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Last Updated on January 29, 2024 by Teemu Suomala

Here’s the deal. After playing guitar for almost 30 years and teaching it to beginners for another 20, I can pretty confidently tell what guitars suit beginners and what not. In this article, you can look behind my shoulder, and see me spilling all the beans, holding nothing back, when I reveal the best beginner electric on this earth right now. If you are a beginner, you don’t want to miss this.

Author: DL Shepherd

Darren has been playing guitar for over 23 years. He fronted the metal band Suddenly Silence in the early 2000’s, and also achieved recognition as an award-winning bluegrass guitarist.

A native of southwestern Virginia, and has shared the stage with many big-name acts from various genres. When he is not playing one of his many guitars, he can be found riding his Harley through the mountains of Virginia.

displays Edward Bond and Gibson Guitar

Editor: Edward Bond

Edward has been playing the guitar since 2002. So Edward has over 20 years of experience as a guitarist, has authored 15 guitar books, has written for renowned music blogs, and spent a decade teaching music. He began merging his passion for writing and music in 2020 and has written for big guitar websites such as Guitar Head Publishing and KillerGuitarRigs.com.

Originally from Seattle, Edward moved to Norway in 2021 for a master’s in music. He’s studied at the Jazz Institute Berlin and Conservatorium van Amsterdam, and currently resides in Trondheim. His education includes a European Jazz Master’s, a diploma in Film and Game Scoring from Sofia, and a Bachelor’s in Jazz from University of Oregon.

Edward has played in numerous bands and currently, Edward works on his own project Starship Infinity


image shows Yamaha PAC012DLX Pacifica Electric Guitar finished in Old Violin Sunburst

BEST OVERALL ELECTRIC GUITAR FOR BEGINNERS – YAMAHA PA012DLX

Reviewer: DL Shepherd

Sound
Playability
Overall Quality
Value For Money
Versatility

Summary

Pros:
-The body is lightweight and extremely comfortable.
-The neck profile is fast and fits the hand well.
-A 5-way selector switch is excellent for those who want to explore different tones.

Cons:
-The bridge pickup may have too much high-end bite. 

Who is this guitar for?
This guitar is for any beginner who wants a great playing axe that is comfortable and well-made.

>Check the Full In-Depth Review of PAC012 here<

4.7

How the YAMAHA PA012DLX PACIFICA sounds:

YouTube video

Demo my bossman shooted.

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*Consider all links in this post to be affiliate links. If you purchase, at no additional cost to you, we may earn a small commission. It helps us to keep the lights on, thanks! 🙂


The Next Best:

Best Budget Beginner Electric Guitar – Epiphone Les Paul Special

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Our Overall Rating

Summary

Pros:

  • Lightweight version of the familiar Les Paul shape.
  • The neck feels comfortable to play.
  • The pickups have great sound and are versatile.

Cons:

  • The neck may need adjusting right out of the box.

Who is this guitar for?

This guitar is for any beginner who wants a quality guitar without spending much money.

 

Best Beginner Electric Guitar Starter Kit – Squier Affinity Series Stratocaster HSS

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Our Overall Rating

Summary

Pros:

  • The lightweight body is comfortable to play, standing or sitting.
  • The neck is great for players with small hands.
  • The guitar and amp sound great together.
  • The Fender Play subscription is a great way to learn how to play.

Cons:

  • Players with large hands may not like the thin neck.

Who is this guitar for?

This guitar is for beginners who want to buy everything in one convenient package. 

Best for Metal –
Ibanez Gio GRG120QASP

best beginner metal guitar ibanez gio

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Our Overall Rating

Summary

Pros:

  • The neck is speedy and comfortable to play.
  • The pickups sound amazing for metal.
  • The finish is stunning and not commonly found in this price range.

Cons:

  • It went out of tune after heavy whammy bar usage.

Who is this guitar for?

This guitar is for the beginner who wants an excellent playing axe on which they can learn to play metal. 

Best Budget
ESP LTD Viper-256

best beginner semi hollowbody ibanez artcore ac53

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Our Overall Rating

Summary

Pros:

  • A fast-playing neck makes it great for soloing.
  • The pickups sound great, clean or with overdrive.
  • Simplified controls make it easy for beginners to use.

Cons:

  • Needed a bridge adjustment right out of the box.

Who is this guitar for?

This guitar is for the beginner guitarist who wants to start with a quality semi-hollowbody.

