What’s the best brand of electric guitar? It’s a huge question when you think about it, and this article will discuss this question and give you plenty of buying advice to help you decide what you should buy and what to leave on the shelf!
Electric Guitar Buying Guide
The key to buying the best electric guitar for you is to first figure out what you want and what your needs as a buyer are.
Let’s start first by looking at the questions you need to ask yourself and things you’ll need to consider before buying.
Things to consider when buying an electric guitar
The first thing to ask yourself is who are you buying a guitar for?
Is it for yourself? For your child? Or for your partner?
The next thing to know is what level of guitar player are they?
Are they a beginner, intermediate or advanced player?
Do they want to be a full time professional, have a serious passion or do they just want to play a few songs to unwind after a long day at school?
It might not seem like it, but these questions really do matter.
Why? Because not all electric guitars are made equal.
Many companies out there will make and market certain types of electric guitar at certain corners of the market.
So the perfect guitar for the professional is far too excessive for the beginner.
What’s suitable for the intermediate simply won’t cut the mustard on a world tour with other professionals.
Once you’ve got a good idea of who you’re buying for, the next thing to think about is the budget.
Be honest with yourself about how much you have to spend. And no, despite what many shop assistants say, it’s not always better to pay more to get the perfect guitar.
Sure, a cool looking guitar might look great on stage, but what won’t look so good at your next gig is missing your next rent payment.
It might mean you have to save a little longer to get the guitar you really want. It may even mean you miss out on it altogether but know your budget and stick to it.
We’ll look at specific models for each price bracket later on, so don’t worry now about having an exact dollar amount in your head. You’ll figure it out later.
Next, you should ask yourself how often the guitar will get played.
This is another way of understanding how much you should pay.
If you’re a beginner and you’re not sure that electric guitar will turn into a solid hobby, then it’s maybe not worth spending loads of money.
If you’re a student at music school who wants to be a professional, then spending a lot of money is a necessary investment.
If you’re already a pro and you need an instrument to sit in the back of a tour bus, then perhaps it’s better to spend less and modify what you’ve bought to make it better.
The guitar itself will cost less, and if it picks up some knocks, scratches and dings in the hold of the tour bus or then maybe it’s better to spend less so it doesn’t matter if your guitar gets damaged.
Rather a cheap mod than your priceless Les Paul!
Now we’ve got familiar with some of the basic considerations for buying a guitar, let’s start to look at the guitars themselves so that you can find the best electric guitar for yourself.
Body shape and type
The body of the guitar is the large main section of the guitar. It’s where all the electronics of the guitar are housed, and it’s where you pluck the strings, and also it’s the part of the guitar that is largely responsible for many of the physical issues guitarists will experience as they play.
These physical issues have a lot to do with the body shape of each guitar.
As we’ll see later on when we look at some specific models, not every electric guitar has the same body shape.
There are some excellent reasons for this too.
Some electric guitars will have modified body shapes to make them easier to play. You might be thinking “if a body shape makes the guitar easier to play, then why don’t all guitars have that body shape?”.
Well, what you often gain in playability, you might lose in how the electric guitar balances itself.
And what helps control the balance of the guitar?
You guessed it, the body shape.
So what are some of the classic body shapes out there?
The first is the Stratocaster body shape.
The most characteristic feature of this body shape is the two “horns”, which stick out above the neck.
These two horns aren’t just there to look good. They actually serve two very important purposes.
If you look closely, you’ll notice that the top horn has a small pin on its point.
This is called the strap pin, and its job is to provide an anchor point where the guitar strap can attach itself to the body of the guitar.
The lower of the two horns is known as the “cutaway”.
A cutaway is a very common feature on a lot of the best electric guitars, and it’s becoming increasingly common on acoustic guitars too.
If you take a look at the body shape of a regular acoustic guitar, then you’ll notice that it doesn’t have either a top horn or a cutaway.
This lack of a cutaway makes the highest notes much less accessible on the neck. So much so that some guitar players simply don’t use them.
A cutaway removes this part of the body so that the hand can fit in the gap left by the cutaway and reach these notes comfortably.
Guitar neck and playability
The next thing for us to discuss is the guitar neck itself and how that affects what is called “playability”.
The neck of the guitar is the long, narrow shaft of wood that extends out from the body and has the headstock at the end.
So, how exactly does the neck affect how playable a guitar is?
