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Best Electric Guitar

So much amazing music has been made on the electric guitar.  It provided the scream for the glam rock of the 1980’s.  It provided the plodding ‘thunk’ for the country and early rock of the 1950s.  It provided the shredding background for the music of the Clash.  It provided beautiful solos for the music of Queen.  It is an iconic instrument, and one that takes not much time to learn, but a lifetime to properly master. And it’s an instrument that has been around for nearly a hundred years at this point.

The original electric guitars were really just hollow body acoustic guitars that someone decided to slap a pickup on.  They didn’t even look good when this was done, either; the wiring was exposed, the pickup was held there with various adhesives, it looked awful.  As time passed on, getting into the early 50s, guitars began to be made commonly, designed around the idea that an electric guitar might be better off it was designed for such use from the ground up, rather than having such design implicated at the end, as an afterthought.  That has led us to the world we live in today, where there are a myriad of choices for your guitar needs.

And let’s be honest here; there are many choices for your guitar needs.  There’s something like a hundred variants on the Fender electric lines alone, based on a handful of body types. If you understand what you’re doing, the options are nearly endless for ways that you can put together your guitar.  But let’s start by just looking at a few options that are in the running for best electric guitar on the market right now.  And what better way to figure out what guitar may be right for you than by looking at a quick table that can show you some basic information about the guitars available?

NameNumber Of FretsPickupsPots/Switch Setup
 Fender American Pro Deluxe Shawbucker Telecaster222 Humbucking Fender Pickups2 tone and 2 volume knobs, 3-way selector switch
2015 Gibson Les Paul Classic22Zebra Coil ’57 Classic and Super ’57 Humbucking Pickups1 tone and 2 volume knobs, 3-way selector switch, turbo boost mini toggle
Gibson SG Standard 2016 T22Gibson 490R and 498T Humbucking pickups2 tone, 2 volume, and 3-way selector switch
Fender American Standard Telecaster22Custom Shop Vintage-Style Tele bridge pickup and Custom Shop “Twisted’” Single-Coil neck pickupTone knob, volume knob, 3-way selector switch
Fender Classic Series ‘50s Stratocaster22MIM single-coil pickups with staggered magnetic polesVolume knob, 2 tone knobs, 5-way selector switch
Fender Jaguar Kurt Cobain Custom 22DiMarzio Humbucking DP103 PAF 36th Anniversary neck pickup and DP Super Distortion bridge pickup2 tone knobs, 1 volume knob, 3-way selector
Gretsch G6120SH Brian Setzer Hotrod22TV Jones Hotrod Filter’Tron Pickups3-way selector and volume knob
Gretsch White Falcon G6136TLTV22TV Jones Classic Pickups2 tone knobs, 1 master volume knob, 2 3-way selectors
Gretsch G5191BK Tim Armstrong Custom Electromatic22Black Top Filter’Tron pickups1 master volume knobs, 2 volume knobs, 2 tone knobs, and 3-way selector switch
Guild Starfire IV ST22LB-1 ‘Little Bucker’ Pickups2 tone knobs and 2 volume knobs, 3-way selector switch
Gibson Explorer 2016T22Gibson 496R and 500T humbuckers2 tone knobs, 1 volume knob, 3-way selector switch
EVH Wolfgang Standard22Dual humbucking pickups3-way selector, tone knob and volume knob

Hopefully, this table will help you to make your decision, but let’s be honest here; it really doesn’t do the guitars that we’re talking about justice.  Not even a little bit.  So, now it’s time that we take a more in-depth look at the guitars in the running for the title of ‘best electric guitar’.

1

Fender American Pro Deluxe Shawbucker Telecaster – The Hybrid Option

Coke and Pepsi.  Vanilla and chocolate.  Ford and Chevy.  History is filled with dualities that people argue about, two things that are very much their own and that, for some reason, people feel should never be combined for any reason, ever.  And those people are often very wrong.

