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So, you’re on the hunt for a great beginner electric guitar.
But there are a lot of options to choose from, which can make you second guess yourself at the best of times.
Not to worry – we can help you select a guitar or guitar package that’s right for you.
Here are the seven best beginner electric guitars and guitar packages.
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Epiphone PPEG-EGL1VSCH1 Les Paul Electric Guitar Player Package
Epiphone as a brand has impressed me a lot over the years.
There are many guitar makers that have cheaper versions of their guitars under a different brand name.
Epiphone, for instance, represents Gibson’s more affordable line of guitar gear.
If you're looking for a starter guitar set rather than something really advanced (which often isn't recommended for beginner guitarists) this is a good place to start.
The Les Paul player pack includes a Les Paul Special-II LTD guitar, a 10-watt Electra guitar amp, a 10-foot guitar cable, clip-on headstock tuner, guitar strap, medium picks and a gig bag. They’ve also thrown in a free downloadable guitar lesson for good measure.
Most customers have been satisfied with their purchase of this Epiphone beginner pack, so it’s hard to go wrong. Check it out.
Squier By Fender Mini Strat Electric Guitar Bundle
My first electric guitar was a Squier. I ended up trading it in for a Mexican Fender Stratocaster, but it wasn’t a bad guitar at all. Most of the time, if someone’s looking for a good guitar to start off with, I recommend a Squier. This one specifically is good for kids, as it has a 3/4-size body.
I kind of like the idea of starting with a guitar that has three pickups rather than two. You can tap into a lot of tones and get a good feel for how an electric guitar sounds before you branch out and try something else.
Now, this Squier bundle isn’t a spectacular guitar or bundle. It’s just good enough. And, that’s perfectly fine for beginners. If you want to go the extra mile, you can always get the guitar set up by a tech to improve its action.
This bundle comes with the guitar, an amp, instrument cable, picks, a strap, a tuner and a DVD.
The reviews of the Fender tend to reflect what I’ve already said – it’s a decent beginner bundle, nothing more.
Ibanez IJRG220Z Electric Guitar Package
When I think Ibanez, I always think “acquired taste”.
That’s not the case for everyone, but there is one thing that makes Ibanez guitars stand out, and that’s the fast neck they come with. What I mean by that is the neck is ultra-thin.
Now, if you haven’t played any other guitars, you’re probably not going to know the difference. So, that’s not a problem.
Over time, I’ve come to appreciate Ibanez guitars more. They’re amazing bang for buck, even at the pro level. You get a good amount of guitar for the money.
The Ibanez IIJRG220Z pack comes with the guitar, amp, strap, tuner and so on.
The sales copy for this axe is a bit funny, as they make it sound like this guitar will pave your way to fame. That may or may not be the case – more likely not – but the Ibanez is a good starting point nonetheless.
Yamaha PAC012 Pacifica Electric Guitar Starter Set
Some people swear by Yamaha brand guitars. I have yet to play a Yamaha that I’ve been thoroughly impressed with, whether acoustic or electric.
And, in my teaching years, I certainly encountered the Yamaha Pacifica a lot.
Look – it’s a decent beginner guitar, no more, no less.
And, as you can tell, it looks quite a bit like a Fender or Squier (it works a lot like one too).
Again, I feel like a three pickup guitar is the right place to start for beginners, but that might just be a personal bias.
This Yamaha is affordable, comes with a gig bag and the customer reviews are good too. It’s worth a look if you’re in the market for a beginner electric.
Dean Vendetta XM Classic Black Electric Guitar Pack
Dean makes some pretty cool guitars. Some Dean players you might know include Dave Mustaine, Michael Angelo Batio and Dimebag Darrell.
So, the overall impression is that a lot of metal players prefer Deans, and that’s not far from the truth.
But in terms of beginner guitars, that’s not going to make much of a difference. The only thing you need to know is that the Dean Vendetta is an affordable, simple, two-pickup electric guitar.
This bundle happens to come with extra strings, tuner, strap, and a polish cloth, which is not a bad deal.
As I said at the beginning, there are plenty of beginner electric guitars to choose from, but the Dean wouldn’t be a bad choice at all.
Jackson JS 1X Dinky Minion Electric Guitar
As with Dean guitars, Jackson is a brand often associated with metal. Certainly, there are players like ex-Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman who use their guitar. But then there are also pros like Def Leppard’s Phil Collen that use Jacksons.
Again, that won’t make too much difference at the beginner level. But when it comes time to upgrade, it’s nice to know what your options are.
What makes the Dinky Minion unique is that it features a 2/3-scale poplar body. So, this would make it a good choice for kids, women, or just smaller people.
So, if a smaller guitar is what you’re looking for, you won’t regret adding the Jackson to your shopping list.
