So you’re looking for the best electric guitar in the world right now? Then that can only mean one thing: you’ve decided to learn how to play guitar, and we couldn’t be more stoked to welcome you! Learning the guitar is one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do, and we should know, as between all of us here are Guitar World we’ve been playing guitar for a very, very long time.
That also makes us perfectly-placed to help you find the best beginner electric guitar. Our guide is curated by experts who live and breathe guitars, so it will help you quickly narrow down the best electric guitar for how you want to play, and for the type of music you’ll enjoy learning. We’ve been through our fair share of beginner’s electric guitars over the decades, so we know exactly which ones to show you so that you don’t waste a dime or your time.
If we sound mega excited it’s because right now there’s just so much on offer in the way of top best beginner electric guitars. The quality and variety is truly impressive, thanks to how manufacturing methods have improved greatly to raise the bar significantly on quality control in the entry level guitar market.
Put simply, it’s hard to find a six-string in our best beginner electric guitars round-up that doesn’t tick all of these boxes. Let’s take a closer look now and get you closer, quicker, to your dream first electric guitar.
- 1 1. Squier Classic Vibe ‘50s Stratocaster Best Beginner Electric Guitar
- 2 2. Epiphone Les Paul Traditional Pro III Best Beginner Electric Guitar
- 3 3. Gretsch G2420 Streamliner Best Beginner Electric Guitar
- 4 4. Epiphone G-400 Pro SG Best Beginner Electric Guitar
- 5 5. Squier Bullet Mustang Best Beginner Electric Guitar
- 6 FAQs
- 6.1 Should I learn on an electric guitar or acoustic?
- 6.2 What strings do I need?
- 6.3 Acoustic Guitar Strings
- 6.4 Do I need other equipment to get started?
- 6.5 How is a guitar tuned?
- 6.6 What’s the difference between barre chords and open chords?
- 6.7 Are my fingers supposed to hurt?
- 6.8 How do I get the most out of my practice time?
- 6.9 What’s the most common beginner’s pitfall?
1. Squier Classic Vibe ‘50s Stratocaster Best Beginner Electric Guitar
While there are slightly cheaper models in their catalogue, the Squier Classic Vibe ‘50s Stratocaster takes our vote as the best beginner electric guitar. It’s well-made, so able to withstand your formative playing years, and is cost-effective too. Both important ingredients when choosing your first electric.
If the Strat itself doesn’t appeal to you, the beginner-friendly range extends to include Telecasters, Jaguars and Jazzmasters, so there is bound to be a guitar that suits you at this early stage in your guitar playing journey.
First introduced in 1993, the Yamaha Pacifica 112V has earned its place at the table of quality best beginner electric guitar. While it doesn’t bring .with it quite the same mojo as a Fender or a Gibson, the Pacifica range makes up for that with levels of playability and build quality that far exceed expectations from its smaller price tag.
A juicy-sounding humbucker at the bridge ensures overdriven sounds are well within reach, while the two single coils pickups provide a superb breadth of tones. While there are undoubtedly ‘cheap’ guitars you’ll outgrow in no time, the Pacifica has enough interest to remain a staple in your roster for years to come.
2. Epiphone Les Paul Traditional Pro III Best Beginner Electric Guitar
Chances are, if you’ve heard any recorded music from the past 60 years you’ve heard the sounds of a Gibson Les Paul. Played by some of music’s biggest and best names, these best beginner electric guitars are synonymous with rock and heavy music. So what better place for a beginner to begin than with their own slice of musical history?
The Epiphone Les Paul Traditional Pro III is the Gibson offshoot brand’s best beginner electric guitar , and it packs all that knowledge and understanding into a near-perfect package here. Two humbuckers deliver a great palette of tones, while the mahogany body ensures sustain that goes for hours.
3. Gretsch G2420 Streamliner Best Beginner Electric Guitar
If country, folk and jazz are more your style, the Gretsch G2420 Streamliner could be the best beginner electric guitar. Coming from a brand with a rich heritage, this hollow-body electric delivers a much different playing experience to the other guitars featured in this list.
