Best Cheap Electric Guitars – 2020 Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

If you are a beginner, you might think that a good electric guitar – or any guitar for that matter – needs to be quite a financial investment.

However, we’re here to show you quite the opposite and to introduce you to the best cheap electric guitars to help you get started!

Have a look at the following sections for more information. 

Comparison Chart of the Best Cheap Electric Guitars

PRODUCT
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Epiphone Les Paul Special II

  • Best cheap electric guitar overall
  • True Les Paul tones with a long sustain
  • Exquisite design made from mahogany with humbucker pickups
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Squier by Fender Affinity Telecaster

  • Optimal tuning stability
  • Two single-coil Telecaster pickups
  • Comfortable design and easy-to-change strings
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Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC112J Electric Guitar

  • Best for the money
  • Outstanding playability and tones
  • Alder body with a maple bolt-on neck and rosewood fingerboard
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Yamaha FGX800C Folk Cutaway Acoustic-Electric

  • Best Cheap Acoustic Electric Guitar
  • High-quality tones and great value for the money
  • Solid spruce top with a traditional Western-like body
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Dean Guitars Vendetta XM Shredder

  • Best Cheap Electric Guitar for Beginners
  • Tune-o-Matic bridge for a solid performance
  • Unique set of tonal properties due to paulownia body and maple neck
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Fender CD-60SCE Acoustic-Electric Guitar

  • High volume and crisp sounds
  • Best Cheap Electric Acoustic Guitar
  • High-quality tones and easy playability
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Are All Electric Guitars The Same?

Making a guitar takes a lot of subtlety and attention to detail. There are many decisions to be made in choosing the pickups, the body shape, the tonewood, and all the electrical parts of the guitar. The main difference between the sound of electric guitars is given by the pickups – since single-coil pickups produce different sounds, as compared to dual-coil or humbucker pickups. 

The single-coil pickups have a smooth sound with higher ends and results in a low output and low-frequency response. On the other hand, the humbucker pickups have a higher frequency response with heightened lows and a higher output level. 

In simpler terms, a single-coil pickup makes a bright, crisp sound, while the humbuckers are great for a "round" sound that is warmer and thicker. Because of this, country and surf players prefer single-coil pickups, while jazz, metal, and rock players enjoy humbuckers. 

Other components that influence an electric guitar’s sound have to do with the type of wood they are made of. Although there are various options, one of the most popular choices is mahogany, which produces balanced, neutral, and powerful tones. Some mahogany guitars are matched with a maple top, which improves stability and sustain, with the sounds being a bit on the bright side.

Can You Really Find a Quality Electric Guitar That Is Affordable?

Just as in many other situations, there are some great quality and affordable electric guitars. The differences you might notice between an affordable one and a more expensive one are not necessarily related to the quality of the sounds. Some of them do compromise on sound, however, which is why we put together our highest quality and affordable electric guitar recommendations. 

Affordable guitars might come with a smaller size than more expensive ones and they usually need some adjustments before playing, such as intonation and getting them in tune. Nonetheless, these skills are prerequisites for any guitar player. 

What to Look for When Buying an Electric Guitar

Here’s a shortlist of characteristics to help you pick the best guitar for your needs:

Tonewoods and Pickups

As briefly mentioned, different types of woods will make your guitar sound different. Based on your favorite music genre, you should look for a certain type of guitar. As a quick reminder, mahogany is the most balanced and neutral of all the options, with a slight emphasis on the mid-range, giving you a mellow tone. 

A maple neck offers bright tones, but you should avoid rosewood bodies because rosewood is very heavy – which is why it’s often used only for the fretboard. Nato gives you a warm resonance and is often used for affordable guitars because it is cost-effective. Similarly, pickups influence your choice, as explained above. 

Body Types

Most electric guitars are solid-body and this has the least impact on your guitar’s sounds. On the other side of the spectrum, a hollow body offers a resonance to your electric guitar that is similar to an acoustic guitar. They are great for jazz, since they have rich, full tones and deep bass response. Most blues players prefer semi-hollow bodies since they are more stable, sustained, and reduce feedback. 

Neck Construction

The neck construction often influences the playability of your guitar. Bolt-on necks are cost-effective, but set necks and neck-throughs offer more sustain and resonance. If your hands are smaller, go for a smaller, narrower neck and vice-versa for players with larger hands. 

Review of the Best Cheap Electric Guitars

When looking at cheap electric guitars, you need a place to start the search. Here are our top recommendations.

