there are really two types of guitars, the maple and rosewood. gibsons were usually fat fret rosewood and fenders were usually the thinner raised frets on a maple neck.
i prefer the fat frets with rosewood. I used to have a gibson studio, but i just recently purchased a mexican made fender with a rosewood neck and fat frets. also it has a humbucker + 2 singles. i think it was $400.
then you have the dual coil pickups vs the singles. i prefer the duals (humbuckers). once you acquire experience, you can decide on pickups and positions. for beginners, use the amp equalizer to adjust the type of sound you want.
last but not least, the whamy bar. i dont care for them. nuff said bout dat.
now, for strings. some ppl prefer heavy 11's. i prefer 9's. i'm a lightweight and like to break strings. but i also use 10's. ernie balls are my favourite.
my recommendation, get a name brand vs a cheapo. you should be able to find deals on brand names for around $200-$300. i like peavy and marshall amps, but if you are strap for cash, VOX is the most bang for bucks.
don't forget, cut your nails...
this is the kind i have, but it's dark blue and whammy bar removed.