Compare the Key Specs

ModelPrice Range ($-$$$$)Body StyleNeckFretboardBodywoodsNut WidthNut MaterialBridgeScale-LengthPickupsControlsOur Rating
Best Overall Electric Guitar for Beginners – Yamaha PA012DLX Pacifica$Solidbody PacificaMaple Bolt-on22, Medium frets on RosewoodMahogany (according to Yamaha US, but some sources claim this to be Agathis)1.614″UreaVintage-Style Tremolo25.5″2 * Yamaha Ceramic Single-coil

1 * Yamaha Ceramic Humbucker
1 x master volume

1 x master tone

5-way blade pickup switch
4.7
Best Budget Beginner Electric Guitar – Epiphone Les Paul Special$Solidbody Les Paul Special E1Mahogany Bolt-on22, Medium Jumbo RosewoodPoplar1.6875″PVCTune-O-Matic Adjustable Bridge with Stopbar Tailpiece24.75″650R Humbucker

700T Humbucker
1 x master volume

1 x master tone

3-way toggle pickup switch
3.9
Best Beginner Electric Guitar Starter Kit – Squier Affinity Series Stratocaster HSS Pack$$Solidbody Affinity StratocasterMaple, Bolt-on21, Medium Jumbo Indian LaurelPoplar1.650″Synthetic Bone2-Point Synchronized Tremolo with Individual Block Saddles25.5″2 * Ceramic Single-coil

1 * Ceramic Humbucker
1 x master volume

2 x tone

5-way blade pickup switch
4.6
Best for Metal and Shredding – Ibanez Gio GRG120QASP$$Solidbody GIO GRGMaple, Bolt-on24, Jumbo Purple HeartPoplar1.692″PlasticT102 Tremolo25.5″2 * InfinityR Humbucker1 x master volume

1 x master tone

5-way blade pickup switch
4.9
Best Semi Hollowbody – Ibanez Artcore AS53 Semi-Hollowbody$$Semi-hollowbody Artcore AS53Nyatoh Set Neck22, Medium Nickel WalnutLinden1.692″ABSGibraltar Performer with Quik Change III Tailpiece24.75″2 * InfinityR Humbucker1 x master volume

1 x master tone

3-way toggle switch
4.4

The Build-Up

If you’re a beginner looking for the right axe, you’ve come to the right place! While many beginner guitars get a bad reputation because of their low quality, that doesn’t mean that all of them are horrible. Some incredible instruments are out there at low prices that won’t break the bank!

A good beginner guitar should be built with quality materials and affordable enough for anyone to enter the hobby. You don’t want to be distracted by things that keep breaking all the time or quit because the action was set too high, making it hard to press the strings down. 

We’ve played some really horrible guitars that were marketed to beginners. For real – they were atrocious. You won’t find any of those on this list, though. We have only picked guitars that will give you a positive experience no matter what style of music you want to play. 

How transform into a Party Jukebox everyone Admires in 5 days?

Playing guitar should be a journey, not a destination. That means that you’ll want a guitar that will serve you well as you continue to grow as a player.

So, let’s look at the best beginner electric guitars and find out why they’re the best!


My 5 Favorite Beginner Electric Guitars

3 Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing a Great Beginner Electric Guitar:

A more expensive guitar doesn’t necessarily mean it is suitable for learning.

Familiarize yourself with pickups, action, intonation, and essential control functions before buying so you’ll know what to look for when purchasing.

Keep your budget free for an amplifier, picks, strap, tuner, and cable. Most guitars do not come with these accessories unless sold in a package.

How Did We Choose These Guitars?

I wrote this article based on my experience playing many different guitars over the years, as well as my experience teaching guitar lessons. The guitars in this list were picked for their playability, quality construction, and great tone. After all, the most well-built guitar in the world is useless if it doesn’t sound great! 

I have been amazed at how the quality of beginner electric guitars has improved over the years. 

I have seen students play some excellent guitars that allowed them to flourish on the instrument. On the other hand, I have also seen students struggle because they did not have a capable guitar to learn with. 

This often led to frustration because they fought a physical problem with the instrument.

