In addition to being a private violin teacher, Alecia started writing music-related articles 3 years ago and has been enjoying this experience greatly. Loves quilting and scrapbooking in her free time.
Marcus has a vast experience in digital audio and sound design. Thanks to his knowledge, he actively helps musicians with technical problems, improving their audio quality and even promoting their tracks so that thousands of listeners could enjoy some really good music.
Last updated: March 06, 2021
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The electric guitar is one of the most distinctive musical instruments. The instrument is popularized and played by so many well-known bands of so many different music genres. Whether you love the rock/blues of Jimi Hendrix, the indie sounds of the Arctic Monkeys or the heavy metal of Ozzy Osbourne, the electric guitar is so versatile that it can meet a huge range of musical needs.
But for those starting out aspiring to be the next musical star, choosing the best beginner electric guitar can be a minefield—with a miss in product waiting to blow out. With so many choices available, the process of selecting the most suitable beginner electric guitar that is good value for money needs time and research. It is important from the outset that you know what your budget is and the type of accessories that the player may be interested in. Also, if the beginner electric guitarist aspires to play in a band, something to consider may also be the color and general appearance of the guitar.
This article aims to calm any worries about finding the best beginner electric guitar through first reviewing eight of the best beginner electric guitars currently available on the market. The article provides an extensive buying guide which presents all the necessary information you will need when starting the buying process, including detailed reviews of each product. Factors we consider important in the buying process include scale length, neck wood, number of frets, type of pickups, body wood and warranty information. The article will also include an FAQ section to provide answers to common concerns of those purchasing electric guitars.
The ESP LTD EC-256FM electric guitar for under 500 dollars only contains similar features to some of the best known electric guitars on the market but is available at an affordable price for beginners. Featuring a beautiful high-quality mahogany body and maple top, this electric guitar is very visually appealing while also giving a classy, rustic feel.
Containing medium-sized frets ensures the guitar is ideal for beginners who may initially struggle with learning the finger positions. In addition, the use of D’addario strings means there is no fret ‘buzz’ on the fretboard of the guitar which is a common feature of cheaper electric guitars. The ESP LTD EC-256FM really does contain the depth and breadth of sound expected for top-of-the-range electric guitars. This variety in sound choice is available through the easily accessible push/pull coils.
A shortcoming of the ESP LTD EC-256FM is the in-built tuner in the guitar. This is clearly a cost-saving measure as the device is not as reliable or highly functioning as tuners available on other electric guitars. The good news is that the tuner can be replaced and upgraded if this feature is particularly important for you.
The ESP LTD EC-256FM is perfect for beginners wanting to learn the possibilities of electric guitar sounds. It is suited to a wide variety of musical choices including blues, jazz, rock and folk. Available at an affordable price with great visual appeal, the ESP LTD EC-256FM will undoubtedly be a long-term purchase in which beginner electric guitarists can learn and develop their electric guitar skills.
The Schechter Omen-6 is constructed from basswood and is available in either black or white chrome hardware color. This guitar is known for its rich and thick sound and is perfect for beginner electric guitarists who aspire to be frontline lead guitarists with dominant riffs and solos. The tonal variety of the OMEN-6 is also balanced to ensure it does not sound out of place in Jazz or Blues genres.
The OMEN-6 is perfect for beginner electric guitarists because of its usability. The neck of the guitar is remarkably smooth as well as a comfortable rosewood fretboard material which enables decent protection of the player’s fingers. Guitarists will be able to play the OMEN-6 for many hours without fear of finger pain.
The variety in sound on the OMEN-6 is enabled through a strong and reliable pickup which is conveniently located on the body of the guitar to ensure that guitarists have easy access to tonal options during a song. The location of the volume, tone and pickup switches is also located far enough away from the main strumming board which reduces the chances of exuberant players accidentally hitting the switches at inopportune moments.
A weakness of the OMEN-6 is that the guitar is somewhat heavier than other beginner electric guitars. This combined with weak strap locks can make the guitar a little cumbersome to stand up and play with. The strap locks can be easily replaced and upgraded. It is nonetheless a consideration if you intend to play this guitar while standing up.
The Squier electric bass guitar by Fender is one of the best affordable electric bass guitars for beginners available on the market. Featuring a short scale length in comparison to other bass guitars as well as a smooth rosewood fretboard, the Squier is perfectly suited to beginners wanting to experiment with sounds of an electric bass guitar.
One of the most appealing aspects to the Squier electric bass guitar is the three pickup choices available to players, including the Jazz bass, vintage-style and precision bass. Each of these pickups transmits very different tonal characteristics which allow the guitar to mold well in a variety of different musical genres. It is, therefore, a useful purchase for a beginner who is unsure of what musical style they are interested in.
