Electric guitars changed the world of music with their sleek designs and unique sounds. Those hoping to harness the power of the electric guitar will likely be met with frustration.With so many models and styles to choose from, naming the electric guitar comes down to personal preference. However, we did our best to account for various tastes to create this list of the 15 best electrics.
Top Electric Guitars Reviewed
After extensive research and a little sampling, we narrowed the field of electric guitars to our top picks in several categories. There is something for every budget, age, and skill set when it comes to electric guitars.
Best Pick Overall
It’s tough to go wrong with a Fender, and the Classic Series 72 Telecaster Deluxe is one gorgeous electric guitar. Adopting the classic look of the Fender we know and love, this version gives you incredible sound and a range of pickups.
The Fender Classic Series 72 Telecaster Deluxe comes in a variety of colors to appeal to any tastes. It’s comfortable to play, as long as you can manage the weight of a solid body guitar. It feels much like a standard guitar because of the unique contours, but it delivers that unique electric guitar sound.
- Sleek, classic look screams rock and roll (especially with the black on black finish!)
- A solid body and neck made of maple for exceptional durability.
- Fender humbucker pickups, four volume and tone knobs, and a 3-way toggle switch provide a warmer sound and extended sustain.
- Some users mentioned problems with maintaining proper intonation because it goes a little dark in some circumstances.
- Some of the knobs are a bit stiff and difficult to work with.
Also consider: The fender jaguar guitar
Best Bargain Electric Guitar
When you’re on a budget but need an electric guitar, you could do worse than the Epiphone Les Paul Special-II. It’s a perfect electric guitar for beginners, looks chic, and delivers an impressive sound. The quality is impressive for the price point, even with the bolt on neck.
Expect a warm, well-balanced sound courtesy of two quality humbuckers. Distortion isn’t an issue, but you don’t want to skimp on your amplifier for this electric guitar.
- A solid body guitar made of mahogany is a hefty instrument built to last, but it is lighter than other, similar designs.
- It’s easy to play and works well for beginners.
- The price is right for newbies and budget-conscious musicians.
- You only get two controls, one for tone and the other for volume.
- The positioning of the three-way toggle switch is awkward.
- Smoother fret ends would be nice.
Best High End
If price is no object and you desire the best electric guitar on the market, you want to head straight for the Gibson line, specifically their Les Paul Traditional. Made in the United States, Gibson’s Les Paul Traditional is a tribute to old school electric guitars in the strictest sense.
The design delivers a crisp, clean sound in a classic design. Expect to hear a subtle, vintage feeling sound that echoes some of the greats from years past, like Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page.
- A well-crafted, solid body with a tapered neck gives you a heavier electric guitar that looks timeless.
- Humbucking pickups and the hardwood body help you replicate a classic sound.
- The design makes for a comfortable playing experience whether you prefer to sit or stand.
- The modern wiring detracts from the aesthetic appeal.
- It’s not budget-friendly for many musicians.
- Beginners may struggle to master this electric guitar.
Best for Beginners
The Squier Classic Vibe ‘50s Stratocaster has a classic design, a reasonable price, and plenty of performance power for beginners and pros alike. The Squier Classic Vibe 50s Stratocaster looks and feels like a higher-end model, but it’s easy enough for anybody to handle.
The pine body and maple neck give this electric guitar its classic look and feel. It’s easy to handle and not too heavy or complex for beginners to feel comfortable.
- The classic design is sturdy and has a sleek, retro feel.
- Enjoy high-quality sound thanks to robust electronic components and the solid body design.
- You can get a right-hand or left-hand model.
- Comes with a two-year warranty.
- Support controls, namely the output jack, could use an upgrade.
- You may want to upgrade the pickguard to something thinner to improve the appearance.
- Priced a little high for a beginning instrument.
Best for Metal
Look and feel the part with an Ibanez Genesis Collection RG550 electric guitar. With one single-coil pickup and two humbucking pickups, you can expect to hear that metal sound you love so much.