Most electric guitars we recommend are run through tests like these:

  • We check electronics (Basic measurements with multimeter, resistance, etc.)
  • We inspect the guitar carefully to get a good idea of the finish and built quality of the guitar.
  • We inspect the fretwork and edges of the fretboard to make sure there are no sharp edges.
  • We run the guitar usually through BOSS Katana 50 MK2 and test clean, crunch, and distorted tones with lead and rhythm playing.
  • We use different playing styles to get a good feel for the playability. We use fingerpicking, sweep picking, riffs from different genres, shredding, tapping, chord playing, etc.
  • We test all the possible pickup combinations and use different Volume and Tone settings from the guitar.
  • We measure and weight the guitar.
  • We test the guitar with drop tunings.

Learn more about GND’s testing and reviewing processes here.


Best Overall Electric Guitar for Beginners – Yamaha PA012DLX Pacifica

image shows Yamaha PAC012DLX Pacifica Electric Guitar finished in Old Violin Sunburst
Yamaha PAC012DLX Pacifica Electric Guitar – Old Violin Sunburst

Specs

Body StyleSolidbody Pacifica
Body WoodMahogany (according to Yamaha US, but some sources claim this to be Agathis)
NeckMaple Bolt-on
Neck ShapeC
Neck Radius13.75″
Fretboard22, Medium frets on Rosewood
NutUrea
Nut Width1.614″
Pickups2 * Yamaha Ceramic Single-coil
1 * Yamaha Ceramic Humbucker
Controls1 x master volume
1 x master tone
5-way blade pickup switch
Scale-Length25.5″
BridgeVintage-Style Tremolo
TunersYamaha Sealed

If there is one guitar that has never ceased to amaze me every time I have picked one up, it is the Yamaha Pacifica. They are often overlooked as great beginner guitars since other brands usually take precedence. They should not be discounted, however, because they make perfect guitars for beginners! 

It starts with an Mahogany (according to Yamaha US, but some sources claim this to be Agathis) body, maple neck, and a rosewood fingerboard. The agathis body is lightweight and resonates enough for beginners to learn on. It is in a familiar Strat-style shape that is comfortable to hold, whether standing up or sitting down. 

The maple neck and rosewood fretboard have a 13.75” radius and a comfortable “C” shape that feels great. Even players with small hands would appreciate it. It plays excellent up and down the neck, so you’ll be set whether you’re learning strumming chords or scales. 

Also, the fretwork on most of them has been excellent. I have only noticed a couple that needed a little attention – certainly not as much as other guitars that cost twice as much. 

The electronics are very capable and of good quality. The pickups include a bridge humbucker with a ceramic magnet and two single-coil pickups – all Yamaha designs. The humbucker is surprisingly hot for a stock humbucker on an inexpensive guitar. It is bright thanks to the ceramic magnets, which may add too much feedback depending on how much gain is used and what amplifier it is played through. 

Still, they are great pickups and perfect for everything from country to blues to metal. I was able to get some bluesy tones out of the neck single coil as well. 

One volume, one tone, and a 5-way selector switch allow you to dial in your preferred tone. Having a 5-way switch will enable beginners to find which tones they prefer. It also allows them to dial in tones from a wide variety of genres, which makes it easy for them to play what they love. 

The bridge and tuners are of decent quality. I didn’t notice the tuners slipping with typical usage, but I have not tested it after tremolo use. Beginners most likely won’t be doing dive bombs as soon as they get it, though, so that shouldn’t be a major concern. 

If you’re looking for the best beginner electric guitar, the Yamaha PA012DLX is hard to beat in terms of affordability, quality, and sound. It’s not just a beginner guitar – it’s a great guitar in general.

How this guitar sounds:

YouTube video

Sound Check: Yamaha Pacifica PAC012

Summary

ProsCons
The body is lightweight and extremely comfortable.The bridge pickup may have too much high-end bite. 
The neck profile is fast and fits the hand well.
A 5-way selector switch is excellent for those who want to explore different tones.

What others are saying:

“I have Carvins, Fender Strat and Peavey USA guitars this base Yamaha Pacifica is a go-to practice guitar for me. its quality, playability, and feel are top-notch.”

  • Sweetwater customer

Who is this guitar for?

This guitar is for any beginner who wants a great playing axe that is comfortable and well-made.

Who is this guitar NOT for?

This guitar is not for fans of single coils in the bridge position. It has a humbucker. 