When we talk of playability, we’re talking about how easy and comfortable a guitar feels to play.
Now, there are plenty of factors within the neck alone that make a guitar more playable.
First of all, there’s the material that the neck is made from. A maple neck will feel different under your hands to another wood.
A maple neck will also affect the sound but more on that later.
Next, there’s the thickness of the neck itself. For many guitar players – perhaps even all of them – neck thickness is a big deal. A really big deal.
So is there a reason why some necks are thicker than others? Yes, and it’s often got a lot to do with the type of music that the electric guitar will be used to play.
Rock and metal guitar players will often favour a thinner neck because a thin neck is more mobile.
If you think about all the super-fast riffs and solos that rock and metal guitarists tend to play, you’ll understand why they might need a slim neck.
Fatter necks do feel quite firm, but they are typically less mobile.
Is there a right and a wrong here? Absolutely not!
If you can play fast on a fat neck, then good for you.
If you want to play slow music on a guitar that’s very fast and mobile, then that’s totally fine.
Next up on the neck, we need to talk about the frets and the action.
The frets are the vertical metal lines that divide the guitar neck up into small segments.
When you play notes on the guitar, the strings are actually contacting the frets and not the neck. Effectively, the frets shorten the string when they are pushed down to create the different notes.
So how do they make a guitar more or less playable?
Well, you can get frets that are set at different heights and widths.
The action of the guitar refers to how high the strings sit over the frets.
The higher the action, the harder it will be to play. But a high action isn’t always bad. A high action leads to a much purer and fuller tone.
A lower action, however, is much better for playing fast music and also, it’s much easier on the hands.
For this reason, many beginners often have a lower action when they start.
Different guitar brands will have their own way of doing what’s called “setting up” a guitar when they sell it.
Setting up just means adjusting the height of the action, frets and all sorts of other things.
If a guitar that you play doesn’t feel right at first, this can often be a problem with the set up. It doesn’t always mean that the guitar is no good.
A good guitar shop will happily make adjustments for you but make sure they do that on a no obligation to buy basis!
Guitar pickup configuration
Now, we’re getting to the good stuff.
Guitar pickups are the small bits of plastic and metal that sit underneath the strings and whose job it is to capture (or pickup) the sound of the guitar then send it on to the amplifier.
Different electric guitar brands will favour different types of pickups.
Some prefer humbuckers, some prefer single coil, and many will take a mixture of the two.
So what are the differences between these different types of pickups?
Let’s start with single coil pickups first.
If you’ve ever looked at a picture of a Fender Stratocaster, you will have seen single coil pickups.
They are thin, often have some metallic dots in the middle, and their defining characteristic is that they capture a lot of high frequencies.
This means that they will sound incredibly bright and sometimes even quite piercing.
This can be absolutely perfect for high energy music like punk, rock, funk and most styles of pop music.
There’s a very satisfying crunch to the sound of single coil pickups that comes from the amount of high frequencies they capture.
The sound may not be for everyone. If you’re a fan of bands like The Strokes, Sly And The Family Stone or Jimi Hendrix, then you’ll definitely want to investigate single coil pickups.
Next up, we have humbucker pickups.
Humbuckers are built with two coils rather than one. These two coils eliminate all the electrical noises or “hum” that can often affect single coil pickups.
The differences don’t stop there, though.
If you ask most guitar players what they like about the sound of humbuckers, they’ll tell you that they sound bigger, warmer, fatter and just have a rounder tone.
Humbuckers also capture more of the sounds that come from the tonewoods of the guitarist they are placed in.
So are guitar pickups a one or the other style affair?
By no means!
There are plenty of guitar brands out there (we’ll look at some a little later on) that have a humbucker and a single coil in them.
When you think about it, this is very clever.
They have all the warmth and roundness that comes from the humbucker, but the second they need a little more bite and aggression in their tone, there’s a single coil ready to go and do the business.
Guitar bridge type
Another key component of the electric guitar is the bridge.
The bridge is similar to the saddle found on acoustic guitars. It’s located in the same place towards the back of the guitar body, and its job is to support the guitar strings as they stretch out of the body and up the neck of the guitar.
Some guitar brands will have different types of bridges that they prefer, and some will simply go with more standard options that have been around for years.
Again, it really depends on what type of music is being played here as some styles of music will require that the bridge be moved (in a way that doesn’t damage the guitar!) mid-song to slacken the strings for musical effect.
