Top Starter Electric Guitars – Guide & Comparison
This guide will help you find the best starter electric guitar, especially if you’re short on time and you don’t know where to start. After careful analysis, we have made a list of top eight guitars. It comprises some of the most sought after instruments for beginners. The Fender Squier Jazzmaster is the first on this list. We suggest considering it due to the fact that it can be used for all musical genres, it’s very simple to play and it has a sleek neck. All of these make it great for a beginner. If you are unable to find it, then you should look for the Epiphone Les Paul.
Our Top Choice
The cool looking guitar has a one-piece maple neck and a “C”-shaped profile. Another highlight is the 12” radius rosewood fingerboard that features 22 medium frets, which makes the instrument a premium alternative. It is ideal for rock styles that require a pair of fat-sounding humbucking pickups like the ones the guitar sports.
The least attractive thing about the beloved model has to be its unfriendly price tag.
It combines a slick offset style with effortless playability and the classic Fender tonality. With its flexible controls, the sleek guitar is ready to erupt on stage or in the studio and to impress everyone.
This product comes with a set neck, rosewood fingerboard, and Trapezoid inlays. Another standout is the Locking Tune-o-Matic bridge, which is a feature revered by experts. The ProBucker-2 and ProBucker-3 pickups with coil-tapping will make sure that the sound you get has no unwanted distortion and that you'll be able to create timeless songs easily.
One buyer mentioned that his unit developed a hardly noticeable buzz on the neck pickup.
The guitar comes equipped with an AAA flame maple veneer top, and the brand also offers beautiful new color options for you to choose from. And you should know that people are pleased with its longevity.
Also To Consider
The guitar's modern "C"-shaped neck provides enhanced comfort for any style and guarantees uniform tonality no matter which song you're playing. The two Single-Coil Telecaster pickups that come with the unit evoke the iconic tone the brand is known for, and generate a consistent sound that you'll fall in love with almost immediately.
Some past customers weren't satisfied with the fact that the guitar is heavier than other models.
The top-load Telecaster bridge makes sure that changing strings is a breeze and provides optimal tuning stability. Moreover, all the instruments are created by Fender to contain the DNA that makes them iconic.
8 Best Starter Electric Guitars (Reviews) in 2020
We have taken the time to research through specialized forums, surveys, consumer reports and sales figures and we found that, when looking for the best beginner electric guitar, you should have a look at the following models.
- 1. Squier Affinity Series Jazzmaster HH Black Electric Guitar
- 2. Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plus-Top Pro Electric Guitar
- 3. Fender Squier Affinity Telecaster
- 4. Yamaha Pacifica 012 – Full Size Electric Guitar with Tremolo Arm
- 5. Ibanez GRG170DX – Black Night
- 6. Fender Squier Classic Vibe 50’s Stratocaster
- 7. Epiphone EGG1EBCH1 G-310 Electric Guitar
- 8. Fender 0145212513 Guitar
- Yearly Guide and Report
- Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Squier Affinity Series Jazzmaster HH Black Electric Guitar
While this guitar can be used for all playing purposes, its style and sound tend to suit the jazz players better. It’s not specifically marketed as a guitar for beginners, but it’s very simple and playable and should be considered by any starting musician.
The general style of this instrument is very relaxed and the body is stylish. The headstock, inspired by the late 60’s Stratocaster, brings a vintage aspect to it. The body shape is eye-catching and at the same time it allows easy access to all the 22 frets found on the rosewood fretboard.
Playability is what describes the sleek neck best and this is the main reason why this guitar is suited for beginners. The pickups are stock Squier humbuckers and they are controlled by two separate knobs for tone and volume. The hardtail bridge used means that you won’t be able to use the tremolo effects, but the bridge will keep your guitar in tune for a longer time.
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2. Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plus-Top Pro Electric Guitar
When it comes to guitar shapes, the Les Paul is an iconic one. This guitar brings much of the aesthetics and almost matches the quality of the original Les Paul. The body is made of solid mahogany and the top is threaded maple. The neck is sturdy as well, constructed of maple and with a rosewood fretboard on top.
