Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just learning the guitar, it can be overwhelming to look for a new instrument. All of the brands, materials, and models can be tough to choose from. So We’re going to take a look at the 28 best electric guitars out there. These instruments will be great for any player, but it’s up to you to decide which one suits your needs best.
Table of Contents
- The Best Electric Guitars
- Under $1000
- Under $500
- Under $300
- Best Beginner Electric Guitar
- Metal Guitars
- 7 String Guitar
- 8 String Guitar
- What are the best electric guitar brands?
- What is a hollow body electric guitar?
- What is a semi-hollow body guitar?
- How much should you spend on an electric guitar?
- Should you buy a cheap electric guitar when starting out?
- Do you need an amp to play electric guitar?
- Conclusion: Getting the right electric guitar
The Best Electric Guitars
These are the best of the best. They’re the most expensive instruments we’ll be covering, but you can’t put a price on sound this good.
This top-of-the-line option from Ibanez was made with metal in mind. A pair of Fishman modern pickups make sure that this thing pushes out nothing but distortion-saturated tone. An ultra-thin neck guarantees lightning-fast playing, and jumbo frets ensure precision. This guitar is meant for pros. It is a perfect metal guitar but can work on a range of styles. You’ll be getting a crisp sound that rivals acts like Mastodon and Lamb of God.
Signed off by Eddie Van Halen himself, this guitar is out of this world. I can honestly say it is completely outstanding. Simplicity is the name of the game with this axe. Like Eddie’s original Frankenstrat this 5150 guitar comes loaded with a single humbucker pickup and a volume knob. That’s all the electronics under the hood here, and that’s all you need. It has a maple fretboard with 22 jumbo frets. You also get Eddie’s iconic whammy bar and a Drop D switch to make shredding like the king as easy as possible. This axe is made in Mexico however don’t get discouraged as its build quality is surprisingly high.
There’s not an electric guitar out there that’s as iconic as the Fender Stratocaster, except for maybe the Gibson Les Paul. This option is the stuff of legend, perfectly replicating the pristine tone of a 1958 Fender strat. Complete with an Alder body, a bolt-on maple neck, the Fender Tremolo, and 3 single-coil pickups, this beautiful instrument will make any guitarist weep. It has that punchy, brilliant tone that you remember from all your favorite artists, from Pink Floyd to the Who to Eric Clapton.
Paul Reed Smith got his start selling guitars out of the back of his truck in the 80s. Today, his company is one of the titans of the industry, and the S2 Custom 24 shows why. This guitar shows off a sleek double cutaway design with a mahogany body, maple top, tremolo, and 24 fret rosewood neck. You get an incredibly rich, deep tone from its mahogany solid body that you just won’t find without this level of quality. It has the signature bird inlays on its rosewood fingerboard. This PRS guitar comes with 2 x 85/15 “S” humbuckers, perfect for nearly any style of music, from metal to rock to jazz.
When you’re upgrading from your beginner guitar, or if you just want to start strong, you’ll want one of these. Each guitar here will last you for years and deliver superb sound.
You can’t talk about the best electric guitars without bringing up the Fender Stratocaster more than once. The American Performer Strat takes all of the classic design choices you know and love. It uses only the finest materials. This American Strat has an alder body and a maple neck that will get you that rich, crisp tone that you’d expect from a Strat. It’s all about construction quality with this model, and you can feel it. Players love the smooth tight action and its neck that is shaped really well compared to other guitars. You can only find this in American made electrics.
Ibanez really steps up their game when it comes to metal guitars, and that’s true with their Iron Label model. This mahogany guitar sports their classic superstrat design, and has a full mahogany body holding 2 humbuckers. This combo of heavy wood and thick pickups really drives the tone, making this guitar perfect for metal. It also has the rich and deep tone you need for most other styles.
Charvel is a classy brand, making some pretty distinct instruments over the years, and they continue that tradition with this option. The Pro-Mod DK24 HSH is an Alder instrument with 3 mixed pickups and a tremolo bar. You get 2 humbuckers and a middle single coil pickup, which is a really interesting choice. This instrument will have that punchy, smooth tone you remember from the golden age of rock.
Mid-ranged guitars like these are great for guitarists who’ve outgrown their beginner instrument and are ready to take it up a notch.
