A beginner looking for their first best electric guitars has to sort through a huge amount of information in order to make a good decision. There is a lot to know about best electric guitars under 200, and someone who hasn’t yet played their first chord can’t be expected to figure it all out in the beginning.
I’ve assembled a list of some of the best electric guitars under 200 for beginners to help you out. All of these instruments are made by guitar manufacturers you can trust, and they are designs that have proven themselves over the years.
Best of all, they are very affordable, so you won’t end up spending too much on your first electric guitar. That’s important because you’re going to need an amp and accessories. Around three hundred dollars is a good ballpark figure for a quality starter electric guitar and amp setup. The guitar should be about two-thirds of that cost.
On the other hand, you can spend a lot less. You may be tempted to choose a no-name brand from a big-box store, but you should think twice. Not only is a better guitar easier to learn on, and will provide greater inspiration for a newbie guitarist, but it will have higher resale value if they suddenly decide they’d rather be a tuba player.
- 1 1. Epiphone Les Paul Special II Best Electric Guitar Under 200
- 2 2. Squier by Fender BulletStratocaster Best Electric Guitar Under 200
- 3 3. Yamaha Pacifica PAC01 Best Electric Guitar Under 200
- 4 4. Jackson JS22 Dinky Best Electric Guitar Under 200
- 5 5. Ibanez GRX70QA Best Electric Guitar Under 200
- 6 6. Squier Bullet Telecaster Best Electric Guitar Under 200
- 7 7. Epiphone SG Special Best Electric Guitar Under 200
- 8 8. ESP-LTD EC-10 Best Electric Guitar Under 200
- 9 9. Sterling SUB Silo3 Best Electric Guitar Under 200
- 10 FAQs
- 10.1 Should I learn on an electric guitar or acoustic?
- 10.2 Best Electric Guitar Under 200
- 10.3 What strings do I need?
- 10.4 Electric Guitar Strings
- 10.5 Acoustic Guitar Strings
- 10.6 Do I need other equipment to get started?
- 10.7 How is a guitar tuned?
- 10.8 What’s the difference between barre chords and open chords?
- 10.9 Are my fingers supposed to hurt?
- 10.10 How do I get the most out of my practice time?
- 10.11 What’s the most common beginner’s pitfall?
1. Epiphone Les Paul Special II Best Electric Guitar Under 200
First on my list of the best electric guitar under 200 for beginners is the Epiphone Les Paul Special II.
There are two reasons the Les Paul Special II made the first spot on my list.
The first is sound. I think it sounds really impressive for a guitar in this price range. It’s a best electric guitar under 200 that can range from hard-driving rock to jazz, metal, blues, and country. I think that’s important for new players who are still trying to figure out what types of music they are interested in playing.
The second reason is Epiphone quality. Epiphone is a brand that makes some excellent instruments for beginners and intermediate players, but even advanced musicians appreciate their gear. I’ve always had positive experiences with their guitars – including several Les Pauls I’ve owned – and I don’t hesitate to recommend them.
Epiphone is a company owned by Gibson and therefore allowed to make recreations of famous Gibson designs. In this case, we are talking about the Les Paul, which you might recognize in the hands of famous guitar players like Billy Gibbons, Slash and Zakk Wylde.
Of course, the Epiphone Les Paul Special II isn’t nearly like the Gibson Les Pauls used by famous musicians. It’s an affordable Les Paul for beginners, but it does have some of the same attributes of a real Gibson Les Paul, such as a rosewood fingerboard, a pair of hot humbuckers, a Tune-o-Matic bridge with a stopbar tailpiece and a three-way pickup selector switch.
Gibson guitars utilize mahogany for the body and neck, where Epiphone keeps us under budget by using Okoume, another warm, resonant tonewood. (Note: In previous years the Special II did have a mahogany body.)
The Les Paul sound is classic rock ‘n’ roll, captured here in a budget package newbies can afford. It is a simple but flexible guitar that allows a newbie to experiment with many different styles of music and find their way.
2. Squier by Fender BulletStratocaster Best Electric Guitar Under 200
Squier is a brand owned by Fender, and Squier is to Fender as Epiphone is to Gibson. That means Squier is allowed to build budget versions of classic Fender best electric guitar under 200, in this case, the Stratocaster. You can rest assured that, even though the Squier brand name is on the headstock, everything has to live up to Fender’s high standards.
The Fender Stratocaster is a guitar that players like Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton helped to make famous. It has helped to form the landscape of music for decades. The Squier version is an affordable Stratocaster for beginners that still offers many of the things that make the Fender version so amazing.
The Strat has a different sound when compared to the Les Paul. It’s brighter, snappier and sounds a bit thinner. That’s not a bad thing at all. That distinctive Strat sound is cherished by guitar players the world over.
The Squier Bullet Strat has three single-coil pickups controlled by a 5-way switch, a vintage-style synchronized tremolo, a poplar body with a maple neck and rosewood fingerboard. Generally, this is the same design as its Fender namesake, but of course, made more affordable.
I feel the three-pickup design of the Strat is best suited to rock, blues, and country music. Serious wannabe hard rock and metal players will prefer the version of the Bullet Strat with a humbucker in the bridge position rather than the three-single-coil version.
Whether you choose the Les Paul Special or Bullet Stratocaster, it is tough to do better for under $200.
3. Yamaha Pacifica PAC01 Best Electric Guitar Under 200
The Yamaha Pacifica best electric guitar under 200 is an outstanding choice for a beginner because of its quality and flexibility. Yamaha is a guitar company that excels at providing great gear for newbies, and I always recommend them. Both through their Pacifica best electric guitar under 200 models and their FG-Series acoustic guitars are outstanding.
