If you're thinking about learning the electric guitar, then you're going to need one of the best beginner electric guitars to get you started. There's plenty of choice out there at virtually any budget, but quality can vary massively. That's why we've rounded up this collection of electric guitars which, in our opinion, offer beginners a reliable and comfortable entry into the world of guitar playing.
If you ask us, we'd say that learning the guitar is one of the coolest, most fun and rewarding things a person can do. Be warned - it's challenging - but if you stay with it and dedicate time and energy into it? You'll be able to play music whenever and wherever you want to. It's a universal language that can help to break down any and all barriers which keep us apart.
Between us, our team has countless decades-worth of experience in the guitar industry. Some of us have played for many years, some of us have previously made a living from selling electric guitars, and some of us have studied guitar at the highest levels. As a result, we know what we're talking about when it comes to recommending the best beginner electric guitar for someone who's either looking for a killer first axe for going back to school, something which they can play at their first gig or something to take you all the way.
So, no matter your style, musical taste, or ambitions, we'll give you a comprehensive overview of what you should be looking for when searching for your first ever electric guitar. From the different shapes available to the specific features and functions that matter most when you're first starting out, our round-up has you fully covered.
We've included some in-depth buying advice at the end of this guide, so if you'd like to read more about the best beginner electric guitars, click the link. If you'd rather get to the products, keep scrolling.
Best beginner electric guitars: Our top picks
When you come to buy any of the best electric guitars for beginners, the choice you make will likely be based on a number of factors, including price, sound, versatility and aesthetics. While each guitar in this guide has its own benefits, if you're after a great all-rounder we'd have to recommend the Yamaha Pacifica 112V (opens in new tab) as the best beginner’s electric guitar right now.
Despite being almost 30 years since its initial introduction, the Pacifica still provides that perfect balance between price and performance, and does so without compromising on visual appeal.
If the name on your guitar’s headstock is important to you, we’re very happy to report that the Squier Classic Vibe 50s Stratocaster, the Epiphone Les Paul Studio (opens in new tab) and PRS SE Standard 24 (opens in new tab) are all superb electric guitars for beginners and will complement your playing for years to come.
Best beginner electric guitar: Product guide
First introduced in 1993, the Yamaha Pacifica 112V electric guitar has earned its place at the table of quality electric guitars for beginners. While it doesn’t bring with it quite the same mojo as a Fender or a Gibson, this impressive Strat-style guitar makes up for that with levels of playability and build quality that far exceed expectations from its smaller price tag.
A juicy-sounding humbucker at the bridge proved to us that overdriven sounds were well within reach during our testing, while the two single coils pickups provided us a superb breadth of tones. While there are undoubtedly ‘cheap’ guitars you’ll outgrow in no time, the Pacifica has enough interest to remain a staple in your roster for years to come.
Read the full Yamaha Pacifica 112V review
While there are slightly cheaper models in their catalogue, the Squier Classic Vibe ‘50s Stratocaster takes our vote as the best beginner’s electric guitar. Out of the box, it felt well-made, well set-up and overall it sounded great - so able to withstand your formative playing years. It's thankfully pretty cost-effective too. All important ingredients when choosing your first electric.
If the Strat itself doesn’t appeal to you, the beginner-friendly range extends to include Telecasters, Jaguars and Jazzmasters, so at least one of the huge range of Squier guitars will suit you at this early stage in your guitar playing journey.
Best known for their USA-crafted masterpieces lavished with exotic woods and other incredible materials, PRS are a relative newcomer to the world of budget guitars - but they’ve definitely made an entrance. The ‘SE’ range stands for ‘Student Edition’, but we’re struggling to find anything ‘student’ about these guitars other than the price.
The SE Standard 24 is for those who need something special on a lower budget. As the name suggests, this SE features a 24 fret neck, allowing for those little extra flourishes in your playing. The body has a carved top which makes playing incredibly comfortable, and the lower horn is also carved to make upper fret access super easy as well. The hardware and tremolo are strong and reliable, ideal if you don’t fancy fighting your guitar to keep it in tune.
The pickups are PRS’ own 85/15 “S” creations - a re-designed version of the pickups that you’d likely find in much more expensive models - and combined with a coil-split hidden in the tone control, we found access to even more tones during our testing. There’s not much this guitar can’t do.
