Learning to play electric guitar is an exciting journey that doesn’t have to cost a fortune. While professional guitars can run into the thousands, there are quality entry-level models available for under $300 that enable beginners to start rocking out on a budget. This buying guide covers what to look for when shopping for an affordable electric guitar as a new player. I’ll also recommend specific guitars in the sub-$300 price range that offer great value while still providing solid performance.
What to Look for in an Electric Guitar Under $300
Here are the most important factors to consider when buying an inexpensive electric guitar:
Playability – The guitar should be comfortable to fret and not too heavy to hold. Look for a contoured body and smoothly finished frets.
Hardware – Tuning keys, bridge, and volume/tone knobs should operate smoothly. Avoid loose, stiff, or grinding parts.
Neck Construction – Bolt-on necks are common for easy repairs. Solid carved necks offer increased sustain.
Pickups – Single coil and humbuckers provide different tones. Two or three pickup models allow more versatility.
Controls – Knobs for volume, tone, and pickup switching give you tonal flexibility.
Accessories – Many bundles include useful extras like amps, gig bags, tuners, and instructional DVDs.
Sound/Tone – Test the guitar personally or listen to samples online. Make sure the tone inspires you.
Appearance – The look, shape, and finish should excite you. This inspires you to pick up and play the guitar.
Table of Contents
Squier by Fender Standard Stratocaster Beginner Electric Guitar
- Maple neck with "C"-shaped profile and “large” headstock
- 22-fret maple or rosewood fingerboard
- Three single-coil Stratocaster pickups with five-way switching
A popular electric guitar model in this price range, the Squier Affinity Stratocaster has a variety of tonal possibilities and excellent playability. This guitar, which comes in a wide variety of colours, is excellent for novices or as a backup for an experienced player.
If you want to have the vintage Strat sound, feel, and appearance, you don’t need to pay a lot of money. Fender is kind enough to include all the benefits of its premium model on the Squier Affinity Stratocaster, which is priced lower. It is a little electric guitar with an Agathis body, a traditional C-shaped maple neck, and a fretboard made of laurel.
You’ll find three single-coil Alnico pickups to provide the traditional Strat sound, plus a five-way pickup blade for a variety of traditional Strat responses. You can play a wide range of musical genres thanks to the comfy neck. The Synchronized Tremolo, last but not least, offers you the traditional playability and whammy-bar effects.
The “C” profile from Fender is well known for its cosy feel, giving chords just the right amount of weight while still staying slinky enough to enable soloing and bending. The medium jumbo frets on the fretboard feel wonderful and encourage a range of playing techniques. The three single coil pickups on the Stratocaster are a timeless classic because of how versatile they are, allowing you to play everything from hard rock to country. These pickups provide the Strat’s signature bright and “spanky” tones. This is the Best Electric Guitar Under $300 in 2023.
Epiphone Les Paul Special II Electric Guitar
- Mahogany body
- 700T Humbucker pickups
- Rosewood fretboard
Many of you might purchase the original Les Paul if you had the cash. However, the Epiphone Les Paul Special II is an excellent alternative because money is always a problem, especially for beginners. It is a super-low electric guitar equipped with all the necessary characteristics and components to achieve the iconic Les Paul tone.
It has a mahogany body, a mahogany bolt-on neck, and a fretboard with 22 rosewood frets. This guitar’s 700T/650R open-coil humbucking pickups deliver extended sustain and true Les Paul tone to deliver the sound you’ve always desired. Sustain is additionally increased by the LockTone Tune-o-Matic bridge and Stopbar tailpiece, which also make changing the strings simple.
Schecter 430 C-6 Deluxe Solid-Body Electric Guitar
- Basswood Body with Maple Neck
- Tune-O-Matic Bridge with String-thru Body
- Schechter Diamond Plus Pickups
Best electric guitar overall around $300. No of your degree of experience or anything else, if you’re looking for a guitar that will fit the bill, this one will. Starting with its construction—a Basswood body with a Maple neck—the guitar’s shape is beautiful to the ear. This guitar also has some outstanding features including the Schechter Diamond Plus Pickups’ sound and control, as well as the Tune-O-Matic Bridge with its string-through body.
The Rosewood fretboard’s mellow tones and ease of use are audible, and the guitar’s Graphite Nut is always a pleasant touch. One of the earliest entry-level guitars in the Schechter Diamond Series, the Schecter 430 C-6 Deluxe is actually quite unique. It is supported by a top-notch business in addition to having a number of features that raise the bar on its already expensive price. Actually, it boasts features that are often found on much more expensive guitars. The Schecter 420 C-6 Deluxe is the ideal balance of expert quality, playability, and tonal excellence.
