The Best Cheap Beginner Electric Guitars Under $200

The Highest Rated Electric Guitars For Beginners

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With stiff market competition in the entry level tier, the best judge of quality and value would be their intended market - beginners, parents and teachers. And this is exactly what this guide is all about, featuring market favorites in the sub $200 price range, based on actual user feedback, reviews and ratings.

While it's not reasonable to expect premium quality from sub $200 electric guitars, there are plenty of gems that can be good starting instruments. These guitars can also be good grab-and-go or back up instrument for experienced musicians. For this 2021 edition, we retained the three sections which groups the guitars based on their pickup configuration: single coil, humbucker and mixed.

The Best Beginner Electric Guitars Under $200

Author & Contributors

Alexander BrionesAlexander Briones

He's written about and researched music gear for many years, while also serving as a music director at his local church, in addition to teaching guitar, bass and mentoring young musicians.

Pickup Type: Single Coil

LyxPro LYXEGBK0030B (SSS)

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 950+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$170
LyxPro LYXEGBK0030B (SSS)

The LyxPro LYXEGBK0030B is a budget friendly Strat style guitar package, with a body crafted from Phoenix wood. This wood is from a tree called Paulownia, which after harvesting can re-grow into a tree again with just their root systems, hence the Phoenix nickname.

The neck is crafted from maple, and comes with a fingerboard that's made from "engineered" rosewood.

It also comes with conventional Strat style electronics and hardware, including a triple singlecoil pickup configuration, 5-way pickup selector and hardtail tremolo bridge.

Bundled with this guitar is a 20 Watt combo amplifier, guitar cable and digital tuner.

Features

  • Body: Phoenix
  • Finish: Black, Blue, Red, Sunburst, Natural, Pink
  • Bridge: 6-Saddle Hard Tail
  • Pickups: SSS (Triple Singlecoil)
  • Neck: Maple
  • Scale Length: Not Specified
  • Fingerboard: Composite
  • Fingerboard Radius: Not Specified
  • Number of Frets: 22
  • Nut Width: Not Specified
  • Controls: Volume, Tone, Tone
  • Pickup Selector: 5-Position Blade

Pros

This is considered by many as a great value starter guitar for beginners. Owners are satisfied with the overall quality of the instrument, and many appreciate the extras that are included in its bundle.

Cons

Much like most guitars in this price range, string setup and action needs to be adjusted for better results. There are also some complaints regarding the quality of the included gig bag and cable.

Overall

If you're looking for a plug-and-play super affordable electric guitar, then this is for you.

Squier Bullet Telecaster (SS)

90
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$190
Squier Bullet Telecaster (SS)

The Squier brand is meant to make Fender's popular guitar line more affordable and accessible.

The Bullet Telecaster is the entry-level version of the iconic Fender Telecaster, carrying over much of the same specs, while using more cost effective materials and manufacturing processes.

It features a poplar body, paired with a maple C-shape neck.

Electronics include the ever familiar dual singlecoil setup of the Tele, along with master volume, master tone, and a 3-position pickup selection.

It also has a hardtail bridge with string-through-body design.

Features

  • Body: Poplar
  • Finish: Black, Brown Sunburst
  • Bridge: 6-Saddle Hard Tail
  • Pickups: SS (Double Singlecoil)
  • Neck: Maple
  • Scale Length: 25.5"
  • Fingerboard: Hardwood
  • Fingerboard Radius: 9.5"
  • Number of Frets: 22
  • Nut Width: 1.65"
  • Controls: Volume, Tone
  • Pickup Selector: 3-Position Blade

Pros

Beginners are impressed with the overall quality of the Bullet Telecaster, from its playability to its sound. Experienced players are not as impressed but consider it as a good starting instrument for the money. Surprisingly, there are many positive comments regarding how clean it sounds, which is quite impressive given its price.

