Best Electric Guitar Guide

The Guitar Pal gives you some of the best electric guitars and a handy buying guide to help you choose the right one for your needs.

Introduction

Electric guitars are a recent invention compared to the long history of the acoustic guitar. Unlike an acoustic guitar, from which it evolved, the electric guitar has a solid body with no soundhole. Although there are hollow-body and semi-hollow electric guitars that are quite common as well. It is also electrically amplified with special devices called pickups, fitted onto the body. The pickups convert vibrations from the strings into a signal. This signal is passed into an amplifier and then out of a loudspeaker.

Electric guitars can be given different tones through dials on the guitar as well as amplifiers and special devices such as electric guitar pedals. Effects such as distortion, overdrive, and reverb are now highly common elements in most music genres, especially rock, metal, blues, and even jazz.

Many people think that electric guitars are only for expert guitarists, but this is not the case. Even relative beginners can advance with an electric guitar. However, it is important not to buy one without knowing either that you have developed enough skill on an acoustic guitar first, or that you are committed to mastering the electric guitar. Buying the best electric guitar will just be a poor investment and a waste if you don’t use it to develop your skills.

Here is a helpful guide to help you understand what you should look at when considering which electric guitar to buy, along with some of the best picks from The Guitar Pal.

Best Electric Guitar

The best electric guitar is really a personal choice that should be based on preference, purpose, budget, and several other factors. It is not a purchase you should just make on a whim. Ideally, you should try to test the guitar out yourself before buying it. You need to hear the tone, feel the guitar on you, and so on.

On this list, the top choice is the Schecter Omen-6. This is because it is a largely versatile guitar and has had a lot of research go into its construction. It also has the full 24-fret fingerboard, it’s lightweight, it comes at a good price, and it is of pro quality.

ModelFretsWoodPickupsTremolo BridgeTonal QualitiesIdeal forRatingCheck Price
Schecter Omen-624Basswood, rosewood, mapleDual humbuckersNoBassy, rich, warmRock, heavy metal10/10 Price
Fender Standard Stratocaster22Alder, maple, rosewoodThree single-coilYesBright, resonantAny, especially classic rock9/10 Price
Epiphone Les Paul 10022Rosewood, mahogany, mapleDual humbuckersNoDeep, richRock, jazz, blues9/10 Price
Fender Modern Player Telecaster22MapleCombination humbucker bridge and single-coilNoBrightAny, especially classic rock9/10 Price
Dean Vendetta XM24Paulownia, maple, rosewoodDual humbuckersYesWarm, resonant-8/10 Price

Guide to Buying Electric Guitars

Buying an electric guitar requires some thought and effort. You should not just buy the first one you see off the rack because there are several factors that can affect your experience and playing. Let’s go through the main factors that you should be considering during your selection process.

Your Budget

The best electric guitars, the kinds used by the pros, can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Unless you are an intermediate looking to make a serious investment, you might want to spend a lot less. However, if you do have the money to spend, a good, albeit expensive, guitar will never let you down.

Unlike with an acoustic guitar, electric guitars require several other accessories like an amplifier, cables, straps, picks, tuners, and even effects pedals. Electric guitar strings also tend to cost more than acoustic guitar strings. So, remember that your budget should include these. If you are a first-time buyer, there are dozens of good quality starter packs that you can buy.

Remember, you can always purchase a second-hand electric guitar if you are unsure about how far you will be pursuing your playing.

Your Purpose

You need to think about why you are buying an electric guitar before you do. What are you planning to use it for? An electric guitar is great for starting a band, even if it’s not a heavy metal band! Electric guitars afford you a lot more sound options because amps and effects pedals can give you a ton of different tones. Moreover, with various types of software and even apps, you can achieve totally different sounds, especially if your goal is to record songs. You can also buy a semi-acoustic guitar and a good effects pedal and be a one-person band like Ed Sheeran. If you are a total beginner, however, it may be best to learn on an acoustic first before deciding whether you want to move onto an electric.

Your Taste

Different electric guitars and brands are geared towards certain kinds of music like blues or heavy metal. You may even have some guitar idols whom you want to emulate with your style of playing. Now, if you want to closely emulate certain guitarists, you’d have to spend a small fortune to get the kind of guitars they play. But you can get pretty close with a decent budget choice along with a good amplifier and pedal. The important thing is that the guitar inspires you.

