You are currently viewing 6 Best Cheap Electric Guitars in 2024 (Around $150) – Budget-Friendly Gems

Last Updated on June 11, 2024 by Teemu Suomala

Displays Tyler Connaghan - guitar player and writer

Author: Tyler Connaghan

Tyler Connaghan is a guitarist, singer, producer, composer & engineer based in Los Angeles, California. Tyler has been playing the guitar since 2007. In between writing for guitar publications, he produces music for film and television. His favorite axe is his custom Pelham Blue Fender Stratocaster.

Expertise: music industry, producing, acoustic & electric guitars, songwriting

Bachelor of Science in Music Industry Studies, Music Industry

photo reveals owner of guitaristnextdoor.com

Editing & Research: Teemu Suomala

I first grabbed the guitar in 2009. I started this website in January 2020 because I couldn’t do window installation anymore due to my health problems. I love guitars and have played dozens and dozens of different guitars through different amps and pedals over the years, and also, building a website interested me, so I decided to just go for it! I got lucky and managed to get awesome people to help me with my website.

I also got lucky because I have you visiting my website right now. Thank you. I do all this for you guys. If you have any recommendations, tips, or feedback, just leave a comment, I would love to chat with you. I have also been fortunate to produce content for several large guitar websites, such as SongsterrMusicnotesGuitarGuitar, and Ultimate Guitar.

I spend my spare time exercising and hanging out with my wife and crazy dog (I guess that went the right way…).


displays Ibanez Gio GRX20Z

Best Overall – Ibanez Gio GRX20Z

Reviewer: Tyler Connaghan

Sound
Playability
Build/Finish Quality
Value For Money
Versatility
Hardware

Summary

Pros 
-Super affordable axe
-Comfortable neck shape for fast playability
-Easy high fret access
-Solid all-around tones (relatively versatile)

Cons
-Not many finishes to choose from
-The hardware is pretty basic

Who Is This For?
The Ibanez Gio GRX20Z is a great beginner guitar for players who are interested in playing rock and metal. My favorite cheap electric guitar.

3.9

How Ibanez Gio GRX20Z Sounds:

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  • Jimmy Page

    Main Band

    Led Zeppelin

    Main Guitar

    "Number One" – 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard

    GND Rating

    (4.0)

    Jimmy Page

    Uniqueness

    (5.0)

    Accuracy

    (3.0)

    Speed

    (3.0)

    Right Hand

    (3.5)

    Techniques

    (3.5)

    Versatility

    (4.0)

    Performance

    (4.5)

    Overall Lead

    (4.5)

    Overall Rhythm

    (5.0)
  • Keith Urban

    Main Band

    Solo Artist

    Main Guitar

    1989 Fender Custom Shop 40th Anniversary Telecaster

    GND Rating

    (3.7)

    Keith Urban

    Uniqueness

    (3.5)

    Accuracy

    (3.5)

    Speed

    (3.5)

    Right Hand

    (3.0)

    Techniques

    (4.0)

    Versatility

    (3.5)

    Performance

    (4.5)

    Overall Lead

    (4.0)

    Overall Rhythm

    (4.0)
  • Buddy Holly

    Main Band

    The Crickets

    Main Guitar

    Fender Stratocaster 1954

    GND Rating

    (2.8)

    Buddy Holly

    Uniqueness

    (3.0)

    Accuracy

    (4.0)

    Speed

    (2.0)

    Right Hand

    (2.0)

    Techniques

    (1.5)

    Versatility

    (2.0)

    Performance

    (4.0)

    Overall Lead

    (3.0)

    Overall Rhythm

    (4.0)
  • Alexi Laiho

    Main Band

    Children of Bodom

    Main Guitar

    ESP Alexi Ripped

    GND Rating

    (4.2)

    Alexi Laiho

    Uniqueness

    (4.5)

    Accuracy

    (4.5)

    Speed

    (4.5)

    Right Hand

    (4.5)

    Techniques

    (4.5)

    Versatility

    (3.0)

    Performance

    (3.5)

    Overall Lead

    (5.0)

    Overall Rhythm

    (4.0)
  • Pete Townshend

    Main Band

    The Who

    Main Guitar

    Fender Eric Clapton Stratocaster

    GND Rating

    (2.3)

    Pete Townshend

    Uniqueness

    (4.0)

    Accuracy

    (2.0)

