The best value electric guitars: 10 affordable options for beginners and players on a budget

Looking to save a bit of cash, or get started on the electric guitar? There are plenty of great instruments out there that won’t break the bank.

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The world of affordable electric guitars has, over the last few years, continued to steadily increase in quality – budget instruments from the big brands and beyond continue to offer great value for money for beginners, or, really, any player who wants to save a bit of cash.

But, as finances are squeezed, and some guitar brands rapidly increase the prices of what used to be mid-priced models, it’s more important than ever to highlight the great-value instruments that are out there.

It’s also important to note that the definition of “value” for a guitar can vary – A $500 guitar can be great value if it’s offering the same reliability and quality as a $1,200 guitar. In any case, we’ve taken a look at a range of great value guitars for this list, from beginner instruments to affordable touring workhorses, all of which punch well above their price-point. Let’s dive in.

At a glance:

Our pick: the best overall value electric guitar: PRS SE CE 24 Standard Satin

PRS SE CE 24 Standard Satin

The PRS SE CE 24 Standard Satin is absolutely one of the best value-for-money guitars we’ve ever reviewed at Guitar.com. And Fender and Gibson increasingly leaving a product vacuum in the true mid-priced guitar market makes it an even more appealing prospect. For $/£499, you get a guitar that rivals ones twice the price from the Big F and the Big G, with a no-nonsense but expansive featureset. Two well-voiced PRS humbuckers that can be split for great single-coil tones, a very stable PRS vibrato and a fantastic feeling neck.

The Satin finish frankly looks gorgeous, if a little more understated than traditional PRS fare – which may be a bonus depending on taste! And, the guitar comes with a high-quality gigbag, too, saving you another few bob. Are there cheaper guitars? Absolutely. But the specs, sounds and performance of the SE CE 24 Standard Satin are unmatched at this price. It’s more of an investment than the average beginner guitar, yes – but if you’re looking to the future, it will absolutely last you into your gigging life. And the versatility of the sounds on offer, that gigbag and the road-ready build quality mean that it’s a fantastic touring instrument that working musicians will actually be able to afford, too.

Need more? Read our PRS SE CE 24 Standard Satin review.

Best affordable Stratocaster: Squier Sonic Stratocaster HSS

Squier Sonic Stratocaster HSS

A good beginner guitar doesn’t just have to be cheap – although the Squier Sonic Stratocaster HSS is – it’s also got to be approachable. Who’s going to want to continue learning through sharp fret-ends, terrible sounds or miles-high string action? Luckily the Sonic Strat is a very approachable instrument indeed, with a pleasantly playable satin-finished neck, and far better-sounding pickups than a guitar at this price point has any right to be loaded with. And whether you were inspired to pick up a Strat by Hendrix’s dive-bombs or by more subtle wobble, the standard vintage-style vibrato unit will get you there.

Need more? Read our Squier Sonic Stratocaster HSS review.

Best affordable Les Paul: Epiphone Les Paul Special

Compared to the pricey Custom Shop collaborations Epiphone likes to shout about, the standard Les Paul special – first launched as part of the Inspired By Gibson range in 2020 – is an affordable workhorse that, unless you really, really hate the Epiphone headstock, has no discernible compromises. Although its neck profile is on the chunkier side, it’s very playable – and not quite as fat as some baseball-bat examples out there. Importantly, its pickups aren’t messing around, either, with all of the vocal midrange P90s are famous for.

Need more? Read our Epiphone Inspired By Gibson Les Paul Special review.

Best affordable rock guitar: Guild Polara

Guild Polara

The Guild Polara is a visually striking, tone-packed rock machine, and it’s also very approachably priced. Its two HB-2+ humbuckers are absolute fire-breathers, and will coax huge sounds from basically any rig. Its design – a chunkier and slightly offset take on an SG – feels great to play, with loads of upper fret access if you’re shred-inclined, and no real neck dive to speak of. And, importantly, its tuning stability is as good as its balance – so you can take your self-indulgently bendy solo for as long as you like!

