The Best Electric Guitars For Beginners Under $200

by | Mar 11, 2020 | Hobby And Crafts, Music

In this article, we will discover the best electric guitars. This guide was written by the editorial staff of MyReviewing. The products are independently selected. MyReviewing receives remuneration when one of our readers makes their online purchases. Find out more

Myreviewing comparison. The best electric guitars have always made you dream, but you do not know which one to choose to begin? We tested 13 models marked Fender, Epiphone, Ibanez, Yamaha electric guitar, and others. Here are our choices of models offering comfort and sound quality at low prices.

After testing 13 first prize guitars for 24 hours with a team of teachers, students, musicians, and a guitar repairer, we believe the top-rated Squier by Fender HSS Bullet Strat 2020 is the best beginner guitar. It is comfortable, its weight is reasonable, and it offered satisfaction from the first use (and even more, when adjusted correctly). Also, its set of sensors and controls offers sufficient sound variations to satisfy beginners, who can try to find their sound, whatever styles of music they are interested in. If you are looking for the best electric guitars, then Fender FA-100 is one of them. Do you want to know about the best electric guitars? Then read this article till the end. 

Even if our testers have appreciated many guitars, the best Squier by Fender HSS Bullet Strat 2020 is the one that got the best reviews, both in terms of comfort, sound, and value for money. All the members of our panel found that its manufacturing quality and its design were sufficient to make it not only a reliable study guitar but also an excellent secondary guitar for musicians who go on stage. Squier is one of the small electric guitars.

WE ALSO RECOMMEND

To our surprise, the teenagers among our testers mostly preferred the simplicity and comfort of the ideal Les Paul Express Epiphone to its more flamboyant competitors. This small guitar also called “short scale”, or “short-scale” in English, is comfortable for little hands, and thanks to its compact size, it can be transported easily. It also offers good sound and surprisingly excellent playability, given its meager price.

Apart from the Les Paul Express Epiphone, which stood out in the mini guitar category, no other model has stood out from the rest, and the guitars we have chosen are the ones with the best averages. Our testers having liked several guitars tested, you may find a guitar more suited to your own needs in our “Competition” section, where we comment on all the guitars tested.

The full test

·     Why trust us

·     Who Are Beginners Electric Guitars For

·     Our selection method

·     How we tested them

·     What about the settings?

·     Our 1st choice of beginner electric guitar: the Squier by Fender HSS Bullet Strat

·     They also like our first choice

·     Non-crippling faults

·     For children and travelers: the Epiphone Les Paul Express guitar

·     Competition

·     To come up…

·     sources

Why trust us

As per one of our reviewers, Although I have spent a large part of my life writing on audio material, I have been playing the guitar seriously since the 1970s, and I have participated in numerous concerts with jazz, rock, and folk groups in New York. And Los Angeles. When was the electric guitar invented? The frying pan was the first electric guitar, created in 1931. Today, I mainly play double bass and ukulele; I am currently part of three jazz groups in Los Angeles, and I also regularly replace musicians in two other groups. I also organize jazz jam sessions almost weekly, in which I accompany many guitarists of very different levels, who handle all kinds of guitars. Having done countless multi-listener audio product reviews over the past 25 years or so, I know how to test sessions like this.

Two guitar teachers acted as the testers of choice for this guide:

·     Ken Rosser is a guitar teacher at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood. During his career, he has worked with jazz musicians Billy Higgins, Bennie Wallace, and Vinny Golia. He also recently played with the Grandmothers, a group of alumni from the group of Frank Zappa.

·     Fred Sokolow is a famous multi-instrumentalist and author of educational books on stringed instruments. He has participated in countless rock, jazz, and folk concerts. He currently plays with his retro jazz group in Los Angeles and often travels to give lessons on the maintenance of string instruments.

Fred’s wife, Lynn Shipley Sokolow, played the role of an adult student in our team of testers. She plays double bass and banjo in the American quartet Sugar in the Gourd but is just starting to learn the electric guitar. To evaluate the short tuning fork guitars, I also consulted two teenagers who are currently learning to play. Alana Wood, 15, who helped us with our guides The best acoustic guitar for beginners and The best ukulele for beginners (guides in English) and Charles Lesser, 13.

I also called on Paul Allen of MyReviewing for his opinion. A Los Angeles studio musician who frequently writes for Myreviewing, he holds a master’s degree in music from the University of Southern California. He has over ten years of experience teaching music in private schools.

