Cheap electric guitars hanging up
Music Gear Reviews

5 Best cheap electric guitars & why we like them

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You’re looking for the best cheap electric guitar to start learning.

Let’s look through our 5 best picks and why we like them.

Our 5 best cheap guitar picks

  1. SQUIER AFFINITY STRAT – Best cheap electric guitar
  2. IBANEZ GRGM – Best cheap electric guitar under $200
  3. JACKSON DINKY MINION JS1X – Best cheap electric guitar on Amazon
  4. EPIPHONE LES PAUL SPECIAL II – Best budget electric guitar
  5. YAMAHA PAC112V PACIFICA – Best cheap electric guitar for beginners

Skip to our reviews. ↓

Cheap electric guitars hanging up

3 things to look for in a budget electric guitar:

How it looks:

The way your axe looks is incredibly important.

Presumably, the reason you’ve started to play (or looking to start) is because it looked cool.

You must choose a guitar that looks cool to you. Whether that’s a classic sunburst finish or modern metal. The reason why it needs to look great is that as you practice regularly, you’re going to need motivation to keep at it. What better motivation than admiring your electric guitar from afar, whilst you pick it up to play.

Great to play:

It’s certainly true that some electric guitars are easier to play than others. It’s just that the reasons for change per player.

Some seek electric guitars with comfortable neck profiles, smooth fretboard, and low action, making it easier for beginners to learn and play. It’s recommended to try out multiple guitars in person to find one that feels comfortable and responsive to their playing style. Some players appreciate lightweight bodies, ergonomic designs, and well-balanced weight distribution. All these features contribute to reducing fatigue during practice and performances.

Brand credibility:

You want your electric guitar to last, no matter how cheap it is.

There are plenty of well-known brands that can deliver this. Well-established manufacturers have a reputation for producing quality instruments. Brands like Fender, Yamaha, Squier, Epiphone, and Ibanez. Players trust these brands due to their long history in the industry and years of proven quality.

1. Best cheap electric guitar: Squier Affinity Series Stratocaster

Price when reviewed:
From $250

Squier Affinity Stratocaster Olympic White Body

We like:

Smooth maple neck an easy play
Iconic and reputable model
Fun tremolo system (intermediate users)

We do not like:

Only capable of producing a beginner Strat sound
Easy to outgrow once you reach a certain playing level

This electric guitar is popular for a good reason.

Even though it’s the budget version – this is the Eric Clapton vibe.

Squier Affinity Series Stratocaster looks and feels like a classic Fender Stratocaster. The same brand manufactures Squier, which is a big part of its appeal. The Strat electric guitar shape is timeless.

It’s nice and easy to handle. The maple neck is smooth and easy to move your fingers around. The rosewood frets feel effortless as you will invariably find as you learn ‘smoke on the water’.

It has three pickups that give you that classic Stratocaster sound. You can learn to play with how the pickups capture different tones depending on the string position.

This electric guitar is on the cheaper side so with that you will always get limitations on sound. Nonetheless, a great choice if you want something inexpensive to start learning on.

Eric Clapton, David Gilmour, Jimi Hendrix

Features:

  • Classic Stratocaster body shape
  • Gloss Olympic White finish
  • Maple fretboard
  • Three single-coil pickups
  • Synchronized tremolo bridge
  • 5-way pickup selector switch
  • Master volume and two tone controls
  • 21 medium jumbo frets
  • Synthetic bone nut
  • Die-cast tuners
  • Chrome hardware
  • Standard 25.5″ scale length

Specifications:

  • Body material: Alder
  • Neck material: Maple
  • Neck shape: “C” shape
  • Neck finish: Satin urethane
  • Fingerboard radius: 9.5″
  • Nut width: 1.650″
  • Pickup configuration: SSS (3 single-coil pickups)
  • Bridge: 6-saddle vintage-style synchronized tremolo
  • Tuning machines: Standard die-cast
  • Scale length: 25.5″

Where to buy?
Check price on Amazon

2. Best cheap electric guitar under 200: Ibanez GRGM

Price when reviewed:
From $170

Ibanez GRGM cheap electric guitar

We like:

Comfortable and lightweight
Slim maple neck and rosewood fretboard
Low-string action is great to learn on

We do not like:

Stock pickups = stock sound
You might outgrow the shortened fretboard

Famous Ibanez players:

Paul Gilbert, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai

After testing a few budget-friendly electric guitars. One that stands out is the Ibanez GRGM. It’s priced under $200, but it’s made an impression.

The Ibanez GRGM is light. The smooth maple neck makes playing comfortable for beginners who are starting to learn their way around the fretboard.

It’s got a pair of humbucking pickups that give you a taste of how different parts of the string sound. Whether you’re strumming chords or beginning to solo.

