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8 best beginner electric guitars 2020: learn to play on these epic electric guitars for beginners

8 best beginner electric guitars 2020: learn to play on these epic electric guitars for beginners
(Image credit: Gretsch/Yamaha/Epiphone/Fender)

So you're here on the lookout for one of the best beginner's electric guitar on the planet? That can only mean one thing: you've decided you want to learn the guitar, and we couldn't be more excited to welcome you to this super special club! Learning the guitar is one of the most rewarding things you'll ever do. We should know, as between all of us on the Guitar World team have been playing for a very, very long time.

The choice is yours

That also positions us perfectly to help you find the best beginner electric guitar for you. Our guide is curated by experts who live and breathe guitars, so it should help you quickly find the right guitar for how you want to play. We've played our fair share of beginner electric guitars over the decades, so we know exactly which ones to show you and which ones you should steer clear of.

If we sound mega excited it's because there's just so much on offer in the way of top electric guitars for beginners right now. The quality and variety is staggering, thanks to the improvement in manufacturing methods, which has raised the bar on quality control in the entry-level guitar market.

Put simply, it’s hard to find a six-string in our best beginner electric guitars round-up that doesn’t tick all of these boxes and then some. In this simple, straightforward guide, 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 styles available, to the specific features and functions that matter most when you’re first starting out, our round-up has you fully covered.

With sales season upon us, now is the perfect time to pick up a new beginner electric guitar in the Black Friday guitar deals and Cyber Monday guitar deals. We'll be reporting on the best offers here on Guitar World.

Cyber Monday limited deal

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Get the perfect electric guitar for beginners in this unbelievable Black Friday deal. Start playing straight out of the box, thanks to a short 24" scale, which makes your first chords and solos easy, while those dual humbuckers will deliver plenty of output for whatever style you want to play.View Deal

Best beginner electric guitars: Our top picks

When it comes to electric guitars for beginners, the choice you make will likely be based on a number of factors, including price, sound, versatility and aesthetics. Each beginner electric guitar in this guide has its own benefits, but as a solid all-rounder we can happily recommend the Yamaha Pacifica 112V 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 both the Squier Classic Vibe 50s Stratocaster and the Epiphone Les Paul Traditional Pro III are superb electric guitars for beginners and will complement your playing for years to come.

Best beginner electric guitars: Buying advice

Electric guitar player

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you’ve narrowed your choices down as far as buying an electric guitar over one of the best acoustic guitars, then you’re on the path to choosing an instrument that will cover much more in the way of tone, style and variety. Electric guitars, with one of the best guitar amps in tow, naturally, cover a lot of bases, and any of the guitars listed below provide plenty in the way of creative expression.

Specifically, when looking at electric guitars for beginners, there are a few things that will crop up regularly. Body shape is the key one. Arguably the most famous shapes of guitars – think Stratocasters and Gibson Les Pauls – are all catered for at the newcomer's end of the scale. Even within these two niches there's plenty of variation. Choosing the shape of your beginner electric guitar will also go a long way to dictating the style (or versatility) of music you want to play.

Strats are great for a mix of pop, rock, blues and soul, and are still to this day one of the most comfortable guitars to play sitting down. Les Pauls, on the other hand, suit harder and heavier styles of music, along with indie, country and rock. This is largely down to the guitar’s pickups. If you aren't sure what these are, learn more in our guide to the best electric guitar pickups.

Pickups are the magnets embedded into the guitars body that convert movement from the strings into electrical signals, which an amplifier then converts into sound. Single-coil pickups, as found on Strats, are versatile, clean and glassy, while humbuckers offer a lot more in the way of girth and provide a fatter sound. 

Elsewhere, you’ll want to consider the tone woods employed in a guitar’s construction as each has its own tonal properties and weight, while the included hardware – like the bridge and tuners - will also have a significant impact on a guitar’s durability and performance.

Often, it's in the hardware that the biggest differences can be found between low-cost guitars and their more superior stablemates. 

That said, if your goal is to commit to learning, it’s perhaps more important to find one of the best beginner’s electric guitars that feels and sounds great, as opposed to one that will last you your entire life yet won’t feel as great to play. We promise you, one of the biggest joys in a guitarist's life is the inevitable upgrades. 

If you spend the time at the start of your playing journey working out what you enjoy playing, what is comfortable to you and what is important to you in a guitar, your future self will be blessed with a life full of incredible instruments. Let’s now take a look at our top electric guitars for beginners…

Best beginner electric guitar: Full round-up

Best beginner electric guitars: Yamaha Pacifica 112V electric guitar for beginners

(Image credit: Yamaha)

1. Yamaha Pacifica 112V

The best beginner electric guitar for small budgets – a great all-rounder

Price: $299/£299 | Body: Alder | Neck: Maple | Scale: 25.5" (648 mm) | Fingerboard: Rosewood | Frets: 22 | Pickups: Alnico V Humbucker x 1, Alnico V Single Coils x 2 | Controls: Master Volume, Master tone with push/pull coil split | Hardware: Chrome | Left-handed: Yes | Finish: Natural, Black, Old Violin Sunburst, Red Raspberry, Silver, Sonic Blue

Hugely playable
Good range of features
Affordable
Not every finish is attractive

First introduced in 1993, the Yamaha Pacifica 112V 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, the Pacifica range 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 ensures overdriven sounds are well within reach, while the two single coils pickups provide 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. 

