electric guitars

Quality on a Budget: The Best Beginner Electric Guitars. [Buying Guide]

What electric guitar should I buy for a beginner?

It’s a common question, but only one of many. Buying an electric guitar can be a daunting experience – especially for a beginner.

The world of guitars is full of details and options, but which ones matter most?

You’ve come to the right place.

Sit back, grab a drink and relax while we sort the nonsense from the meaningful. We’ll answer the most common questions and simplify the buying experience.

Common Questions (Beginner Electric Guitar FAQ)

How much does a decent electric guitar cost?

One of the 1st questions most buyers have is: How much should you spend on your first electric guitar?

With the models on the market today, you can get a playable electric guitar in the $250-600 range. As a general rule of thumb, the higher the price, the better the instrument – but that’s only up to a point. This is especially true for beginners. There’s no point in buying a Gibson (American made) Les Paul for a beginner – they simply won’t notice the difference between a $3,000 Gibson and its $300 Epiphone counterpart.

What is the best beginner electric guitar package?

This list is about the best electric guitar for a beginner, not guitar packages. Electric guitar packages are marketed to beginners and usually advertise they have everything you need to begin playing – guitar, amplifier, picks, strap and usually a video or booklet.

The problem with the package kits is that you spend about the same as you would on the cheaper guitars on this list and you get so much more.

“Wait, what’d he say? The problem is that you get so much more for the same price?!”

Yes, you read that right.  Here’s why it’s a problem…

Think about it: Say you spend $200 on an electric guitar package and get a guitar, amplifier, picks, strap and “how-to” video.

How much do you think that guitar and amplifier are really worth if they’re selling them together for just $200?

Now, think about how much better the build quality is when you spend $250 on just the guitar.

Bottom Line: electric guitar packages are just toys. They’re not for anyone seriously considering learning to play guitar.

What should I look for in a beginner electric guitar?

Which electric guitar is best?

That’s a pretty open-ended question. What factors are you willing to consider?

What is the best electric guitar for the money?

This is a better question. Here’s how we determined the answer….

In making this list of top electric guitars for beginners, we looked at 3 criteria:

  1. Quality vs. price
  2. Simplicity of design/use
  3. Versatility

Quality vs. price

Our thinking is that it doesn’t make sense for someone starting to learn to play electric guitar to get a poorly made guitar. They don’t stay in tune, and they’re difficult to learn on. Beginners should focus on learning to play and not fighting a poorly made guitar. You do get what you pay for, BUT there are quite a few good quality electric guitars in our $250-600 range.

Simplicity of design and ease of use

Simplicity and ease of use are important factors when shopping for electric guitar for beginners. If you want to learn to play guitar, you don’t want to get lost in the bells and whistles of the device itself. Some electric guitars have so many knobs, pickups and sound configurations that a beginner can quickly become overwhelmed and simply quit.

The nice thing about this is that simpler designs are often cheaper too, because you usually pay extra for those bells and whistles.

Versatility

Versatility is our own personal belief. If you’re going to be shelling out good money for something, you should get something you can use for a variety of styles instead of a one-trick pony.

Best electric guitars brands for beginners

Squier, Epiphone, Ibanez and Yamaha are well known and respected guitar brands. In fact, Squier is the budget friendly brand of Fender guitars and Epiphone is the affordable line by Gibson.

Is a Gibson Les Paul a good beginner guitar?

A Les Paul is a fine guitar for a beginner. A Gibson Les Paul… not so much. The difference is that a Les Paul is a style and Gibson is a brand. Gibson is a good brand, but is exceedingly expensive for a beginner.

Epiphone is another brand and it happens to be owned by Gibson. Epiphone makes many similar style guitars for a fraction of the cost of Gibson.

So, to sum up – if the player likes the Les Paul style, go with an Epiphone Les Paul.

Is a Stratocaster good for a beginner?

Stratocaster guitars are extremely versatile. They are not as simple as some other models however, like the Telecaster. So, if the style suits the player and the price is right, they are great guitars.

Is Ibanez a good guitar?