But what if you mixed those two together?  What if you were okay with drinking, for example, either the Coke or the Pepsi?  What if you had a scoop of ice cream that was about half vanilla and half chocolate?  What if you didn’t judge the Ford and the Chevy truck by the name or by some cultish, almost slavish devotion to the name, but rather by the best things that the truck had to offer you?  Many argue that such a world would be wonderful indeed.

And that is the kind of world that the Shawbucker (as well as the Vintage ’72 Deluxe telecaster) from Fender has brought us.  From the 50s to today, there have been two mammoth names in the electric guitar world.  Fender and Gibson.  Fender (owned by a man who never learned to play guitar, hilariously enough) had the Telecaster and Stratocaster (and to a lesser extent, the Mustang and Jazzmaster), while Gibson had the Les Paul and the SG.  The Shawbucker is what you get when you mix the Fender Telecaster, with its amazingly sturdy body and thin neck, with the setup for electronics that you would get from the Gibson Les Paul Standard or the Gibson SG.

It ends up being a fantastic combination, too.  One of the big complaints with the majority of Fender products is that switching what pickup you’re playing from primarily, on the fly, requires that you reach over your strings.  With this guitar, you need only hit the switch that is up there by the attachment point for your guitar strap, and you’re good to go!  This makes it far easier to switch, and it means that if you’re playing live, you don’t have to worry that you are going to accidentally hit the strings with your shirt or something.

If you’re looking for a great middle design between a Telecaster and a Les Paul, or if you love the Telecaster body tape but you hate the single-coil telecaster pickups, then this is the kind of guitar that you will be happy to have.

PROS
  • A great compromise between Les Paul and Telecaster designs
  • Thin neck makes it easy to play for everyone
  • It’s hard to beat the dual humbucker configuration
CONS
  • Prety expensive, but if you’re looking for a cheaper option, they are out there. They just tend to have a more Jazzmaster/Stratocaster neck
2

2015 Gibson Les Paul Classic – The Les Paul Solution

The Les Paul is an iconic guitar, and one that has been delighting audiences and players alike since the 1950s.  It’s such an iconic guitar, in fact, that guitars from the time period when they first began making the Les Paul can go for anywhere from 500,000 dollars on down.  Heck, even one of Les Paul’s own Les Paul guitars, an older one that he made into more of a ‘recording’ guitar, with terrible plastic pickups, sold for a crazy amount.

The Les Paul is used on stage by all sorts of musicians.  Of course, it was heavily used by the man who it was named after (his wife’s Les Paul Custom would eventually become the SG line), but today, if you go to a concert and they have three bands get up on stage, it’s almost certain that someone will use the Les Paul or some derivative.  Gibson continues to make the high-end models, of course, clocking in at around 2000 dollars for a decent one, but Epiphone is contracted to make the cheap models, and there are dozens of companies that make something derived from the design. 

The Les Paul is a beautiful guitar.  The neck thickness changes from year to year, and as with so many guitars, the older ones tend to be better (aside from a few years wherein the quality slipped or weird things were being done to the guitars), but the Les Paul is a fantastic guitar.

Now, the Les Paul Classic is a little bit different than the standard Gibson Les Paul.  The Gibson Les Paul Standard, you see, is a guitar that has a 2-tone and 2-volume knob setup, while this Classic model drops one of the tone knobs in order to free up space for the ‘turbo boost mini toggle’. 

How does it sound?  Well, as I said before, you cannot beat the sound that you can get out of two humbucking pickups, and these pickups sound beautiful, whether you’re playing them clean through an amplifier or you’re playing them dirty through a series of pedals that will give you a more electric or grunge or punk sound. 

If you want to use the kind of guitar that thousands of famous guitarists around the world use every day, then the Gibson Les Paul Classic is a good choice for you.  Truly, Gibson electric guitars has put out a winner, and continues to win, with this model.