Best beginner electric guitars: Squier Classic Vibe 50s Stratocaster electric guitar for beginners

(Image credit: Squier)

2. Squier Classic Vibe ‘50s Stratocaster

The best beginner electric guitar overall

Price: $399/£299 | Body: Pine | Neck: Maple | Scale: 25.5" (648 mm) | Fingerboard: Maple | Frets: 21 | Pickups: Fender Designed Alnico Single Coils | Controls: Master Volume, Tone 1. (Neck Pickup), Tone 2. (Middle Pickup) | Hardware: Chrome | Left-handed: Yes | Finish: 2-Color Sunburst, Black, Fiesta Red, White Blonde

Well-made
Budget-friendly
Range of finishes
None

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. It’s well-made, so able to withstand your formative playing years, and is cost-effective too. Both 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 there is bound to be a guitar that suits you at this early stage in your guitar playing journey.

Best beginner electric guitars: Epiphone Les Paul Traditional Pro III Pelham Blue electric guitar for beginners

(Image credit: Epiphone)

3. Epiphone Les Paul Traditional Pro III

Rock royalty at a rock-bottom price

Price: $399/£299 | Body: Mahogany | Neck: Mahogany | Scale: 24.75” | Fingerboard: Pau Ferro | Frets: 22 | Pickups: Alnico Classic Pro humbuckers | Controls: Volume x 2, Tone x 2 | Hardware: Chrome | Left-handed: Yes | Finish: Metallic Gold, Ebony, Pelham Blue, Pacific Blue, Wine Red

Iconic rock guitar
Great tones
Easy on the eye
A little heavy for beginners

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 Traditional Pro III 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, while the mahogany body ensures sustain that goes for hours. 

Best beginner electric guitars: Gretsch G2420 Streamliner electric guitar for beginners

(Image credit: Gretsch)

4. Gretsch G2420 Streamliner

Big sounds and iconic looks for an entry level-friendly price

Price: $549/£419 | Body: Maple | Neck: Nato | Scale: 24.75" | Fingerboard: Laurel | Frets: 22 | Pickups: Broad’Tron BT-2S humbuckers | Controls: Master volume x 1, pickup volume x 2, master tone x 1 | Hardware: Chrome | Left-handed: No | Finish: Walnut, Aged Brooklyn Burst, Village Amber

Vibrant tone
Gorgeous curves
Could be too big for kids
No left-handed version

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, the tones it produces are much more vibrant and expressive on account of its semi-acoustic nature. 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. 

Best beginner electric guitars: Epiphone G400 Pro electric guitar for beginners

(Image credit: Epiphone)

5. Epiphone G-400 Pro SG

The best beginner electric guitar for Angus Young devotees

Price: $429/£359 | Body: Mahogany | Neck: Mahogany | Scale: 24.75 | Fingerboard: Pau Ferro | Frets: 22 | Pickups: Alnico Classic Pro | Controls: Volume x 2, Tone x 2 | Hardware: Chrome | Left-handed: Yes | Finish: Cherry, Alpine White

Versatile performance
Huge rock-ready tones
Bad-ass looks

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 G400 Pro continues this vibe by delivering good on the promise of rugged, rock-ready tones and exemplary construction. A nice touch comes within the pickups themselves, which are coil-tappable, meaning you pull the volume control up and it becomes a single-coil pickup. This makes for an extremely versatile, and incredibly attractive, electric guitar for beginners. 

Best beginner electric guitars: Squier Bullet Mustang electric guitar for beginners

(Image credit: Squier)

6. Squier Bullet Mustang

The best beginner electric guitar for kids

Price: $179/£109 | Body: Basswood | Neck: Maple | Scale: 24 | Fingerboard: Laurel | Frets: 22 | Pickups: Squier humbuckers | Controls: Master volume, tone | Hardware: Chrome | Left-handed: : No | Finish: Imperial Blue, Sonic Gray, Black

Perfect for smaller hands
Insanely cheap price tag
No leftie option

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. For a shade under $200, you can’t go far wrong. 

Best beginner electric guitars: Ibanez Gio GRGR120EX

(Image credit: Ibanez)

7. Ibanez Gio GRGR120EX

The best beginner electric guitar for metal fans

Price: $199/£179 | Body: Poplar | Neck: Maple | Scale: 25.5" (648 mm) | Fingerboard: Pine | Frets: 24 | Pickups: Infinity humbuckers | Controls: Volume x 1, Tone x 1 | Hardware: Black | Left-handed: No | Finish: Black Night, Jewel Blue, White

Great neck for speed
Lightweight design
Easy to play standing or sitting
Appeal is limited to metal heads

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 makes it lightweight and easy 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.

Best beginner electric guitars: Epiphone Dot electric guitar for beginners

(Image credit: Epiphone)

8. Epiphone Dot ES-335 Semi-Hollowbody

Lose yourself in the vintage vibes of this classic semi-hollowbody

Price: $449/£399 | Body: Maple | Neck: Mahogany | Scale: 24.75” | Fingerboard: Rosewood | Frets: : 22 | Pickups: Alnico Classic Humbucker | Controls: Volume x 2, Tone x 2 | Hardware: Chrome | Left-handed: Yes | Finish: Cherry, Vintage Sunburst

Cool vintage tones
Huge playability
Ace for country blues and rock

Rounding off the list is the Epiphone Dot, which marries vintage tones and vibe with incredible construction and playability. The Dot 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 Dot 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.