UPDATED 2015. One of the first decisions a beginner guitarist needs to make is which guitar to purchase. As a guitar teacher, I’ve been asked this question a lot and have found that the answer depends on both your musical taste and your budget. For this reason, I have compiled a list of electric guitars under $200. I also have a list of Acoustic Guitars Under $200.
10 Great Electric Guitars for Beginners Under $200 (in no particular order)
- Squier Affinity Stratocaster HSS
- Squier Affinity Telecaster
- Squier Bullet Strat (HSS or SSS)
- Yamaha Pacifica PAC 112
- Epiphone Les Paul Special II
- Epiphone SG Special
- Ibanez GRX20 (GIO Series)
- Jackson JS22 Dinky
- Dean Vendetta XM
- Dean EVO XM
If you want more specific tips on buying your first electric guitar, check out “A Guide to Buying Your First Electric Guitar“. If you have any questions or comments, I’ll be happy to answer them below or on our new forum section.
1. Squier Affinity Stratocaster HSS. Squier is Fender’s entry level brand and one of the most popular choices today for beginners. Along with the Les Paul design (discussed below), the Stratocaster is one of the most often copied electric guitar shapes. The list of Strat players is long, and includes names like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, David Gilmour, Jeff Beck and John Frusciante. Squiers are known to be solid instruments and a great value.
2. The Squier Affinity Telecaster model is also a good option and a popular design. Keith Richards, Jeff Buckley, Tom Morello, Jonny Greenwood and country music players like Brad Paisley use or have used Telecasters. If you are expecting twang from your guitar, look no further! The maple fretboard on these Squier Teles looks great and the butterscotch blonde is the classic finish.
3. Squier Bullet Strat (HSS or SSS). The Squire Bullet is a great guitar at a very affordable price. For around $120, you have a variety of colors and two different pickup configurations to choose from. SSS stands for single-single-single and HSS stands for humbucker-single-single (the pickups on a guitar are basically the microphones that pick up the sound). There is also a more modern looking Squier Bullet Telecaster model in metallic black (not pictured). This Tele features a humbucker-single coil pickup configuration and black hardware. It would make a great rock guitar.
Squier Starter Value Packs
Squier offers a Strat Value Package that includes the HSS Affinity Strat, an amplifier, and accessories (instructional DVD, gig bag, cable, strap and picks). Pretty much everything you need to get started. This starter pack currently sells for around $349, but if you are on a budget you can get a Similar Strat Value Pack with the same guitar and a more affordable amp for $249. There is also a Starter Pack Under $200, with an SSS Affinity Strat and a cheaper Fender amp.
4. Yamaha Pacifica PAC 112. The Pacifica is a solidly built Stratocaster style guitar and an excellent choice for beginners. Not a lot of stores carry them, so buying online will most likely be your only option. The pickups sound good and the guitar is usually well set up out of the box. Yamaha has been in the musical instrument business for a long time and their guitars are known for their quality and value. They also make excellent entry level acoustic guitars. Yamaha offers a Pacifica Value Pack for around $250. One known Yamaha player is jazz fusion guitarist Mike Stern.
5. Epiphone Les Paul Special II. Fender and Gibson are the two best known manufacturers of electric guitars in the world, and Squier and Epiphone are their entry level, more affordable brands. A different looking and sounding beast than the Strat or the Tele, the Epiphone Les Paul is a great option if you are into Jimmy Page, Bob Marley, Joe Perry, Slash or Zakk Wylde.
6. Epiphone SG Special. Another popular model is the SG. With its pointy double cutaway design, the SG offers a wilder and heavier look and it will do everything from metal to blues. Frank Zappa, Angus Young, Tommy Iommi, Derek Trucks and Thom Yorke have been known to play SG’s.
Epiphone Starter Value Packs
Just like Squier, Epiphone offers a Les Paul Value Pack that includes the guitar, an amp and accessories for $199. I haven’t tried the amp in this pack but overall, it looks like a good deal. In general, I’m really not a fan of the amps that are included in these packs as they tend to be low quality, but to start out they’ll do the trick.
7. Ibanez GRX20 (GIO Series). In the 1960’s Ibanez, a Japanese company, started copying Fender, Gibson and Rickenbacker guitars. Soon after, they started designing electric guitars of their own and Ibanez grew to be one of the top guitar companies in the world. If you listen to metal or like shred guitar (rapid soloing), an Ibanez guitar could be what you are looking for. The GIO guitars are a “budget” model line similar to Fender’s Squier guitars and Gibson’s Epiphone line. The GRX20 comes with two humbucker pickups and in a variety of lively colors (from jewel blue to all white). Ibanez guitars are known for having thinner necks and bodies. Ibanez offers a GIO Value Pack with a similar guitar for under $250. Steve Vai, Paul Gilbert, Marty Friedman and James “Munky” Shaffer are a few artists that play Ibanez guitars.
8. Jackson JS22 Dinky. Jackson Guitars originated in 1980 when Ozzy Osborne guitarist Randy Rhoads asked Charvel’s (another guitar manufacturer) Grover Jackson for a custom “Flying V” style guitar. Charvel and Jackson guitars were very popular in the 80’s and 90’s, and are starting to make a comeback. Ironically, both Charvel and Jackson guitars are now owned by Fender. These guitars are great for (glam) rock, metal and shredding. There is also a 7-string version of this model, also under $200.
9. Dean Vendetta XM. A company that has been around since the late 70’s, Dean is a well known brand between metalheads. Players like Diamond Darrel, Dave Mustaine and Michael Amott use or have used Dean guitars. With a string-through-body design, dual humbuckers, a maple neck with 24 frets, the Vendetta XM definitely stands out from the rest of the bunch. It is not your typical Strat or Les Paul copy.
10. Dean EVO XM. Last but not least is the Dean EVO. This Dean model gets a lot of good reviews for being a solid low budget guitar. A “Les Paul” style guitar with one cutaway, the EVO is a blend of vintage design with modern features. It has dual humbuckers, 24 frets, a satin finish and an angular neck joint. Great looks, quality build and excellent tone for your money.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it is a solid starting point. Any of these models would make a great guitar for a beginner, just choose the one that suits your musical preference or guitar style. If you have your own list of models, feel free to post them on the comments below.