This throw-back to the 1980s has enough modern touches to bring it into the modern era without compromising the aesthetics we know and love. The 5-piece neck is laminated maple and walnut with a basswood body paying tribute to the edginess of rock and metal.
- Versatile in terms of tones.
- The modern take on a classic legend is colorful and comfortable.
- Easy to play with large frets and a contoured shape.
- Expect to pay a higher price for the quality and aesthetics.
- The neck may be a bit thick for fans of the original.
Entry-Level, Budget Friendly Electric Guitar
Fender created the Squier Affinity Stratocaster for entry-level musicians on a budget, but it works well enough for pros. It’s sleek and easy to handle without breaking the bank or compromising sound quality.
For beginners seeking the look, feel, and sound of a Fender Strat without forking over the dough to purchase one, the Squier Affinity Stratocaster is a fair imitation. This electric guitar mimics the classic Stratocaster and it’s a great option to learn on. You don’t have to worry about outgrowing it too fast, either.
- It looks and feels like a true Fender Strat (with a lower price and a few compromises).
- No compromise on the pickups, which makes for an exceptional playing experience.
- Sleek, comfortable design is easy to handle and play.
- It needs some minor adjustments to perform at its best.
- While it looks and feels like a Fender Strat, it’s not quite up to par.
Most Durable Electric Guitar
When you want to invest in a quality instrument without breaking the bank, the Gibson Les Paul Studio line is a good bet. Though made to look and feel like a traditional Gibson Les Paul, the Studio line is more affordable and compromises a little on quality. However, the Studio line is durable and can withstand a lot of use.
Don’t expect the Studio line to live up to the classic Les Paul line, but don’t fear that you won’t love the sound and feel. It lacks some of the finer points of the original line, but it’s going to last you longer than several of the alternatives.
- The sound quality is stellar with a warmth that can only come from a Gibson.
- It is well-constructed with a gorgeous finish that can endure a lot of use.
- It’s more reasonably priced than other Gibsons without compromising quality.
- It may not be the best option for shredders, and it’s difficult to hit some of the higher-pitched frets.
- Expect to tighten some of the switches regularly.
Slickest Looking Electric Guitar
Combine the classic Gretsch look with some modern embellishments, and you get one slick electric guitar. From the stunning color selection to impeccable detailing, the Broadkaster Jr does not disappoint.
Bold and flashy enough to rock any music session, the Broadkaster Jr gives you an edgy, rock and roll look. There is more than enough power to offset sound distortions, and the Broadkaster Jr delivers outstanding range and versatility.
- The neck sits deeper in the body than other models to give it a modern, comfortable feel.
- Expect enough versatility to play everything from country twang to warm jazz.
- Available in right-handed or left-handed models.
- Expect to pay a premium for the look, sound, and feel.
- The master volume control is unnecessary and detracts from the playability a bit.
Great Classic Look
Vintage is an understatement for this bad boy featuring all of the things you love about classic Fenders with some modern updates to improve playability, including the exclusive D neck profile. It’s balanced and comfortable to play with more upgrades than others in its class.
Though the Fender American Ultra Telecaster embodies the classic Fender feel, the modern upgrades make it easier to operate, even for inexperienced musicians. The single-coil pickups feature modern materials and produce rich tones without the hum.
- The body is alder or ash with a gloss finish for a vintage feel.
- The two single-coil pickups give you a classic look and feel without creating unwanted noise.
- Shredders will appreciate the compound radius fingerboard.
- Though it’s not the most expensive electric guitar on the list, it’s not among the affordable options.
- It looks like the classic Fender but doesn’t necessarily capture that vintage sound.
Musicians seeking a durable, reliable electric guitar in the middle to low price range may want to check out the Fender Player Stratocaster. It captures all of the qualities of a Fender Strat at a reasonable price point.
If you want to know what they sacrificed to hit the middle price range, you won’t be too disappointed. There are some minor downgrades in certain parts, like the tuners, but it’s not enough to ruin your playing experience or degrade the sound quality.