Cons

There are some reports of action and string setup related issues, which are common complaints in this price range. Also note that the Telecaster's two singlecoil setup may not be suitable for some musical genres, especially those who want to start playing metal & rock styles with high-gain.

Overall

With its good reviews and big brand backing, the Squier Bullet Telecaster is great starting guitar, especially for those who are into country, pop and other mainstream musical styles.

Squier Bullet Strat HT (SSS)

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 250+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$190
Squier Bullet Strat HT

At publication time this was the Highest Rated Solely Single Coil Equipped Solidbody Electric Guitar Under $200.

More than 60 years after its first production, the Stratocaster continues to be among the most in demand, and the most copied electric guitar designs on the market.

The Squier Bullet Strat HT is its modern representative in the entry-level market, staying true to the original double cutaway profile, albeit using more cost-effective materials and production methods.

It is called an HT model because of its Hard Tail bridge, but everything else is as Strat as it gets, with 3 single-coil pickups and a 5-way pickup selector.

Features

  • Body: Basswood
  • Finish: Arctic White, Black, Sunburst, Red
  • Bridge: 6-Saddle Hard Tail
  • Pickups: Standard Single-coil Strat x 3
  • Neck: Maple
  • Scale Length: 25.5"
  • Fingerboard: Laurel
  • Fingerboard Radius: 9.5"
  • Number of Frets: 21 Medium Jumbo
  • Nut Width: 1.650
  • Controls: Master Volume, Tone, Tone
  • Pickup Selector: 5-Position Blade

Pros

Many owners are satisfied with the Bullet Strat HT's overall performance, more notably, the way it stays in tune. It receives a lot of positive comments for its build quality, while others are pleased with its in-between pickup tones. A recurring theme among reviews is that this guitar is a great buy, especially for beginners.

Cons

Most of the complaints are centered on the poor quality of the strings that it ships with. There are also a few users who felt that the color was a bit off compared to the images, but still liked how the guitar performs.

Overall

The Squier Bullet Strat HT is an affordable and reliable way to enter into the world of electric guitar playing.

Pickup Type: Humbucker

Ibanez GIO GRX20Z (HH)

97
GEARANK

97 out of 100. Incorporating 800+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$150
Ibanez GIO GRX20Z

At publication time this was the Highest Rated Solely Humbucker Equipped Solidbody Electric Guitar Under $200 and the Highest Rated Solidbody Electric Guitar Under $200.

Like many other Japanese guitar manufacturers in the 1960's and 1970's, Ibanez were essentially building copies of American guitars from the likes of Gibson and Fender which led to lawsuits which in turn led to Ibanez needing to come up with their own designs.

Then in 1986 they teamed up with Frank Zappa's guitarist Steve Vai to create a new design which led to the JEM and RG series that were launched in 1987 and Ibanez hasn't looked back since.

These types of guitars are known as 'Superstrats' because of their obvious body shape similarity to Fender's Stratocasters.

The GIO series are their current entry-level guitars with the GRX20Z, combining a superstrat style body with two humbucking pickups, being their highest rated option under $200.

Features

  • Body: Poplar
  • Finish: Black Night (pictured), also comes in Green Metallic, Jewel Blue, Vivid Orange and Silver
  • Bridge: FAT-6 tremolo
  • Pickups: 2 x Infinity R Humbucking passive/ceramic
  • Neck: GRX Maple
  • Scale Length: 25.5" (648 mm)
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Fingerboard Radius: 12"
  • Number of Frets: 22
  • Nut Width: 1.653"
  • Controls: 1 x Volume, 1 x Tone
  • Pickup Selector: 3-way

Pros

This is another budget guitar that is routinely praised for the excellent value for money it provides. Many reviewers point to its playability as its strongest point, which is not surprising given that it comes from Ibanez. There are even several who wrote that they liked the GRX20Z so much that they bought it more than once.

Cons

Other than a few complaints saying it doesn't stay in tune well enough (similar complaints can be found about most budget guitars) there weren't many consistently stated negatives about the GRX20Z.

