In this article we're rounding up our best beginner electric guitar recommendations.
These guitars are budget-friendly, giving you the opportunity to invest a smaller amount of money, but still get a decent guitar and playing experience in return. When buying an electric guitar as a beginner, it's important to make sure you're spending lower, but also to make sure you're not getting something too cheap or low quality.
Some cheaper electric guitars are built more like toys than actual guitars, which is something we want to avoid.
Just because you buy cheap doesn't mean you want a poor experience with the instrument.
Luckily for beginner guitar players, there are brands that specialize in these types of guitars that are cheaper, but still give you a reliable experience with the instrument. Many of them are actually built to mirror much nicer and more expensive guitars.
Those are what we'll target in this list.
Read more: Best electric guitars overall
Best Electric Guitars for Beginners (top 5 picks)
PRS SE Standard 24 and 245
Squier Classic Vibe '50s Tele
Epiphone Les Paul Standard
1. PRS SE Standard 245
The PRS SE Standard 24 and 245 are some of our favorite electric guitars for beginners, primarily because the quality of the PRS brand is so consistent and reliable.
Even at these lower price points, the SE series - which is made to be cheaper than the mainline PRS models - houses some of the nicest and best-value guitars on the market, leaving plenty of room for lower budgets while still giving you an incredible first-time experience with the electric guitar.
Note that the body carving and parts are not as pristine as what you get with the main PRS guitars, but the Standard 24 and 245 are still excellent for just about any beginner.
IDEAL FOR: Heavy rock, rhythm, and more percussive playing styles
- Dual humbucker setup
- Iconic bird inlays
- Dual tone and volume control
- Looks and feels like the real-deal PRS
- Percussive and thick tone response
- Stock humbuckers and parts
- No body carving
2. Squier Classic Vibe '50s Telecaster
For fans of clean tones, country, and bluesier styles, the Classic Vibe Tele series from Squier brings us some of the best beginner electric guitars on the market. It's made to mirror the popular Fender Player Telecaster, but with fewer bells and whistles and a much cheaper price tag.
For getting a guitar that looks and feels like a popular, high-value electric guitar, the Classic Vibe series is one of your best bets.
IDEAL FOR: Country, blues, and clean tones
- Modeled after the Fender Player Telecaster
- Great with clean tones and bluesy styles
- Love the aesthetics (yellow finish is awesome)
- Vintage Telecaster bridge hardware
- Higher in our price range than we'd like
- Cheap pickups
3. Epiphone Les Paul Standard
For those more into classic rock tones, we like the Epiphone Les Paul Standard which is made to mirror the Gibson Les Paul Standard, yet at a fraction of the price. Looking at the two side by side, they're hard to tell apart, which means you're getting the feel and experience of a much nicer guitar.
We like the dual humbucker setup for heavier playing styles, perhaps if you want to pair it with a distortion pedal or heavier amplifier.
Generally speaking, the Epiphone Les Pauls are very versatile and accommodating of a wide range of styles.
For beginners, we'd have a hard time recommending a better option.
IDEAL FOR: Classic rock fans, heavier playing styles, and general versatility.
- Dual humbucker pickups
- Looks and feels like the Gibson version
- Multiple versions to choose from
- Versatile tone profile
- Slightly high priced tag
4. Squier Jazzmaster
The Jazzmaster fits into the same style vein as the '50s Telecaster, being strong on clean tones and open chords. Made to mirror the Fender Jazzmaster, the Squier version uses cheaper tonewood, parts, and pickups. However, this isn't going to matter to most beginners.
While not as nice as the full Fender version, this Jazzmaster comes close enough that you aren't going to miss out on anything as a beginner. Most won't notice the difference in pickups and parts in the early stages of learning the instrument.
The Fender Jazzmaster, along with the Fender Mustang, was one of the guitars Kurt Cobain played with Nirvana back in the day.
IDEAL FOR: Clean tones, open chords, and beginner practice
- Multiple versions with different pricing options
- Kurt Cobain vibes
- Great clean tones
- All the trimmings of the full-tilt Fender Jazzmaster
- Cheap pickups and parts
5. Jackson Dinky JS22 and JS32
For metal fans and heavy rock enthusiasts, the Jackson Dinky is one of our favorite beginner electric guitar recommendations for its menacing style and floating tremolo system. While there are several versions of the Dinky, this one runs around $200 to $350, making it one of the cheapest beginner electric guitars on our list.
We'd specifically recommend the JS22 and JS32 at $200 and $350 respectively.
Not only are these great beginner electric guitars, but they're good candidates for pickup upgrades and modifications later if you decide to keep it.
Read more: Jackson Dinky pickup upgrade
IDEAL FOR: Heavy metal, rock, pickup upgrades, and faster playing
- Locking tremolo system is awesome
- Great for metal and speed
- All the menacing looks of a full Jackson electric guitar
- Multiple versions with variable price tags
- Great upgrade or pickup swap candidate
- Again, cheaper components
- Cheaper tonewood
Features to watch for
In beginner electric guitars we're primarily concerned with getting you something that looks and feels like a full, read-deal electric guitar. While we don't mind it being cheap, we want to avoid the toy syndrome that some lower cost electric guitars run into, where they look and play more like a toy than an actual guitar.
Thus, features to watch for should revolve around the goal of giving you a genuine experience with the guitar.
We'd target the following:
- Make sure there's either a three-part single coil pickup system or dual humbucker system
- Make sure you have at least a three-way pickup selector
- Look for a bridge with a tremolo system or stoptail bridge
- Look for cheaper guitars that are modeled after nicer, more expensive electric guitar lines
- Make sure the price doesn't go too high
That's why we love recommending guitars in the PRS SE and Squier lines. They're cheap and affordable, but they look and play like much more expensive electric guitars.
Look for the pickup configurations we mentioned (two or three single coil pickups or two humbuckers).
What is a good price for a beginner electric guitar?
What exactly is a good beginner electric guitar price?
What's the scope we're aiming for?
In my experience, we try to target a lower price range in the $300 to $500 range. $200 is the floor and we don't recommend going cheaper than that, just because you run into guitars that are lower quality and more like toys than real instruments.
$700 is kind of our ceiling, because going above $700 means you're outpacing the typical roster of beginner electric guitars.
On average, you should plan to spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $450.
Is it okay to learn electric guitar first?
A lot of people have the misconception that you need to (or should) learn to play guitar on an acoustic guitar first.
We do not agree with this.
While an acoustic guitar can be simpler to set up (no amps or cables required) it's actually physically harder to play than an electric guitar. So if you can procure an electric guitar and get everything set up, we'd argue it's actually going to be easier to learn on.
So not only is it "okay" but it's actually preferable, if you can get the guitar amp and cables sorted out.
Questions and Comments
If you can get an electric guitar with a good reputation, that's modeled after a guitar with an even better reputation and higher quality threshold, then you can buy cheap and still have a great experience as a beginner. That's what this list is meant to help you do.
- Spend low
- Have a great experience with the instrument
For those just getting started on the guitar, that's all you really need to worry about. As you progress and improve, you can start looking at nicer guitars that up the quality standard and build on what these beginner electric guitars helped you start.
For questions about our best beginner electric guitars list, feel free to drop us a line in the comments section below.
We'll jump in and help out as much as possible.
See you there.