    Speed

    (1.0)

    Right Hand

    (3.5)

    Techniques

    (1.0)

    Versatility

    (1.0)

    Performance

    (4.0)

    Overall Lead

    (1.0)

    Overall Rhythm

    (3.0)
  • Joe Perry

    Main Band

    Aerosmith

    Main Guitar

    Gibson Les Paul

    GND Rating

    (3.6)

    Joe Perry

    Uniqueness

    (4.5)

    Accuracy

    (3.5)

    Speed

    (2.5)

    Right Hand

    (3.0)

    Techniques

    (3.5)

    Versatility

    (3.0)

    Performance

    (4.0)

    Overall Lead

    (3.5)

    Overall Rhythm

    (5.0)

The Next Best:

Runner-Up – Donner DTC-100S 

displays a Donner DTC 100

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Our Overall Rating

Summary

Pros 

  • Solid Tele tones
  • Surprisingly good quality most of the time
  • Smooth playability
  • Comes with accessories (gig bag, strap, cable)
  • Stays in tune well

Cons

  • More versatile options are available
  • Poor setup sometimes
  • Sharp fret edges
  • Accessories are not very good in quality

Who Is This For?

If looking for and nice quality cheap Telecaster that usually offers smooth playability and is versatile.

Best for Metal – Jackson Dinky JS11

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Our Overall Rating

Summary

Pros 

  • Mean tones
  • Fast and easy playability
  • Still versatile
  • Same Jackson High-output Humbuckers than in $200 more expensive Jackson JS32 guitars
  • Jumbo frets paired with Jacksons “speed” neck shape make playing effortless

Cons

  • Finish issues can be present
  • Clean tones are a bit dull
  • Fret buzz and rough fret edges sometimes

Who Is This For?

If you are looking for a fast playing and mean-sounding cheap guitar, this is one of the best options for around $150.

Best Single-Cut – Epiphone Les Paul Melody Maker E1

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Our Overall Rating

Summary

Pros 

  • Pickups offer versatile single-coil tones
  • Fun to play
  • Flat 14” fretboard, paired with 60” Slim taper neck and short scale make playing easy most of the time
  • A unique twist to Les Paul
  • Hitting the frets and feel of the fretboard is good

Cons

  • The neck doesn’t have a smooth feel
  • You get better tuners with almost any other guitar
  • As usually with single-cut models, upper-frett access is not very good
  • A bit rough fret edges sometimes
  • Pickups are noisy

Who Is This For?

If you want a fun-to-play, ok sounding Les Paul Style Guitar, this is a solid option.

Best ¾ Sized – Ibanez miKro GRGM21

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Our Overall Rating

Summary

Pros 

  • Really good for small and small-handed people(for kids too)
  • Versatile
  • Playing doesn’t require much finger strength because of the low string tension
  • Neck humbucker offers some meaty tones
  • Really easy to play

Cons

  • Tuning issues
  • Slightly fuzzy sound when using distortion
  • Finish and build issues can be present

Who Is This For?

If you want a smaller-sized guitar that is easy to handle, plus offers solid and versatile tones, this Mikro Gio is a good option.

Best Offset – Squier Mini Jazzmaster HH

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Our Overall Rating

Summary

Pros 

  • Lightweight ¾ body
  • Comfortable playability
  • Cool retro look

Cons

  • Intonation needs work right off the bat

Who Is This For?

It’s a great guitar for any player who wants a cool and distinctive aesthetic with a massive humbucker tone to match.