The shape and colors of this guitar make it look great and feel comfortable when played. But the body aspect is not the only quality that the instrument possesses. The humbuckers are a set of high quality Alnico models. The two knobs used for tone and volume are accurate.
If you are looking for a vintage tone, this guitar delivers it. it dominates in its category and the sound handless distortion and overdrive in an impressive manner. You can tune the guitar for playing metal and then switch to jazz or blues with no issues. You can make the transition even easier with a delay pedal.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($899.99)
3. Fender Squier Affinity Telecaster
The choice of wood for this guitar is as follows: the body is made of Alder wood and the neck of maple. A bit different from other models, this one has its fretboard made of maple as well. By constructing it in Asia and sourcing quality materials, Fender ensured that this guitar is sturdy and suitable for beginners.
This instrument is equipped with two vintage single coil pickups located in the neck and bridge areas. The selector switch allows for using the pickups in three ways. The pickups are connected to a tone and a volume knob. All of these make for a very simple, efficient and sturdy setup; just what a beginner needs.
You need to know that this Telecaster is built for playing softer music and it’s not made for heavy metal or hard rock. That being said, if you play it too hard it may lose its capabilities.
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4. Yamaha Pacifica 012 – Full Size Electric Guitar with Tremolo Arm
Yamaha is not known for being too popular with beginner guitarists but this model is one that the starters can really benefit from. The shape is similar to a Strat and the material of choice for it is a bit different — Agathis for the body and sonokeling for the fretboard. All the materials feel solid and when played, the guitar gives a nice feel.
This instrument features a different configuration of pickups — two single coils in the neck and middle spots and a humbucker near the bridge. This arrangement suits beginners because the difference in sound between the pickups is significant and thus more genres can be approached when playing.
When talking about hardware, the bridge is inspired by the Fender creations and it features six adjustable saddles. This bridge also features a synced tremolo design. With all the moving parts it’s important that the construction is solid. Fortunately Yamaha did a good job in that respect.
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5. Ibanez GRG170DX – Black Night
If you ask a friend to recommend a good electric guitar for beginners, the answer is usually Ibanez. Although the brand builds many professional instruments, the starter guitars are some of the most known.
This instrument’s body is made of quality mahogany, it has the classic Super Strat body shape and it comes with a Stratocaster style pickguard. The neck is suitable for beginners and its stylish Ibanez sharktooth inlays provide comfort when playing and make the guitar beautiful. The sparkling blue finishing will surely attract attention, as well.
You might say that this guitar is made for metalheads, because it possesses the tremolo bridge that is required when high-speed shredding. The bridge that holds the tremolo is decent at keeping the guitar in tune.
Installed on the main body you can find three Quantum pickups in HSS configuration. You can use the select switch to choose the combination of these pickups that sounds best for your ears.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($399.99)
6. Fender Squier Classic Vibe 50’s Stratocaster
As the goal of this guitar is to resemble the classic guitars of the 50’s era, this instrument is built with quality materials like alder wood for the body and maple for the neck. The design and finishing also follow the same aesthetic purpose.
When it comes to pickups, this model has some improved ones, a set of Custom Vintage singles, with custom made covers. They are all wired to two tone control knobs, one volume knob and a select switch. These pickups are way better than what Fender used before them and the vintage set fits well with the guitar’s theme.
Things are simple in the hardware compartment: the bridge is a tremolo one and the tuners are die-cast. They are all suitable for beginners, but you will want to avoid pulling on the whammy bar too hard, if you want to make sure the guitar stays in tune for a long time.
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7. Epiphone EGG1EBCH1 G-310 Electric Guitar
This guitar will surely make you remember it, with its interesting design resembling two horns. Made to bring the Gibson’s SG look to the masses, the instrument is made of quality mahogany for the body and a standard rosewood fretboard. The good construction makes the guitar feel solid when played.
