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Top 5 Best Electric Guitars for Beginners

Chris has been a guitar player for 16 years and a guitar teacher for 10 years. He plays many musical styles, including pop, rock, and funk.

Top 5 best electric guitars for beginners

Top 5 best electric guitars for beginners

Choosing Your First Electric Guitar

Usually, when people ask me what kind of guitar they should start learning on, I tend to suggest acoustic guitars, but if your choice has fallen on electric guitar as your first instrument, then here are my top five electric guitars that I would recommend for every beginner guitar player.

Some words of advice, though—when buying an electric guitar, you will also need an amplifier and cables to connect your guitar to the amplifier, and that will increase the money you will have to spend on all those things. If you're planning on using amp simulation software like guitar rig, amplitube ir bias fx, you will need an audio interface to connect your guitar to your PC, phone, or tablet.

First things first, when choosing your first electric guitar, you should think about the following:

  • Price: Price is, of course, crucial when picking out your guitar. The price of a good quality electric guitar for a beginner starts at around $150—at around $250–300 dollars, you can get a great starting guitar. I personally wouldn't suggest going below the $100 mark—those guitars are usually badly made and tend to break after only a couple of months of usage.
  • Brand: With guitars, the brands can really speak to the quality of the instrument. Make sure you do your research before you purchase. For example, brands like Epiphone and Squier have strict quality control procedures set in place before their guitars leave the factory. That means that there are lower chances of getting a bad quality instrument than there is with a no-name guitar, even if that means that the price is higher. You get what you pay for.
  • Know what you want: What do you want out of your first guitar? Is it just to practice any general stringed instrument? Or is it to get really good at a certain genre? If you are into particular music genres, you should check out guitars meant for that kind of music. Some guitars are more versatile than others and can be used for multiple music genres, while there are some others that are designed for a specific genre and won't sound and play so great when used for other genres.

The 5 Best Beginner Electric Guitars

Taking all these things listed above into consideration I have chosen five guitars that I consider the best for beginner guitar players. Below, in no particular order, you find a detailed review of the:

  1. Yamaha PAC012 Pacifica
  2. Squier Standard Stratocaster
  3. Epiphone SG Special VE
  4. Ibanez AX120
  5. Squier Affinity Series Telecaster

For each of these guitars listed, you'll find my personal commentary, a list of the guitar's general specs/features, and its rating on Amazon. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments about any of the above-listed guitars or anything else below.

But, first, read about some common guitar terms that you'll need to know in general and to better understand this article.

(Note: This article will focus on electric guitars. You can also check out my other article for acoustic guitars for beginners.)

Common Guitar Terminlogy to Know

Here are some guitar terms that will appear in this article:

  • Bolt on neck: This is the neck of the guitar that is attached to the body with screws.
  • Frets: Frets divide the fretboard into segments that go up and interval with each next fret. For guitars, each fret goes up one semitone. For example, if the guitar has standard tuning, then the open sound on the sixth string will be E, the first fret will be F, the second fret will be F#, and so forth. 22 fret guitars go up 22 semitones, and 24 fret guitars go up 24 semitones (or two full octaves.)
  • Tremolo bridge: When operated with, a tremolo arm can be used to achieve various sound effects by changing the tension of the strings. This is when the string achieves a "trembling" effect.
  • Tune-o-matic: A static bridge and tailpiece that are standard for Les Paul type of guitars.
  • Pickup: Guitar pickups convert the string vibrations into electrical current, amplifying the sound.
  • Humbucker: This refers to a type of electric guitar pickup that adopts a method of using two coils to "buck the hum," in other words: to cancel out the interference that is picked up by coil pickups.

1. Yamaha PAC012 Pacifica Electric Guitar

  • Price: Around $170
  • Recommended for: Pop, rock, punk, blues, reggae

This electric guitar from Yamaha has been the starting point of guitar learning for many beginner players, and I was one of them.

Body and Neck

The body of this guitar is made out of agathis wood (a cheaper alternative to mahogany) and is shaped in Stratocaster style. The neck is bolt-on (attached to the body with screws) and is made out of maple with Sonokeling (Indian wood similar to rosewood) fretboard. The fretboard has 22 frets.

Color

This guitar has three color options—black, metallic dark blue, and metallic red.

Hardware

This electric guitar has a vintage tremolo bridge, that works fairly well, but it will detune guitar if used extensively and has six die-cast tuners, that works ok and will keep the tuning stable as long as you don’t over abuse the tremolo bridge.

