If you’re on the lookout to buy the best electric guitar online, there’s a mighty bit of research that you need to do. Right from which body, neck and pickup to chose, to what price-range to opt for, and so on. We’re glad to have simplified all of that for you! Going ahead, we’ll take it one step at a time and explain everything you need to know before buying an electric guitar.
5 Best Electric Guitars of 2017 Reviewed
We have a ton of electric guitar reviews on this site – if you’re looking for a quick and simple rundown, here are our top 5 guitars of 2017 reviewed. Please note these are subject to change, as we’re constantly reevaluating our reviews and various electric guitar models.
|Electric Guitar||Our Rating||Price||Review Link|
|Fender Modern Player Tele Plus||9.4||$$$$||Read Our Full Review|
|Epiphone Les Paul Standard||9.1||$$$||Read Our Full Review|
|Epiphone Les Paul Special II||8.9||$||Read Our Full Review|
|Epiphone Les Paul-100||8.8||$$||Read Our Full Review|
|Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC112V||8.7||$$||Read Our Full Review|
1. Fender Modern Player Tele Plus
Fender’s Modern Player Telecaster achieves something you rarely see in the world of instruments – the perfect intersection of old and new. Fender pays appropriate homage to the look and feel of iconic telecasters from the 50s and 60s, but also brings the aptly-named Modern Player squarely into 2017 with cutting edge hardware, electronics, and overall functionality.
Built atop a pinewood body with a maple fingerboard and neck, this beautiful tele truly does bridge multiple generations of guitars and musicians. It has the guts to back up this multi-generation aesthetic with tones to match music from any decade out there, too, thanks to its triple pickup (humbucking bridge pickup, a Strat middle pickup, and Tele single-coil neck pickup).
This all-around stellar Telecaster should satisfy beginners, enthusiasts, and more serious guitarists alike – if you have a bit of money to splurge, you will not regret this amazing electric guitar.
2. Epiphone Les Paul Standard
Epiphone has been manufacturing their own versions of vintage guitars for years now, and they do a bang-up job each and every time. This Les Paul Standard is no different, from the solid body construction (mahogany with a maple veneer) to the rosewood fingerboard.
One of the biggest selling points of this awesome guitar is its “hum-free” nature, thanks to its dual alnico humbucker pickups supported by Epiphone’s double vacuum waxing process. Moving along the guitar you’ll find a tune-o-matic bridge, standard 24.75″ Les Paul scale, Grover tuners, and chrome hardware overall.
Epiphone has long been a well-respected name in the world of electric guitars, and you won’t be disappointed with this standard Les Paul axe whether you’re a brand new guitarist or a more experienced musician looking for a bit of an upgrade.
3. Epiphone Les Paul Special II
This slick guitar by Epiphone might just be the closest you can get to an original Les Paul while shopping on a budget. It’s definitely more of a no-frills electric guitar, but the entire thing is clearly built with quality in mind. Plenty of budget guitars feel like budget guitars as soon as you start to play – not the case with the Les Paul Special II.
The base of this electric guitar is a gorgeous mahogany body, accented with a standard rosewood fret board and topped off with nickel hardware. You’ll find a dual humbucker setup, with an Epiphone 650R humbucker neck pickup and an Epiphone 700T humbucker bridge pickup.
While more experienced guitarists can definitely get some great mileage out of this Les Paul Special II model, it’s perfect for anyone looking to start their musical career with an electric guitar that handily beats out all other budget options available.
4. Epiphone Les Paul-100
The Les Paul-100 is a slight twist on the classic Les Paul electric guitar design, offering some slick color options backed by Epiphone’s rock solid quality and performance.
This is a 6-stringed, 10 pound axe, featuring a mahogany body, bolt-on mahogany neck, maple top, and standard rosewood fingerboard. The two alnico 700T humbucker pickups by Epiphone allow you to coax rich tones from this wonderful instrument time after time, and there’s absolutely no unwanted humming to be heard.
Beginners and intermediary guitarists should find much delight in strumming away on this well-made Epiphone creation, although more senior players will likely want for something with a longer scale length.
5. Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC112V
Yamaha’s Pacifica Series almost always comes up as a starting point for beginner guitarists, and with good reason. Within the Pacifica line of guitars, the PAC112V model is neither the base model nor the most high-end offering, although it’s certainly the most popular configuration you’ll run into.
The PAC112 boasts a solid alder body, bolt-on maple neck, and standard rosewood fretboards, along with a triple pickup system – two single-coil pickups (neck and middle), along with another alcino V humbucker bridge pickup.
From functionality to maintenance to aesthetic, the Pacifica Series – and specifically the PAC112V – is a learner’s instrument through and through. It provides everything a budding guitarist might need on his or her way to super-stardom, although you will want to trade it in for a more “veteran” model once you’re a little less green around the edges.
Electric Guitar Buying Guide
Why pick an Electric Guitar over an Acoustic Guitar?
