Advice & Inspiration

What’s the Best Beginner Electric Guitar?

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Andrea asks:

“What’s the best electric guitar you’d recommend for a beginner?”

Hi Andrea:

Since you specified that you want an electric guitar, I can jump right in and talk about just electric guitars, rather than first answering the whole acoustic vs. electric question.

I don’t think a total beginner should spend a lot of money on their first electric guitar–regardless of how much free cash you have available to burn. Since electric guitars come with some extra requirements, like an amplifier and guitar cable, I’m going to recommend some solid “starter packs” for you. These include everything you need to get started. Honestly, some of the included accessories aren’t the best quality (like the included gig bags), but these all-inclusive packs are still still a very good value for a total beginner.

For those out there with a slightly higher budget, I’ve written a separate article: Really Great Beginner Electric Guitars. That’s my hand-picked list of really great-quality electric guitars, but all are under $300.

My Recommended Beginner Electric Guitars

Epiphone Les Paul Special II Guitar Player Pack

Epiphone makes some damn-solid guitars. Though this is the entry-point of their product line, the Les Paul Special II is still a fairly well-made, solid guitar–perfect for a beginner interested in rock, hard-rock, metal, etc. If you don’t like black, other colors are available on Amazon.com.

What I Like:

  • Dual humbucking pickups: The two-humbucker configuration is my personal favorite due to the overall versatility. They’re great for rock and metal, but you can have them rewired for added tonal options.
  • Fixed bridge: If you’re not interested in doing dramatic whammy bar acrobatics, then a fixed bridge is perfect for beginners. A little less hassle and fewer moving parts than a tremolo.
  • The pack comes with everything you need to get started playing guitar right away including the items & accessories that beginners often overlook or can’t afford separately. If you don’t like the black finish, other colors are available.

Potential Downsides:

  • As is true of all “starter packs” the gig bag is cheaply made and provides almost no protection from bumps and falls. The strap is probably pretty low quality too, but neither of these are terribly important accessories.

 

Fender Squier Affinity Strat Pack Bundle

Ahh, the Stratocaster–one of the most versatile and iconic guitars of all time. Strats have been used by guitar heroes throughout history for everything from country to rock to heavy metal. I personally know a couple people who’ve bought this pack and love it. Along with an entry-level Stratocaster, you get a genuine Fender amp that includes overdrive right out of the box.

Squier by Fender "Stop Dreaming, Start Playing" Set

What I like:

  • The tremolo: This “tremolo” bridge allows you to create some dramatic, expressive tremolo or dive-bomb effects, beyond what you can accomplish through other means.
  • The amp: The 10 watt Fender Frontman amp is a great little practice amp, which includes a “gain” control (gain = overdrive). This will allow you get a basic blues, rock, or metal guitar tone right out of the box.
  • Instructional DVD: I’ll be honest, I’ve not seen the DVD personally, but a co-worker (who bought this pack) said the DVD was pretty helpful in getting started.

Potential Downsides:

  • The tremolo: I cited it as something I liked, but not everyone uses or needs a tremolo, and for those people it’s better to just buy a fixed-bridge guitar, like the Epiphone I listed up above.
  • Single coil pickups: Single coils have what’s known as “that single-coil hum.” It’s nothing terrible, and really only noticeable if you’re using overdrive at high volume. You shouldn’t let it stop you from buying this guitar, just be aware of it.
  • Included gig bag provides only minimal protection.

Final Thoughts

I generally recommend these “starter packs” to beginners who have a low total budget, or who may simply be curious and aren’t 100% sure they’ll stick with it. However, if you have a slightly higher budget and want a really solid guitar, check out my newer article: Really Great Beginner Electric Guitars. As the title suggests, I’ve hand-picked a bunch of really solid, high quality, entry-level guitars that are all $300 or less.

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