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Looking to buy your first electric guitar? This is a major milestone in every guitarist’s journey and one that can quickly become overwhelming.
There are more guitars than ever available on the market today. Whether you are looking for a guitar for yourself or buying for your child, the guitars on this list will provide an excellent playground to build playing skills.
Read on to learn about some of the best electric guitars available for beginners.
Table of Contents
Yamaha PAC112J – Best Overall, Best Yamaha Guitar For Beginners
The first guitar on this list is a guitar from the Yamaha Pacifica series. Time and again, I have heard high acclaim for these guitars, and for good reason.
Quite often, the Yamaha Pacifica series of guitars are held in high regard by today’s professionals. It is not uncommon to hear someone say that these are the guitars they wish they were able to learn with as a beginner.
The Yamaha PAC112J is an excellent electric guitar for a beginner. Because it is packed with a high level of value and playability (while being appropriately priced for a beginner), the PAC112J ranks on this list as the best electric guitar for beginners overall.
The PAC112J is shaped in a very familiar body style, which provides accessibility all over the neck.
The body itself is made from Alder, making the PAC112J extremely lightweight. The body has a gloss polyurethane finish, with the guitar coming in a few different color options including:
- Metallic red
- Lake blue
- Old violin sunburst
The neck of the guitar is made of Maple and features a comfortable C-shaped design. Overall, the scale length of the neck measures 25.5”.
The PAC112J’s fretboard is made from Rosewood, which is a rare sight on a guitar at this price level. The fretboard has 22 frets, a radius of 13.75”, and dot inlays provided for fret identification.
The body and neck of the guitar are conjoined in a bolt-on configuration. This is a modular design often seen with some other well-known guitar brands, and allows the musician to customize their guitar should they feel the need.
Perhaps one of the best features of this guitar is the pickups. This guitar is stocked with 2 x Yamaha Ceramic single-coil pickups (in the neck and middle positions) and a Yamaha Ceramic humbucker (at the bridge).
The provided 5-way selector switch opens up a very large tonal palette, allowing you to choose which pickups are being used. You can use the switch to choose a combination of pickups or use individual pickups entirely.
These pickups can create tones that are very familiar and icon-sounding. You will likely not have any issues playing any style of music with this guitar for this very reason.
The PAC112J sports some high-quality hardware and features elsewhere on the guitar as well. One of the biggest plusses is the vintage-style Tremolo, allowing for an extra degree of expression in your playing. Dive bombs and chord vibrato are easily achievable.
The tuning machines on the PAC112J are die-cast sealed, giving a smooth tuning experience. The nut of the guitar is made of Urea, which is a synthetic material that aims at providing bone-like characteristics at a fraction of the cost.
Overall, you really can’t go wrong with the Yamaha PAC112J. This guitar is stocked with everything a beginner needs to get going. In fact, you might even find that the guitar carries you on your journey well into intermediate-advanced skill levels.
Item Weight: 10.9 pounds
Package Dimensions: 43 x 18 x 4.5 inches
Squier Classic Vibe 70s Stratocaster – Best Premium
For the dedicated beginner that might have a little extra to spend, the Squier Classic Vibe 70s Stratocaster is a worthy instrument. These guitars are priced at the very high end of the typical beginner’s budget but offer a level of craftsmanship that can suit advanced guitarists.
The Squier Classic Vibe 70s Stratocaster essentially takes the vintage design of the 1970s-era Stratocaster and gives the guitar a modern makeover. It is designed to feel, play, and sound like a vintage guitar, while being affordable and suitable for today’s music.
The body of the Classic Vibe 70s Stratocaster is made from Poplar, which is traditionally a fairly lightweight wood. The guitar has a gloss polyurethane finish and comes in several different colors including:
- Olympic White
The neck of the Classic Vibe 70s Stratocaster is made from Maple. The neck features the accessible and familiar C-shaped neck that is so iconic on these guitars.
As is traditionally found on Fender guitars, the neck has a scale length of 25.5” and a radius of 9.5”. Because Fender-style guitars are designed to be modular, the body and neck are conjoined in a bolt-on configuration.
