Ever teach music??
I have for over three decades now, and every once in a while the inevitable gear questions come up from a pupil.
Like this week’s… :
“Hey, Teaj, I’m going to buy my first electric guitar. Which one should I get??”
And he thought he was going to get a simple answer. HA!! Lol
To help facilitate an informed, confident purchasing decision for my student, and for you, I’m showcasing here the 7 best electric guitars under $200 that I could find.
I spent lots of time researching on the Net, and some hours at Guitar Center playing most of them, and all through amps.
Not every guitar from every manufacturer is perfect, but rest assured that our research has proven these options to be your best bet in 2020.
Let’s plug ’em in and turn ’em on!!
Epiphone Les Paul Special-II
Epiphone has a long, rich history, dating all the way back to 1873!
Today, they continue to make instruments for all echelons of players, from all economic backgrounds.
I’m listing this particular guitar first because I saw more positive reviews for it, at many stores, than any other listed here.
It was even sold out at Guitar Center, so I couldn’t play one! That alone showed me how desirable it is.
You can get it in three colors:
- Heritage Cherry Sunburst
- Vintage Sunburst
The engineering of this guitar is quite basic; there’s not a lot of parts to it. To see the complete list of specs click to THIS EPIPHONE WEBSITE.
Having few gizmos tends to be good for a beginner – it means there’s less to break. Lol
You’ll get three different sounds from this guitar by utilizing the three-way switch that is between the volume and tone knobs.
An amp or a processor that you can plug through a sound system is necessary for electric guitars, and this one is no exception. If you simply pick it up and strum the strings, there won’t be much sound.
Plug it into something though, and WATCH OUT! It’s a barn burner!!
Pretty much can’t go wrong with this one, with their ONE YEAR warranty, but check this out… as of TODAY, Musician’s Friend has it on sale!! Get it while it’s reduced, before it goes back up to the usual price Amazon shows!!
Yamaha Pacifica PAC012DLX
Besides being the world’s largest piano manufacturing company, Yamaha also makes a lot of guitars.
They have a reputation in the Pro Audio industry for making stable, decent long-lasting products.
In the guitar niche, you don’t see many professionals play them. But I’ve seen beginner to intermediate students play Yamaha instruments all my life… and I’m sure that’s not going to stop anytime soon!
Even the three Representatives I spoke with at Guitar Center all spoke highly of this Pacifica series for those starting out.
THIS YAMAHA PAGE will fill you in on all the features of this series, tho’ this particular guitar has a few extra special bits, since it’s the “deluxe” model.
You can tell that the company stands behind their products well through their warranties: a Limited 1-Year Warranty for Parts & Labor, and a Limited Lifetime Warranty for the Guitar Neck & Body!
On top of their reputation though, I thought it played and sounded the best, of the ones that were in stock that I could plug in and test out.
But then, I’ve always been a sucker for a Stratocaster. 😉
Another great benefit to buying this guitar (as well as the Sterling, which I’ll talk about next!) is that you get FIVE usable sounds out of it. The 5-way toggle switch engages different combinations of pickups which creates five unique voices.
And finally, as the cherry on top, you ALSO get a whammy bar. Crucial for anyone wanting to play those Hard Rock or Metal solos that get our blood moving and heads bangin’.
So whadda ya waiting for… ?? Get jammin’!
Sterling “Silhouette” Guitar!
Okay, right off the bat I have to give Sterling credit for building a guitar that has a fresh, innovative look that’s not the same ol’, same ol’.
In fact, of all the guitars listed here, this is the only one that I actually want to purchase. From the distinct, offbeat headstock, down to its wavy silhouette body, it just looks so cool!!
Of course, guitars are mostly about how they sound, and based on the reviews all over the Web, it’s clear that this has great tone also. Go WATCH THIS VIDEO to hear just how good this bad boy sounds!
It’s highly versatile, which is a plus for beginners OR stage veterans. Just like the Yamaha guitar, you can cycle through the three pickups with the 5-way toggle switch to find just the right voice for your music.
Also like the Yamaha, it comes with a whammy bar so you can dive bomb high notes with the best of ’em!
Here’s a unique Plus: this S.U.B. can handle any depth, as it’s the only one to feature a 5-bolt neck joint. Up ’til now, I’ve only seen three and four bolt necks.
What does that mean?? Easy – more rock solid stability, and better intonation and tuning.
Way cool, right?! ‘Cuz after all, if you’re going to play an instrument…
… it might as well be in tune. Lol
For a full look at the scope of coolness this guitar fills up, take a look at THIS SPECS PAGE on Sterling’s website.