Ibanez guitars are a Japanese brand and known for Jazz and Rock style guitars. They typically have an affordable price point and so would be a great choice for the beginner.

What are the best electric guitars for beginners?

Without further ado, here is out list of the best electric guitars for beginners in 2019.

The Best Electric Guitars Under $300

By Fender

The Squier name is known to many as a low-cost “value brand” alternative to the Fender name. Don’t worry, Squier guitars are made with the attention to quality and often with the same parts as Fender guitars, albeit lower priced parts. While you won’t find top-notch extras and hand-assembly in Squier models, you will find top-notch quality. Squier guitars can be viewed as simply Fender electric guitars under $300.

Squier Affinity Telecaster

Squier Affinity Telecaster Electric Guitar

The Squier Affinity Telecaster is hands down one of the best electric guitars for beginners. It’ solid, simple and versatile. Because it’s a Squire (by Fender) you know it has quality built in and it can be yours for a great price.

The Squier Affinity Telecaster features:

  • Alder body
  • Maple neck, with Polyurethane finish
  • 2 single coil pickups – both vintage Tele single coils
  • Master Volume control
  • Master Tone control
  • 3-Position blade pickup switch:
    • Position 1. Bridge Pickup
    • Position 2. Bridge and Neck Pickups
    • Position 3. Neck Pickup

Here’s what makes the Squier Affinity Telecaster such a great choice for a beginner.

It’s affordable, dependable and simple. But it also has a rich musical heritage behind it. It’s iconic. It symbolizes many different aspects of American Rock & Roll, Jazz, Country and Blues.

The Squier Affinity Telecaster features a smooth satin neck with a “C” shape to fit the natural contour of the human palm. This improves the comfort while playing and makes it easier for beginners to stay engaged with playing.

The Squier Affinity Telecaster stays in tune and holds its intonation well. There’s no coil tapping, tremolo bar or pickup circuit switching to worry about.
Leo Fender invented the Telecaster in 1951 and it hasn’t changed too much since.

Why mess with perfection?

At less than $300 (less than $200, in fact) it is quite simply, one of the best value guitars available.

This guitar is such a good deal. I was shocked at the quality of this tele, the tone is awesome the guitar looks great and doesn’t feel cheap at all. I was going to buy this guitar to mod but i don’t think I’m going to if it didn’t say squire on the head stock i really don’t think you would know this was a squire. Seems like they are stepping up their game.

-James J.
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Demo

detailed demo

Squier Stratocaster

Squier-Stratocaster

The Fender Stratocaster is a musical icon unto itself. It’s taken center stage from the early days of rock-n-roll, through blues and even hard rock and metal. It’s easy to see why, with the comfort and features it has to offer.

The Squier Stratocaster is a value-priced version of the Fender Strat. Yes, that means not as many hand-styled appointments and less expensive pickups. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad guitar. In fact, it’s a great guitar and saves you $700+ in the process!

Squier Deluxe Stratocaster features:

  • Basswood body
  • Polyurethane finish on the neck
  • Maple neck and fingerboard
  • 3 Duncan single-coil pickups; SC-101B (bridge), SC-101 (middle), SC-101N (neck)
  • 5-position pickup selector :
    • Position 1. Bridge Pickup
    • Position 2. Bridge and Middle Pickup
    • Position 3. Middle Pickup
    • Position 4. Middle and Neck Pickup
    • Position 5. Neck Pickup
  • Standard Tremolo Arm

The Squier by Fender Deluxe Stratocaster is a great electric guitar for beginners and a great way to own a piece of iconic guitar history for less than $300.

Outstanding guitar for the money. Duncan designed pick-ups sound good. Satin finished neck way better than expected, especially at this price point. The price of Squiers has gone up. Getcha one of these while there still 299. You wont be disappointed.

Mike P.
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Demo

Jaguar

Squier-Fender-Vintage-Modified-Jaguar

The Jaguar was originally released for the Surf Music crowd in the 1960’s, but has been seen prominently in everything from Jazz to punk to alternative. It’s one of the few guitars on this list that don’t fit the simplicity rule, but it’s got such a great, unique vibe and it is one of the better electric guitars under $300 on the market today, so it made the list.

