Looking for a Beginners Electric Guitar?

In this article I'll give you a few good buying options you can't go wrong with.

These days choosing a beginners electric guitar can be more overwhelming as never before. Open up any online catalog and you'll see hundreds if not thousands of guitars to buy with different shapes, features, price range and a specification list that you might not really understand.

While you're a beginner what you really need is a simple and reliable instrument that won't take too much time to take care of so you can focus your attention on playing instead of on tweaking the bolts.

That's why having a guitar of a good quality is important when you're learning to play.

A poor instrument may often go out of tune, probably it will be the wrong setup causing problems with the intonation. String height (if the strings are too high it will be difficult for you to quickly run the fingers around the fingerboard, if they are too low you'll often get a buzzing annoying sound). The list of issues can go on and on... and these issues will be unnecessary hurdles on your way to learning, destroying your inspiration.

Sometimes a really bad guitar completely stops one from learning.

That's why I suggest you do not to settle for the cheapest guitar available that likely will be of a poor quality. A better buy is a budget instrument from a respected brand like Fender, Epiphone (of Gibson), Yamaha or Ibanez. Their inexpensive guitars cost at least twice the price of the cheapest ones on the market. As I said it's worth paying more.

Below I'm talking about a few solid body guitar models that I thoughtfully selected as ones of the best beginners electric guitars. These guitars have a good quality/price ratio and are fit to play in many styles, but mostly for rock, metal and pop music. The Fender and Squier Stratocaster guitars are also very good for blues.

If you're mainly going to play jazz, blues and light rock music also check out semi-hollow body electric guitar with Bigsby vintage vibrato system 'Epiphone Wildkat' and Ibanez AS73T.

Squier Standard Stratocaster

There are two slightly different models of this guitar I recommend you to check out.

1. The conventional standard stratocaster.
This guitar is better for playing Classic Rock, Blues and Country music.

2. The HSS standard stratocaster.
This one is better for punchier metal like stuff, and also fits well to play Rock and Blues.

Overall the HSS strat is a more versatile guitar and I recommend you to go for it, unless you're primarily going to play Country music.

The only constructional difference between these two models is that the conventional strat has all three single coil pickups at the bridge, middle and neck.

conventional standard stratocaster

A H-S-S strat has one humbucker pickup at the bridge, and two single coil pickups in the middle and at the neck.

(The HSS letters stand for Humbucker, Single Coil, Single Coil pickup)

HSS standard stratocaster

The single coil bridge pickup on a conventional 'standard stratocaster' produces a more "twangy" tone that's used in country music.

The humbucker bridge pickup on the HSS model emits fatter, more powerful sound with a greater output that better accommodates alt-rock and metal music.

The single coil neck pickup on both strat models is perfect for getting that cool blusy tone,

as well as for playing smooth rock riffs and solos.

The middle pickup alone or mixed with the neck or bridge pickup will give you the extra tones in between.

Squier is a company owned by the famous Fender guitar manufacturer. Squier guitars are oriented towards the budget minded beginner players and provide very good quality for the price. Their guitars look exactly and sound similar to Fender guitars themselves.

If your budget isn't very strict and you can afford to spend a few extra hundreds, I recommend you go for the 'Fender HSS standard strat' itself. This could be not only your beginners guitar but a pro guitar too for years to come.

Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC012

Yamaha Pacifica has established a reputation as an excellent beginners electric guitar. I've been researching many reviews and feedbacks on this guitar and some people are even saying that it's built well enough to use as a pro guitar and can survive hard gigs.

It has the same pickup configuration as the Fender/Squier HSS strat but the neck pickup doesn't sound as blusy as on the stratocasters.

Ibanez Guitars

Ibanez company also well known with its line of very affordable and well built guitars with good playability. One of them is the GRX20Z beginners electric guitar. Despite being a pretty cheap price, the axe is very durable. It has two powerful humbucker pickups with a great output that is better suited for playing heavy music.

Another good electric guitar for beginners from Ibanez is the GRG170DX.