The fretboard of this guitar is made from Indian Laurel and features 21 frets that are narrow and tall. Pearloid dot inlays are provided for easy fret identification.
This specific model of the Classic Vibe 70s Stratocaster features 2 x Fender Alnico single-coil pickups (in the neck and middle positions) and a Fender Alnico humbucker (in the bridge). This pickup configuration gives access to a beefier tone at the bridge position.
To further unlock the tonal capabilities of this guitar, a 5-way pickup selector switch is provided. This allows you to use different pickup combinations, resulting in a wide range of tones.
The Classic Vibe 70s Stratocaster certainly doesn’t skimp on hardware, either. This guitar features a vintage-style synchronized Tremolo (as seen on Fender guitars), allowing you to add the perfect vibrato to any note selection.
This guitar also sports vintage-style tuning machines for a smooth and classy tuning experience.
A nut made of real bone is also provided on the guitar. This is a bit unusual to see on a guitar in this price range. Bone is highly notable for providing great resonance for stringed instruments.
Overall, the Squier Classic Vibe 70s Stratocaster is an awesome vintage-styled guitar that provides all of the best features of a vintage guitar at a fraction of the price. It also provides an affordable access point to one of the most iconic guitars of all time.
Item Weight: 11 pounds
Package Dimensions: 44.5 x 15 x 4 inches
Ibanez Gio GRX70QA – Best Budget
If you’re on a tight budget but still looking for one of the best guitars money can buy, you’re in luck. The Ibanez Gio line of guitars is an excellent range of instruments that are designed to accommodate a high degree of playability while remaining very affordable.
The Ibanez Gio GRX70QA is a fantastic example that serves as proof of this claim. This is a guitar at the lower end of the beginner’s budget range that does not compromise on the value-packed into the instrument.
The GRX70QA is a solid body guitar with a double-cutaway design. Overall, the body style is reminiscent of the iconic Stratocaster, but with an original flair that could suit even those who are looking for a guitar to fit the metal music genre aesthetic.
The body of the GRX70QA is made of Poplar and features a beautiful quilted Maple top. The guitar itself has a gloss polyurethane finish and comes in a wide number of attractive color offerings including:
- Transparent red sunburst
- Transparent green sunburst
- Transparent black sunburst
- Transparent violet sunburst
The neck is made of Maple and features Ibanez’s GRX neck shape. This neck contour is designed to accommodate even the most technical players, making this a great go-to guitar for anyone.
The neck has a scale length of 25.5”. The fretboard is made of Purpleheart and features a 15.75” radius. 22 medium-sized frets with white dot inlays are readily accessible on the fretboard.
Aiding in the guitar’s accessibility is the bolt-on neck joint which joins the body and neck together. This means there is minimal hand adjustment needed when playing the higher frets.
The GRX70QA is also stocked with amazing pickups for this budget range. In the neck and bridge positions of the guitar are Infinity R Ceramic humbuckers, with an Infinity R Ceramic single-coil pickup in the middle position.
The included 5-way pickup selector switch gives you a large number of different pickup combinations, unlocking a seriously large range of different tones. A master volume and tone knob are provided for dialing in the perfect sounds.
This guitar also features an Ibanez T106 Tremolo system. This tremolo allows you to not only add vibrato to your notes and chords but also allows you to perform dive bombs while being able to stay in tune.
Elsewhere on the guitar can be found a plastic nut and closed gear tuning machines.
Overall, the Ibanez Gio GRX70QA is an extremely great value for the price. The neck is seriously smooth to play on and will likely be able to suit any kind of player.
These guitars are also quite pleasing to the eye, with each finish showing off the awe-inspiring quilted tops. Personalization is often an important aspect for any guitarist, and the GRX70QA allows the beginner to have a personalized first electric guitar.
Item Weight: 7.5 pounds
Package Dimensions: 39.5 x 12.5 x 2.19 inches
For those who are looking for something a little different at the higher end of the beginner-budget range, it might be worth checking out the Ibanez AS73. This guitar has a warm and wide resonant tone and is capable of handling a large range of musical styles including jazz and funk.