The Jaguar style is very similar to the Jazzmaster, but the tone circuit is where the difference really hides. The rhythm circuit is a simple, straightforward design that lets the player only worry about the tone and volume. The lead circuit lets you choose between pickups, turn off either pickup on or off and cut the bass frequency for treble heavy lead tone.

Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar features:

  • Basswood body
  • Maple neck with polyurethane gloss finish
  • Duncan JG-101B single coil bridge pickup
  • Duncan JG-101N single coil neck pickup
  • 3-way toggle switch for pickup selection – neck, bridge or both
  • Tortoiseshell pickguard
  • Chrome hardware
  • non-locking floating vibrato with vintage-style tremolo arm

The Squier by Fender Vintage Modified Jaguar Electric Guitar is a unique and versatile guitar at a great price. It’s great for beginners and experienced players who are looking for something a little bit different, without breaking the bank.

I’ve been playing guitar for over 50 years. Often, when I purchased a major brand’s lower-cost line, there were definite trade-offs. But not this time. I own a Fender Jag that has become a bit of a collector’s item after 50 years. Therefore, I decided to purchase a Squier Jag for gigs. Maybe my old ears are starting to fail me, but I can’t really hear much, if any difference in the distinctive classic Jaguar sound between the two. The Squier Jag also feels and plays like the original.

-Hank U.
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Demo

by Epiphone

Epiphone has been making instruments for every style of popular music since 1873. They have a reputation for making affordable versions of Gibson model guitars, but they’ve been instrumental (pardon the pun) in jazz age guitars of the 1920s through through post-war pop, jazz, R&B, early rock n’ roll to grunge, and thrash.

Here are a few of the Epiphone models that make the top electric guitars for beginners, each for less than $300.

Epiphone Limited Edition “1966” G-400 PRO

epiphone-G-400-PRO electric guitar

The Epiphone Limited Edition 1966 G-400 is a Gibson-authorized version of their great ’66 SG. The SG was made famous by the likes of AC/DC’s Angus Young, Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton, Tony Iommi, Paul Weller, Derek Trucks and others. With a solid mahogany body and slim-taper set mahogany neck, it’s no mystery why.

When the SG, or “Solid Guitar,” was introduced in 1960 as a replacement for the Les Paul Standard, it was called the “fretless wonder” for its low frets and fast action. The twin horn cutaway design was like nothing on the market and its light but balanced weight made it the perfect guitar for stage and studio work.

The Epiphone 1966 G-400 PRO differs from the original vintage 1966 SG in more than just price. The Epiphone 1966 G-400 PRO has a larger pickguard. This also means there aren’t any pickup mounting rings around the pickups.

Other features include:

  • high-output Alnico Classic Pro humbuckers (P-90’s on the original ’66 SG )
  • Separate volume and tone controls for each pickup. This increases the tonal possibilities and control.
  • A LockTone tune-o-matic bridge and stopbar tailpiece (to provide better sustain )

The classic SG double-cutaway body of the Epiphone 1966 G-400 PRO lets you reach all 22 frets with ease. The body is solid mahogany and so is the Slim-taper neck. The Alnico Classic Pro humbuckers are set to coil-split. This means you can switch them from full humbucker to single coil, increasing the tones available.

Longtime readers of this site know that I’m a huge fan of simplicity and versatility. The Epiphone Limited Edition 1966 G-400 Electric Guitar has both. It also has a price which definitely makes it a top electric guitar for beginners.

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Here’s Demo of the features and flexibility:

Epiphone G-310

Epiphone-G-310 Electric Guitar

The Epiphone G-310 is built to the same dimensions as the vintage Gibson SGs of the 1960s, and with the same techniques as those used in the original Kalamazoo factory. It’s a well balanced guitar, unlike many cheaper clones that tend to be neck-heavy.