Comparing it to the 'Yamaha Pac012' or 'Fender Strat', the GRG170DX looks more fancy and aggressive and sounds more appropriate for heavy stuff as the GRX20Z model but different from the GRX20Z. It also has the medium single coil pickup between the humbuckers.

Once I owned a very similar Ibanez guitar and I actually found this middle pickup a bit disturbing when picking the strings because it leaves too little room between each pickup.

I didn't use the middle pickup anyway so I adjusted its height in a way that it was low into the body and far away from the strings.

Both these Ibanez models have 24 frets on the fingerboard, while the previous guitars I was talking about had 22. The two extra frets increase the pitch range of the instrument for one note and the highest note on them is 'E', while on Fender and Yamaha it was 'D'.

Les Paul Epiphone Standard

Epiphone is a subsidiary of Gibson and the 'Ephiphone standard' guitar looks almost exactly as the legendary 'Gibson standard' guitar and sounds very similar too. However Ephiphones are far more affordable than their Gibson big brothers.

I actually own an 'Epiphone Standard Plus' guitar myself and have to say that the quality of this instrument is unbeatable. It produces an amazingly beautiful soft tone out of the the neck pickup and a punchy, screaming sound at the bridge. Another feature of this guitar is that it has a very long sustain (I mean very, very long).

The long sustain means that when you pick a string and let it ring, it will ring for a long time and the signal will be slowly fading away.

The word 'Plus' in the name of the Epiphone model I own means that it has a more sophisticated finish than a regular "Epiphone Standard". The sound and guitar parts are absolutely the same between the 'Epiphone Standard' and 'Epiphone Standard Plus'.

This guitar is better suited to classic rock, ballad, blues and metal music that is played without whammy bar tricks. The Les Paul Std. guitars have a stoptail bridge instead of a vibrato system that all the previous guitars I guided you through have.

(In other words this guitar doesn't have a lever that is attached to the guitar bridge and the pitch changing mechanism).

Click here to learn more about the whammy bar and listen to guitar tricks performed using this.

Note that the Epiphone standard guitar is noticeably heavier and better suited to an adult player. It's weight is around 10.0 pounds (4.5 kg) while the weight of other guitars from this article is around 7-9 pounds (3.2-4.0 kg).

P.S.

Many guys complain that beginners electric guitars with a synchronized vibrato system (such as strats, yamaha pacifica 012, and both ibanez models) often go out of tune when the vibrato bar is used.

The problem usually lays not in the vibrato mechanism but not knowing how to take care of the instrument. Here is a must read article on how to improve tuning stability -->

I chose these guitars over the ones with a locking vibrato system that better stay in tune because they are easier to tune, change strings, and make adjustments.

Next Article:

Guide to Electric Guitar Accessories for Beginners


PK Says
April 22nd, 1974 at 1.07 PM

Greetings, I am interested in buying the YAMAHA Gigmaker ERG121C (HSH pickups, rarely seen nowadays)....I know that the amplifier included is for practice only..... Is the Yamaha ERG121C Electric guitar a good one for a beginner? And is it worth its price? and finally, what genre of music can be played with it?

Thanks in advance..... And Great Website! I hope to get much more songs later on.

electric-fire Says
January 20th, 2013 at 9.04 PM

I never played this particular guitar, but investigated it on the net, through reviews and video demos, it seems to me as it's a great guitar for a beginner.

It is a universal instrument you can get the thicker sound out of the humbuckers, and finer tone out of the single coil pickup, as well as combined sounds of the neck or bridge humbucker with the single coil middle pickup. You can watch how it sounds with the overdrive effect on with different pickup combinations in this video.

Note that Yamaha ERG121C guitar has a synchronized tremolo (whammy bar) that can make your guitar go out of tune, the real issue here is not actually the whammy bar but that many beginners do not know how to take care of it properly to prevent the detuning.

P.S.
The guitar amp in the package is not bad at all by the way, it has three EQ knobs you can use to shape the tone drastically. Many small amps in this category have only one: tone, or two: bass and treble knob.

You can get some EQ settings on this page.

I can't say anything about the price, because I couldn't find it in the stores.

