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Best Beginner Electric Guitars

Updated on October 7, 2015
Some beginner guitars are much higher quality than others. Good intonation, staying in tune, and great sound are essential requirements.
Some beginner guitars are much higher quality than others. Good intonation, staying in tune, and great sound are essential requirements.

Buying Your First Electric Guitar

Most people think that beginners have to start playing acoustic guitar first. So they assume they have to find the best acoustic guitar for beginners and buy it. People have the belief that they have to "earn" the right to play electric after they have spent years strumming an acoustic guitar.

This is not the case. If you want to play electric guitar, then buy an electric guitar. There's no need to "work your way" to playing electric. The mechanics of getting started playing on an electric are easier than acoustic. The string gauge is usually 10 or lighter on an electric making it easier to push the strings to the fret board and do guitar bends and hammer on and off of notes.

It is important to keep in mind that even if you get the best electric guitar you can, the amp you choose to use with it will determine most of the quality of tone you get from the guitar. It is important that if you are getting the best beginner guitar you can, you should also get the best beginner amp you can.

Important Features

Finding the best beginner electric guitar is much like finding the best acoustic guitar, only there is a temptation to fall for more tacky designs. Some designs on a guitar are useful, while others are totally impractical. As a player of electric guitars, I have found that many of the designs that were created in the golden era of rock have stood the test of time.

If you want great sound, stay a minimalist as long as you can. The less pedals and switches and knobs it takes to give you great tone the better. Then you have less that can go wrong when you are playing live. And remember, your amp is just as or more important than your guitar.

Finding a great beginner electric guitar for less than $300 is the challenge. You can spend less, but like with most things, there is a quality threshold that costs at least $150 to $200. The more you save on the guitar the better, because then you can put the money into a good guitar amp.

Make this guitar look even better by switching out the plastic parts to black and taking off the pickguard.
Make this guitar look even better by switching out the plastic parts to black and taking off the pickguard.

Epiphone Les Paul 100

The Epiphone Les Paul 100 is the best beginner guitar that I have owned. They cost $50 dollars more about a decade ago, which is amazing considering inflation hasn't raised the price. It has design features that the Gibson Les Pauls which cost thousands have.

What I like the most about the LP 100 was the range of useful tones I could get out of it. The bridge pickup could easily get me any tone between classic rock and metal shredding depending on the amp settings.

The neck pickup was awesome of low heavy jazz tone and blues solos, as well as rhythm strumming. Then you can get anything between by using the switch and two sets of volume and tone knobs. This is what makes this one of the best beginner guitars. It was for me.

As a side note, if you want this to look like an awesome guitar as well as sound great, you can change the plastic parts to black and the knobs to black or chrome. Since there is no cream colored binding, you can change the color of the plastic parts. It makes it look really awesome.

Les Paul 100 Demonstration

Single Coil Pickup Tone

Looks like Stevie Ray Vaughn's guitar.  It's the closest you'll get to it in the price range.
Looks like Stevie Ray Vaughn's guitar. It's the closest you'll get to it in the price range.

Squier Standard Strat

The Stratocaster is the cousin to the Les Paul. They aren't really close enough to be siblings, but both make a great beginner guitar. The stratocaster body style is comfortable to play and the bridge doesn't sit as high, but there is are great differences.

The pickups in the stratocaster are single coil. What that means is there is one row of six magnets that have been coiled by wire to "pick up" the electromagnetic energy of the guitar strings. Since these are single coil, you get a more tight, bouncy tone. This tone is trademark tone in the hand of great players like Eric Clapton, John Mayer, Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Guy, and many more. I listed blues players because that's who came to mind. You can, however, tear it up playing country solos with a strat.

Once again, I will warn you to buy a good amp, stratocasters sound the best to me when they are set on the neck pickup and played with a little overdrive dirty grit sound. You also need a little reverb, so don't skimp out on the amp and get one that doesn't have reverb.

I got rid of a strat copy because I wanted reverb sound and blamed my guitar. It's the sort of thing that beginner guitar players do. With a good amp this can be the best beginner guitar. I still have a Squier strat and still like it.

Squier Classic Vibe: Best Electric Guitar Under $400.00

The Classic Vibe doesn't feel like a Squier, it feels like a Fender. It's neck is nice and thick and the large frets make you feel like you are holding a much more expensive and well set up guitar. It is much like the feel of a Fender Deluxe Players Strat with a little different tone. The modern neck and medium jumbo frets help it play smooth with ease. For those who aren't familiar, Fender is the parent company of Squier and make elite American made guitars for guys like Eric Clapton.

The Classic Vibe can get some great classic blues tones, but it doesn't sound thin like you would expect from the "classic" era recordings. The tone is articulated well and sounds like a Stratocaster should. It's the best blend of modern technology and production with a little classic flavor. I would have loved to have something this nice when I started playing and I am still not above using a Squier's best model, but unfortunately they weren't around then. The price is a little higher for the Classic Vibe than for the Standard Strat, but my matured Strat tastes love what I hear and feel when I tried the Vibe.

F-Holes are Cool

You get the elegant look of "F" holes with this guitar.
You get the elegant look of "F" holes with this guitar.

Epiphone Dot

If you are looking to play Jazz eventually, and you aren't ready to shell out a couple thousand, the Epiphone Dot 335 might be the best beginner guitar for you.

The Dot has two humbucking pickups to give you anything from jazz to classic rock and blues just like the Les Paul, only the body is larger and semihollow. What that means is more sustain and more vibration. It looks great too, and may feel better to you if you prefer a larger body style hanging on your neck.

The guitar pickups are built into a block of wood inside the hollow part of the guitar. Buy the dot as your beginner guitar if you want something a little different than everybody else, and the size fits you.

Epi Dot Studio Demo

Fernandes Retrorocket

The Fernandes Retrorocket X will be the best beginner guitar for you if you want great sustain and like the strat body style and pickup sound. Fernandes prides itself on the sustain of it's guitars and have made some technological designs that increase sustain on their guitars.

I have owned a Fernandes Retrorocket and I liked the sustain of the guitar, but the tone wasn't what I was looking for. The pickups were not bright enough for my taste, so I get rid of it. It may be perfect for you though.

Fernandes RetroRocket with a lot of Reverb

Buy a Good Amp and Get Your Guitar Set Up

No matter what guitar you go with, make sure to spend almost the same amount on a great beginner guitar amp. The amp is what projects the sound from the guitar, and you will be disappointed with a cheap amp. You can make any guitar sound bad through a bad amp and you can make almost any guitar sound good through a great amp.

You may want to get your guitar set up by someone who knows how to. The truss rod and action may need adjusted, and then you may want to set your intonation so that the guitar sounds in tune all the way up the neck. These are things that you usually get with experience that can make your guitar more enjoyable to play. Keep playing and enjoy learning on your beginner guitar..


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