Like the Epiphone 1966 G-400 PRO above, the The Epiphone G-310 features a Mahogany body and neck, with a rosewood fingerboard. Where it differs from the G-400 is in the pickups. The G-310 does not feature coil splitting, so you only get the pure humbucker sound. Also, the G-310 features a 650R Humbucker in the neck and a 700T Humbucker pickup in the bridge, and a 3-way toggle switch for selecting neck, bridge or both.

The 700T humbuckers of the G-310 give it a warmer, Les Paul sounding tone, while the G-400 has Alnico V pickups and give it a more aggressive, punchy sound, typically found on Fender guitars.

The 700T humbuckers of the G-310 make it better suited to more metal tones, but make it less versatile than the G-400.

I actually wrote a review of the The Epiphone G-310 a while ago before I thought about what makes the best electric guitars for beginners. That’s because the G-310 is one of the best electric guitars under $300.. Period. So rather than re-write that review again, you can just read the full review here: The Epiphone G-310, An affordable SG.

The Epiphone G-310 is available in both Black and Red, and is available for about $250 at the time of this writing.

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Clean demo:

Gain demo:

Epiphone Dot Studio

Epiphone Dot Studio Electric Guitar

Last up for Epiphone’s entry into this list of the top 10 electric guitars for beginners under $300 is the Epiphone Dot Studio Electric Guitar.

The Epiphone Dot features:

  • Mahogany neck and body
  • 2 Alnico Classic pickups with a hotter bridge pickup
  • ever fashionable chrome hardware
  • classic vintage style tuno-o-matic bridge and stopbar tailpiece
  • Mahogany center block (to limit unwanted feedback)

The Epiphone Dot is capable of producing a wide range of tone that makes it a very versatile electric guitar that’s great for beginners. It’s also a Semi-hollowbody, which means it has an acoustic element to it as well as electric, and has more resonance than a solid body electric guitar.

The Epiphone Dot is well suited to classic rock, country, blues and jazz styles.

The Epiphone Dot is Epiphone’s version of the Gibson ES 335 “Dot” (made famous by the likes of Eric Clapton, BB King, Albert Lee, Chuck Berry, Larry Carlton, Dave Grohl and Roy Orbison) and is one of the best deals today for guitar players who want the classic sound of an ES 335 at an affordable price.

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Jazz/Blues/Rock Lead demo

by Gretsch

A Gretsch guitar is a very special thing. They have a completely unique vibe. Unfortunately, they also have a Gibson-like price tag. Gretsch does have a few really nice budget friendly models. Only one makes the cut for top 10 electric guitars for beginners under $300 though.

Gretsch G5425 Electromatic

Gretsch-G5425-Electromatic-Jet-Club-Electric-Guitar-Silver

The Gretsch G5425 is all you Gretsch fans out there who can’t afford the $2,500+ for most models. (me included!)

The G5425 has that real Gretsch sound and classic Gretsch style that just ooze jazz and rockabilly vibe. The  Jet Club Electromatic is well suited to country and rock too.

The Gretsch G5425 features:

  • Chambered Basswood Body with Arched Laminated Maple Top
  • Rosewood fretboard
  • Maple neck
  • 2 Gretsch dual-coil humbucker pickups; 1 in the neck position,
    1 in the bridge position
  • 3-Position pickup selector toggle:
    • Position 1. Bridge Pickup
    • Position 2. Bridge and Neck Pickups
    • Position 3. Neck Pickup
  • Master Volume control
  • Master Tone control
  • “G” arrow knobs and white pearloid Gretsch-logo pickguard

The G5425 Jet Club Electromatic is all Gretsch, except the price.

It’s also a great electric guitar for beginners for the same reason the Squier Affinity Telecaster – simplicity, quality and price. Although the Gretsch G5425 is a bit more money than the Squier, a top line Gretsch is twice as much as a Fender.

What sets the Gretsch G5425 apart from the Squier Affinity Telecaster is the tone of the pickups. The Telecaster has more treble-y “spank” and twang to its character. The Gretsch G5425 has a more mellow tone, and is capable of darker (more traditionally metal) tonal characteristics.

The Gretsch G5425: another great electric guitar under $300.