Compare The Key Specs

ModelPrice Range ($-$$$$)Body StyleNeckFretboardBodywoodsNut WidthNut MaterialNeck ShapeScale-LengthPickupsOur Rating
Ibanez Gio GRX20Z$$Modern StratMaple
22 Medium Jumbo frets.
Maple fingerboard. 12″ radius
Poplar1.653″PlasticC25.5″2 x Infinity R Ceramic Humbucker3.9
Donner DTC-100S$TelecasterMaple20 Medium frets.
Perilla fingerboard. 12″ radius
Poplar1.650″PlasticC25.5″
2 x Donner Tele-style Single-coil pickups
3.8
Jackson Dinky JS11$Modern StratMaple22 Jumbo frets.
Amaranth fingerboard. 12″ radius
Poplar1.6875″PlasticSpeed25.5″2 x Jackson High-output Humbucker3.8
Epiphone Les Paul Melody Maker E1$Les PaulMahogany
22 Medium Jumbo frets.
Rosewood fingerboard. 14″ radius
Poplar1.6875″Plastic60’s SlimTaper D profile24.75″1 x 650SCR Ceramic Single-coil
1 x 700SCT Ceramic Single-coil
3.6
Ibanez miKro GRGM21$Modern StratMaple24 Medium frets.
Jatoba fingerboard. 15.7″ radius
Basswood1.614″PlasticGRGM22.2″2 x Infinity R Ceramic Humbucker3.5
Squier Mini Jazzmaster HH$$JazzmasterMaple20 Narrow Tall frets.
Maple fingerboard. 9.5″ radius
Poplar 1.598″Synthetic Bone C22.75″2 x Standard Humbucker3.5

This is probably no big secret to you…we guitar players are usually not known from their fat wallets. That’s why cheap electric guitars interest most of us.

It’s also true that all cheap guitars are not that good. Some can be pretty much worthless, to be honest. I and others here at Guitaristnextdoor.com have tested a ton of different cheap gear over the years, and we will save you the trouble of aimlessly searching for the right cheap axe.

We examine the age old question. Do expensive guitars sound better?

I will reveal my 6 top picks. I will tell you why these guitars are good and what flaws they might have. I will also reveal 5 runner-up options that might also interest you.

Let’s get started!

If you are willing to spend more than around $150, check this article also: 5 Best Electric Guitars Under $200


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Our Reviews of The Top 6

Keep These 3 Key Things In Mind When Choosing:

Get clear with this. Buy a guitar that is a good pair with your music taste. I mention which genres each specific guitar handles well so I got you covered here.

From my first guitar book(The Guitar Handbook by Ralph Denyer), I got an amazing tip: ”buy the best guitar you can afford”. This has stuck with me since then. That tip will get you far. Don’t overspend, but don’t save just for the sake of saving. 

Focus on getting a guitar that has pickups that support your musical preferences. Don’t go crazy with tonewoods etc.


Best Overall – Ibanez Gio GRX20Z

displays Ibanez Gio GRX20Z
Body StyleGio GRX
Body WoodPoplar
Neck WoodMaple
Neck ShapeC
FretboardJatoba
Nut MaterialPlastic
Nut Width1.653”
Pickups2x Infinity R Ceramic Humbucker pickups
Controls5-way pickup switch1x volume knob1 x tone knob
Scale Length25.5”
BridgeIbanez T06 Tremolo
TunersIbanez Closed Gear

The Ibanez GRX20Z is one of the best cheap rock guitars on the market today, perfect for those who want something that looks beastly and plays even better. You get a set of ultra-high-output humbucker pickups, which deliver a beefy sound, a standard tremolo for when you want to bust out some Van Halen-style dive bombs, and a five-way pickup switch for moving between different tones with ease. 

Playability

Ibanez has long been known for producing shred-ready guitars, and the GRX20Z is no different. The C neck shape feels great in the hands, offering a lightning-fast playing experience, while the poplar body offers a lightweight feel, perfect for playing longer live shows and not feeling fatigued. 

Sound

While the Ibanez GRX20Z was definitely made for metal and hard rock, it offers a pretty balanced sound for all kinds of tones. Of course, with humbuckers, you can expect more warmth than single-coil pickups, which makes it great for blues and jazz, and three five-way pickup switch allows you to flip between different pickup positions to shape your tone even further. 

It works super well with heavy distortion, so make sure to try it out with an overdriven amp! 

Check a sound demo:

Quality

For what you pay, this is a very high-quality instrument. Ibanez knows how to make long-lasting music gear, and the hardware and construction of this guitar prove it. It’s equally great for live gigs as it is for studio work, so if you’re looking for a reliable axe, look no further! 

Summary 

Pros 

  • Super affordable axe
  • Comfortable neck shape for fast playability
  • Easy high fret access
  • Solid all-around tones (relatively versatile)

Cons

  • Not many finishes to choose from
  • The hardware is pretty basic

Who Is This For?

The Ibanez Gio GRX20Z is a great beginner guitar for players who are interested in playing rock and metal. 

Who Is This NOT For?

I wouldn’t recommend this guitar to serious tone connoisseurs or advanced players, as it’s pretty basic overall. 