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Best Budget Beginner Electric Guitar – Epiphone Les Paul Special

image shows Epiphone Les Paul Special Satin E1 Electric Guitar finished in Worn Vintage Sunburst
Epiphone Les Paul Special Satin E1 Electric Guitar – Worn Vintage Sunburst

Specs

Body StyleSolidbody Les Paul Special E1
Body WoodPoplar
NeckMahogany Bolt-on
Neck Shape’60s Slim Taper D
Neck Radius14″
Fretboard22, Medium Jumbo Rosewood
NutPVC
Nut Width1.6875″
Pickups650R Humbucker
700T Humbucker
Controls1 x master volume
1 x master tone
3-way toggle pickup switch
Scale-Length24.75″
BridgeTune-O-Matic Adjustable Bridge with Stopbar Tailpiece
TunersPremium Closed Gear, 14:1 ratio

I may be biased with this one because there was nothing I wanted more as a beginner than a Les Paul. 

One of the best purchases I ever made was an Epiphone Les Paul. It fulfilled my dream of having one and fed the fire that eventually led me to get a Gibson Les Paul several years later. I still have that Epiphone Les Paul today because it is a great guitar. 

The other thing is that they are very affordable. The Epiphone Les Paul Special can be picked up for less than $200. That is a steal for a guitar of this caliber! 

It has a poplar body, maple neck, and a rosewood fretboard. The body is the classic Les Paul shape that we know and love. It sits comfortably in your lap if you prefer to sit down and play, and it is light enough to play all day long while standing. 

The neck has a comfortable Slim Taper D shape and feels great for playing strumming chords, power chords, and scales. Hands, both large and small, won’t find it to be a problem. The only issue that I’ve had with the Epiphone Les Paul Special has been the neck adjustment from the factory. They almost always add too much bow in it. A proper setup takes care of this little issue. 

The pickups consist of two open-coil humbuckers: an Epiphone 650R in the neck position and an Epiphone 700T in the bridge position. These pickups sound great for warm bluesy tones or hard rocking overdriven tones. You’ll love them no matter if you’re a fan of Zakk Wylde, Slash, or Les Paul himself.

The pickups are controlled via a volume knob, tone knob, and a 3-way selector switch. This allows you to control the tone quickly. The electronics are not the highest quality, but they should still give you a trouble-free experience. 

The bridge and tuners are of decent quality. The tuners hold tuning well, and the bridge is an ABR Tune-o-matic style with a stop-bar tailpiece. It doesn’t have the inherent intonation problems that wrap-around bridges have, and there are no tremolo springs to mess with. 

The Epiphone Les Paul Special gives you a lot of guitar for the money. It is a solid electric guitar that is also one of the most affordable guitars on the market. It is worth checking out if you’re trying to save your pennies for other things. 

How this guitar sounds:

YouTube video

Epiphone Les Paul Special II Electric Guitar Demo

Summary

ProsCons
Lightweight version of the familiar Les Paul shape.The neck may need adjusting right out of the box.
The neck feels comfortable to play.
The pickups have a great sound and are versatile. 

What others are saying:

“I haven’t played in nearly twenty years and, starting back at square one, I wanted an inexpensive learner guitar. This is far better than I expected. It’s got a great sound, solid construction, and a cool look. The neck is the perfect size for my hands, and the frets are smooth. I’m really enjoying playing with this guitar.”

  • Evan, Sweetwater customer

Who is this guitar for?

This guitar is for any beginner who wants a quality guitar without spending much money.

Who is this guitar NOT for?

This guitar is not for someone who is looking for a super-thin neck.

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Best Beginner Electric Guitar Starter Kit – Squier Affinity Series Stratocaster HSS Pack

image shows Squier Affinity Series Stratocaster HSS Pack - Charcoal Frost Metallic with Laurel Fingerboard
Squier Affinity Series Stratocaster HSS Pack – Charcoal Frost Metallic with Laurel Fingerboard

Specs

Body StyleSolidbody Affinity Stratocaster
Body WoodPoplar
NeckMaple, Bolt-on
Neck ShapeC
Neck Radius9.5″
Fretboard21, Medium Jumbo Indian Laurel
NutSynthetic Bone
Nut Width1.650″
Pickups2 * Ceramic Single-coil
1 * Ceramic Humbucker
Controls1 x master volume
2 x tone
5-way blade pickup switch
Scale-Length25.5″
Bridge2-Point Synchronized Tremolo with Individual Block Saddles
TunersSealed Die-cast

Guitar packs are great for beginners because you get everything you need to get started in one convenient package. My first real electric guitar came in a box, and I still use the practice amp to jam in my office! 