Not sure you can get a better guitar at this price point. Great build quality. Solid feel without the weight of a LP. Fun to play right out of the box

-Allen
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demo

by Ibanez

Ibanez is well known in jazz and rock circles, even though players of one genre may not be aware that they make guitars for the other!

A quick look at these two offerings for this list of top 10 electric guitars for beginners under $300 from Ibanez will show how diverse a company it is.

AS53TF

Ibanez AS53

The Ibanez AS53 is a great electric guitar for beginners because it’s a semi-hollowbody guitar, which means it has acoustic guitar qualities of resonance – the best of both worlds! The AS53 has jazz box looks and vibe, but don’t let that fool you, it can rock with the best of them.

AS53 features:

  • Mahogany neck
  • Sapele body
  • Rosewood fingerboard
  • 2 humbucker pickups:
    • Neck:ACH-ST
    • Bridge:ACH-ST
  • 3-way toggle
    • neck
    • bridge
    • both

The ACH pickups create a nice, warm tone with quick response which makes it very well suited to jazz or clean style blues. It does give a nice classic rock crunch as well, but probably not enough for metal (without some serious distortion effect pedal…).

The ACH pickups and semi-hollowbody structure of the AS53 make for some great sustain characteristics, while the center block helps eliminate unwanted feedback. The Ibanez AS53 is one of the few hollow body or semi-hollowbody electric guitars under $300, and it’s a great buy if you dig the style.

…this is the best semi hollow guitar for this price range. A work horse with just the necessary fixings. Tone is bright and smooth but when you crank up the gain gets really ballzy like a Gibson.

-Sherwin R.
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Demo

Ibanez GRX20ZBKN

Ibanez-GRX20ZBKN

The Ibanez GRX20ZBKN is most definitely a hard rock/metal/80’s guitar. It always makes me laugh to think that the same company makes guitars like the AS53TF jazz box above and a shredder like the GRX20…

Anyway, where the AS53TF is built for comfort and groove, the Ibanez GRX20 is built for speed and power. It’s dual humbuckers are built to howl, not purr, and a tremolo on an ax like this is meant for one thing – dive bombs!

Yeah, I know… this one doesn’t quite meet up with the “versatility” criteria for top electric guitars for beginners, but it is a great buy and rounds out the list nicely.

Ibanez GRX20 features:

  • Maple neck
  • Basswood body
  • Rosewood fingerboard
  • 2 Powersound humbucking pickups
    • Bridge
    • Neck
  • Tremolo arm

The Ibanez GRX20ZBKN Electric Guitar is a great electric guitar for beginners, or anyone seeking that 80’s rock vibe.

Awesome guitar for the price! I play thrash metal, mostly and it’s capable of taking a beating. I’m extremely satisfied. Also a great beginner guitar for those who wish to learn, whether it’d be metal, rock, blues- you name it!

-Kevin F.
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Demo

by Yamaha

Yamaha is well known for their keyboards, pianos and bass guitars, but they also have a number of very good electric guitars. Sadly, there’s only one with a price tag that fits the under $300 category. The good news: it’s definitely a top electric guitar for beginners!

Pacifica PAC112V

Yamaha Pacifica PAC112V Electric Guitar

The Pacifica PAC112V has a very strat-like body, and like the strat, it is comfort-contoured. Unlike the classic strat, the Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC112V has 1 humbucker pickup and 2 single coils. This gives it a different sound than the Squier Deluxe Stratocaster further up this list, even though it has a similar look.

Here are the full specs:

  • Solid Alder body
  • Maple neck
  • Rosewood fingerboard
  • Vintage Tremolo with Block Saddles
  • 3 pickups:
    • single-coil neck pickup
    • single-coil middle pickup
    • AlnicoV Humbucker bridge pickup
  • 5-Position Pickup Switch with Coil Tap Function
  • Master Volume control
  • Master Tone control

The Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC112V Electric Guitar is currently selling at the high end of the price range to make this list of top 10 electric guitars for beginners under $300, but it’s a very good quality guitar.