Everyone loves the iconic Les Paul guitar, with its thick and powerful tone. Epiphone’s more budget-friendly options keeps all of the quality by using smart design choices to cut down costs. You still get that rich, velvety tone that you know and love, but you don’t have to break the bank to get it. It’s perfect for jazz, rock, metal, or any other style you can think of, and is a great mid-level guitar.
ESP is one of the most well known makers of metal guitars. They’ve supplied legends like Kirk Hammet and James Hetfield, and they use some of the finest materials for their instruments. The EC-256FM has an all mahogany body and 2 humbucking pickups, and according to guitar players the pickups sound great and the quality of wood is superb. You’re going to get a fat, crunchy sound out of this thing, making it great for metal.
Yamaha is known for making guitars that sound like they cost more than they do. This electric guitar has a bright, crisp sound that is ideal for a range of genres. Alnico pickups give you a hot, bright sound, and a maple top on the body accentuate that. It also has an off-SG double cutaway design that makes accessing those upper frets easy, letting you wail on those solos.
Ibanez is back on this list with another option from the RG series. This is one of the best metal guitar lineups in the industry, with a mahogany superstrat body, 3 mixed pickups, a Floyd Rose Tremolo, and an ultra thin neck. You get 2 humbucker pickups on the bridge and neck, and a single coil pickup in the middle. This really gets you a wide range of sounds to pick from. You can bust out some crazy solos with its ultra thin neck.
Schecter guitars are known for making high quality metal guitars. Their Omen series is iconic. This metal machine will get you the pounding djent backing tracks you want. It is good for metal, jazz, blues, and more So if you’re to upgrade to a versatile guitar that sounds great with metal, this is the guitar for you.
This is the first hollow body we’ll be covering, and if you’re looking for a deep, smokey sound, this is it. This full hollow guitar has a bound-maple body and a nyatoh set neck, giving it a luxurious sound. The pair of humbuckers on this guitar really captures all of the warmth coming out of its body. If you’re a fan of rockabilly, oldies, alternative rock, or jazz, you’ll want to check this guitar out.
Each of these guitars pack a punch at a great cost. These are great if you’ve never played guitar before, or just want to explore something new.
Ibanez makes tons of great guitars in all price ranges, so you can get ahold of them even if you’re only interested to buy a starter guitar. The RG421 is a fantastic option for learning, coming equipped with 2 humbuckers and some sturdy construction. It works for any style, whether you’re a rocker or getting into jazz.
Many pros started out on a Squier Strat. This economic alternative to the iconic Fender guitar comes equipped with a tremolo and the 3 pickup design that made Fender stand out. Anyone looking to jump into the world of guitar should take a look at this fantastic option. The quality is still there, making it hard to believe that it is a cheap guitar.
Gretsch is one of the most prolific manufacturers of throwback vintage guitars. If you love the sound and style popularized by the players of the 50s, 60s, and 70s, you’ll love the Jet Club. The Basswood body is perfectly complemented by Gretsch’s own iconic humbucking pickup design. Gretsch actually helped pioneer the Humbucker pickup with their signature TV Jones Humbucker. These pickups are narrower, getting a brighter sound.
We couldn’t list the best guitars in this price range without mentioning the Les Paul at least one more time. The Special II is Epiphone’s budget-friendly alternative to their own take on the Les Paul. It takes the same ideas and materials that make it so great and repackage it as an effective, affordable version. They take out the archtop and use a rosewood fretboard, but it’s still a great choice.
Best Beginner Electric Guitar
Each of these guitars are specially catered to new players, having a design and tone that make it easy to pick up and learn.
If you love the Squier Stratocaster but want something more affordable, you can check out this option. It’s similar to the Antique Burst, but clocks in a little cheaper. This is because it’s one of the main yamaStratocaster colors, making it a fantastic choice for starters. It uses a special mix of choice woods for the body and neck, and has 3 alnico single coil pickups. You still get that iconic Fender sound, but you don’t have to pay the Fender price.
You can also jump at the actual Fender offering, if you want to start a little bigger. Just like the classic Fender Strats, this Hard-Tail option gives you that punchy, full sound. It’s perfect for nearly any style of music, letting you really explore what you want to play. It comes with 3 single coil pickups and a classic Fender Tremolo, giving you the tools you need to rock out. It’s going to be punchy and bright, making it perfect for any beginner.
