In a band, rhythm guitars are used to provide part or all the rhythmic pulse in sync with other instruments like bass guitar and drum kit. It is also used to provide part or all of the harmony. They are generally used in bands playing within the rock, country, metal, blues, and acoustic genres. Over the years, famous musicians like Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Marr, Jimmy Page, Johnny Ramone, used some of the best rhythm guitars to make beautiful and inspiring music that still linger in the minds of many, down to this day.
If you are new to rhythm guitars, it is likely going to be a challenge for you to choose among the many models available on the market. To pick a good one, you are surely going to need all the help you can get. To help you make an informed decision, we considered important features like body type, scale length, body wood, and pickups type that determine the durability, performance, and efficiency of the guitar.
Top 5 Rhythm Guitars Review 2020
We spend tens of hours doing deep and extensive research, studied official manufacturer information, verified buyer’s review, and consulted experts to bring you this concise, comprehensive and unbiased guide. This guide starts with a comparison table that shows the rating of each product. Next, is a detailed review of each product as well as their pros and cons. We finish with a buying guide that contains the intricate information you need to buy a rhythm guitar that will suit your needs.
Fender Classic Series ’50s Stratocaster – Editor’s Choice
- Body: solid
- Scale length: 25.5’’
- Pickups: Vintage-Style Single-Coil Strat®
- Body wood: alder
- Warranty: 2-year limited
More features: maple fingerboard, V-shaped neck, polyester finish, 5-position pickup switch, synchronized tremolo bridge, gig bag included, 21 vintage-style frets
Fender is one of the heavyweights in the guitar realm and their classic 50’s Stratocaster offers you a chance to have a posh and durable guitar with the aesthetics of a classic that has been brewed to perfection.
The Fender Classic Series ’50s Stratocaster comes with a few vintage style single coil pickups that give it a classic tone. It’s exceptionally made electronics, superb wiring, 5-tone adjuster switch, pickups; knobs are going to leave you in awe.
Holding the Fender Classic Series ’50s Stratocaster is going to make you feel like a guitar legend. Its classic design captures the feel of the original models.
The Stratocaster has been in constant production for more than fifty years because it is a gorgeous instrument. The unique styling of the Fender Classic Series ’50s is next to none. Fender, the creator of this excellent guitar went their way to produce special aging effects to provide the instrument with a vintage look and feel.
No doubt, the Fender Classic Series ’50s Stratocaster is a remarkable instrument but it has a few issues. Some users complained that the tone is not ideal for heavy styles. Also, the single coil pickups can be difficult to control at a higher volume.
So if you are an average or a professional electric guitar player looking for a top-notch instrument that blends substance and style, the Fender Classic Series ’50s Stratocaster will be perfect for you.
- Vintage looks
- Excellent reputation
- Bright sound
- Its tone is not ideal for heavy metal styles
- Its single coil pickups are difficult to control at higher volume
Ibanez RG Series RG7421PB – Best Rhythm Guitar for Professionals
- Body: solid
- Scale length: 25’’
- Pickups: Quantum 7
- Body wood: mahogany
- Warranty: 1-year limited
More features: 7 strings, poplar burl top, jumbo frets, fixed bridge, rosewood fingerboard, three-piece maple neck
Ibanez is a popular and consistent brand that has made a lot of high-quality guitars over the years. Every now and then, it treats its fans with some extra or fancy top cover on one of their normal models. Their newest offering the Ibanez RG Series RG7421PB is decorated with a poplar burl top.
Interestingly, the Ibanez RG Series RG7421PB comes in two color versions – Charcoal Brown flat and Sapphire blue flat. Both are finished in premium quality satin. Beneath the fresh paint job and a posh looking top is a workhorse that can withstand continuous use.
Its rugged mahogany body with a bolted 3-piece maple neck as its base is a clear indication that it is durable and comfortable to use for long performance.
The excellent guitar also features set of in-line die-cast tuning machines, 24-fret, ceramic humbuckers, a five-position blade switch, 3-piece neck with a special seven-string version of the wizard II contour.
Needless to say, the Ibanez RG Series RG7421PB is an excellent guitar that has a lot of amazing features, but it has one issue. Its pickup selector is not durable. Of course, this takes nothing from the performance of this remarkable electric guitar.
So, if you are a beginner or an intermediate guitarist looking to replacing your present electric guitar, the Ibanez RG Series RG7421PB will be a good choice.