One of the downsides to the Squier is that although there is an option to use all three pickups at the same time this is matched by a significant cut in the volume that is transmitted. This is likely due to the cheaper pickup technology used in the construction. Additionally, the guitar does not come with a case and finding suitable hard bass guitar cases that sufficiently protect the body and strings can be difficult and expensive.
Despite this, a generous two-year warranty provides customers with a decent degree of protection when purchasing the guitar. The Squier is certainly an affordable electric bass option for beginners. The satin finish on the guitar is very slick and certainly pass to the unknowing as a very expensive electric bass guitar.
The Les Paul Player Package offers a great one-stop shop beginner electric guitar pack. The Epiphone package goes beyond other rival brands to provide an electric guitar, case, amplifier straps, picks and gig bag to name a few.
The guitar included in the package is a genuine Les Paul Special-II LTD guitar which has a mahogany body and ebony chrome color. The guitar includes a couple of different pickups including the 650R and 700T which gives players some variety of tonal choices. Considering the affordable nature of the player package, the quality of the pickups through the amplifier may be limited in sound quality as there are no modulation settings available.
The setup is perfect beginners. The strings are located close to the fretboard and the relatively small scale length is ideal for beginner guitarists to become accustomed to the finger and hand movements required for an electric guitar. Also, the tuner that is included in the package allows beginners to use the guitar straight out of the box. This guitar is also suitable for the Rocksmith game to make your learning process way more entertaining.
As the Les Paul Electric Guitar Package includes a variety of accessories, the electric guitar on offer inevitably has limitations in order for the package to be available at such an affordable price. The guitar lacks strong string quality and will likely need regular tuning to make the perfect sound. In some cases too, the neck quality may be slightly damaged or worn, which is not ideal for beginner guitarists looking for a smooth playing surface.
The Oscar Schmidt OE30 is a well-known electric guitar under 300 dollars that is made by specialists in folk music. Featuring a premium mahogany wood body and very decent hardware, this guitar is made with precision and skill to ensure rich resonant sound quality. Oscar Schmidt also offers a lifetime warranty for the guitar which is well-suited to beginners looking to try out electric guitars.
Although the strings are not in tune when purchased, when tuned, the strings will stay in the perfect pitch for a decent period of time. The tonal characteristics of the OE30 are perfect for Blues and Folk music and the humbuckers pickup is perfectly suited to creating this tonal character.
While the appearance of the guitar may seem clunkier and less refined compared to others, the distinctive arches on the body of the guitar ensure that when played in a sitting position, the guitar can rest comfortably. Comfortability is certainly an important factor for any beginner electric guitarist.
For electric guitarists who want challenges and progression to their playing the OE30 may be limited in that offer. While the short neck is ideal for beginners learning chord progressions, it is restricted in scope when learning more complex riffs and chords. The short neck also feels restrictive when standing up and playing the guitar. This may be a matter of personal preference and dependent on the arm length of the guitarist. Another issue is that the guitar is heavy compared to other beginner electric guitars which may also restrict the playing abilities of the guitarist.
What we liked:
Great for Blues and Folk music
Body curves comfortable in a sitting down position
What could be better:
The small neck is restrictive for advanced players
The Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC012DLX is constructed of agathis wood for the body and features a maple neck wood. Available in a variety of designs including old violin sunburst and metallic red, the PAC012DLX is available for beginners at the lower end of the electric guitar price range.
Although the agathist and sonokeling woods used on for the body and fretboards respectively are known to be cheaper wood choices, the finish and setup of the guitar provide a beginner electric guitarist with the feeling of a high-spec guitar. Although the tonal characteristics suffer compared to mahogany electric guitars, for beginners with limited comparative knowledge, the sound quality from the PAC012DLX is very good to the ear.
The PAC012DLX contains two single-coil humbucker pickups which provide a decent if limited, a variety of intonations on the guitar. If you want to develop the tonal character of the guitar, adjustments can always be made through investing in better pickups. If you are not as interested in varying tonal character, the pickups available with the PAC012DLX will meet your needs.
The affordable price does mean a variety of restrictions in quality. For example, the string quality is poor and there will more than likely be a buzzing sound as the fret wires are not precision made. Long term durability of the PAC012DLX is also questionable. If you are looking for an electric guitar that will be reliable over a long period of time, the electronics on the PAC012DLX are unlikely to meet your needs.