The Size

If you are buying the guitar for a child, then you may want to buy a scale electric guitar, usually about ¾. This kind of guitar would have low action, a narrow neck, and easy grip and reach. Of course, size is less of a limiting factor for the highly determined little guitarist, as this little girl will show you.

One thing that does matter is the scale length, however. If you want a warmer tone, you should go for a shorter scale length, which is also better for smaller hands.

Body types

No, not yours, the guitar’s. As mentioned, there solid body types are much more common, and though they are not very resonant compared to their counterparts, the wood they are made of will affect their sound. Hollow body electric guitars are similar to acoustic guitars but do not have the typical soundhole. They are more resonant than a solid body electric guitar, and produce a bigger, bassier sound. These guitars tend to also produce a bit more feedback. the semi-hollow body also is a little more resonant than a solid body, and has a solid center which reduces feedback and gives better sustain. These can be especially good for blues, jazz, and rock.

Pickups

There are three main types of pickups a guitar can have, and they can come in one, two, or three on a guitar. You can switch between them, how many of them you use, and how loud each of them are. The traditional single-coil pickup tends to have some fuzzy, humming sounds, but generally produce a very bright and treblish sound. Humbucker pickups are in essence two single-coils together, and are common to classic rock music and heavy metal. They produce a lot more power in their sound. Finally, the most recent development, active pickups have a much cleaner sound.

The Wood

Now, as mentioned, the wood a guitar is made of will affect the sound you get. Ash, for instance, adds to the resonance, sustain, and mid-range. Rosewood is rather heavy, but is excellent for a bassier sound. Maple has a very bright, treblish tone. Mahogany is highly resonant and beautiful. These are just the most common woods used to make electric guitars. The best way to understand how a guitar sounds is to play it before you buy it. Even if you are planning to buy online (which will cut down the price), try to find a store nearby where you can test it out first.

Strings

One more thing to think about is whether you want to up the number of strings. Traditionally, electric guitars have had six strings. However, heavy metal musicians and even certain other newly emerging genres have opted for seven and eight-string guitars. It is not advisable to go straight into a seven or eight-string electric if you have no experience. But if you are serious, hardworking, and disciplined (and if you have the money to spare), then there is no reason why you shouldn’t get a good seven string. After all, it can be played as a regular guitar too.

Reviews

1.      Schecter Omen-6

I’ve talked before about my love for Fender, but if there is one brand that beats everything to a pulp, in my opinion, it’s Schecter. Schecter is new to the scene compared to the other brands on this list, but the difference is only a few decades. And I’ll tell you why I say they’re the best, at least for electric guitars.

Schecter started out as a repair shop that catered to various guitar manufacturers, supplying parts to guitar plays throughout California back in the 70s. When they did finally venture into making their own fully-fledged axes, they imitated the greats. Heck, they even signed up Yngwie Malmsteen. THE Yngwie Malmsteen. But none of this is why I think they’re amazing.

Schecter today is the Schecter Guitar Research company. They put so much into their guitars now that every single model they put out is pretty pro level. Of course, if you’re looking vintage, this is not your brand. But most modern players will benefit from any one of their guitars.

The Omen-6 is actually one of their lower end guitars, made from basswood, rosewood, and maple. This is actually a great combination for such an affordable price. It comes with the Schecter Diamond Plus pickups to give you an extremely rich and booming sound. That is ideal for rockers and metalheads, just not so much for pop music. The 24 frets and cutaways make this guitar perfect for shredding. There’s almost nothing you can’t play comfortably on this guitar, and that’s why its number 1 on this list.

+Pros:

  • High-Quality construction
  • Heavy and rich tone
  • Ideal for rockers and metalheads
  • Cutaways for full reach
  • 24 frets
  • Sleek, modern look

-Cons:

  • Limited to deeper sounds (not ideal for pop)
  • No tremolo

 

2.      Fender Standard Stratocaster

Fender has been around for a long time, in fact, as one of the pioneers in the industry. It’s actually very hard to go wrong with Fender guitar. This one is an icon of the company, and the shape with the double cutaway has been imitated by countless other companies.