This happens all the time in metal music, for instance.
So a bridge that’s good for metal isn’t good for jazz which isn’t good for pop, and so on.
Some famous types of guitar bridges are the locking tremolo bridge – a feature of the Fender Stratocaster, a Telecaster type bridge, a synchronised tremolo bridge, a bigsby bridge and a badass bridge.
For more information on each of these characteristics and differences, take a look at this great article!
Electric guitar strings is a topic that we could spend days talking about. Along with the pickups, amp, pedals, and tone controls, the strings are crucial for getting a great tone from your electric guitar.
But is there really that much to know about strings? Surely, they are all just the same, right?
No. Not all strings are born equal.
So how is one string different from the next? Well, most strings differ in three ways. These are material, gauge and core type.
Let’s first look at the difference in cores.
As the name suggests, the core of a string is what’s at the centre of the string.
A round core string has material in the centre of the string that is round. The wire wrap – which we’ll discuss later on – wraps around the string’s round core.
The round shape of the core means that the entire outer wrap is bound to the entire core, so when the string is plucked, the whole string moves and vibrates as one unit.
This means that round core strings often have a fuller, fatter and arguably warmer tone, making them perfect for traditional jazz, blues and R&B music.
A hexagonal core (often shortened to “hex core”) has a hexagonal shaped core that still has an outer wire wrapped around it to form the string, but the key difference here is that the outer wrap won’t have as much contact with the rest of the core.
When a hex core string vibrates, it’s not moving as one whole unit like the round core string is. This results in the hex core string not having the warmth that a round core string does, but this doesn’t mean a hex core is worse. Just different.
A hex core will be brighter and have a more aggressive sound, which is perfect for rock, metal and punk.
If your playing style is that of a person who wants to bust out an ear-splitting solo on a flying v, then perhaps hex core strings are for you.
Next up, we have to discuss the outer wrap of the string.
Despite there being five main types of material used in the production of strings for all guitars – steel, nickel, brass, bronze and nylon – electric guitars tend only to use steel or nickel.
Steel strings are characterised by having a much brighter sound. They produce more high-end frequencies and tend to have a very bright, piercing and perhaps “in your face” tone.
On the other hand, Nickel strings are much warmer and are often said to have a much richer tone.
Again there’s no best option here. This is all about what type of music you play and how you want to sound whilst playing it.
If you’re curious about the differences, the best thing would be to order a set of each and try them out. Perhaps even record yourself on your phone, so you can listen back to each set side by side and compare the differences.
Lastly, need to talk about what’s known as string gauge. A strings gauge is the term used to describe the actual thickness of the string itself.
Two main terms are used to depict a sliding scale of gauges that all strings sit on. When someone talks about a string gauge being “heavy”, they refer to a string that has more mass and is thicker.
A “lighter” string gauge, on the other hand, is thinner and has less mass to vibrate with.
The gauge will have two distinct effects on the guitar. The first of those is through the sound.
Heavy gauges sound bigger simply because of the physics behind sound itself. The more mass something has that can vibrate well, the bigger the sound will be.
If you’re the kind of guitar player that likes a bigger tone, then heavy gauge strings are for you.
Many players of hard rock often favour them for this reason.
The second effect that heavy gauge strings have is on the playability of the guitar. Yes, the super fat sound is great, but it does come at the cost of playability.
Heavier gauge strings will be much harder to push down onto the fretboard. This is a setback that even the best guitars can’t avoid. Build quality can only go so far.
Lighter gauge strings are very much the opposite of their heavy cousins. They don’t offer the rich and dense tone. How could they? They don’t have as much mass to vibrate with.
However, they are much more playable because it’s so much easier to press them down onto the fingerboard. There’s nowhere near as much strength required to play them.
If you’ve ever watched TV and seen a hero of the guitar world bust out a mind-bending solo on a beautiful Les Paul, then there’s a strong chance that the use of light gauge strings aided their insane speed.
Ultimately, no one type is better than the other. It’s all about understanding your own preferences and what you want. So take each of the pros and cons here as pointers to what might be good for you.
If you want playability and a rich sound, then go for a set of light gauge nickel strings.
If you want a huge tone with lots of high-end, try a heavy set of steels.
You can only really know by trying!