This is my first guitar and I am extremely pleased with my purchasing choice. I did a ton of research ordering as I was new and had a lot to be informed about. The Pacifica’s offered quality components, HSS, beautiful construction and finish, for much hundreds less than other guitars at the same level setup.

-Ryan H.
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Demo

The Best Electric Guitars for Beginners Under $500

These guitars are suitable for beginners and more advanced players alike. They are middle of the road in terms of price, but the quality is top notch. They’re great for the hobbyist or even the weekend musician, or someone staring out in a more professional musical career. They touch on a number of styles and tones, and they’re attractive and fun to play.

By Danelectro

The Danelectro company was founded in 1947 and still have a retro-futuristic vibe to their guitars. The look of these guitars conjures up science fiction visions of the atomic age, and they’ve got a distinctive sound too. If you’re the type of player who wants to get noticed for your guitar, a Danelectro is a great choice.

Danelectro D59MOD

Danelectro D59MOD

The Danelectro D59MOD is a double cutaway which features two single coil “Lipstick” pickups and vintage tuners. The Mod ’59 has basswood body and neck and a rosewood fretboard. The tone and volume knobs are dual, concentric knobs (one for each pickup).

At 6.4 pounds, it’s fairly lightweight too, which is good for the beginner or anyone who plays for an extended period of time.

The light weight and single coil pickups mean it doesn’t have the darker tonal qualities of a Les Paul, so it’s not well suited to the player looking for a more aggressive, metal tone.

Danelectro ’67 Heaven

Danelectro '67 Heaven

The Danelectro ’67 Heaven is one of the coolest things out there. It’s got a classic, offset body style (similar to a Fender Jaguar) with an alligator finish, and “Souped up” single coil “Lipstick” pickups and an adjustable bridge. This is a 2013 re-issue of the 1967 classic.

Demo video:

By Epiphone

Epiphone has been making musical instruments since 1873, and has made instruments for just every style of popular music. They’re mostly known these days for making more affordable Gibson clones. Gibson guitars have name recognition, but they also have a premium price tag to go with it. The truth is that it doesn’t make sense for the hobbyist (much less a beginner) to fork over a couple thousand dollars for a Gibson when they can get a better quality for the price with an Epiphone.

Epiphone Es-333 Tom Delonge Archtop

Epiphone Es-333 Tom Delonge Archtop

The Epiphone ES-333 Tom Delonge Signature archtop electric guitar is built to the specifications of the Blink 182 guitarist – and it’s less than $500!

The ES-333 features the best of archtop and semi-hollowbody designs, along with Gibson USA Dirty Fingers humbucker pickups. It has a laminate maple body and mahogany neck with rosewood fretboard.

One problem with hollowbody guitars is feedback caused by too much uncontrolled resonance. The ES-333 solves that problem with a mahogany center block. This also makes for amazing sustain. An instantly recognizable Tom Delonge “paint job” of Cream racing stripes on a Brown finish round out the signature look.

Weighing a solid 12 pounds and stocked with Dirty Fingers humbuckers, the ES-333 has a nice beefy tone that lends itself well to hard rock and rock-blues styles.

Epiphone Es-339 Semi Hollow Body Electric Guitar

Epiphone Es-339 Semi Hollow Body Electric Guitar

If you’re looking for versatility and sustain, then look no further than the Epiphone ES-339 Semi Hollow body electric guitar! The ES-339 is one of the smaller ES series from Epiphone. It features ProBucker humbucker pickups, push-pull coil tapping knobs, which lets you switch between humbucker and single coil tones for each pickup. The body is a laminate maple and the “D” profile neck is mahogany. The tune-o-matic bridge makes it easy to keep in tune

It weighs 8.5 pounds, which makes it middle of the road in terms of weight. Also available in Natural finish.

Limited Edition Les Paul Custom Pro Electric Guitar, TV Silver

Here we get to the Les Paul.

Limited Edition Les Paul Custom Pro Electric Guitar, TV Silver

I’ve always found it somewhat ironic that the guitar that is loved the world over by hard rock and metal fans was invented by an iconic Jazz and country guitarist from the middle of the 20th century.