Electronics

One of the main reasons this electric guitar is so versatile is the HSS pickup combination. It has a humbucker pickup (consists of two coils and are louder and more powerful than single-coil pickups) in the bridge position and two single-coil pickups in the middle and neck positions. The combination gives you a variety of tones starting from sweet clean tones from single-coil pickups to growling rock tones that a humbucker pickup can give you. The pickup selector has five positions giving you:

  • Humbucker only
  • Humbucker with middle single coil
  • Middle single-coil alone
  • Middle single coil with neck single coil
  • Neck single coil alone

There is also a master volume control and master tone control (controls the amount of treble frequencies).

Overall, this is one hell of an electric guitar for beginners and even for more advanced players. The hss pickup combination gives this guitar the versatility to cover almost all musical genres. The customers of Amazon give this guitar 4.5 stars out of 5.

2. Squier Standard Stratocaster Electric Guitar

  • Price: Around $240–300
  • Recommended for: Pop, rock, blues, country, reggae

Squier, a subsidiary company of Fender, gives you one of the most purchased electric guitars in the beginner category.

Body and Neck

The body of this guitar is made out of agathis (similar to mahogany) wood and is shaped in Stratocaster form. The neck of this guitar is bolt-on and is made out of maple and, depending on the model, can have either maple or Indian laurel fretboard. The combination of these woods gives this guitar a warm and well-balanced tone with a slight boost in midrange frequencies.

Color

This guitar comes in several colors—black, amber sunburst, antique burst, candy apple red, and cherry sunburst.

Hardware

This guitar has a 2-Point Synchronized Tremolo bar and standard tuning pegs. As with the Yamaha Pacifica, the tremolo bar will work ok if you will not abuse it; otherwise, you might have tuning problems. The fretboard has 22 frets.

Electronics

This guitar has the three standard single-coil pickups and a 5-way switch that gives you:

  • Bridge pickup only
  • Bridge and middle pickups
  • Middle pickup only
  • Middle and neck pickups
  • Neck pickup only

There is one master volume control and two tone controls, one for neck pickup and one for middle pickup.

Overall, this electric guitar is one of the top guitars for beginners, suitable for most musical genres. Amazon customers have given this guitar a 4.1 stars out of 5.

3. Epiphone SG Special VE Electric Guitar

  • Price: Around $180
  • Recommended for: Rock, metal, punk, blues

Epiphone, a subsidiary company owned by Gibson, has a long history of making amazing affordable guitars and has been making cheaper alternatives to Gibson guitar models for decades now.

Body and Neck

The body of this electric guitar is made in the popular SG shape and is made out of poplar wood with mahogany veneer on top. The combination of these two kinds of wood gives this guitar a warm tone with a pronounced middle-frequency response that is perfect for the music genres I listed above. The neck is made from Okoume wood (alternative to mahogany) and is bolted onto the body.

Colors

This guitar comes in five colors—Vintage Worn Cherry, Vintage Worn Heritage Cherry Sunburst, Vintage Worn Ebony, Vintage Worn Vintage Sunburst, and Vintage Worn Walnut.

Hardware

This electric guitar has a stop bar tailpiece with Epiphone's own LockTone bridge. The premium tuning pegs ensure that this guitar won't go out of tune so easily. The fretboard has 22 medium frets.

Electronics

This guitar comes with two humbucker pickups and a three-way toggle switch that gives you:

  • Neck pickup (toggle switch up)
  • Both pickups (toggle switch middle)
  • Bridge pickup (toggle switch down)

You can control volume with one master volume control and tone with one master tone control.

Overall, a decent starting guitar for beginner players, especially for those who are into heavier musical genres like rock and metal. Amazon customers have given this electric guitar 4.8 stars out of 5.

4. Ibanez AX120 Electric Guitar

  • Price: Around $200
  • Recommended for: Rock, metal, punk, blues

Ibanez is a very prominent guitar manufacturer based in Japan and has been making electric and acoustic guitars for more than five decades now.

Body and Neck

The body has a similar shape to SG and is made from basswood (a wood that is often used by Asian guitar makers and is similar to alder), while the neck is made from maple and has jatoba (also popular with Asian guitar makers and similar to rosewood) fretboard. The combination of these woods gives you a warm, well-balanced tone with no particular emphasis on bass, mid or high frequencies. The neck is bolt-on.

Colors

This guitar comes in colors—Baltic Blue Metallic, Candy Apple, Metallic Forest, and Metallic Light Blue.

Hardware

This guitar is equipped with a stop bar tailpiece and full tone tune-o-matic bridge. Ibanez premium tuners make sure this guitar will stay in tune. The fretboard has 22 frets.