Back in 1898, Orville Gibson, the founder of Gibson Guitars, patented a design for a single-piece mandolin. The rest was history.
Since the turn of that particular century, Gibson has only gone from strength to strength in establishing itself as one of the heavyweights of the guitar world.
They’ve been responsible for creating one of the world’s most iconic guitars in the Les Paul and for the creation of one of the most versatile electric guitars the world has ever seen. The Gibson 335.
If you want some of the best electric guitars out there, then look no further than Gibson.
The pros of this guitar brand
- Iconic guitars on the roster, including Les Paul and 335
- Extremely well made
- Will hold their value
- Electric, acoustic, hollow body and bass models are all available
- Plenty of high-end left-handed models
The cons of this guitar brand
- Better suited to advanced players and pros only
- Guitars can be heavy
- Guitars don’t always balance very well
The best guitar of this brand
This is a more challenging question than it seems. On sheer fame alone, I’m tempted to say the Les Paul, but given how many people use them and the number of different styles they’ve been used in, I feel I should also make a claim for the 335.
So I’ll do the honourable thing and avoid the question so you can figure it out for yourself!
This is a brand for the hard rock players out there. If you want to be playing face-melting solos, huge riffs and shredding like a monster, then Jackson electric guitars are probably some of the best electric guitars on the market.
The pros of Gibson
- Great for hard rock
- Extremely playable
- Easy to play fast on
- Left-handed models available
- Budget-friendly and expensive models available
- Flying V body shape available
The cons of Gibson
- Changing strings can be fiddly
- Not great for styles other than hard rock
- Bridge tuning system can be complicated
The best guitar of Gibson
Best For Intermediate
Designed for intermediates
Value for money: 6/10
More features: Great for heavy music
- Great for beginners
- Only suitable for heavy music
- It can feel hard to play
Best For Intermediate/Advanced
Designed for intermediates/advanced
Value for money: 7/10
More features: Great for fast playing
- Great Tone
- Higher Build Quality
- More expensive
- Not great for beginners
Arguably, Fender are the makers of the most iconic electric guitars of all time. They’ve been the masterminds behind some of the best electric guitars ever made, such as the Stratocaster and the Telecaster. In the jazz bass and the precision bass, they also hold two of the most iconic electric basses to their name.
The illustrious history of Fender began in 1946 when founder Leo Fender realised he could bring new and innovative technologies to the market and beat off competition from existing hollow-body guitars of the time.
In 1951 the first Fender telecaster was shown to the world, and after its incredible success, the Stratocaster followed suit in 1954.
Did anything happen in between those two dates? Just the release of the world-famous Fender Precision bass. So yeah, nothing major.
Since then, Fender has grown from strength to strength and actually expanded its roster of brands to include Squier, Gretsch, Jackson, Charvel and EVH, to name but a few.
So if you’re in the market for a Fender, then what do you need to know? Here’s a quick rundown of what to expect.
The pros of Fender
- Household name of guitar makers
- Instruments are loved the world over by everyone in the music industry
- Quality craftsmanship
- Wide range of budget-friendly models to suit all buyers
- Many great left-handed models available
- Their guitars are among the best in the world
The cons of Fender
- Not many good acoustic guitars
- Not a unique choice of guitar
- Some inconsistency between American, Japanese and Mexican models
The best guitar of Fender
This is very hard to put into a single choice as Fender make some of the best electric guitars for all levels.
So to get round this, I’ll give you three options to choose from here.
For beginners, the best electric guitar to buy from Fender will be a Squier. Squier is an umbrella company that operates under Fender.
They make cheaper versions of popular Fender models, which means you get a great guitar at a budget-friendly price.
The Stratocaster is an excellent option from Squier.
Best For Beginners
Designed for beginners
Value for money: 9/10
More features: Easy to play
- Industry Standard
- Great Tone
- Not unique
- Authentic one is expensive
For intermediate players, you may want to look at some of the high-end guitars that Squier, like this classic 60’s Stratocaster offer, but also think about a guitar made by Fender like this Fender Mustang.
Best For Intermediate/Advanced
Designed for intermediates/advanced
Value for money: 7/10
More features: Unusual look
Fender Mustang Pros
- More unusual
- Great look
Fender Mustang Cons
- Awkward body shape
- No affordable version available
Finally, for the advanced and professional players, you should aim for the real deal. Try to go either custom shop or vintage Fender like this 75th-anniversary Telecaster.