Read the full PRS SE Standard 24 review
Chances are, if you’ve heard any recorded music from the past 60 years you’ve heard the sounds of a Gibson Les Paul. Played by some of music’s biggest and best names, these iconic guitars are synonymous with rock and heavy music. So what better place for a beginner to begin than with their own slice of musical history?
The Epiphone Les Paul Studio is the Gibson offshoot brand’s best beginner electric guitar, and it packs all that knowledge and understanding into a near-perfect package here. Two humbuckers deliver a great palette of tones, from sparkly cleans to thick overdrive, and everything in-between. The mahogany body and neck ensures sustain that goes for hours, as well as a super solid build quality. You don’t get all the frills and extras of the more expensive models, but who cares when it looks, plays and sounds this good?
If country, folk and jazz are more your style, the Gretsch G2420 Streamliner could be the best beginner electric guitar for you. Coming from a brand with a rich heritage, this hollow-body electric delivers a much different playing experience to the other guitars featured in this list.
For a start, we found the tones it produces are much more vibrant and expressive on account of its semi-acoustic nature during our testing. Where other guitars require an amp to mould and shape a tone, this guitar simply requires its inherent tonality to be made louder, such is the richness on offer. Don’t be put off by its size either – the G2420 has curves in all the right places and playing it is no more difficult than any other guitar.
Yamaha’s Revstar series is a welcome addition to their guitar line-up. With slightly different styling than usual from Yamaha, they’ve produced a great looking guitar with a distinct ‘Yamaha’ look about it - something which we love. The hardware is solid, and well above what you would expect on a beginner-friendly instrument - allowing you to focus solely on playing, rather than fighting to keep the thing in tune.
The HH3 Hot humbuckers in the RS320 offered us a full sounding, punchy tone that made both our clean and dirty tones cut through any mix with ease when testing this guitar. With a pretty flat 13.75” fretboard radius, our string bends were incredibly easy, too. This does give the neck a more modern feel however, so it’s worth thinking about what you might prefer before you buy.
As the Gibson stable’s ‘other’ big marque, the SG found itself a niche in players who wanted to retain a bit of individuality over the plethora of Les Paul players. As a result, the SG found its hands into some of rock’s biggest names, including Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi and AC/DC’s Angus Young, who favored its raw, edgy tones and striking visual appeal.
The Epiphone SG Standard continues this vibe by delivering good on the promise of rugged, rock-ready tones and exemplary construction. With an extremely comfortable neck and unparalleled access to the higher frets, this is a fun, playable, and incredibly attractive electric guitar for beginners and pros alike.
As many (but not all) beginner guitarists are young, it makes sense for us to include a guitar that suits those among us with smaller hands. Enter the Squier Bullet Mustang. While it’s not a ‘mini guitar’, it does have a slightly reduced scale size, making it ideal for younger players to get to grips with techniques that will serve them as they develop.
That said, having played one ourselves, we can confidently say that this guitar is no mere toy. In fact, we loved its rough-and-ready playability and happily recommend it as one of the overall best beginner’s electric guitars, as well as one of the best guitars for kids. For a shade under $200, you can’t go far wrong.
Read the full Squier Bullet Mustang review
Ibanez guitars will be familiar to anyone who listens to the heavier end of the musical spectrum. These Superstrat-style guitars typically boast humbucking pickups, vibrato bridges and wafer-thin necks, enabling you to quickly traverse the fretboard at ever-increasing speeds.
The Ibanez Gio GRGR120X is the perfect metal guitar for anyone looking to join this club. Its ergonomic design made it lightweight and easy for us to handle, and a pair of Ibanez humbuckers ensures even the gainiest of gain sounds cut through in a band situation. If you plan on learning how to play songs by your favorite metal bands, this is the best beginner’s electric guitar for you.
Rounding off the list is the Epiphone ES-335, which marries vintage tones and vibe with incredible construction and playability. This Epiphone is the affordable version of Gibson’s famous ES-335 model, which has been used on countless blues and rock tracks ever since its introduction in the late 1950s.
What we particularly liked about the ES-335 was its incredible warmth and clarity when pushed through a clean channel using the Alnico Classic neck humbucker. The resonance and sustain had us purring, and we’re certain that if this is on your shortlist, you’ll feel the same.