But be that as it may, Epiphone makes killer (and quite affordable, compared to Gibson) versions of Les Paul. Here is one such version.

The Limited Edition Les Paul Custom Pro electric guitar is slightly smaller – it weighs a paltry 8lbs – than a traditional Les Paul model, but the the fingerboard and body are exact recreations of the Les Paul Custom’s iconic look. It’s a solid wood body (no laminate) with rosewood fretboard, tune-o-matic bridge and mahogany neck. It’s decked out with a ProBucker-2 and ProBucker-3 humbucker pickups. The volume controls allow for coil-tapping, which means you can switch between full humbucker or split single coil mode for a total of 6 different tonal possibilities.

Les Paul Quilt Top Pro Electric Guitar Faded Cherry Sunburst

Here’s an affordable Les Paul for all you Slash fans out there!

Les Paul Quilt Top Pro Electric Guitar Faded Cherry Sunburst

The Epiphone Les Paul Quilt Top Pro electric guitar, in faded cherry sunburst.

This beauty features a solid Mahogany body and carved maple top with a quilt design to the finish. It also has a set-in mahogany neck with rosewood fretboard. Equipped with 2 Pro humbuckers, each with coil-splitting (humbucker/single coil) and weighing a hefty 14lbs, this puppy is ready to rock when you are. Like the Custom Pro above, the Les Paul Quilt Top also has a tune-o-matic bridge and Grover tuners, so it gets in tune and stays in tune easily.

Wildkat Royale

Wildkat Royale

Finally, we have Epiphone’s entry to the Jazz/Rockabilly segment of the market. (Yes, I know, you can rock out on the Wildkat too but it just oozes Jazz Box looks..)

The Epiphone WildKat Royale is beautiful in a pearl white finish, with gold sparkle binding. The gold hardware and Bigsby tailpiece make for stunning accents as well. The WildKat is equipped with 2 vintage style dogear P-90 pickups which give it a hefty, bite to its tone. The gold B70 licensed Bigsby vibrato and tailpiece complete the look.

The WildKat is a limited production release, so they have a good chance of becoming moderately collectible, and at least holding their value a bit better than other mass-market productions. It’s got a semi-hollow mahogany body (with center block to dampen unwanted feedback), maple neck and
rosewood fretboard and weighs about 11 lbs.

It also features bridge volume, neck volume, master tone and master volume controls, and premium 16:1 Grover machine heads for more accurate and long lasting tuning.

By Fender

Fender is one of the big players in the electric guitar market and they are well known for fine craftsmanship and innovative products. This craftsmanship extends to their budget (Squire) and Mexican made brands as well. Often times, the models made in Mexico use the same parts as American made, but with cheaper labor. The result is virtually the same quality guitar at half price.

Here are two classic models that feature the Fender logo, but are made in Mexico.

Fender Standard Telecaster

Fender Standard Telecaster

Leo Fender’s game changing solid body electric guitar that launched the sound of Rock and Roll is still available largely unchanged today. Sure, there are artist endorsed and modified version for thousands of dollars, but you can still get a standard Tele for less than $500.

The somewhat corny history of the Telecaster is that Leo Fender wanted a modern sounding name for his modern, solid body guitar. Being the 1950’s and the heyday of the television age, he settled on “Tele” from television and “caster” from Broadcaster.

The Telecaster is still a preferred guitar for many players today (myself included). It’s simple feature set allows for a multitude of tonal possibilities from classic Tele spank and twang to classic rock crunch without any bells and whistle to get in your way. It’s a workhorse that rarely goes out of tune or out of style.

The Fender Standard Telecaster features:

  • 2 Tele single-coil pickups, great for Country, Blues, Rock, Pop and even Jazz.
  • A modern C-shaped neck, 9.5″
  • 6-saddle strings-thru-body Tele bridge allows for improved intonation and individual string height adjustment.
  • Shielded body cavities to limit unwanted feedback.