Overall

If you're looking for an affordable shred machine that will help you get your chops up, then get the Ibanez Gio GRX20Z.

Here's a demonstration of a GRX:

Kramer Baretta Special (H)

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 325+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$179
Kramer Baretta Special w/ Chrome Hardware - White

The Kramer Baretta is an affordable simplified Superstrat style guitar with a single tilted humbucker in the bridge position, meant for beginners.

It has the familiar double cutaway shape, but instead of alder, this one has a mahogany body, while the neck has a flatter 12" radius to cater to the fast runs expected in rock and metal guitar styles.

More importantly, it has that distinct Kramer headstock shape, that makes it easily identifiable.

There's not much to tweak with its one pickup configuration, having a bridge Alnico V humbucking pickup controlled by just one volume knob.

Features

  • Body: Mahogany
  • Finish: Black, Puprle, Ruby Red, Vintage White, Candy Blue
  • Bridge: 6-Saddle Hard Tail
  • Pickups: H (1 x Humbucker)
  • Neck: Maple
  • Scale Length: 25.5"
  • Fingerboard: Granadillo
  • Fingerboard Radius: 12"
  • Number of Frets: 22
  • Nut Width: 1.679"
  • Controls: Volume
  • Pickup Selector: N/A

Pros

The Kramer Baretta Special continues to exceed expectations its smooth playability right and good tone. Some describe its playing feel as unbelievably good, given its price, to the point that some point to it as a great affordable 80's style shred guitar. Others commend its tone, which some even compare favorably over more expensive Superstrats. There are also a number of users who are pleased with its aesthetics, from the quality of the finish to its distinct headstock.

Cons

With just a single humbucker in the bridge position, there's literally no other tone options, and this can be limiting if you're planning on studying/playing different musical styles.

Overall

If you're looking for a bare bones axe for sharpening your shred skills, then this is for you.

IYV ILS-300 EGR (HH)

92
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$195
IYV ILS-300 EGR Electric Guitar

Inyen Vina is a Korean guitar company that manufacturers some of their affordable guitars in Vietnam. They made it into this guide with this highly rated entry-level Les Paul inspired model.

Retailers describe this as a guitar made using CNC machines, and only provided a few details, which include having a mahogany body, and a 24.75" scale length.

Some users note that this is heavier than some Epiphone Les Pauls, which means that it may not have any weight relief.

Features

  • Body: Mahogany
  • Finish: Emerald Green
  • Bridge: 6-Saddle Hard Tail
  • Pickups: HH (2 x Humbuckers)
  • Neck: Not Specified
  • Scale Length: 24.75"
  • Fingerboard: Not Specified
  • Fingerboard Radius: Not Specified
  • Number of Frets: 22
  • Nut Width: Not Specified
  • Controls: 2 x Volume, 2 x Tone
  • Pickup Selector: 3-Way Switch

Pros

Many are impressed with its overall appearance, especially the finish. They are also plenty of kudos pointing to its neck feel, while others are pleased with its humbucker tone. Note that most of the positive reviews are from beginners, which are the intended buyer, so their comments still hold weight.

Cons

Some experienced players report minor finish imperfections, but many of them are still satisfied with the overall look given the price. As expected, there are some who aren't too happy with the hardware and included strings.

Overall

If you're looking for an aesthetically pleasing yet affordable LP style guitar, then check this out.

Jackson JS22 Dinky Arch Top (HH)

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 400+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
Jackson JS22 Dinky Arch Top

While other companies were content at merely cloning popular designs, Jackson helped refined the Strat design into the now distinct Superstrat category. The JS22 Dinky Arch Top showcases Jackson's penchant for Superstrats, and does so while retaining a very affordable price tag.

For the price, you are getting a shred friendly instrument with some nice features including having a graphite reinforced neck, a classy looking arched top, and Jackson's distinct headstock design.

