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Shopping for and finding the best electric guitar for you is time consuming.

To help you out, we asked 10 guitarists to provide their advice and recommendations for those looking for a new electric guitar by asking each of them these questions:

  • What should a guitarist look for when shopping for an electric guitar?
  • How much should a guitarist be prepared to spend on an electric guitar?
  • What would you say is the best electric guitar overall, and what makes it awesome?

After reading the responses, we searched for videos of each guitar that was recommended so you could hear what they sound like to make a more informed decision.

To credit the artists who responded, We included links to their websites and social media profiles.

Note: This article includes affiliate links where the author may receive a commission.

Electric guitar terminology

Before reading the responses, it's important to gain a good understanding of basic electric guitar terminology. This will help you navigate the responses with a better understanding of what the guitarist is talking about.

Here are some definitions to help you:

Humbucker - You'll find these pickups on something like a Les Paul. A Humbucker is a type of electric guitar pickup that uses two coils to "buck the hum" (or cancel out the interference) picked up by single-coil pickups. These pickups usually handle distortion better, and sound warmer than single coil pickups.

Single-Coil - Usually found on something like a Fender Stratocaster, single coil pickups use only one magnet. They have a thinner sound, but get a better upper-mid to treble better frequency response.

P90 Pickup - These pickups come between the Humbuckers and single-coil's. They have a slightly warmer sound than single-coil pickups, but maintain a bit of the hum.

Tremolo/Floyd Rose - Tremolo/Floyd Rose systems are guitar bridge systems that allow the guitarist to change the pitch of a guitar using a whammy bar, like this

Semi-Hollow - A semi-hollow guitar has two hollow chambers, one on each side, which makes the guitar more sensitive to feedback than a solid body guitar, but less so than a fully hollow body. You can read about the difference between a semi-hollow, hollow, and solid body guitar here.

Hollow - A hollow-body guitar, like the Epiphone CASINO, has one hollow chamber in the body of the guitar. These guitars sound almost like an acoustic guitar, but are extremely prone to feedback.

Passive Pickups - Passive pickups are those that don’t require any electronics to alter the sound. They're usually built by wrapping many coils of copper wire around a permanent magnet. Most electric guitars have passive pickups.

Active Pickups - Active pickups still use coils, but are usually powered by a 9V battery and act as a preamp that helps the guitar achieve higher amounts of gain.

Now that you have a basic understanding of electric guitar terminology, here's the feedback we got from 10 experienced guitarists about how to find the best electric guitar, along with their recommendations.


Patrick Wilkins

YouTube | Instagram


What should a guitarist look for when shopping for an electric guitar?

In my opinion a guitar that strikes them as fun and comfortable to play as well as an instrument that suites their needs in regards to style genre etc.

How much should a guitarist be prepared to spend on an electric guitar?

I've played amazing guitars that didn't cost a high end price plenty of times, spending more isn't always better, I guess it really depends on where you are at as a player and what you are looking for the instrument to do.

What would you say is the best electric guitar overall?

Gibson Les Paul Standard 2018

Get the Gibson Les Paul Standard 2018 on Amazon.

What makes it awesome?

It's comfortable, it's solid, it wails. In my opinion they are weighted beautifully, they play well, they hold up well on the road, a well rounded beast of a guitar.


Josh Ivey from A Call for Kylie

Facebook | YouTube | Instagram


What should a guitarist look for when shopping for an electric guitar?

Although there's no one perfect guitar for every style and player, I think there are a few general guidelines to ensure you'll get a quality instrument. My two priorities when I'm looking at a new guitar is fretwork and sustain (yes even unplugged). I focus on these aspects because they're probably the hardest things to change after the fact. I check the frets by chromatically scaling up the neck and making sure to do full step bends in the higher register to make sure it doesn't fret out. I'll play the guitar acoustically to get a sense on the feel and natural sustain of the wood, this is more important than some people give credit. You can always upgrade pickups and electronics, but trying to make a "dead" guitar sound alive is an uphill battle.

How much should a guitarist be prepared to spend on an electric guitar?

Not that the price completely dictates the quality, but I think around $500 would get you a guitar suitable for most situations. I think it's more important to know what you're wanting to spend money on - you can buy a guitar for $2,000 that doesn't suit your needs.

What would you say is the best electric guitar overall?

There's no best, but if I had to narrow it down to a guitar that would cover the most ground for me I'd probably lean towards a Les Paul. There's few situations where that guitar doesn't fit what I need, although I would miss my tele. I currently use an upgraded Gibson Les Paul Traditional Pro as my go to.

Gibson Les Paul Traditional Pro IV

Get the Les Paul Traditional Pro IV on Amazon.

What makes it awesome?

