Sitting back and watching some of the guitar greats like Jimi Hendrix, B.B King, George Benson, Eric Clapton and many others that we cannot begin to mention here, deliver hair raising performances on their electric guitars, you suddenly catch the guitar fever and learning how to play this obviously amazing instrument becomes a passionate goal of yours. Now you want to jump into learning the guitar so you can play like your icon. We know that feeling because many of us have experienced it.
It’s a good thing that you are reading this because what we will do here is help make that dream come true. Many have had that same passion and zeal only for it to fizzle out over time. This is not something that we will allow happen to you because, in this article, we will help you through the most important first step which is choosing the right guitar for you as a beginner.
Why is Choosing the Right Guitar Important?
Remember how we said that many people who had the zeal and passion to learn at one time suddenly had this passion and zeal fizzle out? Well, a lot of them experienced this because they found the learning process to be difficult. Guess what? Learning with the wrong kind of guitar can be very stressful.
There are certain factors that you must carefully consider when choosing a guitar. This applies to both learners and pros. Pros already know this but as a learner, you likely are unaware of these factors.
Therefore, before we begin to look at guitar 10 recommendations we have for you, we will quickly look at some of the important factors you need to consider when choosing an electric guitar you want to learn with.
Here we go…
Factors to Consider When Choosing an Electric Guitar as a Beginner
To ensure you understand all that we will be talking about here, let’s quickly dissect the guitar and look at the different parts that make it up.
Anatomy of an Electric Guitar
The image above gives us a general idea of the different parts of the guitar. In the video below, you will get a more detailed explanation of the more important parts and what they do.
With the above out of the way, let’s now get into the meat of the matter – factors to consider when choosing your guitar as a learner.
This is not something that a lot of people may think to consider but it is really important. If you can identify what or who fired up your desire to begin to learn the guitar, then you will be in a better position to decide the type of guitar you need to get.
Let’s look at a few scenarios. If your inspiration or guitar role model is Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, picking up an acoustic guitar for your learning process will almost certainly result in some discontentment that will eventually lead to you abandoning your quest to become another Keith Richards.
So, look at the kind of guitar that your idol or the person you want to be like plays and go for a similar one.
There are different body types you may have to consider when choosing your guitar. If like we suggested above you have an icon or someone who was the motivating factor behind your taking up the guitar, then simply choosing whatever type of guitar they use will eliminate the need for this section.
However, if you don’t have a single person who you look up to when it comes to guitar playing, then you may have to decide which type of electric guitar body you want. There are three options open to you and they are a solid body, semi-hollow body, and hollow body. Your choice will mainly be determined by the kind of music you want to play.
These are easily some of the most popular electric guitars available. The body is built from solid wood without any hollows of chambers in them. Popular guitars like Stratocaster, Telecasters, Les Paul and many others used in popular music like rock, metal, country, and others are solid bodies.
This type of body is a simple compromise between a solid body and a hollow body. The body is partially hollow with solid blocks strategically portioned inside it to reduce resonance that usually leads to feedback in hollow bodies. This kind of guitar can also be used in blues and rock and a few other styles.
These are very similar to a semi-hollow body with the only difference being that they are entirely hollow inside, resulting in more resonance and higher risk of feedback. This gives you an amplified acoustic guitar tone. You will find these more in folk, country and jazz music.
Size is very important especially when you want to get the guitar for a younger person. Though electric guitars do not have the bulk of acoustic guitars, it may still be better to get a scaled-down guitar like a ¾ size rather than a full-size guitar for a child, especially one under the age of 10.
This is a critical component to consider. A playable guitar simply refers to one that is comfortable to hold, has an easy to play neck and comfortable action that does not allow the strings hurt your finger when you press them down. The truth is that many beginner guitars may require professional setup to make them very playable. You should simply note this and ensure your guitar is very comfortable on your body and fingers from the very beginning or you will soon find yourself being scared of picking it up for your practice when your fingers begin to hurt.
