I distinctly remember the day I went to buy my first electric guitar. All I knew was that it had to be dark red in color. Soon, I realized that I should have researched first and known what I was supposed to do. Although my guitar turned out to be versatile and sturdy, I got to know that it is better to make an informed choice. So, I am writing this guide for people like you, who are looking for a best electric guitar but need to have some background and basics first.
This guide will tell you the top-rated electric guitar for beginners you can buy and the factors you should keep in mind while choosing your axe.
The first electric guitars were invented in the 1930s. Though they were not purely electric, they used amplifiers to change the tones and volume range. With more refinement and more electronics, the electric guitar became very famous.
Today, every band and almost every artist need an electric guitarist for the guitar’s range of sound. Punk, country, blues, folk, metal – every genre uses the guitar for the way it adds power and richness to the music.
In this guide, I’ll first tell you about the top 5 best electric guitars in different categories like price and skill level. Then I will explain what are the criteria which actually make up the sound and performance of your guitar. I won’t go into highly technical details so that it is easy for you to understand the features of your guitar and know what they mean.
I hope you find something useful in this guide and can make the correct choice while buying your electric guitar.
Without further ado, let’s get down right to it!
I Know You Are All Busy So… Here Is The List Of Top 5
- Fender American Special Stratocaster
- Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC112V Electric Guitar
- Epiphone Les Paul-100 Electric Guitar
- Schecter Hellraiser C-1 Electric Guitar
- Epiphone SG-Special Electric Guitar and Ibanez GRGM21 Mikro 3/4 Size
Top 5 Best Electric Guitar – Analysis and Award Winners
There are hundreds of guitar companies out there. All of them make guitars which are good and are similar in price and performance. To make your job easier, this section will talk about the best overall electric guitar, best beginner guitar, best guitar for small hands and a few more categories.
This article will give you some idea of which guitar manufacturers to look at and what models may fit your bill. Let’s begin!
Best Electric Guitar #1: Fender American Special Stratocaster – Best Overall Electric Guitar
Founded by the Californian inventor Leo Fender, this company has been known since 1946 for their solid body electric and bass guitars.
The Stratocaster first appeared in 1954, incorporating many design innovations based on feedback from professional musicians. It’s sleek triple single-coil double-cutaway design has been almost unchanged until today.
The American Strat is everything that made Fender famous. Solid alder body, all-maple neck with gloss urethane finish and 22 full jumbo frets – all are amazing features to have in your first electric guitar. Not to mention the sunburst and cherry red finish available for you to choose from.
Adding to the looks of this Strat are the chrome hardware and the white scratchplate with matching white knobs. Although the headstock could have been given the gloss look, it is a minor detail, and I certainly didn’t worry about it when I played the Fender American Strat.
Our Strat’s body is a three-piece affair, but Fender’s done a good job of matching these ‘sets’ so that the join doesn’t scream at you from several feet away. The guitar is very well made and you won’t find the joints, frets, tuners and knobs to be lacking in quality.
The bridge is Fender’s 56-year-old vibrato design, which still looks great, is practical and stable. The tremolo, aka “whammy bar”, handles well and is quite versatile.
The body is all well and good, but does the guitar sound like a flagship Fender?
Without a doubt, yes. The maple neck, Texas Special pickups, and the Fender bridge deliver a broad range of sounds when coupled with a half-decent amp. I could easily identify the raw power and warm chords of Fender when I tweaked the settings of the guitar and amp just right. The American Special Strat will be what you need it to be. A Jack-of-all-trades, I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a guitar to set him apart.
Best Electric Guitar #2: Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC112V Electric Guitar – Best Electric Guitar for Beginners
One of the best guitars for its price, there are not many flaws I can point out in this Yamaha guitar.
The guitar has 22 frets and a double cutaway solid Alder body that resembles a Strat. It also features a comfortable maple neck with a bolt-on construction and rosewood fretboard. The solid wood construction makes the guitar very sturdy.
Two single-coiled Alnico pickups and an Alnico V humbucker pickup set no limits on the possible genres that you can play. The guitar is very versatile, and for around $300, you will not get anything better.