Their warranty on the “Silhouette” is above average too: if you register your instrument within the initial 12 month warranty period, you get an additional 3 months of warranty coverage. That’s 15 months of factory warranty protection from the initial purchase date!
As of this writing, Guitar Center AND Musician’s Friend both have this priced lower than $200, unlike Amazon which has it $23 higher. They both have it listed “on sale” though, so better act fast if you want this great mark-down.
Even at Amazon’s price of $220 though, I STILL think that’s a killer deal for all this guitar offers.
So get this “break the mold” guitar for yourself, or your son or daughter, and start being the trend rather than following one!!
Fender Squier “Affinity” Stratocaster
You probably won’t find a more trusted name in beginner electric guitars than Fender.
Not only have they been at this a long time (since 1950), they also have long had many guitar models to choose from. Their variety, and their quality, are second to none.
But as you’d expect, a guitar this cheap won’t have their very best options in it. You will, however, get a solidly-built instrument, with basic features, that will stand up over time and use. Check out all its specs on THIS FENDER PAGE.
Not to mention that the Stratocaster guitar is one of the most iconic guitars in history!
Again,… hard to go wrong here. Especially since they back it up with the most impressive support on this list – a TWO YEAR Limited Warranty!
Any beginner should be ecstatic to get their first Strat. I still remember mine with loads of fondness, and would still have it… if it hadn’t been stolen after a gig (read that story HERE)!!
Fender has really produced a winner here: solid construction, expected features, sonic look and low price.
Could the pickup sound better? Sure. It’s not their best sounding pick up by a long shot. It tends to sound more treble-y than the warmer pickups on more expensive models.
But if you wanna record with this guitar, that can actually work in your favor. I’m always cutting the lows from electrics in a mix. The Squier does that for us!
To hear how this Affinity series axe compares to a Strat that costs over a thousand dollars, watch THIS GREAT MARTY MUSIC VIDEO.
How about playability? Well, you might get a little buzz on the low string from the factory. That happens with cheaper guitars. But that is almost always fixable by just paying a music shop 30 bucks or so to give the guitar a good set up.
A “set up” is just a process by which a guitar is optimized for playing.
You can even do it yourself, if you have a couple hours to spare and the right measuring tools.
I always paid others to do my guitar setups, until two years ago when I learned to do it myself by studying on YouTube. If I can do it, so can you!!
Your Squier may come perfectly set up and ready to go though. You just never know.
Regardless, if you choose to strap on this Strat, you’ll be getting a ton of crunch for your buck. Rest assured, it’ll be money well spent.
As of this post, Amazon is the only one with a price break – they are offering it $2 cheaper! Not much, but if you’re a Prime member and pay no tax and no shipping… that can add up to substantial savings!
Put one in your cart today and we’ll both be card-carrying Strat shredders!!
For those about to rock… we salute you! LOL
Ibanez guitars have a good reputation in the rock music world. If you, or your prospective student or child, is into the heavier side of rockin’, they’ll be happy you bought ’em an Ibanez.
I mean, just look at that quilted top. Beautiful, isn’t it?!
Many well-known rock artists play this brand, all while struttin’ their fast, gunfire licks to adoring audiences.
Get a full rundown of its capabilities and features by reading THIS IBANEZ PAGE.
As is “par for the course” in this price range, the pickups are not the quietest, and your guitar may arrive needing a setup to get rid of buzzes or strings being too high.
Small price to pay though, for having a guitar that has five tones, a whammy bar, and true Rock swagger.
Want an example of how it sounds??? Say no more… give THIS VIDEO a listen… but put on your shred belts!! Lol
One last thing: this particular guitar will sound best when plugged into and amp that has some beef to it. And amp with “cojones”, as my guitarist friend Chuck likes to say. All electrics need this, but this guitar is really meant to ROCK, so make sure you’ve got some power behind it so it can shine.
Add that to the equation, and your little Rocker will be a star in no time…
… Even if it’s only in your living room. Lol
The warranty on all Ibanez guitars, no matter the price, is a
Limited 1-Year Warranty.
The price is identical everywhere online, but, as always, if you order through Amazon today there’s typically no tax, and no shipping
if you’re a Prime member. Gotta grab deals where you can find ’em!!
Squier Affinity Telecaster
Next up is another Fender classic instrument. This time, though, we’re catering to a different crowd.
The Telecaster has been the go-to guitar in Country music for decades. If you counted the number of Telecasters in Nashville, well…
… let’s just say you’d be there a while!