A beginner is not expected to break the bank for their first guitar. A lot of beginners drop the guitar after a few sessions or when the fire dies down. For this reason, it’s always better to buy something within a reasonable range for that first taste after which you can begin to spend more when you get serious with the instrument. It’s, however, all up to you. Decide what you are willing to spend on an instrument you may or may not eventually take to.
Finally, an electric guitar requires a few other accessories so unless you are getting a complete starter pack, you may also need to get the following:
- Amplifier – to amplify the sound of the guitar.
- Speaker – to pair with the amplifier or you can simply get an amp/speaker combo.
- Headphones – for when you need to practice without disturbing others.
- A strap – for practicing playing while standing or sitting upright.
- Picks – for more comfortable or sharper strumming.
- Tuner – to ensure your guitar is always in tune.
- Metronome – to monitor your progress and also help you tighten your rhythm as you practice.
Now that you know all of these, allow us to bring you a few recommendations you may want to start your search with.
Top 10 Electric Guitars for Beginners
We’ve now gotten to the fun part where we will list 10 guitars we can recommend to you if you are a beginner or want to get one for a beginner.
When you hear the name Yamaha, you immediately know you are dealing with a top brand that has been around for decades, making a tremendous impact on the music industry as well as other industries. Yamaha is known for providing top-quality equipment for all levels of proficiency – beginner to professional.
The PAC112V is an electric guitar that is perfectly suited for the beginner. It is from the brand’s Pacific series which focuses on giving users a nice balance of value and affordability. The fact that this guitar is affordable coupled with its high level of playability is the reason why it is ideal for beginners.
This is a solid body guitar with 22 frets. The body is made of lightweight alder, the neck of maple and the fretboard of rosewood. The combination of these deliver a truly delightful tone while the exquisite finish, especially the satin finish on the neck makes play smooth and a delight.
In the electronic section, we find a three pickup arrangement. This setup includes a humbucker and two single-coil pickups. With its push-pull control knob, you can select any combination of these pickups to deliver different tonal variations. This exposes the beginner to different tonal options.
For hardware, it comes with good quality die-cast tuning machines, vintage-style tremolo with block saddle and a 3-ply white pickguard. This guitar will serve you beyond your beginner days.
- Build – It is solidly built with good quality materials.
- Playability – A combination of the finish, the neck, and the string action make it very playable.
- Cost – It is very affordable.
- Setup – You may need to have it professionally set up after purchase.
You can watch a PAC112V Demo here:
Gretsch is a brand known for its strict attention to detail. In its over 135 years of existence, it has made it its commitment to deliver top-quality handcraftsmanship on all its products. Given the quality that this brand offers, it is exciting to know that even beginners can now also enjoy that level of quality without breaking the bank.
A good example is the Electromatic G5425. A simple look at this guitar and you will immediately know that there is something special about it.
Its retro look immediately makes it captivating. More than mere looks, this guitar is lightweight and very playable, something that any beginner will appreciate. The body is made of basswood with an arched maple top while the neck is made of maple and the fretboard which holds 22 frets is made of rosewood.
In the electronics section, you will find two humbucking pickups that act as the guitar’s tonal engine house. These are controlled via a master volume knob, a tone knob, and a pickup selector. The hardware that comes with this is also of good quality. These include the die-cast sealed tuners with their chrome tuning pegs and the Adjusto-Matic bridge that provides good tuning stability as well as impressive sustain.
- Build – Lovely and very well made.
- Playability – Easy to carry and very playable.
- Performance – For its price, it offers an amazing sound – clean or distorted.
- Setup – You will need to have this professionally setup before playing.
Watch a demo of this great guitar here:
If there is one brand that is a darling when it comes to providing quality guitars for beginners, it is Ibanez. Now easily rated among the big players in this industry, it still ensures that the newbies are well provisioned.