For a start, the tones it produces are much more vibrant and expressive on account of its semi-acoustic nature. Where other guitars require an amp to mould and shape a tone, this guitar simply requires its inherent tonality to be made louder, such is the richness on offer. Don’t be put off by its size either – the G2420 has curves in all the right places and playing it is no more difficult than any other guitar.
4. Epiphone G-400 Pro SG Best Beginner Electric Guitar
As the Gibson stable’s ‘other’ big marque, the SG found itself a niche in players who wanted to retain a bit of individuality over the plethora of Les Paul players. As a result, the SG found its hands into some of rock’s biggest names, including Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi and AC/DC’s Angus Young, who favored its raw, edgy tones and striking visual appeal.
The Epiphone G400 Pro continues this vibe by delivering good on the promise of rugged, rock-ready tones and exemplary construction. A nice touch comes within the pickups themselves, which are coil-tappable, meaning you pull the volume control up and it becomes a single-coil pickup. This makes for an extremely versatile, and incredibly attractive, best beginner electric guitar .
5. Squier Bullet Mustang Best Beginner Electric Guitar
As many (but not all) beginner guitarists are young, it makes sense for us to include a guitar that suits those among us with smaller hands. Enter the Squier Bullet Mustang. While it’s not a ‘mini guitar’, it does have a slightly reduced scale size, making it ideal for younger players to get to grips with techniques that will serve them as they develop.
That said, having played one ourselves, we can confidently say that this guitar is no mere toy. In fact, we loved its rough-and-ready playability and happily recommend it as one of the overall best beginner electric guitars . For a shade under $200, you can’t go far wrong.
Should I learn on an electric guitar or acoustic?
It all depends on your personal preference and the type of music you want to play. Electric and acoustic guitars both have unique advantages.
Best Beginner Electric Guitar have thinner strings and therefore are a great choice for beginners because they require less hand strength. Players with small hands might also prefer an electric for its slimmer neck, which warrants an easier grip and shorter reach.
Learning on an acoustic guitar, conversely, can often be a less costly investment because it doesn’t require additional equipment. It can also ease a future transition into electric guitar because a player’s hands will already be acclimated to heavy acoustic strings.
If you are set on an best beginner electric guitar , Fender offers affordable guitar amplifiers at a variety of price points. Most are not only portable, but also easy to operate, making dialing in settings quite simple for newbies.
What strings do I need?
You’ll want to begin with a lighter string gauge. Lighter, thinner strings produce less tension, and for that reason are generally easier for beginners to work with. We recommend using a set of strings with a gauge of .009 inches to .042 inches, or .010 inches to .046 inches (known informally as “nines” or “10s”) for electric players. If you’re learning on an acoustic, look for a gauge of .011 inches to .052 inches (known as 11s) .
Different string materials also have unique benefits, including the tone they produce. Here’s a quick guide to buying guitar strings:
Electric Guitar Strings
Nickel strings: Clear and articulate; a versatile choice for rock, blues and jazz players
Stainless steel strings: Bright and less prone to wear; good for hard rock and metal
Acoustic Guitar Strings
80/20 Bronze: Bright and more metallic
Phosphor bronze: Dark, warm and mellow; a great choice for strummers.
Do I need other equipment to get started?
Yes. The right equipment can make all the difference in improving your technique and your tone. As you mature as a player, you can surround yourself with other tone-shaping accessories such as effects pedals, slides, etc.
But for now, here are the absolute essentials:
Nothing is as vibrant–or confusing–as the sheer volume of pick shapes, sizes, thicknesses and materials offered at a music store. As you become more familiar with your best beginner electric guitar you may find yourself trying out a number of picks to better accommodate your playing style. But generally speaking, plastic picks are a popular choice for their flexibility and grip. We recommend sticking to a standard size and shape, like the Fender Celluloid Pick, as a good starting point. Not to mention, the classic celluloid pick is an industry standard among many players.
As far as thickness goes, opt for a pick of medium thickness (between .73 mm–.88 mm), as it will guarantee you a solid grip without being too overwhelming to hold.