Epiphone Les Paul Special II Electric Guitar (Ebony)

PROS

  • Easy to change the strings
  • Very clear notes and chords
  • Rosewood fretboard with 22 frets
  • Open-coil humbucker pickups for increased sustain
  • Specially designed Les Paul guitar with classic tones
  • Mahogany body and neck with rosewood fingerboard

CONS

  • Inconsistent quality control
  • Needs to be tuned before playing
  • Strings should be replaced with higher quality ones

What Recent Buyers Report

What is truly impressive about this affordable guitar is how loyally it replicates the clarity and the harmony of much more expensive Les Paul guitars. There is a flawless transition between major and minor chords, and all tones are extremely clear. It is great to use with effects, and the fretboard layout makes it easy to play.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Les Paul guitar is our top recommendation, and it is not difficult to hear why it stands out to us. While extremely affordable, it maintains the true, specific Les Paul tones, with a long sustain and great quality build. The tones are clear and strong, and this product definitely offers great value for the money.

Who Will Use This Most

This Les Paul instrument is great for any beginner wanting to start a musical journey, but it also excellent for more experienced players. It is extremely affordable, yet the quality far outmatches such a low price point. It is clear, great for any music genre, and maintains high quality even when used with effects.

Bottom Line

If you are looking for the humbucker sound, this guitar is the perfect match for you. It is extremely well-built and the quality is so astonishing that many do not agree that it is a beginner instrument. It is tough competition to many expensive lines on the market!

PROS

  • Two single-coil Tele pickups
  • Extremely easy to change the strings
  • Extremely precise and accurate intonation
  • Highly versatile and optimal tuning stability
  • C-shaped neck and design enhance ease of use

CONS

  • Intonation needs adjustments when played for the first time

What Recent Buyers Report

The quality of this guitar, along with the sounds and feel are absolutely astonishing. It has great action straight out of the box. It is simple and easy to play and offers great value for the money. The quality control is also good, so it makes it impossible to point out any defects!

Why it Stands Out to Us

Our runner-up has to be a Telecaster and this one will not let you down either. From the iconic styling to the pickups, this Fender guitar is a keeper. Apart from faithfully replicating the looks of the original Telecaster, this guitar also sounds like one. Additionally, it is easy to play and extremely comfortable. 

Who Will Use This Most

This Telecaster is a perfect choice if you are a beginner, due to its versatility and ease of play, but it is also recommended for more experienced musicians who are tired of all the fuss of the larger, more complex instruments. It has a classic design and the quality of the sound is outstanding. 

Bottom Line

Overall, this Telecaster is a close replica of the original Fender Telecaster. Also, it does not only look like it, but it also sounds just like an original Telecaster does. It is long-lasting, versatile, and extremely easy to use. It is definitely recommended for both beginners and more experienced players!

Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC112J Electric Guitar; Black

PROS

  • Two humbucker pickups
  • Amazing tones and highly playable
  • Excellent versatility and performance
  • Controls for master tone and volume
  • Has a vintage tremolo and 5-position switch
  • High-quality sounds from heavy distortions to crystal clear sounds

CONS

  • Package could be improved
  • Strings should be replaced for best performance
  • Needs adjustment out of the box due to fret buzz

What Recent Buyers Report

Once you purchase this guitar, you instantly realize that you’ve waited way too long. The overall feel is amazing, the pickups are high-quality, and the fit and finish of the guitar far outweigh the price tag. Overall, this guitar is highly playable and it has surprisingly high-quality gear!

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Yamaha Pacifica guitar is highly popular in the musical universe for its individuality, outstanding tones, and high playability. Its versatility allows you to reach any tones, from crystal clear to the heavy distorted ones of metal. This guitar comes with great character!

Who Will Use This Most

Our best for the money recommendation is a must-have for any beginner or hobbyist out there. The action is sweet and the guitar can be played straight out of the box with some adjustments to fix the slight fret buzz. The colors available are varied and the quality of the design remains top-notch.

Bottom Line

Overall, the Yamaha Pacifica series is specially made to allow all hobbyists to tap into the musical world without breaking the bank. If you want quality at an affordable price, look no further! The Yamaha Pacifica is here to help you achieve your potential and much more!

Best Cheap Acoustic Electric Guitar:
Yamaha FGX800C Folk Cutaway Acoustic-Electric

Yamaha FGX800C Folk Cutaway Acoustic-Electric Guitar w/Gig Bag and Stand

PROS

  • Outstanding quality in a classic design
  • High-quality tones and enhanced playability
  • Solid spruce top with nato/okume sides and back
  • Chromatic tuner, controls for mid-range frequency
  • Great for beginners and can be used for live performances
  • Under-saddle piezo pickup and analog preamp with 3-band EQ controls

CONS

  • Quality control
  • Strings are poor quality

What Recent Buyers Report

This product is a high-quality, highly functional guitar. The quality of the tones and its playability make it any musician’s best friend. What is more, the traditional body with high-quality materials will make you want to show it off to everyone! Plus, all of it comes with a surprisingly low price tag.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Yamaha FGX800C stands out to us as the best acoustic-electric guitar on the market due to its high-quality tones and high functionality, making it adequate for any musician diving into the world of music. What’s best is that it comes with traditional looks, a solid spruce top, and top-notch materials to ensure a long life.

