The Best Gear – GND’s Favorites

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This article gathers together the best of the best gear we have tested. I shortly highlight why the specific piece of gear is so good and who it is for. Have fun checking out the best gear!

Gear picked by:

photo reveals owner of guitaristnextdoor.com

Electric guitars and amps: Teemu Suomala

I first grabbed guitar in 2009. I started this website in January 2020 because I couldn’t do window installation anymore due to my health problems. I also noticed that most guitar websites don’t do a really good job, 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 been fortunate to produce content for several large guitar websites, such as Songsterr, Musicnotes, GuitarGuitar, 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…).

Tommy Tompkins Profile Picture 2

Acoustic & classical guitars and amps: Tommy Tompkins

Playing guitar since 2004. Primarily an acoustic guitarist who plays and writes traditional American folk music, with a background in melodic metal and a solid foundation as a bassist.

reveals one of the experienced guitar players who write for guitaristnextdoor.com

Acoustic guitars: 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.

photo displays Pranshu, who works as a writer at guitaristnextdoor.com

Acoustic guitars: Pranshu Nigam

Pranshu has been playing guitar since 2014, after having played the piano for 10 years.

He’s all about acoustic & classical guitars and jamming around with unusual tunings. He mixes modern percussive fingerstyle technique and Flamenco music into his own playing. Pranshu also runs his own guitar website, Harmonyvine. Check Pranshu playing here!


Best Electric Guitars

Under 200 Electric

Best Overall – Ibanez GRX70QA

photo displays Ibanez Gio GRX70QA Review - looks, quality, finish

In 2021, I bought or rented 7 different guitars from under $200 price range. And I was blown away. I think that most people don’t realize how good guitars you can get cheaply.

Sure, cheap guitars don’t always have the perfect out-of-the-box setup or finish, but for the money, most of them were just awesome. And to me, the best one was the Ibanez GRX 70QA.

Pros

  • Super-versatile…
  • …and also sounds good!
  • Really effortless to play
  • Really high value for the money
  • 5-way switch and tremolo add a tons of different options
  • Solid tuners and hardware

Cons

  • Some rough fret edges
  • Not the most attractive option for under $200 (subjective)
  • Not the best tuners under $200
  • Fret buzz out of the box

If you want to explore lots of different genres with your budget guitar and still sound great, plus you want easy playability under $200, there is no better option available than this Ibanez GRX70QA.

This is the best guitar overall under $200 for me. It’s not perfect, it had some buzz/uneven frets, sharp fret edges and you can get better tuners for this price, but the playability and tone-wise this is hard to beat.

It’s just so versatile, the slim “Wizard-like” neck is easy to play, and with the right amp, you can make this guitar sound really good.

Read the full review here.

More about budget guitars in these articles:

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Best for Metal – Jackson JS22 Dinky

Jackson JS22 Dinky displayed for readers

Pros

  • More versatile than other low-cost metal guitars
  • Stellar hardcore looks
  • High-quality hardware
  • Powerful crunch and grind – Great metal tones
  • Great cost-to-value ratio
  • Comfortable and fast playing
  • Stable tuning machines hold pitch

Cons

  • Flaws can be present in the finish or overall construction
  • Neck shape and width add some difficulty to low-end barre chords
  • Best suited for heavy genres; not extremely versatile
  • Better options for different styles in the same price range

This is a great guitar for all you metalheads out there. Its playability and sound are both super solid for their intended purpose—which, again, is metal.

You can put the JS22 to use in basically every hard genre and expect a good outcome. Even for your clean pieces in the middle of a metal thrasher, the Jackson High-Output humbuckers come through.

But even though this is perhaps the best electric guitar for metal under $200, its lack of versatility might not make it the first choice for every player (check Ibanez GRX70QA or Yamaha Pacifica 012 for versatility).

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the secret to choosing the best guitar is to pick the guitar that lets you play the music you love.

If you love heavy metal, Jackson’s JS22 Dinky is one of the best budget guitars out there.

Read the full review here.

More about beginner metal guitars in this article: 5 Best Metal Guitars for Beginners

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Under 500 Electric

Best Overall – Squier Classic Vibe ’70s Telecaster Custom

Pros

  • Bone nut increases sustain
  • A thin neck (1.650″ nut) paired with a C neck shape is easy to play
  • Surprisingly versatile
  • Both warm & thick humbucker tones and snappy single coil sound are available
  • Ashtray bridge gives the guitar a nice vintage look
  • High value for the money

Cons

  • Edges of the fretboard are a little bit rough sometimes (gladly not usually)

If you are after versatile all-rounder budget guitar with easy playability and a vintage vibe, Squier Classic Vibe ’70s Telecaster Custom is a great choice. Usually it’s flawless out of the box, but sometimes rough fret edges or other small finish & quality issues can happen (as with any guitar).