Different models in the Strat line have been used by some of the greats in the music world, including Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Jeff Beck, Ronnie Wood, and many others. Where tradition and vintage are concerned, this is one to go for.

The three single-coil pickups and synchronize tremolo bridge work together to create the signature sound. The alder body wood of the solid body will give you a bright but resonant sound. You can get either maple or rosewood fingerboards with this guitar, depending on the sound you want.

The slim neck with 22 medium jumbo frets is flat and easy to play, making this perfect for novice and pro alike. This is pretty much a pro guitar at an affordable price.

+Pros:

  • Pro level guitar
  • Bright sound, ideal for classic rock lovers
  • Versatile with three single-coil pickups
  • Comes with a tremolo bar
  • Cutaways allow full reach
  • Slim neck
  • Lightweight
  • Affordable

-Cons:

  • Only 22 frets, so can’t get too wild
  • Not so great on the low end

 

3.      Epiphone Les Paul 100

This is yet another classic and at a great price. Les Paul was one of the reasons you’re sitting there and reading this article right now. He helped pioneer the electric guitar as well as effects and recording equipment that are still used today. This guitar is made to the specs of his original models, and you can be sure it’s still one of the best.

The Epiphone Les Paul 100 is known for its rich sound, with a mahogany body and a rosewood fretboard. So if you’re looking for the resonant, rich, and deep sound of rock n roll, this is what you want to get.

the cutaway allows more reach to all 22 frets. The humbucker pickups will give you a little bit of extra oomph. You’ll love this guitar if you want to play blues, rock, or jazz.

+Pros:

  • Ideal for rock, jazz, or blues
  • Cutaway for better reach
  • Humbuckers provide bigger sound
  • Mahogany and rosewood construction
  • Rich and resonant, heavy tone
  • Slender neck easy to play

-Cons:

  • Bit on the heavy side
  • Only 22 frets, so not ideal for super high solos
  • No tremolo

 

4.      Fender Modern Player Telecaster

This guitar is one of the best electric guitars for under $500. This is a normal price for a good guitar and Fender is one of the best manufacturers of all time. This is a solid body guitar made of maple wood, so you can be sure you’ll get a bright sound.

It comes with one bridge humbucker and a single-coil to balance out the sound. This is a great guitar because it is highly versatile, so you can use it for pretty much anything. The triple pickup system is largely responsible for this. You can easily get a very vintage sound out of this guitar and play some Led Zeppelin, or you could go 90s grunge with some distortion and play Smells Like Teen Spirit.

It’s an excellent choice for a more laid back sound as well, so this is great option for various genres you  might like to play.

+Pros:

  • Highly balanced sound
  • Versatile so you can play pretty much anything
  • Best suited to classic rock but can produce a pretty wide range of tones
  • Highly quality construction
  • Combination pickups

-Cons:

  • Can’t play heavy stuff
  • 22 frets only
  • No tremolo

 

5.      Dean Vendetta XM

This is the cheapest guitar on this list and definitely the best electric guitar for under $100. Dean Guitars has sponsored some of the most well known guitarists including the legendary Dimebag Darrel, and Dave Mustaine who has his own signature model.

The Dean Vendetta XM is affordable and convenient to play. It’s made of paulownia, a mahogany substitute, that offers resonance and warmth, and maple and rosewood for the neck. It also comes with dual humbuckers to give you an extra bassy sound.

This guitar is great because it’s lightweight, slender, and plays amazingly well for a guitar this cheap. It certainly helps that the fretboard comes with 24 frets. You also get a whammy bar to get that old school sound.

This is a great choice because it will let you totally rock out for an easy price.

+Pros:

  • Totally affordable
  • 24 frets
  • Cutaway offers more reach
  • Lightweight
  • Slender design
  • Warm and resonant sound
  • Comes with a tremolo

-Cons:

  • Substitute wood
  • Need pedals to really make it shine

 

Best Cheap Electric Guitars

Since the best electric guitars won’t come cheap, and especially if you are a relatively new player, you might want your first electric guitar to be cheap. That’s why TGP has put together a small list of some of the best cheap electric guitars between $100 and $200. Remember, there are used electric guitars and electric guitars for sale you can buy for even cheaper if you aren’t sure if what you’re planning to do in the future.