Who Will Use This Most

This guitar is the perfect match for any beginner. You can also take it with you if you are just starting to gig for a live audience. It is not only extremely stylish, but the high-quality sounds, piezo pickup, and analog preamp make up pretty much everything you need to rock!

Bottom Line

Overall, if you want to start impressing your audience, the Yamaha FGX800C is the way to go! It comes with all the controls and features you need to start playing right away. You might have to replace the strings with better quality ones at some point, but this is normal for any other bargain guitar.

Best Cheap Electric Guitar for Beginners:
Dean Guitars Vendetta XM Shredder

Dean Guitars Vendetta XM Shredder 6-String Full-Size Electric Gu

PROS

  • Balanced humbuckers
  • Punchy in the upper-range
  • Interesting tonal properties
  • Offers more sustain than other models
  • Tuning sustain and intonation are great
  • Simple controls for tone, volume, and pickup selector switch

CONS

  • Clean tones are not so great
  • Die-cast tuners are nothing special
  • Some might not enjoy paulownia sounds

What Recent Buyers Report

Although the choice of materials for this guitar is somewhat peculiar, you might easily find that you definitely fall in love with it. The body is slightly modified based on the Strat design, which makes it easy to play and quite flexible for matching any play style.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Another of our favorite cheap guitars must be a Dean – and probably one of the most special of them. The mix of a paulownia body with a maple neck gives interesting tonal properties that you cannot find on typical guitars. It is easy to play, the sounds are smooth, and it scores high in every facet of performance.

Who Will Use This Most

The Dean Vendetta XM is our top recommendation for beginners. It has great sound qualities, offers individuality, and performs great. It is extremely easy and comfortable to use, and the mix of rare tonewood, good humbuckers, and the Tune-o-Matic bridge makes it stand out from the other beginner guitars.

Bottom Line

Overall, you will definitely find some high quality in this guitar. It is another proof of Dean's creativity when it comes to designing beginner guitars, especially through the choice of tonewood and its features. It is definitely worth every cent and is a powerful kick to its competitors.

Best Cheap Electric Acoustic Guitar:
Fender CD-60SCE Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Fender CD-60SCE Acoustic-Electric Guitar - Dreadnought Body Style - Black Finish

PROS

  • Solid spruce top for crisp sounds
  • Strong electronics with high volume
  • Powerful electronics, including tuner
  • Comfortable neck and mahogany body
  • Great for beginner to intermediate levels
  • High playability and classic Fender sounds

CONS

  • 9V battery dies quickly
  • Some products are out of tune

What Recent Buyers Report

This guitar is a highly valued piece of gear for any musician. It is ready to play right out of the box, the sounds are high quality, and you can enjoy the classic Fender tones and rich acoustic sounds. On the other hand, the 9V battery it comes with is short-lived but can be easily replaced.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Fender CD-60SCE stands out from the crowd due to its unique abilities to awe you and your audience every single time you perform. The crisp sounds are loud, clear, and highlighted by the mahogany body and the solid spruce top. It is extremely easy to play and versatile.

Who Will Use This Most

This is a great guitar for both beginners and intermediate-level players. It is highly playable and easy to tune – especially since the built-in tuner illuminates every time a note is sharp. Whether you are a hobbyist or want a nice, clean, and affordable Fender guitar always at hand, this is the ideal choice.

Bottom Line

Overall, the Fender CD-60SCE scores high on quality, tones, and playability. It is highly recommended for any musician, and it far outmatches its price point. You can practice, rehearse, or have a small gig without added accessories – there is not much that this guitar can't handle!

Aspects to Consider Before Buying

Here’s a shortlist of aspects you should consider before buying:

Your Needs and Profile

Some people decide to give out guitars for presents – if this is the case, you should ensure that the guitar has an appropriate size and matches the musical tastes of the player who will receive it. If not, try to find out who they enjoy listening to! Regardless, the guitar should match the player and become an extension of the musician. 

Keep it Simple

If you are a beginner, you need to remember to keep it as simple as possible. All you need is a guitar that stays in tune and is easy to play and use. However, some great looks and more features will inspire you to keep playing and enjoy your performances – and a lot of practice is the key to success. 

Consider Extra Accessories

The affordable guitars most often need to get some things added or changed – which is normal since, after all, you will also evolve as a musician and become more experienced. All players need a guitar amplifier and a cable to connect it straight away, but, as you go, you might want to add some extra strings to your gear, as well as a bag, a stand, some picks, a tuner, and even some effect pedals

Conclusion

Overall, deciding which guitar is the best when you are a beginner is no easy job. However, we gave you this information to convince you that you don’t need to mortgage your house to buy a good quality guitar – and some of the models we introduced you to are pretty amazing, even for more experienced players!