Whether you’re a beginner or just looking for a backup electric guitar on a budget, finding an affordable model is harder than you can imagine. That’s because most cheaper guitars are… well… cheap.
To help you out, we’ve roamed the market and found the best affordable electric guitars that don’t suck. Check them out below…
Our Top 10 List – Affordable Electric Guitars In 2021
- Our Top 10 List – Affordable Electric Guitars In 2021
- 1. ESP LTD EC-257 7-String Electric Guitar
- 2. ESP LTD EC-256 Electric Guitar
- 3. Epiphone Les Paul Special II Electric Guitar
- 4. Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC12 Electric Guitar
- 5. Ibanez 6 String Solid-Body Electric Guitar
- 6. Jackson 6 String Solid-Body Electric Guitar
- 7. LyxPro Affordable Electric Guitar Kit
- 8. Squier Mustang HH Short Scale Beginner Electric Guitar
- 9. Squier HSS Stratocaster Hard Tail Electric Guitar
- 10. Dean Vendetta XM Electric Guitar
1. ESP LTD EC-257 7-String Electric Guitar
The EC-257 is a gorgeous, affordable electric guitar that blends ESP’s classic Eclipse body shape with some modern touches. This model is a 7-string guitar, so make sure you need that extra range; otherwise, it will hinder more than help.
The Eclipse body shape isn’t just about style; the single-cutaway design is comfortable to play and helps deliver epic sustain.
Its mahogany body is full of warmth and resonance, which is complemented by the mahogany set-neck design.
A set-neck rather than bolt-on adds sustain and articulation; it’s a lovely touch on a budget-friendly guitar. Another thing that makes the EC-257 even more comfortable to play is the super smooth Jatoba fingerboard. It looks fantastic, too, with oversized ESP design inlays.
This guitar comes with dual ESP humbucking pickups that offer a broad tonal range. The combination of the tonewoods and pickups can produce anything from the most delicate articulation to downright aggression.
Overall, the sound lends itself perfectly to a rock or metal sound, which is typical of ESP guitars.
The EC-257, in particular, captures that vibe perfectly in both image and sound. Its stylish single-cutaway body has a lovely satin black finish with white trim and modern black hardware. The fact that it’s a 7-string means you can run the fretboard with raging metal solos for days. Perfect.
2. ESP LTD EC-256 Electric Guitar
We looked at the 7-string version already; now, we are taking a look at the ESP LTD EC-256. The first noticeable difference is that this is a regular 6-string guitar. However, it shares many important features with the 7-string version.
It has the same ESP Eclipse body shape with the same mahogany tonewood. So, you get the same warmth and resonance from the body. It also shares the same mahogany set-neck, but the EC-256 has a rosewood fingerboard rather than jatoba. The rosewood is incredibly smooth to play, and perhaps offers even more articulation.
Now, there are some important differences from its 7-string counterpart. While it has dual ESP humbucking pickups that have a wide sonic range, it has the added versatility of push-pull coil-tapping.
This option means you have access to both single-coil and humbucker tones. The hardware, in general, is of a high standard for any affordable guitar.
Tuning and intonation are very stable thanks to the rugged TOM bridge and solid tuners. As far as controls go, there are two volume controls (one per pickup) and one tone control.
It comes in a few different color options, black, black satin, and snow white. The black option looks great with gold hardware, while the others have a more modern look with blacked-out hardware.
ESP’s EC-256 is a versatile guitar that will serve you well from blues right through to metal.
3. Epiphone Les Paul Special II Electric Guitar
An affordable electric guitar is one thing, an affordable Les Paul is something else altogether. OK, so it’s not a genuine Les Paul, but Epiphone offers a direct link to the iconic Les Paul design at a fraction of the price.
The iconic body shape is present, but there are a couple of changes. Most notably, this guitar is constructed from poplar, which is a cheaper tonewood, but it does give a well-balanced tone and plenty of sustain.
The neck is made from mahogany with a rosewood fingerboard, much like you’d find on some more expensive Les Paul guitars. Having the mahogany neck is essential; it helps deliver that fat Les Paul-like sound with impressive clarity.