PROS
  • Two humbucking pickups provide plenty of power
  • Beautiful finish that you get on guitars from Gibson cannot be beaten by any other mass maker of guitars
  • The mini turbo boost toggle is a nice touch if you need your pickups a little bit hotter on the fly
CONS
  • A common complaint with Gibson Les Pauls rings true here; the guitar can be a lot heavier than most. Gibson Les Pauls can get up into the high teens, weight-wise
3

Gibson SG Standard 2016T – The Lightweight Gibson

The Gibson SG is a design that really has a lot to do with the ideas of Mary Ford, especially when it comes to the custom shop models.  Incidentally, if you’d like to see her guitar in all its glory, it was sold a short while back on Pawn Stars, and the clip floats around YouTube if you care that much.

During 1960, Gibson saw that sales on the Gibson Les Paul had not just slowed, but it had reversed.  A lot of the common complaints were about the Gibson Les Paul being a bulky guitar, and a heavy one at that.  Both of these complaints are well-founded, as Les Pauls still weigh from 12 pounds to 18 pounds, and because the vast majority of them are still very thick, and have a body carved from a single, solid piece of wood, which is then routed and laminated (and painted, in most cases).  So Gibson took the great electronics setup they had, with their 3-way selector switch that allowed you to decide if you wanted to pick up the signal from the neck pickup, the bridge pickup, or both equally, and with their two volume and two tone knobs, and they put it into a guitar that was thinner, lighter, and better contoured to the human body.  That guitar was the Gibson SG.

While it may not be as iconic a guitar as the Gibson Les Paul, it is still a pretty iconic guitar in its own right.  If you enjoy the music of AC/DC or Black Sabbath, for example, you have seen the Gibson SG in the hands of greats like Angus Young (who is still wearing an outfit made for a school child, even as the loud playing of his guitar eats away at his ability to hear), or in Tony Iommi’s hands as he plays to cover Ozzy’s slow descent into dementia. 

If you’re looking at an SG, you’re basically looking at a lighter and thinner, more contoured version of the Les Paul, with a few minor changes in the way that the neck and the body are designed, and the movement of the 3-way selector switch. It’s a good guitar, but if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t mind the weight of a Gibson Les Paul, a Les Paul might suit you better.  If, on the other hand, your wallet isn’t bristling with cash, this may be the best electric guitar for money that you’ll spend on it.

PROS
  • Same great electric setup as the Gibson Les Paul
  • Thinner than a Gibson Les Paul
  • Lighter than a Gibson Les Paul
CONS
  • Not a Gibson Les Paul
4

Fender American Standard Telecaster – The Twangy Classic

Leo Fender, the man who began Fender guitars (and later, G and L guitars, which would basically make slightly improved variants on designs he had already made), never really learned how to play guitar.  He made his guitars by basically asking the professional guitar players what they would like, and then made it happen.

The Fender Telecaster is one of the first successful guitars from Fender electric guitars. It is also the first commercially successful solid-body electric guitar; up until the time of the Telecaster, the electric guitar was mostly a hollow-body affair, and a lot of them were really just guitars that were hollow body and then had a pickup poorly attached near where the neck was connected to the body.  The Telecaster changed all of that, and it started the electric guitar revolution.

The standard Fender Telecaster is a great guitar all on its own, too. The neck tends to be on the thinner side, which, if you have smaller hands, is a great way to make sure that you can still play it well.  The setup of the tuning knobs was considered to be insane at the time, and yet over time it has basically become one of a handful of industry standard setups for the tuning knobs and their heads. 

The big draw was the pickups.  Two single-coil pickups, which could be played in three different ways, via utilization of the three-way selector switch.  The guitarist could either take entirely from the neck pickup (the one high up on the guitar), the bridge pickup (the one furthest to the bottom of the guitar) or take from both equally, as they needed to.

So who plays these guitars?  They’re insanely popular in a wide variety of settings and musical scenes.  For example, you can find them in the hands of Johnny Cash’s guitar accompaniment, or in the hands of punk rockers, and even in the hands of metal heads.  People like the iconic Joe Strummer, from the Clash and Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros, played a Fender Telecaster that was made in America, and which he had spray painted black (twice.  Don’t spray paint your guitars if you want that color to stay it will wash out with your sweat and then it looks road worn), for an easy example.  Pretty much every country album ever recorded had one in it somewhere, by law.  I cannot stress how popular this guitar is, and if you’re looking for a guitar that can do everything and take a beating, the Telecaster is a great option for you.