Honestly, whatever excites you more out of an acoustic or electric guitar should be your ultimate choice. But if you are an absolute novice with no inkling for either, here are 4 great reasons to opt for an electric guitar:-
- Electric Guitars are shorter-necked as compared to Acoustic Guitars. This reduced your efforts towards chord-holding.
- Chances of the string hurting your fingers are minimal in an Electric Guitar. That’s because the strings are softer as compared to its acoustic counterpart.
- Given the lightness of strings, you are bound to master bar chords much faster.
- Instead of sound-proofing your room during the learning phase, just connect the amplifier to your headphones, and you’re good to go!
Parts of an Electric Guitar
A wise student always begins by understanding the anatomy of his musical instrument. And so does a wise shopper, especially when there’s substantial money involved! So here’s an overview of the different parts that constitute an electric guitar:
- String Saddles
- Input Jack
- Volume and Tone Knobs
- Vibrato Arm
- Pickup Selector
- Head nut
- Mandatory Add-ons
- Tuners and Picks
- Optional Add-ons
- Guitar Case
- Guitar Strap
- Guitar Stand
- Extra Strings and Picks
How does an Electric Guitar work?
Just so you know, despite the varying categories and sub-categories of electric guitars, the basic working mechanism of an electric guitar remains the same. Let’s have a look:-
- The Pickup is the integral and central part of the electric guitar, wherein a magnetic field is created.
- The metallic guitar strings are mounted on saddles on one end (body side) and are fastened via tuners in the other end (head side). Most importantly, the strings pass through the magnetic field of the pickup.
- So when you pull or pluck a string, there is a small current created in the magnetic field which in turn is tone-modulated via the tuners and ultimately transmitted to the amplifier that has been connected via the input jack.
- Finally, the amplifier converts the electric signal into sound waves for our hearing pleasure.
Don’t rush in. Identify your electric guitar needs!
No matter how many buying guides you read, the first step to identify the best electric guitar for yourself is self-introspection. There could be several reasons for you to purchase an electric guitar, and these vary from person to person. So it is best that you identify your ‘specific needs’ from the very outset. Here’s some food for thought:-
- Are you a ‘guitar-virgin’ on the lookout for your first electric guitar? Look for a reasonably-priced model that’s easy to play, tune up and maintain. Maybe a mini guitar or ¾ scale guitar?
- Have you mastered the electric guitar basics already? Change your guitar to a mid-priced model that’s full-sized, yet not too complicated to help you scale through the intermediary level.
- Looking to fine-tune your musical skills after several years of practice? It might be time to invest in a robust, high quality model.
- Are you pursuing guitar-playing as a mere hobby or as a profession? Needless to state, your buying criteria would totally differ based on this.
- Do you need to travel very often? Then a travel guitar that’s compact, lightweight and easy to carry would be the most apt for your needs.
Who’s your Electric Guitar Idol?
Inspiration is a VERY IMPORTANT factor, when it comes to buying the right electric guitar for yourself. Remember, a guitar is not just an assemblage of wood, strings and cable, but an instrument that channelizes your creativity to its peak. So to usher in that guitar prodigy in you, your electric guitar buying choice is hugely dependent on:-
- Who are your favorite guitarists?
- What are your preferred musical genres?
- Which musical bands do you admire the most?
- Are you interested in spending more to buy a signature electric guitar, custom-made on the lines of the guitar legend you idolize?
Building Your Electric Guitar
Now comes the hard part – putting everything together (not literally, of course)! There are so many moving parts to consider when deciding what electric guitar configuration is right for you. Let’s run through the big boxes you need to check off along the way –
Essentially there are 3 categories of electric guitars, based on body type:-
- Solid Body Guitar- As the name implies, the guitar body is made of a block of wood that is completely solid from within. So this is the heaviest category with least resonance, thereby being suitable for the heavy metal genre and the likes.
- Hollow Body Guitar- Lighter electric guitar that is hollow from within, resulting in high resonance, robust tones. Usually preferred by jazz players.
- Semi-Hollow Body Guitar- A mid-level model between the above two extremes, thereby yielding mid-level resonance and bass response.