The guitar also has two open-coil humbucking pickups with a 3-way selector switch for neck, bridge, or both. The open-coil humbuckers sound warm, full, and have a distinctly vintage tone that’s lovely for blues or rock.
Like the rest of the guitar, controls are minimal; there is a single volume and tone control.
Vintage Edition means this guitar comes with a worn look that adds to the classic feel, and it’s available in a range of colors.
Ultimately, a budget guitar will never be the same as a high-end Gibson Les Paul, but it doesn’t have to be. If you want something that looks the part, sounds like it’s in the same ballpark – albeit the cheaper seats – then this is it. Let out your inner rockstar and feel like a pro without breaking the bank.
4. Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC12 Electric Guitar
It seems the Yamaha Pacifica range has been around forever, which is a good indication of quality. One of the main reasons Pacifica guitars are so loved is that they are incredibly comfortable to play.
The PAC120H has the typical Stratocaster style body; this one is made from Alder, a material known for being lightweight and which makes it ideal for beginner or intermediate players. Another typically Stratocaster feature is the C-shape maple neck with rosewood fingerboard; it doesn’t get much more playable than that.
It comes with a pair of custom Yamaha Alnico V Humber pickups. These humbuckers are perfect for rock or that classic blues crunch, but they can also be split for a crisper, more articulate single-coil tone. Between the pickups and the 3-way blade switch, you get everything from midrange punch to a growling low-end.
As well as looking great and sounding awesome, Pacifica guitars are known to be very well built.
Features like Yamaha’s sealed tuners and hardtail bridge are examples of that. The PAC120H is a fantastic affordable electric guitar if you want to hit the ground running. It’s responsive, comfortable, and built to last.
5. Ibanez 6 String Solid-Body Electric Guitar
Ibanez is another manufacturer that consistently provides quality guitars even is the lower price range. The Ibanez Gio is somewhat similar to the Yamaha Pacifica, in that it’s a very playable Stratocaster style guitar.
Ibanez are well known for their striking designs, and while this guitar is Strat-like, it’s much edgier with sharper curves. The body is constructed from poplar, which Ibanez has chosen in the hope of creating a truly versatile guitar.
The poplar body has a quilted maple art grain top, which adds some brightness to the versatile tone. Like the top, the guitar has a slimline maple neck with a rosewood fingerboard. The maple neck is comfortable for even younger players to get their hands around.
Here’s where it gets interesting; Ibanez has gone for three Infinity RS pickups rather than the expected two.
There are two powerful humbucking pickups, one at the neck and one at the bridge. The humbuckers are either side of a middle single-coil pickup. Utilizing the pickup combination well allows you to create anything from crystal clear country twangs to dirty, driven power rock.
On top of the additional pickup, Ibanez also decided to go with a Fat 6 tremolo bridge that is incredibly accurate, whether it’s subtle dips or massive dive-bombs. When not in use, the tremolo bridge is stable and reliable. The GRX70 is one of the most versatile, affordable electric guitars around.
6. Jackson 6 String Solid-Body Electric Guitar
Jackson guitars are no strangers to the affordable label; however, they tend to do it a little different than most. From style to sound, Jackson guitars tend to be in your face and unapologetic.
This high-performance guitar comes with a lightweight basswood body that is somewhat resonant, without the warmth of some more expensive tonewoods. It does, however, have a distinct tone and lots of attitude.
The neck is graphite-reinforced maple in a slimline design that encourages players to get right up to the 22nd fret. Its flat-radiused fingerboard might feel a little different at first, but you’ll be whizzing up and down it in no time.
Much of the “in your face” attitude comes from Jackson’s custom-designed humbucking pickups.
They are high-output pickups that pack plenty of punch and bite, ideal for any aggressive playing style or genre. What they lack in versatility, they make up for in an authentic, hair-raising, metal tone.
Controls come in the form of a volume pot and control pot either side of a 3-way pickup selector switch.
Hardware and controls are black, which fits the modern, edgy style of the guitar. Style is one of the key aspects of the Dinky JS11, from the harshly angled iconic headstock to the striking black or white finish.
7. LyxPro Affordable Electric Guitar Kit
This starter pack from LyxPro is the epitome of value for money. It’s literally everything that you could possibly need to start learning to play electric guitar.