  1. C-1 SGR by Schecter: this maple and rosewood, gorgeous guitar is great for beginners but also for pros. It comes with a gig bag, dual humbucker pickups, and 24 frets.
  2. Oscar Schmidt OE20: with maple and rosewood, and dual humbuckers, this guitar is a truly vintage guitar with an equally vintage sound.
  3. Epiphone Les Paul: this is really the full package for a steal. The vintage guitar comes with an amp, a tuner, a chromatic tuner, a cable, picks, a gig bag, and free guitar lessons.
  4. Squier by Fender Affinity Stratocaster: this Fender classic is maple and rosewood with a whammy bar and comes with everything you need as well. The entire package include all Fender items – a gig bag, amp, picks, cable, strap, picks, tuner, and instructional DVD.
  5. Ibanez GRX 70: this basswood, rosewood, and maple guitar with humbucker and single-coil pickups is versatile and handsome. It packs a huge, powerful punch. It also has a tremolo arm for those Eddie Van Halen solos.

Best Left Handed Electric Guitar

Unfortunately, most electric guitars are designed in such a way that, unlike acoustic guitars, you can’t switch the strings around and play them left handed. So if you are a lefty, here are the top three picks for left-handed electric guitars.

TGP’s top pick is the ESP LTD EC256. ESP is an excellent brand and this rosewood and mahogany guitar with dual humbuckers for lefthanders has an incredible and versatile sound. It’s got a classic look with a modern feel.

There is also the Squire by Fender Affinity Telecaster, a high-quality brand and alder/maple model, has two single-coil pickups with a three-way selector. It has a cutaway to offer you full access to the frets and it’s got a classic look. If that doesn’t work for you, try the Legacy Solid Body with the alder, maple, and rosewood construction and Stratocaster style. With three single-coil pickups and a tremolo bridge, you can do it all with this.

Best Electric Guitar for Beginners

If you are a beginner, the best way to go about picking up your first guitar is to get a starter pack. The top pick here would be the Epiphone Les Paul beginner package mentioned earlier because it has everything you will need and more. The price is easily affordable and it’s a brand and model that has stood the test of time.

Alternatively, the Squire by Fender Affinity Stratocaster, also mentioned earlier, has all the same stuff and is another highly respected brand. If you want to get something even more affordable, however, try this Rise by Sawtooth model that comes with most of the stuff you will need.

Best Electric Guitar for Kids

As discussed earlier, even kids can handle a full-sized guitar if you have one around the house. But if you want to make it easier on them, then there are numerous scaled models you can get for your kid to cut their teeth on.

Your little one could have their very own Squier by Fender Mini Stratocaster and become the next Jimi Hendrix (talent-wise, not behavior-wise!). It’s certainly of master quality and is a scaled down version of the Squier mentioned earlier.

Alternatively, you could get an SX RST ¾ scaled strat-like guitar with amp, instructions, and accessories. Or buy a ¾ Electric Guitar with gig bag, strap, mini-amp, and a few other accessories for the same price as the Squier.

Best Seven-String Electric Guitar

With seven-strings becoming more and more popular, TGP’s top picks are well-known brands, none of which you can go wrong with. The top pick would have to be the Schecter Omen-7, however. This is a brand that is known for their 7-strings, and the Omen-7 is 24 frets of quality. Made from basswood and rosewood with humbucker pickups, you will definitely get the sound you want.

A good second choice is the very affordable ESP LTD M-17, with basswood, maple, and rosewood. It also comes with humbucker pickups, but only 22 frets. It will still give you a great sound, though. Alternatively, the Jackson JS22-7 Dinky is also a good choice with dual humbuckers, 24 frets, and construction of maple, rosewood, and basswood.

Conclusion

Ultimately, your choice should depend on a multitude of factors, and this is one selection that requires research. Don’t just blindly pick out a guitar. Any experienced guitarist will tell you that a guitar is not an object. You bond with a guitar, you connect with a guitar. So take your time, try to get a chance to try out the guitars you’re picking out, and then decide. Remember though, it’s not just the guitar that makes the guitarist. It’s what you do with it.

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