Fender has been making guitars for a while, so they know what beginners need. That’s why the Squire Affinity Series Stratocaster HSS Pack is one of the best electric guitar bundles – it’s from Fender! It comes with everything you need to play, including: 

  • A Squire Affinity Series HSS Stratocaster. 
  • A Fender Frontman 15G practice amp. 
  • A gig bag. 
  • A strap. 
  • A tuner. 
  • A cable. 
  • Guitar picks. 
  • 3-months of free instruction from Fender Play. 

Let’s talk about the guitar. It has a poplar body, a maple neck, and a laurel fingerboard. This makes the guitar incredibly light and easy on the shoulders. The body is also contoured for added comfort, whether playing standing up or sitting down. 

The maple neck has a slim 9.5” radius that allows the guitar to play great, even for players with small hands. You might want to avoid this if you have larger hands, as it may feel a bit too skinny for you. Those with small hands or average-sized hands will feel right at home. The neck plays incredibly well and allows you to be comfortable working on strumming chords or soloing through a new scale. 

The electronics include pickups arranged in an HSS configuration, which means “humbucker, single coil, single coil.” The bridge humbucker is ceramic and sounds great for playing overdriven rock and roll. The two single coils give you a classic strat sound. I was able to jam out to Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Cold Shot” and get my tone surprisingly close to his. 

You can customize your tone with the volume knob, 2 tone knobs, and a 5-way selector switch. This allows you to explore different tones as you learn. 

The bridge and tuners are surprisingly good, and there were no problems keeping the guitar in tune. There is even a tremolo for those who want to venture into whammy bar action. 

The amp is a genuine Fender Frontman 15G – not a Squier. This solid-state amp features 15 watts of the famous Fender clean tone and a special Drive button for added gain. You can shape your tone with the 3-band EQ, and you can practice quietly through a set of headphones if you need to. There’s even an aux input for jamming along to your favorite songs. 

This combination allows you to access tones from all across the board. Select the humbucker and turn up the drive on the amp to access hard-hitting overdriven tones, or select the neck pickup and switch the amp to the clean setting for lush-sounding clean tones. 

When I started, I had VHS tapes to watch if I wanted to learn. Now, you have a complete online course that teaches you how to play. It is interactive and tracks your progress. This is a much better way to learn at your speed, and you don’t have to worry about the VCR eating the tape (I’m showing my age here). 

This pack is affordable and comes with everything you need. It provides beginners with exceptional value! 

How this guitar sounds:

YouTube video

TONE CHECK: Squier Affinity Series Stratocaster HSS Demo

Summary

ProsCons
The lightweight body is comfortable to play, standing or sitting.Players with large hands may not like the thin neck.
The neck is great for players with small hands.
The guitar and amp sound great together.
The Fender Play subscription is a great way to learn how to play.

What others are saying:

“This is the best guitar I have ever owned! It sounds amazing and is easy to play! It is very easy to tune. It almost never goes out of tune. I 10/10 recommend this guitar! It is worth the money! You won’t regret it.”

  • Sweetwater customer

Who is this guitar for?

This guitar is for beginners who want to buy everything in one convenient package. 

Who is this guitar NOT for?

This guitar is not for those with large hands. The neck may feel too thin for them. 

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Best For Metal & Shredding – Ibanez GIO GRG120QASP

image shows Ibanez GIO GRG120QASP Electric Guitar finished in Blue Gradiation
Ibanez GIO GRG120QASP Electric Guitar – Blue Gradiation

Specs

Body StyleSolidbody GIO GRG
Body WoodPoplar
NeckMaple, Bolt-on
Neck ShapeGRG
Neck Radius15.7″
Fretboard24, Jumbo Purple Heart
NutPlastic
Nut Width1.692″
Pickups2 * Infinity R Humbucker
Controls1 x master volume
1 x master tone
5-way blade pickup switch
Scale-Length25.5″
BridgeT102 Tremolo
TunersIbanez Closed Gear

As an avid Ibanez player, I am continually amazed at how they can make guitars this good and keep them affordable for beginners. The Ibanez Gio GRG120QASP is a young shredder’s dream come true! It has everything you need to learn the art of shredding, and it is a gorgeous guitar to behold. 

This beast starts with a poplar body capped by a beautiful piece of Art Maple. Art Maple is natural maple with a printed design on it. This makes it appear like an expensive piece of quilted maple. The body is the same RG profile that is used on Ibanez’s famous RG lineup that is played by professionals around the world. 