What we are looking at here is the RD450DBX electric guitar from the brand’s RG series. The body which is made of mahogany takes the shape of the brand’s Super Strat. Even the pickguard is also designed in the Stratocaster style, completing the themed look.
The neck features a profile regarded as one of the most comfortable. It is made of maple and sports a rosewood fretboard on which are Ibanez’s popular shark tooth inlays.
This guitar looks great but thankfully offers a lot more than just looks. It comes with good quality hardware which includes a standard DL tremolo bridge and Ibanez’s regular tuning machines which are quite reliable.
On to the electronics, you have an HSS pickup arrangement which are controlled with one volume control knob as well as a tone knob. You also have the pickup selection switch that helps you choose your sound.
While this can be regarded as a beginner guitar, it can also conveniently serve intermediate players in serious performances. This is, therefore, best for beginners who want something they can continue with even as they improve their skill level.
- Build – This is solidly built with a lovely appearance.
- Playability – Comfortable and highly playable.
- Performance – It offers more versatility than most beginners will require.
- Cost – It is slightly more expensive than most beginner guitars.
You can watch a review here:
You can also hear how it sounds in this demo here:
Oscar Schmidt Inc. is a musical instrument manufacturing company that has been in operation since the year 1871; quite a lot of history there. This brand specializes in the design and manufacture of string instruments like guitars, ukulele’s banjos, harps, and others.
We are looking at one product from this brand designed for beginner guitarists. The OE20 from Oscar Schmidt is designed after the legendary Les Paul custom guitars and affords beginners the opportunity of enjoying some of that legendary sound for far less than anyone would have thought possible.
Following in the standard Les Paul design, it features a solid body with a single-cutaway. This body is made of mahogany while the set-in neck is made of maple. On the rosewood fretboard, you will find 22 frets and lovely trapezoid inlays. Even the headstock sticks to the Les Paul theme, making the guitar appear much more expensive than it is.
For the sound, it comes with two simple humbucking pickups that are more than enough for the beginner. These are controlled with two volume controls (one for each pickup), two-tone controls and a 3-way pickup selector. This gives the beginner more tonal options than they will likely need.
The rest of the hardware is also of good quality, giving the guitar an amazing balance of value and affordability.
- Build – Classy and realistic Les Paul design.
- Performance – Two humbucking pickups deliver a clear tone that can pack a punch when pushed.
- Playability – The neck is highly playable.
- Flaws – May come with a few factory flaws. Most can be fixed with a professional setup.
You can watch a demo of this guitar here:
When most people go to buy guitars, they are usually very concerned about the brand name. It’s, therefore, no surprise when some of these folks appear not to be in a hurry to check out a brand like Squier. Well, the Squier brand is owned by Fender, a legendary brand in this niche. You can, therefore, expect nothing but the very best quality from it.
That said, let us quickly look at what Fender has to offer beginners under its Squier brand.
Here we are looking at something called a Jazzmaster. Remember in the previous section where we talked about what motivated you to take up the guitar? Well, if you were motivated by a Jazzy sound, then this is the guitar you should check out.
This is a simple solid alder body guitar. It has this vintage look thanks to its glossy white finish and the Stratocaster headstock. This body shape is known as the Jaguar/Jazzmaster shape and makes reaching all 22 frets hosted on the rosewood fretboard very easy.
The bolt-on neck on which the fretboard rests is made of maple and features a C-shaped profile which coupled with the satin finish of the neck presents a sturdy but comfortable neck that is seriously playable. This is actually why it is great for beginners and not really because the brand calls it a beginner guitar.
Now let’s go to the sound engine where we find two simple humbucking pickups. Yes, these may not be top of the line pickups but they are plenty enough for a beginner. For controls, there is one master volume and one master tone which both work with the 3-way pickup selector to provide tonal variations.
- Build – Well-built vintage look.
- Performance – Don’t be surprised by the hot sound that these pickups deliver.
