There comes a time in every young aspiring musician’s life, where they ask themselves that all important question: What is the best cheap electric guitar I can afford right now? Often times the money you have does not seem enough. Maybe because you spent most of it on a weekend, maybe you had to pay rent, or maybe you’re just looking for a cheap option you can use as a practice guitar, or maybe you’re a beginner looking to not spend too much. There is no shame in not having enough money or being prudent. But in the world of buying and consuming there is a trap set for us all, called the “trap of cheap”. It is easy to fall for it because today’s technology has taught us: cheap doesn’t always mean bad. You do have to remember though, it rarely means good. In the world of guitars this trap is especially dangerous. You don’t want to end up with a mediocre instrument when you’re buying cheap, nobody does. At the same time you don’t want to spend money, especially when you have limited resources; So this guide is for you my dear prudent spender. Let me show you how to get the best electric guitar for the money you have not saved up.
Table of Contents
- Top 10 Best Cheap Electric Guitars Under 200
Top 10 Best Cheap Electric Guitars Under 200
|ESP LTD Viper-10 Electric Guitar with Gig Bag||(4.9 / 5)||Check on Amazon
|Jackson JS22 Dinky||(4.8 / 5)||Check on Amazon
|Squier by Fender Affinity Series Telecaster||(4.7 / 5)||Check on Amazon
|Ibanez GIO Series GRG121DX||(4.6 / 5)||Check on Amazon
|Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC012DLX||(4.6 / 5)||Check on Amazon
|Epiphone Les Paul SPECIAL-II||(4.6 / 5)||Check on Amazon
|Dean Vendetta XM||(4.5 / 5)||Check on Amazon
|Squier by Fender Bullet Strat||(4.5 / 5)||Check on Amazon
|Ibanez GRX20ZBKN||(4.4 / 5)||Check on Amazon
|Oscar Schmidt OE20G||(4.3 / 5)||Check on Amazon
There are several things to think about when buying a guitar on the cheap. First of all, what is your reason for buying a guitar? Are you:
Looking for a beginner’s guitar? In this case it might also be smart to take a look at our guide to buying the best beginner guitar. Otherwise this list includes several beginner guitars you might find interesting.
- Think about the style you want – looks make a star right?
- Think about the music you make – it’s important to consider the way your guitar sounds
- Maybe pick something that might be easier to play
Looking for the best electric guitar under 200? Some of the options on this list might be a great fit for you.
- Where does your heart lie? Are you sure you want some of the good old, or have you discovered in your journey from beginner to now that your style might be something different?
- Maybe go for a guitar that sounds a little different. You will always have your first guitar, but right now you have the option to try a new sound for the cheap.
- Has your understanding of guitars evolved to a point that you are extremely specific about what you want? Then check out some of our more detailed reviews for the guitars present above.
- Are you maybe looking not for a permanent upgrade, but simply a practice guitar? Or a gig only guitar?
Just want to add one more to your already bulky collection? Maybe take a look at some of the more expensive options, but if you see something you like, we are all for buying on the cheap.
- Here, there is little I can tell you. At this point, you probably have a very good understanding of the instrument. Maybe consider what you want it for? Is it only a part of a collection or are you going to be using it regularly?
- Did you consider buying a used guitar for your collection? It might be just as cheap, but the quality and the name might be worth more for you. Check out our blog post describing what you might want to look at when buying a used guitar.
Don’t like any of the options above? Here is some advice on what you should look at if you want the best cheap guitars option that you can find on your own. Some of this is also covered in the beginner’s guide to buying guitars. Also, you can check Harley Benton guitars.
The body of the guitar you’ll be looking at will probably be made of Basswood. The reason is that Basswood is on the cheap side for production, while also being lightweight and good-looking. It is possible to find guitars made of other materials, but be suspicious of sellers claiming such materials. Not all materials are as cheap or flexible in use as Basswood.
The neck of the guitar is where the fretboard connects to the body. This is where the last frets are located. Consider that these should be easy access and the neck should be comfortable to the hold, otherwise, the guitar might not be a good fit for you.
Also remember – electric guitar necks are often bolt on. The reason being that they are easier to mass produce so. Set Guitar necks mean that if the guitar is attached incorrectly, it cannot be corrected, meaning that such guitars need high precision to be viable. This means that electric guitars with set necks tend to be way more expensive than those with bolt-on necks. If you see a cheap guitar with a set neck, be suspicious and do your research before buying.
If you are looking for cheap options, you are bound to find a lot of guitars with rosewood fretboards. This is the norm for cheap guitars, but do not be surprised to see maple or other materials used for fretboards. The things to look at is whether you want 21, 22 or 24 frets. Are you looking for jumbo frets or for medium frets, how easy do you want the train to be? it depends mostly on your own taste. At the same time do not expect to see fretboards made of expensive materials. These might not be what they seem and you should do your research before you buy.
Some guitars, depending on the manufacturer, have the option of getting the tremolo bar for them. There’s several tremolo bar options available to you and unless you are a beginner you need to consider what you are buying.
- The Bigsby tremolo is more stable and holds the tuning better than non-locking tremolos
- The Strat-Type Tremolo can only bend downwards. Stable, but still prone to minor tuning problems.
- Floating Bridge Tremolos allow for a wide range of note bending but are very prone to tuning issues. These should be avoided if you are not sure how well they are made, as they tend to cause big problems with tuning.
- Floyd Rose Locking Tremolo is one that I doubt you will find too often on a cheap guitar. These tremolos make stringing an instrument, and tuning it more complicated, but allow for a more stable tuning, while also allowing for a wide range of tone bending.
There are many pickup arrangements to consider when buying a guitar. 3 or 2 pickups, single coil or humbucker, or a combination of the two, will determine how your guitar sounds.
Quick note – Humbucker tends to have a more hard rock feel while single coil has a tendency towards more soulful, rhythmic sounds. The traditional abbreviations for each are H (Humbucker) and S (Single-Coil). You will find these abbreviations in many guitar descriptions.
This little lever on your electric guitar will allow you to choose which pickup is more emphasized. There are several possibilities, the neck pickup, the neck-middle, the middle pickup, the middle-bridge and the bridge pickup. Choosing between these pickups will change how the guitar sounds. Don’t panic if your dream guitar doesn’t have a selector though, not every guitar has one and not every guitar needs one.
The best cheap electric guitars are not easy to pick or find. We’ve brought some of the ones we find most interesting up above. The thing is, not everyone will find all these guitars to suit them. This does not mean there are no other exceptional guitars out there that we either are sleeping on or could not include in the list because of space concerns.
Remember this piece of advice: do your research. The guitars I have talked about above are some of the best available on the market, but not all of them will be the perfect fit for you. The best way to find out what the best guitar for you is to take a closer look at it. Find out the details about its body, shape, how comfortable it is, its pickup arrangements, how it sounds, and how easy it is to play. All of those details can be found out easily by looking at the in-depth reviews for each instrument.
Once all of this is done and you are still convinced that you have found the guitar of your dreams, go ahead and buy. Until then do what I did and will keep doing: keep looking for the best cheap electric guitar.