The neck is maple, and the fingerboard is purpleheart. The neck has a satin finish and plays very fast – what Ibanez guitars are known for. You can easily shred scales up and down without discomfort, and power and bar chords are effortless to execute. 

The Ibanez GRG120QASP comes stocked with 2 Ibanez Infinity R humbuckers with a lot of output for stock humbuckers. They’re great for playing intense metal riffs and scorching solos. I jammed out on Steve Vai’s “For The Love of God” with relative ease before playing a medley of Metallica riffs. The guitar was flawless. 

A single volume knob and a single tone knob allow you some control over the tone. A 5-way switch allows you to switch between different pickup configurations, which makes this guitar even more versatile. 

Players also get some great hardware on this guitar. The bridge is a tremolo bridge and allows you to divebomb to your heart’s content. The tuners work very well, but the guitar did go slightly out of tune while I was playing it. This could have been due to the new strings on the guitar, or perhaps the nut needed to be lubed up a bit. Either way, I had to retune after using the whammy bar. 

The Ibanez GRG120QASP looks, feels, and sounds like an instrument that would command a much higher price tag. The fit and finish were flawless, and there were no sharp fret ends to contend with. It is one of the best electric guitars for metal on the market right now in this price range, and the thin neck and low action make it feel like a brand-new sports car. 

How this guitar sounds:

YouTube video

Ibanez GRG120QASP-BGD

Summary

ProsCons
The neck is speedy and comfortable to play. It went out of tune after heavy whammy bar usage.
The pickups sound amazing for metal.
The finish is stunning and not commonly found in this price range.

What others are saying:

“Came set up to use today. Just tune and off to Shredville. Unbeatable quality. Polished frets. No sharp fret ends. Action perfect. Ibanez built as if it cost a lot more. If you want a great guitar for a more than reasonable price. Hurry before the opportunity fades.”

  • Brian, Sweetwater customer

Who is this guitar for?

This guitar is for the beginner who wants an excellent playing axe on which they can learn to play metal. 

Who is this guitar NOT for?

This guitar is not for fans of thicker necks. The neck is relatively thin.

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Best Semi-Hollowbody – Ibanez Artcore AS53 Semi-Hollowbody

image shows Ibanez Artcore AS53 Semi-hollowbody Electric Guitar finished in Sunburst Red Flat
Ibanez Artcore AS53 Semi-hollowbody Electric Guitar – Sunburst Red Flat

Specs

Body StyleSemi-hollowbody Artcore AS53
Body WoodLinden
NeckNyatoh Set Neck
Neck ShapeAS Artcore
Neck Radius12″
Fretboard22, Medium Nickel Walnut
NutABS
Nut Width1.692″
Pickups2 * Infinity R Humbucker
Controls1 x master volume
1 x master tone
3-way toggle switch
Scale-Length24.75″
BridgeGibraltar Performer with Quik Change III Tailpiece
TunersIbanez

Semi-hollowbody guitars are often left out of a lot of lists for some reason, and that is unfair. Beginners need to know that there are affordable options for semi-hollowbody guitars since so many are expensive. The Ibanez Artcore AS53 is the best option for someone who wants to get a quality semi-hollowbody while sticking to a beginner’s budget. 

The Ibanez Artcore AS53 is constructed of a sapele top, back, and sides with a nyatoh neck and a walnut fingerboard. This gives the guitar excellent resonance and strength. It will have a warmer tone than semi-hollowbody guitars commonly made from maple. Sapele has a tone similar to mahogany, whereas maple is bright and snappy. 

The neck is thin and plays well. It is much thinner than what is usually found on semi-hollowbody guitars, and this works very well for playing scales quickly and fluidly. Chords are easy to grab as well. Beginners should have no complaints about how this guitar plays because it is honestly one of the most comfortable necks I’ve felt on a semi-hollowbody. 

The electronics are simplified and consist of two Ibanez Infinity R humbuckers, a single volume knob, a single tone knob, and a 3-way selector switch. This makes it easier for beginners to control their tone instead of worrying about 2 volume and 2 tone knobs. 

The pickups sound great and have a relatively high output for stock humbuckers. They are capable of shimmering cleans as well as raunchy, overdriven tones. They will even venture up to high-gain performance if played through the right amp. Be careful of feedback, though! 

The hardware is good quality and features an ABR-style bridge with a stopbar tailpiece. On the model I played, the bridge needed adjusting to keep the high E string from buzzing. It was a brand-new guitar, so I can only assume it was not set up correctly at the factory. 