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Runner-Up – Donner DTC-100S 

displays a Donner DTC 100
Body StyleTelecaster
Body WoodPoplar
Neck WoodMaple
Neck ShapeC
FretboardPerilla
Nut MaterialPlastic
Nut Width?
Pickups2 x Donner Tele-style Single-coil pickups
Controls3-way pickup switch1x volume knob1 x tone knob
Scale Length25.5”
BridgeSix-saddle bridge
TunersTelecaster-style tuners

Donner guitars have been gaining popularity over the last 5 years, and after looking closer at this DTC-100 I can see why. I’m currently running my in-depth tests to this bad boy, check the unboxing:

First Tele! – Donner DTC 100 Unboxing

Playability

Most of the time, playability is smooth. Popular C- neck shape fits most hands well and moving your hand up and down the neck feels good. Sometimes fret edges can be a bit rough, but usually, this axe is good to go without any fret smoothening.

Telecaster shape is comfortable to me, but doesn’t have the smooth and curvy edges of a Strat. I still think that most people are not going to face any issues with Tele shape.

Sound

This guitar does a good job delivering twangy Tele tones. It’s equipped with a familiar Tele SS combo(2 single-coil pickups) and it’s versatile as a budget Telecaster can be, and it will bend from bright cleans to hard rock like a charm.

The tone is surprisingly balanced and doesn’t sound tinny to me. The pretty good-sounding affordable guitar actually!

What music I would recommend for this axe?

  • Hard rock
  • Rock
  • Classic rock
  • Blues
  • Funk
  • Jazz

This is tonally a not very good option for metal, but you can play metal with it if you want.

Check a sound demo:

Quality

Probably the best aspect of this Donner. Quality is really good for the price, best from all these cheap guitars I investigated.

Still, this can guitar can have issues too. I’m mainly talking about sharp fret edges and poor setup. These can be annoying but also fixable.

Then the accessories…it’s nice that this guitar comes with accessories, but the quality of this extra gear is not very good. The strap is uncomfortable and feels cheap. Gig bag has low protection and the zipper is probably not going to last very long. The cable is ok and will get you started. But of course, I didn’t expect premium quality from this gear, so this is no big issue.

Summary 

Pros 

  • Solid Tele tones
  • Surprisingly good quality most of the time
  • Smooth playability
  • Comes with accessories (gig bag, strap, cable)
  • Stays in tune well

Cons

  • More versatile options are available
  • Poor setup sometimes
  • Sharp fret edges
  • Accessories are not very good in quality

Who Is This For?

If looking for and nice quality cheap Telecaster that usually offers smooth playability and is versatile.

Check Price on:


Best for Metal – Jackson Dinky JS11 

Body StyleModern Strat
Body WoodPoplar
Neck WoodMaple
Neck ShapeSpeed neck
FretboardAmaranth
Nut MaterialPlastic
Nut Width1.6875”
Pickups2x Jackson High-output Humbuckers
Controls3-way pickup switch1x volume knob1 x tone knob
Scale Length24.75”
BridgeTwo-point fulcrum tremolo
TunersJackson sealed die-cast

I had the big brother of this Dinky, the JS22 in my home testing in 2021, and oh boy it was awesome! But what about this little brother…is it any good?

Playability

You don’t get the compound radius or 24 frets of JS22 with this JS11, but you get pretty much all the other stuff related to smooth playability. Jacksons “speed” neck shape is really comfortable and made for fast playing.

Low action and jumbo frets make playing effortless, and pretty much all the frets are easy to access. When it comes to the feeling I prefer the more expensive JS22 I had in my home testing over this JS11, but this is not a toy either.

Sound

Jackson High-output Humbuckers churn out really mean distorted tones. If you are after a cheap metal guitar, this is a great pick. These pickups are surprisingly versatile, but the cleans are a bit dull sounding and lose for the cleans Kramer Alnico V pickups.

What music I would recommend for this axe?

  • Metal
  • Hard rock
  • Rock
  • Classic rock

It’s not my go-to blues or jazz guitar, but those genres are not a no-no for this axe either.

Check a sound demo:

Quality

Minor finish issues bother some Jackson Dinky JS-series guitars, but most of the time, they look stunning out of the box. Fret buzz and rough fret edges also bother JS11’s sometimes, but gladly this is not the case usually.