I've always loved how well LPs handle different styles. As long as you don't put really high output pickups in it you should have a pretty versatile instrument. I really like the Traditional Pro series because most of the guitars I've played in this series we're really consistent when it came to quality and playability. I did end up changing the pickups to something lower output but the stock pickups sound great as well.


Matthew Tonner of Destima

Facebook | Instagram | YouTube


What should a guitarist look for when shopping for an electric guitar?

Before you ever set foot in a shop, do your research. Find out what gear your favorite artists use.

You'll want to play it through your chosen amp as well to really hear the tone. Spend a lot of time just letting notes ring out to get an idea of what your audience is going to hear. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of something new and just noodle around. When you do try out your favorite licks, pay attention to how they feel under your fingers and if it's comfortable for you to navigate the fretboard.

How much should a guitarist be prepared to spend on an electric guitar?

I would say that guitarists are lucky when it comes to pricing due to the sheer popularity of the instrument. You can get a beginner instrument and amp for around $200. Tell that to a parent whose child just started on tuba in middle school band and you might actually see their head explode!

While you can certainly spend more than this for your dream axe, most professional guitarists I know are in the $1200 to $1500 range. You want a guitar that has your preferred tone and can withstand the long haul on the road, but that won't break the bank on insurance. I also find that if you know the right brands and models, there are perfectly serviceable guitars out there for under a grand.

What would you say is the best electric guitar overall?

1978 Gibson Les Paul

Fender American Deluxe Telecaster

Get the Fender American Deluxe Telecaster on Amazon.

What makes them awesome?

'78 Les Paul - These guitars were produced in an era of "return to form" for Gibson, as a two-piece body rather than four-piece. This combines the solid body construction method of the 50s with the electronics innovations of the 60s and 70s. What all of this means in plain English is you have an incredibly beautiful and versatile tone which has been used in countless classic recordings. The studio I work and produce at has one, and I find a reason to lay down tracks with it as often as I can. The sustain is just unreal.

American Deluxe Tele - This thing feels perfect under my fingers. Everyone seems to play just a little smoother on a maple fretboard, and this one maintains flawless clarity all the way up and down. I'm not a big fan of too many options when it comes to pickup switching (this one has 4) and I prefer an instrument that just does a few things well rather than everything poorly, if that makes sense. The telecaster can easily get wonky and bright if you let it, but it's simply one of the most versatile instruments around if you get used to its quirks and know how to work it.


Tyler Hood

Instagram


What should a guitarist look for when shopping for an electric guitar?

Comfort, both in terms of neck profile and body size. An expensive, highly popular guitar is worthless if it doesn’t feel good in your hands. If you’re on a budget, look for the most bang for your buck. If it’s going to act as one of your main guitars, is it versatile or is it a one trick pony?

How much should a guitarist be prepared to spend on an electric guitar?

It depends on your budget, what you’re looking for, and possibly resale value. In today’s day and age there are a TON of well made, versatile affordable guitars. Is it your first guitar? Is it your tenth? At the bottom of the scale, you can find plenty affordable guitars in the $300-$400 price range. The next scale usually exists around the $500-$800 range. After that you’ll start entering price points for more American-made guitars and higher end imports. Figure out your budget, figure out what you’re looking for in terms of feel, tone and value, and go from there.

What would you say is the best electric guitar overall?

Fender American Standard Telecaster

Get the Fender American Standard Telecaster on Amazon.

What makes it awesome?

The Fender Telecaster is a simple design - a slab of wood nailed to half a baseball bat. But it’s rugged, time-tested assembly and pickup configuration allow you to tackle an impressive spread of genres (from jazz to heavy rock). Check it out - you can see gunslingers wielding Teles from country legends Brent Mason to heavy hitters like Slipnot’s Jim Root.


Drew Williams

Facebook | YouTube


What should a guitarist look for when shopping for an electric guitar?

Pickup choice should be one of the thoughts in the forefront of your mind. Heavier music typically requires humbuckers. The feel of the neck (maple vs. rosewood, shape/thickness etc.) and spacing of the strings should come next. Body shape has a lot to do with sound and comfort as well. One of the more informative ways to learn about what electric guitar is best for you is to see what your favorite guitarists are playing.

How much should a guitarist be prepared to spend on an electric guitar?

This is very dependent on the level the guitarist is at, and which level they anticipate playing at. Sub-$500 guitars are suitable for beginners and hobbyists; some are even acceptable for a working musician. Depending on the brand of guitar, professional quality can come anywhere from $1-3k.

What would you say is the best electric guitar overall?

Fender American Standard Stratocaster

Get the Fender American Standard Stratocaster on Amazon.

What makes it awesome?