- It is sturdy
- Impressive features
- It is made from high-quality materials
- Reasonably priced
- Its pickup selector is not durable
Epiphone Les Paul-100 – Best Rhythm Guitar for Beginners
- Body: solid
- Scale length: 24.75’’
- Pickups: 700T humbucker (bridge), 650R (neck)
- Body wood: mahogany
- Warranty: lifetime limited
More features: okoume neck, maple top, tune-o-matic tailpiece, volume and tone controls, 1.68’’ nut width, bolt-on neck
Promising a smooth playing experience coupled with a breezy, classic, and robust tones, the Epiphone Les Paul-100 offers everything a professional guitarist aspires for. The brilliant design of this ultra cool electric guitar is certainly going to inspire you. Its reddish golden-brown shade and superior finishing are what set it apart from others out there.
The Epiphone Les Paul-100 features an open-coil humbucker pickup to ensure premium quality sound, well-finished fretboard, solid mahogany body, comfortable neck with a glossy maple overlay, and a dual volume knob.
The super slim bolted mahogany neck has 22 frets over a scale of 24.75 inches which is super easy to tune and play especially when compared to a full sized guitar.
The overall construction of the Epiphone Les Paul-100 was done keeping in mind the needs and ergonomic requirements of beginners and intermediate players.
With this responsive control knobs, ergonomic finish, and remarkable features of this excellent guitar, you can be sure of producing rich tones without stressing yourself out.
While the Epiphone Les Paul-100 is a top-notch electric guitar, it has a couple of downsides. First, it is not a good fit for beginners. Also, it is more suited for players with medium or shorthand size. Even more, it doesn’t come with a guitar case, amplifier and cable.
So, if you are looking for a professional rhythm guitar, the Epiphone Les Paul-100 will be an option for you.
- It is lightweight
- Sturdy constructions
- It is affordable
- Easy to use
- It is best suited for players with medium or shorthand size
- It doesn’t come with a guitar case, amplifier, and cable
Schecter OMEN-6 – Best Rhythm Guitar for Metal
- Body: solid
- Scale length: 25.5”
- Pickups: Schecter Diamond Plus
- Body wood: basswood
- Warranty: lifetime limited
More features: tune-o-matic bridge, rosewood fretboard, C-shaped neck, 1.653’’ nut width, maple neck, 3-way control switch
The Schecter OMEN-6 is an affordable, classy and sturdy rhythm guitar that was made from premium quality materials.
The amazing craftsmanship, simple setup and adjustable controls of the Schecter OMEN-6 are what set it apart from others out there.
Schecter, the creator of this excellent guitar has acquired a big name in the metal world. It started out making replacement parts for top-notch brands like Fender and Gipson. However, in 1979, it began making its very own electric guitars. Its latest offering is the Schecter OMEN-6 – a work of art.
The body of the Schecter OMEN-6 is made of high-grade brass wood, a resonant and thick material that is ideal for hard rock and heavy metal. Its fretboard features perloid gothic inlays and 24 extra jumbo frets. It has an impressive 25.5 scale length and a 14-inch radius which boosts its performance.
As you now know, the Schecter OMEN-6 is a high-grade guitar with a lot of remarkable features. But it has a couple of issues. Some customers complained that its fret edges are rough and that it is somewhat heavier than other models similar to it.
Whether you are a beginner testing the water in the metal realm or an average player looking to specializing in heavy metal, the Schecter OMEN-6 will be good for you.
- It is affordable
- It is easy to play
- Excellent electronics and pickups
- Rough fret edges
- It is heavy
More features: arch laminated top, 1.687’’ nut width, maple neck, rosewood fingerboard, medium jumbo frets, Jet™ style headstock, 3-position toggle switch The Gretsch G5426 Jet Club is an ultra-cool, durable, budget-friendly and high-performance electric guitar. It super sleek design, premium finishing, and excellent performance are what makes it stand out from other models similar to it. Its two-tone body and walnut-stained sides and back are certainly going to catch your attention. Unlike other guitars in its price range, the Gretsch G5426 Jet Club has the G arrow knobs. The Gretsch comes with impressive dual-coil pickups that are can produce a trebly and bright sound. For players who are into grunge tones, stoner rock or vintage, this guitar handle fuzz tone remarkably well. Another notable thing about the Gretsch G5426 Jet Club is that it is stable and its sound works for everything from country to shoegazer to rock. This top-notch electric guitar features a four-position toggle switch, laminated top, rosewood fingerboard, maple neck, medium jumbo frets, and a jet style headstock. While the Gretsch G5426 Jet Club is a high-performance guitar with excellent design, cool features, and superior finishing, it has an issue. It is not a good fit for professionals. So, if you are on a tight budget and you are looking for an excellent electric guitar, the Gretsch G5426 Jet Club will perfect for you.
Gretsch G5426 Jet Club – Budget Pick
More features: arch laminated top, 1.687’’ nut width, maple neck, rosewood fingerboard, medium jumbo frets, Jet™ style headstock, 3-position toggle switch
The Gretsch G5426 Jet Club is an ultra-cool, durable, budget-friendly and high-performance electric guitar. It super sleek design, premium finishing, and excellent performance are what makes it stand out from other models similar to it.