Best For Advanced
Designed for advanced
Value for money: 7/10
More features: Has incredible tone
- Great tone
- Less diverse than Stratocaster
- Less suitable for heavy styles, which are popular
Epiphone is a very famous guitar brand that now operates under Gibson’s umbrella. Although their roots can be traced all the way back to 1873, Epiphone didn’t start making guitars until 1928, after the company had relocated to New York City.
Some time later in the 1950s, they were purchased by Gibson, and they’ve been making great electric and hollow-body guitars every since.
The pros of Epiphone
- Wide range of electric and acoustic guitars
- They’ve made some of the most iconic guitars of all time, such as the SG model
- Exclusive artist and limited run guitars available
- Some great budget-friendly models available
The cons of Epiphone
- Best models can be very expensive
- Needs to be well looked after to avoid damage
- Great for hard rock but not always well suited to other styles
The best guitar of Epiphone
This Les Paul standard 60’s model is fantastic!
Les Paul 60’s
Best For Intermediate/Advanced
Designed for intermediates/advanced
Value for money: 9/10
More features: Has iconic sound
- Great sound
- Looks great
- Doesn’t balance well
Sadowsky is a very fine maker of guitars based in New York City. They get their name from founder Roger Sadowsky, and since he started the company in 1979, Roger Sadowsky has carved out a special corner in the world of the best electric guitars and has gained some praise from very high places.
He’s made guitars for jazz hero Pat Metheny, for Chuck Loeb, and he’s also the mastermind behind placing active circuitry in Marcus Miller’s famous Jazz bass, which gives it its unique and distinctive tone.
So if you go for a Sadowsky, what are you getting?
The pros of Sadowsky
- All guitars are handmade by the incredible staff at Sadowsky
- Excellent customer service
- Your guitar will be much more unique
- Great all-round guitars for all types of gig
- Have their own brand of strings which sound amazing on their guitars
The cons of Sadowsky
- Not budget-friendly. Very much a brand for pros
- Needs to be imported from America
- Turnaround time can be slow
The best guitar of Sadowsky
Like Fender, Sadowsky has a lot of truly incredible guitars and basses, so it’s very hard to pick just one. And since Sadowsky is a brand of guitars aimed much more at pro and advanced level players, perhaps it makes sense to recommend a few here.
Both of their S-Style and T-Style guitars are fantastic. As the names suggest, they are modelled on the Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster, respectively. However, they both have Sadowsky’s signature craftsmanship added to them, along with an impressive array of pickups, electronics and some truly stunning wood effects used in the building.
For pro players, Sadowsky are well worth a look and probably well worth your hard-earned cash!
Ibanez is a Japanese brand originating from Nagoya. They’ve made a name for themselves making guitars and basses, and they have a huge lineup that, as of 2017, consisted of 165 basses, 130 acoustic guitars and 300 electric guitars.
The pros of Ibanez
- Huge range of instruments
- Budget-friendly to expensive models
- Left-handed models available
- A great alternative to Fender American models
- Electric, acoustic and bass models available
The cons of Ibanez
- Best for hard rock but not so well suited to other things
- Body shapes can be uncomfortable for some
The best guitar of Ibanez
It’s very hard to say, but this hollow body AG95QA looks great and packs a mighty punch!
Best For Intermediate/Advanced
Designed for intermediates/advanced
Value for money: 7/10
More features: Has great hollow-body sound
- Great sound
- Looks great
- Hollow body sound isn’t for everyone
- Not a good all-round guitar
The best electric guitar brands for beginners
As we’ve seen already, they offer some of the best electric guitars at very affordable prices. What’s not to like?
They made a name for themselves as an imitation company. They were to Gibson what Squier is to Fender, which all means great electric guitars at a fraction of the cost.
Again, some of the best electric guitars that will survive many journeys, rehearsals and gigs without breaking down. Very affordable and reliable too.
The best electric guitar brands for the experienced player
Professionals need professional-quality gear. Where else to buy the best electric guitars for professional work than from the man who’s made it his career to serve the pros? Sadowsky is the perfect option for any professional.
Particularly the vintage and custom shop models will be of interest if you’re looking for something serious.
There’s a reason these electric guitars have been industry-defining for such a long time.
Simply put, Fender makes some of the best electric guitars out there.