The pickups chosen are a set of two open-coil packed humbuckers that suit the general look and feel of the guitar. As usual, they are wired to a volume and a tone knob and a select switcher. Everything is put together well and while the humbuckers are not the greatest ever, they are very good for starters.
Epiphone is known for the quality of their hardware and how well the guitars are put together. The bridge is one that doesn’t allow tremolos, but it’s one of the better in its category when talking about the level of sustain it offers. The tuners of this guitar are well made and are a proof of the instrument’s overall quality.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($459.79)
8. Fender 0145212513 Guitar
This telecaster is one of the most versatile guitars that a beginner can get. The solid alder body and the gloss finish bring a modern and appealing aspect to this classic instrument. The neck is maple, with the fingerboard finishing being maple as well. All the 22 frets on the smoothly finished neck can be easily accessed due to the shape of the guitar.
This instrument has some features that make it a solid choice. These include the steel bridge saddles, a more traditional body shape and the single-coil Tele pickups. The quality of the pickups stands out. Some of the other, more affordable guitars, tend to sound a little too unpleasant on some of their pickups, but that is not an issue with this guitar.
The tone and volume knobs, along with the pickup switch, allow for smooth and quick changes in the guitar’s sound, helping you recreate the warm music that Telecasters are known for.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($699.99)
Yearly Guide and Report
A quality guitar will make one’s journey from a total beginner to an experienced player much easier, while a badly chosen one will make you wish you played another instrument. This is why it’s important to carefully choose the best instrument. We will try to help you to do that with this guide.
Choosing the body
You might believe that for a beginner, the shape doesn’t matter. But that’s not always the case. Getting a guitar that you absolutely love looking at will give you the impulse to pick it up and play it. And as a starter, the more you play, the better the results will be.
A player interested in learning jazz will probably find a guitar whose style is mostly seen in rock concerts less appealing, and vice versa. But fortunately some body styles can be associated with a lot of genres and can be pleasing for most people.
The most widely known types of guitars are the solid-body ones. They are usually easier to build and as a result they represent some of the cheap electric guitars. That being said, they make for some good beginner guitars. This general category includes more body styles, but one of the most known is the single-cutaway. This can be found on the Les Paul models and it is intended to help the player reach all the frets easier.
A double-cutaway is the style that can be found in the Fender Stratocasters. This design has the same purpose — to make it easier to play high fret notes while also providing more room for your thumb on the other side of the neck. Both of these models are good alternatives for beginners.
Knowing what the hardware does
The pickups amplify the sound that the chords make through magnetic field interactions. There are two types of guitar pickups. The first of these are the single-coil ones. These are the thinner models that have a bright sound and that is why they are mostly used for rock, country or blues guitars.
Humbuckers are the type of pickups that are thicker and have a bassier sound compared to the others. They are mainly used for rock, metal or jazz because they produce a heavier sound. Fortunately there are guitars that incorporate both types of pickups and that can be used by every guitar player for all kinds of music. And you don’t have to pay a lot for these; you can find a cheap starter electric guitar that has quality pickups.
Another important piece of hardware is the bridge. It’s the place where the strings are anchored on the guitar’s body. There are three types of bridges and the most basic one is the hardtail, also known as fixed bridge. Its main advantage is that it’s easy to tune and maintain.
Another type of bridge is the tremolo one. This bridge has an arm that allows you to change the pitch of the sound. It moves the chords and in doing so, it tightens or slackens them, changing the sound that comes out of them. This provides more possibilities for creative players, but it comes at the cost of making it harder for a beginner to keep the guitar in tune. To help you maintain the rhythm when executing tremolo techniques, you can consider getting a guitar metronome.
A guitar produces sound when the vibrating strings interact with the pickups, so you may wonder what the role of wood in all of that is. The wood that the guitar is made of has a significant effect — it determines for how long the strings vibrate and how they move when strung. The pickup itself moves more or less, depending on the wood.