Ibanez 6 String Solid-Body Electric Guitar
- Fast, slim Maple neck
- Beautiful quilted Maple art grain top
- High output Infinity R pickups
One of the best electric guitars available is the Ibanez GRX70QA TEB. This high-performance instrument is supported by the Ibanez line, which has over three decades of history and brand perfecting. Whether you want a fixed bridge or a hardtail, this locking tremolo system guitar is one of the most accurate on the market.
The Ibanez GRX70QA TEB is a terrific option if you’re looking for an economical, high-quality electric guitar. It has a sturdy body, a translucent emerald green finish, a contemporary strat body design, and six strings for simple playing.
It includes a bolt on the upward side of the neck that opens up to 22 frets for convenient playing, whether you’re performing full-on rock or strumming your way through a song. Poplar makes up the Ibanez GRX70QA TEB’s body, and Quilted Maple Veneer covers the top. The 16″ fretboard on the GRX is constructed of New Zealand Pine, while the neck is made of Maple.
For novices learning chords, the fretboard’s inlays, which are dots, are simple to see. The guitar boasts a 5-way pickup selector switch to bring out the tones, and the entire hardware is made of chrome in this best electric guitar under 300.
Yamaha PAC012 Pacifica
- Agathis Body
- Maple Bolt-On Neck
- Sonokeling Fingerboard
For guitarists looking for outstanding tone and playability at an economical price, the Yamaha Pacifica line has quickly become a mainstay. The Yamaha PAC012DLX Pacifica can do it all with to its HSS pickup setup and tremolo.
When combined with the flatter radius fretboard, the ‘C’ shaped neck profile feels narrower than you’d anticipate and makes for a quick playing experience. The neck is relatively narrow as well, making it ideal for novices learning their first chords.
With a humbucker in the bridge position for hard rock heaviness and two single coils in the middle and neck positions for softer tones, the HSS pickup configuration gives you the best of both worlds. All of the pickups have great tone clarity and range.
Here is a more detailed buying guide for electric guitars under $300:
When shopping for an electric guitar under $300, keep these key factors in mind:
Body Shape and Weight
– Consider compact single cutaway shapes if you have a smaller body size.
– Thinner, contoured bodies make guitars more comfortable for long play sessions.
– Lighter guitars under 8 lbs reduce fatigue, especially when standing.
– Balance between neck and body should allow guitar to stay in position without shifting.
– Thinner necks allow easier fretting and faster lead playing.
– Thicker necks provide more grip and allow wider vibrato techniques.
– Make sure the neck shape feels natural to grip based on your hand size.
– Compound radius fretboards get progressively flatter moving up the neck. This facilitates complex chording and bends higher up.
– Tighter fretboard radii like 9.5″ can make intricate chords challenging but are great for speed.
– Larger 15″-16″ radii allow wide vibratos behind the nut but require more stretching.
Fret Size and Finish
– Medium jumbo frets are more beginner friendly than narrow high frets.
– Seek smooth fret ends with no sharp edges that scratch hands.
– Rolled fretboard edges prevent discomfort.
Electronics and Controls
– Start with 2 or 3 pickup configurations to sample single coil and humbucker tones.
– Make sure knobs have a solid, durable feel when turning.
– 5-way pickup selectors give the most versatility.
– Tuning machines should turn smoothly without slipping.
– Bridges should have precise intonation adjustment screws.
– Output jacks need tight friction contact for cables.
– Knobs, bridges, and other hardware should be solidly anchored.
– Extra strings are useful for beginners who break strings frequently.
– Carry bags protect guitars when transporting.
– Many packages include starter amplifiers, though these are very entry level.
Taking the time to inspect all these aspects will help you select a quality, playable electric guitar that stays in tune and causes no pain or fatigue when playing.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best electric guitar for beginners under $300?
The Squier by Fender Bullet Stratocaster is an excellent beginner electric guitar under $300. It has a comfortable body shape, smooth playability, and classic Fender tone.
What guitar amp should I get as a beginner?
Good beginner guitar amps under $100 include the Fender Frontman 10G and the Vox Pathfinder 10. They provide decent distortion and clean tones on a budget.
How much does a decent guitar cable cost?
You can find a good 10′ instrument cable from brands like Fender or Monster for around $20-30. Higher priced cables aim for better durability and noise rejection.
What electric guitar string gauges should I try?
Try a regular/medium gauge 10-46 set to start on an electric. You can experiment with heavier or lighter string gauges later to find your preference.
What accessories do I need when starting out?
Essentials are a strap, extra strings, picks in various thicknesses, a stand, cable, and amp. An electronic tuner and gig bag are also very useful.
Should I take guitar lessons as a beginner?
Yes, even a few lessons can give you proper technique fundamentals. Later you can supplement with online videos and resources.
How much does a basic guitar stand cost?
You can find high quality stands starting around $25-30. Look for thick tubing and rubber feet to securely hold your guitar.
What pick thickness and shape is best for beginners?
Medium picks around .60-1.0mm are flexible starting points for new guitarists. Different shapes come down to personal preference.