Wood types for your electric guitar
Believe it or not, each and every part of your electric guitar, no matter how minute, affects the way it sounds. So the choice of wood used, in terms of weight, density, hardness, grain quality etc is more important than you think. Here are some basic thumb-rules you might be interested in:-
|WOOD TYPE||DEFINING CHARACTERISTICS|
|Maple||Mid-weight, mid-hard, often used for surface lamination, noteworthy in the ‘Telecaster Model’|
|Rosewood||Very smooth-grained and hard, rare and expensive, heavy but high on aesthetic appeal|
|Basswood||Soft-Grained, Light and often used in combination with resins, Richer Acoustics|
|Ebony||High Density, Silky Finish, Used in Premium Models|
|Pau Ferro||Special medium-grained rosewood procured from Brazilian rainforests|
|Mahogany||Very commonly used in Semi-Hollow/Hollow Body Types owing to high resonance|
|Ash||Known for its wide-grained, light tones and high bass response|
Electric Guitar Pickup
While learning about how an electric guitar works, we discussed how the pickup works up a magnetic field for transmitting the current produced. Now, depending on the type of pickup, there are four major variants of electric guitars:-
- Single-Coil Pickup– Simplest of all categories with a wire wrapped around a single magnet, thereby emanating crisp, mellow tunes but high on the hum or echo factor
- Humbucker Pickup– With two magnets placed parallel with opposite poles facing each other, the hum factor gets reduced and tone is thicker
- Piezo Pickups– Uncommon model that employs non-magnetic sensors to transmit vibration-induced current to synthesizer
- Multiple Pickups- Over the last couple of decades, most electric guitars are being produced with two or three single coils placed next to one another, or two to three humbucker pickups likewise, or even a combination of a single coil and humbucker coil in a single guitar.
Neck Size and Construction of Electric Guitars
Before you are carried away by a fancy looking neck, please note that functionality is way more important than aesthetics here. The neck size and shape needs to be directly proportional to the size of your hands. If you have small hands, you will find it easier to wrap your fingers around a narrow-necked electric guitar; similarly, larger fingers will be better accustomed to wider necks.
Now that we’re clear on neck size, let’s understand a little about neck construction. Depending on how the guitar neck is affixed to the guitar body, there are three categories of electric guitars:-
- Bolted-on necks which are the easiest to repair or replace, but yield minimal resonance
- Glued in and set necks which are the most difficult to repair, but provide great resonance
- Laminated necks (with lamination extending across the entire guitar body and neck), thereby ensuring best stability, high resonance and least chances of damage (nevertheless, very complex to repair in the event of damage)
The scale length of a guitar is basically the string length measured from the string saddle to the head nut. Since this is the ‘total vibrating length’ of the guitar string, how long or short it is definitely affects the way your guitar sounds. Each scale has its own characteristic sound quality. Some common scale lengths include:-
Fender Scale- 25.5 inches
Gibson Scale- 24.75 inches
Smith Scale- 25 inches
There are several other scale length variants you will discover in the course of finding your dream electric guitar.
- Controls and Intonation- We just read about guitars with multiple pickups. Now there are toggle bars or selectors that also help you select which pickup you require for playing a particular tune. Similarly, there are volume and intonation control knobs for regulating the frequency of notes. For a higher budget, you can even add built-in digital sounds, to accentuate the way you play your electric guitar.
- Frets- The markings on the neck, representing the different octave levels
- Finish- This might not affect the sound directly, but has a direct impact on your motivational levels and your visual appeal as a guitarist.
- Bridge Type and Tuning- The tuners of your electric guitar are responsible for adequately fastening the guitar strings. Located at the head, these are very crucial in ensuring the intonation as well as durability of the strings, and ensure that your fingers don’t slip off while playing. In fact, the tuners work in tandem with the bridge, which is located at the head. Without proper bridges and tuners, it is not possible to tune your guitar unto perfection, to make it sound exactly like you want.
P.S- Some bridges like the Tremolo work all strings at one, while others like Stoptails allow individual tuning for better stability
Choose your Electric Guitar Accessories wisely
In the ‘Parts of an Electric Guitar’ Section, we have enlisted the add-ons and accessories. Some of them, like the amplifier and cable are things that you cannot function without. Others like a stand, case or extra strings are absolutely your perspective. Take some time to ponder over your choice of accessories.
Most first-time electric guitar buyers end up spending a bomb on accessories. No matter what your budget is, always try and opt for an electric guitar value package that is inclusive of at least the amplifier and cable. That way, your chances of going over-budget are minimal. Also, electric guitars are available starting from as low as $200 all the way up to $1000 and above. So you can be rest assured of finding a fabulous model for your price constraints!
Summing up the Electric Guitar Buying Guide
Now that we have in-depth knowledge of electric guitars deep down to anatomy, working, types, sound factors and so on, let us summarize the all-inclusive Electric Guitar Buying Guide!
Step 1: Understand the various parts of an electric guitar and how they work in sync.
Step 2: Aim at finding a model that is most suited as per your ‘specific needs’.
Step 3: Take a cue from guitar legends, bands and musical genre that inspire you.
Step 4: While comparing Electric Guitars online or reading reviews, make sure you take note of the following features:-
- Body Type
- Wood used
- Pickup Type
- Neck Size and Construction
- Scale Length
- Other Factors- Controls and Intonation, Frets, Finish, Bridge Type, Tuning etc
Step 5: Look for renowned brands with best ratings.
Step 6: Make sure you set a budget which includes mandatory accessories such as an amplifier, cable, tuners and picks, and your choice of optional add-ons like a guitar case, guitar strap, guitar stand, extra strings etc.
Armed with your newfound electric guitar knowledge, you are just one step away from finding the perfect electric guitar. Happy Shopping, and here’s wishing you a fabulous musical journey ahead!