I like this guitar for newbies because of the options it provides. With a humbucker and a pair of single-coil pickups, the Pacifica is capable of a wide array of different sounds, from metal to rock to country and blues. Beginners can learn what they like and don’t like about different guitar tones by experimenting with the different pickup combinations.
The Pacifica PAC112J has an agathis body with a bolt-on maple neck and a rosewood fingerboard. This is a classic tonewood profile and, though beginners may not understand why it will yield good sounds. The vintage-style tremolo further allows new guitarists to experiment and discover the capabilities of the electric guitar.
4. Jackson JS22 Dinky Best Electric Guitar Under 200
Jackson is a guitar company known for metal, and their JS Series brings some of their legendary designs down to a price that newbies can afford. In fact, for beginners who know they want to play metal, the whole Jackson JS lineup is worth checking out.
The JS Series of best electric guitar under 200 is comprised of affordable versions of Jackson’s most epic designs, and while many are a bit over the $200 limit they are still great bargains for beginners.
I highly recommend the JS-Series Jackson Dinky, a guitar model that does land within your $200 budget. It has a pretty arched-top basswood body, 24 frets with those cool classic Jackson sharkfin inlays, a pair of hot humbuckers and synchronized tremolo.
I have to say that after thirty years as a guitarist I don’t handle a lot of inexpensive instruments that outright surprise me, but this best electric guitar under 200 did. The one I got my hands on played and sounded like a more expensive guitar. I compare to my Schecter Omen, a guitar I think very highly of but costs a bit more.
5. Ibanez GRX70QA Best Electric Guitar Under 200
Ibanez best electric guitar under 200 is a guitar company known for instruments with thin necks, and for beginners that can make them a little easier to play. Players with small hands, in particular, may appreciate a neck that isn’t so fat and allows for easier fretting of chords and notes.
The GRX70QA is based on Ibanez’s classic RG line, a series of guitars loved by metal and hard rock players for the past three decades. For that reason, this is an excellent choice for beginners who are interested in heavy music and shredding.
This best electric guitar under 200 guitar may be affordable, but it has what it takes under the hood. It features a poplar body with a bolt-on maple neck and a rosewood fingerboard. The pickups are a pair of hot Ibanez Infinity R humbuckers with an Infinity RS single coil between, all controlled via a five-way switch and one each volume and tone control.
6. Squier Bullet Telecaster Best Electric Guitar Under 200
The Telecaster is another Fender classic made affordable through the Squier brand name. This best electric guitar under 200 is a guitar loved by country and rock players alike and associated with the familiar country twang.
The Telecaster is a bit different from the Strat, not only in body style but also in that it has one fewer pickup, and is capable of a different array of sounds. Of course, many veteran players love the sound of a Fender Telecaster, but beginners ought to be sure what they are getting into. This is not a guitar that is likely to please metalheads or hard rock fans, but for country and blues newbies it may be right up their alley.
Strat or Telecaster? The choice is yours! The Stratocaster has more available sounds and is slightly more suited to rock music.
7. Epiphone SG Special Best Electric Guitar Under 200
Another great option from Epiphone is the SG Special. This is the beginner’s version of the Gibson SG, another classic Gibson design that has helped to shape rock music over the decades. Think Angus Young from AC/DC or Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath! It too has some of the same basic components as a real SG, for a super reasonable price.
The SG Special best electric guitar under 200 is quite similar to the LP Special, aside from the body shape. It has an okoume body and neck, rosewood fingerboard, a pair of humbuckers and a three-way pickup selector switch. Both guitars feature tune-o-matic bridges with stop-bar tailpieces, which means they’ll stay in tune well and not require a lot of adjustment.
Les Paul Special or SG Special? Really, it’s a personal preference, and a new guitar player should simply choose whichever design they like the best. Either is a great choice for a beginning guitar player, especially one interested in rock music.
8. ESP-LTD EC-10 Best Electric Guitar Under 200
The EC-10 best electric guitar under 200 features a pretty single-cutaway body with a pair of humbucking pickups. It is an offshoot of the ESP-LTD EC lineup, which includes some amazing guitars. This is the littlest EC of the bunch and a good option for beginners.
Personally, I like the ESP-LTD EC series a whole lot. I think it is one of the top alternatives to a Gibson Les Paul design, and while it is similar it has its own special vibe.
It’s got a basswood body and a maple beck, so it will sound slightly brighter than the LP Special above.
It’s a tough choice between this guitar and the Epiphone LP Special II if you are looking for a Les Paul-style single-cutaway design. I think the Epi has a slight edge, but you both are great beginner’s guitars. Choose the one you find most inspiring!
9. Sterling SUB Silo3 Best Electric Guitar Under 200
Next on this top 10 list of best electric guitars under 200 for beginners is the Sterling by Music Man SUB Silo3. This is another unique and versatile guitar, one with a double-cutaway design, a single humbucker, and two single-coils
This is an impressive guitar for this price range, and you ought to be able to grab one for under $200 if you look around a bit. Sterling is the budget version of Music Man, one of the finest guitar brands out there.
Like the Yamaha Pacifica, this guitar presents a bunch of different sounds for a beginner to experiment with. And, like the Yamaha, it gets high marks for its construction, sound, and value.
It’s also a guitar with a unique look, with its body shape and 4×2 headstock design. If you are going to be a guitar player you’ll have to learn how to march to the beat of your own drummer soon enough. May as well start being unique from the beginning!
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 Electric Guitar Under 200
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 electric guitar under 200, 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 electric guitar under 200 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 electric guitar under 200 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.
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