On the subject of professional quality electric guitars, where better to look than the company that has made one of the most iconic guitars of all time in the Les Paul and one of the most versatile hollow-body guitars ever in the 335?
If you want pro gear, then Gibson has to be worth a look.
The best electric guitar brands for children
As well as being affordable, Squier also makes many smaller-scale guitars. The three-quarter scale models are perfect for smaller players who aren’t yet ready for the experience of playing something bigger.
As well as being a top rate gear seller, Gear4music also make their own instruments. This beginner starter pack is perfect for any beginner.
It’s three-quarter sized and also comes with many essential accessories.
Gear4music Starter Pack
Best For Beginners
Designed for beginners
Value for money: 9/10
More features: Has everything a beginner needs
- Small size for kids
- Only good for beginners
- Build quality isn’t as good as other models
Epiphone again pass the affordability test and have some great smaller scale models available. If your child wants something more unique, but you don’t want to break the bank to get it for them, then Epiphone is a great place to start (and maybe even finish) your search.
Other considerations for your guitar
Whilst the guitars themselves are important, no electric guitar buying guide would be complete without a list of accessories that great electric guitar players need.
Both acoustic and electric acoustic guitars need a host of accessories that will help the owner take care of them, tune them and play them better.
Many beginner packs like the ones mentioned above include these accessories (another reason they are such a good deal!), but if you want to buy them separately, you should purchase the following.
A Guitar Case
There are two options as far as guitar cases are concerned.
Your first option is to go for a soft case that will be easier to transport but offers less protection.
These are almost like guitar backpacks. They have straps so can be worn like backpacks and often have plenty of pockets and extra storage so you can comfortably transport your guitar around as well as your spare strings, tuners, sheet music and any other important accessories.
The second option is to go for a hard case that will help keep your instrument safe and protected from wear and tear but are far less convenient to carry around with you.
A hard case can’t be worn like a backpack, and often storage is compromised to gain greater protection.
An Electric Clip-On Tuner
This will make tuning quick and easy. This clip-on tuner is ideal for either acoustic or electric acoustic.
A tuner will make tuning quick and easy.
Often beginners haven’t yet developed the skills they need to tune by ear. Having an electronic device to tune for you is perfect for new players.
Strings break, and they need to be replaced when they do. Here’s an excellent set for acoustic players that will work on either acoustic or electric acoustic guitars.
A String Winder
Changing the strings on a guitar can be a tedious process if you do it by hand.
Luckily Planet Waves have made this ingenious device called a string winder.
It can change the strings on all types of guitars, and it’s also got wire cutters built in, which just speeds the process up.
You’ll need a place to put your sheet music when you play (and no, balanced across your knee is never a good idea).
A music stand is a must-have for any student.
A Tuning Pedal
A tuning pedal will allow you to tune accurately and silently.
You can tune strings individually too.
Whether you’re using it before your next guitar lesson or in between songs on a gig, remember that no one wants (or pays) to listen to you tune your guitar, so it’s best to do it silently, quickly and accurately.
A tuning pedal will do just this!
As the name suggests, delay pedals will replicate the notes you play after you have played them.
You’ve likely heard this effect in action if you’ve ever listened to “The Edge”, guitarist for the world-famous band U2.
Most delay pedals will have a delay setting which allows you to adjust how late the delay starts and how long the delay “tail” is.
The tail is a term used to describe the amount of time it takes for the delay repetitions to die out completely.
A Volume Pedal
A volume pedal (sometimes known as an expression pedal) is effectively a level knob but operated with your feet rather than through a dial on your guitar.
It’s straightforward but oh so useful.
There will be times when you need to adjust your volume, but your hands will be busy playing. A volume pedal is a perfect solution to this problem.
Need some extra volume for your solo after the next chorus? Use the pedal.
Need to back off a little for the verse? Use the pedal
Forget to tune your guitar and don’t want to get another shifty look from the rest of the band? Yes, a volume pedal will help here too!
Here’s a very sturdy volume pedal made by Jim Dunlop.
Now that we covered the basics let’s take a deep dive and look at some more options that aren’t essential but are extremely common for guitar players to own.
Where would guitar players the world over be without a good distortion pedal?
These are a staple of styles like rock, metal, pop, blues and every country.
A world of guitar players will swear by owning one, and I’m not one to disagree.
