The 10 Best Electric Guitars

Updated December 08, 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

10 Best Electric Guitars
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 44 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. If you want to become a real guitar hero, you'll need the right ax. Our selection of electric guitars includes something for everyone, from simple, inexpensive options best suited for beginners to top-tier models coveted by amateur and professional musicians alike. We've ranked them all here by playability, tonal range, durability, and style. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best electric guitar on Amazon.

10. Jackson Dinky

The Jackson Dinky is a classic heavy metal guitar known for its fat tone and distinctive, angled headstock. Its dual, high-output humbucking pickups get extraordinarily loud, and the ax's pearloid shark fin inlays stand out.
  • arch-topped basswood body
  • fast frets good for shredding
  • aesthetically divisive
Brand Jackson
Model B00SA907O2
Weight 14.7 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

9. Epiphone Les Paul Junior

The Epiphone Les Paul Junior mimics the style and sound of a genuine Les Paul Classic. Its smaller design should feel comfortable in the hands of a beginner, but with only one humbucker for a pickup, you don't have a ton of tonal options.
  • solid mahogany body
  • rosewood dot neck
  • stop bar tailpiece
Brand Epiphone
Weight 12.7 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

8. Squier Bullet Strat

The Squier Bullet Strat is a budget-friendly version of Fender's most iconic model. Its affordable price and attractive design make it good for beginners, but this is, in fact, capable of serving as a backup for more accomplished musicians.
  • polyurethane gloss finish
  • three single-coil pickups
  • durability is questionable
Brand Squier
Model 0310001532
Weight 9.4 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

7. Gretsch Pro Jet G5435T

The Gretsch Pro Jet G5435T is built to maximize the effect of the company's signature tremolo style, with a Bigsby B50 tailpiece that can take your tone all over the map without pulling your strings out of tune. However, it fails to endure the rigors of a rough tour.
  • 22 medium jumbo frets
  • filtertron blacktop pickups
  • neck may feel small in large hands
Brand Gretsch Guitars
Model 2507010506
Weight 14 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

6. Epiphone Les Paul Standard

The Epiphone Les Paul Standard is an affordable alternative to Gibson's signature electric model. It features a rosewood fingerboard and ProBucker pickups, and its flame maple veneer top delivers rich tones purists will celebrate.
  • solid mahogany body and neck
  • limited lifetime warranty
  • manufactured in china
Brand Epiphone
Weight 13.6 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

5. Epiphone Sheraton II Pro

The Epiphone Sheraton II Pro is a thin-line semi-hollowbody model with a richness in tone that's unrivaled at this price point. Its neck has a 1960's tapered profile that makes chord work a breeze, and its ProBucker pickups marry beautifully to a warm tube amp.
  • tune-o-matic bridge
  • geometric inlays
  • can produce feedback
Brand Epiphone
Weight 15.6 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

4. Gibson Standard SG

The Gibson Standard SG is an iconic, solid-body option that's been manufactured in the USA for generations. This classic model features a mahogany body and a maple neck, the balance of which has finally been perfected, eliminating the ax's previous top-heaviness.
  • dual 57 coil pickups
  • automatic tuning system
  • incredibly lightweight
Brand Gibson USA
Model SGS17HCCH1
Weight 20.6 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

3. Fender Elite Telecaster

The Fender Elite Telecaster has been the preferred electric guitar of countless country and rock musicians for more than six decades. The S-1 switch built into the volume knob broadens its tonal range, enhancing that signature Tele sound.
  • dual single-coil pickups
  • fast-playing maple neck
  • included case has tsa-approved locks
Brand Fender
Model 114212750
Weight 16.4 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. Fender American Elite Stratocaster

The Fender American Elite Stratocaster takes the flagship body of one of the world's top manufacturers and outfits it with fourth-generation noiseless single coils in the neck and mid position, as well as a ShawBucker bridge pickup for a thick, rocking tone.
  • 100 percent american made
  • maple and rosewood boards available
  • easy truss rod adjustment
Brand Fender
Model 114112723
Weight 21 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

1. Gibson Les Paul Standard

The Gibson Les Paul Standard has been the world's most celebrated model since the 1950s. This instrument is suitable for almost any genre of music, with warm, smooth tones in the neck and tight, articulated highs from the bridge.
  • stylish color gradation
  • beautiful rosewood fingerboard
  • includes solid high-quality case
Brand Gibson USA
Weight 19.8 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

Music Becomes Electric

If you've ever stretched out a rubber band and plucked it, you've created the most basic principal behind the guitar.

A guitar's string is where the sound begins, and it's through the deign of the body that the sound is amplified. You can even make your own ridiculously rudimentary acoustic guitar at home, but don't expect to get to Carnegie Hall with it.

Acoustic guitars are designed to enrich this sound by creating a large wooden chamber that catches the vibration of the string, reverberates it and projects it back out.

But most electric guitars don't have any kind of reverberation chamber. They also don't make use of the traditional nylon strings found on classical acoustic guitars.

Instead, electric guitars pair metal strings with magnetic pickups built into the body. We call them pickups because they literally pick up the specific magnetic frequency of the vibrating string and translate that into an electrical current.

That current makes its way to your amplifier where it is translated back into your notes and chords.

You can control the tone of your pickups on most guitars by turning the tone knobs assigned to each pickup. Turn the knob all the way up, and you're using 100% of the pickup's information. As you turn the knob back toward zero, you're cutting off higher frequencies for a bassier, sometimes muddier sound.

There's A Lot To Choose From

There are about as many variances in guitar type out there as there are guitarists.

If you're just getting started, you might not want to drop thousands of dollars on the best of the best. Beginning guitarists likely won't have the touch, skill, or ears to appreciate the differences among higher end guitars anyway, so you won't miss out on much by starting with something made with cheaper wood and rattier pickups.

That said, if you feel inclined to cut right to the top and make an investment in a guitar that you'll never grow out of, go ahead and reach for the stars.

One great thing about nicer guitars: they hold their value tremendously over the years, and at a certain point–if you've taken good care of it–that value can actually go up.

For the seasoned guitarist looking to expand his or her collection, or looking to make that leap toward greater sounds, the questions turn toward your personal playing style and aesthetic.

You'll be able to access better tones for jazz, country, and classic rock from Fender's stock pickups, and chunkier sounds for rock and metal from the humbucking prowess in Gibson's lineup.

Of course, the beautiful thing about guitars is that when you make them your own, your sound becomes uniquely yours. Go shred some hammer-on solos with a telecaster, or play the coolest jazz lines on that SG.

Find yourself in your guitar, and you'll never sound better.

Out Of The Frying Pan

The first guitar to make the intentional leap from acoustic to magnetic electric was the "Frying Pan" in 1931.

By the mid 1930s, the first wooden solid body electric guitars hit the market and began to change the landscape of music forever.

Over the next 30 years, the electric guitar would inform the sounds of jazz, blues, and rock, though not all genres were excited to adopt it.

Rather famously in 1965, Bob Dylan, who traditionally performed alone with an acoustic guitar and a harmonica, took the stage at the Newport Folk Festival backed by an electric band. The reaction was mixed to say the least, but it marked a significant change in the direction of folk music.

These days, guitarists are finding amazing ways to augment their instruments, with the charge toward greater degrees of expression being led by the likes of Matt Bellamy, whose guitars feature everything from built in synthesizers, to auto-detuners, and Korg touchpads.

As the instrument evolves, so too will the music it creates, but among the things that never change are six strings, quality wood, clean pickups, and a little inspiration.

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Last updated on December 08, 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.

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