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

Beginner Electric Guitars & Guitar Bundle Packages with Guitar Amps

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While it is practical to limit your budget for starter electric guitars, it is also important to make sure that you're getting one that'll make practice easier and enjoyable.

The quality of the beginner electric guitar you're getting can spell the difference between enthusiasm and disinterest, and 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, updated July 2020, and divided into groups that feature regular and short scale guitars, along with bundle packs that come complete with an amp and accessories.

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

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 550+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$150
Ibanez GIO 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 Pacifica PAC012DLX

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 475+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$180
Yamaha Pacifica PAC012DLX

When it comes to good quality student-friendly instruments, including electric guitars, it's only natural for Yamaha to be brought up. The Pacifica PAC012DLX exemplifies their success in this market segment, with its balance of quality, playability and value.

With this guitar, students can now enjoy the benefits and versatility afforded by superstrat style HSS configuration guitars, but at a more reasonable price point. It features a double cutaway body crafted from agathis, and sports a c-shaped maple neck with rosewood fingerboard.

Specifications

  • Body: Agathis Double Cutaway
  • Finish: Black, Metallic Blue, Metallic Red, Old Violin Sunburst
  • Bridge: Vintage Tremolo
  • Pickups: 2 x Ceramic SingleCoil, 1 x Ceramic Humbucker
  • Neck: Maple
  • Scale Length: 25.5"
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Fingerboard Radius: 13.75"
  • Number of Frets: 22, Medium
  • Nut Width: 1.614""
  • Controls: 1 x Volume, 1 x Tone
  • Pickup Selector: 5-Way

Pros

Owners of this guitar are impressed with the quality of the instrument, given the price they paid for it. There are many who find that the guitar does not look and feel cheap at all, and appreciate the quality of its finish and fretwork. While it's unreasonable to expect it to sound like premium guitars, it does have enough sonic quality and versatility to handle various musical styles.

Cons

Not many complaints about the guitar itself, unfortunately, there are a few who rate it low because of the quality (or lack of) bundled accessories.

Overall

If you're looking for a good quality HSS configuration electric guitar that's easy on the pocket, then this is your best bet.

Ibanez GIO GRX70QA

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 450+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
Ibanez GIO GRX70QA

With its HSH (Humbucker, Singlecoil, Humbucker) pickup configuration, the Ibanez Gio GRX70QA has the flexibility tomeet the needs of modern rock and similar music styles. And as expected from Ibanez, it sports a fast action maple neck, bolted onto a super strat style double cutaway basswood body.

Another important feature of this guitar is the addition of a Fat 6 bridge, that allows for "dive bomb" whammy bar techniques, something that is usually reserved for more expensive instruments. But It has to be said that this feature is not as quiet and as stable as more expensive models.

Features

  • Body: Basswood
  • Finish: Transparent Black, Transparent Blue, Transparent Emerald, Transparent Red
  • Bridge: Fat 6
  • Pickups: 2 x Power Sound Humbucker, 1 x Powersound Singlecoil
  • Neck: Maple
  • Scale Length: 25.5" ( 648 mm)
  • Fingerboard: Purpleheart
  • Fingerboard Radius: 15.75"
  • Number of Frets: 22 Medium
  • Nut Width: 1.65" (41.91 mm)
  • Controls: 1 x Volume, 1 x Tone
  • Pickup Selector: 5-way

Pros

Market sentiment towards the Ibanez GIO GRX70QA is very positive, with most reviews commending the value that it gives per dollar spent. It also gets a lot of thumbs up for smooth playability, many of whom love the shape of the neck. Most of the positive reviews are from beginners and students, but there are also experienced musicians who share their positive thoughts about its tone and playability.

Cons

There are a few who feel that the humbucker pickups are not as gain friendly as they want it to be, although this can be easily remedied via effects.

Overall

This is a great starter guitar for students who want to dive straight into modern progressive and shred style guitar playing.

Regular Scale Bundle

These are highly rated beginner friendly packages with full sized guitars.

Zeny Starter Pack Electric Guitar Bundle

88
GEARANK

88 out of 100. Incorporating 900+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$112
Zeny Starter Pack Electric Guitar Bundle

This affordable bundle features a Strat style SSS (3 single coil pickups) configuration electric guitar complete with a 10W amp, 8ft guitar cable, nylon carrying case, guitar strap, extra strings and guitar picks.

