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Top 5 Best Electric Guitars For Beginners (2016)

Top 5 best electric guitars for beginners
Top 5 best electric guitars for beginners

Choosing the Right Electric Guitar for a Beginner

Choosing the right guitar for a beginner can be a painstaking process. Today's guitar market is crowded with so many great and quality beginner guitars that fall into an affordable price range. My aim is to introduce you to beginner’s guitars that, in my opinion, stand out from the rest. They're listed below in no particular order, with accompanying videos for sound clips.

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 bellow the $100 mark—those guitars are usually badly made and tend to break after a only a couple 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.

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. Epiphone Les Paul 100
  2. Squier Deluxe Stratocaster
  3. ESP LTD MH – 53
  4. Yamaha Pacifica PAC 112V (*My top pick of these five)
  5. Jackson JS32 Dinky DKA – M

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 Ultimate-Guitar.com (UG), one of the largest online guitarist communities on the Internet. 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 semi-tone. 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.)
  • Action: This refers to the string height to the fretboard. The lower is the action is on the guitar, the easier it will be to push strings against the fretboard.
  • Sustain: The length of the sound of the note or chord from the moment you play it until the moment it fades out.
  • 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.
  • Coil tap: A feature that brings down a pickup's output.
  • 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.

Epiphone Les Paul 100

Price range: ~300 dollars

Music genres it's good for: Pop, rock, metal, punk, and blues.

Specs:

  • The Epiphone Les Paul 100 is an entry level version of Epiphone Les Paul Standard. It has a slimmer body than Standard model and weights around 7.9 pounds (3.5 kg)—that is about a pound less than the Les Paul Standard model.
  • The body of this guitar is made from mahogany with a maple top. Mahogany is known for its warm, balanced sound with a good sustain, while maple has more boost in the upper frequencies—this lends to creating a good sounding guitar that has plenty of bite when played overdriven and soft, warm sound when played clean.
  • The neck is also made from mahogany, with a rosewood fretboard that further enhances the sound and sustain. The neck is bolt on, meaning that it is attached to the body with screws, which is unusual for Les Paul, as they are usually glued in the body. However it works well with this guitar, and has a slim, C-shaped neck profile that happens to work great for beginner guitar players, since it sits comfortably in one's hands. The fretboard has 22 frets and the action is set pretty low.
  • Epiphone Les Paul 100 comes in 3 colours: Heritage Cherry Sunburst, Ebony and Vintage Sunburst.

Hardware and electronics:

  • The Epiphone Les Paul 100 has Epiphone's own patented LockTone tune-o-matic tailpiece and bridge that locks on to the post screws. This gives you better tone and more sustain than regular tune-o-matic bridges. Locking the tailpiece and bridge also makes it easier to change strings, as they don’t fall off the posts while you're taking the strings off. Nor do you have to adjust the tailpiece and bridge height after putting on new strings. Standard guitar tuners offers fast tuning and stays in tune well. It also has a removable pickguard and standard two-strap buttons.
  • This guitar has two Epiphone made humbucker (with two coils) pickups, that has a good clean sound and great sound when playing with overdrive and distortion. Each pickup has its own volume and tone control. Three way switch lets you choose each pickup individually or put them together. This way you can get wide range of sounds out of this guitar.

Overall, this is a great beginner guitar. It is well-made, has good sounding pickups, the neck feels and plays great, and it has plenty of sustain for big rock chords and stand out solos.

Sound Clip of the Epiphone Les Paul 100

Squier Deluxe Stratocaster

Price: ~300 dollars

Music genres it's good for: Pop, rock, punk, country, funk, reggae, and blues.

Specs:

  • This guitar has a basswood body, with a maple neck and fingerboard. Basswood is a soft and light wood with more pronounced mid and upper frequency sound. The maple neck and fretboard further enhances the mid-range and high frequency sound, so it doesn’t have much of the low end that is necessary for heavier music genres. While the sustain is not as good as the Les Paul, it's still solid. It weights around 7.5 pounds (3.4 kg).
  • The neck is bolt on, a standard for these stratocaster type of guitars, and has a C-shaped neck profile that sits in the palm comfortably and plays well. The fretboard contains 22-frets with the action set pretty low.
  • Available in two colours: Pearl white metallic and Daphne blue.

Hardware and electronics:

  • This guitar is equipped with a 2-point (attached to body with two screws) tremolo bridge. The tremolo bridge is controlled with a tremolo arm and is used to change tension of the strings creating various sound effects. The standard Squier tuning machines do their job and helps everything stay in tune pretty well. It also has two standard strap buttons.
  • The Squier Deluxe Stratocaster comes with three Duncan designed (Seymour Duncan pickup designs) single coil pickups and comes with with one master volume control, one tone control for neck pickup and one tone control for middle pickup. A five-way switch also lets you combine those three pickups for fairly wide range of sounds.

Overall this is another great guitar for beginners. This guitar is great looking and the build quality is solid, with a comfortable neck. The clean sound of this guitar is also amazing, but there also is still plenty of bite when overdriven.

Squier Deluxe Stratocaster Sound Clip

Esp Ltd Mh - 53

Price: ~300 dollars

Music genres it's good for: Rock and metal.