That’s not to say that the Telecaster doesn’t show up in Rock or pop from time to time (Bruce Springsteen, anyone?!). Just not often.
So if you, or your child, wants to pick and grin while playing Bluegrass, or Country, or simply want to add a little crispy “twang” to whatever music you’re creating, give the Tele a try.
For an in-depth look into the world of Telecasters, let your fingers do the walkin’ over to THIS POST I did a few months ago on this acclaimed axe.
Another advantage of this particular guitar is that it comes in different colors. When you follow the link below, see the other options that are open to you.
A Telecaster always has three different sounds, called up by the 3-way toggle switch that chooses or blends the two pickups.
And that’s pretty much it. The Telecaster has always been a “no-frills” guitar. It has few distinct sounds, but they’re perfect for certain musical approaches.
As stated before, since Fender makes it, you can trust it’s going to be a good instrument. They’ve got too good reputation to mess it up.
This guitar tends to be paired with an amp that’s very clean. You usually hear it with very little distortion, unlike the guitar as mentioned above.
Here’s a little video of some Telecaster classics, just to give you an idea of its approach and how it’s been used in the past:
As mentioned in the Strat section, you also get the standard excellent Fender support with the Fender/Squier 2-Year Limited warranty. Now that’s putting your money where your mouth is.
If this Telecaster bite has bitten you, check it out further at these links, and go get your twang on!!
Our seventh and last option comes once again from Epiphone.
Not surprising, since, for decades they’ve shown great marketing skill, and a real business acumen for knowing how to get good instruments into the hands of new players… cheaply.
The SG body style was made famous by Gibson decades ago. It first arrived on the scene back in 1961.
But like a fine wine, the SG-style guitar has only gotten better with age. Want proof? To this day, it’s still the best-selling guitar Gibson’s ever made!!
If you want to know all the facts, Jack on this baby, go to THIS EPIPHONE PAGE and read all about it.
If this guitar looks familiar, it’s because bands and artists like AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Frank Zappa and even the Beatles have burned its look into your memory. Not a bad legacy for a curvy piece of wood and electronics!
One feature of the SG special that was immediately noticeable was how light it is. I don’t think I’ve ever played a guitar that weighed so little. If your budding musician is on the smaller side of stature, this lightweight guitar could be just the ticket for him or her.
On a personal note, I personally have never liked guitars that have the cable jack on the face of the guitar. SG guitars always have, and that’s one reason I’ve never bought them.
When I’m onstage running around, I think it looks kind of silly to see your cable flopping around in front of everybody. All the other guitars on this list put the cable jack on the SIDE of the guitar.
That’s where I prefer it. It looks more discreet that way, and makes it easier to feed the cable through your guitar strap, which is what the pros do to keep the cable from accidentally coming out.
But aside from my own pet peeve, the sound of an SG is well-known & beloved for Rock ‘n’ Roll, so if that’s what you’re after, you’ll be in good company holding one of these beastly beauties.
Plus, you get something EXTRA on this instrument that’s not in any of the others: a kill switch!
For you non-players, a “kill switch” is a button, switch or pot that, when engaged, immediately mutes the sound of the pickups. Flicking this on and off quickly creates a “stutter”-like effect, similiar to what you hear at the end of Eddie’s solo on the “You Really Got Me Now” tune.
You’ll be covered by Epiphone’s famous Lifetime Limited Warranty on this instrument too, so if there’s any issues… you’ll get ’em remedied easily.
So hop on over to Guitar Center below, where this continues to be one of their top sellers, year after year, or Amazon with it’s VE version, in different colors.
Either way, start making iconic, memorable licks and melodies in your own music, to go along with its legendary profile!!
Setting Yourself Up for Success!
So I hope you now feel empowered and informed, knowing what the best electric guitars under 200 bucks are.
Let me just say that when you get one of these economical treasures , I highly suggest that you:
- Get them set up by someone who knows what they’re doing, and
- Put new strings on them.
Even more expensive guitars are often shipped with cheap strings. It’s amazing how much better a guitar can sound when you put good, quality strings on.
As for the setup, you can study and learn how to do it like I did, but just make sure you do it right.
- Take your time
- Order the right tools from Amazon, or from StewMac (where I get mine)
- Only proceed to the next step if you really understand what you’re doing.
The last thing you want is to damage your brand new guitar!
I trust this has helped you as much as it has myself and my student. It’s always great to be able to know and understand what the best options are… And we love bringing you that information here at Seriousgas.com.
So which one are you ordering??? Let us know in the Comments… and let us know how it turns out when you finally receive it.
We always love a good gear story!!
Now go… make… sounds!!