If you're small then the large body might put you off, both sat down and on a guitar strap, but for a larger person, this guitar will be a dream.
Best beginner electric guitars: Buying advice
Choosing the best beginner electric guitar for you
If you've decided that you want to play the electric guitar, then first of all, welcome! You're part of an exclusive club, full of rock stars, country icons, and plenty of normal folk like you and I.
Whatever styles of guitar music you're into, an electric guitar can cover pretty much everything. Accompanied by one of the best guitar amps, your beginner electric guitar will take you from learning your very first riffs, all way to potential stardom.
There’s a lot to consider when looking for the best beginner electric guitar. Every single part of the instrument affects the resulting sound and feel. Let’s take a look at them...
Guitar body shape
The first thing we'd suggest you think about is the shape of the guitar. The amount of shapes and sizes on the market is huge, and whilst those factors don't always influence the sound of your guitar, they affect how comfortable it is to play and what it looks like – two things which are crucially important for us guitarists.
The two most recognizable electric guitar body shapes are probably the Les Paul and the Stratocaster. Now, the 'full-fat' Les Paul is made by Gibson, and will set you back some serious money – as will a USA-made Fender Stratocaster – but with budget brands such as Epiphone and Squier in play? Well, you can grab something which looks and sounds authentic for a fraction of the price. You’ll also find killer beginner electric guitars being made by a bunch other brands including Yamaha and Gretsch.
Generally, Les Pauls tend to have a thicker body with a single cutaway and Strats are a little thinner, with two cutaways. This does affect how comfortable they are to play, though which one is right for you boils down to personal preference. There are also models like the Epiphone SG which have a similar sound to the Les Paul, but are a little thinner and usually lighter.
Guitar wood type
The woods used for electric guitars do vary. You’ll find the likes of basswood and nato being used on some beginner electric models, which helps keep costs down, whilst others utilize mahogany, which is usually heavier. How much of an impact the body wood has on the sound of an electric guitar is widely disputed, but it certainly affects the weight of it.
How do pickups work?
Probably the most influential part of the electric guitar's sound is the electric guitar pickups with which it is equipped. We won't get too nerdy or science-y here, but pickups are essentially either one or two magnets wrapped with wire. This creates a charged magnetic field which, when disrupted by a moving string, creates a signal which is then taken through your guitar cable to your amp. There are different types of electric guitar pickups available on different guitars, the most popular options being either single coils (which are found on Stratocasters and Telecasters) or humbuckers (which are usually found on Les Pauls).
The tonal difference between these types of pickups is pretty massive. Single coil pickups usually sound a lot brighter and thinner, and put out a signal which is much lower than a humbucker – making them great for clean sounds, and a favorite choice for country, pop and funk players among others.
Humbuckers produce a tone which is much thicker and warmer sounding due to their larger size and construction, and although they sound great clean, they have a higher output which makes them distort sooner. The vast majority of classic rock and metal players opt for humbuckers for this reason.
When it comes to what you can play with each type of pickup, the statements we've made are just a general guide. Any kind of music can be played on any type of guitar with any type of pickup. That's the beauty of the guitar! It's all about how you play, not what you play.
Hardware is quite important when looking for the best beginner electric guitar. Hardware comprises things like the bridge, saddles, tuning pegs, and the output (the bit you plug your cable into). Investing in better quality, sturdier hardware will mean your guitar will require less maintenance and hold its tuning better; it can even help with sustain, making it sound better too.
Which brands make the best beginner electric guitars?
When it comes to the best beginner electric guitars, near enough every major brand offers something. Whether it's through the main brand or a more budget-oriented subsidiary, there'll be something on offer from many of the biggest names in the business.
Some of the very best beginner electric guitars come from Squier, Epiphone, PRS and Yamaha. These brands are consistently releasing brilliant instruments which are designed to give beginners the best possible start to their playing careers.
There's also brands such as Gretsch and Ibanez to consider. Ibanez guitars are usually built for those who're more into heavier styles of music, so if you're a metalhead, then they're worth checking out. Likewise, for you country and blues guys, Gretsch guitars are some of the best and most appropriate guitars you could choose. While all guitars can do all styles, some are definitely more suited to certain genres of music.