Electronics

This guitar comes with two humbucker pickups and a three-way switch giving you three combinations of pickups:

  • Bridge pickup only
  • Bridge + middle pickup
  • Neck pickup only

Each pickup has its own master volume and tone controls.

Overall, a very solid electric guitar from Ibanez that won’t leave you disappointed. Especially worth looking into if you’re more into hard rock and metal. Amazon customers have given this guitar 4 stars out of 5.

5. Squier Affinity Series Telecaster Electric Guitar

  • Price: Around $200
  • Recommended for: Country, rock, pop, blues

Here's another electric guitar from Squier on this list, this time in telecaster shape.

Body and Neck

The body of this guitar has the legendary telecaster shape and is made from alder wood with a maple neck and fretboard. Alder being a lightweight wood gives this guitar a brighter sound than, let's say, mahogany and has a more pronounced high midrange frequency response which in combination with maple neck gives this guitar a warm, balanced sound with brighter upper-end frequencies. The neck is bolt-on.

Colors

This guitar comes in several colors—arctic white, butterscotch blonde, black, two-tone sunburst, competition orange, race green, race red, and slick silver.

Hardware

This guitar has a six-saddle standard Telecaster bridge and standard die-cast tuners that stay in tune very well. The fretboard has 21 frets.

Electronics

It comes with two vintage-style single pickups and a three-way pickup selector giving you three options:

  • Bridge pickup
  • Bridge + neck pickup
  • Neck pickup

It also has master volume and tone controls.

Overall, this is another superb guitar from Squier that gives all the beginner player needs to master the guitar. Amazon customers have given this electric guitar 4.2 out of 5 stars.

Honorable Mentions

Of course, these are not the only electric guitars that are worth looking at. Here are some other to consider:

  • Epiphone Les Paul 100
  • Jackson JS32
  • Ibanez ART120

After the Purchase

As I mentioned in the beginning, after you have made the purchase of your first electric guitar, you will need some accesories like cable, mediators and a strap, and, most importantly, an amplifier.

You might also want to change strings, as the strings that the guitar came with might be old and already served their time. If you don’t know how to do it, I suggest you taking the guitar to a guitar technician at your lockat guitar store. And while there you might also want to ask for a proper guitar setup, so there are no hitches in learning process.

Good luck with your first electric guitar!

Top 5 best electric guitar for beginners

Top 5 best electric guitar for beginners

© 2011 Chris Whiter

Comments

BLAKTORX on November 08, 2017:

is a ibanez is grg250m a good guitar??Ive been playing for 5 years and I’m looking for something nice in most styles of music especially metal

bluesrock on November 26, 2016:

squier deluxe strat, good price & bulid quality.

next target, epiphone les paul 100.

Shecter metalhead on October 14, 2016:

a floyd rose equip guitar is never a good idea for a starter with my first floyd rose guitar i had a hard time tuning and restringing which both of those things are things that beginner should be able to do fast and easy in order to learn

Ignacio Mata from Las Vegas, Nevada on January 17, 2015:

I didn't start with any of these ^_^;;

Well, I did start with an Epiphone Gibson Jr which later "evolved" (read: I traded in the Jr towards and bought) into a Gibson Special, and before that happened I got a red Yamaha. I don't know what type it is exactly, but it's not the one that you showed here (I don't think?). I've also got a Squire-P Bass.

But yeah, from what I've heard those are usually some good beginner guitars. Those worried about price should see if there's more "basic" versions of these guitars (Like with the Eiphones; there's Jr, Special, Standard, etc). Also check out pawn shops! Some have a decent collection of guitars, and hopefully the people selling them know what they're talking about and have a good passion for guitars like the guys I go to do. Haven't steered me wrong yet.

Danilo Fontes on June 09, 2014:

As the price factor is really important for a starter, I'll stick to the Epiphone Les Paul Standard since it is less than half the price of the second cheaper on the list.

That guy from that one party at that one guy's house on February 27, 2014:

I learned on a '74 Gibson GB Standard 'cause I'm a rebel! But I agree with moi. Some of these guitars are a bit pricey considering that plenty of beginners are kids, and most kids aren't exactly swimming in money. If their parent is going to buy their guitar for them (which will probably happen), they will probably want to spend as little as possible, which means that the poor kid will learn on a first act guitar. That, or their parents/siblings hand-me-downs (I got the latter).

Moi on January 25, 2014:

Most of these guitars are beyond my budget, let alone a beginners.