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As a new guitarist, the sheer number of budget and beginner guitars available for purchase can be overwhelming. There are a lot of bad choices, but we've done some exhausting research and have chosen the best of the best for under $500.
Take a look at our recommendations for the best budget/beginner electric guitars. Of these, we've featured our 3 highest-rated guitars below for those of you in a hurry. If you prefer to go into more detail, then keep reading and you'll find links to full reviews, as well as links to your favorite retailers to check the most current prices. If you prefer to learn how to choose your own guitar, check out our Electric Guitar Buying Guide.
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The iconic Les Paul is now available at a bargain price from Epiphone.
Highly-reviewed and praised by guitarists of all levels and styles, this PRS SE Standard 24 is a fantastic value.
This versatile Strat-style guitar from Yamaha looks great, sounds awesome, and plays like a dream.
The Squier series by Fender is the first name in affordable, name-brand beginner guitars. The Bullet Stratocaster is one of their most popular models, with many options and finishes to choose from. It has a slightly thinner body than the Standard Squier Stratocaster, making it light and comfortable for everyone!
You can choose from the HSS model, where you'll find a humbucker in the bridge. A bridge humbucker is great for guitarists who want the signature sound of rock and metal. You also have the option of the SSS model, with a single-coil in the bridge. A bridge single-coil pickup is perfect for blues and classic rock. Coupled with the single-coils in the middle and neck position, you can cover everything from hard rock to the blues to even metal. You have a choice of bridges: a non-locking tremolo to give your licks some extra flavor, or a hardtail bridge for more sustain and stability. The Bullet's slim neck will get your fingers where they need to go. Overall, this is an excellent beginner electric guitar.
For more information, check out our full review of the Squier Bullet Stratocaster.
The Les Paul has its fingerprints all over modern music. Now you can experience part of that legacy with the affordable, best-selling Epiphone Les Paul Special II. Unlike other budget guitars in its price range that use cheaper types of wood, the Special II comes with a mahogany body that imbues your tone with warmth and sustain. You'll notice that it has a pair of quality humbucker pickups that sound fantastic. A single volume and tone knob make it quick to dial in a sound you like without any hassle. Overall, it's a tremendous value and an excellent beginner electric guitar for the money.
For more information, check out our full review of the Epiphone Les Paul Special II.
Vastly underrated by many musicians, Yamaha is the underdog of electric guitar brands. The Yamaha Pacifica PAC112V is the archetype of budget beginner guitars. A nicely contoured alder body puts no strain on your strumming arm so you can play for hours without issue. The very stable non-locking, tremolo bridge can add some extra emotion to your playing. With a coil-splittable humbucker in the bridge, you can use it to play anything from Muddy Waters to Black Sabbath to... Nickleback. Nickleback fans will enjoy the grippy metal knobs, making it easy to turn the volume down so that no one finds out you're a Nickleback fan.
For more information, check out our full review of the Yamaha Pacifica PAC112V.
The PRS SE Standard 24 is the definition of versatility. A solid mahogany body adds ample sustain and warmth to your tone. With two coil-splittable humbuckers and one of the best tremolo bridges available on the market, this guitar can create almost any sound you dream of. With signature PRS bird inlays and three gorgeous finishes, the SE Standard 24 is as beautiful as it sounds. This our favorite beginner electric guitar of all-time.
For more information, check out our full review of the PRS SE Standard 24.