- Playability – The neck is sturdy, comfortable and very playable.
- Pickups – Can be better but are easily replaced.
You can enjoy a lovely demo of this guitar here:
Les Paul is one of those guitars that has been so replicated that practically every brand has its version. If any brand has real rights to replicate this legendary guitar then Epiphone will most certainly be one. This is because this brand is now owned by Gibson, the original owners of the Les Paul signature line.
The Les Paul II is regarded as an entry-level guitar but it does pack a punch. The overall design closely mimics the original Les Paul though obviously, corners had to be cut to be able to sell it at this price.
The material used for the body is okoume and you won’t find the usual carved top that higher-end models will have. The 24.74-inch scale length neck with its SlimTaper D profile is also made of okoume with a rosewood fretboard that holds 22 frets.
Despite these seeming corner cuts, the guitar still holds its own especially in the league of beginner guitars.
When we look at the electronics, we find a 650R neck pickup and a 700T bridge pickup, two humbucking pickups designed by Epiphone. These deliver some nice tones that will work well with classic rock and blues.
To help you maintain control over this baby are two simple knobs, a master volume, and a tone volume. You can also manipulate your sound by using the 3-way pickup selector.
This is an all-round good guitar for a beginner. It is affordable and easy to play.
- Build – Lovely and solidly built.
- Performance – Well suited for classic rock and blues.
- Playability – Very easy to play.
- Tuning – May require constant tuning.
You can enjoy a demo of the Les Paul Special II here:
If there’s one thing that Dean Guitars has been known for since the brand was founded in 1977, it is the design and manufacture guitars with major wow factor! This is the brand you turn to when you need guitars that stand out even without a note being struck.
We see this with the Custom Zone electric guitar and its fluorescent green coloring. This is certainly not something you get to see every day and will certainly interest beginners who love standing out from the crowd.
Thankfully there’s more to this guitar than its coloring. It has a solid mahogany body, a maple bolt-on neck with satin finish and a maple fretboard that holds 22 frets. The neck features a C-shaped profile and with the satin finish, offers impressive playability.
Looking beyond the green sheen of this guitar to the electronics, we find two humbuckers, one at the neck and the other at the bridge. They come with simple controls which include a master volume, master tone, and 3-way pickup selector.
Overall, this guitar certainly stands out with its fluorescent green color contrasted by the black headstock and black hardware. While not offering best-in-class sound, it is enough for most beginners.
- Appearance – Outstanding and nicely finished.
- Performance – Sufficient for most learners.
- Playability – Comfortable and easy to play.
- Setup – It will likely require professional setup to get it up to speed.
Enjoy a demo of the Dean Custom Zone:
We have in our sights another guitar from Epiphone and it also happens to be another Les Paul reproduction. This time we are looking at the Les Paul 100.
This is another guitar designed to offer a mix of value and affordability that is ideal for beginners who are not yet ready or able to spend real money on their instrument.
In keeping with the long-standing LP tradition, at least with higher-end models, this entry-level LP sports a mahogany body with a maple top. The bolt-on neck is also made of mahogany while the fretboard is made of rosewood.
A look at the hardware department reveals that the LP tradition is still adhered to with the use of a Tune-o-Matic bridge with a stop piece. The tuning machines are reliable die-cast ones that promise to hold a tune for long. All of the hardware is chrome and contributes to the guitar’s classy look.
Moving on to the electronics, we see two 700T humbuckers, one at the bridge and the other at the neck. Each of these pickups has its own volume and tone control while the 3-way pickup selector determines which of the two are active at any time.
This is a versatile guitar that can work well in a lot of music settings. You can play soft soulful music or you can go full blast distortion – more than everything a beginner requires to get started and even go further.
- Build – Authentic, good quality Les Paul build.
- Performance – Offers tonal versatility that ensures it can fit into a wide range of music styles.
