Which electric guitars are easiest to play?
Squier Strat, Ibanez Gio, and Jackson JS32
While there are a lot of issues that make a guitar easier or harder to play (regardless of the model) the Squier Strats, Ibanez Gios, and Jackson JS32 electrics are some good options to start with, since they're beginner guitars that are easier to play, right out of the box.
Answering this question is sort of tricky, because there are a lot of things that impact a guitar's playability (how easy it is to play) that have little to do with the brand or model. It's more a question of how you set it up, the strings you use, and how distorted your signal is.
Even tuning has a significant impact on how easy a guitar is to play.
Playability factors that are specific to a guitar's brand and model include the following:
- Type of bridge hardware
- Neck shape and thickness
We should pay particularly close attention to nut width, since a narrower neck is easier to play.
We'll look at the electric guitars mentioned earlier that are inherently easier to play, along with some changes you can make to any guitar to increase playability.
Electric guitars that are easier to play
The guitars we'd recommend
In general, we'd recommend the following three if you want to get started with an easy electric guitar:
- Squier Strats: Nut width of 1.650"
- Ibanez Gio: Nut width of 1.692"
- Jackson JS32: Nut width of 1.6875"
These guitars are designed for beginners and are very affordable. They're also easy to play, right out of the box. However, if you want to make sure your electric guitar is even easier to play (whether it's one of these three or not), there are some additional steps you can take.
Steps to make an electric guitar easier to play
Here's what you should focus on if you want to make your electric guitar easier on your fingers.
- Consider tuning your guitar lower
- Use lighter strings that are a smaller gauge (42 or lower)
- Use a little bit of distortion
- Consider having your guitar serviced and "set up"
When you get a guitar set up, the technician will set everything so that the strings are as close as possible to the fretboard, yet without unwanted buzzing or dead notes. This will involve adjusting the bridge and possibly the nut (at the top of the fretboard).
Of course, this will have to be done at a local music shop or Guitar Center, but it's usually not expensive, and it will make a significant difference in the playability of your guitar.
What gauge strings should I target?
Look for electric guitar strings where the sixth (thickest) string gauge is 42 or lower. 42 is considered fairly light, but some strings go even lighter, like the Ernie Ball Cobalt.
Price Guide and Comparison from Multiple Retailers
Prices updated Sun, February 25th, 2024.
Using these methods with other guitars
These tweaks will work on any guitar, not just the three we recommended earlier. If you already own a guitar and you like it, don't buy a new one just because it might be easier to play.
Instead, go through the steps I outlined above.
You're likely to get a guitar that's a lot easier to play, perhaps even more so if you made a new purchase.
Electric vs acoustic
Generally electric guitars are much easier on your fingers than acoustic guitars. Again, this has a lot to do with how the guitar is set up and what kind of strings you're using. But if you're looking for a guitar that's easier to play, an electric guitar is almost always going to be a better option.
That said, many beginners opt to start with acoustic guitars because they're simpler, more accessible, and don't require an amp or any kind of setup in order to play.
If your plan is to eventually play electric guitar, I'd start with it and skip acoustic altogether.
Patience and breaking a guitar in
Keep in mind that a guitar will get easier to play just by you, well...playing it.
The more you play a specific guitar, the more comfortable and familiar it becomes to your hands. You know the feel and all the nuance, even if you can't put a finger on exactly what that is.
This is another reason I'd recommend sticking with a single guitar for the long haul, or at least having a go-to.
Be patient and get used to your electric guitar. It will absolutely get easier to play over time.
Go through the steps I've recommended with your own guitar before you consider buying a new one. If you're a beginner, get the easier strings, have your guitar looked at by a tech, and go from there.
If you have questions, feel free to reach out via the comments section below. I'll jump in and help out as I'm able.
Stay tuned for more helpful resources.