An aesthetically-pleasing guitar with EMG pickups for a powerhouse sound. Features neck-thru-body construction for excellent sustain. Body is fashioned from lightweight alder, and the neck is maple. Sports striking skull-and-bones inlays on fretboard.
Very rare complaints about fret quality. Not as versatile as some other instruments.
Extremely affordable Fender with good specs. Many feel it's a great beginner electric guitar and that it can withstand a fair amount of playing. Humbucking bridge pickup provides more output than the standard pickup. Poplar body, maple neck, and rosewood fretboard.
Some incidents of crooked neck and other minor factory flaws. Some people's instruments arrived scratched.
Excellent playability for the price. Consists of a poplar body, maple neck, and amaranth fretboard. Features high-output humbucking pickups and 2-point, synchronized fulcrum tremolo system. Great modern tones.
Tuner quality is somewhat lacking, but that is common at this price point.
This is an iconic brand in metal music. The thin neck is designed for shredding. Its all-black color scheme is an appealing aesthetic. Made with poplar/alder body, maple neck, and rosewood fingerboard.
Some users reported inconsistent intonation, so professional setup is recommended.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
In the wise words of Radiohead, anyone can play guitar — so if you've ever had the urge to shred on stage, or simply learn some of your favorite songs, it's never too late to pick up an axe and channel your inner rockstar.
However, choosing an electric guitar can be a challenge, especially if you're a brand new player, or you're selecting one as a gift. An electric guitar can be an expensive purchase, so you don't want to make the wrong choice and end up with a sub-par instrument.
Electric guitars can be classified according to their price range, as it usually follows that you get what you pay for in the world of musical instruments.
Budget electric guitars are best for beginners. Popular manufacturers to look for include Epiphone, Squier, Yamaha, and Vintage.
Pros: Affordable, good for learning on if you're not sure you'll take to playing guitar.
Cons: Lower quality construction and hardware, not as durable as high-end models.
Price: $100 to $400
Mid-range electric guitars are good for competent guitarists who want to move on from their beginner models.
Popular manufacturers to look for include Schecter, Cort, Ibanez, and Danelectro. You may also find some basic Fenders and Gibsons in this price range.
Pros: You can find some excellent models in this price range, good for both intermediate and advanced players. They can provide an excellent sound when paired with the right amp and effects.
Cons: They may not feel as nice to play as high-end models, and some guitars in this price range aren't worth the money.
Price: $400 to $800
High end electric guitars are good for performing and recording musicians, as well as collectors.
Popular manufacturers include Gretsch, Gibson, Fender, and PRS.
Pros: Constructed from highest quality materials, featuring top-notch pickups and hardware, with excellent feel and playability.
Cons: Out of many people's price range.
Price: $800 to $10,000 or more — but you can find some top-quality guitars under $2,000.
You've probably noticed electric guitars come in a range of shapes or styles. While the style may make a small amount of difference to the sound of the guitar, it's insignificant enough that we encourage choosing a style of guitar depending on what you like the look of.
Here are some of the most popular styles of electric guitar.
Perhaps one of the most classic and easily-recognizable styles of guitars out there, the Stratocaster (or "Strat") has a deep double cutaway, creating a horn-like effect.
Take a look at a few metal bands, and we're sure you'll see a few SGs in the mix. These guitars have a double cutaway with distinctive pointed "horns".
The iconic flying v has a distinctive, V-shaped body that made it popular in the thrash metal scene.
The Telecaster is fairly similar in shape to the Strat, but has a single, rather than double, cutaway.
The Les Paul is another classic style, often favored by heavy rock musicians, such as Slash. It has a single cutaway, but with a much curvier, more rounded appearance than the Telecaster.
The majority of electric guitars are solid body models, meaning the body is made from one solid chunk of wood. You can, however, find hollow body electric guitars that look and sound more similar to acoustic guitars.
Hollow body electric guitars often produce a richer tone with extra sustain, but may not be suitable for playing heavier music, since they can produce feedback when played at high volumes.
The term "tonewood" refers to certain varieties of wood that have tonal properties which improve the sound a guitar makes. Popular tonewoods for guitars include maple, mahogany, rosewood, walnut, swamp ash, basswood, alder, and ebony.
Depending on the type of wood, it may give you a warm or a bright tone, or something in between the two. Many guitars are made from a variety of woods, with different kinds used for the body, neck, and fretboard.
While the material a guitar is made from will make a slight difference to the tone, you'll find a huge range of factors at play. So, unless you're a self-confessed audiophile, don't fret over the type of wood used. As long as it's quality wood, you should get an excellent tone.
Pickups "pick up" the string's vibrations and turn them into an electronic signal. They're among the most important parts of an electric guitar, and they help dictate the kind of sound it produces. Most guitars have either single coil pickups, double coil pickups (more commonly known as humbuckers), or one of each.
Single coil pickups give a brighter sound that can cut through mix, so are often favored by guitarists who like clean solos, or who prefer a high, treble-rich sound. That said, with enough overdrive they can sound gritty enough for punk or grunge.
Humbuckers are made from two single coil pickups wired out of phase with one another. They have a fuller sound and are usually used for heavier music.
Although less common, you can also find guitars with active pickups — such as EMGs — which incorporate a preamp for higher output and better sound control.
When first starting out, a lot of people choose an electric guitar similar to the one their musical hero plays or played — it may help achieve a similar sound to that of your favorite band.
The most expensive guitars are often made in the U.S., but you can also buy imports from other countries. Japan, Mexico, China, and Korea are the most common, and often turn out quality instruments.
Most electric guitars have 22 frets, but some boast 24, which will allow you to play the full octave over the 12th fret. This is perfect if you like to play in a higher register, but unnecessary for the majority of guitarists.
An electric guitar can be a big purchase, so it's worth getting insurance to cover theft or accidental damage. Some retailers offer this at the point of sale.
Scale length is the length of the string on a guitar, from nut to bridge. A longer scale length feels tighter to play and gives a brighter tone. A shorter scale length offers a warmer sound.
If you're getting an electric guitar for a child, consider a 1/2 size or 3/4 size guitar, which will be more manageable for small hands.
A. If you're a beginner or you're looking on behalf of a beginner, you'll probably want to start with a fairly basic guitar, just in case you don't like playing. You can also find sets or starter packs that come complete with a small practice amp, a lead, a strap, and other useful items for new guitarists. These usually work out cheaper than choosing the items separately, but not significantly cheaper, so don't worry if you have your heart set on a guitar that doesn't come as a starter pack.
A. Electric guitars either have bolt-on, set neck, or neck-through neck construction. Bolt on necks are simply bolted onto the body, set necks are set into the body and glued, and neck-through construction is where the neck extends all the way through the body. The latter is generally considered the best and most durable, but won't be found on cheaper guitars.
A. Most electric guitars have several control knobs on the body. The amount of knobs and what they do can vary, so it's worth experimenting, but we'll go over the most common configuration. The majority of electric guitars have three control knobs and one switch. One control knob is for volume and the other two are for tone, with one controlling the neck pickup, and the other controlling the bridge pickup. The switch is to change between using the neck or bridge pickup.