Joycelyn Says
April 12th, 2013 at 5.25 AM

I'm a complete novice and not musically trained whatsoever. Kinda fell into my gear as an impulse midlife crisis thing. Got an Epi Les Paul Junior for $99.99 US, then while exploring pedals ran across a DigiTech RP90 for $70 and the DigiTech DG15 came free with the pedal.

I'm looking to stylize myself in a Buck Dharma, Tony Iommi direction. Am I going to regret the single pick up, bare bones guitar? Just look at it as a guitar to learn on and either have a luthier add another pick up down the road or start squirreling some cash aside for down the road? This seems like a pretty solid axe, nice feel, only needs a touch of tuning each day which I feel it has more to do with the new D'addario EXL120 strings since the strings it came with were a much heavier gauge (no idea what those were). The new strings are a bit easier on the fingers.

Wish I would have done more research before spending the money, but when I saw a LP for a hundred bucks, how could I say no to that? The pedal is fantastic, having 50 presets and room to add 50 more. Seems to me I would have spent a ton more on other pedals that would do much less for me overall. I've seen tons of integrated pick guards that add a second and third pick ups that screw on for Fenders, but never for a LP. Is there a reason for this? Thanks for any feedback.

electric-fire Says
April 12th, 2013 at 5.25 AM

A decent deal to get the DigiTech RP90 with the amp for just $70. Honestly, I've never heard about Buck Dharma and Tony Iommi before, but as I checked them online now, their guitar sound is mostly comes out of the bridge humbucker pickup as you have with your Epiphone. I think putting another pickup on your axe might be a costly operation over 100$.

I also have an Epiphone guitar, the string gauge was 0.10 - 0.46 initially, after some time I also switched to D'addario EXL120 (0.09 - 0.42 gauge), but it didn't affect the tuning stability, I think your problem is that you didn't stretch the new strings during installation and they're stretching while you're playing, especially when performing bending techniques, making your guitar go out of tune a bit. You can use the tips in the following article to improve your tuning stability:

how-to-improve-guitar-tuning-stability-when-using-a-whammy-bar.html

The pick guards you've seen on Fenders have a decorative purpose as well as they hold some electronics like the pickups, the knobs and the switch. On Les Pauls the pick guard has a protective purpose and does not relate to electronics.

With a Fender like guitar one could get a "loaded pick guard" with pre-installed electronics, BUT in order to install it, there must be a sufficient space for the new arrangements of pickups, for example if a guitar body was designed for narrow single coil pickups, chances are that the space under the pick guard will be too narrow for a chunky humbucker pickup and some wood cutting will be necessary.

The similar thing goes with your Les Paul, you need space in the guitar body to put a pickup under the strings as well as make wirings, a pick guard won't help you on this, you'd need to cut some wood off.

Joycelyn Says
April 12th, 2013 at 8.10 AM

Thank you so very much for your reply. I really thought the deals I got out of shear dumb luck were great, and the more I look into it, I am sure they were. I can always play near the fretboard and know that the budget humbucker on this will give me the deeper sounds I'm looking for without modifying the guitar. I've been playing with that lately, as I learn my chords and fingering.

I'll be checking the link you've provided now. I always thought the whammy bar was the coolest thing ever, but I now know that I can get the same effect, for the most part, from working the strings. I started looking into adding one and said to myself, I'm no luthier, quit dreaming and wake up, lol.

Hell, I just broke my new computer thinking I can do it all. Again, thank you. People like me need people like you in our lives. I'll be passing your web site on to others that I find along the way who have an interest in learning.

PK Says
January 14th, 2014 at 8.10 PM

Greetings, do you recommend buying Yamaha Guitars RGX Series or Pacifica series?

electric-fire Says
January 15th, 2014 at 1.12 PM

Hi,
the RGX series is more leaning towards metal music, it has the double locking tremolo that will stay in tune after some intensive whammy bar use and powerful humbucker pickups for more edgy sound. While the Pacifica is more universal instrument that is also well suitable for Jazz, Blues music and so on...

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