How much should you spend on a beginner electric guitar?
Finding the best beginner electric guitar is about balancing all of the above with the cost. You can pick up something between $150-200 that will stand you in good stead for learning; the more you pay, the more likely you’ll find better hardware, pickups that offer more definition, and better build quality. That said, most people don’t want to spend too much on their first electric guitar in case it’s not something they take to (plus, it gives you an excuse to upgrade a few years later!).
We'd say that the top end of your budget should be no more than around $500.
Ultimately, you’re the one that’s going to be playing the guitar, so it’s important that you find something that’s comfortable to play, and that inspires you to pick it up. There’s a ton of learning resources for beginner guitarists, in books and online guitar lessons, too. YouTube has some great content if you want to teach yourself, plus there are plenty of teachers that are happy to meet in person, or teach via video call. There really has never been a better time to learn!
Beginner guitar lessons
Picking up one of the best beginner electric guitars is no use unless you know how to play at least the basics on it. Some people can pick things up by ear, or are lucky enough to have someone in the house to guide them. If neither of these apply, we would always recommend seeking out lessons.
Face to face lessons are a great way to build a connection with a teacher and develop your skills in a hands-on way, but if you want to quickly understand basic guitar techniques, learn from the comfort of your home and don't have a huge budget, online lessons are a great, affordable route to take. You can learn more and discover our top picks in this guide to the best online guitar lessons.
You can currently make savings on a some of those platforms using the codes below, too.
Fender Play: 50% off an annual subscription (opens in new tab)
Sorted a free trial but now you want to continue getting all the benefits of Fender Play lessons beyond your trial? Fender is offering 50% off an annual plan for all Guitar World readers, dropping the price from $99.99 to just $49.99. Just add the code guitarworld50 at checkout.
Simply Guitar: Save 20% at this link (opens in new tab)
If you'd prefer to learn on your smart device, Simply Guitar has a fantastic app with a fun, lively gamified approach to learning the instrument. Right now you can sign up for a year and save $30, dropping the annual cost from $150 down to just $120.
Guitar Tricks: Save 50% off your first month (opens in new tab)
Enjoy your first month of Guitar Tricks for half price using the exclusive Guitar World code GW50MONTH at checkout. Guitar Tricks features plenty of great content for beginners, but really shines when it comes to intermediate and pro players, with over 11,000 videos across the site.
TrueFire lessons: Save 30% with code GWTF30 (opens in new tab)
TrueFire includes 50,000 video lessons taught by industry-leading teachers, Grammy Award-winning artists and world-class touring musicians. And in case that wasn't good enough, you can save 30% off an All-Access subscription and all courses with the exclusive code GWTF30.
How we test a beginner electric guitar
As you'll undoubtedly have gathered from this guide, electric guitars are very subjective. One guitar player's dream axe, could be another's nightmare. That said, no matter our personal preference, there are a few key criteria that a guitar must meet before we'd consider recommending it.
First and foremost is build quality. We'll thoroughly check over every aspect of the instrument, making sure everything feels sturdy and solid. Even though these guitars may be at the bottom end of the price spectrum, they should still feel well put together and robust.
We'll make sure the machine heads are responsive, the volume and tone pots are smooth, and there are no issues with the pickups or bridge. We will then look over the general finishing of the guitar, looking out for any finishing anomalies, such as bumps in the lacquer.
Next, we must check how well the guitar plays straight out of the box. We are obviously looking to see how comfortable the neck is to hold, but we are also looking for any fret issues that may cause playability problems further down the line.
Lastly, we need to think about the sound of the instrument. We test the guitar through various amps at a variety of settings, switching through the guitar's pickups to see how they handle different styles of music and tones.
Read more about our rating system, how we choose the gear we feature, and exactly how we test each product.
Related buying guides
- The best acoustic guitars for beginners
- Stock up on the best electric guitar strings
- Essential accessory: the best clip-on guitar tuners
- The best pedalboards for organizing your guitar effects
- Explore the best beginner guitar amps
- Best guitar picks: find the right plectrums for you
- 12 killer cheap guitar pedals you need to try
- Practice in peace with the best headphones for guitar amps