Featuring a distinctive single cutaway body shape, the Jackson JS22 Dinky is constructed with basswood for the body with a maple neck wood that is reinforced with graphite. The appearance of the JS22 Dinky is very distinctive and is best suited to those interested in rock and heavy metal electric guitar playing. The guitar is available in a variety of colors including rich blue and snow white which are great rocking colors.
Although some may find some fret buzz when first played out of the packaging, these are minor adjustments to the neck that can be made in-store or through online instruction. When played, the smooth neck ensures that the fast riffs and chord progressions associated with rock and heavy metal music can be easily accessed.
The pickups included in the guitar design have mixed reviews and may be complex for beginners to maximize the sound potential. For those who have a good understanding of distortion levels from an amplifier will certainly be able to get a good sound quality out of the pickups.
The hardware on the Jackson JS22 Dinky is where one of the most significant weaknesses of the guitar. This is where the product design incorporates cheaper materials that are more likely to break down. Parts that are particularly susceptible to breakage include the tremolo assembly and the tuners. To cover yourself, make sure that there are good procedures in place from the supplier so that you have easy access to repairs or replacement parts.
The Ibanez GRX20ZBKN is an affordable electric guitar constructed from poplar for the body wood and maple for the neck wood. The guitar which is perfectly suited for kids who are beginners is available in black, orange or blue colors. Although restricted to one year, Ibanez also offers a warranty agreement when purchasing the GRX20ZBKN.
One of the main advantages of the GRX20ZBKN is the decent string quality which when tuned, will certainly stay in tune for a very long time thereafter. The strings are also well made to ensure that beginners are not put off learning the electric guitar through suffering from blisters or other finger issues.
Ibanez has certainly maintained their reputation in producing high-quality sounding guitars with this affordable guitar catered for kids with 20 medium-sized frets. The smaller number of frets ensures spacing for the frets higher up the fretboard have wider spacing, making it easier for smaller hands to access the different chord progressions.
One of the main weaknesses of the GRX20ZBKN is the pickups. The two Infinity R humbucking pickups do not produce consistently robust sound and you may require good technical knowledge of amplifiers in order to produce a stronger electric sound. Another issue is the lack of accessories on offer with the purchase of the guitar. The purchasing package simply includes the guitar, amp cable and warranty. For some this may be sufficient, but beginners interested in guitar accessories may point to the lack of extra guitar picks or a strap as a negative when purchasing the GRX20ZBKN.
What we liked:
Good quality sound for the price
Good string quality that maintains tune
Medium fret size perfect for kids
What could be better:
Lack of accessories
Things to Consider
The following detailed buying guide will give you the information that you need in deciding the type of electric guitar that you want to purchase.
Electric Guitar Body – what you should know before they buy
To help you sort out which one will best suit your skills and playing preferences, here are some defined terms:
Solid Body Electric Guitars
Solid body electric guitars are made of solid wood, they do not have a hole or chamber like the acoustic guitar. You will find these types of electric guitars in online stores and shops, they are the most common type of guitars. In order to produce sound, these solid body guitars depend on the quality of the wood and its components. They are suitable for any musical situation.
Discussed below are the four most common types of solid body electric guitar;
Stratocasters: Musicians are able to access the higher frets using this Fender Stratocaster because of its cutaway horns. For longer performances, the back of a Stratocaster body is designed to be more comfortable. The three single coil pickups in these guitars transfer the vibration of the strings to the amplifier. If you want your guitar to produce a wide variety of sounds, the pickups can all be turned on at the same time. You can raise or lower the pitch using the tremolo bar by pulling the bar up and down to produce different effects. If you like dabbling in the different music genres and playing styles, Stratocasters are the best option for you.
Telecasters: This is another Fender guitar that enables you to get those higher frets using a single cutaway. Unlike the Stratocasters, telecasters use two single coil pickups to produce large scale sound, the pickups can either be used separately or together. Telecasters are commonly used for country music because it is known for producing a thin and biting sound, but recently it is used among the indie musicians. Telecasters are not suitable for heavy rock or metal music. If you like indie or country music, a Telecaster guitar is a preferred option for you.
Les Paul: These type of guitars have a feel of heavyweight and heavy metal. During its introduction, Les Paul had two p-90 single coil pickups, but today they produce the thick and sustainable sound by using a double humbucker pickup. Les Paul features a single cutaway shape just like the Telecasters and Stratocasters. Les Paul guitars are loved by heavy rock musicians. The Les Paul Guitar package reviewed in this article is a great place to start for beginners wanting to learn heavy metal grooves.
