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Best Guitar For Beginners: 6 Insanely Great Options [2023]

Electric Guitar Scale Length Comparison

You’re a total beginner and you want a guitar. But what’s the BEST guitar for beginners w/ respect to price, features, and overall playability? These are our #1 picks for 2023 and beyond…


Editor’s Choice
  • Pros:
    • Amazing pickups
    • Close to quality of Gibson model
    • Huge sound/tone
    • A near-perfect electric guitar
The “DO IT ALL” Option
  • Pros:
    • Varied pickups
    • Comfortable neck
    • 5-way switch
    • Outstanding build quality
    • Perfect for gigging / recording
The “Tele Lovers” Option
Premium Feels On A Budget
  • Pros:
    • Hot humbuckers
    • 22 medium frets, 3-way switch
    • Stunning build quality
    • Ideal for aspiring metal guitarists
The “Aspiring Shredder” Option
  • Pros:
    • Signature Jackson “shred” neck for speed
    • 24 frets
    • Humbuckers
    • Lightweight
    • Maple fretboard
The “Cheap n’ Chugful” Option
  • Pros:
    • Iconic Shape
    • Dual humbuckers
    • Affordable
    • Three-Way Switch
    • Ideal For Modding
Editor’s Choice
Pros:
  • Amazing pickups
  • Close to quality of Gibson model
  • Huge sound/tone
  • A near-perfect electric guitar
The “DO IT ALL” Option
Pros:
  • Varied pickups
  • Comfortable neck
  • 5-way switch
  • Outstanding build quality
  • Perfect for gigging / recording
The “Tele Lovers” Option
Pros:
  • Incredible Value for Money
  • Passive single-coil pickups sound delicious
  • Vintage Aesthetic
  • Reliable Hardware
Premium Feels On A Budget
Pros:
  • Hot humbuckers
  • 22 medium frets, 3-way switch
  • Stunning build quality
  • Ideal for aspiring metal guitarists
The “Aspiring Shredder” Option
Pros:
  • Signature Jackson “shred” neck for speed
  • 24 frets
  • Humbuckers
  • Lightweight
  • Maple fretboard
The “Cheap n’ Chugful” Option
Pros:
  • Iconic Shape
  • Dual humbuckers
  • Affordable
  • Three-Way Switch
  • Ideal For Modding

Overview of The Best Electric Guitars For Beginners 2023

#6 Epiphone SG Special

Epiphone SG Special
  • Iconic Shape: Recognized in metal/rock; facilitates easy upper fret access.
  • Features: Dual humbuckers, 22 frets, fixed bridge, 4 finishes, 24.75″ scale, 3-way toggle.
  • Value: Affordable, quality beginner’s guitar with upgrade potential.
  • Legacy: Used by legendary bands; versatile for various music styles.

The SG Special stands out in the metal scene, embraced by giants from AC/DC to Radiohead. It’s not just about the look; the design offers easy access for solos.

Epiphone packs this model with essentials: dual humbuckers, a fixed bridge, and a 3-way toggle, all at a beginner-friendly price. It’s also a modder’s dream, ready for upgrades.


#5 Jackson Dinky JS22

Jackson Dinky JS22
  • Shredder’s Choice: Signature Jackson “shred” neck for speed and comfort.
  • Build: 24 frets, humbuckers, fixed/tremolo bridge options, compound radius fretboard.
  • Materials: Lightweight poplar body, maple or rosewood fretboard.
  • Consideration: Electronics may need upgrading for the discerning player.

For 30 years, Jackson has been synonymous with metal. The JS22 is a shredder’s delight, with its signature neck and a compound radius fretboard for effortless play.

It’s light, thanks to the poplar body, and versatile with various bridge and fretboard options. The electronics might need an upgrade, but it’s a solid foundation for speed demons.


#4 Ibanez GIO GRG20Z

Ibanez GIO GRG20Z
  • Budget-Friendly: Entry-level model retaining Ibanez’s quality.
  • Construction: Hot humbuckers, 22 medium frets, 3-way switch, bound purpleheart fretboard.
  • Heritage: Shares lineage with guitars used by top metal artists.
  • Versatility: Offers a classic style with a wallet-friendly tag.

Ibanez’s GIO series brings the essence of their high-end guitars to a budget-friendly level. The GRG20Z is no exception, with its bound purple heart fretboard and hot humbuckers.

It’s a piece of Ibanez’s metal legacy, offering a slice of their renowned quality without the hefty price tag.

For beginner metal fans that want to play fast but need to dial in their chops, the GRG20Z is a brilliant platform to learn on before progressing onto one of Ibanez’s more expensive models.


