5 Best Electric Guitars for Intermediate Players in 2020 – Buyer’s Guide

Good guitar options for intermediate players

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Best All-Arounder

Fender Player Telecaster HH

My Rating:

4.6/5

Best For Metal

ESP LTD EC-1000

My Rating:

4.8/5

Best Hollow-Body

Gretsch Electromatic G5420T

My Rating:

4.9/5

Time has come. You have been playing for a while and now you want to upgrade for a better guitar… that’s awesome! It’s great to know that people make progress with the guitar. And by the way, you are in the right place now. This post answers these questions:

  • What intermediate players should look for?
  • What is the best electric guitar for intermediate players in general? (all-rounder)
  • What are the best electric guitars for intermediate players who want to play
    • Blues and Jazz
    • Rock
    • Metal
  • What is the best hollow-body electric guitar for intermediate players?
  • I’ll also give you some bonus and budget options…

It’s impossible to tell what is THE BEST guitar, and that’s why I structured this post like this. I’ll give you a couple of great options and you can make your decision depending on your playstyle and favorite music.

In this post, I’m going to recommend/review the following guitars:

Fender Player Telecaster HH Electric Guitar – Maple Fingerboard -…
  • Alder Body with gloss finish
  • Two player Series humbucking pickups
  • Modern C”-Shaped neck profile
  • 9. 5″-Radius Fingerboard
  • String-through-body Bridge with bent-steel saddles

Epiphone Les Paul STANDARD PLUS-TOP PRO Electric Guitar with…
  • With a set neck, rosewood fingerboard and Trapezoid…
  • The Les Paul Standard Plus-Top PRO has the very popular…
  • Like every Epiphone, the Epiphone Les Paul Standard…

PRS Paul Reed Smith SE Custom 22 Electric Guitar with Gig Bag, Vintage…
  • Beveled Maple Top with Flame Maple Veneer, Mahogany…
  • Wide Thin Maple Neck, Rosewood Fretboard, Bird Inlays,…
  • PRS Patented Tremolo Bridge, PRS Designed Tuners,…
  • PRS 85/15 “S” Bridge & Neck Pickups, Volume and Tone…
  • Includes: PRS Padded Gig Bag

ESP LTD EC-1000 Duncan Electric Guitar, Vintage Black
  • Designed to offer the tone, feel, looks, and quality…
  • Consistently one of ESP’s most popular guitars due to…
  • Offers a vintage looking body/neck/headstock binding…
  • Features LTD locking tuners, a Tonepros locking TOM…
  • Also offers set-thru construction with a mahogany body,…

Every one of these axes is here based on my 10-year experience and extensive research.

In my opinion, these guitars are the best options for intermediate players. All these provide nice tones and are comfortable to play. I’ll tell you why I think that each specific guitar is great, and what you should know about it (cons too). 

The price point of these guitars is around 500-1000. For that price, you can get a really solid instrument which will serve you for years.

In a matter of fact, I was doing exactly what you are 7 years ago. Back then, my choice was ESP LTD MH-400. I still own it and I have been satisfied. But this guitar is no longer available, so I cant include it(I would otherwise).

Now, let’s get going!

Use the table of content to jump to the section you want:

What Intermediate Player Should Look For?

I would advise you to look for a guitar that:

  • Fits your needs (playstyle, experience, weak and strong points) 
  • Is comfortable to play
  • Is high-quality as possible
  • You can play the music you love with it
  • Is versatile

I hope that these make sense to you. With these points you can find an excellent instrument for you.

Now it is time to take a closer look at these sweet guitars. First, I will reveal the best all-rounder guitar for intermediate players.

Best Electric Guitar for Intermediate Players:

Best All-Rounder – Fender Player Telecaster HH

This one is absolute killer guitar and all-rounder. Let me tell you why I think so…

Sound: The main reason for greatness is the sound, and how versatile the tones are.

This Tele has 2 humbuckers. So the warm, thick, and rich sound are guaranteed. It handles metal, rock, and blues sounds well. So the humbucker tones alone are great, but…

Fender Player Telecaster HH includes maybe the best single-coil option I have seen and heard(at least in this price range). It comes really close to the original single-coil sound. So the spanky tones are possible with this too. Funk and jazz/blues are easy-peasy for this guitar.