Let’s get the negatives out of the way first; the complete pack is far more valuable than the sum of its parts. What we mean by that is that you won’t be saying it’s the best guitar or best amp you’ve ever had. However, the real value is in the progress you will make in your musical development without spending a fortune.
The guitar itself is a full-size 39-inch electric guitar in a classic Strat style. It sports a solid wood body, maple neck, and a rosewood fingerboard along with an s-s-s pickup formation. For the true Marty McFly wannabes, it has a classic whammy bar!
As far as practice amps go, you don’t need too much as a beginner. This 20w amp comes with a 3-band EQ, overdrive, and headphone jack. It sounds good for the money, and that’s what matters here.
The rest of the pack includes a digital clip-on tuner, a shoulder strap, guitar picks, and a carry bag.
8. Squier Mustang HH Short Scale Beginner Electric Guitar
Squire by Fender guitars are sometimes unfairly judged. A lot of people write them off as Fender rejects, but that’s far from the truth.
The Squires offer an affordable alternative to some of Fender’s most iconic electric guitars. We are looking at the Squire Bullet Mustang HH short scale guitar.
The one thing that can’t be denied is that Squire captures the iconic style of the Fender Mustang perfectly, it looks absolutely fantastic.
The famous offset body is made of basswood, which keeps it light for beginners and young players. It features a one-piece C-shape maple neck with an Indian laurel fingerboard. The one-piece neck is a nice touch, and the playability of the fingerboard combined with the short scale length is ideal for learning.
Mustang guitars are sought after for their fat, unapologetic, punching tone. This model is powered by two humbucking pickups that deliver that classic Mustang sound. Plug into your amp, and this guitar will push it into harmonically rich overdrive that any guitarist will love.
Overall, it looks authentic, it’s well built, and it’s a workhorse. A perfect choice for a beginner who wants to do it in style.
9. Squier HSS Stratocaster Hard Tail Electric Guitar
There aren’t many guitars that are as universally recognizable as Jimi Hendrix’s Olympic white Fender Stratocaster. Unfortunately, that kind of instrument is out of reach for many guitarists, but the Squier Bullet Strat HT is an affordable lookalike.
Once you get past the good looks of this guitar, you’ll be happy to find that it has more in common with its Fender big brother than you might expect.
It has a basswood body for a balanced tone without being too expensive. It also has the standard maple C-shape Strat neck profile with an Indian laurel fingerboard. The slick body and neck make this guitar super-comfortable to play.
Despite some cheaper materials being used in construction, the three single-coil pickups deliver the classic bell-like tone expected from a genuine Strat.
It has a 5-way pickup selector switch with a single master volume and two tone controls. The Squire Bullet Strat can be clean, articulate, punchy, crunchy, and those bell-like highs are perfect for soaring lead lines.
Again, Squire has done everything possible to get as close to a genuine Strat as possible without going over budget. The hardtail bridge that increases sustain and holds tune fantastically shows the quality of hardware used. It comes in a variety of colors, and it looks like the real deal; not to mention it sounds great, too!
10. Dean Vendetta XM Electric Guitar
If you want something a little bit different that doesn’t conform, the Dean Guitars Vendetta XM might be for you. Dean Guitars are known for their iconic split V headstock and slick design.
The Vendetta XM has a lightweight string-through paulownia body. Paulownia is a pretty resonant tonewood, and the string-through design will enhance that even more.
The maple neck is topped with a rosewood fingerboard, the reason you see this combination so often is that it’s so smooth and playable. So, as an affordable guitar, it’s off to a good start.
Dual naked humbuckers are the driving force behind the Vendetta XM’s roaring sound and searing sustain. The sound isn’t overly bright and not quite as articulate as it could be, but it lends itself very well to blues, rock, or even metal.
To further shape your sound, there is a single tone control, pickup selector switch, and a master volume.
Both the controls and hardware are black, which is typical of Dean Guitars. It comes with a Tune-O-Matic bridge, so it’s easy to adjust the action and tailor it to your exact preference.
What you get for your money with the Vendetta XM is a great looking guitar with a beautiful satin finish and a versatile sound. If you want something brighter, try a Strat, but if you want a guitar that looks and sounds like a bad attitude, try the Vendetta XM.