Its two-tone body and walnut-stained sides and back are certainly going to catch your attention. Unlike other guitars in its price range, the Gretsch G5426 Jet Club has the G arrow knobs.
The Gretsch comes with impressive dual-coil pickups that are can produce a trebly and bright sound. For players who are into grunge tones, stoner rock or vintage, this guitar handle fuzz tone remarkably well.
Another notable thing about the Gretsch G5426 Jet Club is that it is stable and its sound works for everything from country to shoegazer to rock.
This top-notch electric guitar features a four-position toggle switch, laminated top, rosewood fingerboard, maple neck, medium jumbo frets, and a jet style headstock.
While the Gretsch G5426 Jet Club is a high-performance guitar with excellent design, cool features, and superior finishing, it has an issue. It is not a good fit for professionals.
So, if you are on a tight budget and you are looking for an excellent electric guitar, the Gretsch G5426 Jet Club will perfect for you.
Rhythm or lead guitar – what’s the difference?
A beginner who knows very little or practically nothing about guitars may conclude that rhythm and lead guitars are the same because they are somewhat similar. But in reality, there is a clear difference between these two.
A lead guitar is played using moderate to heavy distortion. The most common techniques for creating lead parts are slides, vibrato, and bending. These allow for greater expression in the melody and a basic medium for emphasizing notes. Most of the time, lead guitarist employs sweeping pickups to add depth to a song.
Unlike lead guitars, rhythm guitars are subtle and mild and can easily be played on acoustic and electric guitars. Playing a lead guitar is more about chord voicing and choosing a chord that enriches the overall sound.
Rhythm guitar genres explained
Rhythm guitars played an important role in the development of Jazz, rock, blues, bebop, and reggae. The guitar took over the role of the banjo to provide superior rhythmic chordal accomplishment. Jazz guitar legends like Freddie Green emphasized the quality of the instrument.
In funk bands, rhythm guitars are used to play in a percussive style using the wah-wah sound effects to create a percussive sound. It is used in reggae to play the chords beats two and four, which is also known as the bang or skank. It can also be used to play off beats.
See, you don’t have to spend a small fortune on a premium quality rhythm guitar like the Fender Classic Series ’50s Stratocaster or the Ibanez RG Series RG7421PB especially if you are a beginner. The obvious reason for this is that it may be too advanced for you to play. It is wise you opt for budget-friendly models like the Gretsch G5426 Jet Club or the Schecter OMEN-6 as they are can make beautiful sounds and are durable and can withstand constant use.
Going for a low-quality rhythm guitar just to save a few bucks is not really a smart move especially if you are a professional player looking to taking your skill to the next level. It is best you opt for top-notch rhythm guitars like the Epiphone Les Paul-100 or the Fender Classic Series ’50s Stratocaster.
Features to consider while buying the perfect rhythm guitar
There are a couple of important features that we recommend looking out for when choosing a rhythm guitar. Every rhythm guitar on the market has a unique feature or function that set it apart from others on the market with some offering better sound quality or some unique features. However, though you may be met with the challenge of choosing between the many rhythms guitars on the market. To narrow down the one that will suit your needs, there are some important features you must consider. Below are a few of them;
Pickups are the pieces of plastic or metal beneath the strings in an electric guitar. They are designed to pick up the vibrations from the strings and send them to the amplifier. Simply put, they are responsible for the tone of a guitar. This means that a guitar with a faulty or damaged pickup will have very poor sound quality. Below are the two most common types of pickups.
Humbuckers are mostly found in Gibson-based guitars like the Epiphone Les Paul-100 and are often used for thicker and warmer tones.
This is usually found in fender-styled guitars, like the Fender Classic Series ’50s Stratocaster. They are known for their twangy and bright sound.
As you probably guessed, the scale length is the length of the string and is measured from bridge to nut. A shorter scale length offers a warmer tone and facilitates easier string control or bending. It also offers less tension. A longer scale length, on the other hand, offers a tighter feel in string tension, with a well-defined low end and brighter shimmer.
Most Gibson based guitars like the Epiphone Les Paul-100 and the Gretsch G5426 Jet Club use a 24.75-inch scale length. Some fender based guitars like the Fender Classic Series ’50s Stratocaster use a scale length of 25.5. Also, most PRS guitars like the Ibanez RG Series RG7421PB use a 25-inch scale length.
Neck and fretboard
The neck of a guitar includes the headstock and the fretboards on which the tuners are carefully mounted. It contains a tough metal truss rod that prevents twisting and neck bowing and can be adjusted to increase stability and maintain a consistent pitch.
The fretboard is commonly made from a thin layer of ebony or rosewood. Some guitar models with maple necks have a fretboard that is made of the exact same wood as the neck. Most fretboards have special dots or markers clearly inlaid in the fretboard. Some models have unique markers on the edge of the fretboard offering users easy visibility.