These things make this the most versatile guitar for intermediate players and the best all-rounder in my opinion.

Hear how it sounds yourself:

Playability: Fender Player Telecaster doesn’t give you too much hard time playability-wise.

The neck shape is Modern C and the fretboard radius is 9,5. Nut width is 42mm(1.65inches). The neck is thin and really smooth from a back, it feels really comfortable. But the edges of the fretboard could be smoother/softer in my opinion. No game-breaker since you can smoothen them, but this is good to know.

Out of the box action is a little bit high for me. Gladly this is easy to fix with a truss rod. 

Quality/looks: Quality is excellent for the price. It lacks some details and high-quality finish when compared to higher-priced Fenders, but hey, this is why this guitar is so affordable. And the value for money is still super.

The guitar stays in tune well, thanks to good quality tuners. And the looks…amazing! For a long time, I have been a huge telecaster fan. I’m absolutely going to buy a Telecaster at some point.

Pros:

  • Super-versatile, a wide variety of different tones
  • Smooth feel
  • Quality is really high for the price
  • Stays in tune well
  • Nice classic look
  • Split-coil tunes are amazing

Cons:

  • Edges of the fretboard are a little bit rough
  • Out of the box action is too high for some players(for me)

Excellent all-rounder with one of the best split-coil tones I have heard. If I didn’t own any electric guitars, I would probably buy this one.

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Cheaper Alternative:

Squier Classic Vibe 50’s Telecaster:

This is really similar to Fender Player Tele, the main difference being the lower price, lower quality, and use of 2 single-coil mics. This guitar is still versatile and can handle almost everything. The neck feels good as in more expensive models, but the sound is a little bit lower in quality(not too bad). Value for money is excellent, and that makes this one an excellent budget option.

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Best Electric Guitar for Intermediate Players Who Want to Play Blues and Jazz – Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plus-top Pro

I’ve had a lot of experience with this guitar. My childhood friend owned(probably still does) this guitar. This is one of the best value for money guitars too. Let look closer at this…

Sound: With 2 humbuckers(ProBucker 2, and 3), this one produces a really warm and rich tone. I love when humbuckers are used in blues and jazz, it gives the sound more power and emotion. 

Some people like the spanky tone, especially in Jazz, for those the Fender Player Strat is a great option too.

This guitar has a coil-split feature, so you can make it sound more like a strat. It’s not the same, and not as good as in Fender Player Tele HH, but this is definitely a nice plus.

Enough about my opinions, let’s hear how this sounds, so that you can make your own mind:

Playability:  Fretboard radius is 12 inches, so there is a less curve than in Starts ant Teles. This makes moving you hand around the fretboard really smooth.

The neck shape is Slim-D, and that makes things easy. The neck feels really smooth and there less rough edges than in Fender Player Strat or Tele(but still some). Slim-D is great shape for your thumb, it’s easy to hold your fret hand in a correct way because of this.

Action is spot-on. No need for adjustments in my case. All these things make this Les Paul really easy and comfortable to play. 

I was 14 when I first played this guitar, so my hands were even smaller than now. But I was able to do so much more with this than my own Harley Benton Stratocaster. That shows that in playability-wise too, this guitar is above many others. 

Some lower strings are hard to reach below the fret 15, that’s common for Les Pauls.

Quality/looks:

Quality is really high for the price. Again, slight roughness around the edges of the fretboard. 

Tuners are solid, this one stays in tune fairly well and is easy to tune. Overall built quality is excellent. 

Some users have said that they have been facing some issues with the pickups after years of playing. This is rare but it happens sometimes(of course, this can happen with almost any guitar.)

I love how this one looks, especially with the ‘’Heritage Cherry Sunburst’’-color. Absolutely stunning.

Pros:

  • Slim D neck shape makes playing easy
  • Action is spot-on
  • Awesome humbucker sounds
  • Coil-split function adds versatility
  • Beautiful guitar

Cons:

  • Slight roughness in the edges of a fretboard
  • Some low string frets below the 15th frets are hard to play
  • Sometimes issues with pickups after years of playing

This one can also do almost everything, but it’s ideal for blues and jazz in my opinion. Great for rock and metal too. Awesome sounding and comfortable to play. Great option.

