Buying your first guitar can be an overwhelming prospect. There will always be another guitar you'll want to add to your collection. Of course, the next week after you buy it, you’ll see one in a different color for 100 dollars less at a garage sale. All guitar players share this sentiment, from pro to bedroom players, you can never have enough.
The important part of this process is that you realize exactly why you’re buying your first guitar. To practice songs? Scales? For Band Practice? Or to look nice hanging on your wall. Hopefully if you want to be great, it’s not the latter. In this article, we’ll go over some of the best beginner electric guitars.
Here we go:
Epiphone Les Paul Standard
You know the name, and your favorite guitar player probably plays one. A fantastic beginner option in cost and playability is the Epiphone Les Paul Standard. It’s modeled after one of the most famous guitars of all time with the same spectacular build. It’s a solid mahogany body electric that comes in multiple color ways. Many owners review the Epiphone LP as being incredibly versatile, from face-melting leads to head-bobbing rhythms; you’re in good hands with a Les Paul. The only cons reviewers noticed was an occasional fret buzz and a wonky pick-up on some models. If you seek the same great Les Paul sound and look at a fraction of the price, an Epiphone LP is a great option.
Squier FSR Bullet Telecaster
The Fender Telecaster is one of the most distinct guitars on the market. The Squier division of Fender is a tad more affordable for a beginner and their craftsmanship has only improved over the years. These guitars are stylish with a single cutaway and available for under $200. They have multiple color ways available, with more neutral tones than Stratocasters or other Fender electrics.
The Telecaster is used in every genre from country to rock n’ roll to metal. Tellys are played by the likes of Jeff Beck, John 5, Jonny Greenwood, Jeff Buckley and Keith Richards. They are comfortable to learn and play on. They can adapt and handle any tone. Telecasters are durable, well-made guitars. In this case, the first guitar you buy may be the only one you really need. See my full review of the Squier Affinity Telecaster.
PRS Custom 24 SE
Here, we have the premium end of the spectrum. If you know you’re going to be a guitar player and this isn’t a fun fling or one-time hobby, you can look to Paul Reed Smith. This is not necessarily a beginner guitar, but it sure is a guitar that you can have and appreciate forever. This is the go big or go home option. Players like Carlos Santana and John Mayer co-sign PRS with their signature models. They are light and airy, with a bright tone that can wail. They come standard with a basswood and maple topped body, a rosewood fret board and the famous bird-in-flight inlays.
These are some of the most beautifully crafted guitars in the industry. PRS’s SE models can run a between 400-800 dollars, which is a bit more accessible than their custom models which run about $2,000-5,000. They are flashy, but play like butter. The action, fret inlays and playability all speak for themselves. If you know you’re going to be a guitar player, look no further. It’s worth the price.
Ibanez GIO series GRGR120EX
Your first guitar will set the tone for your playing career, literally. It’s important to keep in mind what kind of music you want to play. Some are better than others for metal, shredding and lead licks. Look to your favorite guitar player or why you want to start in the first place. Ibanez is known for being the standard shredding guitar. If you want to bust out blazing leads and mind-blowing solos, the Ibanez can be your ticket.
The Ibanez GIO series is an affordable line of comfortable, playable guitars. These guitars rock; Turn up the gain, distortion and listen to this thing wail. Reviewers have said it’s phenomenal for its price point, but there have also been some worries about the longevity of the pickups. This is a great first guitar that you might have to make better down the line by adding custom pickups.
Dean Dave Mustaine VMNTX
This signature Dave Mustaine model Dean Guitar is a unique buying opportunity. For less than $300, you get a guitar that will get looks for every possible reason before you even play it. This guitar comes with a basswood body, a rosewood fret board and a maple neck.
With the flying-V-esque body shape, you can easily get to all 24 frets. Most reviews are 4-5 stars, saying that for this price you can’t get a better axe. It rarely ever goes out of tune and comes equipped with two Dean humbuckers. This guitar is perfect for a leaner player who doesn’t want to get bogged down by a heavy solid body. It’s light and thin with incredible playability. This is a deal you can’t pass up.