The Telecaster is another timeless model from Fender. It has a lot of the same design concepts as the Strat, but only features 2 single coil pickups instead of 3. Fun fact, this was the first commercially successful solid body guitar, kicking off the industry as we know it. Today, you can get one from Squier that’s much more affordable than a mainline Fender. You’ll get that classic rock sound you know and love, especially if you run this thing through a great amp like a Fender Twin Reverb or a Vox AC15.
If you want an affordable guitar that’s a throwback to everything you love about vintage guitars, check out the Yamaha Pacifica Series. This classic model uses an Agathis body, and also has a classic tremolo bar. A pair of single coil pickups helps give you a vintage, clear sound. Players are loving this guitar, with many praising the amazing sounds and feels.
Metal guitar actually requires some special design choices. From high output pickups to ultra-thin necks, it takes true engineering to get a heavy metal instrument. These guitars are some of the best metal guitars on the market.
Jackson is one of the most recognizable names in metal guitar. They started to get big in the 90s, and are now the go-to for bands like Machinehead. This V style guitar has a poplar body, giving it a distinct, full sound. It even comes with a tremolo, as well as Jackson’s own speed neck. If you’re looking for a metal guitar on a tight budget, this would be the best choice.
If you’re ready to take on one of the most iconic instruments in all of the electric guitar industry, you want to look at the Gibson Flying V. This thing is a beast, with a specially designed neck and a pair of humbuckers to let you jam out those heavy metal tones for hours on end. Gibson is one of the biggest names in guitar, and their Flying V has the look, feel, and tone to make any metal player’s heart leap.
Schecter makes another appearance on this list as we talk about metal guitars. They make some of the best axes out there for heavy metal. The Mahogany body retains all of the deep tones, while the 2 active humbucker pickups deliver a hot, heavy, powerful sound. When you pick this thing up you’ll be busting out crazy solos and rhythmic backing tracks in no time.
This guitar from ESP is another fantastic choice from the metal king. The instrument features tons of powerful design choices, from the mahogany body with a maple top to the Evertune bridge. It’s specially designed to stay in tune no matter how aggressively you play. The neck is perfectly carved to make shredding easier than ever. The most impressive part, however, is the pickups. Most metal guitars use active pickups. But this instrument uses jazz passive pickups, which is incredibly useful. Players praise the versatility of these pickups.
7 String Guitar
When you need the extra low note, check out this affordable, heavy metal option.
This 7 string electric guitar from Jackson is probably the most affordable one out there. It clocks in at a fantastic price, and gives you a heavy metal tone that’s great for both lead and backup guitar playing. The Basswood body gets you a driving, deep tone, and the 2 humbuckers let you get that ultra-saturated distortion. With the 7th string, you can add a layer of depth to any song and you sink to the low B, A, or even G.
8 String Guitar
For even more versatility, check out this 8 string guitar.
This guitar is dedicated to Animals as Leaders’ guitarist, Javier Reyes, known for using an 8 string. You can choose to add 2 lower strings, or set it up to have 1 lower and 1 higher string. Either way, you’ll have a huge spectrum of tones to play with that completely opens up your playing style. The basswood body is complemented by a maple neck, getting you some really deep tones. ESP is known for making fantastic metal guitars, and they continue that tradition with this instrument.
What are the best electric guitar brands?
As you’ve noticed, there are tons of different guitar brands out there. Nearly everyone’s heard of Gibson and Fender, but some people play guitars for years before they run into a Gretsch or an EVH. Each brand has their own distinct approach to making guitars. ESP and Jackson exclusively make metal guitars, while PRS is dedicated to making some of the finest modern instruments out there.
The key is to play each guitar. Each brand appeals to someone, there are a few names that rise to the top. The biggest names are Fender, Gibson, Ibanez, and PRS. Ibanez makes the best metal guitars out there, but may not be as useful for other styles. Fender’s cleans are unrivaled, getting you that crystal clear tone that defined electric guitar in the early days. There is no way to really say which brand is best. Each maker has the pros and cons, and it’s up to you to play and find out what you like.