Who Are Beginners Electric Guitars For

Even if acoustic guitars have been more successful for some time than electric guitars. The electric guitar remains the benchmark instrument in rock music as well as an essential element in many groups of the country, R & B, pop and jazz. If you want to play in a band, you will need the best electric guitar. Likewise, if you’re going to develop your ability to play melodies and solos, since the best electric guitars are, in general, better designed for quick finger, and their sound comes out better in the overall sound produced by a group.

The best electric guitars also appeal to adults who played in their youth and would like to get back to this instrument. Manufacturing abroad, both very efficient and inexpensive has led to a new generation of cheap guitars that offer playability and sound very close to those of more expensive models. This was not the case 20 years ago; few first prize guitars were worth it. We also discovered, when writing our article, “The best amp for an electric guitar for beginners,” that there are several very correct amps at around 100 euros; an adult can, therefore, get back in the saddle for less than 300 euros.

Our selection method

Anyone who has been looking to buy a guitar (of any type) recently knows that the number of brands has increased, as well as the number of models offered by most major manufacturers. If only at Squier (Fender) and Epiphone, you will find around 20 different models for less than 200 euros, and that’s without counting the different colors available. When you add the top guitar brands (some seem to only exist on Amazon), you easily go up to more than 50 different models. It is too much for a test panel because, as we understood during our tests on ukuleles, when we have more than a dozen instruments to test, it becomes difficult to sort.

The list of the best guitar brand is listed below:

· Gibson, 

· Fender electric guitars, 

· PRS, 

· G&L, 

· Rickenbacker

· Ibanez, 

· ESP, 

· Jackson

I started by consulting an old friend, Ken Korman, guitarist for the New Orleans group The O-Pines and passionate about guitars, whatever their price. It gave me a good idea of ​​the types of guitars that have hit the market in recent years and the models we need to look at. A visit to the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) show in Los Angeles also helped.

These small guitars are intended for teenagers or travel use. From left to right, the Les Paul Express Epiphone, the Squier by Fender Mini Strat, the Jackson Rhoads Minion, the Jackson Dinky Minion, and the Ibanez GRGM21 Mikro. Wirecutter / Kyle Fitzgerald

I then browsed Amazon, Sweetwater, Musician’s Friend and other online musical instrument sites to see the models available. Having found several promising guitars below 200 euros, I decided to make them our maximum price. I’m not saying that models costing more than 200 euros are not worth the price difference, but the ones we recommend here are more than suitable for beginners who want to put the odds on their side.

I then went to six music stores in Los Angeles to play on as many guitars as possible (more than 60 models, including several copies of the same guitars) and get an idea of ​​their quality from the first use, but also to find out which offered the best value for money. I came out with a list of the most promising models and contacted the manufacturers to request a copy. It has happened twice that I allow manufacturers to choose another model that they consider more appropriate for this guide.

We also decided to test a separate group of smaller guitars with a length of a tuning fork (the distance between the nut at the top of the neck and the bridge that supports the strings on the body of the instrument) of about 56 cm, against 63 to 65 cm for most large format electric guitars. These models are generally more comfortable for teenagers because their smaller hands do not have to force to reach the ropes, and many adults also like them because their compact size allows them to be carried more easily when traveling.

Here are the large format best electric guitars we tested: Epiphone Les Paul SL, Ibanez GRGA120 Gio, Indio 66 Classic, Indio Retro DLX Quilted Maple, Jackson JS11 Dinky, Squier by Fender Affinity Series Jazzmaster, Squier by Fender HSS Bullet Strat and Yamaha Pacifica PAC012. And small guitars: Epiphone Les Paul Express, Ibanez GRGM21 Mikro, Jackson Dinky Minion JS1X, Jackson Rhoads Minion JS1X, and Squier by Fender Mini Strat.

How we tested them

Ken Rosser strums his favorite guitar among all the tested models, the Yamaha Pacifica PAC012.

Since, most of the best electric guitars offer much more tuning possibilities than acoustic guitars, the configuration, and configuration of the latter is more important than on an acoustic model, which does not have much to adjust. We decided that John and I testers electric guitars to the out of the box, with the supplied strings and the factory settings, then we would ask a professional to equip them with strings Ernie Ball Regular Slinky to caliber .010 to 046 (one of the strings most used for the best electric guitars for decades. Avishay Shabat, who runs the Guitar Groomer repair shop in Woodland Hills, California, and who also manufactures his own line under the brandShabat Guitars, took care of everything related to technique.