This is why it’s important to know what types of wood is used for guitars and what the effects are. Mahogany is mostly used in a guitar, but not in its fretboards and bridge. This wood is dense and strong, but not very hard and that’s why it emphasizes the midrange and bass sounds. It is a material that you can often find in a good starter electric guitar.
Maple is the most used wood when it comes to the neck because it’s hard and dense. You don’t want the neck to be wobbly and produce awful sounds, especially when putting a guitar capo on it. Maple also has detailed grain patterns that catch the eye. Because of its light tone it’s used as a top wood in some guitars. Being so hard, it brings out the treble sounds better.
One of the most commonly used woods for guitar bodies is alder. It’s not too costly and it’s usually lightly colored. Because of this it makes for a good material for most guitar bodies. It doesn’t have too many grain patterns so most of the time it’s covered with an opaque finish.
Ultimately, you should make sure that you do the research and know the difference between all the guitars that you can find for sale. You need to know exactly what you are looking for, even if you’re trying to get a guitar for someone else.
Tone and style
The key factors one ought to consider when prospecting the market for the best starter electric guitar is the sound that the instrument can achieve, and here things may get a bit complicated. While an electric guitar for beginners may look the part and fit your budget, if it doesn’t suit your style of music, then it won’t be of any use.
For guitarists, tone is a term that is used to describe the overall sound that the instrument can put out. Some tones may be suited better to certain genres of music, while others may only be truly achieved using specific combinations of gear.
Popular electric guitars
To make it easier for you to get the instrument that’s best suited to your needs, we’ll present some of the popular styles of electric guitar for beginners so that you can have a better idea of what is available on the market. We’ll also mention the settings in which they can perform the best.
One of the best-known electric guitars is the Stratocaster thanks to its versatility, style, and comfort. This makes it one of the best starter electric guitars that you can get since it is a solid all-rounded instrument that has a wide range of different tones. You can use it for rock, pop, indie, funk, blues, and country.
Students looking for a good starter electric guitar to play rock, metal, and blues will want to take a look at the Les Paul style. This type of guitar has two humbucker pickups that add roundness to the tone and extra girth for players who want a heavier sound.
Though not as popular as the Les Paul, the SG style is another type of electric guitar designed for rock and blues. It has a thinner body than the Les Paul. It is also very comfortable for long playing sessions so you may want to consider it if you want a good novice electric guitar to use for long hours.
Jazz style electric guitars, as the name suggests, are a bit more specialized and they are primarily used for playing big, warm, and clean tones. They are also referred to as semi-acoustics since they feature a hollow body for extra sustain. Get this style if you’re looking for a novice electric guitar for playing jazz, indie, and blues.
For beginners who want to focus on indie and country music, the Telecaster style is a good option that features two single-coil pickups for a more rounded and bassy sound. While the other styles are offered by many manufacturers, what makes this one unique is the fact that it is mostly only offered by Fender.
Lastly, for metal and punk fans, a Metal style guitar is a good choice. This variant is made of wood and it features key characteristics designed to aid players to reach higher volumes and faster playing speeds. Most Metal guitars come fitted with an active pickup that requires a battery and that provides a boost to the signal before it reaches the amplifier.
Do keep in mind that if you’re focused on getting the best starter electric guitar for all-purpose use, you’ll sacrifice some versatility by going with a Metal guitar.
There are three types of neck construction that manufacturers use, namely bolt-on, set, and neck-through. Bolt-on necks are bolted directly onto the body of the guitar and this makes it easier for them to be repaired or replaced. The downside is that they offer less overall resonance and sustain. Still, for an electric guitar for students, it isn’t a bad option.
Set necks, on the other hand, are glued into the body and this approach helps create a more stable neck joint and gives the instrument better resonance and sustain. A neck-through neck extends through the entire length of the body to deliver greater resonance and sustain, as well as more stability.
While the neck shape won’t affect the sound that your instrument produces, it is still important to focus on this aspect when looking for the best starter electric guitar since the neck can affect the overall feel. There are three main neck shapes you need to be aware of, and these are C, U, and V. The letters refer to the shape of the back of the guitar neck.