Overall, the Ibanez AS53 Semi-hollowbody is an excellent value for players looking for a high-quality jazz box that won’t break the bank. 

How this guitar sounds:

YouTube video

Ibanez Artcore AS53 Hollow body Guitar in Tobacco Flat

Summary

ProsCons
A fast-playing neck makes it great for soloing.Needed a bridge adjustment right out of the box.
The pickups sound great, clean or with overdrive.
Simplified controls make it easy for beginners to use.

What others are saying:

“Amazing quality for such an affordable price. The smaller, comfortable shape and lighter weight make this a joy to play. Very responsive pickups and great finish.

I’ve been playing Ibanez guitars since 1982!”

  • Sweetwater customer

Who is this guitar for?

This guitar is for the beginner guitarist who wants to start with a quality semi-hollowbody.

Who is this guitar NOT for?

This isn’t a guitar for fans of guitars with 4 controls (like most semi-hollowbodies). It only has a volume knob and one tone knob.

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Runner-Ups That Just Missed The Top 5


Buyer’s Guide

How to Choose The Right Electric Guitar For Beginners?

Design & Looks

You want to choose a body shape that is both practical and appealing. The shape should be attractive and inspire you to play. However, it should also be comfortable to play while sitting down or standing up. 

For this reason, it is usually not recommended that beginners start with a Flying V shape. These are very hard to play while sitting down. Some versions are easier to play while sitting, such as the Randy Rhoads V, but they are still cumbersome. It is best to avoid them altogether when starting out. 

Most beginners like to start with a Strat-style or Les Paul-style guitar. These are easy to play, whether sitting or standing, and they are comfortable.

Neck Profile & Playability

Neck shape is very important, especially for those with small hands. Most beginner guitars will have a modern “C”-shaped neck or a modified “D”-shaped neck. “C”-shaped necks are usually thinner and are better for playing leads. 

“D”-shaped necks are usually thicker and better for chording. This is because there is more wood to grab onto as you make the chord. If you have no clue what you prefer, I recommend going with a “C”-shaped neck. It is the most common type, and most people will find it comfortable. 

Electronics

image reveals How different electric guitar pickups sound

Learn more about electric guitar pickup types here.

You want to make sure that the guitar you get is going to sound right for the music that you want to play. This means that you need to get the right electronics. There are different types of pickups in guitars, and they create different tones.

Humbuckers are great for rock, metal, punk, and blues. They have a warm sound and sound great when played with distortion or overdrive. 

Single coils are great for country, jazz, blues, and classic rock. They have a brighter sound and work well when played clean or with a touch of overdrive. 

Do some research on your favorite artists to find out what they use. This will give you a direction in which to go. 

Sound & Musical Preferences

The style of music will affect your choice. Heavy metal players like a fast-playing neck that is relatively thinner. Some jazz players prefer a neck that is thicker since it is easier to hold down chords for longer periods. 

As previously mentioned, the electronics will also depend on what style of music you want to play. You don’t want to get a guitar with single coil pickups to play metal because you won’t get the tone you want. You’ll need a guitar with humbuckers for that. 

Price Including Amplifier & Other Accessories

The price of electric guitars themselves can start at just under $200. A quality practice amp begins at $80, and a guitar strap starts at $6. You’ll also need a cable (starting at $10), a tuner (starting at $10), and picks (starting at $3.69 for a 12-pack). 

This puts the total cost at a minimum of $310, but you’ll likely want to spend more for higher-quality gear. You could also buy a starter pack and get it all at one low price. 

How to Test

There are a ton of choices on this list alone, so it is entirely understandable to be lost when it comes to figuring out which beginner’s electric guitar to go with. You can narrow down your search by figuring out your basics:

  • What is my playing style?
    • Soloing or rhythm? 
    • Shredder or chugger? 
    • High-gain or low-gain?
  • What tone do I want?
    • Bright, articulate, and chime-like? 
    • Low, rich, and mid-focused?
  • How will I be playing most of the time?
    • At home? 
    • In the studio? 
    • On the road? 

Figuring out your style will help you narrow down what neck profile you’ll most likely enjoy and what pickups should be in the guitar when you buy it. Thinner necks are usually preferred by those who like to shred, and thicker necks are generally preferred by those who play a lot of chords. 