Lynn Shipley Sokolow and Fred Sokolow are testing the Ibanez GRGA120 Gio and the Fender HSS Bullet Strat. Wirecutter / Brent Butterworth

John and I discarded two or three guitars that arrived in a condition that would not allow them to be used, as we believe that any guitar should offer a minimum of playability when purchased. Avi Shabat was of our opinion: ”the more problems a guitar presents when it is given to me, the heavier the estimate in terms of adjustments to be made. » We did not adjust the short-scale guitars, for two reasons: first, we think that a guitar for teens (a model often bought at low prices and offered as a gift) should allow to play in an acceptable way from the first use, without any adjustment; secondly, all the small models we received offered very good playability right out of the box and were fitted with similar caliber strings.

We evaluated amplifiers at the same time as the guitars, so I let each tester use the amp of their choice. As for our two teen testers, I gave them the choice between a Fender Champion 20 and a Vox Pathfinder 10 . The affordable Vox Pathfinder 10‘s price is $89.99.

Alana and Charles in full swing on the Jackson Dinky Minion and the Jackson Dinky Rhoads. Wirecutter / Brent Butterworth

I did not give the testers any instructions, except to keep in mind that we test above all the models intended for beginners and, secondly, for more experienced players who could choose one model as second (or third, fourth or fifth) guitar, or as a platform for experimentation around modifications with new microphones and electronic equipment.

In general, our testers liked most of the guitars and found that almost all of them would be suitable for beginners, if not more advanced players. They all named their favorite models but recognized that players with different styles and tastes could draw different conclusions.

What about the settings?

Since the settings on a guitar that leaves the factory can be good or bad (and there are few music stores that bother to make the settings on guitars at low prices), we strongly recommend that you have tuned your new guitar by a professional, which should cost you around 50 euros. You can also learn to do it yourself; there are lots of online tutorials, and even at the age of 15, I had managed to understand how to adjust my first electric guitar with some instructions given by my guitar teacher. Any electric guitarist should at least learn how to adjust the height of the strings in relation to the neck, because they will have to adjust it according to their style and the progress made.

A pro will nevertheless be essential if the instrument has low-quality frets, which is often the case on first price guitars. An advantage will be able to file irregular edges and polish the upper part, tasks which may disconcert a handyman and damage the guitar.

Our 1st choice of beginner electric guitar: the Squier by Fender HSS Bullet Strat

As a Los Angeles based musician, I often hear guitarists marvel at the quality of the latest Squier by Fender guitars given their price. The best Squier by Fender HSS Bullet Strat is no exception. Apart from a few minor complaints, it is only a well-made version of a design that has been tried and tested for decades at a very affordable price. It is one of the cheap electric guitars. All of our testers found the playability and sound to be very good and felt that overall it felt like playing on a more expensive guitar.

“I’m not very connected, Strat,” said Ken Rosser, ”but this one and the Yamaha are my two favorites. The frets are excellent and the sensors sound good, as long as you do not use the switch to associate them, which dilutes the sound too much. “Fred Sokolow agreed: ”outside the buzzing [we are talking below], I loved everything about this guitar.”

John Higgins demonstrates some of the sounds available on the HSS Bullet Strat, played here with the Fender Champion 20 amp.

The most of this Squier? The use of a humbucker sensor at the bridge, which earned him his nickname HSS (Humbucker-Single-Single). Humbuckers (two single-coil sensors joined together and wired out of phase to cancel noise) are much quieter than single-coil sensors. However, they do not have the high pitch of single-coil sensors. Most rock guitarists almost always use the bridge sensor because it provides a more transparent and more precise sound than the neck sensor. In most cases, the HSS Bullet Strat will, therefore, produce a stable, harmless sound.

The top Bullet Strat is also available in an SSS version with three single-coil sensors instead of a humbucker and two single-coils. This is the preferred configuration of legendary Strat players, from Jimi Hendrix to John Mayer. It offers a more precise sound at the bridge sensor, at the expense of louder snoring.

The Bullet Strat is not sold with a carrying bag, but since the Strats have been manufactured for over 60 years, there is a vast choice of bags and cases for storing these models. The black strat is the most expensive guitar in the world, with a price of $3.975 million. 