SG: This is for you if you play heavy metal or rock music. SG guitars have a long neck design and a shape of a twin horn cutaway.it may be difficult to get used to this type of guitar but it is lightweight compared to Les Paul. The long neck makes the guitar feel unbalanced. Just like the Les Paul, SG guitars have two humbucker pickups but they have specific settings for different tone and volume controls.
Other Types of Electric Guitars
If you want to branch out from the basics, here are a few other options:
Semi-Acoustic Electric Guitars: These type of guitars have a hollow body that enables them to produce a more dynamic and warmer ranger of sounds. Rock and metal musicians do not play semi-acoustic electric guitars because they are vulnerable to unwanted feedback. The feedback factor is due to the distorted sound, and many guitars have solid blocks inside them to reduce the feedback.
335s: If you are an electric blue and fusion musician these type of guitars is suitable for you. When it comes to quality and looks, there is no compromise with these type of guitars. They are made of hybrid hollow and solid body, with a solid block inside to minimize the feedback effect to enable your creativity’s full potential. The Oscar Schmidt OE30 reviewed earlier is an ideal choice if you want to learn Blues electric guitar playing.
Rickenbacker 330: These type of guitars are known to produce a jangly, bright sound. If you are an old-fashioned person when it comes to music, Rickenbacker 330 produces the same quality of sound like the old school tracks to achieve the ‘60s band style’.
Archtop: These type of guitars were once played as acoustics but now they can produce that electric sound by just hooking it up to an amp. They have a hollow body and produce thick, less sustained sound. They are commonly used by jazz musicians and their design is similar to that of old-fashioned violins. The tops and back are curved and arched out of one piece of wood. The Gibson ES-175 is the most common archtops that come with two humbucker pickups.
It is advisable to go for a cheaper option when purchasing an electric guitar for or as a beginner. Electric guitars have a wide range of prices to choose from just like other instruments. However, if the reasons for purchasing is upgrading, consider the skill level and the style of music before buying another guitar. There are affordable models with excellent quality, but mostly it depends on the amount of cash you are willing to spend.
It is perfectly acceptable to spend less than $100 on an electric guitar for a beginner because you are not sure if the instrument is suitable for you. No need to waste money if you are not going to stick to the guitar. However, if you aspire to be on stage or recording, you can definitely invest a few extra dollars for a guitar that feels, looks, sounds and plays higher quality sounds. In the long run, it will save you money on upgrading and the guitar will be ready when you are ready for performance.
Care and Maintenance Tips for an Electric guitar
Generally, guitars require less maintenance but caring for your guitar ensures that it last longer in terms of sound and appearance. In order to put the instrument in its best possible shape, every guitar player should practice care and maintenance for their guitar. Here are a few tips on how you can take care of your guitar whether you have just bought a new one or already own one.
Changing the strings regularly. Over time, strings lose their sound quality, therefore it is important to change the strips to keep the sound crisp and full. The quality of the strings deteriorates more when you play the guitar more often. The number of times you change the strings will depend on how much you play the guitar. For example, if you play your guitar for an hour in a day, then you should change the strings once every four to six weeks.
When changing the strings, clean the fretboard. Over a period of time, dirt, dust and oil build up on every guitar, that’s why it is advisable to clean the fretboard when changing the strings. The first step is to remove the strings than using a credit card, gently scrap the fretboard to remove the dirt that comes loose, follow up with a soft toothbrush and a soft cloth to remove any remaining dirt. For a rosewood neck guitar, wipe the neck down using a small amount of lemon oil. For maple neck guitars, use Dunlop 65 guitar polish or any other lighter fluid to wipe the fretboard.
After every use, wipe down the fretboard. To minimize the buildup of oils, dirt and grime on your fretboard, wipe it every time you play to reduce the hassle of cleaning it. To do this, fold a piece of paper towel in half and wrap in over and under the strings.
Don’t store your guitar in excessively hot or cold environments. Different temperatures cause the expansion and contraction of your guitar leading to unpleasant results. Exposing your guitar to excess sunlight will make it fade and less appealing to the eye. On the other hand, low temperatures affect the alignment of your guitar neck. Therefore, it is advisable to keep your guitar in a room with a stable temperature.
Polish and clean your guitar. To maintain the pristine condition of your guitar, use a polisher and a cleaning solution to improve the look of the wood and make the guitar shine. Clean and polish your guitar twice a week to achieve the results and also increase its value in case of a resale.
Use humidifiers. After you have finished playing and want to store your guitar in the case, use a humidifier to ensure that your guitar stays healthy and receives the right amount of moisture. Every three to four days, wet the sponge and insert the humidifier in the sound hole between the strings.