- The quality satin neck is exceptionally comfortable and easy to play.
- The two-point vibrato and three single-coil pickups make for impressive sound quality and smooth operation
- This electric guitar is made to withstand heavy play and even some minor abuse.
- The tuners are awfully stiff and need some work to function.
- Some users note buzzing or twang at certain positions.
Most Versatile Electric Guitar
Sometimes you want an electric guitar that can do a bit of everything, and that’s where the PRS SE Custom 24 comes into play. The color options are fun but classy with a mixture of woods including maple, mahogany, and rosewood.
The PRS SE Custom 24 isn’t the cheapest option on the market, but it won’t break the bank either. It’s possibly the most versatile electric guitar available, and it’s fairly durable and well-made for the price.
- Versatile enough to do almost anything from classic rock to heavy metal to smooth jazz.
- Gorgeous, classic look with clean lines and smooth contours make it easy, and fun to play.
- It’s available in right-handed or left-handed models.
- Newbies may not be able to draw the range from the Custom 24, it takes a practiced hand to reach the extreme sounds.
Best Hollow Body Electric Guitar
There’s no doubt that some players prefer a hollow body, and Gretsch delivers some of the best. The White Falcon is a gorgeous homage to classic electric guitars with a modern, hollow body twist.
Originally designed by jazz guitarist Jimmie Webster in the 1950s, the White Falcon got an update with the most recent Players Edition. The unique design stands out from the pack, and it’s well constructed with quality materials.
- The hollow body design is maple wood for a soft bright tone
- Two humbucker pickups deliver quality sound without excess electronics.
- The controls are intuitive and easy to use.
- It is expensive.
- It’s probably too much instrument for newer players.
We can’t discuss a hollow body electric guitar without offering a semi-hollow alternative. Gretsch knows how to do hollow and semi-hollow electric guitars better than anybody, and the Streamliner delivers the quality and craftsmanship we expect from the name.
More affordable than the traditional hollow body Gretsch lines and lighter than the solid body alternatives, the Streamliner provides a happy medium. Quality construction provides a little character and a unique resonance.
- Priced right for the durability, comfort, and sound quality.
- Perfectly crafted and positioned pickups create awesome sound capabilities.
- It’s comfortable and lightweight enough to play for long periods.
- It doesn’t quite hit the notes of a hollow body or solid body, so be prepared for unique variations.
- The tuners could use some improvements.
Best Electric Guitar for Teens
Teen musicians working into a full-size electric guitar may want to try the Yamaha Pacifica 112V because it looks and feels vintage but is perfectly playable for learners. The price is right for a teen’s budget, but the impressive quality makes it a worthwhile purchase.
It’s modern and lightweight, but the Pacifica 112V doesn’t compromise on sound. Expect plenty of clean sounds and a brightness reminiscent of a classic Strat. The bridge pickup is a humbucker and there are two single-coil pickups as well.
- The price is right because this electric guitar delivers the basics in a chic, clean package that works for newbies and growing teens.
- Though it’s not flashy like some of the more expensive electric guitars, it looks slick and is made to last.
- It’s available in right-handed or left-handed options.
- The vibrato isn’t as impressive as other models.
- Don’t expect to mimic vintage or classic sounds.
- The output jack needs some work and may need to be enhanced for stability.
Best Electric Guitar for Kids
Start them off young, right? If your kiddo desperately wants to rock but you don’t want to fork over a paycheck to buy an instrument, the Squier Bullet Mustang may be a good fit. Reasonably priced for you and styled just right for your child’s small hands, the Bullet Mustang is a decent electric guitar. Read more on this Fender Mustang review.
Also, it’s not just for kids. Anybody with smaller hands who wants to learn to play could benefit from this electric guitar. It’s light enough for smaller bodies without compromising on design or sound.
- It is sized for smaller hands but works for people of all ages.