But for under the $500 price point, this Tele really stands out. Its versatile (but rare) HS pickup configuration provides really versatile and good tones, and the playability is spot on. For me, this guitar is really hard to ignore.

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Best for Metal – Schecter Omen 6

Pros:

  • Pickups are excellent for the price
  • Warm tones with enough brightness in it
  • Thin C-shape and narrow neck makes this easy to play and made for fast playing
  • Out of the box action is great
  • Handles every kind of metal well

Cons:

  • Sometimes fret buzz in the long run(with some bridge/truss rod adjustments, this should be an easy fix)
  • The sound could be more detailed
  • Some high notes with thicker strings are hard to reach aka. upper fret access is a bit limited (not too bad)
  • Body can feel bulky

I would recommend this for any type of metal, but especially for modern metal with fast riffs and solos. It has a comfortable and fast-playing Thin C neck and it offers mean tones.

This Schecter is in my opinion, the best metal guitar under 500 (that I know of). It has some minor flaws, but for the price, it’s hard to beat this one.

Read the review here.

More about budget metal gear here:

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Under 1000 Electric

Best Overall – Ibanez Genesis RG550

displays ibanez genesis Ibanez rg550

Pros

  • Super-versatile pickups (HSH)
  • Smooth & slim Super Wizard neck shape
  • Great quality Gotoh tuners
  • Smooth to use and durable Ibanez Edge tremolo bridge
  • Excellent playability

Cons

  • Coil-split would be just awesome

If you are after extreme versatility, comfortable playability, and great value for the money, Ibanez Genesis Collection RG550 is one of the best options. It’s an all-around workhorse that will serve you well and faithfully in every situation. Plus it features an Ibanez Edge bridge. Some people swear by the name of it and prefer it over Original Floyd Rose.

The extremely good hardware, versatility, and great tones you can get out of this axe make Ibanez Genesis RG550 the best electric guitar under $1000.

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Under 2000 Electric

Best Overall – Ibanez Prestige AZS2200

Pros

  • Extremely smooth and comfortable playability
  • Spot-on sound
  • Surprisingly versatile
  • Alter switch enables connecting single-coil pickup and another coil of the humbucker in series to create different humbucker-like tones
  • Great hardware (Gotoh Locking tuners, Gotoh tremolo bridge, and bone nut)
  • Could cost a lot more

Cons

  • Premium quality means a premium price

I don’t like to call myself a fanboy. But if I had to choose just 1 brand to be a fanboy of, it would be Ibanez. And this AZ Prestige is a great one. It features

  • Seymour Duncan Magic Touch-mini Humbucker
  • Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro Custom Single-coil
  • Gotoh F1802 Tremolo Bridge
  • 2-way mini alter switch & 5-way blade pickup switch
  • Gotoh Magnum Locking tuners
  • Stunning looks
  • Smooth playability

And still, it costs under 2k. The money you have to throw in order to get this Ibanez is still a big chunk, I know, but still, the value for the money is outstanding. The best under $2K electric guitar to me.

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Best Acoustic Guitars

Under 250 Acoustic

Best Overall – Yamaha FG800

Pros:

  • Solid spruce tone provides rich and warm tones
  • Lived-in dreadnought look
  • Stays in tune for a long time
  • Comes with an optional guitar bundle with gig bag, case, and more
  • For basic acoustic guitar playing, playability is great

Cons:

  • No cutaway, which makes accessing upper frets harder, so fast acoustic solos down the fretboard can be tricky

Why do we like this…

  • Easy playability….CHECK
  • Solid top for durability and good tones as the guitar ages….CHECK
  • Great tones…CHECK
  • Affordable….CHECK
  • Versatility…CHECK

This is why the FG800 is the best beginner/cheap acoustic guitar out there. It’s not perfect but for the price, it gets pretty close.