When it comes to set up, and this comes from my own experience, Jackson’s have always been really playable out of the box.

Summary 

Pros 

  • Mean tones
  • Fast and easy playability
  • Still versatile
  • Same Jackson High-output Humbuckers than in $200 more expensive Jackson JS32 guitars
  • Jumbo frets paired with Jacksons “speed” neck shape make playing effortless

Cons

  • Finish issues can be present
  • Clean tones are a bit dull
  • Fret buzz and rough fret edges sometimes

Who Is This For?

If you are looking for a fast playing and mean-sounding cheap guitar, this is one of the best options for around $150.

Check Price on:


Best Single-Cut – Epiphone Les Paul Melody Maker E1

Body StyleSingle Cut
Body WoodPoplar
Neck WoodMahogany
Neck Shape60s slim taper D neck
FretboardRosewood
Nut MaterialPlastic
Nut Width1.6875”
Pickups650SCR Ceramic Single-coil,
700SCT Ceramic Single-coil
Controls3-way pickup switch1x volume knob1 x tone knob
Scale Length24.75”
BridgeAdjustable wrap-around stopbar
TunersPremium Covered

Les Paul with double humbu….wait? Single-coils?! Yep, that’s right, I was shocked too at first. But this unique twist to Les Paul works actually pretty well.

Playability

I like the short scale (24.75”), it makes string tension lower, and pressing strings down requires less power because of that. I also like the flat 14” fretboard and 60” Slim taper D neck shape. Also, I like how hitting the frets feels, it’s comfortable. These make playing fun and easy. Most of the time…

There are a couple of things I don’t like about the playability. First, the gloss finish on the neck doesn’t feel smooth. It can be just a personal preference only, but I just love when the neck is smooth and fast to handle. This neck doesn’t have that feel.

Also, limited upper fret access (frets below 13th fret on low E and A strings) is present as usually with Single-cut/Les Paul models.

Sound

It feels alien and a bit “wrong” to play Les Paul with double single-coils. But I actually like this combination. Fresh. But how it sound?

It’s a great classic rock and rock guitar. Single-coil tones are not that spanky, but are still bright and that familiar SC coldness shines through. Don’t expect perfect Fender cleans from this axe, but you can for sure get some of those sparkling tones out of this Epiphone. 

But these pickups are quite noisy. I mean hum. It doesn’t ruin the experience, but especially when you dial some gain the noise starts.

What music I would recommend for this axe?

  • Rock
  • Classic rock
  • Blues (Clapton for example)
  • Jazz

It’s not very good for heavier stuff, but it can handle some hard rock for sure.

Check a sound demo:

Quality

The quality of this Epiphone is usually solid, but couple of things can cause issues. First, tuners of these cheapest Epiphones are not very stable. I noticed this when testing Epiphone Les Paul Special VE. Tuning instability doesn’t ruin the experience, but you might need to tune this guitar a bit more than others. Of course, this issue is not present with every copy of this guitar. Some users have stated that their Epi stays in tune great.

Also, fret edges are a bit rough sometimes. Nothing too bad, but this is a bit annoying.

But I like the fact that you get a Rosewood fretboard and Mahogany neck with this guitar. These make this axe really upgradeable.

Summary 

Pros 

  • Pickups offer versatile single-coil tones
  • Fun to play
  • Flat 14” fretboard, paired with 60” Slim taper neck and short scale make playing easy most of the time
  • A unique twist to Les Paul
  • Hitting the frets and feel of the fretboard is good

Cons

  • The neck doesn’t have a smooth feel
  • You get better tuners with almost any other guitar
  • As usually with single-cut models, upper-frett access is not very good
  • A bit rough fret edges sometimes
  • Pickups are noisy

Who Is This For?

If you want a fun-to-play, ok sounding Les Paul Style Guitar, this is a solid option.

Check Price on:


Best ¾ Sized – Ibanez miKro GRGM21

Body StyleGio RG miKro
Body WoodBasswood
Neck WoodMaple
Neck ShapeGRGM
FretboardJatoba
Nut MaterialPlastic
Nut Width1.614”
Pickups2x Infinity R Ceramic Humbucker pickups
Controls5-way pickup switch1x volume knob1 x tone knob
Scale Length22.2”
BridgeF106 Bridge with Individual saddles
TunersIbanez Closed Gear

This GIO is one of my favorite ¾ guitars, but it’s not for everyone. Let’s dive deeper!