C-shaped necks are by far the most common ones and what you’ll find in a good electric guitar for beginners since they are very comfortable for most players. U-shaped necks are a bit chunky and they’re recommended for musicians with large hands. V-shaped necks have a sharper profile which is great for players who like to hang their thumb over the fretboard.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: How much should I spend on my first electric guitar?
You can find good instruments for as low as $150 to $500 or if you’re determined to get the best starter electric guitar, you can spend in the ballpark of thousands of dollars. When looking to purchase a good novice electric guitar, you should spend as much as you can afford.
With that said, you need to consider that guitars depreciate very fast and this means that if you don’t enjoy your guitar, and you want to sell it, you’re not going to be able to sell it for as much as you paid for it. This also means that you can get a better deal by purchasing a used guitar.
In the end, it is all up to you to decide on how much you are willing to spend. Do keep in mind that in general, a cheaper guitar will be more difficult to play and won’t sound or feel as good as a high-quality starter electric guitar. Try not to get anything cheaper than $150 since chances are that the instrument you’ll get for that price will start to fall apart after only a few months.
Q: Should I learn acoustic or electric guitar first?
As a beginner, your focus should be on learning to play the instrument that you are most excited about since you can use that motivation to get you through the difficult lessons. Thus, you don’t need to learn to play the acoustic first, unless you want to. Learning to play electric guitar first is no more difficult than learning to play acoustic.
When looking to purchase an instrument for a beginner, the most important factor is not the tone, brand, or cost but the ease of playing. As far as ease of playing is concerned, electric guitars have the upper hand. You also don’t need to get the best starter electric guitar if you don’t have the money since even an affordable electric guitar can work for a novice.
With a cheap amplifier and some headphones, beginners can also practice silently without disturbing family or neighbors, and this is an advantage that an acoustic guitar doesn’t have.
Q: Can I play electric guitar without an amp?
Yes, an electric guitar can still be played even if it is not plugged into an amp but you won’t be able to use it to its full capability until you plug it into a full rig. As a beginner, amplifiers, pedalboards, and cabinets can be expensive and can take a lot of space in your room.
While they’re certainly necessary if you want to get the full experience, if you need to travel around or live in a tiny apartment, technology has advanced enough to replace an entire rig with software. You can now connect your cool beginner electric guitar to your laptop or smartphone and use a digital amp simulator instead.
Without an amp or digital amp simulator, the guitar can still be played but since the pickups generate a very weak electromagnetic signal, the volume will be very low. Seeing as beginners need to hear themselves to progress, make sure to budget smartly so that you can have enough money for an amp.
Q: Do I need a pick to play electric guitar?
You can play your starter electric guitar with your fingers just as you would with an acoustic instrument. It is not something that everyone recommends, but it is certainly possible. Everybody has their preferences so if you find it difficult to maintain control over the pick, you can use your fingers.
Conversely, some people can’t get their fingers to do what the pick can or they can’t stand the stiff movement of the finger muscles. Learning to play the guitar can be frustrating as it is, so use whichever method you find most comfortable.
However, while playing without a pick on a student electric guitar sounds good, things are different once you start to play with other amplified musicians. In a situation like this one, it becomes more difficult, but not impossible, to keep up with other musicians that use picks. Thus, playing without a pick becomes an issue once you reach an advanced level.
Q: Can you teach yourself to play electric guitar?
Almost anything is possible if you have enough time and motivation and this includes teaching yourself to play on a beginner electric guitar. There are plenty of free resources online nowadays that can help you get started and learn the basics, and there are even better paid courses as well.
Once you have the basics figured out, you can start to do your own thing such as jam or write a song. It doesn’t have to be great and you might struggle a little, but this is a very effective way for you to learn on your own. Of course, you should also play the things that you enjoy listening to.
Lastly, whenever possible, try to play with other people as well. Listening and observing how other people play, especially those who are farther along than you, can help you improve. Playing with others is still the fastest way to learn.