The Ibanez AS73 is a semi-hollow body with a body made entirely of Linden. Linden is a Basswood type of tree, which was traditionally used in a medicinal application to treat insomnia and cold-related symptoms.
The body style of the AS73 has a double-cutaway design, lending ideal accessibility to the higher regions of the neck. It has 2 F-holes crafted in the body, which adds an acoustic resonance to the semi-hollow design. It also allows the guitar to be played and heard when unplugged.
The AS73 has a gloss polyurethane finish and comes in a variety of different colors including:
- Tobacco brown sunburst
- Transparent cherry
- Metallic olive
The neck of the AS73 is crafted of Nyatoh and has a slim design for smooth and quick playing. The neck has a scale length of 24.7”.
The neck and body have a set-in configuration for connecting the pieces together. This essentially means that the neck is glued into the body.
The fretboard is made of Walnut with a radius of 12”. 22 medium-sized frets are easily accessible, with acrylic block inlays provided for easy fret identification.
The AS73 has a pair of Classic Elite humbuckers stocked into the guitar. A 3-way switch is installed to select which humbucker (or combination) you wish to use. The humbuckers help to accentuate the natural tone of the guitar without any electrical humming interference.
The guitar also has dedicated volume and tone knobs for each humbucker. This allows you to perfectly dial in your ideal tones for each pickup. It also gives you the ability to properly blend each pickup when used in combination.
On the headstock of the guitar can be found a plastic nut and closed gear tuning machines. The AS73 also has a Quik Change III tailpiece and a Gibraltar Performer bridge.
Overall, the Ibanez AS73 is a beautiful guitar with superb tones to match its aesthetic. I have personally owned this guitar in the past and can attest to its ability. It is a guitar that even intermediate-to-advanced level players can enjoy.
In my own opinion, I loved how full the tone of the guitar sounded. As I was primarily an acoustic guitar player up until the point I owned this guitar, I appreciated how the size of the guitar felt comfortable in a familiar way.
The quality of the entire Ibanez Artcore series of guitars can not be overstated. These guitars are perfect for those who are looking for a resonant semi-hollow guitar at an affordable price.
Item Weight: 13.23 pounds
Package Dimensions: 47 x 32 x 6 inches
Another guitar that has received extremely high acclaim from guitarists over the years is the Gretsch G2210 Streamliner Junior Jet Club. This is a classic-looking guitar from a classic guitar company that provides playability at an affordable price.
The G2210 is a solid body electric guitar with a single-cutaway design. The body is made from Nato and has a gloss finish.
The guitar comes in a number of different colors including:
- Vintage white
- Imperial stain
- Gold dust
The neck of the G2210 is also made from Nato and has a thin U-shaped design. This design opens up the possibility to play with quick smoothness.
The neck has a scale length of 24.75”. The body and neck conjoin using a bolt-on configuration.
The fretboard is made from Laurel, with 22 medium jumbo-sized Nickel frets. The frets are indicated with unique Pearloid tab-style inlays that are positioned at the edge of the fretboard.
For pickups, the G2210 features a pair of Broad’Tron humbuckers. These are wired slightly hot, which can provide a little natural snarl in the louder volumes of the guitar.
A 3-way switch is provided for pickup selection. Only one set of volume and tone knobs is on board, which makes having to worry about each pickup’s tone and volume a nonexistent thought.
Elsewhere on the guitar can be found die-cast tuners, a synthetic bone nut, and a compensated wraparound bridge.
Overall, the Gretsch G2210 is a guitar that can truly deliver those smokin’-hot tones that Gretsch guitars are often known for. People of all skill levels absolutely love this guitar, with the guitar ranking in the all-time favorites list of many.
The G2210 is somewhat of a junior-sized guitar, which makes it ideal for the younger guitarists, or those who enjoy playing smaller guitars. These guitars are priced in the middle range of the beginner budget, which can save you some money to spend on a gig bag or hardshell case.
