Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #79780  by doylegarciadoyle
 Wed May 12, 2010 5:37 am
Hey. I'm nineteen, and have played guitar for about five years. I'm currently playing an old Washburn electric, but looking to upgrade to a sunburst strat, probably made in Mexico, this summer. I'm also looking for a new amp-mine is decidedly not high-quality.

I love Garcia's music, and really want to emulate his sound and tone if I at all can. However, I don't have limitless funds... I'm aiming to spend maybe a maximum of $250 on the guitar, and a little less on the amp. I know it's not optimal, but what would you propose I go for?

Thanks, guys.
 #79781  by keirweir
 Wed May 12, 2010 6:19 am
The strat is a good guitar to start with. With the limited funds the amp might be an issue. You want somthing clean with reverb. A small Fender might get you started but $200 is a tough one.

A tad over your budget but this is somthing you may want to consider. ... =824&kw=lg

or ... =824&kw=lg

Good luck
 #79782  by strumminsix
 Wed May 12, 2010 6:24 am
Honestly, dude, save your money. What you buy for $450 today will be almost worthless to you in a year if you are lucky.
For under 1,000 you could get a nice Strat (used) and a Blues Junior (used) with a setup and tune-up respectively and be sitting on an EXCELLENT starting rig.

Please don't waste your money. We've all gone the economical route and just flat out wasted or time and money on junk.
 #79784  by jdsmodulus
 Wed May 12, 2010 6:34 am
+1 choose wisely, wait as long as you can to buy the best gear you can. If I had all the gear Ive owned searching for the sound, it would be embarrasing! :shock:
 #79788  by WilliamC
 Wed May 12, 2010 7:08 am
Yep, buy the best you can... be patient and you'll find something better than decent. Looking over the completed auctions on the 'bay, you should be able to snag an American Strat (maybe not the color you want) for something in the low $600's. Over your price for guitar and amp, but it will be worth the extra effort and will have some resale value: e.g.: ... =824&kw=lg

Another possibility is to try for a neck-through Carvin - if you do a search here, you'll find they're popular as starting points for Jerry-fication. ... =824&kw=lg

Finally - if you do go with a Blues Jr. most definitely look into getting the Bill Machrone mods installed. It's an easy do it yourself if you survived shop class in High School (do they still have shop class in HS?) or less than an hour labor for an amp tech at your local guitar shop.

Good Luck!

[edit]: If it was me I'd try to snag this one: ... =824&kw=lg
Unfortunately, the guy has zero feedback - not necessarily bad, but might make one nervous.
 #79793  by strumminsix
 Wed May 12, 2010 7:29 am
Check it out:
$350 for an Alligator type strat

$280 for a Blues Jr.

That's $630.

Figure a setup on the guitar $50, tune-up on the amp with back-up tubes $120 and you are in for $800 total and will have gear to get you in the ball park of Jerry's early 70s sound and could even gig with and will be an important back-up rig as your skills develop.
 #79797  by jefkahn
 Wed May 12, 2010 7:53 am
Who had $1,000 when they were 19 to spend on gear? Unless you're doing studio work, a used MIM strat for $250 will do just as well as a $600 MIA strat for the purposes of trying to get a Garcia tone. I don't presume to know anything about the OPers money situation, but when I was 19 I was happy to have my cheap guitar, and when I got older and started making money I was happy to be able to upgrade to nicer gear.
 #79806  by WilliamC
 Wed May 12, 2010 8:35 am
jefkahn wrote:Who had $1,000 when they were 19 to spend on gear?
It's easier than you might think. It took me February through August of 1970 to save up the (if I recall correctly) the $650 my Country Gentleman cost at age 16. Worked in a burger joint and for a lawn & garden service. I also had a deal with my dad involving earning the money and grades that I nailed and he sprang for a heavily used (but with JBLs) Twin.

Wish I still had both, though by the time I sold the 'Gent in 1982 the binding was already heavily yellowed beginning to rot. I can still smell the "bar funk" that wafted off that amp when it warmed up. Mmmmm...
RiverRat wrote:90% of the guitar players out there wouldn't know what makes an "American" Strat unique...
This makes me sad, though I guess I shouldn't be surprised.
 #79808  by strumminsix
 Wed May 12, 2010 8:40 am
jefkahn wrote:Who had $1,000 when they were 19 to spend on gear?
Me. Whoever doesn't should learn these 3 letters: J O B

Anyone who can't figure out how to save a $1,000 at age 19 has worse problems than a crummy guitar.
 #79813  by JonnyBoy
 Wed May 12, 2010 9:11 am
Or they might deal herbs and spices??? I was never good at that game... But I remember mowing countless lawns and delivering pizzas in my 78 honda civic and the horn would honk every time I took a left turn. I use to get the finger a lot.... Even to this day getting the finger while driving doesn't phase me much.... That natural strat looks SWEEEET. The Blues Jr. is a good call, I would love to have one now.... I use a Gdec as my practice amp that uses modeling which is OK for at home play in between gigs and practices to learn new songs off you tube/test pedals. I paid $120 for it, and I can listen to my Ipod through it, put head phones on and play along learning or jamming. That may be more up your alley.... the Twin modeling is OK for a tiny amp.... It has 3 twin settings, 3 tweed settings, 2 Jazz settings, a metal and 3 brittish voiced settings with practice loops and drum beats. PLUS a tuner and adjustable Key's for the play along loops. Its great for a beginner and a pro to keep the chops in constant motion.
 #79818  by strumminsix
 Wed May 12, 2010 9:23 am
JonnyBoy wrote: I remember mowing countless lawns and delivering pizzas in my 78 honda civic and the horn would honk every time I took a left turn.
LOL! I can relate! I worked 2 jobs for most of 18-22 then I graduated college.
In that time I owned cars, motorcycles, guitars, gear, etc, etc. But worked hard too.

If it's important enough to a person they'll work extra hours...
 #79827  by doylegarciadoyle
 Wed May 12, 2010 11:37 am
Thanks guys! I think I've got the information that I need. While I don't think I'll wait... the Dead band I wish to play in next semester at school, I believe, requires higher quality gear than I have, and I don't know if I can save enough for top-notch stuff in the time allotted me... you've helped out a ton. A Fender Blues Jr. it shall be, and I will check up on the modifications. Thanks!
 #79832  by Samson
 Wed May 12, 2010 11:58 am
Don't cut them off now, Doyle... They were just heating up...

My advice: go stock Fender (mexi made, if necessary) for now... and then do some mods to the gear as you hone your sound.

keep it clean...

 #79833  by FretWilkes
 Wed May 12, 2010 12:19 pm
doylegarciadoyle wrote:A Fender Blues Jr. it shall be, and I will check up on the modifications. Thanks!
I would suggest the 1st mod be a nice efficient speaker. This will help you get into Jerryville quicker. The stock speaker, while a-ok get's you a little more on the Neil Young side of things, at least in my experience. I used an Eminence Cannabis Rex in my Junior. I ran the Master wide open and the Volume around 7-8 and got a great sound. Keep the bass low, don't use the FAT switch. I use a 52RI Telecaster.

I've actually had people say to me, "your going to play Dead on a Tele?" I always tell them that all those notes exist on a Telecaster too! (except the ones past the 21st fret, but I get nosebleeds up that high anyway). I find the Telecaster gets a nice Europe 72ish "SHNARK!"

Best of luck to you.

Yours truly playing Grateful Dead music with a Tele and a Blues Junior...Althea if I'm not mistaken.