Buying an electric guitar is a matter of personal choice. Two main features can be found in the best electric guitars only; how it feels in your hands, and how good it plays. You should buy an electric guitar that makes you feel comfortable when you are playing. The two features are not enough, though. You need to ask yourself what you need in a guitar.
A Quick Look
The Top 10 Electric Guitars Of This Year
10. Ernie Ball Music Man John Petrucci Majesty Monarchy
By just the looks of it, you can notice that it’s a premium guitar. The collaboration between John Petrucci and Ernie Ball Music Man gave rise to this piece of art. Virtuoso is responsible for the design, which is outstanding. The only downside is the hefty price tag.
Body and Neck
The Majesty Monarchy is truly designed for royalty. The finish of the body, the feel of the neck, and the sense of premium that is given off by this guitar is pure class. Even though it has a huge body, you can still spot the length body of 25.5” that has a double-cutaway shape that is beveled and contoured. To top it up, there is a contrasting matte back that is combined with a gloss that comes in different colors.
The African mahogany is used to make the body with a maple top. The sleek matte finish and the neck are made of the mahogany.
The headstock offers JP’s signature, and there are full 24 stainless steel jumbo frets, and an ebony fretboard.
For better tonal depth and range, the bridge of the guitar is equipped with a piezo pickup. The inclusion of high-end DiMarzio Sonic Ecstasy passive humbuckers helps with the tone as well.
The guitar is equipped with standard tone and volume knobs, which have their pull/push functions. By pushing the volume knob, you are offered a 20dB gain boost, while the tone control allows you to configure pickup. The inclusion of the piezo volume control that comes with a variety of controls gives you a chance of choosing various pickups.
The hardware has the M6-IND locking tuners that help to bring the guitar to life. It’s also made of a hardshell case that justifies its price tag.
The guitar has an impressive sound which is facilitated by the two DiMarzio humbuckers that produce thick aggression and rich syrup. The guitar also offers a well-balanced and crystal clear experience at high volumes and huge distortions. The piezo system helps to provide the full-bodied acoustic tones when needed.
9. Ibanez RG5121
The guitar was released in 2019 and has grown to become one of Ibanez premium electric guitars. The intriguing hardware and the solid design give it a beautiful look.
Body and Neck
The body of the RG5121 is made of the RG shape. It has sleek edges, comfortable contours, and a generous double cutaway that makes it easy for you to play. It has a sophisticated satin-finish that is painted Dark Tide Blue on the top and is an upgrade from the RG series as it exhibits the grown-up designs.
The solid African mahogany is exposed through the unpainted back and side. At the headstock, you will notice the beautiful Ibanez logo that is luminescent.
The neck of this guitar is made of alternating wenge and maple. It also has the Super Wizard HD profile from Ibanez that is bolted on the body.
The fretboard made of Macassar ebony has 24 jumbo stainless steel frets that make it easy for you to play. It also consists of the handy Luminlay side dots and pearl inlay dots. The setup, build, and finish is flawless, which shows the master craft of the Japanese facility.
Not only is the RG5121 beautiful, but it’s also designed for performance. The bridge and neck are filled with the modern ceramic humbuckers from Fishman Fluence. Fishman has a reputation to uphold, and they have done well in both acoustic and electronic guitar markets.
The RG5121 also has a three-way pickup selector switch, together with the master tone, and the master volume control knob. There is a mini switch in between these two. You can change the voicing of the guitar by taking advantage of the push/pull function that you can find on the volume control knob. The function gives you the opportunity of changing the voicing of the guitar.
The bridge of the RG5121 is a Gibraltar Standard II, while the headstock is fitted with the with a black TUSQ XL nut, and a set of Gotoh MG-T locking machine heads. The combination provides you with tuning stability when playing. You also get a hard-shell case when you buy this guitar, which is fitting the high prices.
There are a lot of sound features that this guitar has to offer. Whether you are into metal tuning or want to tap a single, the guitar is a perfect match for you. You can alternate between a relaxed sound and an active clinical tone.