Playability

Low string action and 22-1/5″ scale make strings very easy to press down. Strings don’t have much tension and especially for beginners and kids, this is a huge plus. Playing this guitar doesn’t require much finger strength, and causes less headache because of that.

It’s really easy to access every corner of the fretboard with this narrow neck, so all small-handed players out there, this is great news!

All perfect? Nope. The fret edges can be quite rough sometimes and the neck has a bit of cheap feel in it. But these are not deal-breakers for me.

Sound

Infinity Humbuckers provide well-balanced tones. But this axe doesn’t exactly give you that warmness and thickness some of us are used to with more expensive humbuckers. Tones are slightly brighter but some of that humbucker thickness still shines through. 

Still, these humbuckers are versatile and I especially like how the neck pickup sounds, it offers some of those more meaty humbucker tones. From gentle cleans to mean distorted riffs, this guitar can hang on.

What music I would recommend for this axe?

  • Metal
  • Rock
  • Hard rock
  • Blues
  • Classic Rock

Versatile guitar, but shines with budget rock and metal tones the most.

My Ibanez GRX70QA has these same Infinity Humbuckers, and I think that these are pretty great!

Check a sound demo:

Quality

Quality is ok. Rough fret edges and fret buzz happen now and then. But the biggest problem relates to tuning stability. I don’t know if it’s the low string tension paired with string bends that makes this guitar go out of tune quite often or what, but the tuning stability is only ok at its best.

The paint job is usually great, but minor scratches and blemishes can be present sometimes. But all these issues are common with cheap guitars, so I’m not going to complain too much about these.

Summary 

Pros 

  • Really good for small and small-handed people(for kids too)
  • Versatile
  • Playing doesn’t require much finger strength because of the low string tension
  • Neck humbucker offers some meaty tones
  • Really easy to play

Cons

  • Tuning issues
  • Slightly fuzzy sound when using distortion
  • Finish and build issues can be present

Who Is This For?

If you want a smaller-sized guitar that is easy to handle, plus offers solid and versatile tones, this Mikro Gio is a good option.

Check Price on:


Best Offset – Squier Mini Jazzmaster HH

Body StyleJazzmaster
Body WoodPoplar
Neck WoodMaple
Neck ShapeC
FretboardMaple
Nut MaterialSynthetic Bone
Nut Width1.598”
Pickups2 x Squier Standard Humbucker pickups
Controls5-way pickup switch1x volume knob1 x tone knob
Scale Length22.75”
BridgeHardtail
TunersDie-cast sealed

The Mini Jazzmaster is another 3/4 electric guitar, offering comfort and better playability for younger or smaller players. You’ll find two standard humbuckers onboard, providing more of a rock n’ roll attitude than your standard Fender guitars, as well as a three-way toggle switch for tonal variety.

It’s got a seriously funky look to it, and it’s one of my favorite cheap guitars for anyone who wants a retro-looking piece of equipment. 

Playability

As a ¾ electric guitar, it’s smaller than your standard instrument, allowing for smaller or younger players to play more comfortably. Plus, with a slim “C” profile neck shape, it’s super comfortable for quick playing. 

I love how lightweight this little guy is, making it great for travel as well! 

Sound

Don’t let the small size fool you, though, as the Squier Mini Jazzmaster HH packs a punch. You get a full-bodied tone from the humbuckers, as well as a three-way toggle switch to blend between the different tones. The neck pickup sounds especially good when paired with heavy overdrive or distortion.

Check a sound demo:

Quality

Squier is one of the most trusted brands in the budget-friendly guitar market, and the Mini Jazzmaster uses all the same construction methods and materials you’d expect from other Squier guitars, such as die-cast sealed tuners and a killer paint job.

I also like the fact that this particular axe took the nut a step up with synthetic bone rather than plastic. 

Summary 

Pros 

  • Lightweight ¾ body
  • Comfortable playability
  • Cool retro look

Cons

  • Intonation needs work right off the bat

Who Is This For?

It’s a great guitar for any player who wants a cool and distinctive aesthetic with a massive humbucker tone to match

Who Is This NOT For?

I wouldn’t recommend this guitar for people who are used to playing traditional-sized guitars, as the small design might throw them off.

Check Price on:


Runner-Ups That Just Missed The Top 5


Buyer’s Guide

What Makes A Great Cheap Electric Guitar?