A strap is essential for stabilizing your instrument, especially if you intend to play standing up. Again, the variety of products you’ll encounter here is vast, and whatever material or design you choose is left to your discretion. However, as a beginner, comfort should be your ultimate priority. Choosing a strap that’s at least 2 inches in width, with additional padding (usually called neoprene), will help to prevent shoulder and neck pain.
Keep in mind that while electric guitars typically have two endpins on which you can attach your strap, acoustic guitars normally do not. You’ll need to purchase a strap button to secure the strap to your headstock. You can also use a shoelace or piece of string of equal density.
A cable can break your tone as quickly as it can make it, so opt for an instrument cable that’s shorter than 18.6 feet and features reinforced ends for minimal handling noise and signal loss.
You’ll be able to tune your best beginner electric guitar far more quickly and accurately with an electronic tuner or pitch pipe. Try a chromatic tuner, which allows you to tune in any key. Clip-on tuners, which attach to the headstock of your instrument and tune through the vibration of your strings, are a great choice for beginners because they’re portable, visible and very easy to use. And the Fender Tune app is a great tool, too, offering several tunings right on your mobile device.
How is a guitar tuned?
A guitar can be tuned a number of ways depending on the style of music being played, but for beginners, we’ll focus on basic standard tuning. If you are using a tuner with an LED display, make sure the needle is properly centered. Adjust your tuning machines accordingly if your sound falls flat or sharp.
When speaking in guitar terms, each string is numbered accordingly. The first string is the lightest string on the instrument — the one closest to the floor — whereas your sixth string is the heaviest. Beginning at the sixth string and progressing upward, the key for each string is as follows: E-A-D-G-B-E.
What’s the difference between barre chords and open chords?
You’ll start hearing both of these terms a lot as you develop your practice. Barre chords are produced by using your index finger to “fret” all six strings at once as you strum. Different chords are formed by forming different patterns with your other three fingers as you hold down the other six strings. Because a barre chord can be played in any key, you can also change keys quickly by simply moving your hand up and down the neck. New players may find it difficult to play barre chords initially because they require more hand strength and stretching.
Open chords, as the name suggests, do not require each string to be fretted, therefore leaving them “open” when strummed. As you progress as a player or develop your songwriting skills, you may opt for one over the other due to its sound. But by supplementing your play with both types of chords — especially in settings with multiple guitars — you’ll generate more full, complex and multidimensional tone.
Are my fingers supposed to hurt?
Yes, but don’t be discouraged. As a beginner, you’ll eventually improve your muscle strength in your playing arm and form calluses on your fretting hand. And yes, that dull pain and discomfort does come with the territory. Those aches are short-lived, especially if you continue to practice regularly, which is key to alleviating pain.
There are some ways to push through the pain like a pro. Again, lighter strings can help, as will lowering your string action (the distance between the fingerboard and the strings. A quick fix by a professional will shorten the amount of pressure you’ll need to exert as you press down.
How do I get the most out of my practice time?
The more you put into practicing your instrument, the more you’ll get out of it. Regular guitar practice is critical to improving your ability, even for those who are “naturals.” What’s more important, however, is proper practice. Keeping your technique in check will prevent you from forming bad habits that may sometimes take years to break.
Good posture, proper hand positioning and preventative stretching should always be considered. While it is normal to experience discomfort during your first few months of play, be mindful of tension and unnatural bending in your fingers and wrists.
Remember to take breaks. Great guitar playing doesn’t necessarily come from hours upon hours of excruciating practice. Quality is just as important as quantity. A refreshing breather every 20 minutes will keep your mind clear and enthusiasm piqued.
What’s the most common beginner’s pitfall?
Many beginners assume that technique and ability will come to them overnight. It’s this misnomer that leads to frustration and, sometimes, giving up your instrument altogether. Learning music is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a gradual learning experience that requires patience, time and true comprehension of concepts.
Racing through scales and scrutinizing every note is not what makes this craft enjoyable. Let your passion lead you. Learn at your own pace. Keep your abashed curiosity alive throughout the process. And above all else … just have fun.
Looking for more guitar knowledge? Check out our ultimate guide to your best beginner electric guitar if you’re ready to learn guitar, sign up for a free trial to Fender Play.