As the name suggests, the distortion pedal will distort the signal that comes from your guitar, making it sound aggressive and often very rich too.
A boost pedal will give you signal a little extra power which it might need to poke out for a solo or feature riff.
So, how is the boost pedal different from just turning up the volume?
A boost pedal sets its “on” volume at a specific level, and you can activate that level by turning the boost pedal on or off.
Adjusting the volume either on the guitar, with a volume pedal or on the amp is nowhere near as precise as the boost pedal, especially if you make that adjustment in the middle of a song!
A boost pedal buys you flexibility and functionality. Another reason so many guitarists swear by them.
A reverb pedal might be something you wouldn’t think of right away, but it’s so useful.
Without reverb, a guitar can sound a little lifeless or “dry”, to use the technical term.
A reverb will emulate the sound of your guitar playing in a nice sounding room or hall.
Not only will this keep your tone sounding great, but the reverb will also make sure you have a consistent tone from one gig to the next.
Last on this list is the humble chorus pedal.
A chorus pedal will add just a little extra shimmer and texture for your sound. They are ideal for the clean section of a verse or those times when you need a slightly more quirky sound.
So now that you’ve seen pretty much all there is to see about buying the best electric guitar, you arrive at the difficult stage of actually buying something.
So what should you buy? Be honest with yourself about what you want, what you like and what you actually need.
You’re going to be the one who has to live with the purchase you make. Not the shop assistant, not your bandmates and not the YouTuber whose review you’ve just watched.
If something feels too expensive, then it is. If all the electric guitars you try and that you’re told you should love actually sound or feel wrong to you, then they are.
But what should you do if you’ve got no idea how to judge the electric guitars you try, or you’re just too overwhelmed to know where to start your search?
Fear not. Here are three great options to look at. One for every level of ability.
Why not start with these?
Best for beginners
- Squire strat
- Not too precious for a first instrument
- Made by a household brand
Best for intermediates
- Yamaha Pacifica
- Great as a first serious instrument
- Great value for money
Best for advanced
- Fender Telecaster
- Essential for a career in music
- Industry-standard guitar
What is the best electric guitar right now?
This will depend very much on why you buy a guitar and what you want from it. If you’re looking for that one special instrument that you can use to carve out a career in the music industry, then perhaps something like a vintage Stratocaster will serve you well.
It won’t be cheap, but a solid instrument is a very wise investment if you want to be a professional.
However, if you’re a beginner, is it really a good idea for you to spend thousands on a rare guitar only to find out months later that you don’t enjoy playing the guitar?
If the guitar is just going to gather dust in the corner, don’t spend a lot of money on it.
If, like most people, however, you want something decent, better than an entry-level guitar model but something that won’t cost the earth, then take a look at the Yamaha Pacifica.
It’s just over £300, provides a wide range of tones, sounds great in many styles of music, and it comes with the reputation of a household brand name like Yamaha.
Do Tonewoods Matter for Electric Guitar?
The jury is still out for many when it comes to tonewoods and their role in electric guitars.
Those who feel that they don’t matter often point to the process by which a signal is captured and created in an electric guitar as proof that tonewoods don’t matter.
This approach does make a lot of sense in a way. After all, a sound is created by strings being plucked, which gets captured by the magnetic coils in the pickups, goes through the guitars tone controls, and then goes to a pedalboard, which in turn out to an amp where it gets shaped by more tone controls.
So does the wood even come into it?
In short, yes, it does.
Different woods will vibrate differently, but many think that tonewoods don’t matter in electric guitars because the woods are only one component of the tone.
Unlike the acoustic guitar, where the tone comes almost entirely from the wood used, the electric guitar has other things that help shape the tone, so the effect of the tonewood is buried a little under many other things.
But make no mistake, it’s still there, and it still matters.
What is the best quality guitar brand?
Again, this really depends on what you want to buy. Some brands do excel with entry-level instruments, but their more serious guitars don’t cut the mustard.
So rather than tarring all guitars with the same brush, let’s go through each ability level and suggest one model for each that makes the best electric guitars for that particular corner of the market.
For beginners, you should look at electric guitars from a brand like Squier.
Squier, under the umbrella of Fender, makes less expensive versions of popular Fender guitars like the Stratocaster and Telecaster.
A Squire strat might only cost you £130 or so, which is a great deal for beginners. You get a solid guitar that’s made by a brand you can trust, and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
For intermediate players, I’m going to recommend the Yamaha Pacifica that I mentioned a little while ago in this same article.
