The Best Electric Guitars for Beginners - Full Size & Short Scale

Beginner Electric Guitars and Bundles

The quality of your electric guitar will greatly affect your overall playing experience. Bad ones will make practice painful, boring or both - ultimately leading to disinterest. On the other hand, good guitars will make playing more enjoyable, resulting in more productive practice and fun jamming. For this reason, skimping on your first guitar, or your practice guitar, is never a good idea.

Here we look at the market favorite electric guitars that are well suited for beginners, divided into groups that feature regular and short scale guitars, along with bundle packs that come complete with an amp and accessories.

Contents

Best Electric Guitars for Beginners

Regular Scale Guitars

These are top rated standard scale electric guitars that are ideally prized and setup for students.

Ibanez GIO GRX20Z (HH)

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 650+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$150
Ibanez GRX20Z

When it comes to affordable electric guitars, Ibanez knows how to please students with their value packed guitars. The Gio GRX20Z is an excellent example of why they are popular in the entry-level market, combining Ibanez' brand of smooth playability with a shred friendly looks and tone.

It features a double-cutaway basswood body with easy access to the upper frets. But its main selling point is its rosewood fingerboard with 22-medium frets that comes with Ibanez' renowned easy-to-play profile. Other features include 2 Powersound humbuckers and a FAT 6 tremolo bridge.

Specifications

  • Body: GRX Double-Cutaway
  • Finish: Black
  • Bridge: Fat 6 Tremolo
  • Pickups: Dual Powersound Humbuckers
  • Neck: Maple
  • Scale Length: 25.5"
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Fingerboard Radius: 400mmR
  • Number of Frets: 21
  • Nut Width: 1.654"
  • Controls: Volume, Tone
  • Pickup Selector: 3-way

Pros

Most users are more than satisfied with its overall quality, with playability being its strong suit - which is very important for a new guitar player. There are plenty who report that it worked nicely right out of the box. Sound quality is also satisfactory, at least for the students and parents who wrote most the positive reviews that this guitar received.

Cons

As expected of affordable guitars, there are some who report minor cosmetic issues, while others feel that some of the fret wires are a bit rough.

Overall

With its easy playability and accessible price, it's easy see why the Ibanez Gio GRX20Z is getting plenty of positive feedback.

Yamaha PAC112V (HSS)

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 80+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$300
Yamaha PAC112V

Yamaha continues to be the brand to beat when it comes to student friendly musical gear, including electric guitars where their Pacifica line continues to get good ratings. The PAC112V in particular is a true to form HSS (Humbucker-Single-Single) pickup configuration "super strat" at a very affordable price point.

For a beginner's guitar, this instrument has a wide array of voicings, thanks to its 5-way pickup selector and push-pull tone knob, which lets you utilize half of the humbucker for single-coil sounds in the bridge position. While basswood is commonly used in this price range, Yamaha decided to up the ante by utilizing alder wood for the PAC112V's double cut-away body. Other features include a 25.5" scale C-shape maple neck, a 13.75" radius rosewood fingerboard and 22 medium frets.

Specifications

  • Body: Alder
  • Finish: Natural (Pictured) also comes in Black, Lake Blue, Natural, Old Violin Sunburst
  • Bridge: Vintage Style Tremolo
  • Pickups: 2 x Alnico V Single Coil, Alnico V Humbucker
  • Neck: Maple
  • Scale Length: 25 1/2" (648 mm)
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Fingerboard Radius: 13.75" (350 mm)
  • Number of Frets: 22
  • Nut Width: 1.614"
  • Controls: Master Volume, Master Tone with Push-Pull Coil Tap
  • Pickup Selector: 5-Position

Pros

For something so affordable, the build quality of this guitar gets quite a lot of praise. But most of the commendations still point to its value for money - thanks to its versatile HSS setup and push-pull humbucker splitting feature. Having once owned and played a Yamaha Pacifica, I can understand why many owners rate this guitar highly for its easy action.

Cons

There are a few reports of fret buzz right out of the box, thankfully, these are something that can be adjusted just as easily. There are also a few who noted that the strings it came with required immediate replacing, but this can be said with most electric guitars that have been in stock for a while.

Overall

When it comes to learning instruments, its hard to go wrong with Yamaha, especially with the PAC112V's sonic versatility and value for money.

Squier Vintage Modified Stratocaster '70s (SSS)

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 225+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$300
Squier Vintage Modified Stratocaster '70s

The Stratocaster is easily one of the most familiar electric guitar designs ever, made popular by iconic guitarists but used just as much by aspiring rockers. With so many clones and variations available, the Squier Vintage Modified Stratocaster '70s stand out in terms of ratings, thanks to it being a licensed and good quality reproduction of strats from the 1970s.