Fender Stratocasters are the industry standard for a reason. They're versatile, comfortable, and gorgeous. I'd recommend it to be in any level guitarist's arsenal.


Sam Jones from DYAN

Website | YouTube | Facebook | Instagram | Bandcamp


What should a guitarist look for when shopping for an electric guitar?

I think the three key factors in buying any guitar are sound, comfort, and aesthetics. All three are equally important, and contain various other considerations within them. The process of choosing a guitar for its tone signature can vary based on how many guitars you already have - when you’re looking for one guitar to cover all your bases, you either want something versatile or the one specific guitar that’s perfect for the very specific sound of your band or your music as an artist. One of my favorite guitars is the Gibson ES-345 - it was my first “nice” guitar, which I got because I wanted something that could fit in any style of music I threw at it - I was playing classic rock and funk and weird experimental stuff, and at the same time starting to learn jazz - the 345 has a 6 position tone switch that wildly changes the sound from deep and warm to bright and thin, which covers a tremendous amount of sonic territory without feeling gimmicky or effect-y.

Comfort is I think the hardest thing to find in a guitar - something that just fits right in your hands, has the right shape and weight for your body, the right neck profile for your fingers, well-machined or time-worn frets. This is the reason you have to sit in a store and play a ton of guitars before you find the right one. Something as simple as the Fender Stratocaster line has a huge variation in neck size, neck shape, fingerboard material, fret size and shape, and all the combinations thereof. I played maybe 20 different Strats before I found one that felt right. This is also where vintage instruments have an edge - an older guitar with a worn neck and slightly worn frets can feel much more comfortable than a newer edition of the same model.

And last but not least, the visuals. I think it’s just as important to have a guitar that looks right as one that sounds and feels right. You need something that beams at you from across the room, that you want to pick up everyday, that says what you want to say to your audience before you even play a note. Depending on what kind of music you play, this could mean completely different things for different people. In DYAN, I’m usually playing a Gibson Firebird VII - this model and color specifically - which just somehow encapsulates what we’re trying to do with our sound and our image as a band. We could find a ton of guitars that have a good sound for our music, but this one just aesthetically fits what we do.

How much should a guitarist be prepared to spend on an electric guitar?

This is really a question of what your budget is of course - don't go into debt to buy a guitar. You can get all kinds of quirky, interesting guitars that sound great for pretty cheap. You might be sacrificing build quality or a really good feel in your hands, but you can get some good stuff in the sub-$1000 level. I think if you have disposable income and are looking for a high quality instrument, you should be prepared do drop at least $1500. The $1500-2000 range is a pretty safe bet that you're getting a guitar that's been built well and, if task-appropriate, will serve you well for decades.

What would you say is the best electric guitar overall?

This is an impossible question, since it's all about different flavors for different occasions, but if I had to pick some kind of desert island guitar, going by my own aesthetics and taste, I might pick my Gibson ES-345. The one in the link below is a new model, and very expensive, but I really like older Gibsons - pre-1980s, the hardware is of higher quality and the necks feel so great when they're worn down a bit. Mine is a 1979, and you can generally find these in the sub-$3k range on the used market.

Gibson ES-335

Get the Gibson ES-335 on Amazon.

What makes it awesome?

I touched on this earlier, but the 345 has everything that makes the ES-335 (and really all 2-humbucker Gibsons) great, and adds the 6- position Varitone switch for added versatility. Also, for some reason they're a little less valued than 335s on the collector market, so you can sometimes find them for a little cheaper than a similar 335. The semi-hollow body gets you resonance and warmth, the pickups are hot and well-rounded, there are a million tonal variations available in one guitar, and they look classy as hell.


Joshua Jacobs from The States

Website | Facebook


What should a guitarist look for when shopping for an electric guitar?

Tone and feel. Plain and simple. You have to play hundreds of guitars before you make your choice. Forget about brand, forget about notoriety and just search tone and feel.

How much should a guitarist be prepared to spend on an electric guitar?

I would say save up at least $1,500 if you can. That way if the perfect guitar happens to be a higher end or even vintage model, you'll have a good chunk of change to walk in with.

What would you say is the best electric guitar overall?

Fender Classic Player Jazzmaster Special

Get the Fender Classic Player Jazzmaster Special on Amazon.

What makes it awesome?

I'm currently working with the Fender Jazzmaster and I absolutely love it. The tone definitely stands out. It chimes, but with darker bass notes. It complements my band's sound very well.


Daniel Kelley Howard

Instagram


What should a guitarist look for when shopping for an electric guitar?

