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Best Budget Electric Guitars & Brands: The Ultimate Guide [2024]

Cheap Doesn’t Always Mean Bad…

What Are The Best Budget Electric Guitars?

When it comes to affordable electric guitars, you’re literally spoilt for choice right now with brands like Harley Benton, Squier, and Epiphone. Unlike in the past, budget no longer means bad when it comes to guitars


chris horton

I’ve toured with Gibson guitars, PRS Custom models, and US-made Fender guitars. But some of my best guitars have been from budget brands like Epiphone and Harley Benton

— Chris Horton, ELECTRIKJAM

Best Budget Guitar Brands

Harley Benton

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Squier

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Yamaha

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Ibanez

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Epiphone

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Latest Budget Guitars News & Reviews

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is the Harley Benton SC-500 worth buying? Here's a complete guide on everything you need to know -- pros and cons

I know what you’re thinking: I have to spend a fortune to get a good guitar, right? Not so long ago, this might have been the case.

But nowadays, there are plenty of affordable – dare I say, cheap – guitar options for beginner and even advanced players on a tighter budget.

We test loads of guitars every year. The best brands, the brands we trust and rate based on our testing and experience, are featured up top in the box, with links out to our reviews and round-ups.

If they’re listed above, it means they play legit and sound great. And we include all brands too – from Squier to Harley Benton and Epiphone to more obscure brands like AIO Guitars and Sire Guitars.

Why? Simple: not everyone can afford a PRS or a Gibson or a Fender. But the good news is it doesn’t really matter.

If you have anywhere from $200 to $500 laying around to spend on a guitar, you can pick yourself up a killer electric guitar that’ll be good enough for recording and playing live.

The Best Value Guitars

Best Budget Electric Guitars & Brands: The Ultimate Guide [2024]

When it comes to value for money, it pays to know what you’re looking at as well as understand how and where guitars are made.

Take the example of Tokai; it makes loads of different models of guitars. But if you want a GOOD Tokai, you’ll want a Japanese-made one, not one built in China.

I have a Chinese-made Tokai. It is a piece of sh*t.

I also own a few Squier guitars, Fender’s budget, entry-level brand, and these play beautifully compared to my Chinese Tokai Les Paul.

From the action to the neck and how it plays, Fender’s Squier brand is a brilliant option for new and/or aspiring guitar players. You can even get Squier guitars built for metal with humbucker pickups.

True to the Jazzmaster tradition of smashing rules, the Squier Contemporary Active Jazzmaster is packed with audacious new features.

harley benton guitars guide

Sporting a matching headstock for a sleek aesthetic and black chrome hardware for a stealthy vibe, this guitar looks as sinister as it sounds. It features a Tune O Matic style bridge, and dual active pickups ready for Metal!

And then you have brands like Harley Benton. Chris recently tested a bunch of these guitars and was really impressed by them. And most Harley Benton guitars, even its eight-string ones, cost less than $200.

If you want our advice though you really cannot go wrong with brands like Epiphone, Schecter, Sire, and Squier – these brands all produce amazing value guitars that look great, play great, and sound great.

My personal favorite? The Epiphone SG Standard. For the money, less than $400, I honestly don’t think there is a better guitar on the market right now, especially if you like classically-designed guitars.

To Buy or Not to Buy: The Low-Cost Electric Guitar Debate

Best Budget Electric Guitars & Brands: The Ultimate Guide [2024]

Upsides:

  • Budget-Friendly: Perfect for strumming into the guitar world without emptying your wallet.
  • Test Drive: Ideal for figuring out if guitar playing is your jam.
  • Quality on a Budget: Surprisingly good picks from trusted brands.
  • Future Mods: Start here, then upgrade parts or go for that dream guitar.

Downsides:

  • Component Compromise: Might not be as smooth, could need more tune-ups, or offer fewer sound variations.
  • Frustration Factor: A less playable guitar might dampen your rockstar dreams.
  • Extra Expenses: Setups and tweaks might add to the cost.

The Verdict: For the budget-conscious newbie, it’s a solid yes. Just be smart about your choice and maybe budget for a setup.

Top Picks for the Budget-Conscious Rocker

Ibanez RG Series

Looking for a starter electric that won’t break the bank but still delivers? Check out these crowd-pleasers:

  • Squier: Snag that Fender tone without the hefty price tag. Known for reliability and a smooth playing experience.
  • Yamaha: A hit for consistency and comfort, making it perfect for beginners.
  • Ibanez: The go-to for rockers and metalheads, offering sleek designs and versatile sounds without the hefty price.
  • Epiphone: Get the Gibson feel with these budget-friendly beauties, known for their warm sounds and comfy playability.
  • Jackson: Dive into the shred scene with these entry-level axes that promise performance without the price sting.

What’s a Fair Price for an Electric Guitar?

What Kind Of Pickups Are In A Les Paul Epiphone

Budgets and “decent” prices vary, but here’s a quick riff on what to expect:

  • Under $150: You’re in beginner land. Choose wisely and consider a setup.
  • $150-$300: A sweet spot for better builds and features.
  • $300-$500: Here’s where quality and versatility start to sing.
  • Over $500: Entering the realm of premium materials, craftsmanship, and tones.

Choosing Your First Electric Guitar

Harley Benton SC-500
Harley Benton SC-500: The Perfect Beginner’s Guitar?

The “best” beginner guitar is like picking your first song—it’s personal. But for a head start, consider these fan favorites:

  • Squier Stratocaster: A classic with versatile tones and a comfortable feel.
  • Yamaha Pacifica: Top-notch build and playability, with a sound that suits many styles.
  • Ibanez GIO GRG121DX: Sleek, fast, and metal-ready.
  • Epiphone Les Paul Special II: Dive into blues and classic rock with those iconic Gibson tones.
  • Jackson JS Series Dinky JS1: Shred without shedding too much cash, and still get a decent sound.

The best guitar is the one that feels right in your hands. Test-drive a few, consider your musical tastes, and you’ll be able to find the perfect guitar for your exact needs.

If you’re into metal and want something that’ll not only sound incredible but also won’t break the bank, our advice would be to go with one of these Harley Benton models – they’re bloody exceptional.


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