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Cheap Electric Guitars for Beginner

Updated on February 10, 2011

Comparing the Washburn BT-2 to the Squier Strat by Fender

If you are a beginner or intermediate guitar player looking for an economical first electric guitar, you can find some great deals out there. There are all sorts of guitars that actually play pretty well and can be had for less than three hundred dollars. You don’t have to fork out a thousand dollars for a Fender Stratocaster, Gibson Les Paul or many other high end guitars out there. When you are first starting out the Washburn BT-2 Maverick series and the Squier Strat by Fender could be a good choice. Let’s compare.

The Washburn BT-2 is a three quarter size electric that is designed for the beginner, especially smaller learners with short arms and small hands. The guitar play amazingly well for the price, the one in the photos is one I purchased a couple of years ago for my teenage son for less than a $125 dollars. I have found that the Washburn BT-2 stays in tune really well and with just some minor adjustments, intonation down the neck is as good as many other expensive guitars that I have played. There are some minor issues with the guitar, but for the beginner nothing that can’t be overcome.

The specs for the Washburn BT-2:

BODY MATERIAL: Solid Mahogany double cut away
Neck Material: Bolt on Maple

Fingerboard: Rosewood
Hardware: Chrome Tuning Machines

Grover Frets: 22

Pickups: WB 200 Humbucking

Three way pickup switch

Series Bridge: Tun-o-mat Stop tail

Next we look at a full scale Squire Strat by Fender. The Squire Strat is another economical electric guitar for beginners that can be had for around $150 dollars or cheaper if you look around. This is not a Fender Stratocaster by any stretch of the imagination, but for a tenth of the price, you can’t expect it to be. The one in the picture is one that I purchase for my son as he grew taller and size was no longer an issue. This is an older version of the guitar; the newer ones have some upgrades to the pickups and tuning keys, but basically the same body, neck and fret board. The Squire Strat, I found, required a little more set up work than the Washburn to play well. You can take the guitar to a set up pro and have it done for around 40 dollars, as long as you don’t do any upgrades. Once the intonation and bridge was set on this one it plays great. Now, don’t get me wrong, the guitar played well right from the store, but not to my standards. My son really loved this guitar and it sounds great even when played on his small Fender practice amplifier. The guitar has a versatile sound range and can be used for all types of music; country, rock and other styles. The neck has good action and bends or pull offs don’t knock it out of tune as with many other cheap guitars.

The specs for the Squier Strat by Fender: affinity series

Body: contoured alder

Neck: bolt-on maple

Fingerboard: rosewood with late '60s headstock

Frets: 21

Pickups: three single coil pickups

Five way pickup switch

Rear Bridge: Synchronized tremolo

So if you’re looking for your first electric guitar or buying one for a beginner, these two guitars are well worth what you pay. These guitars play well and are very durable. I recommend the Washburn BT-2 Maverick series for younger players where the down sized three quarters scale makes for an easy reach. Also, the Washburn Maverick makes for a great travel guitar because of its smaller size.

For taller beginners or intermediate players that want to play a full size guitar, the Squier Strat by Fender is a great choice. With many upgrades available, the Squier Strat can be made to play and sound as good as many guitars with a much higher price tag and can last a lifetime.

Washburn BT-2 Maverick

Squier Strat by Fender affinity series


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I have a Washburn Maverick BT2 and it is NOT a 3/4 scale guitar, it's a 24.5" scale guitar, same as the Gibson Les Paul guitar, and I wouldn't trade it for twenty Squier guitars. It plays great and sounds great, much better than any Squier I've heard.

    • Mrs. J. B. profile image

      Mrs. J. B. 

      7 years ago from Southern California

      Oh I bet. Escaping from the world we live in today is mandatory. When I want to forget the world, relax or unwind I either layout by my pool reading ( my family knows to LEAVE ME ALONE ) or if I need to just get out of the house believe it or not I go to the graveyard. It is quiet, no one bothers you, hardly any traffic, you can sit for hours looking at the mountains, wondering about the Chumash tribe that is buried there what it was like in their days etc. That is my true get away sanctuary

    • R.Cochran profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Dahlonega, GA

      Thank you TPSicotte this is just a small sample of the many guitars out there. This is just a couple of the ones I have laying around my studio.

      And, Mrs J.B. taking up any instrument is a great way to escape the pressures of the world for a while. While you are playing, everything else seems to disappear.

    • TPSicotte profile image


      7 years ago from The Great White North

      johnson makes some good strat knockoffs for a good price. I got one with some really nice pickups cheap on ebay.

    • Mrs. J. B. profile image

      Mrs. J. B. 

      7 years ago from Southern California

      Once I learn how to type on the computer perhaps I will try to learn the guitar!!!!! Great resource of information


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