Best punk guitars 2024: straight-shooting, no-nonsense guitars for punk

Gibson Les Paul Junior with tie as a strap
(Image credit: Future)

Okay, a guide to the best punk guitars may seem a little redundant. As we all know, with the right attitude, just about any guitar can be punk. That said, there are a few staples of the genre that guitarists looking to tear down the establishment flock to time and time again. 

From its formation in the mid-1970s to its countless sub-genre spin-offs throughout the decades, punk guitarists have long favored a no-nonsense six-string that simply gets the job done – and that looks cool slung so low it could almost touch the stage floor.

So with that in mind, for this guide to the best guitars for punk, we've curated a list of straight-shooting instruments that we believe can more than handle the harsh conditions of a rowdy basement show, as well as deliver the gut punching tone you're looking for.

So, dust off your Dickies, lace up your Vans, and allow us to count you in…
1-2-3-4!

Best punk guitars: our top picks

Our top choice is a fairly obvious one, but due to its historical importance to the genre, we believe it's more than earned its place. The

is used by everyone from Brian Baker of Bad Religion to Green Day leader Billie Joe Armstrong – and the double cutaway version was the weapon of choice for Johnny Thunders. Enough said. 

If it's more versatility you're seeking, we'd highly recommend the

. With its humbucker in the bridge position and two sharp single coils, there isn't a sound this affordable Strat can't do. 

For those looking to channel the spirit of punk pioneers Steve Jones and Mick Jones the

is a very solid choice. The dual Epiphone humbuckers bring the power, while the smooth and thin neck is a joy to play.

Best punk guitars: product guide & reviews

Best punk guitars: Gibson Les Paul Junior

(Image credit: Gibson)

1. Gibson Les Paul Junior

Best punk guitar overall

Specifications

Body: Mahogany
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Pickups: P-90 Dog Ear
Finish: Vintage Tobacco Burst, Ebony

Reasons to buy

+
As simple as a Gibson gets
+
Who doesn't love the sound of a P-90?

Reasons to avoid

-
Too basic for some players

The original Les Paul Junior was unleashed on to unexpecting guitarists in 1954, and since then, this stripped-back student model has garnered quite the following, with punks' biggest names using it to devastating effect. 

Beloved for its uncomplicated approach to tone, simplified layout, and seriously dynamic pickup, this is easily one of the best Gibson guitars in their extensive catalog. 

The modern version from Gibson's Orginal Collection does a near-perfect job at replicating the vibe and feel of the earliest models with its slab mahogany body, single dogear P-90 pickup, fat 50's-style neck profile and wraparound bridge. 

So, if you're looking for an unadorned, humble guitar that can deliver an explosive tone at the strike of a power chord, the best punk guitar for you is the Gibson Les Paul Junior. 

Best punk guitars: Eastwood Sidejack Mach Two

(Image credit: Eastwood)

2. Eastwood Sidejack Mach Two

The best punk guitar for Ramones fans

Specifications

Body: Alder
Neck: Maple
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Pickups: Mini Humbucker/ F-1 Single Coil
Finish: White

Reasons to buy

+
Looks and feels like the real deal
+
Unique tone

Reasons to avoid

-
No finish options

There are few electric guitars as famous and iconic as Johnny Ramone's beaten-up 1965 Mosrite Ventures II. Johnny was rarely seen without his leather jacket and his beloved Mosrite, with the guitar featuring on all the New York punk's 14 studio albums, as well as being his go-to guitar for every live show. 

Eastwood has managed to capture the magic of that original guitar, and while it isn't an exact clone, it's pretty damn close for the money. 

Featuring an alder body and bolt-on maple neck, rosewood fingerboard, as well as a vintage Mosrite style adjustable roller bridge, this guitar feels solid and well built – and despite its off-kilter look, it's actually very comfortable. 

Best punk guitars: Epiphone Les Paul Custom

(Image credit: Epiphone)

3. Epiphone Les Paul Custom

Best Les Paul for punk rock

Specifications

Body: Mahogany
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Ebony
Pickups: Epiphone ProBucke 2/3
Finish: Alpine White, Ebony

Reasons to buy

+
Perfect LP tones
+
Stunning look
+
Comfortable neck

Reasons to avoid

-
Too heavy for some players 

Sex Pistol, Steve Jones, and The Clash axeman Mick Jones arguably walked with their iconic Gibson Les Paul Customs so that modern punk players such as Zach Blair could run. 

Beloved for its unprecedented sustain and fierce power, the Les Paul is a near-perfect punk guitar in every way. Now, if you're looking to harness the raw power for yourself but you don't want to spend your life savings on a guitar, then the Epiphone Les Paul is a pretty great choice. 