Finally, it comes equipped with Jackson's own High-output humbuckers.

Specifications

  • Body: Poplar
  • Finish: Satin Black, Natural Oil, Metallic Blue, Snow White
  • Bridge: 2-point Tremolo/Vibrato bridge
  • Pickups: Jackson High-output Humbuckers
  • Neck: Maple
  • Scale Length: 25.5"
  • Fingerboard: Amaranth
  • Fingerboard Radius: 12" to 16" Compound
  • Number of Frets: 24 Jumbo
  • Nut Width: 1.6875"
  • Controls: Master Volume, Master Tone
  • Pickup Selector: 3-Position Blade

Pros

Neck feel seems to be the main reason why many rate this guitar highly. Students find the JS22 very easy and comfortable to play, there are even some experienced guitarists who compare it favorably over more expensive guitars. Build quality and overall aesthetics are also important factors for many who love this guitar.

Cons

Tuning instability gets mentioned a few times, while others complain that the action is a little too low, causing unwanted fret buzz. There are also a few users who report seeing minor imperfections on the finish.

Overall

If hotrodded Strats are your thing, then it's hard to go wrong with the Jackson JS22 Dinky Arch Top.

Pickup Type: Mixed

Donner DST-102 (HSS)

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 1600+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$170
Donner DST-102 (HSS) 6-String Electric Guitar

Donner has a long list of affordable musical instruments, and from time to time, they come out with well received ones like the DST-102.

This is a Strat style guitar that swaps out the usual bridge position pickup with a humbucker to form the HSS (humbucker-singlecoil-singlecoil) pickup configuration. This is considered by many as more versatile, allowing Strats to better produce high-gain tones by simply using the bridge pickup.

The manufacturer lists the body as being crafted from basswood, but retailers say that the sunburst model has a poplar body, while the sapphire blue one has a maple body.

This body is joined to a C shape maple neck with laurel fingerboard.

As a bonus, it comes bundled with a desktop friendly rechargeable guitar amp with two channels.

Other accessories that are included in the bundle are picks, gig bag, guitar strap, cable, capo, strings and a digital tuner.

Features

  • Body: Basswood, Poplar (Sunburst), Maple (Sapphire Blue)
  • Finish: Black, Yellow, Sunburst, Sapphire Blue
  • Bridge: 6-Saddle Hard Tail
  • Pickups: HSS (Humbucker Bridge, Singlecoil Middle, Singlecoil Neck)
  • Neck: Maple
  • Scale Length: Not Specified
  • Fingerboard: Laurel
  • Fingerboard Radius: Not Specified
  • Number of Frets: 22
  • Nut Width: Not Specified
  • Controls: Volume, Tone, Tone
  • Pickup Selector: 5-Position Blade

Pros

With its HSS spec and rechargeable amp, many consider this as a great value starter guitar bundle for beginners, owners are pleased with what they received for the money. Although not mentioned as stellar, the guitar is considered satisfactory in terms of playability and sound.

Cons

Not everyone is impressed with the quality of the included amp and accessories. There are a few who report tuning issues which they alleviated by changing the strings. We've also seen some reports of finish imperfections.

Overall

If you're looking for a great value electric guitar starter kit then check out the Donner DST-102.

Squier Bullet Strat HT HSS - Laurel Fingerboard (HSS)

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 125+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$190
Squier Bullet Strat HSS HT - Laurel Fingerboard - BSB

This is the HSS version of the popular affordable Squier Bullet Strat HT (Hard Tail).

It sports a humbucker pickup in the bridge position, along with the singlecoil pickups in mid and neck position.

Being a licensed Stratocaster, this guitar follows after conventional design and specs, albeit using more cost-effective materials and production.

The double cutaway body is crafted from basswood, and it has a C-shape maple neck with 21-fret Indian laurel fingerboard.