#3 Harley Benton TE-52 Vintage Series

Harley Benton TE-52 Vintage Series
  • Classic Design: A nod to the timeless ’52 Telecaster style.
  • Construction: Quality woods with a high-gloss Butterscotch finish.
  • Playability: Comfortable neck profile, suitable for various playing styles.
  • Affordability: Exceptional value for both beginners and experienced players.

The Harley Benton TE-52 takes a page from the iconic ’52 Telecaster, offering that classic look and feel without the vintage price tag.

It boasts a high-gloss Butterscotch finish over a quality wood body, and a neck profile that accommodates a wide range of playing styles.

This model stands out for its affordability, making it an excellent choice for players at any level seeking that vintage vibe. Whether you’re strumming chords or bending notes, the TE-52 delivers a reliable performance that belies its budget-friendly nature.


#2 Yamaha Pacifica Series

  • Versatile: Apt for various music genres, “Swiss Army Guitar” of features.
  • Features: Mixed pickups, comfortable neck, 5-way switch, vintage trem bridge.
  • Reliability: Proven durability through rigorous live performances.
  • Sound Variety: Offers multiple distinct sounds, ideal for recording.

The Pacifica is a testament to Yamaha’s commitment to quality and versatility. It’s a multi-genre master, with a mix of pickups and a comfortable neck profile.

My personal experience? It’s a reliable workhorse, delivering consistent performance on stage and in the studio. It’s a top pick for its diverse sounds and solid build.


#1 Epiphone Les Paul Studio

Epiphone Les Paul Studio (1)
  • Iconic: Favoured by professional musicians across genres.
  • Quality: Close to its Gibson counterpart in features but more cost-effective.
  • Longevity: A guitar that grows with the player, requiring minimal upgrades.
  • Personal Experience: Proven track record in performance and recording

The Les Paul Studio is a rock-solid choice, offering the prestige of the Les Paul lineage at a fraction of the cost. It’s a serious instrument, capable of handling the demands of both beginners and seasoned players.

My own Epiphone saw years of service, from countless gigs to recording sessions, without missing a beat. It’s an investment that pays off in spades, both in sound and quality.


Why We Chose The Epiphone Les Paul Studio

🎸 Key Takeaways:

  • Top Pick: The Epiphone Les Paul Studio leads the pack.
  • Tone Quality: It delivers some of the best sounds available at its price.
  • Design & Features: With a design that mirrors the much pricier Gibson Les Paul, it boasts excellent humbucker pickups and a neck designed for fast playing.
  • Stability: Tuning stability is top-notch, ensuring a smooth playing experience.
  • Beginner-Friendly: It’s an impeccable choice for new guitarists, offering a professional feel without the professional price tag.

During my quest to find the ideal guitar for newcomers, I’ve played and tested numerous candidates. Yet, the Epiphone Les Paul Studio has consistently held the top spot in my rankings.

My preference is rooted in its exceptional tone and playability, which is quite impressive for its price bracket.

Christopher Horton
Me and My Epiphone Les Paul Studio – On Tour Somewhere In Europe (Mid-2000s)

I have a personal connection with the Epiphone Les Paul Studio—it’s not just another guitar in my collection. I’ve toured with it, and it’s been my faithful companion on the road. The humbucker pickups on this guitar are a highlight for me.

They capture that legendary Les Paul sound that’s so beloved in the music world. Whether I’m laying down chunky rhythms or piercing leads, these pickups deliver a range that’s both responsive and versatile.

The tone of the Epiphone Les Paul Studio is noteworthy. It brings out the Les Paul’s characteristic warmth and sustain.

The combination of the mahogany body and maple top produces a sound that’s resonant and rich, with a clarity that makes each note distinct.

The sustain is further enhanced by the set-neck design, which is a signature feature of the Les Paul series. This design element contributes to a playing experience that rivals that of a high-end Gibson.

I’ve taken this guitar on tour, and it’s proven itself night after night on stage. It’s also been with me in the studio, where it’s laid down tracks that demand a professional sound.

Epiphone Les Paul Studio
Pros:
  • Amazing pickups, comfortable neck, close to standard of Gibson model, huge sound/tone, a near-perfect gigging / recording guitar
Cons:
  • It’s a little on the heavy side

The build quality is so close to a Gibson that it’s often hard to tell the difference, especially when you’re lost in the music. The smooth fretboard and classic finish are marks of a guitar that’s built to last and perform.

For beginners, the Epiphone Les Paul Studio is an inspiring starting point. It’s an instrument that you won’t outgrow quickly, which is essential when you’re developing your skills.

And for seasoned players who are watching their budget, this guitar is a reminder that great quality can still be affordable.