Item Weight: 12.35 pounds
Package Dimensions: 45 x 17.5 x 4.5 inches
Squier Affinity Series Telecaster Deluxe
There was a period of time where the Squier Affinity Series Telecasters had an extremely low reputation amongst guitarists. However, that has all changed within the last decade, as now these guitars are highly acclaimed and often recommended.
The Squier Affinity Series Telecaster Deluxe is a perfect example of this. The guitar excels at providing an enjoyable and accessible playing experience at a very affordable price that is well within the beginner’s budget.
This guitar features the iconic Telecaster design, which was one of Leo Fender’s first guitar designs. This version has a body made from Poplar and a gloss polyurethane finish.
The Affinity Series Telecaster Deluxe comes in a number of different color finishes including:
- Burgundy mist
- Charcoal frost metallic
The neck of the guitar is made of Maple, with a scale length of 25.5”. The neck has a classic C-shaped design which is a mainstay feature seen on many Telecasters throughout years past.
Depending on the color finish of the guitar, the fretboard comes in either Maple (Black finish) or Laurel. The fretboard has a radius of 9.5” and 21 medium jumbo frets which are easily accessible due to the single-cutaway and bolt-on neck design of the guitar.
While Telecasters generally tend to have single-coil pickups, this specific model has a pair of Fender Ceramic humbuckers. This adds depth to the overall tone, while still retaining the classic tone that these guitars are known for. It also allows the guitar to be adaptable to a larger range of musical styles.
A 3-way switch is provided for pickup selection. A pair of volume and tone knobs are given to properly dial in and blend each pickup to desired specifications.
Elsewhere on the Affinity Series Telecaster Deluxe can be found a synthetic bone nut, die-cast tuners, and a standard string-through style 6-saddle bridge. A large pickguard (as normally seen with Fender Telecaster Deluxe models) is also equipped to preserve the traditional aesthetic of this guitar.
Overall, the Squier Affinity Series Telecaster Deluxe is an impressive guitar for the beginner-budget price range. Intermediate guitarists will likely be able to use this guitar with no issues as well.
The body features a nice and deep contour which allows the guitar to fit comfortably against your body without any sort of pain that might be associated with the edge of a guitar.
Item Weight: 10.2 pounds
Package Dimensions: 45 x 15 x 4 inches
For those of you looking for a budget-friendly guitar for a beginner, the Stagg SES50M might be ideal for you. This Chinese-crafted guitar from the UK company Stagg is an affordable entry-level electric guitar that can get the job done.
The Stagg SES50M features a very recognizable body shape that any Stratocaster-style guitar lover will approve of. The body itself is made of Alder and comes in a variety of different colored finishes including:
- Cream white
- Fiesta red
The neck of the SES50M is made of Maple and features a satin finish. This makes the guitar incredibly comfortable and smooth to play.
The fretboard is also made of Maple and features the same satin finish. With a lacquered fretboard, the guitar has a very vintage feel.
There are 21 frets on the fretboard, which are easily accessible due to the guitar’s body design. Standard dot inlays are provided for fret identification.
Electronically, the SES50M is stocked with 3 x Stagg single-coil pickups. These provide the spanky tones that guitars traditionally built with this body style are known for.
Opening the tonal range even further is the 5-way selector switch.
The SES50M also features a modern vintage-style classic tremolo system for extra expression capabilities.
Elsewhere, the SES50M has nickel die-cast tuners and a Nubone nut, which both add extra stability to tuning. Nubone is a synthetic material designed to mimic the qualities of bone.
Overall, the Stagg SES50M is a decent guitar for a beginner. The guitar has a vintage aesthetic that can help to make sure you look cool while you have fun playing the guitar.
Item Weight: 8.98 pounds
Package Dimensions: 42 x 15 x 5 inches
What To Look For In An Electric Guitar For Beginners
As with anything, there are certain things you should keep in mind when buying an electric guitar for a beginner. Many of these factors will ultimately be determined by your own unique situation. Regardless, keeping these factors in mind will help you make an informed purchasing decision.