Squier Deluxe Hot Rails Strat
Everyone who’s anyone has played a Stratocaster. From Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock to John Mayer, the “Strat” has always been an extremely popular guitar. The flagship instrument from Fender is made through the Squier division for under $300! They come equipped with a full basswood body, maple neck and rosewood fretboard. This Squier comes equipped with Duncan custom pickup modeled after the original Seymour Duncan Hot Rails pickups.
This guitar is perfect to develop your skills in any type of music. Squier can get a lot of heat for being too much of a “beginner” guitar, but these custom made squire Strats are something else. Some reviewers have said that they would even prefer a custom Squier over one of the base-model Fender Stratocasters and that’s saying something.
Mitchell MD300 Modern Rock Double Cutaway
This guitar is for all the modern rockers that are looking for cutting-edge innovation in their first guitar. This double-cutaway electric solid body is made of basswood; the neck is maple, select hardwood fret board. This is a great option for a practice/beginner guitar. It has easy-playability and come in at under $200.
The cons of this guitar lie in the fret board and design quality of some wiring. This is a unique guitar for its price point. It has a great look and sleek design. If you are looking for a contemporary or modern guitar to record on your home computer along with other instruments, this is a great option.
Ibanez Artcore AS73 Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar
The Ibanez Art-Core is our first hollow body on the list. It has a double cutaway, full maple body with a rosewood fret board and mother of pearl dot inlays. The Ibanez AS73 is extremely affordable for under $400. If you like the style of big hollow body with a big, smooth sound, look no further. From B.B. King to Roy Orbison, the hollow body has always been a stylish choice that always results in memorable tunes. There are 22 frets and it comes equipped with Ibanez’s fantastic ACH1 and ACH2 humbucker pickups which reviewers can’t recommend highly enough.
This guitar has presence and resonance that you expect from a big hollow body. If you want to expand your horizons or have a wider range of musical options, this deal is almost too good to pass up.
Gretsch Guitars G5425 Electromatic Jet Club
Gretsch is an incredibly popular brand with a certain type of player. They now have an electric guitar available for under $400. If you’re going to start out right, you might as well make it a Gretsch. Reviewers say it has the tone of a Fender with the smoothness of a Gibson, the best of both worlds. It comes in a few different color ways, stone gray and jet black. It’s a single cutaway style. Its body is comprised of basswood and an arched maple top, the fret board is rosewood. It’s got a great look that lends itself to a real rock n roller. Whether playing through distortion or clean, these pickups will let you hear every single note.
Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC112V
The Yamaha Pacifica is the quintessential beginner guitar. Some teachers and reviewers have likened to the Toyota or Honda of guitars. In other words, this is old faithful. You don’t get fancy bells and whistles with this one. In fact, the case is even sold separately. What you do get is a classic guitar, a more-than-capable practice instrument. It comes with an alder body, a maple neck and rosewood fret board. It always comes with a chrome tremolo which you can have a ton of fun with later on down the line.
This guitar won’t blow anyone away by looks but it is extremely affordable and extremely playable. In the beginning, you need a guitar that will show you the basics of what it means to be a quality instrument. It informs what guitars or instruments you want to buy next. This is a great guitar for beginners and experts alike.
So there we have it, 10 guitars, 10 different guitar players will gravitate to which one calls to them. There are a lot of different styles of guitar players and no two are alike. In this article, we covered the classic solid bodies like the Les Paul, Stratocaster and Telecaster. These are 3 great options you have—without a doubt—heard before. Then we had some electric guitars that are built for speed. If you listen to thrash, death metal or progressive music, these are for you. The hollow body options are fantastic to look at and to listen to. Then we finished up with a solid, reputable beginner guitar in the Yamaha Pacifica. We scoured the internet for honest and equal reviews so that you don’t have to. Good luck on the first stage of your guitar playing journey. Rock on!