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What should I buy first? A good guitar or the FM3?

Sgrim

New Member
Hi guys!
I've been playing guitar for over 15 years. During all this time I always used the same guitar, which is a low cost guitar, which has a terrible construction, but after changing the pickups for a pair of dimarzio crunch lab and liquid fire, I achieved a reasonable result, especially in high gain tones. As for effects, I always plugged my guitar into an m-audio fast track and used VST's, like Helix Native, on my PC.
After thinking a lot, I decided to invest more in my setup, in order to get a good guitar (probably an Ernie Ball Music Man Majesty) and get a good effects processor, which will be the Fractal FM3.
However, I don't have enough money to make both purchases at the moment, so I need to decide which of the two products I should purchase first and would like your feedbacks.
Due to the fact that I can't find FM3 tests on Youtube with low cost guitars on the internet, I'm afraid of not getting good results by plugging the fractal into my current guitar.
Thank's, guys.
 

fcs101

Fractal Fanatic
Get a quality guitar!!!!!!!!!!! There is no question. I swore off of subpar guitars years ago.

Having a great feeling/playing/sounding instrument makes a huge difference. The other stuff is important, but it's much easier/cheaper to get a decent amp and a few effects or other multieffect unit. Other than you (the player), the guitar is the heart of your setup.

Just IMHO.

Note: These days a quality guitar doesn't necessarily mean $$$$$.
 

Repartee41

Inspired
I was in a similar position about a year ago. I had/have a Squier Affinity Strat and a low-midrange combo amp, and wanted to decide whether I should upgrade my guitar or my amp first. In the end, I decided to snag an AxeFX II rather than a new guitar for a few reasons:
  • I needed a low volume setup, and a tube combo amp was just too much volume, so I ended up rarely being able to use it.
  • You tend to hear the amp more than the guitar, so improving the amp would be a bigger impact on tone.
  • I very much wanted FX to play with
  • I wanted to be able to record guitar, and getting a rig to record my combo amp would've costed about as much as a new guitar anyways, so getting an AFX was the right choice for all of these
My choice was petty much made for me in that I needed a silent setup before anything else, so this is a personal choice to be made based on your circumstances.

There's an argument to be made that a good guitar can make a huge difference, at least in terms of how it feels and how inspiring it is to play. I think a well set-up budget guitar can hold you over for a while, so my recommendation is to grab the FM3 and a few tools to setup your guitar, and learn how to set it up. Especially if you're a beginner, the difference in feel between a budget guitar and an expensive one isn't as big as it really is, while tone is much easier to hear, in my opinion at least.
 
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tealtonerick

Inspired
Personally, I think this depends upon how you feel about your current guitar when you play it. Does it give you that sense of "this feels and sounds just amazing to me in my particular hands"? Surely you have played other guitars? Did you ever get that feeling from one of them compared to what you have? If you have never been down that path, go without electricity, go without water, go without underwear, go without... (you get the idea) and go find that instrument that you will never let go of. Only then will you be able to fully soar with the FM3 or the FM27 or whatever is available by then.
 

henryrobinett

Fractal Fanatic
Well into the first half of my guitar playing life I never practiced with an amp. Probably because I was very shy about my playing, I got into the habit of practicing electric guitar without an amp. This meant I could play any time day or night and not disturb anyone. I could get my chops together with the added liability of not using an amp. In the long run it wasn’t smart. It always took me a good set to get adjusted to the sound; this big volume hitting me from behind.

But still it’s the guitar that’s most important. The Axe Fx is a phenomenal piece of gear in that you can practice getting your sound at very low volumes or even NONE with phones.
 

TSJMajesty

Fractal Fanatic
The guitar, especially the Majesty! My inspiration for playing had left me for a few years, then suddenly came back. Shortly thereafter I bought my first Majesty (not coming from a "cheap" guitar), and I was so blown away that I played for hours every day, and that was just unplugged! Then, I bought the Axe Fx III.
 

HoovHead

Member
I have a $300 Godin (purchased used at SamAsh) that sounds fantastic through my FM3. The key: "Is the guitar easy to play and does it stay in tune". You can get just as much tone out of the FM3 with a cheap guitar as you can with an expensive guitar. When you have more $$$ later, buy the expensive guitar. The rig will be even better.
 

tealtonerick

Inspired
I would also like to add that if you only own and play an electric guitar and you don't use any amplification, you really only have half of the instrument. The electric guitar was specifically designed to be amplified. It is a bad habit to waste time playing and hearing only half of an instrument. You will never become a good electric guitar player that way. If you are going to do that, trade it in for a proper acoustic guitar. (Though I understand, probably not your original intent)
 

USMC_Trev

Fractal Fanatic
A new, premium but not too expensive guitar should definitely take priority. You will be amazed at how your playing changes when the instrument you're using is actually not a hindrance but an enabler. Get one that you can't put down, that you think about when you're not at home to play it. Get the one that you've been thinking about for years, that inspires you. Now's as good a time as any. That will propel you forward.