Even though it’s not expensive, Ibanez is a reliable brand built to last. No corners were cut here. Solid construction and quality hardware have kept this brand going throughout the years.

But, there are a couple of quirks to keep in mind. Because it’s smaller than some guitars, it might take a bit of getting used to if you’re used to playing bigger ones. And while the sound is good, it will never be as good as expensive electric guitars with better pickups.

Features:

  • Compact and lightweight design
  • Poplar body
  • GRGM Maple neck
  • 24″ scale length
  • Rosewood fingerboard
  • 22 medium frets
  • Two humbucking pickups
  • Fixed bridge
  • Volume and tone controls
  • 3-way pickup selector switch
  • Chrome hardware

Specifications:

  • Body material: Poplar
  • Neck material: Maple
  • Fingerboard material: Rosewood
  • Fret size: Medium
  • Pickup configuration: HH (2 humbucking pickups)
  • Bridge: Fixed
  • Scale length: 24″
  • Number of frets: 22

Where to buy?
Check price on Amazon

3. Best cheap electric guitar on Amazon: Jackson Dinky Minion JS1X

Price when reviewed:
From $180

Jackson Dinky Minion JS1X cheap electric guitar

We like:

Lightweight and comfortable
Jumbo frets have more finger space than usual
Humbucker pickups!

We do not like:

Slightly narrow string spacing
Shorter fretboard length is easy to outgrow

The Jackson Dinky is lightweight, which is great for beginners with smaller frames. The standard maple neck allows effortless movement across the fretboard.

Equipped with humbucker pickups, the Dinky Minion sounds better than it should given the expense. The three-way pickup selector switch offers a range of tonal possibilities, great for learning.

The basswood body provides a sturdy foundation. Jackson didn’t skimp on quality here simply as this is their budget electric guitar model.

Some players might find the shorter fret scale length limiting. This is why this guitar is not recommended to existing intermediate players. As with all cheaper electric guitars, the sound will lack the clarity of higher-priced models.

Famous Jackson players:

Jeff Loomis, Scott Ian, Phil Demmel

Features:

  • Compact and lightweight design
  • Poplar body
  • Bolt-on maple neck
  • 22.5″ scale length
  • Amaranth fingerboard
  • 24 jumbo frets
  • Two high-output humbucking pickups
  • Fixed bridge
  • Volume and tone controls
  • 3-way pickup selector switch
  • Black hardware

Specifications:

  • Body material: Poplar
  • Neck material: Maple
  • Fingerboard material: Amaranth
  • Fret size: Jumbo
  • Pickup configuration: HH (2 humbucking pickups)
  • Bridge: Fixed
  • Scale length: 22.5″
  • Number of frets: 24

Where to buy?
Check price on Amazon

4. Best budget electric guitar: Epiphone Les Paul Special II

Price when reviewed:
From $179

Epiphone Les Paul Special II cheap electric guitar

We like:

Classic Les Paul design for cheap
Feels beautiful to play
So comfortable to fit under arm

We do not like:

A Les Paul body is always heavy

To a LOT of people, that classic Les Paul look can’t be beat. If your electric guitar heroes are Slash, Joe Perry and Jimmy Page, you will likely pick this model. In which case, there is no need to continue writing about this entry in our list.

For those of you who didn’t fanboy/girl over the names above, here are some reasons it made our list.

Its mahogany body and maple top give it a timeless shiny finish. But beyond its appearance, this guitar is a joy to play. The neck has a comfortable “1960s SlimTaper D” shape, making it easy to move around the fretboard.

The brand Epiphone is made by Gibson but for the budget market. This means you’re getting the same durable craftsmanship of Gibson but much cheaper. The Gibson version of this model would cost $1500!

The only drawback could be the heaviness of the body. The Les Paul shape is fuller than other electric guitar designs and that naturally leads to more mass. True Les Paul fans will laugh this drawback off as they strum through Sweet Child O’ Mine.

Famous Epiphone players:

Noel Gallagher, Paul Weller, Nick Valensi

Features:

  • Mahogany body
  • Bolt-on mahogany neck
  • Rosewood fingerboard
  • 22 medium jumbo frets
  • Two open-coil humbucking pickups
  • Tune-o-Matic bridge with stopbar tailpiece
  • 2 volume and 2 tone controls
  • 3-way pickup selector switch

Specifications:

  • Body material: Mahogany
  • Neck material: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard material: Rosewood
  • Fret size: Medium jumbo
  • Pickup configuration: HH (2 humbucking pickups)
  • Bridge: Tune-o-Matic with stopbar tailpiece
  • Number of frets: 22

Where to buy?
Check price here

5. Best cheap electric guitar for beginners: Yamaha PAC112V Pacifica

Price when reviewed:
From $330

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We like:

3 pickups so you can learn to play with tone
Yamaha instruments always last
Slim neck is comfortable to learn chords on

We do not like:

Higher frets are not as easy to reach as they should be

Yamaha instruments have found their way into most homes. They’ve done this by being around for a long time. The only way that can happen is if the instruments actually last.