It starts off with a classic double cutaway body, crafted from basswood, paired with carved maple neck and a '70s era style headstock. Squier equipped it with three Duncan designed singlecoil pickups that replicate the sound of vintage strats at a more cost-effective price point. Completing its features is a vintage style synchronized tremolo.

  • Body: Basswood
  • Finish: Metallic Gold (pictured), Cardinal Red, Ebony, Pelham Blue, Ebony
  • Bridge: Tune-o-matic and Stopbar Tailpiece
  • Pickups: 3 Duncan Designed SC-101 Single-Coil Pickups
  • Neck: Maple
  • Scale Length: 25.5”
  • Fingerboard: Maple
  • Fingerboard Radius: 9.5”
  • Frets: 22 Medium Jumbo
  • Nut Width: 1.65”
  • Controls: 2-volume, 2-tone
  • Pickup Selector: 3-way toggle switch

Pros

Market sentiment for this guitar is overwhelmingly positive, impressing students and experienced players alike. Many describe it as having authentic Fender Stratocaster tones, or at least it sounds very close - even those who have more expensive instruments find the sound of this guitar to their liking. Many are also suprised with its build quality.

Cons

There are a few reports of cosmetic flaws and setup issues out of the box, much like any guitar in this price range.

Overall

If you're looking for a good Stratocaster to start learning on, then this is it.

Regular Scale Bundle

Below are two of the highest rated beginner friendly guitar packages.

Epiphone Slash "AFD" Les Paul Performance Package

89
GEARANK

89 out of 100. Incorporating 150+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$349
Epiphone Slash "AFD" Les Paul Performance Package

Slash is easily the Les Paul poster boy of the '80s and '90s, and up to now, he continues to inspire people to take up the guitar. So it's not surprising to see that his signature beginner guitar package doing well in the market, especially since it is an affordable remake of the guitar he used in the iconic Appetite for Destruction (AFD) album, complete with two Epiphone Ceramic Plus Zebra-coils.

Aside from its distinctly GnR Slash appearance, the guitar in this package follows after the classic Les Paul design, with a single cutaway mahogany body and maple top. Included in the package is the Snakepit-15, a 2-channel 15W guitar amp combo with an 8” Electar G8 Classic-25 4-ohm speaker. Also included in the package is an Epiphone ¼” standard guitar cable, a guitar strap, a gigbag with the “Snakepit” logo, and 3 Dunlop Tortex Slash signature picks. Also included are free online lessons from eMedia.

Specifications

  • Body: Mahogany
  • Finish: Appetite Amber
  • Bridge: Tune-o-matic
  • Pickups: 2 x Epiphone Ceramic Plus Zebra-coil
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Scale Length: 24.75”
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Fingerboard Radius: 12”
  • Number of Frets: 22
  • Nut Width: 1.68”
  • Controls: 1-volume, 1-tone
  • Pickup Selector: 3-way toggle

Pros

This guitar bundle continues to exceed the expectations of owners who report being more than satisfied with what they received for the money. There are also plenty of owners who are pleased with the aesthetics of the guitar, while others are happy with the bundled amp, with many specifically commending its overdriven tone.

Cons

There are some who feel that the strap and cable were a let down compared to the amp and guitar, but since they are easy to replace, reviewers still rate the bundle high.

Overall

This is a no brainer for Slash fans, but even if you are not, you'll appreciate its overall quality and value.

Epiphone Les Paul Player Pack Electric Guitar Package

88
GEARANK

88 out of 100. Incorporating 1950+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$249
Epiphone Les Paul Player Pack

Epiphone gets another spot in this guide with another Les Paul package, and this time around it's not an artist signature so the price is even more affordable. The star of this package is the Les Paul Special-II LE, a modern yet affordable reproduction of Gibson and Epiphone's most popular guitar. To keep the price low, Epiphone utilized wood that's more readily available for the body and neck, while still following after tried and tested specifications.

Included in this package is a compact 10-watt Epiphone Electar combo amplifier with a 6" speaker, with streamlined controls along with a clean and overdrive channel. It also comes with accessories that include a gigbag, a clip-on chromatic tuner, a guitar strap, medium picks and downloadable guitar lessons from eMedia.

Specifications

  • Body: Okoume
  • Finish: Appetite Amber
  • Bridge: Tune-o-matic
  • Pickups: Neck: 650R humbucker, Bridge: 700T humbucker
  • Neck: Okoume
  • Scale Length: 24.75”
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Fingerboard Radius: 12”
  • Number of Frets: 22
  • Nut Width: 1.68”
  • Controls: 1-volume, 1-tone
  • Pickup Selector: 3-way toggle

Pros

Students and their parents make up most of the reviewers, and many of them are in agreement that the Epiphone Les Paul Player Pack is a good buy. From the guitar's playability to the amp's straightforward functionality, users have mostly good things to say about this package. The bundled clip-on tuner also gets a lot of thumbs up.