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Under 500 Acoustic

Best Overall – Gretsch G5024E Rancher

Pros

  • The unusual triangle-shaped soundhole is unique and eye-catching
  • A powerful, rich voice from an arch back design
  • Vintage-style frets let your fingers feel the fretboard
  • Great acoustic tone with a decent electronic system
  • Stunning looks paired with superior construction and sound
  • Comfortable and slim neck

Cons

  • Non-cutaway acoustic-electric limits high fret access
  • Synthetic bone nut and saddle

With its unique triangular soundhole and chunky knurled strap buttons, the Gretsch G5024E stands out from the crowd.

This Gretsch is a great choice for anyone who is looking for a full and articulate-sounding acoustic guitar. Also, if you value a slim and smooth neck with overall comfortable playability and don’t mind Rancher being a non-cutaway, this is a great option.

Even though it’s available at close to beginner prices, the Rancher sounds and plays so well I’d take it both on stage and in the studio.

Whatever your style, this is an undeniably great acoustic.

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Under 1000 Acoustic

Best Overall – Seagull S6 Original

Pros

  • High-quality craftsmanship using hand-selected tonewoods
  • Tapered headstock improves tuning stability and intonation
  • Wide nut width for accurate, easy fingerpicking
  • Overall comfortable playability
  • Excellent tones for the money
  • Gives us a bit wider string spacing than average acoustic(more room for fingerpicking)

Cons

  • Cedar is not as crisp as spruce at high volumes(not a con for everyone)

The Seagull S6 is one of my favorite acoustic guitars. Even though it’s sometimes marketed as an entry-level or budget guitar, I’d recommend this to anyone honestly. You can play smooth and soft for flowing earthy melodies or go full-force with a pick when you want to crank out some harder tunes.

It’s affordable enough for beginners but produces pro-level sounds with superb playability, making it my number one choice for under $1000 guitar.

It’s a great choice for anyone looking for a versatile, high-value instrument that sounds good. And on top of that, the playability is really comfortable for both fingerpicking and picking.

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Under 2000 Acoustic

Best Overall – Yamaha AC5R ARE Concert Cutaway

displays Yamaha AC5R ARE

Pros:

  • Built strongly with quality woods and materials
  • A.R.E technology creates a vintage-like tone
  • Very loud for a concert guitar
  • SRT2 pickup produces a rich and authentic sound
  • Uses AA batteries
  • Tusq nut and saddle

Cons:

  • None

The AC5R is one guitar that all guitarists will love, but it’s primarily designed for gigging musicians and singer-songwriters.

With its all-solid construction, high-quality hardware, smooth-playing neck, and premium electronics, it’s a worthy guitar if you need a deluxe acoustic without shelling out $3000 in cash. It’s the best acoustic guitar for under $2000.

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Best Budget Classical Guitar – Yamaha CG122MS

image displays Yamaha CG122MS

Pros

  • Solid top at budget prices
  • Full classical playability
  • Innovative bracing pattern for increased sustain and projection
  • Affordable price
  • Delivers great tones (especially for this price)

Cons

  • Extra-wide nut can be hard to play with small hands

Give me enough time and I can find something to complain about in just about every guitar, but the best I could do for the Yamaha CG122MSH is a wish for a better body wood.

By all considerations, this is an excellent axe and is in fact my #1 recommendation for budget classical guitars. It sounds superb, plays beautifully, and offers real classical playability.

Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or pro, the CG122S offers you the best budget classical guitar playability and tones.

You can find more budget classical guitars here: 5 Best Budget Classical Guitars

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Best Classical Guitar – Cordoba C9 Crossover

image displays cordoba crossover c9 cedar

Pros:

  • Narrower and thinner neck than in regular-sized classical guitars usually (a good fit for small hands)
  • Comfortable and easy to play
  • Sounds really good (rich and full)
  • Amazing value for the money
  • Setup is usually spot-on (low action and spot-on intonation)
  • The truss rod makes neck adjustments easy

Cons:

  • Sometimes small adjustments to action are needed(depends on your playstyle)
  • The sound could be just a little bit warmer in my opinion

Cordoba C9 Crossover is the best classical guitar I know of. And for small hands, it’s definitely the best Classical guitar.

If you can afford it, it’s a great choice. It will offer you comfortable playability and great tones for years to come, even if you have tiny hands.

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Best Guitar Amplifiers

Under 200 Amplifier

Best Overall – Fender Mustang LT25

displays Fender Mustang LT25

Pros

  • Super-versatile
  • Still simple to use
  • Great price:value ratio
  • Sounds great
  • Almost endless tone possibilities with Fender Tone-app
  • Especially clean and rock tones are great
  • Offers enough loudness for sure

Cons

  • No “middle” knob on the control panel
  • Accessing “reverb” and “delay” would be easier with control-knobs
  • Some folks don’t like modeling amps
  • The handle is more or less useless

Basically, there is NO WAY, that I could say that this amp is not good.

