Plenty of people decide to learn guitar each year but are often unclear where to start. For many beginners, price is a problem and spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on a guitar does not make sense. Luckily, much has changed in the affordable guitar market and there are plenty of models available that can get you off to a good start.
In the old days, affordable guitars were of poor quality aside from a few exceptions. Today, the low end of the market has been transformed and learning to play the guitar has never been more exciting.
For the Genre Switcher – Fender Squier Vintage Stratocaster
Fender’s Squier range of affordable guitars is excellent in just about any form, including the Standard Telecaster. Furthermore, you can even start going above $300 and get some truly amazing Squier guitars. However, it’s the Vintage Stratocaster that cuts the best combination of affordability, quality, style, and playability.
Firstly, it has that classic Fender Strat aesthetic that remains one of the most beautiful guitar shapes. In terms of construction, the Squier is made from basswood, including a maple bolt-on neck with rosewood fingerboard. With 21 medium-jumbo frets, a ’70s-styled headstock, and three Duncan Designed SC-101 single-coil pickups, this is just a solid all-rounder.
For the Classic Rocker – Epiphone Les Paul Special-II
Plenty of people prefer the Gibson Les Paul shape over the Strat body, while some players will want to be able to get crunchier tones through humbucker pickups. The Epiphone Les Paul Special-II is an excellent doorway into the world of Gibson and is licensed by the American company. If you’ve been particularly inspired by Slash or Jimmy Page, you will feel right at home with the warm sound, long sustain, and professional feel.
Made from okoume, the Epiphone feels much lighter than its Gibson cousin (which is made of mahogany). Another difference from the full Les Paul is that the Special-II sports a bolt-on neck. Looking at the 22-fret neck, it’s made from rosewood and has a 24.75″ scale.
For the Budding Shredder – Ibanez RG421
No brand says shred quite like Ibanez, which has been the mainstay of guitar virtuosos since the 1980s. With the RG421, the company has crafted an affordable super-strat that is frankly a beast. Perhaps most surprising is the quality of the pick-ups (always a gamble on a less expensive guitar), which are in-house Ibanez Quantum electronics. These are awesome pups that allow the guitar to truly shred.
Elsewhere, the RG421 boosts its metal credentials with a smooth neck that is a joy to play on. Ibanez avoided putting a floating tremolo on the guitar, which is a wise decision considering the price point. Interestingly, the RG421 is made from quality woods – mahogany for the body and maple for the neck.
For a Guitar that will do it all – Yamaha Pacifica
The Yamaha Pacifica is a classic for a reason: this axe has been providing stunning quality in the entry-level market for decades. In some ways, all the other guitars on this list are as good as they are because of the Pacifica. Simply put, Yamaha forced everyone in the industry to up their game in the affordable end of the market.
Build quality is high, and the hardware is amazing for the price. Construction is famously solid, thanks to its alder wood body and maple neck (with rosewood fingerboard). With a Strat-style body, single coils for clean and rock tones, and a humbucker for all-out shred, the Yamaha Pacifica is a versatile guitar.