The Pacifica is a fine guitar that does cost a little more, but it’s very much worth the money for someone taking the guitar much more seriously.
It’s comfortable, has a great tone, provides excellent value for money, and it’s also made by a brand you can trust.
Then finally, for advanced players and perhaps even some professionals, you really should be looking to spend and spend well.
This Fender Telecaster would be a fine addition to any guitar collection. It has a beautiful tone, an incredible look, but it’s also a workhorse guitar. Something that band leaders and producers will want you to have!
What are the top 5 guitar brands?
There are a handful of brands that account for a large portion of all the guitars in the world.
These brands have made so many great instruments over the years that they have carved out a special place in guitar folklore, perhaps for the rest of time.
We here at Ted’s List consider the top 5 guitar brands to be Fender, Gibson, Ibanez, Epiphone, and Sadowsky in no particular order.
Does this mean that they’ve made the best electric guitar of all time along the way?
You’ll just have to find out for yourself by trying them all.
Which electric guitar is the most versatile?
This may come as a surprise to you, but of all the guitars in the world, the Gibson ES 335 is often cited as being the most versatile of the lot.
If you don’t know this model by name, you certainly know it by look. It’s the big red hollow-body guitar used in the famous Johnny B Good scene from Back To The Future.
It was originally released in 1958 as a bridge between Gibson’s existing hollow body guitars and the feedback free Les Paul.
It’s never been out of production and has been used in every genre you can think of. Often by real heavyweights of that genre too.
B.B. King had one. The Pixies use them. The Smiths have used them. Eric Johnson has one, and so does everyone else on this truly inexhaustible list.
If you want to find the most versatile electric guitar of all time, then look no further than the Gibson ES 335.
What is the most famous guitar brand?
When it comes to the most famous guitar brand, it’s very hard to look anywhere other than Fender because they’ve influenced the way that electric guitars work for generations.
In the Stratocaster and the Telecaster, they’ve created some of the most iconic and most imitated guitar models out there.
They’ve been the manufacturer behind the sound of one of the most iconic electric guitar players of all time in Jimi Hendrix, and over 80 years on from their birth as a company, they are still a household name.
Honourable mentions here must go to Gibson for their creation of the treasured Les Paul, SG and hollow-body models in their lineup. These are truly fantastic guitars.
However, Fender just takes the cake. Look back over their history if you get the time.
It’s just too hard to argue with that kind of pedigree.
What is the best guitar ever made?
We can talk about the best electric guitar brands quite easily, but the best electric guitar is a much more complicated conversation.
Here it has to be said that there can be no single right answer. How could there be? We’d have to define what we mean by best.
Does best mean the most popular? In which case, it might be the Stratocaster.
Does it mean the most recorded? In which case, it might mean Nile Rodgers specific Stratocaster, which has been recorded on an estimated $2bn worth of hits!
Or could best mean the most playable guitar ever? The one with the greatest level of craftsmanship?
Of all the guitars on the market, we’ll never know which one is the best because we could never agree on just one definition of best.
What is the most expensive guitar?
Honestly, how long have you got? There are so many expensive guitars on the market today but what makes the question even more complicated is that many of these guitars can become costly for different reasons.
One such example is vintage guitars. An authentic Stratocaster can be worth over $20,000 or – rather more mind-blowing – an original 1957 Les Paul can fetch as much as $100,000!
These instruments are almost no longer guitars but collectors’ items like antiques.
And the curious thing is that both Fender and Gibson have started making vintage reissue models that have modern construction, which emulates the older instruments.
These aren’t cheap. A reissue guitar may set you back anywhere between $3000 – $5000.
It’s impossible to put a set figure on this question because certain guitars can also gain value if they are of historic significance.
Queen guitarist Brian May’s guitar, the “Red Special”, is a fine example of this.
Initially, it was designed and built by May and his father. Before Queen made it big, its value was probably no more than the cost of its parts. But it would be astronomical to buy now because of its historical significance.
A quick look at this article of the top ten most expensive guitars ever sold at auction will show you the power that history has to inflate the price of a guitar.
An authentic 60’s Stratocaster might cost you $20,000 in today’s money, but if that same Stratocaster was played by Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock in 1968, the price goes up to $2,000,000.
Better get saving!