This guitar is also available in different packs, including an amp and other accessories, like this one, which is sold with a Fender Frontman 10G amp, a cable, picks, and a tuner. Note, however, that Fender offers a truly exceptional amp with built-in effects, the best selling Champion 20 2020, for a barely higher price. We strongly recommend putting a little more money into the Champion 20, which offers almost all guitarists almost any sound they can imagine, without the need for effect pedals. To learn more about the Champion 20, read our guide to the best electric guitars for beginners. The best guitar for beginners in Fender FA-100 and Yamaha FS800.

If the HSS Bullet Stratocaster is not available in a left-handed version, the Affinity Series Stratocaster, similar and slightly more expensive, offers a suitable model. This guitar differs from our first choice by the slightly higher quality of its components and better finish (from our experience with the Affinity Series Jazzmaster). It has a single coil sensor instead of a humbucker at the bridge (which is noisier but produces a clearer sound) as well as a vibrato system.

They also like our first choice

GuitarFella evaluated the Bullet Strat , and despite some minor regrets, concluded the following: ”It was meant to be the ultimate beginner guitar. Seeing what she is doing today, it is fair to say that Squier has succeeded. AudioRumble says it ”sets the benchmark for all other budget guitars.” “The last time we checked, the average rating on Amazon was only 4.0 out of 5 by 14 opinion, but the only specific complaints visibly involved damage during delivery.

Non-crippling faults

A criticism often came back to our testers: the middle sensor and that of the single-coil handle buzzed too much. This is a feature of single-coil sensors. The HSS Bullet Strat has the advantage of having a humbucker, and if you combine the sensors of the bridge and the center or that of the center and the neck with the selector, it cancels the buzz. Furthermore, the use of a single-coil sensor at the level of the handle makes it difficult to obtain the velvety and jazzy tones of guitars whose humbucker is at the level of the handle, but we imagine that rare are the beginners who seek this type of sound.

Another minor drawback for our testers is the two-tone controls of the Bullet Strat. One sets the tone for the middle sensor, and the other for the neck sensor. There is no tone control for the bridge. Although this configuration dates back to the birth of the Stratocaster in 1954, it can still seem counter-intuitive and disturbing.

For children and travelers: the Epiphone Les Paul Express guitar 

Since all the other small guitars were much more flashy, I couldn’t believe that Alana and Charles, our teen testers, both chose the best Epiphone Les Paul Express as their favorite short-scale model. It turns out that our young reviewers didn’t care about the appearance of the guitars, favoring comfort. In their eyes, the Les Paul Express was as comfortable as an excellent old sweatshirt.

John Higgins demonstrates the basic sounds offered by the Les Paul Express, produced via a Fender Champion 20 amp.

“I appreciate it for its lightness and simplicity,” explained Alana, referring to the weight of the guitar, 2.3 kg. ”I better put my hand around the handle on it,” said Charles. They both found the rounded shape of the Les Paul Express more comfortable than the sharp cutouts of most other small models, and said the smooth finish on the back of the handle made it easier to play. Adults were d agree: ”I’m surprised. For a small guitar, it is charming in terms of playability,” said Ken Rosser.

The Les Paul Express has everything a beginner needs and nothing more. Its controls are undoubtedly simple, but it can still output a reasonable range of sounds. Unlike some best electric guitars at meager prices, the height of the bridges and the intonation are individually adjustable for each string. Its humbucker sensors give a more velvety sound than the single-coil sensors of the Squier by Fender Mini Strat, and even more velvety than other guitars for teens equipped with a humbucker that we tested. That said, the latter does not produce the buzz that we know on the Mini Strat either.

The only real downside is the keys, which are deficient quality and do not turn smoothly, but still manage to do what they are asked. The Les Paul Express may move in all directions in a standard size carrying bag, but Epiphone offers an affordable carrying bag, specially designed for its Express guitars.

I couldn’t find a professional reviewer for the Les Paul Express. Last time we checked out, it had an average rating of only 3.8 out of 5 based on 17 user reviews on Amazon, but the majority of the complaints I found on Amazon and other sites were about wrong settings in the factory. This was not the case for our guitar, but it was right for the additional copy of the Epiphone that we received as well as for many inexpensive Epiphone that I tried in the store.