ESP LTD EC-256 Black Starter Set
Let’s round out this list with an intermediate level guitar.
ESP guitars are used by artists in a variety of genres, though they definitely have a “metal” image, along with Dean and Jackson.
If you have a little more money to spend, or you’re looking for something that sounds, plays and feels better than a beginner guitar, then you’ll love the ESP LTD EC-256.
This bundle comes with a gig bag, guitar stand and cables. A little unusual, but it’s nice that they decided to throw in a few extras.
Now, you might be wondering if this is one of those cases where the guitar looks better than it plays. But no, this is a bonified deal, and you might be hard pressed to find guitars that sound as good in the same price range.
So, if you need something with a little more “oomph”, check out the ESP LTD.
What Should I Look For In A Beginner Electric Guitar?
It’s a beginner electric guitar. Chances are you’re only going to be paying somewhere in the $150 – $300 range for it, even if you decide to buy a bundle.
There isn’t much to look out for here. My main suggestion would be to settle on a guitar with a recognizable brand name. Stay away from RadioShack guitars, or other brands that aren’t primarily guitar markers. You might be able to save some money on these “off” brands, but it probably won’t save you any frustration.
Any brand on the above list should be okay. You get what you pay for, to be sure, but at least you know the guitar is being made by a company that knows what they’re doing.
Aside from that, here are a few factors to consider:
You can’t expect a beginner guitar to have incredible action out of the box. So long as you aren’t straining to play it, it’s okay. But if you’re finding the action to be on the high side, you’re either going to need to get it set up by a guitar tech or find a different guitar.
Still, playability is probably the most important factor here. You or your child is going to be quite frustrated learning to play on a guitar that wasn’t designed to be easy to begin with.
So, oftentimes the best option is to go with a brand you trust. And, if you have the opportunity to go and try out a few guitars before buying, that’s also a good thing to do.
A Good Sound
I don’t think beginner guitars sound that different. The pickups and body will make a bit of difference, but not enough that it matters.
If it sounds acceptable, it’s fine. It’s only a problem if you can’t stand the sound of the guitar, something that can be affected by many variables (the amp, the player, technique, etc.), not just the guitar that’s being played.
Find a decent sounding guitar and you can’t go wrong.
Durability can be an important factor for a beginner guitar. Beginners don’t necessarily know how to care for a guitar and may not be as careful with it as a pro would be.
I’d say most guitars are built to withstand some abuse, which is good news. If you’ve ever watched someone smash a guitar before, then you know how hard it can be to break a guitar.
Check the reviews and see what others have had to say. You probably won’t find too many people talking about faulty electronics or a headstock that fell off because of a little bump. Nevertheless, stay away from fragile guitars.
I don’t think the extras and accessories matter that much, with the exception of an amp and cable. Some beginner bundles come with crappy guitar amps anyway, so that doesn’t do you a whole lot of good.
If you or your child is going to be playing a lot of guitar, you’re going to need all the accessories regardless of whether they were included in the original bundle – straps, picks, tuners, strings and so on. And, there’s a good chance whatever comes in the bundle isn’t going to be that high quality or to your preference, so you’re probably going to end up replacing it anyway.
Still, it’s nice to get a few bonuses thrown in, and it does help you get off to a running start. A bundle is optimal for busy people who can’t make repeat visits to the nearest guitar store that often.
Should I Buy Just A Guitar Or A Guitar Package?
As already noted, the extras don’t make the sale for me. If you end up playing guitar long term, you will need accessories regardless, and oftentimes it’s better to find gear you like as opposed to just using what you’ve been given.
But a guitar package can help you save some money. Sometimes, they come with books, DVDs or downloadable content that can help you get up and running. I find it best to refer to a lot of resources when you’re first getting started, as concepts tend to solidify better when they’ve been explained to you from the perspective of many teachers as opposed to just one.
As well, guitar bundles can save you time. If you just buy a guitar, inevitably, you will end up needing to buy everything else – especially picks, an amp and a cable. So, it’s convenient that you can get everything in one place.
Those would be the main advantages of buying a guitar package.
Sometimes, putting the same money towards a slightly more expensive guitar can be a good thing though, so if you happen across any deals, that might be the way to go.
Which Brand Is Best For Beginner Guitars?
There aren’t any that stand out to me right now, though Squier used to be one of the best. I would say maybe Epiphone by a small margin now.
There are some small differences between the brands at the beginner level, most of which I’ve already pointed out above. The bigger differences tend to manifest in more expensive guitars. If you’re going to be spending $400 or more on a guitar, you’ll definitely notice inconsistencies across brands and models. And then, it becomes more a matter of preference than anything.