In short, the Epiphone Les Paul Studio is more than just a budget-friendly option—it’s a guitar that has seen me through tours and recording sessions, delivering reliability and quality every step of the way.

And make no mistake:

There is a direct correlation between how cool your guitar looks/feels and how often you pick it up to play. That’s science! If you have a guitar you enjoy, then you are more inclined to pick it up every chance you get.

And for me, based on my 20+ years of playing, recording and touring, you really cannot go wrong with an Epiphone Les Paul Studio.

Practical Buying Advice For First Timers

Guitar String Gauges

Picking the first guitar to start your musical journey can seem difficult. There are so many companies and so many styles that cater to Metal/Rock guitarists.

The key is to strike a good balance between price and features.

You don’t want something that will be firewood in a few months’ time. You want something reliable, that looks cool, and doesn’t hinder your learning process.

All of the guitars listed above, I have first-hand experience with. I have played them all and have even owned a couple of them! These are my picks for the best guitars for absolute beginners, based on my personal experience.

And they all retail for less than $499, although the top picks are closer to $499 than $199. But with guitars, that little bit extra in cost goes a long way. Trust me. A few hundred bucks more gets you better build quality, better pickups, and a more playable guitar with a better tone.

Things To Keep In Mind…

ELECTRIKJAM CONTACT

Picking your first guitar can be confusing, tough, and full of insecurity. But it doesn’t have to be! The quality of budget-friendly guitars is through the roof these days.

You just have a little knowledge to get started.

And knowledge is power when it comes to saving money!

20 years ago, you really couldn’t get a decent guitar for under $500. This is not the case anymore. The guitars on this list all price out around the $250 range on average!

Look, there are a few things guitar manufacturers don’t want you to know:

  • Price: Entry level guitars are less expensive and higher quality than ever before. Some of the budget models of Epiphones are made on the same machines as their more expensive models.
  • Play: not only are these budget guitars made well, and easy on the wallet, they also play great! Some may require a little work right out of the box. But there’s no reason to blow big money to get a good play experience anymore.
  • Build: Most budget guitars are built with the same parts and woods as their more expensive counterparts. They just lack some of the features that the more expensive models. This doesn’t change how they play or sound.

Do I play expensive guitars? Sure I do. This is what I do. They are tools of my trade.

If I was not able to afford something lavish, would I be happy with any of the guitars on this list? Absolutely. I would be just as proud of any one of the choices I have listed above.

Because in the end, guitar is all about your technique, and your own personal style. There is no better time than now to get started! And any one of these guitars is the perfect place to kick off your journey.

Editor’s Choice
  • Pros:
    • Amazing pickups
    • Close to quality of Gibson model
    • Huge sound/tone
    • A near-perfect electric guitar
The “DO IT ALL” Option
  • Pros:
    • Varied pickups
    • Comfortable neck
    • 5-way switch
    • Outstanding build quality
    • Perfect for gigging / recording
The “Tele Lovers” Option
Premium Feels On A Budget
  • Pros:
    • Hot humbuckers
    • 22 medium frets, 3-way switch
    • Stunning build quality
    • Ideal for aspiring metal guitarists
The “Aspiring Shredder” Option
  • Pros:
    • Signature Jackson “shred” neck for speed
    • 24 frets
    • Humbuckers
    • Lightweight
    • Maple fretboard
The “Cheap n’ Chugful” Option
  • Pros:
    • Iconic Shape
    • Dual humbuckers
    • Affordable
    • Three-Way Switch
    • Ideal For Modding
Editor’s Choice
Pros:
  • Amazing pickups
  • Close to quality of Gibson model
  • Huge sound/tone
  • A near-perfect electric guitar
The “DO IT ALL” Option
Pros:
  • Varied pickups
  • Comfortable neck
  • 5-way switch
  • Outstanding build quality
  • Perfect for gigging / recording
The “Tele Lovers” Option
Pros:
  • Incredible Value for Money
  • Passive single-coil pickups sound delicious
  • Vintage Aesthetic
  • Reliable Hardware
Premium Feels On A Budget
Pros:
  • Hot humbuckers
  • 22 medium frets, 3-way switch
  • Stunning build quality
  • Ideal for aspiring metal guitarists
The “Aspiring Shredder” Option
Pros:
  • Signature Jackson “shred” neck for speed
  • 24 frets
  • Humbuckers
  • Lightweight
  • Maple fretboard
The “Cheap n’ Chugful” Option
Pros:
  • Iconic Shape
  • Dual humbuckers
  • Affordable
  • Three-Way Switch
  • Ideal For Modding

Absolute Beginner? No problem.

Learn how to 10x your guitar playing, use all the latest gear, and record like a professional – all from the comfort of your bedroom!

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