Competition

We have reviewed over 40 guitars for this guide, and we have tested the 13 most promising models. There are many types of electric guitars. Apart from two or three of them, our testers have found, as Lynn Shipley Sokolow says, that ”they are all of the excellent quality and suitable for beginners. “Some models we have not to be selected can be better choices for beginner guitarists who like a particular style, especially metal, by far the largest market for brands such as Ibanez and Jackson. List of the best electric guitars is given below:

Epiphone Les Paul SL  : with its thin and super light body, Epiphone Les Paul SL is the best budget guitar. Its single coil sensors emit a loud buzz, many notes sizzle, and its essential bridge does not allow you to adjust the pitch and intonation of the strings individually. The best electric guitar under 500, the Epiphone Les Paul SL’s price is $119.

Ibanez GRGA120 Gio: this one of the best electric guitars has a good build quality and excellent playability, but it is limited in the variety of sounds it can produce. ”It is designed for a teenager who wants to play metal and nothing else,” says Ken Rosser. So, we can say that Ibanez GRGA120 Gio is one of the best metal guitars.  

Ibanez GRGM21 Mikro: even if our teen testers did not adore this mini-scraper intended for metal, Fred Sokolow and Ken Rosser appreciated its fluid playing and its powerful sound. It’s an excellent choice for anyone who wants to indulge in heavy rock. The best Ibanez GRGM21 Mikro price is $129. Some of the best selling Ibanez GRGA120 Gio reviews 2020 are given below:

· It has incredible quality.

· Get this product at an affordable price.

Cheap Indio 66 Classic: The most versatile guitar, Indio, is a new brand of Monoprice. Most of our testers liked the 66 Classic, especially its pleasant sound sensors, its good balance, and its smooth play. One of our testers has made it her favorite. If you are looking for a good Les Paul style guitar, then Indio 66 Classic is the best cheap electric guitar. 

Indio Retro DLX Quilted Maple: The best Indio Retro DLX Quiled Maple has a nice finish, but it arrived in a questionable state, with loose and slightly twisted tone control, and crackling on almost all notes. It is also equipped with the plump and relatively thick handle of the Telecaster, which beginners may find uncomfortable.  

Jackson JS11 Dinky: the super-powerful sensors of the great Jackson JS11 Dinky give it a sound that arises from the speakers, an effect that I found excellent for jazz. Even after a professional adjustment, some notes still sizzled, indicating poor quality of the frets.

Jackson Dinky Minion JS1X: Fred Sokolow, Ken Rosser, and I all loved the consistent and robust sound of the pickups on this short-scale guitar, and we all appreciated its playability. Like the Ibanez GRGM21 Mikro, it is an ideal choice for beginners who play metal. The Jackson Dinky Minion JS1X price is $200.

Jackson Rhoads Minion JS1X: many testers loved the sound and playability of this little V-shaped guitar. It is, however, almost impossible to play it while seated, and it does not stay tuned very long. The top-rated Jackson Rhoads Minion JS1X price is $827.

Squier by Fender Affinity Series Jazzmaster: our testers liked the build quality of the Affinity Jazzmaster, superior to that of the Bullet Series, but due to its weight and its slightly oblique balance, we could not make it a favorite. If you need the best bass guitar, then you can also buy Squier Affinity electric guitar. The best Squier by Fender Affinity Series Jazzmaster reviews 2020 are given below:

· It is an excellent choice for beginners.

· It is so Payable.

Squier by Fender Mini Strat: Our teen testers appreciated the featherweight and clear, resounding sound of the Mini Strat, but the crackling of single-coil sensors can get annoying. Also, they found it’s cut less comfortable than that of our favorite model for teens and travel.

The best selling Yamaha Pacifica PAC012 is very similar to our first choice, the Squier by Fender HSS Bullet Strat. Several testers preferred the configuration of its tone controls, even if it is more substantial than our favorite model. Without the availability problems encountered by this model, it would have come in second place in this guide. The best budget electric guitar is Yamaha Pacifica PAC012. If you are a beginner, then Yamaha Pacifica PAC012 is the best starter guitar. The best selling Yamaha Pacifica PAC012 price is $17999.

To come up…

We started preparing this guide just after the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) in January 2018 in Anaheim, California. We did not notice any significant innovation in the category of electric guitars for less than 200 euros when we were there, but new guitars can be released at any time. We are on the alert and will test new models as soon as possible. We have discussed different types of guitars in this article. Some of them are the best cheap guitars, and some are expensive. After reading this article, you would be about to know about the best electric guitars.

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