This model is no different. This is an electric guitar for beginners that will last a while. The Yamaha PAC112V Pacifica has a sleek and stylish look, with a contoured body that feels great against playing posture. The smooth maple neck is a joy to learn on, allowing easy navigation across the fretboard.

It’s important for beginners that the neck is relatively thin. This impacts hand fatigue as your muscles get used to different positions. Repetition is tiring and a thick neck which tests your grip is not productive. The PAC112V Pacifica has a slim and fast action neck making it ideal for beginners to learn on.

It’s got a versatile pickup configuration. A humbucker in the bridge position and two single-coil pickups in the middle and neck. This gives you some different tones to play with, from warm and mellow to bright and punchy.

It comes with a more intermediate feature which is the tremolo bridge. This is great for guitar solo-inspired players who want their notes to soar and crash.

As with all the cheap electric guitars on this list, the sound will not reach the heights of more expensive models.

The Yamaha PAC112V Pacifica is a great first electric guitar to learn on. Be sure to upgrade once you learn the basics. Yamahas have a knack for sticking around longer than you will. Take a look at our choice of the best guitar amps to go with your new axe.

Famous Yamaha players:

Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Kelly Jones (Stereophonics), Jeff Schroeder

Features:

  • Double-cutaway solid body design
  • Alder body
  • Bolt-on maple neck
  • Rosewood or maple fingerboard (depending on the model)
  • 22 medium frets
  • HSS (humbucker/single-coil/single-coil) pickup configuration
  • Vintage-style tremolo bridge
  • 5-way pickup selector switch
  • Master volume and tone controls
  • Available in multiple finishes
  • Chrome hardware

Specifications:

  • Body material: Alder
  • Neck material: Maple
  • Fingerboard material: Rosewood or maple
  • Fret size: Medium
  • Pickup configuration: HSS (1 humbucker, 2 single-coil pickups)
  • Bridge: Vintage-style tremolo
  • Number of frets: 22

Where to buy?
Check price on Amazon

Best cheap amp for electric guitar

Fender Mustang LT25

Fender Mustang LT25 cheapest guitar amp

We like:

Easy to learn controls
Impressive power!
Suits many different playing styles

Price last checked: From $189

Best cheap electric guitar strings

Ernie Ball – Super Slinky Strings

Ernie Ball Super Slinky Electric guitar strings

We like:

Durable for wide bends
Industry standard
Stay in tune longer than other cheap brands

Price last checked: From $8

Which are the best cheap guitar brands?

Some of the best options include Fender Squier, Epiphone, and Yamaha. These brands offer inexpensive guitars that are quality, making them popular choices for beginners and experienced players looking for great value.

How long should a cheap electric guitar last?

With proper care, a budget-friendly electric guitar should last for several years. However, it’s important to keep in mind that cheaper guitars may require more frequent maintenance and repairs compared to higher-end models. Regular cleaning, string changes, and occasional adjustments can help prolong the lifespan of your guitar.

How much should a cheap electric guitar cost?

You should be able to find budget electric guitars starting from around $100 to $400. Our list above details exactly which are the best cheap electric guitars.

Are cheap guitars under $400 worth it?

Whether cheap guitars under $400 are worth it depends on your needs and usage. While cheap electric guitars can offer good value for beginners or casual players, they won’t have the same quality as expensive models. At this price range, you’re really buying an electric guitar to get into the habit of learning and playing. As you’re shopping around, we recommend trying out the guitar in person. The feel of your first guitar is incredibly important to like. Check out the best acoustic guitars for beginners guide.

What makes a great budget electric guitar?

Of course, the factors will be subjective depending on your taste. Players often state these 3 factors as the most important:

  • How good does it look
  • How it feels when you play
  • Is it a recognised brand

How do I pick a style of guitar that's best for me?

The style of guitar that you’re attracted to will mostly be determined by the guitar heroes you are inspired by.

Most players who listen to Led Zeppelin, Guns ‘N Roses and Aerosmith will likely prefer the Les Paul style. This is because those bands’ lead guitarists are known for playing that shape.

Eric Clapton lovers will generally prefer the Stratocaster shape. As you go in-store to try out these shapes, you will know the right for you as you play.

How do I choose the right guitar pickups?

The right guitar pickups depend on your preferred sound and playing style. Single-coil pickups offer a bright and crisp tone, great for blues and rock. Humbucking pickups provide a warmer and thicker sound, ideal for heavier styles like metal. Try out pickup configurations and brands to find the tone that feels right to you.

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