Sometimes buying a guitar is the hardest part of getting started. If you’re serious about learning to play, you need something that’ll withstand a couple of frustrated drops to the floor. At the same time, you don’t want to splurge on a Les Paul if money is tight.
So how much does a beginner electric guitar cost?
A decent electric guitar for those starting out costs between $150 and $400. However, there is a significant difference in quality between these price points. Whether you should spend closer to one end or another depends on your commitment.
That’s why we’ve written this guide. Starting to play an electric guitar requires many considerations that only you can answer. Read on to learn exactly what you need — and what you don’t — in your first electric guitar.
The Difference in Quality between Electric Guitar Prices
Again, $150 to $400 is what we recommend spending on your first electric guitar (unless you’re loaded). This allows you to test the waters before making a sizeable financial commitment.
Bear in mind, though, that there is a large quality variance between 100 and 400 dollars when it comes to new guitars. Many times, going from a $100 to a $400 guitar is a massive upgrade, whereas jumping from a $400 to an $800 model is much more subtle.
Here is a non-official, totally anecdotal chart showing this phenomenon:
As you can see, spending more money offers incremental returns past the $500 threshold. However, going cheaper than $150 (for a new model at retail price) isn’t the best idea, either. While it isn’t impossible to find decent guitars in this price range, many corners are cut.
Remember, the cheapest option now is not the cheapest option long-term. Getting a subpar instrument will drive you to upgrade much sooner.
Thus, spending $150 or more is a better option if you can afford it. Brands like Squier (owned by Fender), Epiphone (owned by Gibson), and Ibanez dominate this price category. All three make amazingly capable guitars known to last years.
Best Electric Guitars for Beginners
First, ask yourself: how much are you willing to spend? While we believe that $150 is a good baseline, paying a couple hundred more opens a realm of new options that’ll keep up as you advance. If you expect to be playing your electric guitar a year from now, the extra investment is worth it.
But if you aren’t yet sure if an electric guitar is right for you, there’s no need to pay more than $200.
Best Electric Guitars for Uncertain Newbies
Below are reasonably-priced, fun-to-play instruments that’ll teach you all you need to know about the electric guitar.
Are they inexpensive? Yes. Do they sound like cheap garbage? Absolutely not.
- 100% Designed by Fender
- Single-coil Stratocaster neck and middle pickups, humbucking bridge pickup
- Thin and lightweight body
- 6-saddle hardtail bridge
- Satin finish neck
At first glance, this looks nearly identical to Fender’s American Stratocaster. However, there are a few key differences:
- Fender manufacturers American Stratocaster in the United States. The Squier is made in Indonesia.
- The American Stratocaster has one more fret.
- American Stratocasters use more high-end pickups and better wood.
- The Squier Bullet Stratocaster is over $1,000 cheaper than the American Stratocaster.
So while the Squier has some drawbacks compared to its wealthy cousin, they are offset by one significant pro — the price. Few brands beat Squier when it comes to budget guitars that punch well above their weight.
- GRX Maple Neck
- Poplar Body/ Quilted Art Grain Top
- Medium frets
- Rosewood Fingerboard
- Pearl Dot Inlay
This particular model is for right-handed people. However, Ibanez produces a left-handed model for the same price you can find here.
Ibanez guitars come in many price ranges, all of great value and quality. They also provide a fresh, modern appearance compared to the Squier — which is a reiteration of a 60-year-old design. For example, this model features sharp angles, humbucker pickups, and a combination of mahogany and rosewood for the body and neck.
It’s also one of the prettiest guitars you can find on Amazon. Sunburst blue is truly mesmerizing. You may spend more time admiring the way it looks than you do playing it. Be sure to pick it up if you want to, you know, use it as intended.
And again, don’t forget your amp.
- Epiphone’s Les Paul Player Pack has everything you need to start playing guitar right away
- It includes a genuine Les Paul Special-II LTD guitar featuring two classic hum bucker pickups and a 10-watt Electra guitar amp with a 10ft guitar cable
- Epiphone also includes a clip-on headstock chromatic tuner, a guitar strap, medium picks, and an easy-to-carry gig bag
- And best of all for new players, the Les Paul Player Pack comes with free downloadable guitar lessons from media
While this is pricier than the other guitars we’ve mentioned, this is a package deal. For $269, you’ll get an Epiphone electric guitar (with which it is hard to go wrong) plus:
- A clip-on electronic tuner
- A carrying case
- A guitar strap
- Some picks
- A 10-watt amp
- A 10-foot guitar cable.
