I think everyone agrees that there is hardly anything cooler than an electric guitar.
But picking out the perfect one for yourself, a beginner, can be quite a daunting task.
With so many different models, unknown terms and features, it’s easy to get lost and demotivated.
Surely there is an easy way out, right?
Here’s the deal:
I’ve decided to write this article as a straightforward and easy guide into the world of electric guitars.
With just a couple of basic, yet crucial tips, you will soon gain the necessary knowledge when it comes buying your first guitar!
You might be wondering:
Which tonewood should I choose?
What’s the best electric guitar brand?
Well, wonder no more. I’ve got it all covered.
So sit back, relax, and let’s dive right in!
Electric Guitar Basics – Know Your Instrument!
Instead of just bombarding you with unknown words and my pick of the best models you can buy, it’s crucial for you to get to know your instrument.
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
This way you will be able to develop your opinion and taste in instruments and different features they boast, and, of course, truly understand what you want and need when buying an electric guitar.
Before we take a closer look at the best beginner models out there, we need to go over some basic terminology.
- Body Shape
Pretty much self-explanatory.
There are a couple of classic body shapes out there, which are named after the first model that featured that exact shape. You will easily tell the difference once we get to the actual reviews.
The bridge is the part of the guitar which is responsible for holding the strings.
It’s important to note that different bridge styles offer different possibilities when it comes to playing.
Keeping things simple, we will focus on the differences between a fixed and a tremolo bridge.
A fixed bridge offers more sustain and overall presence. Because it’s fixed, and doesn’t move, this also means that you will also get better tuning stability as well.
On the other hand, a tremolo bridge can move. Having a guitar with this kind of setup is great if you like playing around with vibratos, divebombs and similar techniques.
The downside of a tremolo bridge is that you will drop out of tune if you use it too much.
This refers to the electronics responsible for relaying the vibrations of the strings into a signal which the amp can understand.
We will take a closer look at pickups in a separate section.
Tonewood – Important For Both The Sound And The Looks
If you read my article regarding the best acoustic guitars for beginners, you probably already know a thing or two about various tonewood types and how they affect the sound and build quality of guitars.
If not, don’t worry, we are going to go over the most commonly used types and their traits right now:
When it comes to weight, it’s somewhere in the middle. It gives the guitar very good and long sustain and an overall bright sound.
Weight-wise, it’s pretty similar to Maple. However, it boasts a natural, and warm sonic signature.
Amazingly lightweight yet durable, Poplar makes for a bright and clear sound.
On the lighter sound when it comes to weight, Basswood is generally described as having a warm sound, with the mids sticking out in comparison with the lows and highs.
Lightweight and featuring a natural and balanced sound, Alder is a safe bet when it comes to playing different genres and needing a wide spectrum of different sounds.
Similar to Alder, Ash boasts a very natural and balanced sounding tone. The most noticeable difference would have to be aesthetics, as Ash looks amazing alongside a transparent finish.
Sure, there are numerous other tonewood choices out there, but I’m sure that the ones we’ve covered are more than enough for an absolute beginner.
What’s the bottom line?
Honestly, 99% of beginner guitarists can’t really tell the difference when it comes to tonewood. So why even bother?
Unless you already know you are going to spend just a couple of hours with your electric guitar and give up, tonewood really does matter, especially as you get better.
Having that in mind, think about the music you’re going to play the most. Listen to reviews of different models on the internet, and try to construct a rough image of the sound you’re looking for.
It’s going to be hard in the beginning, but you will soon get a hold of the tone and features you prefer.
Pickups – The Main Types And How They Shape Your Sound
Without getting into too much detail, you should learn the difference between two main types of pickups:
- Single Coil Pickups
These offer a very bright and present tone, which easily cuts through the mix.
This means that they are great for lead guitar players, especially solos and lead riffs.
Unlike single coil pickups, humbuckers are able to suppress the unwanted background noise while you’re playing.
They are also great for playing heavier genres such as metal, because of their massive and thick sound.
Most guitars come with more than one pickup, and a switch to select individual or multiple ones at a time.
So, once again, it’s up to you:
What do you find more important?
A clear and bright tone, or a meaty one?
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s take a look at some of the best electric guitars for beginners you can get!
Top 5 Electric Guitars For Beginners
- Squier By Fender Affinity Telecaster
Fender’s Squire line manages to capture that classic quality both in terms of sound and looks, at an affordable price point.
The Affinity Telecaster boasts a solid wood body, which, coupled with a maple fretboard results in a balanced and natural tone.
Having two single coil pickups means that you can easily switch from a rich sound great for playing riffs, to a more solo focused tone in no time.