Cons

String action related issues are sometimes raised in reviews, while others report getting more out of the guitar after swapping out its generic pickups.

Overall

With its incredible low price and good rating, this is the safest and most affordable way to test the waters of guitar playing.

Short Scale

We've scoured the market for readily-available top rated short scale electric guitars and only one has high enough ratings to earn a spot in this guide.

Fender Squier Mini Strat V2 (SSS)

86
GEARANK

86 out of 100. Incorporating 175+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$130
Fender Squier Mini Strat V2 Short Scale Electric Guitar

The Fender Squier Mini Strat V2 is a short scale take on the all too familiar Strat design. It is essentially the same as the Bullet Strat, only this one is shrunk down to 3/4 the size of the original, making it more compact and easier on the hands for younger players, or players with smaller hands to appreciate.

While the double cutaway design is intact, the body is actually made thinner to make the guitar even more comfortable. Equally comfortable is its C-shape maple neck, with its shorter 22.75" scale length fingerboard that goes up to 20 frets. Aside from those differences, everything else about the Squier Mini Strat V2 is pretty much standard, including its triple single-coil pickup configuration.

Specifications

  • Body: Laminate Hardwood
  • Finish: Torino Red, Pink, Black
  • Bridge: Hardtail
  • Pickups: 3 x Standard Single-Coil Strat
  • Neck: Maple
  • Scale Length: 22
  • Fingerboard: Laminate Hardwood
  • Fingerboard Radius: 9.5"
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Nut Width: 1.6"
  • Controls: Volume, Tone
  • Pickup Selector: 5-Way Selector

Pros

There are only a few widely available 3/4 size electric guitars in the market, and of those few, only the Squier Mini Strat V2 has good enough rating to earn a spot on this list. Value for money makes up a majority of its commendations, but it also gets a lot of kudos for its smooth playability. While most reviewers are beginners or their parents, there are also experienced players who appreciate its compact profile and easy-to-play neck. While it is unreasonable to expect it to sound like a premium guitar, many reviewers are satisfied with its tone.

Cons

There are some who report intonation issues and some have swapped out its default tuners. Some string action and setup issues are also reported, a number of which are fixed by minor setup adjustments.

Overall

Whether you have small hands or not, the Squier Mini Strat V2 is recommended if you're looking for an affordable 3/4 size electric guitar.

Short Scale Bundle

Here are the best rated guitar bundles that feature short scale electric guitars.

SX RST 3/4 Short Scale Electric Guitar Package (SE1-SK-CAR)

84
GEARANK

84 out of 100. Incorporating 30+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$135
SX RST 3/4 Short Scale Electric Guitar Bundle

This particular package is from SX Guitars, a guitar brand known for maintaining quality at ridiculously low prices. For the price you are getting quite a lot, starting off with a 3/4 size guitar that is around 3" shorter than average. The guitar is essentially a Strat clone, with a dual cutaway body and SSS pickup configuration.

Also included in this package is the GA-1065 guitar amplifier, which hosts a 10-watt amp that drives a 4" speaker. Controls are kept simple with just a volume control, along with bass and treble knobs. Accessories include a guitar gigbag, an instructional DVD and a 10' instrument cable.

Specifications

  • Body: Basswood
  • Finish: Red
  • Bridge: Vintage style tremolo with adjustable saddles
  • Pickups: 3 x Single Coil
  • Neck: Maple
  • Scale Length: 24"
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Number of Frets: 21
  • Nut Width: 1.5"
  • Controls: Volume, Tone
  • Pickup Selector: 5-Way Selector

Pros

As expected, a good chunk of the reviews are from parents and guardians who want to inspire young players. And from their point of view, this package serves its purpose well. There were mentions of aspiring players as young as 7 years old enjoying the guitar, but there are also older player who find its easy playability to be a pleasure to play. Most of the positive remarks point to the quality of the guitar and its playability.

Cons

Some owners report improved intonation after having their guitar professionally setup. There are also some complaints about the quality of the strings that the guitar come with. Some users also feel that there's not much you can do with the amp's limited functionality.

Overall

If budget is limited and you're looking for an electric guitar package, you'll find it hard to find a better deal.

Fender Squier Strat Pack Short Scale Electric Guitar Bundle

85
GEARANK

85 out of 100. Incorporating 150+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
Fender Squier Mini Strat Pack

The Squier Mini Strat makes a second appearance in this list, this time around as part of a bundle. This guitar is based on the popular entry level Bullet Strat, sharing the same double cutaway body shape, pickup configuration and hardware setup - only this one is shorter, thinner and smaller to appeal to younger players.