A great cheap electric guitar should have decent playability, a sound that inspires you to play, and solid enough hardware and materials so that you can play it for hours on end without much wear and tear. 

What you should know before buying?

1. Don’t expect perfection. You can get a solid instrument at an affordable price but don’t expect it to be perfect. These are typically factory-made, mass-produced guitars, so the quality control isn’t as good either. Plus, you won’t often find the highest-quality materials. 

2. Know what you want. Know what kind of music you want to play, as this will give you a clearer idea of what body style and pickups work for you. Let’s take a look at what genres the two main types of pickups align with:

Humbuckers provide thick tones that are great for 

  • Metal
  • Hard rock
  • Rock
  • Blues
  • Punk
  • Jazz

Single-coils provide bright and cold tones that are great for

  • Rock
  • Blues
  • Funk
  • Jazz

This pickup chart can help you even more:

image reveals How different electric guitar pickups sound

Check our full electric guitar pickup types guide here.

When it comes to body style, which looks the best to you? 

Stratocaster and Modern/Super Stratocaster shapes are the most comfortable to me, but Telecaster and Les Paul/Single-Cut models are great, too. You can even look at odd shapes, such as semi-hollowbody guitars, which offer the unique hybrid characteristics of electric and acoustic guitars. 

3. Know your budget. While you should never overspend on a new electric guitar, especially if you’re a beginner, you shouldn’t be cheap just for the sake of saving. I find it’s best to determine your budget ahead of time and stick to it, as it’ll help you strike the perfect balance between affordability and quality. 

4. You will need an amp, guitar cable, and picks too.

Keep in mind that you’ll also need a few accessories if you want to make the most out of your electric guitar, including an amp, a few cables, and some picks. Once you get further, you can start adding more gear to your rig, such as guitar pedals, tuners, and more! 

Here are a couple of our articles that will help you out:

Just buy some picks for your own testing, they are cheap.

How to Choose The Right Cheap Electric Guitar for You?

The most important thing is: Know what kind of music you want to play and choose pickups that support your musical taste. Above, you can see what genres the two main pickup styles handle. 

You can also watch sound demos on YouTube to find a guitar that sounds good to you.

Neck

This graph reveals most common guitar neck shapes
  • Feel of the neck and guitar overall. If you can visit a music store and test different guitars, do it. You will get a clear picture of how other guitars feel, enabling you to make a better decision. I’ve purchased many guitars without testing them and have been happy, so if you can’t visit a music store, don’t worry either!
    • C-shape is the most popular neck shape, and it works best for most beginners. Another common in beginner models is the D-shape, which offers a heftier feel.
    • Aim for a 9,5” or larger fretboard radius. The higher the radius is, the less curve there will be.
    • A shorter scale lowers string tension. The standard scale length is 25.5” and while it doesn’t feel bad, lower string tension can sometimes be a good option for younger players or those with a lighter touch..
    • Nut width (measured from the nut) indicates how narrow the neck is. Usually, beginner models have a 1.65-1.68” nut width.

Woods

  • Don’t focus on tonewoods too much. Pickups affect tone the most. Don’t worry about different tonewood options when shopping for a budget electric guitar, as most use cheaper tonewoods anyway! 

Body Shapes/Styles

There are so many different electric guitar styles to choose from, and the one you pick can have a huge impact on your playing. Let’s check out a few of the most popular styles:

  • Stratocaster – Stratocaster bodies feature a double-cutaway design for comfortable playability, and most Strats are versatile enough for just about any style of music, from funk to pop to blues. 
  • Telecaster – Telecaster bodies use a single-cutaway design, which is also very comfortable. In terms of styles, I would say they’re best suited for rock and country music. 
  • Single-Cut/Les Paul – Made famous by Gibson, single-cut guitars have thicker bodies and set necks, offering more sustain than their above counterparts. I highly recommend these guitars for jazz, rock, or blues. 
  • Super Strats – Many guitars, like those from Ibanez, use Super-Strat designs, which are essentially modified Stratocasters with sharper and more aggressive contours. They usually have locking tremolo systems and additional hardware features for heavier genres, such as metal and hard rock.

Pickups

The two main pickup types you’ll likely find yourself choosing between include single-coil pickups and humbucker pickups.

