a higher starting price ($250 and up). You’ll have to ask someone else if you want to get into heavy metal guitars, but Ibanez is a good place to start…
I don’t recommend a Microcube. The microcube is a relic from 10 years ago when there were no other good, moderately priced amps. The microcube has a pair of 4″ speakers which are never going to sound very satisfying compared to the speakers in a real amp, which only costs $20-40 more, depending on where you shop.