There's not much info provided, other than the neck wood and some specs, but by the looks of it, it follows standard strat design and profile, from the double cutaway shape, to its three single-coil setup and three knob control.

The bundled cable and compact amp lets you play right out of the box.

Specifications

  • Body: Not Specified Wood
  • Finish: Black, Blue
  • Bridge: Strat Style Tremolo Bridge
  • Pickups: 3 x Singlecoils
  • Neck: Maple
  • Scale Length: 25.59"
  • Fingerboard: Not Specified
  • Fingerboard Radius: Not Specified
  • Number of Frets: 22
  • Nut Width: Not Specified
  • Controls: 1 x Volume, 2 x Tone
  • Pickup Selector:

Pros

Most users are satisfied with the package, stating that this starter guitar set is really good for the price. Reviewers also appreciate the time and cost savings of not having to buy accessories and an amp separately. It receives a lot of kudos for its tone, but note that most of these are from beginners or their parents.

Cons

Speaking of tone, it's not fair to expect a super affordable starter guitar bundle to sound as good as those that are priced higher. There are also some complaints regarding the quality of the bundled cable and amp.

Overall

If you're looking for a budget plug-and-play electric guitar package to test the waters with, then this is a good package to look at.

Epiphone Les Paul Player Pack Electric Guitar Package

88
GEARANK

88 out of 100. Incorporating 2000+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$249
Epiphone Les Paul Player Pack

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.

Epiphone Slash "AFD" Les Paul Performance Package

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 175+ 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 this day 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 is an Epiphone ¼” standard guitar cable, a guitar strap, a gigbag with the “Snakepit” logo, and 3 Dunlop Tortex Slash signature picks, along with 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.

Short Scale

Short scale electric guitars are good for younger players or those with small fingers.

Fender Squier Mini Strat V2

84
GEARANK

84 out of 100. Incorporating 200+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$180
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 similar to regular stratocaster guitars, 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 (SSS) 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 (3 x single coil) 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 players 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: 

$240
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 from Fender, 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 counts 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

When getting beginner guitars, you have to consider playability, aesthetics and tone with a very limited budget. Here we will talk about these elements in a bit more detail to help you in finding the right starter electric guitar.

  • 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 (press the strings down on the fretboard), 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.

  • Scale Length: Short vs Regular

    Scale length is an important specification that affects playability. It is the measurement of 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 Les Paul type guitars, to 25.5" for Stratrocaster types, but there are a number of manufacturers that offer short scale instruments, often less than 23", 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 to a higher quality guitar. 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.

  • 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 young upstarts to practice more. Going for one that looks similar to the student's guitarist hero is always the safest bet.

  • Tone

    Tone is a big and sensitive topic, but to keep this discussion on point, we will just focus on tone as perceived by beginners. Most students are not as sensitive to tone as experienced player, but they can tell the difference between a good and bad sounding guitar. Bad sounding is usually associated with unbalanced treble/bass, excessive "buzz", muddy (unclear) string sound, and lack of sustain. Thankfully, the beginner guitars we feature in this guide are ones that provide satisfactory tone in their price range.

  • 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 be able to hear your electric guitar. So you'll need a bit more money for these essential pieces of equipment, although instead of a guitar amp you can use headphones in conjunction with a guitar headphone amp (headphones won't work on their own plugged directly into your guitar). In addition there is other gear that can improve your overall guitar experience, including effects pedals and multi-effects processors, guitar case, guitar stand and more. Other essential beginner accessories to consider include metronomes, tuners, spare strings 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 that come 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 separately getting a cable and amp. On the flipside, you won't get to pick the specific amp and other gear.

Best Beginner Electric Guitar Selection Methodology

The first edition was published in May of 2019, written by guitar teacher Alexander Briones who also wrote the latest edition, which we published on July 3, 2020.

With so many beginner friendly guitars on 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 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. We also decided to include guitar bundle packages and shortscale electric guitars in our research, since they are specifically made for beginners.

With the above criteria set, and based on my experience teaching younger guitarists, I came up with an initial short-list of 29 guitars and bundled packages. We then gathered over 13,500 reviews, ratings and recommendations by those who own or use them, including their most recent feedback up to July of 2020. All this information was then processed by the Gearank algorithm to produce rating scores out of 100 for each option. The resulting Gearank Ratings were used to rank the guitars and packages accordingly, so I could recommend the highest rated ones in four categories: Regular Scale, Short Scale, Regular Scale Bundle and Short Scale Bundle. For more information about our methods please read How Gearank Works.

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