Single-coil pickups are better for brighter and more expressive guitar tones, making them perfect for funk, rock, blues, and alternative music. However, they can also be a bit noisy with their single-wire design. On the other hand, you have humbuckers, which use two single-coil pickups in tandem to get rid of that noise. The result is a thicker and warmer tone with a higher output, perfect for metal and rock.

Check our favorite electric guitars for small hands here.


Conclusion

It’s amazing what we can get for around $150 nowadays. Amazing. We shouldn’t expect perfection, but we can get workable instruments that are a ton of fun to play. And that’s awesome. But remember, 

  1. Buy the best guitar cheap electric you can afford
  2. Choose a guitar that enables you to play the music you love. 

You will go far by following these 2 rules of thumb.

I hope that this post helped you to choose the right cheap electric guitar for you. If you have any questions, just leave a comment. I wish you all the best and keep rocking!


FAQ

What Makes A Great Cheap Electric Guitar?

Cheap electric guitars

  • Offer high value
  • Have workable and solid sounding pickups
  • Can have small finish issues, but nothing major
  • Easy and fun to play, but edges of the frets/fretboard can feel a bit rough sometimes(usually not)
  • Tuning stability is at least OK

So everything is not perfect, but as an overall package, cheap electric guitars offer amazing value for the money.

Are Cheap Electric Guitars Difficult to Play?

Usually no. But

  • fret edges can be  a bit rough sometimes, which lowers the comfort
  • out of the box setup can be poor which can make things a bit harder

But if these issues are not present or are fixed, cheap electric guitars are usually really fun and easy to play. They can feel cheaper than more expensive ones, but I have had an equally fun time with both. Cheap and hard to play are not synonyms.

Can You Upgrade A Cheap Electric Guitar?

Absolutely. Cheap electric guitars are usually awesome project guitars. You can definitely make a dirt-cheap electric sound like a premium one with some upgrades.

How Long Do Cheap Electric Guitars Last?

Usually for a lifetime. This is no joke. Of course, some cheap guitars break in rugged use, or maybe they were not assembled so well. And you probably have to replace parts at some points (nut, pickups, etc.). But in general, I expect the guitar to last for a lifetime. Even if it cost only $150.

Learn more about the costs of electric guitars here.

Can You Play Metal With Cheap Electric Guitar?

Yes, you can. Let’s take a Jackson JS11 Dinky for example. It’s made for metal, and it handles distortion really well. Especially when I keep the price of this thing in my mind.

Of course, all cheap guitars are not true beginner metal-machines, Stratocaster with 3 single-coils for example. But you can both djent and chug with cheap guitars.

Are Cheap Electric Guitars Any Good?

Yes, they are. You can get a completely workable instrument with a very small amount of money. A cheap electric guitar can sound good, be fun/easy to play, and be versatile. The quality is also usually surprisingly good.

Of course, cheap guitars are not perfect and lemons slip through sometimes, but you can definitely get a good instrument at a cheap price nowadays.

Are there any good electric guitars for under $100?

While finding a new electric guitar for under $100 that sounds decent can be challenging, you can always check out the secondhand market to find used entry-level electric guitars for low prices.

What is a good budget for an electric guitar?

Your budget will depend on your skill level and preferences, though if you’re a beginner, I’d recommend not spending any more than $500 on an electric guitar. The $500 to $1,000 range is good for mid-range electric guitars with solid features, while the $1,000 and above mark is when you strat to get into high-end professional-grade axes.

Is it okay to buy a cheap electric guitar?

If you’re just getting started, it’s a great idea to buy a cheap electric guitar, as you don’t want to let a huge investment bog you down.

What are the advantages of choosing a budget electric guitar over a more expensive one?

The main advantage is that you’ll have more money in your pocket. Plus, if you want to upgrade and make modifications, you’ll have extra funds to do so!

Are there any drawbacks to buying a cheap electric guitar?

The main drawbacks of buying an electric guitar for cheap include:
-Lower build quality
-Tone and sustain limitations
-Intonation problems
-Poor resale value

Tyler Connaghan

Tyler Connaghan is a guitarist, singer, producer, composer & engineer based in Los Angeles, California. Tyler has been playing the guitar since 2007. In between writing for guitar publications, he produces music for film and television. His favorite axe is his custom Pelham Blue Fender Stratocaster. You can connect with Tyler on LinkedIn or just email him.