- Nice looking, and comfortable to play
- Classic Fender sound and feel
- Versatile when it comes to different genres of music
- Budget-friendly, yet great value
- Sustain could be better
- Out of the box intonation isn’t great
All things considered, the Squier Affinity Telecaster by Fender is pretty much a no-brainer. Both the build and sound quality are on point, and for the money, you can hardly get a better electric guitar.
- Epiphone Les Paul Standard
Following the same pattern as Fender, Epiphone offers their Les Paul Standard, as a great budget-friendly alternative to the well-known original and pricey Les Paul.
With a mixture of Mahogany and Maple, this guitar manages to perform quite nicely. The sound is best described as slightly warmer, with hints of that vintage tone.
Going for a double humbucker setup means that this model can be a good option for rock and metal guitarists as well, with a fatter and more present sound.
As the shape boasts a neat cutaway on the bottom, reaching those last few frets isn’t a problem, making this guitar very playable and newbie-friendly.
- Comfortable and fun to play
- Powerful and good sounding pickups
- Recognizable and sleek design
- Doesn’t hold the tuning that well
- Frets are a bit rough on the fingers when compared to other guitars
Though you can’t really expect that much from a guitar for under $500, the Epiphone Les Paul Standard offers solid performance and classic old-school looks.
- Yamaha Pacifica PAC112V
As the first electric guitar I’ve gotten my hands on, the Yamaha Pacifica PAC112V holds a special place in my heart.
Even though Yamaha maybe isn’t as highly regarded as Fender or Epiphone, the build quality and overall feel of this model is surprisingly good.
Alder being the tonewood of choice, this guitar is very sturdy while remaining relatively lightweight. Opting for a humbucker + two single coils means you can easily play both chug-demanding music, as well as classic rock or softer genres.
- Very sturdy and durable build
- Tremolo bridge for added flexibility when playing
- Simple yet effective
- The tuners could be more precise
- Tremolo bridge will lead to detuning on some occasions
The PAC112V by Yamaha is a guitar you will probably gladly pick up and play even after you’ve progressed and bought a better, more expensive model. Definitely a good long-term investment.
- Schecter C-1 SGR
Going for a bundle when buying an instrument is a tricky endeavor. However, the Schecter C-1 SGR bundle is a great way to get pretty much everything you need to start playing right away, at one place.
With a Basswood body and Rosewood fretboard, the C-1 is pretty lightweight. As you’ve learned previously when we’ve mentioned different tonewood types, this guitar features a warm sound, with a slight boost in the mids.
The 3-way pickup switch allows you to shape the sound in accordance with your needs, and the dual single-coil setup performance is slightly above average.
- Average build quality
- Nice looking finish
- Getting the bundle means you have everything you need
- For its price, it’s definitely worth it
- Intonation is off, need setting up
- Overall looks and construction could be better
As the bundle includes an amp, a gig bag, and a cable, you can’t really expect much from this guitar. However, for a beginner, it’s good enough.
- Ibanez GRX20ZBKN
No electric guitar review would be complete without mentioning at least one Ibanez model. The GRX20ZBKN is perfect for beginners, especially those who are more focused towards playing metal.
The Basswood body feels similar to the previously mentioned Schecter C-1 SGR and results in a relatively similar sound.
The two humbucker pickups offer a thick and massive tone, and when you consider the tremolo bridge setup, you can certainly go wild when playing sick solos.
The real difference between the GRX20Z and the Schecter C-1 is the level of details in build quality. Ibanez really makes sure that all of their models, even the cheaper ones, feel and perform as close as they can to their more expensive models.
- Very comfortable and playable
- Humbucker setup offers massive tone
- Tremolo bridge for added freedom while playing
- For the price, you can’t really talk about cons
- Out of the box, it needs some setting up
If you’re on a really tight budget, going for the GRX20Z by Ibanez is a great solution
Conclusion Time! Which Is The Best?
Now that we’ve covered the 5 best electric guitars for beginners, it’s time to wrap things up.
Which one should you get?
Personal preferences should be a priority at all times, but if I had to choose one model from the 5 we’ve talked about, it would definitely be the Yamaha Pacifica PACV112.
It simply offers everything a beginner guitarist could need.
It’s durable, sounds amazing, and doesn’t cost a fortune.
And probably the most important thing to note about the PACV112 is the fact that you can easily use it years after getting it. Whether it’s recording or live performances someday, it will still perform as good as it once had.
I sincerely hope that you found this overview useful and that it helped you in finding the perfect electric guitar for your needs.
Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one!