We spent over 36 hours researching and testing 15 different kinds of electric guitars and found that performance, construction, and intonation were most important. The Epiphone Special Electric Guitar scored high marks in all categories and is our top pick. Features that we liked include the twin open coil Humbucking pickups, the Tune-o-matic bridge/stop bar combo in the tailpiece that provides plenty of sustain. The double cutaway design provides access to all 22 frets and is perfect for performing solos and doing chording. The neck of the guitar is made of hard maple designed in the slim taper D profile and is bolted on.
Introduction to the Electric Guitars
It doesn’t matter if this is your first experience with guitars in general or if you have decided to expand your guitar knowledge and skills to include the electric guitar, it is important to choose one that is good quality.
To achieve this goal, you will need to learn about the features and construction of the electric guitar and understand what to look for. There are many different styles and kinds of electric guitar on the market today. Sorting through them can be a little overwhelming if this is the first one you have ever purchased.
We have provided information in these reviews and the buyer’s guide that will make the whole process much less terrifying. You will understand what you are reading in the descriptions and will be able to sort through all the choices and come up with the electric guitar that meets your needs and preferences perfectly.
Top Rated Electric Guitars Summary
All three of these excellent choices are popular and well known guitar brands. Each one of them has their advantages that would make them a great choice regardless of whether you are a beginner or an intermediate player.
We looked at the top 15 electric guitars and considered their performance, design, durability, construction, intonation, ease in changing strings, pickup quality, and much more.
These three choices we’ve featured here topped the list in all of these categories and became our top picks for a good, high quality guitar. They are not the most expensive you can find, but they have excellent quality and sound and a price you can afford too.
Read our buyer’s guide below to learn even more about choosing the best electric guitar you can, whether you’re just starting out or you are looking for a practice/travel guitar that you can play on.
Electric Guitar Comparison Chart
Les Paul 100
|44 x 16.5 x 4||38.5 x 3 x 14||5 x 15 x 41||17 x 45 x 7||40.2 x 14.9 x 6.2||46 x 18.2 x 5.9||45 x 17 x 7||44.5 x 4 x 14.5||41 x 3 x 15.5||41.2 x 17 x 3.4|
Electric Guitar Buying Guide
Considerations Before Buying
When you are looking for an electric guitar there are some things that you need to consider before you make your choice. We have outlined these things below.
- Set your Budget – Setting a budget is a good thing to do so you can narrow your search results to eliminate the electric guitars that don’t fit within the set range. It is advisable to try and purchase the best electric guitar you can for the budget you can afford. When you look for the least expensive, you will get what you paid for and more than likely not be happy with the purchase.
- What is the Age & Size of the Player – There are many different sizes and shapes of electric guitars to choose from. The age and size of the player is important, so you can choose one that fits the person who will be playing. If it is a child you are buying for, consider a smaller necked guitar to start which will be much easier to manage. You may also want to look for smaller scales and lighter weight models as well. If you are very tall and have large hands, a wider neck and longer scale will be much more comfortable.
- What Style of Music do You Want to Play? –You want to have a good idea of the type of music you want to play before you choose your electric guitar. This doesn’t mean that you can ONLY play that type of music, but certain instruments are better suited to different styles. Pay attention to your favorite guitar players when choosing a guitar. The guitars they choose can give you some insight into the kind you should look for as well.
Electric Guitar Components
Electric guitars have basic components that you will see on all electric guitar models. There may be differences in construction materials, types of wood, sizes and other things but the basic components of pickups, knobs, frets, etc are the same from one guitar to another.
- Pickups – Pickups will vary from guitar to guitar but all of them have at least one and sometimes as many as three or four. Pickups are used to pick up the sound of the guitar and it will then vibrate a magnetic coil that is internal. That vibration produces an electric signal that travels through to the amplifier, producing sound.
- Volume Knobs – All electric guitars have volume knobs. Sometimes there is just one know, sometimes there are as many as three different knobs. The volume knobs allow you to adjust the output volume of the guitar.
- Tone Knobs – The tone knobs are used to go back and forth between the high and low frequencies that are in the pickup. Most guitars have different tone knobs for each pickup that the guitar has.