I’ve also mentioned that I tend to like the idea of three-pickup guitars for beginners. You can easily achieve a wider variety of tones than with a two-pickup guitar, which can be good when you’re starting to learn to play. But this doesn’t matter too much.
It’s okay to go with your gut here.
Is Electric Or Acoustic Better For Beginners?
There are differing opinions on this topic.
In an ideal world, we would all have both acoustics and electrics. But most beginner acoustics aren’t anything special. I find they sound tinny and are often hard to play. If you’re going to buy an acoustic guitar for a beginner at all, I would recommend finding a decent classical guitar. Nylon strings are easier on the fingers anyway.
I like the idea of starting with an electric guitar. Why? Because you can get into just about any genre you want. You can also play with a clean or dirty sound (depending on the amp and effects available to you).
People who get into guitar and stick with it tend to be those who can learn things they enjoy playing on the guitar. Forcing a student into a program they don’t like doesn’t do much good in my experience.
Some people say acoustic guitars are harder to play, making them better choices to begin with. I don’t think so. Having a guitar that’s hard to play can be frustrating and discouraging for a beginner. They might quit before giving it a fair shake.
And, sure, acoustic guitars are a little harder to play. But as you continue to advance as a player, you won’t notice that much difference. Certainly, acoustics are played a little differently than electrics, and most tend to play different genres than they would on electrics. But starting on an electric doesn’t limit you. It’s more a matter of what you’re committed to.
So, my personal opinion is that you should start on a classical guitar or an electric guitar with a leaning towards the electric.
What Accessories Do I Need?
In my mind, there are only four essential accessories. They are:
- An amp.
- An instrument cable.
- A tuner.
There are a lot of other things that can come later.
A guitar strap is not essential unless you’re going to be playing standing up. You will likely need an extra pair of strings at some point, but that’s more of an ongoing maintenance thing as opposed to a one-time purchase. You’re probably going to want a string winder and cutters as well.
You don’t absolutely need a guitar stand, though if you end up buying more expensive guitars, you’re going to want one. It can be handy either way. The same goes for a case. You don’t absolutely need it. But if you’re going to be carrying around the guitar a lot, you’re going to want it.
Then, there are accessories like capos, slides and EBows that not everyone uses. These can be good tools for experimentation though.
Guitar pedals can come later. They can be a lot of fun to play with, but they’re not going to sound that good through a tiny amp. If anything, get a cheap multi-effects unit.
I hope that gives you a better idea of the accessories you need to get started.
Can I Use A Beginner Guitar For Gigging/Professional Use?
The surprising answer is “yes”.
A lot of pros use high level gear. But that doesn’t mean you need the most expensive gear in the world to sound good on stage.
What matters more is your playing. If you’re a good guitar player, it doesn’t matter too much what you’re playing through. You’ll probably find your sound regardless.
Another important factor is touring. Touring as a big-time act is quite a bit different from touring as an independent. As a popular act, you’ll probably have roadies taking care of all your gear, leaving you to focus on your performance. As an independent, load in and load out will mostly be up to you. That means the risk of theft and damage is generally higher.
If you brought your most expensive guitar on the road and lost it, you would be sad, wouldn’t you? But that’s not something you’ll risk if you use inexpensive guitars on stage.
And, even cheap guitars can sound decent through expensive amps. Surprising but true. So, cheaper guitars can be okay for professional use. You won’t have to worry about losing or damaging your most prized guitars either.
Do I Need To Buy Replacement Strings?
I once had a student come to me and tell me that their guitar was broken.
As it turns out, it wasn’t their guitar that was broken. It was one of their strings.
They didn’t believe me at the time, but I reassured them that this was normal.
When you break a string for the first time, you’ll probably be a little taken aback. But a string is relatively easy to replace and is low-cost besides. You might be able to take your guitar into a guitar store and get it replaced a couple of times. But it’s still best to learn how to do this yourself because if you keep playing you will break more strings.
So, I would suggest buying replacement strings and keeping them on hand.
Now, you might be wondering what gauge of string to get. Unless you’ve been told otherwise, your guitar probably came with nine-gauge strings. And, nines tend to be relatively easy to play, so that’s what I would recommend.
There are many brands of strings available, and they all do the job, but my favorite is Fender Super Bullets for any electric guitar.
Best Electric Guitars And Guitar Packages For Beginners
Are you excited yet?
Learning to play the guitar can be challenging, but it’s also a lot of fun. If you stick with it, you will be rewarded for your persistence and diligence.
Choosing the right guitar is an important starting point. But assuming it’s relatively easy to play, that’s about all you can ask for in a beginner guitar. The rest is entirely up to you. No one including your teacher can inspire you to play. You must be the one to initiate and engage.