What is a hollow body electric guitar?
Hollow body electric guitars are actually the oldest type of electric guitars. They were originally just acoustic guitars with a pickup, but eventually grew into their modern form. They’re usually about 2 inches deep, and have all the electronics inside. They have a deeper, warmer tone from their resonating cavity, making them ideal for classic styles. The biggest drawback to them was the fact that they get more feedback than solid body guitars.
Some of the most iconic hollow bodies come from Gibson and Gretsch. The latter makes it’s popular Streamliner models. These hollow body guitars are especially popular with blues, jazz, country, and other styles that need a little twang. The Ibanez Artcore AF55 is a great modern take on the classic hollow body sound.
What is a semi-hollow body guitar?
Starting in the 1950s, amp technology started letting guitarists play louder and louder. This lead to a ton of feedback from traditional hollow body guitars. Gibson found the solution to this problem by placing a bar of wood through the body. This was the original Gibson ES 335, and would eventually revolutionize the blues and jazz as we know it. Now, guitarists could crank the volume up and jam out as much as they wanted, leading to the rock-blues hybrid we know today.
You still get feedback at the highest volumes, but these guitars are some of the best on the market. They still have the deep, rich, warm sound you’d expect from a hollow body, but are able to work better with distortion and higher amplitudes. The ES 335 is so iconic that it’s been on hits in every decade since its release. From BB King to Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, semi hollows have really made an impact.
How much should you spend on an electric guitar?
If you’ve never bought a guitar before, you may be overwhelmed by the options. Or if you’ve outgrown your beginner guitar, you may not know how much to spend on your next electric guitar. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can determine how much you should throw down.
This is the golden age of low-cost guitars, so if this is your first axe, you really don’t have to spend much. $150-$300 will get you a great guitar that will last you for years while you learn the basics.
If you’re looking to upgrade from your beginner guitar, then you have to keep a few things in mind. Are you planning to record? Are you already getting a few paid gigs? Is this just a hobby? If you don’t plan on making money with your instrument, you’re safe getting a guitar that’s under $1000. That’ll get you a fantastic guitar that sounds and feels great, and will last you for decades.
If you’re a performer, though, think of this as an investment. When you’re pulling in a few gigs that get you some cash, you may want to ignore price tags and buy whatever guitar fits you and your style. Don’t rush the process, but be prepared to fall in love with an axe and make the purchase.
Should you buy a cheap electric guitar when starting out?
As we mentioned before, we’re in the golden age of cheap guitars. A few decades ago, affordable instruments were low quality and hard to play. Innovations in pickups, wood, and construction have created great guitars that can cost as little as $200. So if you’re just starting out and you just want to see if you like electric guitar, you should definitely go with something cheap.
If money isn’t an issue, though, there’s nothing to stop you from landing a more expensive guitar. If you absolutely love the sound of a Stratocaster and you have the cash for it, by all means go for it. But don’t feel like you have to start big. Getting a Jackson Dinky or a Fender Squier Strat will do just fine.
Do you need an amp to play electric guitar?
Amps are always part of the discussion when it comes to electric guitars. They’re half of the equation for the sound you hear, and can make or break your tone. But you don’t actually have to have a guitar amp to play. You can still practice scales and guitar modes, and learn the basic guitar chords without an amp. You can even plug your guitar into a computer and record yourself.
But ultimately, electric guitar was made to be amplified. It won’t make much sound without it, so you really do want to make sure you have a great amp. Just like you can get amazing low-cost guitars today, digital technology has made it easier than ever to get cheap amps. You don’t have to jump straight for the Marshall Stack or a Vox AC30. Many legends got their start on a humble Line 6 Spider.
Conclusion: Getting the right electric guitar
When you’re looking at an electric guitar, you need to keep a few things in mind. Your skill level, the sound you want, what type of music you want to play, and cost will all change your decision. Each guitar brand has a distinct personality. You can find yourself overwhelmed with all of the options available. Take the time to experiment and play around and find a guitar you really resonate with.
This instrument is one of the most powerful creative tools ever made. Millions have picked up the guitar for fun, and many even make a career out of it. When you find the right one, there’s nothing quite like it. What’s most important is that it’s an instrument you resonate with, so choose carefully.