Best Electric Guitars: How to Choose the Perfect One for You?

The first time you pick up an electric guitar there’s a good chance you’ll catch the bug that so many of us before you have felt – it’s a powerful instrument that often represents the start of a dream. There’s no reason you can’t be the next Eric Clapton, but to get to that level you need a great instrument and you need to do a lot of serious practice first. Clapton studied guitar for many years before he made his big break with the Yardbirds in 1963 and as we all know the rest is history.

When you choose your first electric guitar don’t rush into things. Take a look around at all of the options available to you (and there are a lot) and then take a step back and think about what your own needs are in a guitar. What style of guitar are you looking for? Do you have a color preference? Are you looking for one with a whammy bar? Are you simply more concerned about the price at this point? All of these questions are valid things to consider when purchasing a new guitar and you should make sure you know the answer to these questions before you run out and buy an electric.

We will try to make the process a little easier for you by reviewing some of the best options available. Our reviews take a look at all aspects of the guitar including the body, the materials used in the construction of the guitar, the electronics, and of course the price. In fact, we’ve tried to consider a range of different concerns that the typical guitar buyer may have when we decided which guitars were best to review. Here’s our list of the best electric guitars available on the market today.

1. Under $1000: Fender American Special Stratocaster

When it comes to electric guitars perhaps the most famous name around is the Fender Stratocaster. This iconic guitar has been a mainstay of budding musicians for years and there’s good reason for that – it’s a classic design that works. The Fender American Special Stratocaster features a 9.5 inch fretboard for easy fingering even if you have small hands and you’ll be pleased with the rich dark tones that this little marvel produces. It’s also got a nice cutaway so you can easily reach right up the fretboard to hit those high notes.

Perhaps my favorite feature of any Fender Stratocaster is the famous whammy bar. This little bar takes a normal sound and stretches it out producing a sound that can be heard in many classic and modern rock songs. You will pay a little more for a Stratocaster than your typical entry-level guitar, but you’ll never be disappointed with the sound it produces.

2. Under $500: Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro

There is something nostalgic about the look and feel of a Les Paul and the Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro retains that classic look that’s attracted so many famous guitar players. It’s not just a nice looking guitar though – this is a beautiful sounding instrument as well. It has a single cutaway which makes it easy to reach high up the fretboard and the rich Rosewood fretboard ensures a perfect sound. The mahogany used on the body also makes sure the sound produced by your fingering on the fretboard is rich and melodious.

Arguably the most attractive thing about a Les Paul is its versatility. You’ll feel just at home playing country on this guitar as you will playing rock ‘n roll. That great sound has a lot to do with the pair of coil-tapped ProBuckers that help to give it that impressive sound. If you’ve always dreamed about owning a Les Paul this is the perfect model to get started on.

3. Under $200: Squier Affinity Stratocaster HSS

If you’re looking for that famous Stratocaster sound without the inevitable price tag you need look no further than the Squier Affinity Stratocaster HSS. This affordable guitar has many of the trademark Stratocaster features including the typical Strat body design and the trademark whammy bar. It has a 9.5 inch radius Rosewood fingerboard and you’ll find the distance between the strings and the fretboard are perfect for producing an effortless sound.

The Squier also features two single coil pickups and a humbucking pickup that allows you to produce a versatile range of sounds everything from country, to blues, to rock ‘n roll. There’s also a master volume control, two tone controls and an easy to reach selector switch that lets you quickly switch between pickups. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a novice guitarist just getting started, or a seasoned Pro you’ll enjoy playing this guitar for years to come.

4. For Beginners: Epiphone Les Paul Standard

The classic Les Paul sound has been thrilling music lovers for decades and the Epiphone Les Paul Standard continues that fine tradition in style. This guitar features dual Alnico Humbucker pickups that give it the classic Les Paul sound with its rich tones, but it still sounds right at home in any modern rock band. The volume and tone controls are also within easy reach on the body of the guitar.

It isn’t just the pickups that give the guitar its classic sound though it also has a lot to do with the solid mahogany body and maple neck. These rich woods are perfect for creating that classic sound. It also features a Rosewood fretboard. No matter what level your guitar playing is at this guitar won’t disappoint – it’s perfect for all experience levels.

5. Hollow Body: Gretsch G5420T Electromatic Single Cutaway Hollow Body Guitar

If you’re looking for an electric guitar with a slightly different sound from most other styles out there you may want to consider a hollow body guitar. The Gretsch G5420T Electromatic Single Cutaway Hollow Body Guitar is a great example of this type of guitar. If you’re not familiar with this style of guitar it actually represents a sort of crossover between an acoustic and electric guitar. This guitar has both the sound box that an acoustic guitar is famous for as well an electric pickup. It’s perfect if you’re looking for a versatile instrument.

This guitar combines a Bigsby Vibrato tailpiece and a pair of humbucking pickups for an excellent electric sound. It has a maple laminate top and the body and neck are also maple which makes for a nice rich sound. What really puts this guitar over the top though is its classic look – just looking at this thing reminds you of a bygone era.

Think Sound First

Many experts may recommend going for the most affordable electric guitar, but I would suggest a slightly different approach. You have to be happy with the sound of your guitar because if you’re not you’ll soon lose interest. Take your time, look around, visit a few local music stores and try out a few different instruments. When you find an electric guitar with the sound you like think long and hard if you really can afford it and if you can that’s the guitar for you. I suggest by starting with the guitars we reviewed in this article.

When Budget Is a Concern

Sometimes it’s simply not possible to overlook budget concerns and if that’s the case they’re are still a lot of great electric guitars you can choose from, but you have to take the same approach we discussed above – try out as many instruments as you can within your price range till you find the one that’s the right fit for you. It’s not a good idea to simply jump at the first guitar you find in your price range you’ll likely regret it.

Final Thoughts

It’s really all about finding a guitar you fall in love with because of its look, its features, and its affordability. If you find the right fit, while keeping all of these things in mind, there’s a good chance you’ll learn to love the guitar and you’ll probably get many years of use out of it.