Features

  • Body: Basswood
  • Finish: Arctic White, Black, Sunburst, Red
  • Bridge: 6-Saddle Hard Tail
  • Pickups: HSS (Humbucker Bridge, Single-coil x 2)
  • Neck: Maple
  • Scale Length: 25.5"
  • Fingerboard: Laurel
  • Fingerboard Radius: 9.5"
  • Number of Frets: 21 Medium Jumbo
  • Nut Width: 1.650
  • Controls: Master Volume, Tone, Tone
  • Pickup Selector: 5-Position Blade

Pros

Beginners are happy with the overall quality of this instrument, while experienced musicians gladly recommend it as a good instrument to start with. Even though other models offer a bit more with their bundles, many feel that this is a good because of its good aesthetic and build quality. Many also appreciate being able to use the bridge for a more beefy overdrive tone, while retaining the iconic clean tones of the neck and middle pickups.

Cons

Speaking of quality, there are complaints about some of the hardware, specifically the tuners and the strings that it ships with. Thankfully, most of the reports are minor issues that can be user corrected via minor adjustments like tightening the tuner screws.

Overall

Being an officially licensed instrument, this is your safest pick if you're looking for an affordable HSS configuration Strat.

Ibanez GIO GRX70QA (HSH)

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 1200+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
Ibanez GIO GRX70QA

At publication time this was the Highest Rated Mixed Pickup Solidbody Electric Guitar Under $200.

It's hard to deny the popularity and legacy of Ibanez guitars, thanks to their long list of endorsers, which include virtuoso guitarists like Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and many more.

The Ibanez Gio GRX70QA makes their brand of Superstrat design more accessible, so students can start learning on a sleek and hot rodded instrument from the get go.

It has a double cutaway body crafted from basswood, and comes equipped with HSH configuration pickups: two humbuckers for the neck and bridge, and a single coil in the middle position.

Other noteworthy features include having a FAT 6 tremolo bridge and a quilted grain art on the top.

Features

  • Body: Poplar
  • Finish: Transparent Black, Transparent Blue, Transparent Emerald, Transparent Red, Violet, Sunburst
  • 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

Overall response to the Ibanez GIO GRX70QA is positive, with most reviewers sharing a common sentiment that this guitar is a great buy. Coming from Ibanez, playability is a given, and this is reflected in many reviews. It also impresses many with its tone, and the quality of its bridge and tuners. Many of the perfect ratings are from beginner to intermediate players, but there are also some experienced guitarists who chipped in with their good reviews.

Cons

There are some who report that the pickups are not as hot sounding as they want. There are also a few who note that the color may appear a bit different in person compared to the picture.

Overall

If you're looking for an entry-level rock and shred guitar, then definitely check out the Ibanez GIO GRX70QA.

Things to Consider When Buying an Electric Guitar for a Beginner

  • Cheap Electric Guitar Brands

    Popular brands like Squier (From Fender), Yamaha, and Ibanez retain their spot in this 2021 revision. And while Epiphone (From Gibson) was bested by lesser known brands this time around, don't count them out yet because they continue to be among the most popular brands in the entry-level category. These brands have experience and manufacturing capabilities to continue to produce quality entry-level electric guitars of different styles. So if you didn't find you're preferred guitar in this guide, chances are you can find it from these brands. Other well-known brands that have guitars in this price range include LTD (From ESP), Jackson, Dean, Washburn, Donner and more.

  • Playability

    Since affordable guitars are designed for students, manufacturers know that playability is of utmost priority. This is the reason why many of these budget-friendly guitars don't stray from familiar neck and body measurements. This ensures that they feel as close to premium guitars as possible, albeit utilizing more cost effective materials and production methods.

    While many of them will satisfy players out of the box, it is unfair to expect these guitars to play like a dream, especially when considering their price. While not always required, it is recommended to have every guitar checked and set up by an experienced guitarist or technician, so you can make full use of its potential.