8. Gibson Les Paul Standard 2019
The company may have undergone some financial problems in 2018, but that hasn’t impacted their way of creating the best electric guitars.
Body and Neck
Les Paul is made of the iconic single-cutaway body shape. The body is made of the impressive African mahogany together with the AAA figured maple top. If you are a vintage-inclined guitarist, you should get the Heritage Cherry Sunburst, or the bold finishes such as the Blueberry Burst, or the translucent Amber.
Each of them makes a great guitar since they feature the ultra-modern weight relief and the sleek high-gloss breathable nitrocellulose lacquer. The build and finish is nothing short of the standards set by Les Paul.
The neck fits perfectly in your arm because of the asymmetrical SlimTaper profile. On the neck, you will get the rosewood fretboard that has acrylic trapezoid inlays and the 22 medium frets.
Gibson Les Paul has two humbuckers, where one is a Lead located at the bridge, while the other one, which is the Rhythm is located at the neck. The guitar also has the HP-4 High-Performance Circuit that combines well with the modern controls.
There are two tone and volume controls with each made for the pickup. They also have the pull/push functionality. Through the use of the volume knobs, you are able to change the humbuckers to single-coils easily. Through the neck tone knob, you are able to change the phase of the pickup, and you can choose the outer and inner coils when splitting through the bridge tone control. The five dip switches that are located at the back provides you with more versatility and offers you the tonal flexibility.
The Gibson Les Paul also has tuning stability because of the Grover Locking Rotomatics tuners, TekToid nut that is self-lubricated, and the aluminum Nashville Tune-o-Matic bridge.
You can create any tone you want thanks to the coil splitting and tone controls, as well as other options that are made possible by the dip switches.
Whether you are in need of jazzy humbucker cleans, glowing blues grit, or sparkly Strat-style leads, the Les Paul delivers.
7. EVH Striped Series 5150
Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstrat is one of the best guitars ever designed. It’s compared to the ‘Arm the Homeless’ by Tom Morello Bullseye by Zakk Wylde. The 5150 is the latest addition to the collection and is worth the money.
Body and Neck
There is no way you cannot know that the 5150 is a Frankenstrat. It’s marked with the black and white stripes. The lower bout has the red hologram ‘5051’ stickers.
Although it may look like a lower-end Frankenstrat, the 5150 has some noticeable upgrades. It has maintained the double-cutaway body and has the same lightweight basswood construction. You will notice the bolt-on quartersawn maple neck which is very slick and one that can only be found on the C-shape profile that is modified. The maple fretboard that has 12” and 16” compound-radius that combines well with the 22 jumbo frets.
To make things interesting, the hockey-stick headstock has the same stripes found on the body.
The guitar was made in Mexico and came with amazing craftsmanship. It has an incredible look and plays the same.
The simplicity of the electronics that can be found on this guitar speaks the volume. The pickup that is nestled at the bridge is the only one on the guitar. The EVH Wolfgang Alnico 2 humbucker found on this model uses one volume knob to control it.
You will also notice the locking nut and the Floyd Rose bridge that is EVH branded. There is also an EVH D-Tuna function in the bridge. The function makes it easy for you to switch from E string to D tuning easily. It may sound like a small feature, but it’s priceless when you are playing.
The guitar also has EVH-designed tuning machines that come in a set of six. There is also truss rod adjustment thumbwheel that is heel-mounted. The only downside is that you don’t get a case with this guitar.
It may have one humbucker, but the sound is exceptional. The guitar offers the 1980’s metal tone when you plug it in. The cleans are quiet, clear, warm, and lively. The guitar has more power as you rump up the power. The guitar becomes punchy and aggressive with big distortions. However, it remains well balanced and articulate during this time. The 5150 is designed to deliver an accurate EVH tone.
6. Fender American Special Stratocaster
The legendary Fender has been used as a benchmark to compare different guitars. It has been considered to be among the best guitars of all time. If you need outstanding Vanilla Strats, you can only get the best in this guitar.