It is no secret that guitarists love to allow their personality to bleed into other areas of their life, with their guitar often being a reflection of their unique personality. A beginner’s first guitar should inspire them to continue to play the instrument.
If a beginner does not connect with the guitar on an emotional level, they are likely not going to be inclined to play their instrument as much as they would if they thought it was cool. Generally, some guitars tend to be tailored to specific types of music, so this is something to also keep in mind (especially if you are more partial to a specific genre).
Beginner-level guitars tend to get a bad reputation, largely because they are mass-produced with the goal of being able to provide an instrument at the lowest cost. However, some guitars in this range are very playable.
You will want to make sure that the guitar you purchase feels good in your hands, sounds good, and can allow you to play in the style(s) you wish to play. A comfortable neck and a large tonal range will take the beginner far into their journey as a guitarist.
Perhaps one of the biggest aspects of buying a guitar (or anything, for that matter) is the budget you have to work with. For the most part, beginner guitars tend to fall within a price range of $100-$500.
It should be said that you shouldn’t have to spend a lot of money to be able to have access to a highly competent instrument. Quite often, you do get what you pay for, but there are some instruments that play better than their higher-priced counterparts.
Should You Buy A Used Electric Guitar?
Buying a used electric guitar is a fabulous idea no matter what your budget or skill level is. There are some good reasons for this.
The first reason is that you are likely to be able to purchase a better-crafted guitar at a more affordable price. Just as used cars tend to cost less than new, used guitars often do not resell for the same price they did as a new guitar (with some exceptions, namely vintage instruments).
The second reason for buying used is that it gives you an opportunity to establish a relationship with either a local music store or another guitarist. Buying from these types of sellers (rather than large corporations) helps to stimulate your local economy and supports those in your community. In fact, your local music store could use the support as they could likely be one of the few independently-owned physical stores in your area.
What Should I Look For When Buying A Used Electric Guitar?
When you buy a used electric guitar, you will want to keep an eye out for a few things. The first thing to look out for is likely obvious but is not always obvious to spot.
That thing to look for is any structural damage to the guitar. Hairline cracks in the neck or near the headstock will likely cause you more pain than enjoyment during your ownership of the guitar.
You will also want to pay attention to the cosmetic condition of the guitar. A few dings are going to be likely.
However, how clean the guitar is will be a good indicator of how well the previous owner took care of the instrument. It goes without saying that a well-maintained guitar will likely have a longer life than a guitar that was treated poorly or just sat in improper storage.
Another thing to keep an eye (or ear) out for is to make sure all of the pickups are working correctly. You will also want to make sure that all of the volume and tone knobs are functioning. A little noise will likely not hurt anything as pickups and knobs can be re-soldered to have proper grounding.
Best Brands For Beginner Electric Guitars
There are a few different guitar brands that are well-known for making reputable instruments for beginners. You likely cannot go wrong with an instrument from one of the following companies.
Squier is a subsidiary of the ultra-famous guitar company Fender. Squier came about as Fender’s answer to the large number of counterfeit guitars that were available in the market throughout the 1980s.
Squier makes Fender-style guitars with the goal of providing affordable instruments for beginners and intermediate guitarists. The company used to have a fairly questionable reputation concerning quality. However, the last decade has seen Squier turn a corner, now producing guitars worthy of critical praise.
Ibanez is a Japanese guitar company that was originally an importer/exporter of classical guitars. Eventually, the company began to produce their own instruments, with their guitars finding a dedicated base of players throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
Today, Ibanez has a solid reputation for superb craftsmanship and applying a critical eye to all of its instruments. Ibanez guitars are well known to be some of the most playable guitars in the industry, with many virtuosos endorsing their instruments.
Best Electric Guitars For Beginners, Final Thoughts
For a beginner guitarist, there is perhaps nothing more exciting than buying your first electric guitar. It can be easy to go after what you think you might want, but it often pays to take the time to do some research beforehand.
With any guitar purchase, it is important to try these guitars out for yourself to make sure they feel and sound great to you. This is truly the only way to find your perfect match.
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