Need more? Read our Guild Polara review.

Best affordable vintage-style guitar: Squier 40th Anniversary Telecaster Vintage Edition

Not every vintage-inspired instrument has to be a painstaking reissue or a pricey custom-shop, chemically-aged collector’s item. Squier’s 40th Anniversaty Telecaster Vintage Edition is a retro Telecaster with a vaguely worn-in feel across its finish and hardware, leading to it looking and feeling like a well-loved gem made in the 1980s by Fender Japan. Extra points are granted for it a) being a really well-playing guitar for the price and b) that black anodised pickguard. Just look at it!

Need more? Read our Squier 40th Anniversary Telecaster Vintage Edition review.

Best versatile affordable guitar: Ibanez AZES40

Ibanez AZES40

At £279, the AZES40 is laughably inexpensive for an instrument that, in terms of playability and build quality, rivals guitars five times its price. The C-shaped neck is very comfy and – in true Ibanez fashion – fast to play, the vibrato as strong and stable as you like, and the HSS arrangement and five-way selector switch let you really vary up its sounds. If you’re a beginner guitarist who wants to learn as much blues as you do death metal, the fast-playing neck and varied pickups will get you there, all for a very reasonable price.

Need more? Read our Ibanez AZES40 review.

Best 3/4-scale beginner’s guitar: Epiphone Power Players Les Paul

Epiphone Power Players Les Paul

For younger players, 3/4-scale guitars are great, allowing for easier mastering of the basics of a fretboard with smaller hands. The Power Players guitars from Epiphone are great take on the short-scale starter guitar format, with a good balance between approachable feature sets and a good lack of compromises. There is a bolt-on neck, but that’s by-the-by when starting out – importantly, the electronics are as you would find in full-size Epiphones, meaning prospecting players are welcomed into the world of guitar without the hindrance of horrible pickups.

Need more? Read our Epiphone Power Players Les Paul review.

Best affordable guitar for budding modders: Gear4Music Knoxville Select Legacy

Gear4Music Knoxville Select Legacy

The Knoxville Select Legacy is an interesting guitar: it’s £150 for a fully-fledged T-type with a good bit of similar hardware to Squier and Fender models, even down to the square neck pocket. One advantage of super-budget guitars is that they can provide a platform for a fun mod project, or just a low-investment way for you to practice your setup, modding and repair skills. If you want to learn anything from how to replace a pickup to doing a full refret, the Knoxville Select Legacy is a great test-subject – and the best thing is, if you drop your screwdriver on the finish, no one’s gonna notice!

Need more? Read our Gear4Music Knoxville Select Legacy review.

Best starter offset guitar: Guild Surfliner Deluxe

Guild Surfliner Deluxe

Offset guitars are as enticing as they are intimidating. Undeniably cool, but the offset vibrato – while a wonderful-sounding thing – can be challenging set up, especially on more affordable models. The Guild Surfliner Deluxe splits the difference between accessibility and performance with its own take on the offset vibrato, sans the rocking bridge, which provides all the smooth surfy wobble and shoegazey glide guitar you could want. Combine that with a very approachable price-point for a guitar of this build quality, a very cool shape and a versatile HSS pickup arrangement, this could be your gateway drug into the awesome world of offset guitars.

Need more? Read our Guild Surfliner Deluxe review.

Best value electric guitar for gigging: Yamaha Revstar RSS02T

Yamaha Revstar RSS02T

The latest entry into Yamaha’s Revstar range is another swing for that wide opening in the mid-priced electric market. With a very cool double-cut design that’s a little bit SG, a little bit double-cut Les Paul Special but still its own thing, the Revstar RSS02T is spec’d like a guitar twice its price, and has the sounds to back it up. Stainless steel jumbo frets feel great, and also resist wear – and two P90s are, of course, capable of doing just about any style of music. There’s also a more affordable version if you need, but for our money the RSS02T splits that difference between performance and value perfectly.

Need more? Read our Yamaha Revstar RSS02T review.

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