Body and Neck
Nearly every electric guitar that we have today has adopted the shape of the Stratocaster. The Fender American Special Stratocaster has an alder body, which has been known as its trademark. The Fender has a usual neck that consists of a sweet satin finish and has a 9.5-inch radius. This guitar has a lacquered maple fretboard.
The guitar has been said to have a weakness of Tremolo bridges. However, not all models have this weakness as the synchronized tremolo bridge doesn’t have this issue. The bridge has an amazing range and has six adjustable saddles. The F tuners that are located at the headstock play a major role in tuning retention and intonation. The strings are flexible enough that you can bend them as aggressively as needed.
The three single-coil pickups act as the trademark of the Stratocaster. They are responsible for the Strat tone that has been used by many musicians as the foundation of their next hit. The circuitry of this guitar is designed to accommodate all the playing techniques together with the single-coil buzz that has been reduced significantly. When you roll off the volume, the bass is kept low by the pots. In simple terms, the electronics of this guitar are fool-proof.
There is no introduction that is needed to describe the sound of this iconic American guitar. There are only a few guitars that can provide the tone definitions that have impressive warmth and range. It may not be a metal-dedicated guitar, there are some people who have put it through this use.
5. Yamaha RevStar RS420
If you are searching for an exceptional under $500 electric guitar, you should pay attention to the Yamaha Rev Star RS 420. Yamaha got an inspiration of this guitar from the 1960’s street-racing motorbikes that were stripped down in the streets of London.
Body and Neck
When looking at this guitar, you get the 1960’s vibes instantly. The guitar has some amazing vintage finishes that couple up with the bulbous shape. Fire Red, Factory Blue, and Black Steel are some excellent example of finishes that can be found on this guitar.
The hidden forearm contour, deeply belly cut and ergonomically sound are among the amazing features that can be found on this amazing music instrument.
Both the body and the neck are made of nato. The neck is slim and accessible, exposing the rosewood fretboard and the 22 frets. The guitar is easy to play and offers an outstanding feeling and is comfortable to hold.
If you need a strong but distinctively vintage output, the RS420 can do that through the two massive humbuckers that have Alnico V magnets. The master volume and master tone control the humbuckers, and there is a Dry Switch and three-way selector switch. You can turn the humbuckers into a hum-free single-coil through the Dry Switch that can be accessed through the push/pull function.
The chrome diecast tuners combine well with the stopbar tailpiece and the Tune-o-Matic bridge for tuning stability.
The sound of the RS420 is as vintage as the design. Even though the RS420 excels at mellow vintage, you can find powerful heavy rock tones. When you engage the Dry Switch, there is a great warmth through the humbuckers. For a guitar in that price range, it’s impressive to have such split-coil pickups. The notes are also lingering nicely.
4. Charvel Pro-Mod DK24 HSH 2PT CM
Charvel has been associated with George Lynch and EVH as high-speed shredders, and 30 years later, the company is still doing well. The DK24 HSM 2PT CM has amazing high-end features and remains in the list of the best sub-$1000 guitars that we have today.
Body and Neck
It may appear as a simple guitar by looking at it, but after a cross-examination, you will notice that it’s close to a premium guitar. The solid alder body consists of an impressive Dinky-style double-cutaway style. There are also two paint jobs that you can choose from, and they are both satin finished.
The two-piece neck of this guitar is made of dark maple, and sports silky-smooth finish. The feature is the same at the fretboard, which consists of florescent Luminlay side dots, Pearloid inlays, and 24 jumbo frets. The side dots are known to glow in the dark, which is perfect for stage performing.
The guitar is fun to play and is built for speed players since it has the 12” to 16” compound radius, rolled fretboard edges, and a 25.5” scale length. It has a descent setup, and the attention to details is excellent. The guitar is made in Mexico and has a great finishing.
