I've been playing for, dang, 10 years now? Since 8th grade and I'm almost 25, so I guess that makes sense.
I played 2 years with a university big band, that was a cool gig. I've also played in a few bands in high school, and last year I was in a 'real' band that is getting back together for a gig next week (I'm super excited)
I have always like Fenders for some reason, the Fender Strat minus the tremolo is the best feeling and sounding guitar for what I like to play. I play indie rock mostly. I've had a few hollow bodies, 12-string acoustics, bass's, a few strats and a telecaster.
I will second what zinc02GT said about your ear. On a guitar, you can easily switch keys by moving your hand a fret. Because of the nature of the instrument and the type of music typically played, reading music isn't really a really useful tool unless you play written music. Read interviews about how many of your favorite guitarists couldn't really read music. And honestly even playing jazz in the big band (with well written arrangements) I only had to read music a few times on a few songs.