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Spanky Alternative:

Fender Player Stratocaster:

If you like a spanky and bright single-coil sound more, this is a good option. With 3 single-coil pickups, this guitar can produce a wide variety of tones. This one is quite easy to play, but has some roughness on the fretboard too.

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Best Electric Guitar for Intermediate Players Who Want to Play Rock – PRS SE Custom 22

I have been checking out this guitar for some time now. This one is a really interesting option for intermediate guitar players. Especially if you want to rock with it. Why? 

Sound: With PRS 85/15 “S” Bridge & Neck Humbucker Pickups, the crunchy rock tones are guaranteed.  Especially a modern rock is a perfect fit for this. Classic rock tones come out nicely too, but the balance is a little bit from the modern rock tones side.

A mahogany body gives a tone of warmness and darkness. Maple top adds some brightness. Some people may notice that the tone still lacks a bit brightness and character(I did). But nothing too bad.

Clean tones are really clear and stable.

This guitar is good for metal too, but that ‘’in your face tone’’ is a little bit weaker than in some other options(more about those later).

Overall, the tones are really solid.

Hear how this sounds:

Playability:  Neck is wide but thin, this makes moving your thumb at the back of the neck very easy. Especially barre-chords come out naturally. With the wider neck, some lower strings below 15th fret are a little bit harder to reach than in some other models(for example in Tele-, and Stratocasters upper-fret access is better).).

The fretboard radius is 10’inches. Really easy to move your hand from fret to fret. But this is not one of those super easy and fast necks, but still manages to be really comfortable and fun to play. 

Great feel for riffs and rock solos.

Quality/looks: These are made in Korea.  PRS SE, models are known for their good quality control, and this is no exception. Stays in tune well. The overall finish and the details are really solid, PRS mics are really durable and high in quality too.

To be honest it’s really hard for me to find any complaints about the quality.

Pros:

  • High quality/good valuer for money
  • Comfortable neck
  • Nice rock sounds
  • Clean tones are gentle and clear

Cons:

  • The wide neck can give some people trouble(not for me, even tho I have hands of a woman)
  • The sound could be brighter and have more detail in it

The tone has that crunch and crispiness needed in rock(and in metal). And that’s the main reason why I think that this is a great option for intermediate guitar players who want to Rock! Quality is high and the guitar is really comfortable to play.

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Cheaper Classic-Rock Alternative:

Fender Player Stratocaster:

With 3 single-coil pickups, this guitar offers a great variety of iconic rock tones. This guitar shines in classic rock and in spanky sounds. Not the best option for heavy distortion tho.

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Best Electric Guitar for Intermediate Players Who Want to Play Metal – ESP LTD Deluxe EC-1000

One of my favorite guitars. Handles everything, but it’s made for heavy riffing. I will tell you why I think that this is a great choice. And in the end, I will also reveal an even better option for people who want to play super-fast solos.

Sound: This comes with 2 Active EMG 81/60 pickups. You can be sure that these handle high gain really well. This guitar produces aggressive, warm and dark tones, especially good for riffs.

Mahogany neck and body, plus ebony fingerboard give the tone even more warmness and richness. And lead tones come out surprisingly well too.

This guitar is also really gentle with the clean tones, so those intros will go just fine with this one. 

And this is not just a metal guitar, it can handle all sorts of music thanks to its high-quality pickups.

Let’s hear how it sounds:

Playability: The fretboard radius is 13.78 inches, so it has slightly less curve than electric guitars in general. Playing fast is easy because of this.

Thin-U neck shape makes this guitar really comfortable to play. Easy for your thumb, comfortable for you.

Again, some low frets are a bit hard to reach, but it’s nothing too bad. The carving at the back of the neck makes things a little bit easier for you than with Les-Pauls and other Singl-Cut guitars in general.

Out of the box action is spot on. It’s pretty low, so it’s fitting for me perfectly. All these qualities make this one really easy and comfortable to play.

Quality/looks: Quality is really high for the price. The finish is excellent and this guitar looks stunning. No rough edges. All the details are high quality too, for example flags on the fretboard.

Tuners are also good looking and work well, this guitar stays in tune like a charm. 

It is really hard for me to find complaints about quality. It’s excellent for the price.