Be careful not to scratch your guitar. Rings, belts, necklaces and zipper jackets are a thing that may accidentally scratch your guitar while playing. They should be taken off as you may not realize the scratch sooner.
Take your guitar to a technician for a tune-up. This is the same as yearly mechanical service for cars. The guitar technician will check any loose frets and the alignment of your guitar neck. It is a wise investment for a long lasting guitar.
Features to help you choose the best beginner electric guitar
It is important to understand and be familiar with the building blocks of a guitar before you can purchase one. Each feature plays an important role and together they work to produce sound. They are discussed below:
The correct size of a guitar for a beginner will depend on the players’ age, height and sometimes gender.
The quality of material used to make the guitar will determine the tone and sustain production. The most budget-friendly tonewoods used include poplar, basswood, paulownia and alder, while the most expensive guitars are made of mahogany, pine and swamp ash. All the materials have different quality of tone. For example, swamp ash produces a brighter sound, mahogany gives a warmer sound and basswood and alder offer a well-balanced sound.
There is no wrong or right neck and a number of guitars will have either mahogany or maple neck with ebony, pale or rosewood fretboard. It is important for you to choose one that feels comfortable and smooth to play and consider your playing style and personal preference. For example, C-Shaped neck guitar is preferred by most because it is comfortable and a safe choice while a U-Shaped neck guitar is preferred for by faster players for punk rock and metal.
This is the distance between the bridge and the nuts, and there is no normal scale length for an electric guitar. It depends on your choice. A Fender guitar is 25.5 inches while a Gibson guitar is 24.75 inches. Smaller scale lengths as mentioned in the ESP LTD EC-256FM review, can be essential for beginners to learn the electric guitar more easily.
There are two types of pickups in guitars for beginners; a single coil pickup and a humbucker pickup. A single coil pickup produces a bright, sparkly sound which makes it excellent for lead players. On the other hand, humbucker pickups produce full, meaty sounds mostly used for rock and metal musicians. Some guitars may offer single pickups while others come with two or more pickups, in this case, they will have a pickup selector for quickly switching between them when playing.
Fretboard and frets
Frets are thin metal bars that run down the neck of a guitar and act as note separators, enabling you to play individual chords and notes. Most guitars have 22 frets while those for rock and metal music have 24 frets for higher notes. But as a beginner, it should not matter because as you understand guitar playing, you will know what works for you.
They are located at the bottom of the guitar. There are two types of bridge, that is, a fixed bridge and a tremolo bridge. Both have pros and cons. A fixed bridge is good for tuning and sustains stability, but it doesn’t have a vibrato. On the other hand, a tremolo bridge has vibrato effects with amazing sound for playing high lead solos but it affects the tuning. Whichever bridge you choose, it depends on your preference.
As a beginner you will need the following accessories for your guitar—picks, cables, stand, strings, string winder, strap, tuner, metronome, cleaning supplies and a gig bag.
Reputable guitar manufactures will give you a warranty when you purchase your guitar. But if you take good care of your instrument, you will not need a warranty.
Beginner tips on how to tune an electric guitar
Use an electric tuner.
Know proper pitch before you can start tuning. The standard tuning for an electric guitar is from string 6 through string 1: E A D G B E.
Establish a pattern by always skipping one string and never change two adjacent strings in succession.
Yes. It is advisable to buy an amplifier at the same time you buy the electric guitar because you will only hear yourself when you are playing without an amplifier. Dry practicing may lead to bad habits such as playing aggressively to be hard. Plus, it is much cooler playing with an amp and it gives you feedback on your playing techniques.
There is no right way to learn a guitar, it will depend on you and your interest in learning and playing. Some people prefer using online tools such as videos and online courses, others prefer having a guitar teacher while others prefer face to face lessons in groups, either small or large. Choose a method that is best suited for you.
This will depend on your personal preference for the type of music you like. However, if you chose to learn with an acoustic guitar, it is less costly as you do not need to buy any additional accessories and it will be easy to transition to the electric guitar.
Our verdict on the top three electric guitar for beginners choices for you to consider are:
The ESP LTD EC-256FM receives the first placed position because the mahogany body ensures a distinctive robust sound while the medium-sized frets enable beginner guitarists to become learn riffs and chord progressions more easily.
The Jackson JS22 Dinky scoops third place for having a really good string quality for an electric guitar at the lower end of the market, a great investment for those on a lower budget.
Before purchasing best beginner electric guitar, do ensure you take your time and do research, read product reviews and understand the needs of the beginner guitarist to ensure your money is best spent.