An FM3 is great, and that should definitely be your next gear purchase. However that's a slippery slope that leads to other $$$ things. What are you going to listen to it through? You're gonna want some FRFR (full range, flat response) reference speakers at least, if not FRFR wedges, or headphones. Or are you going to go through a guitar cab and load bank? Those are $$$ too.

ON THE OTHER HAND, you have a guitar and VST's suck. Take that axe to a good guitar shop and have them do a full setup on it. Fret dressing or a complete re-fret, the works. Perhaps it's a low end strat type guitar and in dire need of a set of really good aftermarket saddle pieces or the intonation has never been set properly. Maybe even find a place that has a Plek machine. It's amazing what good service can do for a marginal guitar. Then you go the FM3 route, and you now have infinite inspirational directions you can take. Just get some good FRFR headphones, at least.
 
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warlockII

Power User
IF your guitar feels good when you play it, the FM3. IF you're fighting the guitar, get a new one. I bought a majesty and even though it plays great, I CAN'T get over the pickups. The majesty isn't like most other guitars that are easy to switch new pickups in, so think very carefully before buying one. I'm most likely going to sell mine once I get off my lazy butt.
 

MrCrossroads83

Experienced
Hi guys!
I've been playing guitar for over 15 years. During all this time I always used the same guitar, which is a low cost guitar, which has a terrible construction, but after changing the pickups for a pair of dimarzio crunch lab and liquid fire, I achieved a reasonable result, especially in high gain tones. As for effects, I always plugged my guitar into an m-audio fast track and used VST's, like Helix Native, on my PC.
After thinking a lot, I decided to invest more in my setup, in order to get a good guitar (probably an Ernie Ball Music Man Majesty) and get a good effects processor, which will be the Fractal FM3.
However, I don't have enough money to make both purchases at the moment, so I need to decide which of the two products I should purchase first and would like your feedbacks.
Due to the fact that I can't find FM3 tests on Youtube with low cost guitars on the internet, I'm afraid of not getting good results by plugging the fractal into my current guitar.
Thank's, guys.
Get a good guitar, first. Good in terms of general quality and playability so that it is easy to play and inspires you to take the guitar as often as possible 😉 that could be used Ibanez, Yamaha pacifica or a squier classic vibe. I once played a Classic vibe 50s strat that had a better setup than many guitars with a higher price tag in the store back then.

Tone is in the fingers and a good playable guitar with a serious quality will inspire you to develope your tone and improve your skills.
 

seclusion

Experienced
It’s the rabbit hole syndrome, might be worth getting the guitar setup, frets done. Then FM3 takes some time to learn. It’s a choice
 

kptkarl

Inspired
I have several low cost guitars(under $1000 US). I've learned how to do setups and changed some parts to get them playing/sounding as best they can without breaking the bank. The most fundamental change was getting the FM3. Already had some decent monitors(ADAM T7V), headphones(Sony MDR7506) and a few other things for a small home studio setup.
It didn't take me long to learn how to use the FM3 having gone through the manual, adding in Cooper Carters course and Austin Buddy Live Gold presets.
It'll be a year of FM3 for me come November and it made a huge improvement to my abilities more than the guitars. I'd like to get a higher end guitar at some point but I don't feel it is holding me back.
The only downside was/is getting distracted by tweaking presets versus practicing/playing, especially since FW4/Cygnus. ;)

YMMV.
 

rustinpeace91

New Member
It depends. Do you like the way your guitar plays? Does it stay in tune? Does the neck feel good in your hands? does the bridge feel natural for picking? Can you get it to sound good if you plug it into a nice amp? If you answered no to any of these questions then get the new guitar. Personally I'm holding my Rg471 hard tail that I got for $250 back in 2014 and I love this thing. The neck feels great, and with a Dimarzio titan in the bridge tuned to Drop B I probably would not be able to tell the difference between it and a higher end Ibanez, but I also have an American Strat, Gibson Les Paul and an RG550, so it's not like I play cheap guitars. If you can live with all of these things, get an FM3

Ernie Ball Music Man Majesty
Damn son. For the price of that thing you could get a high end guitar AND an FM3, and that's what I'd recommend doing. Check out Caparison guitars, or an ESP, or a Jackson.

The FM3 was an absolute game changer for me. I used to play tube amps and plugins, but nothing compares to the sound and convenience of this thing. I no longer have an excuse not to practice. The FM3 sits on a tray table next to my work computer and right after I log off I plug in, turn the metronome on and can focus on nothing but practicing (much harder to do with a DAW and a plugin) My playing has improved drastically since I bought this thing. I've probably made more progress in this past year than I have in the previous 4.
 
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