You should expect to find two humbuckers with this guitar. The Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro APH-1N which is located at the neck, while the Seymour Duncan Full Shred SH-10B that can be found at the bridge.
The Custom Flat Strat SSL-6 single-coil separates the two humbuckers and is located in the middle position. The simple control tends to these three; the master volume control knob, and the master no-load tone control. They both have a 500K EVH Bourns low-friction potentiometer. In this area, there is a five-way selector switch.
Even though there is no accompanying locking nut, the diecast tuners from Charvel lock for extra stability. However, the guitar doesn’t include a gig bag, which is not a bad thing given the price.
For a guitar that is under $1000, you cannot complain about the sound quality. The Seymour Duncan offers solid pickups. You will also notice that the Full Shred that is located at the bridge is focused and clean. It has a balanced treble and a tight bass.
Whether you need modern metal or blues, the neck humbucker is warm enough for this purpose. Even though the Custom Flat Strat single-coil offers you a Strat-style sparkle, it does so with more beef.
3. Ibanez RG450DX
The majority of beginner guitarists have turned towards Ibanez because they are affordable. The RG450DX is considered to be among the best performing beginner’s electric guitars.
Body and Neck
The body has a standard Ibanez standard Super Strat. Not only does the body feature the Stratocaster pickguard, but it’s also made of high-quality mahogany. The neck is very comfortable, and it belongs to the Wizard III series. The neck has the rosewood fretboard that has standard Ibanez Shark Tooth inlays and is made out of maple. The guitar exists in different colors and has different finishes.
The guitar consists of Std. DL Tremolo Bridge, which has been considered to be a descent model and doesn’t have issues like the alternative ado. Tuning machines is not an issue with the Ibanez models.
The guitar has three Quantum pickups installed on this guitar. The middle part is made of a genuine alnico design, while the bridge and the neck pickups are ceramic. The three pickups are wired to one tone control knob, a single volume control knob, and a pickup selection switch that has been considered to be standard.
Not only are you getting the single coil experience with this guitar, but you will get the robust humbucker tone, which is something rare out there. The RG450DZ is versatile enough because of the center alnico pickup.
2. Yamaha Pacifica 112V
It’s common for beginners to try the Squier as a means of satisfying their Strat desires, but they fail to notice that the Pacifica has the same, if not more than the features that every beginner needs. The best thing about this guitar is that it fits well with students as well as experienced guitarists. It tops the list of the best under $300 electric guitars you can buy today.
Body and Neck
The guitar may appear as simple electric guitar, but after using it for a while, you will notice how unique it can get. It has a body that was inspired by the Strat. It has a curvaceous shape with long horns, and a sleek double-cutaway shape.
It’s made of alder, which is an ideal material that is used to make an affordable guitar like this. You can choose from two major finishes namely; vintage Sonic Blue, and the Red Raspberry. It takes the characteristics of a Strat as you will find a bolt-on maple neck, and the 25.5” scale length. It also has a rosewood fretboard that has 22 frets. The guitar is sleek and very playable with a thin satin finish.
The guitar may have a body inspired by a Strat, but the electronics used to push it at the top of the list of rock-inclined guitarists. The guitar has a humbucker at the bridge, and you get two single coils at the neck instead of three single coils. It doesn’t matter the style you are interested in, the presence of that humbucker is a game-changer. The coil-split function provides the guitar with much-needed versatility.
The pickups are wired to one volume and tone knob, where there is also a pickup select switch.
The bridge has six fully-adjustable saddles, and it has a synced tremolo design. Even though it may not be the best bridge even for the money, it can still serve you better provided you don’t abuse it. The tuners of this guitar are precise, but they are not unique.
In the hardware section, Yamaha has heavily borrowed from Fender. The bridges on this guitar may not be ideal for a beginner’s guitar, as the certain quality is needed to make them work.
Even with that said, Yamaha has managed to install a descent one on the Pacifica models. Being careful with it will improve its lifespan. The tuners are average even though they are not unique. Even though they are precise, caution should be taken not to push them too hard.
