The best beginner electric guitars in 2023: 10 killer options for new guitarists

Starting out in the world of guitar? Here are your best choices for your first six-string.

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Picking the best beginner electric guitar for you isn’t always as straightforward as it should be. That’s especially the case in 2023, due to how accessible the instrument has become and the plethora of options available. From budget Strats to Dinky’s, there’s a daunting amount of guitars on the market.

To give you a head start, we’ve compiled a guide that will help you kickstart your six-string journey.

What makes a good beginner electric guitar?

Not every beginner is the same, hence neither is every beginner electric guitar. But broadly, there are a few attributes most entry-level six-strings possess.

First, none of these guitars break the bank – you probably don’t want to sink a big investment into your first instrument.

Beginner electric guitars also often have shorter scale lengths – this means a more comfortable experience for younger players’ smaller hands, and a more forgiving feel from lower string tension.

And finally, these are all straightforward instruments – no complicated switching systems or hard-to-maintain floating tremolos here! Let’s dive in.

The best beginner electric guitars at a glance

Yamaha Pacifica 112 V

Beginner staple

Having been in the market for over two decades, the Pacifica is Yamaha’s gift to all beginners out there. Whether you’re looking for excellent construction, quality tonewoods or enhanced playability, the Pacifica 112V’s got the features to back its reputation as one of the best starter axes around.

Its pickup configuration of two single-coils and one alnico V humbucker on the bridge yields clear, rounded tones with a boosted midrange. Combine this with a five-way switch, and you’ve got a guitar that not only emulates that shimmering Fender sound, but delivers across a variety of genres, too.

Price: $309.99

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Squier Affinity Stratocaster

Affordable classic

You can’t really get more classic than a Strat. And Squier’s Affinity Stratocaster offers an approachable take on that classic. Whether you want to channel your inner Hendrix with some fuzz or explore the clean sounds of Mark Knopfler, the Affinity Strat will take you there – you’ve got all the standard Stratocaster appointments, most importantly a trio of single-coils and a vintage-styled vibrato.

There’s a reason that countless legendary players have made the Strat their go-to, and as the old saying goes: if it ain’t broke…

Price: $249.99

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Jackson JS22 Dinky

For the aspiring shredders

If you aren’t already playing metal, the Jackson JS22 Dinky will do its utmost to change that. This guitar represents all the things upon which the brand has staked its claim to fame: metal- and rock-ready performance guitars with speedy necks and bold humbuckers.
Featuring a compound radius fretboard, it’s as comfortable to hold down chords as it is to shred at break-neck speeds when you venture past the twelfth fret.

With two Jackson high-output humbucking ceramic pickup, expect loud, distortion friendly pups that deliver full, rich tones with long sustain. But as with many similar guitars in this price range, don’t expect particularly pristine tones.

In terms of aesthetics, the Dinky doesn’t disappoint. Its arched top, pearloid sharkfin inlays and all-black hardware make the guitar stand out from the pack, while bindings on the neck give it that high-end glamour.

Price: $199.99

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Gear4Music Knoxville Select Legacy

An entry-level relic

If you’re looking for your first guitar after being inspired by the characteristically road-worn guitars of your favourite players, this affordable relic could just inspire you to pick up the guitar more often. And after all, when you’re starting out, what’s better than that?

Gear4Music’s house brands offer great value and slick aesthetics for the money, and, importantly, comfortable playability – aside from looking the part, this guitar’s not going to present any barriers to getting on learning your favourite tracks.

Price: £149.99

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Epiphone Power Players Les Paul

Perfect for younger players

Like the Strat, the Les Paul is an utter classic – but if you’re a younger player, its sheer weight, and full 24.75-inch scale can be intimidating. Enter, then, the Power Players series from Epiphone: These come with a slim neck and a shorter scale length, perfect for smaller hands, as well as a more compact, lighter, body.

Don’t let these approachable features fool you, though: Epiphone hasn’t skimped on tone, as these guitars still come with two powerful humbuckers and all the controls you’d expect on a standard Les Paul. The scale length is also not quite as short as some ¾-scale instruments, meaning the eventual transition to a full-size guitar will be less daunting.

Price: $279

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Hartwood Charger

A rock beast in offset clothing

Are you stuck between wanting a cool, surfy offset and something that won’t baulk at big, fuzzed-out power chords? The Hartwood Charger offers the best of both worlds: it’s got a cool, 60s vibe, but its powerful pickups let you bring the rock if that’s your thing. If it’s not, there’s a coil-split option to get some more traditional single-coil sounds.

It’s also got a nice and comfortably small and light body, great for younger players, although its scale length is a full 25.5”. This could be a benefit, though, as you won’t need to upgrade to a full-scale guitar from it.

Price: £249

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Harley Benton SC-Junior

Pure simplicity

Harley Benton guitars’ reputation as ridiculous value for money precedes them, and for good reason. For less than £200, you’re getting a set-neck single-cut with a single P90 in the bridge position.

A single pickup might sound limiting to some, but for others, it’s a great way to get on with thinking about playing rather than switching up your tone. There’s a great argument to be made that a single P90 is all you’ll ever need, and if that attitude appeals the SC-Junior will be a great entry point to the world of guitar.

Price: €199

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Ibanez GRX20

A solid shred machine

A lot of the things that make Ibanez’s GRX20 a great guitar for fast lead playing also make it great for beginners: mainly the neck, which is an ultra-slim, satin-finished C-shape, which won’t get in your way as you learn your way around it. And if the aggressive take on the Strat shape appeals, it’s likely you’ll also be a fan of the powerful humbuckers and the modern vibrato for chunky rhythm sounds and expressive lead playing.

Price: $179.99

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A great hard-tail guitar for beginner metal players

If you’re more about rock-solid riffing than whammy-bar-abusing soloing, the ESP M10 is the starter metal guitar for you. Featuring a two-piece hard-tail bridge and two powerful humbuckers, this no-nonsense S-type provides a steady base for you to build your chops on, especially if you’re looking to learn metal rhythm playing.

That’s not to say it won’t be able to deliver a more versatile set of sounds – the fast-playing neck and the jumbo frets will provide a comfortable playing experience no matter if you’re learning Metallica or the 1975.

Price: $199.99

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Squier Sonic Mustang HH

Short-scale classic

The Mustang is an offset shape beloved by seasoned players and beginners alike. It comes standard with a 24” scale, meaning a forgiving feel that’s perfect for younger players, as is the smaller body and comfortable C-shaped neck, finished in a nice satin for a smooth feel that won’t get in the way as you play. The Sonic version is incredibly affordable, but true to Squier’s reputation, playability has not been sacrificed despite this.

Electronics are nice and straightforward too, with two humbuckers that’ll play well with distortion – the Mustang is a grunge classic for a reason, after all, and this HH version lets you dial up the aggression.

Price: $199.99

Check out today’s deals on the Squier Sonic Mustang HH


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