Specs:

  • This guitar has the so-called 'superstrat' body shape—basically, it's similar to a stratocaster but with a more aggressive look. The body is made from basswood, with a maple neck and fretboard. The combination of these woods gives you a great mid-range and high frequency sound in sound, while the low frequencies aren't as strong.
  • The fretboard comes with 24 extra jumbo frets, making this one more suitable for solo-ing, but you can also play rhythm with it. The neck is bolt on with a thin U-neck shape—another great feature for lead guitarists, since it is thin, yet comfortable with low action. This works great for super fast solos and fast rhythm parts.
  • Comes in a black colour.

Hardware and electronics:

  • The MH–53 has a floyd rose special tremolo bridge with a locking nut that locks the strings in place. They also don’t go out of tune when using the tremolo arm. It also has standard LTD tuners and two strap buttons.
  • ESP LTD's MH–53 has an HSS pickup scheme, meaning that it has one humbucker pickup and two single coil pickups. The pickups are made by ESP themselves. There's also a five-way switch that lets you combine these pickups in various combinations, allowing you to create many different sounds. It has one master volume control and one master tone control.

Overall, this is a great guitar for those beginner guitar players that are more into rock and metal genres. When playing with a humbucker pickup, it has a great heavy rhythm guitar sound and the thin neck and extra jumbo frets gives you great platform for fast, energetic guitar solos.

ESP LTD MH-53 Sound Clip

Yamaha Pacifica PAC112V

Price: ~300 dollars

Music genres it's good for: Pop, rock, funk, punk, reggae, country, and blues.

Specs:

  • The Yamaha PAC112V has a stratocaster-type alder body with a maple neck and a rosewood fingerboard. Alder is a light wood that lends to a warm and balanced sound. Combining the alder body with the maple neck and rosewood fretboard gives you not only a warm and all-around balanced sound, but it also comes with with equal low, mid, and high frequencies.
  • This guitar has a comfortable C-shaped bolt on neck, with a standard 22 frets, and low action. It weights around 8 pounds (3.6 kg,)
  • Available in six colours: black, old violin sunburst, raspberry red, silver, sonic blue and yellow natural satin.

Hardware and electronics:

  • The Yamaha PAC112V has a vintage style tremolo in the bridge with tremolo arm. Yamahas have tuners that stay in tune well. There's also a two-strap button, to play it with a strap.
  • The Yamaha-made pickups are positioned in HSS pickup scheme—humbucker, single coil, and single coil. The five-way switch lets you create various sounds by combining the pickups together. It has a master tone control and a master volume control that is also a push–pull switch that taps the coils of the humbucker pickup, making it sound more like a single coil. This provides a warmer, less aggressive sound.

*** My top pick of these five. Overall this guitar is the most versatile guitar from the five guitars in this article and will work great for those beginner guitar players that want to cover a wide variety of music genres. While all top five of these are solid, this one is my personal favorite and top choice because of its versatility. You can get a lot of different sounds out of it and the coiled tap feature is great.

Yamaha PAC112V Sound Clip

Jackson JS23 Dinky DKA - M

Price: ~270 dollars

Music genres it's good for: Rock and metal.

Specs:

  • The Jackson JS32 Dinky DKA, weighing around 8 pounds (3.6 kg) has a so-called superstrat basswood body with a maple neck and fretboard, giving you a good mid-range and high frequency sounds. The neck is bolt on and has a so-called speed neck shape, which is flatter and thinner than C-shaped necks. This works great for solos. The fretboard has 24 frets with super low action.
  • One cool feature for this neck is that it has compound radius—the fretboard gets flatter when going up the fretboard, making upper frets more accessible and easier to play. It also has cool sharkfin inlays on the frets.
  • This comes in two colours: black and white.

Hardware and electronics:

  • The Jackson JS32 Dinky DKA–M has a Jackson licensed floyd rose tremolo system in the bridge. It also comes with a locking nut so that the guitar doesn’t go out of tune when the tremolo arm is used, standard tuners, and and two strap buttons for a strap.
  • The guitar is equipped with two Jacksons High output humbucker pickups, making it great for metal and rock. With a three-way switch, you can select each pickup or put them together. It also has a master tone control and a master volume control.

Overall, this is a great guitar for those beginner guitar players that have the ambition to become lead guitar players in metal or rock. It has everything a lead played could want in a guitar and it sounds massive with those high output humbuckers.

Jackson JS32 Dinky DKA-M Sound Clip

Conclusion

Those were, in my opinion, the best guitars for beginners out on the market today. They are all great guitars with cool looks, great playability, and good build quality. Of course, there are many better guitars than these, but their price range is way more than what a beginner should be spending on a first instrument.

If you have any questions about my top five or the additional eight, feel free to drop a comment below.

Top 5 best electric guitars for beginner
Top 5 best electric guitars for beginner

Which Of These 5 Electric Guitars Do You Think Is The Best For Beginner Guitar Players

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© 2011 Chris Whiter

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Comments 6 comments

Moi 2 years ago

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


That guy from that one party at that one guy's house 2 years ago

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).


Danilo Fontes 2 years ago

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.


Niko Linni profile image

Niko Linni 23 months ago from Long Beach, California

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.


Shecter metalhead 7 weeks ago

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


bluesrock 13 days ago

squier deluxe strat, good price & bulid quality.

next target, epiphone les paul 100.

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