So you’ve decided to learn the guitar. Well, first of all, we would like to extend our warmest welcome to this super special club! Learning the guitar might be challenging at times, but ultimately it’s one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do. Now, to get started you are going to need one of the best beginner electric guitars, and luckily for you, we’ve put together this handy guide.
We’ve used the wealth of knowledge gained from decades in the guitar industry to carefully curate this list to help you quickly find the right guitar for how you want to play. It’s fair to say we’ve played our fair share of beginner electric guitars over the years, so we know exactly which ones to show you and which ones you should steer clear of.
The quality and variety of beginner-friendly guitars has never been better, thanks to the improvement in manufacturing methods, which has raised the bar on quality control in the entry-level guitar market - so please excuse us 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.
No matter your style, your musical taste, or your 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.
Looking for a guitar bargain? Amazon Prime Day is taking place on 21 and 22 June and we'll be sharing all the best offers on beginner electric guitars and more on our Prime Day guitar deals page.
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 the Squier Classic Vibe 50s Stratocaster, the Epiphone Les Paul Studio and PRS SE Standard 24 are all superb electric guitars for beginners and will complement your playing for years to come.
Best beginner electric guitar: Full round-up
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.
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.
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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, you’ve got access to even more tones. There’s not much this guitar can’t do.
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?
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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.
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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 offer up a full sounding, punchy tone that will make both your clean and dirty tones cut through any mix with ease. With a fairly flat 13.75” fretboard radius, your string bends will have never been easier. 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. For a shade under $200, you can’t go far wrong.
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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.
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.
Best beginner electric guitars: Buying advice
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.
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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 guitar's hardware - like the bridge and tuners - and the impact they will have on your guitar's durability and performance. Tone woods employed in a guitar’s construction are equally as important, as each type of wood has its own tonal properties and weight.
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.