The vintage style tremolo further enhances the electronics with block saddle. You can use a whammy bar with this electric too.
The great body and great electronics indeed lead up to a great sound. Also not as warm as the Fender Strat, it is still very very rich in its tones. The Alnico humbucker makes this guitar an excellent electric for rock and metal too. Because of the coil-split facility for the humbucker near the bridge, which you can change using the 5-way switch, you have the option of a brighter country sound or a deeper rock sound.
I have listened to this guitar on-stage, and I could tell that it does not suit its price. It sounds a lot more expensive than you would expect. A beginner will surely be more than happy with this guitar.
Best Electric Guitar #3: Epiphone Les Paul-100 Electric Guitar – Best Electric Guitar for The Money
Players who cannot afford the original Les Paul but want a similar build and sound go for the Epiphone without hesitation. And believe me, I did the same when I started out.
The main highlights of the LP-100 are its Mahogany body, solid Maple top with a single cutaway, Mahogany neck, and two Humbucker pickups. Basically, all you need for a guitar that you can practice and perform with. A very close, if not better, competitor for the Yamaha Pacifica.
The Epiphone LP-100 looks classy and feels classy too. It features a white pickguard and four golden volume and tone controls, which are similar to the original LP. The other hardware is all nickel and of good quality, including the die-cast tuners.
The tones are clear and sustained all over the fretboard. Plug the guitar into a good amp, and you have a powerhouse of sounds. The LP-100 can handle any genre, from country and blues to punk and metal.
The sound is excellent, though not especially groundbreaking. But given the wood used and the price, you will be hard-pressed to find a better guitar. Also, the body will age very well and only increase in its rich tones, so as a beginner, you will not need a replacement anytime soon.
Best Electric Guitar #4: Schecter Hellraiser C-1 Electric Guitar – Best Quality Electric Guitar
Apart from a cool name, this guitar has fresh looks and a sound that will please any metal fan. But don’t get me wrong, this hell of a guitar can handle even clean strums and blues easily.
The Schecter C-1 is featuring slim flat mahogany neck that is hosting 24 big X-jumbo frets. The mahogany body comes with a maple top and a beautiful black cherry finish and, of course, the very popular neck trough body ultra-access cutaway.
The amazing body coupled with dual EMG pickups makes it the best guitar regarding body quality easily. It won’t break, only age better than wine and keep sounding more convincing than anything you may have heard.
Metal or Thrash, the sustain of the guitar will surprise you and the EMG’s that became a must for every shredding guitar will give you that classic raw sound, which is also capable of giving resonating strums that carry every note distinctly.
Given the cost of this guitar, Gibson should be scared. The quality is amazing, and so is the sound. I can guarantee you that once you buy this and plug it into a decent amp, you will not think of any other guitar for quite a few years.
Best Electric Guitar #5: Epiphone SG-Special Electric Guitar and Ibanez GRGM21 Mikro 3/4 Size – Best Electric Guitar for Smaller Hands
When it comes to small hands, neck size, scale length, and the body size come into play. Unless the guitar fits you right, you won’t be able to play very well.
The Epiphone SG Special is a guitar that kills with its looks. The devil’s horns double-cutaway design, a thin mahogany body, a slim taper D-profile neck and the 24.75-inch scale fretboard – all these features make this guitar easy to play.
The SG Special functions a pair of hot, open-coil humbucker pickups voiced specifically for the bridge position (700T) and neck position (650R) to give you authentic rock tone with just the right amount of grit. Being an Epiphone, this guitar is certainly robust and sturdy, with a sound that does not do much justice to its price of less than $200.
Another even cheaper option worth considering is the Ibanez GRG M21. In general, Ibanez is known for crafting slim necks and smooth bodies, which is, of course, a feature ideal for small hand people, but this specific model also adds a 3/4-size body to the mix. The 22-inch scale length of the Mikro is perfect for small hands, and despite being short, it offers 24 frets. If you can set up this guitar and change the strings on it, you will see the full potential of this $150 guitar. The maple neck is smooth and gives excellent, though not very surprising, tones through the dual humbuckers.