Thus, you’re getting a lot more than just the guitar. You’re getting everything you need to start jamming. Furthermore, the “extras” are actually quite good — not cheap and gimmicky like with many other bundles.
But maybe you’d prefer to buy this stuff separately (like if you’ve been eyeballing a certain amp). If so, you can purchase just the guitar for $199.99.
Best Electric Guitars for Ambitious Beginners
If you’re serious about playing electric guitar, your skills will advance more quickly than you realize. You need a guitar that can keep up with you.
The instruments below can go toe-to-toe with pro-level models that cost over $1,000. These choices are beginner-friendly with the ability to enter intermediate (or advanced) territory without skipping a literal beat.
- GRGA Maple neck
- 24 frets
- High output Infinity R pickups
Similar to the cheaper Ibanez GRX, this Ibanez GRGA offers a striking tone that imitates far more expensive models. It has 24 frets – just like the pricey American Strat. Furthermore, it has “Infinity R” humbucker pickups that crank out high-fidelity, resonant riffs that’ll make a Les Paul fear unemployment.
Also, this is a light instrument. According to Amazon, the item weighs in at under nine pounds. So if you plan on running around your room (or stage), you won’t be encumbered.
- Solidbody Electric Guitar with Basswood Body
- 2 Humbucking Pickups – Satin Black
- String-through Hardtail
- Amaranth Fingerboard
- Maple Neck
This guitar screams “heavy metal” even before you strum your first power chord. It’s satin black (of course) and its design is sharp enough to possibly impale somebody.
The Jackson JS Rhoads JS32T has neck and bridge humbucker pickups. Therefore, you don’t have to stress over unwanted feedback .
Yes, it’s a little bit more than the $300 ceiling we talked about, but a flying V guitar at this price point is notable. Jackson offers many variations of this kind of guitar in the $300 to $400 range if you’d like to see more options. Overkill for a beginner? Perhaps. But it’s glorious overkill.
- 100% designed by Fender
- Offset semi-hollow body
- Dual Squier humbucking pickups
- Satin neck finish
- Chrome-plated hardware
Whereas the last two options are sharp and fierce, the Affinity Starcaster (which is a great name) is jazzy and warm. It comes in a variety of unique colors, including “candy apple red”.
Two humbucking pickups mean less of the annoying buzz for which single-coil pickups are notorious. Furthermore, it makes this guitar suitable for all styles.
Ultimately, this is a perfect choice if you’re seeking a middle ground between an electric and acoustic guitar. With a semi-hollow body, you don’t need an amp to hear it. But if you’re playing in a noisy venue, this thing is ready to deliver.
Best Electric Guitar Amp for Beginners
Apart from the Starcaster and the Epiphone bundle, you’ll need an amp to hear these guitars. A low-quality amp can ruin the sound of an excellent guitar, so this is vital.
Amps come in all shapes and sizes. There is a major variation in price and wattage, too. How do you know what you need?
As a beginner, chances are you’ll start playing at home. As you improve, you may work up to gradually larger spaces. But for now, you don’t need much wattage. For example, a ten-watt amp is more than sufficient to fill a medium room.
So, unless you need a buttload of power right away, there’s no need to spend over $100 on a good amp. Here are some great choices:
- Fender Frontman 10G ($79.99)
- RockJam 20-Watt Electric Guitar Amplifier ($42.81)
- OBB Dual-Powered Bluetooth Guitar Amp ($54.99)
Alternatively, you can opt for an audio interface if you want to get into music production. An audio interface allows you to plug into your PC and record without latency (or sound delay). Virtual amp software allows you to imitate a variety of real amps.
The sweet spot for a beginner electric guitar is between $150 and $300. Spending less increases the chances of disappointing sound quality. Spending more is more expensive (duh).
There are hundreds of guitars available. Which model is best for you depends on your level of dedication, budget, and other preferences. If you aren’t sure if the electric guitar is your ideal instrument, there’s no need to spend a ton.
Despite their low prices, all the guitars we’ve included in this article sound great, are reliable, and offer an exhilarating playing experience.
If that’s not enough convincing, check out the reviews.