- Selector/Cut off Switches – These switches are used to toggle back and forth between the individual pickups and can activate them or cut them off. The majority of electric guitars have the ability to select a combination of pickups.
- Output Jack – This is most often placed on the back end of the guitar or on the bottom lip. This is where you plug the guitar into the amplifier. Plugging into the amplifier is done via a ¼” cable.
Electric Guitar Bodies
Even though most electric guitars may look alike, body styles are usually broken down into different categories. Each category has its own playing style and sound. There are certain body styles that may work better for certain types of music. A lot of the consideration for body styles comes from personal playing style and the type of music the player wants to be able to play. There are three basic body types that electric guitars are made with.
- Solid Body – These sturdy electric guitars have some weight to them and are typically made from a single piece of wood. Solid body electric guitars must be played through amplifiers because there is no resonance chamber. The type of pickups and the other aspects of a solid body electric guitar are all very important. These solid body guitars are perfect for rock n roll, punk and metal.
- Hollow Body – This type of electric guitar is hollow on the inside. There is no sound hole like there is on an acoustic guitar but hollow body electric guitars use a different kind of pickup than solid body models use. Hollow body electric guitars are often well matched for playing jazz due to the warm and deep mid-range. Hollow body electric guitars work the best with mellow, low-volume amplifiers.
- Semi-Hollow – These hybrid models have a cut out design and a small portion of the body is hollow. The bright and chime-like tone of semi-hollow electric guitars is perfect for genres such as folk-rock, country, and lead guitar work.
What to Look for In an Electric Guitar
- Body Style – Look for the body style that best suits the type of music you are interested in playing more often. Solid body types are good for sustain and loud amplification and effects are desired. When it’s more of an acoustic sound with lots of amplification wanted, the semi hollow body design is good. The hollowbody is a great jazz guitar style.
- Wood – There are many types of wood that are used to make electric guitars. Different woods will have different sounds. Just because a wood is expensive doesn’t mean that it will sound better than others that are less expensive. Read reviews to see what customers are saying about the tone of the guitar.
- Neck – There are different sized necks that electric guitars will have. Some are narrow and better suited for small hands or children and others might be very wide and great for adults that have large hands. They can be made in a C-shape, thin, wide-thin, wide, etc.
- Set Neck vs. Bolt-On – The difference between that set neck guitars (necks that are glued-in) have better sustain than a guitar with a bolted on neck. Two of the most well known guitars, the Fender Stratocaster and the Gibson Les Paul are examples of both types of necks.
- Intonation – This determines whether or not the guitar is in tune as you move up the neck. The distance between the frets has a lot to do with the guitar’s intonation. If the distance between the frets is off, the guitar will not be able to play in tune.
- Number of Frets – The majority of electric guitars you encounter will have 22 frets. If you like playing in the high register, 24 frets will give you another whole octave above the 12th fret.
- Bridge – The two types of bridges that are used for electric guitars are tremolo bridge and stoptail bridge. The tremolo allows players to dive or bend all of the strings at once, making it a good choice for metal style music. This can throw the strings out of tune but for those who love metal style playing, it is worth it. The other bridge style, stoptail, is much more stable because it’s fixed into the body. A lot of players feel that it provides more sustain.
- Pickups – You can count on most electric guitars having two pickups, one that is located on the neck, providing a thicker sound and one close to the bridge that provides players with a more twangy sound. For guitars that have two pickups, there is usually a 3 position switch that will allow players to choose between the pickups or blend them together.
Purchasing an electric guitar is a very important task so you want to be sure that you have the information you need to get a great quality guitar without having to spend a fortune. While price is a factor, you don’t want to go for the cheapest electric guitar you can find, since that pretty much never works out in your favor.
When you know the different factors to look for when searching for the right electric guitar for your needs and preferences, you won’t have to struggle to understand what the descriptions of the guitars mean. The right information means you can make an informed decision that will result in an excellent guitar that you will enjoy playing for a very long time.
- Epiphone – http://www.epiphone.com/Products/SG/SG-Special.aspx
- Ibanez – http://www.ibanez.com/usa/
- Dean Vendetta – http://www.deanguitars.com/