When looking for an electric guitar, you should know the style of music you will be using it for. This will narrow down the types of electric guitar you look for. For example, if you know you'll be playing metal on this guitar, then you want to look at the more shredder type guitars with humbuckers, or maybe you like the sound of a telecaster cranked through a ton of distortion. But you won't be looking at any jazz boxes for this purposes. I put sound as the most important aspect of the guitar because you can adapt the feel and features to an extent, but the sound of the guitar is what will get your music to sound the best it can. Try guitars through the type of amp you will use with it, not just the best amp in the store or the first one you see. You want to get an idea of what it will really sound like when you use the guitar on a gig, on recordings, at home, etc. Once you find the sound you want, you should try similar guitars and see what feels the best to you. You may like thin super-strat type necks or thick Les Paul necks. Also look for the best quality you can get on your budget. Features like a modern bridge may help you stay in tune and save you a lot of trouble in the future.

How much should a guitarist be prepared to spend on an electric guitar?

If you are playing guitar for the first time, a fair starting price is 2-300 dollars. You can get a decent guitar at this price that won't break the bank and gives you some room to grow into it. If you want a guitar that's up to gigging quality, you should be ready to spend 6-700 dollars. This price range gets you out of popular brands' beginner series so you're looking at good, working musician's guitars. Fender specifically shines in this price range, with a wide array of good quality guitars. At $900 and up, you'll start to find high quality guitars with fine features and parts that perfect the feel, intonation, sound, look, and other aspects of the guitar. It isn't necessary to look in this price range though until you are bothered enough by limitations of cheaper guitars but there are certainly great guitars for cheaper.

What would you say is the best electric guitar overall?

Fender American Professional Telecaster

Get the Fender American Professional Telecaster on Amazon.

What makes it awesome?

I own guitars by Gibson, Ibanez, PRS, and some others, but I always go back to Fender. An American Fender telecaster has all the sound, feel, attitude, and versatility that I need in a guitar.


Caleb Wilson from Countermeasures

Facebook | YouTube


What should a guitarist look for when shopping for an electric guitar?

The most important thing is good quality body/neck construction and playability. Most hardware on a guitar can be replaced with better parts if necessary, from the pickups to the tuning machines to even the bridge. But if your guitar isn't comfortable to play and is made of bad quality wood, there's not much you can do to improve those aspects.

How much should a guitarist be prepared to spend on an electric guitar?

I personally believe a good price range for a reliable guitar with all-around quality features included in the stock model should be between $700-$1,000. There are decent guitars in the $2-500 range that can be built up to be better like I explained earlier, but i'm not much of a guitar builder myself, so I typically look for ones that come stock with what I need. I've played higher-end guitars in the $1,500-$3,000 range, and while some are phenomenal, I'd say that you could find all the functionality and playability of 9 out of 10 of them for less than a grand.

What would you say is the best electric guitar overall?

ESP LTD EC-1000

Get the ESP LTD EC-1000 on Amazon.

What makes it awesome?

It's hard to pinpoint any one guitar as the best, since all guitars are made to achieve a specific sound, and therefore different ones are suited to different genres. For the aggressive, rhythmically-driven style of metal that we play, I highly recommend the LTD Deluxe EC- 1000, which I plays in Countermeasures. It comes stock with EMG 81-85 active pickups ideal for handling high gain and distortion, and locking tuners to ensure you stay in tune when playing heavy chugs. It feels great to play too, combining a more updated take on the classic Les Paul shape with a thinner, faster neck essential for more modern play styles.


Jacob Hoffman from Drop the Act

YouTube | Facebook


What should a guitarist look for when shopping for an electric guitar?

Personally, I look for brand first. There is many different brands that are exceptional and craft guitars for specific types of players/genres. All manufacturers use different types of wood and materials of different qualities to craft their guitars, so when searching for a guitar, it's always best to research any brand/guitar that you plan to purchase so you know the quality. You get more bang for your buck and it will be to your standards.

How much should a guitarist be prepared to spend on an electric guitar?

It really depends, because you can get a $150 guitar from a pawn shop, modify it and it sound like a dream if you throw another $100 or so into it. However, if you are not to savvy working with electronics, that could not be an option. So if you want to skip that process, I suggest buying guitars $300+. When I search for guitars the highest I will go is $550.

What would you say is the best electric guitar overall?

Sterling by Music Man S.U.B. Series AX3 Axis

Get the Sterling by Music Man S.U.B. Series AX3 Axis on Amazon.

What makes it awesome?

For one, it is cheap for the quality of sound and playability it has. I never owned one, but I came across one in a guitar shop and it sounded beautiful. Sweep picking on it was very easy and fluid. It had awesome tone and I could bend/vibrato the strings like a loon, but it kept it's tune. All in all the guitar is a great choice for beginners just starting out to advanced players looking for a great guitar to add to their collection.





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