With so many electric guitars on the market, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed if you’re a beginner picking out your first ax. We recommend trying out lots of guitars in the shop and asking your guitar teacher for tips as you shop around. To help you get started in your quest, take a look at five of our favorite picks to learn guitar with!
Some of the main features you’ll want to pay attention to as you play each guitar include the style and shape of the body, the pickups, and the way the neck and strings feel under your fingers. Guitars come in different shapes and sizes, with different neck shapes as well, so pay attention to what feels right for you to hold and play. The pickups are the metal bars under the strings that conduct the sound from your strings to your amp. We’ll be looking at guitars with single coil pickups, which have a brighter sound, and humbuckers, which have a darker, fuller sound. As you test drive guitars, keep these features in mind and you’re sure to find the perfect beginner’s electric guitar for you.
Epiphone Les Paul Standard
Photo by Matt Prince
The Epiphone Les Paul has the quality build, features, and classic beauty of the Gibson Les Paul at a lower price, making this guitar an excellent choice for beginners. The Epiphone Les Paul has two humbucker pickups which give you a really full-sounding clean tone. You can switch between the pickups and there are pots for tone control on each pickup, so you can use this guitar to experiment and find the sound you like. Due to their versatility and durability, Epiphone Les Pauls are popular among rock, pop, country, punk, and funk players.
Photo by Vintage Guitarz
The Fender Stratocaster is one of the most famous and widely played electric guitars in the world. Stratocasters have three single coil pickups and a five way switch, so you can modulate between different combinations of the pickups. This gives the Strat a sound ranging from bright and jangly to mellow and twangy. The Stratocaster also has a nice cutaway in the body along the bottom side of the neck so you can more easily reach the higher frets. The Stratocaster was designed for country music, but has since been popular with rock, jazz, and even heavy metal guitarists. As you learn guitar, you’ll want to try out songs in different genres, so a versatile instrument like the Strat really comes in handy.
Photo by JazGaz
See the f-shaped cut-out in the body of the Ibanez Artcore guitar pictured above? This guitar is what’s known as a semi-hollow body guitar. It’s lighter than the solid body electric guitars we’ve been looking at, and the cut-outs in the body give it a more acoustic-like, resonant sound. Hollow body guitars tend to generate a bit more feedback and noise than solid bodies, but the humbucker pickups on this guitar keep the noise and hum to a minimum. The Ibanez Artcore is an inexpensive option for beginners interested in playing blues, jazz, or pop music.
Photo by Chico Luz
Modeled after the Gibson SG, this Epiphone guitar is another great value for beginners. The cutaways in the body give easy access to all the frets up to where the neck meets the body. The SG is a very popular guitar with metal and hard rock players due to its edgy look, playability, and loud set-up. Without adding any effects, the clean tone on this guitar already sounds aggressive and very metal. This model is a lighter guitar, which is great if you plan to play on your feet a lot. Additionally, it holds tune well and won’t break the bank.
Photo by SMII TonPair
Squier guitars are essentially cheaper versions of the Fender brand, which can make them a great choice for beginning players who want a Fender but aren’t ready to make the investment. The Squier Telecaster is based on the original electric guitar that Fender introduced to the mass market in the 1950s. The Tele has two single coil pickups and a three-way switch so you can toggle between the two. The Telecaster’s sound tends to be a bit brighter and louder than the Stratocaster For a classic rock and roll, country, or surf guitar sound, the Squier Telecaster gives you great value and a classic look.
What’s your dream electric guitar? Do any of these guitars stand out to you? Let us know in the comments below!