There are 3 main body types – semi-hollow body, hollow body, and solid body. What sets them apart is the way they are constructed and the amount of resonance they produce. If you are into metal or punk, or any style of fast or heavy music, then it should be solid body all the way.
Semi-hollow and hollow bodied guitars are perfect for players who prefer jazz, soft rock, country, pop and other softer styles that offer a lot of resonant sounds with bass.
A greenhorn guitarist may conclude that the sound quality of a guitar has nothing to do with the wood it is made from. But that is far from the truth because the wood a guitar is made from can determine how long the strings will vibrate and the shape of their motion. Even more, it allows the pick to move without hindrance.
Below are some common tone wood types;
Mahogany is strong, dense and can be used to manufacture every part of a guitar except bridges and fretboards which requires a much harder wood. The Epiphone Les Paul-100 and the Ibanez RG Series RG7421PB are made from this wood type.
This is a common wood that is usually used in guitar necks. It is dense, hard and often has eye-catching detailed grain patterns. Due to its tonal characteristics, maple is mostly used for making super expensive guitars.
Ebony is a dense wood that is usually used on fretboards of expensive guitars.
Alder has special tonal characteristics that are somewhat similar to ash but is less expensive. It is one of the most commonly used top-notch electric guitars. The body of the Fender Classic Series ’50s Stratocaster is made from this wood type.
The bridge is a very important component of an electric guitar that influences playability and tone. It is usually mounted to the lower part of the guitar body. Bridges are specifically designed to compensate for varying metals, string lengths, and gauges to ensure that the strings remain in perfect tune with each other.
Some bridges allow users to introduce vibrato into their performance of a whammy bar or a vibrato arm that moves the bridge up and down. Bridges with this function are commonly known as tremolos. A tremolo system allows players to move the bridge back and forth with relative ease.
Regardless of the rhythm guitar model you are going for, it is wise you check if it comes with accessories like an amp, a cord, a carrying case and so on before making a purchase. Buying an electric guitar that doesn’t come with accessories means that you will have to buy them separately. So, if you are on a budget, it is smart to opt for a guitar that comes with important accessories you need to play. This will save you from splashing extra cash on accessories.
This is a very important feature you must give thoughts when buying a rhythm guitar. Some manufacturers offer aftercare and warranties after you have made a purchase. Do well to check the terms of each supplier before making a final decision. Buying a rhythm guitar that has no warranty is not really a smart move because if something happens to it while you are using it the way it was meant to, you will bear the cost of repairing it. Thankfully, the rhythm guitars reviewed in this article are warranty protected.
Rhythm guitar playing tips
To become an expert rhythm guitar player, you have to be hardworking, consistent, patient, and have a burning desire to do whatever it takes to reach your goal. In your journey to becoming a good player, you are inevitably going to face some challenges, to scale through them; you have to be consistent in your efforts.
Below are some tips that may come in handy in your journey to becoming a better guitarist:
Become a studious student of music
To become a good rhythm guitar player, you need to have a great ear and understand everything that is happening with each and every instrument in the band both melodically and rhythmically. To do that, you have to banish your distractions and listen to everything you can.
Play along with the rhythm guitar legends
Playing alongside famous rhythm guitar legends like James Hetfield, Malcolm Young, Chuck Berry and many more will not only strengthen your foundation but will also help you understand how they blend their notes and rhythms perfectly.
To become a top-notch rhythm guitarist, your timing needs to be on point. To do this, you have to be ready to practice for long hours every day. If you are able to do this consistently, in the long run, you will have a precise and solid sense of rhythm.
Playing lead is more difficult than playing rhythm. That’s why most people focus on rhythm first and later progress to soloing.
The part of a rhythm guitar is written in a way that it fills the spaces between the mina guitar riff and the notes.
Yes, every band needs a rhythm guitarist – this part in the band ties all the music parts and instruments into one solid tune.
While all the rhythm guitars reviewed in this guide are of premium quality and has a lot of impressive features, here are our top picks.
The Fender Classic Series ’50s Stratocaster is our best pick because of its stylish look; rugged alder body wood, 21 vintage-style frets, V-shaped neck, 25.5-inch scale length, solid body, and excellent sound quality.
Our second best pick, the Ibanez RG Series RG7421PB is a brilliant rhythm guitar with a handful of amazing features. Its super sleek design, solid mahogany body wood, and premium rosewood fingerboard are what set it apart from other models similar to it.
Our third best pick, the Gretsch G5426 Jet Club is a budget-friendly model within a sophisticated design that features a C-shaped neck, a 3-way control switch and a 1.653” nut width.
We hope this guide helps you in your search for the best rhythm guitar on the market that will suit your specific needs.