Featuring the traditional custom bound, all-mahogany body, thin and comfortable 60s neck profile, jet-black ebony fingerboard, and gold hardware, this guitar looks every bit as good as its USA-made big brother, while the Epiphone ProBucker humbuckers ensure it sounds pretty close as well. 

Best punk guitars: Fender Player Stratocaster HSS

(Image credit: Fender)

4. Fender Player Stratocaster HSS

The best for playability

Specifications

Body: Alder
Neck: Maple
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Pickups: Player Series Humbucker/ Single coils
Finish: Various

Reasons to buy

+
Solid build quality
+
Easy to play

Reasons to avoid

-
Some may see it as a boring option

Punk guitarists across the generations have long had a fascination with heavily modified Stratocasters, so it only makes sense to feature one in our list. Whether it's Billie Joe's Fernandes copy "Blue" or Tom Delonge's single pickup tone monster, the Strat has been part of punk for a long time. 

For this guide, we've chosen to showcase the Fender Player Stratocaster HSS, as we believe it not only offers players the tone and feel they need to play hard-hitting punk but also offers superb value for money. 

Featuring an alder body, a modern C-shaped neck and Player Series humbucking bridge pickup, this affordable Strat feels effortless to play and more than delivers on tone. 

Best punk guitars: Gretsch G5210-P90 Electromatic Jet

(Image credit: Gretsch)

5. Gretsch G5210-P90 Electromatic Jet

Best lightweight option for punk rockers

Specifications

Body: Mahogany
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Laurel
Pickups: P-90E Single-Coil
Finish: Broadway Jade, Cadillac Green, Fairlane Blue, Single Barrel Burst

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable
+
Very well built

Reasons to avoid

-
Feels on the small side

While your mind may not go immediately to Gretsch when thinking of the best guitars for punk, the retro guitar giant has actually had a long history of showing up in the hands of the genre's most notable players. Everyone from Tim Armstrong of Rancid, Flogging Molly's Dennis Casey, and Poison Ivy from The Cramps have used various Gretsch models over their careers. 

Now, while we certainly could've chosen any number of Gretsch guitars for this list, we consider the Gretsch G5210-P90 Electromatic Jet to embody the no-nonsense attitude of punk the best. 

This singlecut Gretsch features a lightweight chambered mahogany body with a maple top, a mahogany neck with a thin "U" shaped profile, a 12"-radius laurel fingerboard, and a pair of P-90E single-coil pickups.  

Best punk guitars: Harley Benton MR-Modern

(Image credit: Harley Benton)

6. Harley Benton MR-Modern

Best budget-friendly punk guitar

Specifications

Body: Alder
Neck: Maple
Fingerboard: Ebony
Pickups: Artec AHC-90 Soapbar Alnico-5 humbuckers
Finish: Various

Reasons to buy

+
As cheap as it gets
+
Surprisingly highly spec'd

Reasons to avoid

-
Some may find it rather ugly 

Yes, we've already featured an interpretation of the Mosrite in this guide, but when guitars are this good and this affordable, we have to shout about it. 

The Harley Benton MR-Modern may not be as accurate as the Eastwood Sidejack featured above, but to give credit where credit is due, Thomann's version is considerably cheaper, making it easily one of the best electric guitars under $500 on the market if you want to play heavy hitting punk rock. 

The MR-Modern features a fabulously wonky offset body, a Canadian maple bolt-on neck with Macassar ebony fretboard, glow-in-the-dark neck inlays, and a duo of Artec AHC-90 Soapbar Alnico-5 humbuckers – all for a little over $/£200! 

Best punk guitars: Fender Vintera '60s Jaguar Modified HH

(Image credit: Fender)

7. Fender Vintera '60s Jaguar Modified HH

The best offset for punk

Specifications

Body: Alder
Neck: Maple
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Pickups: Atomic Humbuckers
Finish: Surf Green, Sonic Blue

Reasons to buy

+
Very playable
+
Modern pickups 
+
Classic look

Reasons to avoid

-
Short scale not for everyone

The Fender Jaguar went from surf king in the '60s to a symbol of hope for the disenfranchised youth in the '90s, cementing itself as one of the best offset guitars in the world – so for that reason, we couldn't have a list of the best punk guitars and not include a Jag!

The Fender Vintera '60s Jaguar Modified seamlessly blends the two eras of this wonky guitar. Featuring classic '60s styling with a modern neck profile and hotter pickups, you really do get the best of both worlds here. 

Now, we have to mention that the Jaguar is a short-scale guitar, coming in much smaller than its stable mates, the Telecaster, Stratocaster or Jazzmaster. This difference in length does give the Jag its slinky feel, but if you aren't a fan of short-scale, we suggest you look at the Jazzmaster instead. 