- Playability – This guitar plays easily and really well.
- Setup – A visit to the guitar shop may be required to have it perfectly set up.
Here’s a demo of the Epiphone Les Paul 100:
It’s another beginner guitar from Dean but this time we are looking at something more visually calm than the previous offering. We are talking about the Vendetta XM.
Dean makes an interesting offering in this beginner guitar with a solid paulownia body. This is not a type of tonewood you will commonly see guitars made of. The bolt-on neck is made of the more familiar maple while the fretboard is made of rosewood, another commonly used tonewood.
To further ensure that this guitar can perform solidly, it is outfitted with a Tune-o-Matic bridge which coupled with the string-thru design ensure a stable performance with good sustain. At the headstock, the simple but efficient set of die-cast tuners from Dean keep this guitar nicely in tune even during some serious jamming sessions.
Finally, we move on to the electronics section and we can see two humbuckers designed by Dean. These pickups really shine when used with distortion but the clean leaves a bit more to be desired. The controls are simple – a single volume and tone knob plus the standard 3-way pickup selector.
If you intend to do more of distorted play than clean play then this guitar will do perfectly.
- Build – Solidly built with good quality hardware.
- Performance – Excels when used with distortion.
- Playability – Plays really easily.
- Tone – The clean tone is not at the same quality level as the distorted tone.
Enjoy a demo of the Dean Vendetta XM:
The last guitar on our list here is another one from Epiphone. No, it’s not another Les Paul but the G-310. Just as with the other Epiphone guitars we have looked at, this also is an attempt by the brand at offering legendary guitars to beginners at budget prices.
Gibson’s Les Paul was officially discontinued in 1963 and fully replaced by Gibson SG or Solid Body. Getting a Gibson SG today will be sure to cost you an arm and probably two legs. However, you can experience this legendary quality even as a beginner with this Epiphone G-310.
This guitar offers an alder body and a mahogany 24.75-inch scale length neck with a SlimTaper D profile and a rosewood fretboard.
A look at the hardware that comes with this guitar will show why it performs so well. You will find a LockTone Tune-o-Matic bridge with a stop-bar tailpiece and a set of simple but pretty efficient die-cast tuning machines.
Getting to the really interesting part which is the electronics, we find two AlNico humbucking pickups – 650R and 700T. Considering the price of this guitar, this is a great choice. These PUPs are controlled with two volume controls and two tone controls (one for each pickup) as well as a 3-way pickup selector.
While this guitar can rock and practically bring the house down with its sheer power, it can also go the bluesy route if you so choose.
- Build – Solidly built and well-finished.
- Performance – It is quite versatile and can fit a wide range of musical styles and genres.
- Playability – It’s comfortable and really easy to play.
- Pickups – They are okay but an upgrade will drastically improve the overall performance.
Enjoy a demo of the Epiphone G-310:
We started by discussing the importance of choosing the guitar that will be your companion through this learning process. Choose the right guitar and the journey will be smoother and more enjoyable than if you chose the wrong guitar.
We believe that with the guidelines we have listed above and the 10 recommendations we have given you, you can now confidently choose a guitar that will make it easy for you to learn and begin to shred before you know it.
We will, however, leave you with these words of encouragement. Never get discouraged and never stop practicing. Every guitar great you know went through the same process you are going through now or are about to go through. They are only regarded as greats today because they persisted and practiced even when they did not feel like it.
Secondly, try to practice every day even if it is just for 30 minutes or an hour. You will be surprised at the cumulative effect that these times spent practicing will have on your play.
Finally, be patient with yourself. Take it easy, start practicing at really slow tempos and then gradually increase the speed. Do not try to learn a chord, scale or movement at top speed, you will likely end up discouraging yourself.
Rome was not built in a day and neither will you become a great guitarist in one day. However, if you persist you will soon find yourself jamming to huge crowds, living the dream that motivated you into picking up the guitar in the first place.