- It’s affordable and easy to learn on because it has all of the basic features without too many extras.
- Looks and sounds like a full-sized electric guitar.
- You don’t get any extras, upgrades, or embellishments.
- The fret edges need some work because they are rough.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Electric Guitar for You
You did it. You finally decided it’s time to commit to an electric guitar of your own. Maybe you tested a friend’s or perused the selection at your neighborhood music store more times than you care to admit. Once you decided to purchase, you probably want to know where to start and how to pick the right electric guitar for you.
Understanding Basic Electric Guitar Features
How can you compare features on an electric guitar if you don’t know the basics? Let’s start with the main components that can help you compare features accurately. If a basic feature doesn’t appear on an instrument on your list, you may want to skip it.
- Pickups sit under the strings near the area you pluck. The number of pickups varies, so pay attention because they alter the sound. Check out these great stratocaster pickups too!
- You can have up to three volume knobs to adjust the output volume of your instrument.
- Tone knobs toggle between high and low frequencies. The number of tone knobs generally corresponds to the number of pickups on the instrument.
- Selector switches, also known as cut-off switches, allow you to activate or deactivate individual pickups.
- Note the location of the output jack, usually they appear on the back-end or bottom lip.
What’s Your Favorite (Guitar) Body Type?
It’s natural to do a side-by-side comparison of features and pour over reviews about each instrument. The truth is that no matter how loaded a guitar may be, if you don’t love the look and feel, it’s not the one for you.
Though there are many variations on the electric guitar, there are three main types to choose from. Most electric guitars are solid body, but you can find hollow body and semi-hollow body electric guitars as well.
Solid Body Electric Guitars
Many popular electric guitars are solid body, meaning they come from a single piece of wood. There is no resonance chamber, so you need to play them through amplifiers. Pickups and electronics in solid body electric guitars are critical in creating the right sound.
Solid body electric guitars work best for rock, punk, and metal musicians. Some of the most common solid body guitars are Fender Stratocaster and Gibson Les Pauls.
Hollow Body Electric Guitars
Though a hollow body electric guitar is hollow on the inside, there is no sound hole like you find with an acoustic guitar. Hollow body electric guitars also rely on pickups to create variations in sound.
Jazz musicians gravitate toward hollow body electric guitars. The hollow body provides a purer sound with more bass. Popular models include the D’Angelico Excels and Gretsch Falcons.
Semi-hollow Body Electric Guitars
As the name suggests, a semi-hollow body electric guitar mixes the features of the other two types. A cut-out design and small hollow part of the body create a unique sound.
Musicians seeking a chime-like tone, like folk and country musicians, may prefer a semi-hollow body. These electric guitars are thinner than hollow body electric guitars and larger than the solid body ones.
A Word About the Necks
The neck of a guitar is narrower and can be fragile under certain circumstances. Manufacturers attach the necks using three different methods, which can affect your ability to replace or repair it.
- Bolted necks usually signify a cheaper guitar, but you can easily replace them if damaged.
- Set necks attach with glue to create a stable connection, but unfortunately this method makes repairs difficult.
- Neck through designs involved laminated necks with wings and fins glued to them. You get a lot of resonance and the highest sustain (longest string vibration) of all neck types, but repairs may be challenging.
What About the Tonewoods?
Regardless of the style you choose, you may want to consider the type of wood used. Beginners may not notice as much of a difference, but a basic understanding of tonewoods can prevent you from investing in a needless upgrade.
Tonewoods are the woods used to make the body of a guitar. Since electric guitars have so many components, the type of wood used is important. Some of the most common woods used for electric guitar bodies include:
- Maple is one of the most common choices because it is dense, easy to finish, and durable.
- Mahogany is appealing because it’s affordable, attractive, and durable. It’s also easy to work with and delivers a unique tone.
- Poplar is a softer wood with a crisp tone, similar to alder but more affordable.
