I went to a couple of the major musical instrument stores this evening in search of an OK starter electric guitar, but nothing came of it. There was one Les Paul Epiphone I liked. It was in my budget too. Unfortunately, the veneer was chipped significantly. I'm reasonably sure the veneer was actually just a sticker. I don't know much about guitars, but for me, a cracked veener (which is probably just a sticker) takes the shine right off a $500 guitar. Most of the other options were well outside of my price range, not my style, or downright rubbish. There was lots of shoddy junk even at the higher price points. They really don't make things very well these days. I'll keep shopping for a used guitar that's been around awhile. I can relate to that. Eventually something worthwhile will turn up. In the meantime it doesn't hurt to not spend money I don't have to spend.