It has qualities like:

  • Endless tone possibilities
  • Great and versatile tones
  • Easy to use
  • Looks are not the best

Usually, when the looks are the worst thing about the amp, it’s otherwise pretty great. And this Fender is no exception.

If:

  • the digital amp is not a problem for you
  • if you are looking for an amp under $200
  • if you are looking for a versatile amp
  • if you are looking for a practice or beginner amp

This is a great option for you!

Read the review here.

More about budget amps in these articles:

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Under 500 Amplifier

Best Overall – Blackstar Silverline Standard 1×10″

Pros

  • User-friendly interface makes changing tones simple
  • Various tube emulations to choose from
  • Preset modeled tones give you easy versatility
  • Powerful 1×10 Celestion V speaker

Cons

  • Some tube effects lack warmth
  • A bit slow response; not the most articulate

The Blackstar Silverline Standard puts 6 pre-programmed amp models right at your fingertips- or at the tips of your toes if you opt for the footswitch.

These digital emulators include a clean vintage classic rock sound, a bright clean jazz tone, two classic British rock amps, and two hard-driven models for modern rock and metal.

I love the presets of this amp and think it’s great for any guitarist looking for great all-around tones for under $500. There’s not a single bad sound onboard, and it’s a lot of fun to play with a wide range of effects.

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Under 1000 Amplifier

Best Overall – Blackstar HT20R MKII 1×12″

Pros

  • Very clean, clear, sparkling, and articulate sound
  • Excellent for classic rock
  • With pedals can provide amazing distorted/overdriven tones (MXR M193 GT-OD is an excellent choice)
  • Easy to use
  • Can choose between 2W and 20W power (can be played pretty quietly)

Cons

  • Requires pedal for heavier stuff

I have done an in-depth test for this Blackstar in a music store. I mainly used a budget ESP LTD EC-256, and the sound you get out of this amp with a cheap guitar…oh boy. From crystal clear cleans to crunchy rock riffs, this Blackstar delivers.

But what about heavier stuff? It’s true that this amp requires a pedal for really mean riffs, but the sound you can get with a pedal…it’s outstanding. Blackstar HT20R is the best guitar amp under $1000 to me. It also has a Reverb and you can decrease the power to 2W in order to keep your neighbors happy.

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Under 2000 Amplifier

Best Overall – Orange Rocker 32 2×10″

photo displays Orange Rocker 32 30W

Pros

  • Half Power mode for reduced volume, great for in-home playing
  • 2×10 speaker layout with stereo effects capabilities
  • Two channels: clean and dirty
  • Super-versatile — jazz, rockabilly, blues, country, rock, metal, etc.
  • Can be very loud, up to 101dB

Cons

  • No EQ on the clean channel
  • Pictograms designating each control knob; no words — takes getting used to

Orange has kept the average player in mind in this design and added an amazingly useful Half Power switch. This takes your power output from 30 watts down to 15 watts, allowing you to play at home with the flick of a switch.

The Rocker 32 has two channels, a clean and a dirty. The clean channel is crystalline, with glimmering highs and sultry lows. Though it lacks an EQ, it’s pre-dialed to provide sonic clarity for any guitar.

On the dirty side, the gain is highly malleable. You can play with slight to moderate fuzz for blues, country, and classic rock, or really crank it up to overdrive, pushing the tubes into deathly distortion well-suited for killer metal riffs.

Definitely one of the best smaller tube amps out there. Handles a great variety of genres well and is a good choice for guitar players who are looking for a versatile amp. Also, The Rocker takes pedals really well.

Find more great tube amps here: 5 Best 30 Watt Tube Guitar Amps

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Best Acoustic Guitar Amp – Fishman Loudbox Mini BT

Pros

  • Great balanced acoustic tone driven by 60 watts of power
  • EQ on both instrument and microphone channels
  • Big voice in a small package
  • Bluetooth, XLR DI, and AUX connectivity

Cons

  • More expensive than most other acoustic amps

All things considered, the Fishman Loudbox Bluetooth Mini is one of the most versatile, most powerful, and most professional acoustic guitar amplifiers.

It costs quite a lot for a small guitar amp, but its big, clear voice and connection capabilities give it the value of much larger amps at a similar price point.

Find more great acoustic guitar amps from these articles:

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