Want to learn more? Take a deep dive into the differences between the Jazzmaster and Jaguar

Best punk guitars: Ernie Ball Music Man Stephen Egerton StingRay

(Image credit: Ernie Ball Music Man)

8. Ernie Ball Music Man Stephen Egerton StingRay

Best guitar for Descendents fans

Specifications

Body: Okoume
Neck: Maple
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Pickups: Music Man Custom Wound
Finish: Charcoal Frost

Reasons to buy

+
Simple
+
The neck feels incredible

Reasons to avoid

-
Way too simple for some 

Who needs silly extra features like a second pickup or a volume and tone control? Certainly not Descendents legend Stephen Egerton. Now, if you thought the Gibson Les Paul Junior was simple, it has nothing on this heavily modified StingRay. 

Egerton has decided to forgo all controls and the neck pickup on his version of the Music Man classic, resulting in possibly the most straightforward guitar of all time. 

Featuring a lightweight okoume body which is finished in classy Charcoal Frost, a satin maple neck and a chrome-covered custom-wound Music Man humbucker, this guitar offers a no-fuss playing experience and a tone that prove that not everything sux today

Best punk guitars: Fender Noventa Telecaster

(Image credit: Fender)

9. Fender Noventa Telecaster

A novel punk twist on the Telecaster

Specifications

Body: Alder
Neck: Maple
Fingerboard: Maple/Rosewood
Pickups: Fender Noventa Single-Coil
Finish: Vintage Blonde, 2-Color Sunburst

Reasons to buy

+
Unique design for Fender
+
Superb playability

Reasons to avoid

-
Doesn't sound like a traditional Tele

When we got our hands on the Fender Noventa Telecaster, we were very impressed with the fit and finish – with our example emerging extremely playable straight out of the box. 

For us, the Noventa Telecaster is a stripped-down punk machine featuring the little elements needed to create a beautiful racket! 

The alder body is light and resonant; the maple neck fits our hand like a glove, and the lone Noventa single-coil delivers an aggressive bark when used with a cranked tube amp. Simply put, this guitar is brilliant. 

Read our full Fender Noventa Telecaster review 

Best punk guitars: G&L Fallout Tribute

(Image credit: G&L)

10. G&L Fallout Tribute

A punk rock take on a classic

Specifications

Body: Poplar
Neck: Maple
Fingerboard: Maple/Brazilian Cherry
Pickups: AW4470B Humbucker/AP4285B P-90
Finish: Alpine White, Gloss Black, Sonic Blue, Mint Green

Reasons to buy

+
Humbucker and P90 pickups
+
Lightweight  

Reasons to avoid

-
Traditionalists may prefer the sound of the SC-2 

Rounding off our list of the best punk guitars is the wallet-friendly G&L Fallout Tribute. This modern version of the Fallout takes inspiration from the G&L SC-2 but brings it up to date with contemporary features. 

It may share the body of the Leo Fender-designed SC-2, but the guitar has been reimagined for today's modern player with the addition of a Paul Gagon-designed humbucker in the bridge and P90 pickup in the neck position.

As you'd expect, this makes the Fallout a tonal powerhouse and ideal for high-octane riffage. If you're looking for a comfortable, slim-bodied offset that is more than capable of taking to the stage at a punk show, then the G&L Tribute Fallout is the axe for you. 

Read our full G&L Tribute Series Fallout review  

Best punk guitars: product guide & reviews

Close up of the Fender Noventa

(Image credit: Future)

What makes a great punk guitar?

You can trust Guitar World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing guitar products so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

So, when it comes to guitars for punk, most players like to keep it simple. At the end of the day, the majority of punk or pop-punk guitarists aren't switching between various tones on stage. Instead, they are more interested in playing fast, aggressively, and with attitude. 

So, with that in mind, it's very common to see one pickup guitars with simplified control layouts and minimal features. 

Now, as you'd expect, punk guitarists like to play with high levels of gain, so you'll want to make sure your new guitar has a pickup that can handle that much noise. Of course, humbuckers are the norm, as they will not only give you the power needed to push your amp into glorious distortion, but they will also take that pesky noise in their stride. 

That said, many legendary punk players gravitate towards the clear and crisp tone of the P-90 single coil – so choose which sounds best to your ears.  

How we selected the best punk guitars

Here at Guitar World, we are experts in our field, with many years of playing and product testing between us. We live and breathe everything guitar and bass related, and we draw on this knowledge and experience of using products in live, recording and rehearsal scenarios when selecting the products for our guides.

When choosing what we believe to be the best punk guitars available right now, we combine our hands-on experience, user reviews and testimonies and engage in lengthy discussions with our editorial colleagues to reach a consensus about the top products in any given category.

First and foremost, we are guitarists, and we want other players to find the right product for them. So we take into careful consideration everything from budget to feature set, ease of use and durability to come up with a list of what we can safely say are the best punk guitars on the market right now.

Read more about our rating system, how we choose the gear we feature, and exactly how we test each product.  

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