The bottom line is, the hardware of this guitar is much better than the majority of the guitars in the same price range.
The best way to define the sound quality of this guitar is by categorizing it in the class of affordable guitars. It packs a great sound quality for its price. The gain-rich distortions are dealt with very well by the humbucker that is at the bridge. It makes it ideal for people who play punk, rock, and metal. If you are into blues or jazz, it can be a great choice as well since it delivers crisp cleans. If you want to muddy up the tone, the neck and middle pickups can help you with that. The tone reflects how versatile this guitar can get. Definitely deserves the number 2 spot in this best electric guitars list.
1. Squier Affinity Stratocaster SSS
If you are on a budget and you need a guitar that is under $200 but can still provide you with the features same as a premium guitar, make sure you try the Stratocaster SSS. It’s a simple guitar that has a common design found on other electric guitars. You shouldn’t be put off by the low price as this guitar can be a great tool in the hands of an experienced guitarist. If you are starting and want to learn how to play this instrument, you should try this guitar.
Body and Neck
The guitar has followed the route taken by many guitars and has a traditional Stratocaster design. It also has a smooth contoured double-cutaway body shape. What makes this guitar to stand out from the entry-level Bullet collection is the fact that it has more vitality and glamour.
It can be translated to the colors since the Affinity Series are known to offer unique finishes and aesthetics compared to the entry-level Bullets.
The Affinity Strats has several options such as red versions, sunburst, standard silver, blue, black, Competition Orange, and a cool Surf Green, which is very common. The headstock of this guitar is unique and attractive, and you will sport a 1960’s-style design that has a Squier logo with two colors.
Even though it has a lower price, the guitar is pretty strong for its class. The manufacturers used alder for the body, while maple is used to craft the bolt-on neck. The result is a comfortable fretboard that is made of maple and satin and houses 21 medium jumbo frets.
The expensive HSS when compared with the Affinity SSS, you will notice that the two differ in the bridge pickup. The Affinity SSS has a third single-coil that is used to complete the lineup as opposed to the humbucker. Even though they are standard single-coils and have nothing special about them, they still get the job done. On the guitar, you will find the master volume, two tone knobs, and a five-way pickup selector switch. The combination provides you with a tonal versatility.
Looking at the hardware, you will notice that it was designed with affordability in mind. You will also sport the six-saddle synchronized tremolo bridge that has a vintage feel to it, which accompanies the whammy bar. There is a synthetic bone below the six sealed chrome tuners at the headstock.
The three single-coils may be a basic requirement for an electric guitar, but it offers a great Strat sound, while also involving a classic sparkle. Even though there is nothing sophisticated about the tone, it still manages to give out an impression when plugged on a descent amp. It’s a good selection for jazz due to the articulate cleans, even though it can still be used for blues and classic rock because when overdriven, the pickups provide enough bite. If you want to play heavier style music, it would be ideal if you got the HSS model. Definitely one of the best electric guitars out there. I would consider this guitar as one of the best guitars for jazz under $1000.
What Should You Look For In An Electric Guitar?
The money you are willing to part with to get an electric guitar will determine the type of guitar you will own. Some guitars might cost you thousands of dollars, while some will range from $300 to $700. Expensive doesn’t always translate to better, as you can find a $500 guitar that plays better than a $1000 guitar. Make sure you know your budget before deciding to shop for an electric guitar. If you think you are not ready to go with an electric guitar yet, you can check out our acoustic version of this buying guide.
There are different body types of guitars, and everyone has their preference. They include;
- Solid-Body – The type of guitar usually doesn’t have a soundbox and relies on the electric pickup system that helps to portray your music through the gathering of the string vibrations. Some people prefer this body type as it’s utterly dependent on the amplifiers. You can amplify it at high volume without worrying about the feedback. If you are into rock, classic rock, metal, or punk, this guitar is best for this purpose.