Pros:

  • Great metal tones
  • Stunning looks
  • Spot on the action and smooth neck make this comfortable to play
  • Versatile
  • High quality

Cons:

  • Some lower frets are a bit of hard to reach.

High-quality riff monster for metalheads. That sums it up.

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Alternative more speedy option:

ESP LTD MH-350FM 

I own ESP MH-400, and it’s really similar to this. Playability is just spot on. Action is low, the neck is smooth and thin, and the frets are easy to access. With these and the brighter tone,  this guitar is a great choice for those who want to play fast solos. But it still handles heavy riffs well too.

>>Not Available on Amazon<<

Best Hollow-Body Electric Guitar for Intermediate Players – Gretsch G5420T Electromatic

A great option for the country, pop, rockabilly, and blues lovers. Lemme tell you why…

Sound: This one comes with 2 Blacktop™ Filter’Tron™ humbuckers. The sound is really gentle and warm, even without the amp. It handles clean tones really well. The sound is really detailed in my opinion, and I really enjoy listening to this guitar. 

Low-gain tones are actually really solid too, so some classic rock songs sound great with this. But you probably already knew this, hi-gain heavy metal is not the ideal music for this axe. 

In my opinion, the sound is where Gretsch G5420T Electromatic shines the most.

Hear how this one sounds:

Playability: Neck shape is U. This one is probably the hardest to play from the guitars on this list because of the chunkier neck. All the guitars on this list are pretty easy and at least comfortable to play, so this is nothing too bad tho.

The neck is still really comfortable, it feels good to wrap your hand around it.

One thing that makes things a little bit harder is the body of the guitar. It’s big and the depth of the guitar is deep. If you are used to playing a big acoustic or other big hollow-body guitars, this is not a problem for you. But people like me, who usually play normal sized electric guitar, it can take some time to get used to Gretsch G5420T Electromatic.

Out of the box action is solid. I would make it slightly lower(easy with truss rod)), but it’s still good.

Quality/looks: When I have played this one in music stores, the quality has been very good in my opinion. No rough edges, flaws in paint-job, or anything else. Tuning seems to be one of the strongest aspects of it, quality-wise.

But some real owners of this guitar have reported that there has been something to complain about…

In some cases, there have been some cracks in the paint job. In the neck and in the body. And some setup problems too. These are rare, but it’s possible. Of course, you can probably return the guitar if there are some flaws out of the box, or set up it again yourself, but this is a minus.

But my experience with Gretsch G5420T Electromatic has been really pleasant, nothing to complain about the quality.

About the looks…in my opinion, this guitar looks amazing and sophisticated at the same time. It has many different color options, and my favorite is the black one.

Pros:

  • Sounds beautiful
  • Looks great
  • Comfortable neck
  • Does what it should do
  • Quality(most of the time)

Cons:

  • Not the easiest to play(U-neck feels thick and bigger body)
  • In some rare cases, there have been issues with the quality
  • It can take some time to get used to the big body

When first I laid my hands on Gretsch G5420T Electromatic, I noticed how comfortably the neck is and how gentle the sound is. Gretsch G5420T Electromatic does what it should do perfectly. If you are looking for a hollowed-body electric guitar, this is a great option for you.

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Conclusion

All these are excellent choices for intermediate guitar players. High quality for the price, comfortable to play, and sound good. My own favorites are 

I hope that you find the right one for you. If you have any questions about these guitars, leave a comment down below. Feel free to share this post too.

I wish you all the best and keep rocking!

Teemu’’the worlds okay’est guitar player’’ Suomala

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Matt

    Nice guide! I had a Gretsch Electromatic in Orange, beautiful guitar, but I had to sell it to pay for a 335!

    I sold it to a mate though so at least I know she went to a good home and I even get to see her from time to time for a catch up 😀

    1. Teemu Suomala

      Thanks so much! I have really enjoyed playing Gretsch Electromatic when I have the chance, a great instrument, might buy one for myself in the future… And glad to hear that you still have a chance to play it regularly (I’m jealous:D). What do you think: how Gretsch Electromatic holds up compared to 335? Just curious, I don’t have much experience with the 335.

      PS. My blog is quite new and yours were my first real comment. I’m going to remember it for the rest of my life. So thanks again, I really appreciate this!

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