Factors to Keep in Mind When Choosing The Best Electric Guitar
Hundreds of guitars, an extensive list of specifications and a big price tag – this is what you are greeted with usually when you go into a music shop and ask them to show you a decent guitar that is also versatile.
To do your job easy, I will explain a few of the main factors that you should check before buying your new electric guitar. All these factors will ultimately contribute to a different playing experience and a distinct sound. You should see whether the sounds you want will come from the guitar you have in your mind or not.
There are three main categories of guitar, all based on body type: solid, hollow and semi-hollow. These are both clearly defined distinctions and also have some of the biggest impacts on how the instrument will sound.
If you want a guitar that can play all genres well, a solid body is what you should go for. This is generally the most common body type, and includes some of the most iconic axes ever made, like the Gibson Les Paul and Fender Stratocaster. Solid-body guitars simply are capable of the widest range of tones
The hollow-bodied guitars are similar to acoustic guitars – empty on the inside. They are usually used for jazz, folk and country music – genres which don’t need heavy growling distortion, but a warm, mellow tone. Go for this if you play jazz or indie music exclusively.
If you want the best blues sound, with some occasional crunch, the semi-hollow bodies are a good option. They are simply hollow bodies with a thick block of wood running through the center of the guitar. This gives them the clean tones of a hollow body along with the power and sustain of a solid bodied guitar.
Along with the type of body, the type of wood is also important. A guitar cut from a single piece of alder or mahogany will be a lot sturdier and will sound better than a guitar made out of poplar. You should always ensure that the electric guitar you are paying more than $200 for has a solid wood construction made from some suitable material like mahogany, alder, rosewood, maple and ebony for the body and neck.
Pickups are the voice box of a guitar, as they are the ones who read the vibrations of guitar strings and transfer it to the amplifier. Pickup is a magnet, wrapped with a coil of wire that receives the vibration of the strings and converts it into an electrical signal. There are two types of pickups:
Single coil pickups are comprised of a single wire coil and represent the simplest form of pickup technology. Single coils produce a bright, punchy sound, with the drawback that they tend to generate some noise in the form of a hum. These pickups are suitable for almost all genres except heavy metal and thrash. Found on Fender Strats, they are preferred by artists who need clean and bright tones.
The humbucker design is basically two single-coil pickups brought together and joined to form one pickup. It creates a more raw and powerful sound that is needed for rock and metal. Especially famous on Les Paul guitars, these are the pickups used by artist like AC/DC and Green Day. If you play many genres, a combination of two single coils and one humbucker will suit you nicely.
Perhaps the most important factors for non-millionaires, the budget you have will limit your choices by a significant factor.
It is a myth that you get only what you pay for, like in the case of Epiphone SG Special and Les Paul 100. You can easily find excellent guitars with the body and pickup combo you are looking for within $500.
I would also advise you to save a little money on the body itself and invest in a first amplifier, which will give you more control over the tones of your guitar.
Although you can find good guitars for cheap, that does not mean you should be ready to spend a little more for that one feature you are dying for. If you really need dual humbuckers for your style of playing, go ahead and expand your budget a little.
Keep your budget such that you get what you really need. Extra bells and whistles are not of much use, and it is better to save money for an amp or future, more significant upgrade.
The Final Thought
Choosing the best electric guitar can be difficult, but only if do not learn a little bit about what goes into the making of a guitar and what the specifications of a guitar mean. There are many brands available, and all offer guitars that may suit a professional. But this is not to say it will be the right choice for you too.
Choosing a guitar is only a matter of knowing what type of tones you want. Then, all you need to do is find a suitable body type and a good pickup configuration within your budget. Price is not everything. A cheaper guitar chosen well is a lot better than a $2000 Gibson that does not suit your style.
I hope you learned something from this electric guitar guide. Please share your experience in choosing a guitar with us and leave your comments below. Also, if you liked this guide, share it with other budding musicians.
Enjoy your new guitar and keep playing!
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