The Standard Telecaster is a simple, solid electric guitar. It has a 3-way pickup selection switch, volume and tone knob so you get excellent control over the sound, without an overly complicated control panel getting in the way. The 6-saddle string-thru-body bridge helps to keep the guitar in tune. In short, it’s simple and dependable, which makes fro a great guitar for beginners and experienced players alike!

The Standard Telecaster comes in more color and finish variations than I can really display here, but Additional Fender Standard Telecaster Models!

Fender Standard Stratocaster

Fender Standard Stratocaster

Made famous by the likes of Hendrix, Clapton, Beck, Gilmour and Vaughan the Stratocaster was Leo Fender’s follow up to the wildly successful solid body Telecaster. Once again, as with the Telecaster, Leo wanted to capture the modern futuristic vibe that the 1960’s had to offer and hoped his use of “strato” would make people think stratosphere and evoke the excitement of the newly born space race.

Whether people got the connection he was shooting for is open to debate, but what is not debatable is that the Fender Stratocaster is still one the preeminent guitar models 60+ years later!

Strats come in a host of varieties and player endorsed versions, but you can still get a basic strat for under $500.

The Fender Standard Stratocaster electric guitar features:

  • 3 Standard Strat single-coil pickups. This is the heart of everything from the Stratocaster squawk to creamy blues goodness.
  • A modern C-shaped neck, 9.5″ freeboard radius and medium jumbo frets. Playing fast, and string-bending like your favorite bluesman is a breeze on this neck.
  • Synchronized tremolo bar for everything from dive bombs to subtle vibrato
  • Shielded body cavities to prevent unwanted feedback

The Standard Stratocaster gives you legendary Fender tone with classic styling and weighs about 10 lbs. Additional Fender Standard Stratocaster models.

By Godin

Godin is a Canadian guitar company and while some of their most popular models aren’t even branded as Godin (They make acoustics under the Seagull, Simon & Patrick, Norman, LaPatrie and Art & Lutherie brands), they are better known in electric guitar circles. They are typically favored more by studio musicians and touring players than frontmen, but the construction quality and tone are just as good as the big names.

Godin Redline HB

Godin-Redline-HB

Next up, the Godin Redline HB electric guitar. The Redline is Made in North American (instead of China or Mexico, as is common with this price range) and features a double-action truss rod to help ensure a straight neck and proper intonation. The neck is made from Canadian Hard Rock Maple and features Godin’s “ergo cut neck” style for ease of play.

The Godin HB Redline weighs about 13.5 lbs, and comes with 2 custom Godin humbucker pickups – a GHN1 in the neck position, and a GHB1 in the bridge position.

Here are the full specs:

  • Rock Maple neck
  • Rosewood Fingerboard
  • 24 frets
  • 16 ” fingerboard radius
  • 24 3/4″ Scale
  • 1 11/16″ nut width
  • Body has silver leaf maple centre with poplar wings
  • 2x Godin humbuckers (Neck: GHN1 / Bridge: GHB1)
  • 3-way switch, 1x volume & 1x tone
  • Fixed Bridge

With its double cut-away body and hot humbucker pickups, the Godin HB Redline makes a great hard rock or metal guitar and the price is just right for the beginner or hobbyist.

By Gretsch

Gretsch G5435T Electromatic Pro

Gretsch-G5425-Electromatic

The Gretsch G5435T Electromatic Pro is a very affordable and very versatile entry in the under $500 range. It features an arched top, chambered mahogany body with set maple neck and rosewood fingerboard.

An Adjusto-Matic bridge with Bigsby B50 tailpiece help keep the G5435T in tune. “Blacktop” Filter’Tron pickups complete the sound and making the G5435T a great way to own a piece of that Gretsch vibe.

I like the G5435T Electromatic Pro so much, I wrote a full review for it when it came out. You can read the full review here.

Conclusion

No matter what style of music you prefer, there is something on this list that suits the style, and fits the bill (budget-wise).

Each of these electric guitars are great for beginners or anyone looking for a guitar between $300 – 600 They’re all great quality guitars and none is better than the other. But they are different enough to suit your personal taste.

Happy strumming!

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