Once you have narrowed that down, you can figure out what body style you want. Keep in mind that larger guitars typically weigh more than other guitars because they use more wood during their construction. If you’re doing a lot of sitting while playing, you’ll want a body shape that is comfortable to hold (a V-shaped guitar is NOT comfortable to play while sitting down, for example). 

Should a Beginner Buy an Electric Guitar Bundle or Purchase Individual Components?

If you are on a tight budget and are overwhelmed by the choices of guitars, amps, and other accessories, you may want to go with a starter pack. These packages are great for beginners because they provide everything you need to start playing. Some even include free online lessons. These give beginners convenience and value. 

However, you may want to buy each item separately. This is especially useful if you want a higher-quality amplifier or guitar. Not all guitar models come in packages, so you can get exactly what you want by purchasing everything separately.

Is It Okay To Buy a Used Guitar as a Beginner?

I don’t recommend that beginners buy used guitars unless they are getting them from a reputable dealer who sets up used instruments before they resell them. Many pawn shops and music stores buy used guitars, mark them up, and put them on display without setting them up properly. This means there could be potential problems with the guitar, such as poor intonation, high action, or physical damage.

The other reason is that there are tons of affordable guitars on the market these days, and the prices are low enough that nearly everyone can afford them. You can get a brand-new, high-quality guitar for a little more money than a used model. The new guitars often come with a warranty as well. This closes the price gap even more. 

It just makes sense to go with a new guitar these days unless you spot one that you have to have. Be aware, however, that you may have to pay for a setup!


Conclusion

Beginners today have a great advantage. They have more guitar choices than ever before, and many of those choices are quality guitars. The quality of guitars has improved drastically over the years, and I am continually blown away by some of the so-called “beginner” guitars that are on the market. They play nearly as well as guitars that I have spent thousands of dollars on over the years. 

Having quality gear can make learning the guitar a joy. On the other hand, trying to learn on a piece of junk makes the entire experience seem like a chore. Luckily, I’m beginning to see less junk and more quality on the market, and that’s a good thing. 

So, for all beginners, I encourage you to pick a guitar from this list and begin your journey the right way. You’ll be glad you did! 

Happy shredding from all of us here at guitaristnextdoor.com!


FAQs

Which Electric Guitar Brand is Best for Beginners?

Ibanez makes a beautiful line of affordable electric guitars that are great for beginners. Ibanez is one of the top electric guitar brands in the world. Check out their GIO line for some fantastic beginner-friendly guitars!

How Much Should I Spend on a Beginner Electric Guitar?

You should only play what you can afford. You can pick up a great electric guitar for around $200. Don’t spend much money until you find out if you will stick with it. You don’t want to have a lot of money invested in a hobby that you don’t do.

Are Yamaha Electric Guitars Good for Beginners?

Yes! Yamaha electric guitars are excellent for beginners. They make quality guitars at great prices. 

Is A Stratocaster Good for a Beginner?

Yes, a Stratocaster is great for a beginner. 

Should I Spend More on the Guitar or an Amp?

You should first concentrate on the guitar and spend more money there. As time goes on, you may find that a more expensive amplifier is what you need. A great amplifier can make a cheap guitar sound like it costs thousands more.

Is It Worth Buying an Expensive Guitar as a Beginner?

That depends on whether you stick with it or not. You don’t want to have a lot of money tied up in a hobby that you don’t do. If you know without a doubt you will stick with it, then there is nothing stopping you from getting an expensive guitar as long as you can afford it.

What Size Guitar Should a Beginner Use?

A full-size guitar (24.75” – 25.50”) should be suitable for everyone 13 years old and older. Children from 8 to 12 should use a ¾-scale guitar (22.8” -24.2”). Younger children will most likely need a ½-scale guitar (about 21”).

How Long Does It Take For a Beginner to Learn Electric Guitar?

This depends on how much you practice and what you practice. If you practice daily, it will take several months to a year to have basic proficiency. This is because it can take a while to develop muscle memory.

DL Shepherd

Darren has been playing guitar for over 25 years and teaching guitar since High-School. He fronted the metal band Suddenly Silence in the early 2000’s, and also achieved recognition as an award-winning bluegrass guitarist. A native of southwestern Virginia, and has shared the stage with many big-name acts from various genres. When he is not playing one of his many guitars, he can be found riding his Harley through the mountains of Virginia. Expertise: teaching guitars, electric guitars, acoustic guitars, guitar amplifiers, guide pedals, flatpicking, bluegrass, metal, rock, and blues.
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