The amplifier bundled with the Strat Mini differs depending on the retailer. Most retailers offer the official bundle as seen on Fender's online store, it comes with a 10W Fender Frontman 10G amplifier with a 6" speaker. The bundle also includes picks, a guitar strap and an instrument cable. Amazon's bundle features the smaller Fender Mini Deluxe amp, a 1 Watt compact and portable mini-amplifier. To offset the smaller amp, Amazon includes a clip-on-tuner to their package.

Specifications

  • Body: Laminate Hardwood
  • Finish: Torino Red, Pink, Black
  • Bridge: Hardtail
  • Pickups: 3 x Standard Single-Coil Strat
  • Neck: Maple
  • Scale Length: 22
  • Fingerboard: Laminate Hardwood
  • Fingerboard Radius: 9.5"
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Nut Width: 1.6"
  • Controls: Volume, Tone
  • Pickup Selector: 5-Way Selector

Pros

Reviews are generally positive, many of which commend the guitar's playability. Granted that most reviewers are students or their parents, their satisfaction still count since this package is designed specifically for them. The Frontman 10G is also praised for its clean tones, while some report that it is surprisingly loud for the price.

Cons

Some of the complaints are directed towards the quality of the accessories, specifically the cable. Poor string quality and setup are mentioned in some reviews. There are also a few who find the guitar to be a little too small for their taste.

Overall

If you're looking for a guitar package from a reputable brand, then check out the Squier Strat Pack.

Things to Consider When Buying a Beginner Electric Guitar

  • Scale Length: Short vs Regular

    Scale length is twice the distance from the nut to the 12th fret, with some variance added by saddle positioning. It is essentially describing the length by which the string is stretched. The average scale length ranges from 24.75" for LP type guitars, to 25.5" for Strat types, but there are a number of manufacturers that offer short scale instruments, many of which are designed for beginners.

    The advantage of starting on a regular scale guitar is that it has similar string tension with other mid-tier / premium guitars, which means minimal technique adjustments when you decide to switch up your instrument. On the other hand, those with shorter scale length have lower string tension, which make them easier on the fretting hands, and very comfortable to play. Short scale guitars are also usually shorter in length, making them more portable. Short scale guitars are usually recommended for younger players but even experienced players find benefit in having them for their ease of use.

  • Playability

    Playability describes how easy it is to play an electric guitar, usually pertaining to the fretting hand. As such it can somewhat be subjective, but for beginners, there are standards that are generally accepted. First off is the guitar's string action or string height, which should be low enough to make them easy to fret, yet high enough to prevent string buzz. Next is the guitar's neck profile, those with smaller hands will want thinner necks, while those with bigger hands usually prefer fatter necks. Another important consideration is the smoothness of the fingerboard and fretwire edges.

  • Aesthetics

    With so many different guitar shapes and colors, choosing a particular design can be quite daunting - but getting the look of the guitar right can be just as important as playability, especially when it comes to inspiring upstarts to practice more. Going for one that looks similar to the student's hero is always the safest bet.

  • Amplifier and Other Gear

    This may be a no brainer but it must be said, to get your electric guitar working, you'll need at least a guitar cable and a guitar amplifier to get your guitar to work. So you'll need a bit more money for these essential pieces of equipment. In addition there is other gear can improve your overall guitar experience, including pedals and effects, guitar case, guitar stand and more. Other essential beginner accessories to consider include metronomes, tuners, reserve strings, string winders, and capos.

  • Standalone vs Bundle

    Speaking of other gear, there are manufacturers that offer electric guitar bundles or packages. These usually come with an amplifier and a cable so you can play your guitar right out of the box. There are some which comes with other essentials like a tuner, extra strings, and capos. The obvious advantage of getting a guitar bundle is that you get more for your money, and you don't have to worry about picking the right cable and amp. On the flipside, you won't get to pick the amp and other gear you want.

Best Beginner Electric Guitar Selection Methodology

With so many beginner friendly guitars in the market, we decided to focus on solidbody guitars that are really meant for students. We further narrowed down our scope to entry-level guitars since they are reasonably priced for students, and we also made sure to feature only those that can be readily-bought from US retailers, so you can actually buy the guitars that we recommend. After some deliberation, we also decided to include guitar packages and shortscale electric guitars in our research, since they are specifically targeting beginners.

With the above criteria set, we were able to come up with an initial list of 30 guitars and packages. We then gathered over 10,500 reviews and ratings data that were processed via the Gearank algorithm. The resulting scores were then used to rank the guitars and packages accordingly, divided into four groups: Regular Scale, Short Scale, Regular Scale Bundle and Short Scale Bundle. For more information about this process please read How Gearank Works.

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