Playing for Comfort
It’s unlikely that you sit down to play for ten or fifteen minutes and then move on to something else. When you purchase an electric guitar, you want to be able to play it for hours, and that means it has to feel comfortable.
Electric guitars are nothing like shoes, you don’t break them in for comfort. Either they fit you or they don’t, and unless you’re a kid, you won’t grow into a guitar that’s too large. There are a few aspects to consider when searching for the right fit.
The Body Shape
Shape matters, especially if you usually sit when you play or move around a lot. You don’t want to purchase a Flying V unless you stand when you play. Oh, and while some of the uniquely shaped instruments look incredible, it can be difficult to find a case for them.
The Neck Profile
Though it’s not usually a significant difference, there are three different neck shapes that can feel quite different in your hands. Most manufacturers consider three aspects of neck shape when creating their “profiles” – depth, width, and cross-section shape. You should be able to grasp the neck comfortably.
Can You Handle the Weight?
Weights vary depending on the body style and the type of wood used to make the electric guitar. You don’t want to pick an instrument that’s too heavy for you to handle, but lighter woods don’t hold up as well long-term.
Finding the Right Sound
While experts can make almost any electric guitar mimic their favorite sounds, not everyone has the tools or expertise to work that magic. Let’s talk about sound, and what elements of electric guitars have the most influence.
Practically Placed Pickups
We mentioned pickups when we discussed body types. You could learn more than you ever wanted to know about pickups, but for our purposes, you just need to know a few things.
First, a pickup is a magnet and coil. The combination of the magnet and coil converts vibrations from the strings into electricity to alter the frequency of the sound.
Second, there are two primary types of pickups featured on electric guitars – single-coils and humbuckers. Single-coil pickups produce a brighter sound, but they tend to put out more extraneous noise. Humbuckers give you louder, deeper, full-bodied sound and cancel more unwanted noise.
Most guitars place pickups in three different positions – at the bridge, the neck, or in the middle. Each position alters the sound in a unique way. For example, bridge pickups create shrill tones while middle pickups provide a jangle.
If you have more than one pickup, you also may have the option to turn individual pickups on or off to adjust your sound further. Just keep in mind that it’s possible to tweak any setup to achieve the sound you desire.
How to Inspect an Electric Guitar
It’s never a bad idea to test the instrument before committing to a purchase, especially with a used piece. Remember that you can replace some elements, like strings and pickups, for next to nothing, but major repairs could offset the appeal of the guitar.
- Play up the fretboard and hold individual notes. Make sure you get a vibration and hear it all over the guitar.
- Make sure you feel comfortable with the length and weight of the instrument.
- Check the height of the strings off the fretboard. Higher strings require more finger pressure to play a note, while lower strings make playing individual notes easier.
- Evaluate the pickups to identify the type for future repairs and replacement, especially if you feel more comfortable with one type over the other.
Don’t Forget the Gear!
You need more than an electric guitar to make sweet music. Though some add-ons make for frivolous expenditures or allow for upgrades down the road, you don’t want to walk out without these essential electric guitar components.
- An amplifier boosts the sound from your electric guitar. If you truly want to rock, you need one.
- Don’t forget cables to connect your guitar to the amplifier
- Consider how you plan to transport and store your electric guitar. You may need to purchase a case and a stand to keep your instrument safe and secure.
- Accessories aren’t immediately necessary, but you probably want to look into picks, a strap, an electronic tuner, and extra strings.
- Pedals can be fun, but they probably aren’t necessary at first. Wait until you learn the basics before looking into pedals.
What is the Best Electric Guitar?
That about wraps it up. Did you pick out your favorite electric guitar? We still think the best overall is the Fender Classic Series 72 Telecaster Deluxe because it looks and feels great while delivering awesome sound quality. It’s classy and sleek with plenty of power to shred.
Of course, if money isn’t an issue, you could splurge on the Gibson Les Paul Traditional that marks off all of our boxes. Beginners could start with a Squier Classic Vibe 50s Stratocaster until they feel comfortable enough to upgrade.