- Semi-Hollow – With this body type, you are getting a small soundbox while also retaining the ability to use an amplifier. You need to have proper adjustments even though there will be some feedback concerns. However, these guitars are usually lighter than the solid body and have been considered to be versatile. The semi-hollow bodied guitars use bright, warm, and nice overtones superlatives. They are a perfect fit for people who are into vintage country, rockabilly, and Jazz.
- Hollow – Hollow electric guitars are somewhat rare compared to the other two mentioned above. However, their resemblance to the acoustic guitars provides us with a brighter sound. Even with that said, there are some concerns regarding the feedback when playing in high volume. The majority of Jazz players love them.
Right of Left
It’s critical you buy a guitar that is compatible with your playing arm. The majority of electric guitars offer both.
Color Styles- this might be a personal choice, but it’s important if you buy a guitar that fits your feel on colors. The majority of guitar brands have different options, and if you are lucky enough, you can have one customized to fit your style.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Where Is The Best Place To Buy An Electric Guitar?
The first option would be to check with your local guitar shop. There are higher chances that you might find something that you need. However, if you come from a small town, or are having a problem finding what you need in your local store, you can try online. The downside of searching online for an electric guitar is that you will be bombarded with different information, which may result in information overload. That’s why we have taken this step for you and researched some of the best electric guitars you can buy today.
Who Should Buy An Electric Guitar?
Anyone who has a passion for playing this music instrument may buy it. However, you still need to know your level and the type of guitar that you need. Not all guitars are ideal for every level. The same way you won’t buy a $4000 guitar as a beginner, you cannot buy a $300 guitar for a gig performance or recording a piece of professional music. If you are starting, you should focus on an electric guitar that offers the basic features as it not expensive. The opposite is true if you are planning to take your music career further, as a premium guitar will be needed here. Buying an electric guitar will come down to two main things; you need to define the reason why you need a guitar, and also a personal taste of music. If you want to play with your friends in a garage, it won’t hurt buying a $500-$1000 guitar. However, if you are pursuing a career in music, you should invest in a premium guitar that might cost you around $2000 to $5000. As a matter of taste to music, make sure you know the features of the guitar before making any commitments.
Do You Need a Good Amplifier When Buying a Guitar?
Yes. A good amplifier is required regardless of the guitar you are buying. Buying an expensive guitar and investing in a cheap amp will limit the experience you have with your guitar. You will not explore the full potential of the guitar as you would like. On the other hand, playing a $200 guitar on a $1000 amp is considered a waste of time. Even though there are no rules on this, striking a balance between the cost of your guitar and an amp should be considered. When you are buying a $300 Les Paul, you should invest in a $200 amp for a better experience. You need information regarding the top rated and recommended guitar amps before you purchase any of the two. Knowing a bit about guitar pedals and effects could go a long way since it will impact your playing experience.
Which Electric Guitar Brand is the Best?
Since people have different options, it’s hard to determine which brands stand above the rest. However, there are some amazing brands that are worth mentioning. Fender and Gibson are the most common and are considered as iconic guitar brands. Fender was established in 1946, and the Stratocaster, as well as the Telecaster, are legendary and known well. They are rivaled by Gibson which was established in 1902 and is known for the famous SG and Les Paul models. However, there are other brands which provide the same level of performances. For instance, if you are into metal and heavy rock, you should try out PRS, ESP, Ibanez, and Dean as they are considered heavyweights in this category. Any premium guitar from these brands would go toe-to-toe with Fender or Gibson. If you are shopping within a budget, brands such as Yamaha and Epiphone would be an ideal option. However, these brands still have high-end models as well.
What you are looking for in a guitar will determine the type and cost of guitar you want to buy. You need to be aware of your guitar-playing skills so that you can understand the type of guitar that suits you. Comparing all the guitars mentioned in this article will provide you with the knowledge and information, which will aid you in your purchase. All the models mentioned here come from reputable brands and around the world. They are very popular, and it’s easy to find forums of people who use any of these brands. If you have any questions or would like to add more details on any guitars mentioned, please do so in the comment section.