  • Pickups

    There are two main basic types of pickups for electric guitars, Single Coil and Humbucking (double coil). The most practical difference is that single coils tend to sound crisp and bright while humbuckers tend to sound warmer (for more information see Seymour Duncan's detailed explanation). An electric guitar can have any combination of the two types and the combination on a guitar is described using the first letter of the pickup type in order from the one closest to the bridge. For example a classic Stratocaster will be described as SSS meaning all three pickups are single coil. A more recent development is the HSS strat which means it has a Humbucker at the bridge with two Single coils. I've put the pickup configuration of each guitar above in brackets after the model name so you can easily see which pickups each guitar has and in what positing they are.

    There are other pickup types out there, like the P90, Filtertron, Rail etc - but they are usually found on guitars that are well above the price range this guide covers, but you can find some of them in our guitar to Electric Guitars between $200 and $500.

  • Scale Length

    This is essentially the distance measured between the saddle and the nut, or more accurately described as double the distance from the nut to the 12th fret plus some "compensation" added by the position of the saddle. A longer scale length requires higher tension in the strings and results in a brighter tone. A more detailed explanation with examples is presented quite well by Stewart MacDonald and a good description of the implications of different scale lengths can be found on Guitar Player. Guitars based on Stratocaster and Telecaster designs usually have a longer 25.5" scale while Les Paul and SG style guitars are characterized by a shorter 24.75".

Cheap Electric Guitar Selection Methodology

The first edition was published during August 2016 and the latest edition was published on May 21, 2021.

To make this guide focused and useful, we've selected a strict set of criteria that ensures it covers the most widely available guitars that you will be able to easily find at online retailers and which have a good chance of being available from local stores as well.

To be considered for inclusion in this guide a guitar had to meet the following criteria:

  • We only included solidbody guitars
  • They had to have a street price under $200;
  • They had to have 6 strings and be full sized meaning a scale length of at least 24";
  • Must have been widely available from major American music gear stores.

We looked at all of the guitars that met the criteria above, and ended up with an initial list of 28 guitars, you can find most of those guitars listed here. This entailed analyzing over 12,100 related reviews and ratings, including the most recent ones up to the second half of May 2021. That data was then processed via the Gearank Algorithm, resulting in rating scores our of 100 which we used to rank the guitars according to pickup configuration. For more information about our methods please read How Gearank Works.

About the Author and Contributors

Here are the key people and sources involved in this guide's production - click on linked names for information about their music industry backgrounds.

Lead Author & Researcher

Alexander BrionesAlexander Briones

He's written about and researched music gear for many years, while also serving as a music director at his local church, in addition to teaching guitar, bass and mentoring young musicians.

Drawing from his experience in performing and recording, he teaches guitar and bass and mentors young artists to be better musicians. And when he is not busy playing or tinkering with musical gear, he puts on his entrepreneurial hat, which helps fund his passion for collecting guitars, mecha figures and Gunpla kits.

Contributors

Jason Horton: Supplemental writing, Editing and Illustrating.

Media

Main/Top Image: Compiled using photographs of the Ibanez GIO GRX20Z, Squier Bullet Strat HT, IYV ILS-300 EGR and Ibanez GIO GRX70QA.

The videos have been embedded in accordance with YouTube's Terms of Service.

The individual product images were sourced from websites, promotional materials or supporting documentation provided by their respective manufacturers.

Comments

I want a double neck steel

I want a double neck steel guitar with double pick up and humbucking for playing with a steel or bar.

We haven't provided any

We haven't provided any guides or done any research on Lap Steel Guitars here at Gearank.com so we can't help you with any advice on that one.

squier affinity series, looks

Squier affinity series, looks and sounds great, Fender & Gibson had to start somewhere, so everyone wants to be a star & copy, but everybody's hands and minds are different, don't need to be a star or copy cat to make a name, if the guitar feels good and sounds good, so be it. Be the First, off-brand- (Star),,,,, take the cheap version to new and higher heights,