PROS
  • Very sturdy
  • Not nearly as heavy as the Les Paul line
  • Thin neck, making it easy to play for even those with smaller hands
CONS
  • The single-coil pickups that come standard are not as hot as they could be
5

Fender Classic Series ‘50s Stratocaster – The Classic Strat Option

Another iconic guitar comes to the list, with the Fender Stratocaster making its appearance.  If you enjoy the music of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, or pretty much anyone who was playing guitar back during the days of ‘flower power’ and all that hippie nonsense, you’ve probably grooved to the mellow tunes of the Fender Stratocaster. If you’ve ever looked at getting a beginner guitar, too, Fender tends to sell these as an electric guitar with an amp kind of kit so that you can get started rocking right away.

The Stratocaster is another Leo Fender invention that came from his asking a lot of musicians what they didn’t like so much about the Telecaster (which, at the time, was being sold as a ‘broadcaster’).  It was also the first standard-run guitar to incorporate three pickups and a five-way switch, which was something very new at the time, and kind of revolutionary in the opinions of many.

Why does the three pickup setup actually matter?  Well, I don’t want to bore you with the science behind it, but let’s look at it like this.  All pickups are basically magnets wound with copper wire of various gauge.  Any magnet has a pole.  Now, if you alternate the polarities when the pickups are aligned, for example running the pickups as ‘North-South-North’ or contrariwise, ‘South-North-South’, if you were to put your pickup selector in the mid-range settings between two pickups with alternate poles, you’d end up getting a humbucking effect.  So, when you have your selector in the second or fourth setting, and you are reading from both pickups 1 and 2 or pickups 2 and 3, you are basically creating a humbucking pickup, cutting down on hum and distortion. Pretty cool, right? This allows you to get that ‘quack’ sound that a lot of famous users of the Stratocaster enjoy.

Whereas the Telecaster is a single cutaway guitar, the Stratocaster is a double cutaway model, which means a bit of weight savings.  Then, of course, there’s the fact that it is slightly differently contoured to those who are looking to get a more comfortable resting position for their guitar.

If you’re into a complex guitar capable of providing a quacky sound, this may be the right one for you.  It’s a guitar with a long history, and one that will be around for decades to come, this is easily on the list of the 10 best electric guitars ever made.

PROS
  • N-S-N or S-N-S alternating magnetic pole setup
  • Three pickup configuration
CONS
  • Kind of awkward until you get used to it
6

Fender Jaguar Kurt Cobain Custom – The Nirvana Model

A few decades ago, a man arrived on the scene with nothing more than a decent bit of rhythm guitar playing, a raspy voice, and some lyrics that would seem whiny if sung by millennials.  His band not only was wildly successful, but it included future stars like Dave Grohl, and it even began a process that drove one bassist to become one of the greatest soldiers of his era.  That man was Kurt Cobain, and this was his guitar setup.

Let’s not pretend that Kurt Cobain was a guitar virtuoso.  A lot of the things that he played, you can learn within five minutes.  But in the early ‘90s, at a time when the Grunge scene was gaining a lot of popularity, he was, more or less, the living embodiment of Grunge.  He had the look that said that he didn’t care, he had lyrics that said he had a problem with the world around him, and he gave the people what they wanted. 

Kurt Cobain was a lefty, much like Jimi Hendrix.  And just like Jimi Hendrix, he was a man who preferred to use Fender products.  However, unlike Jimi, Fender was actually making left-handed guitars pretty commonly by the time that Kurt Cobain was getting big enough to buy guitars as he liked. 

He tended to favor a Fender Mustang, a Stratocaster, or a Jaguar.  This Jaguar, though, is the one that is most associated with a lot of his later work.

It’s a good representation of the Jaguar, as well.  During the late 80s and early 90s, Fender was still experimenting with the use of humbucking pickups, and that made for a good guitar that Kurt Cobain got to enjoy.  This reproduction comes with DiMarzio humbucking pickups, which are not only capable of providing plenty of sound, but which are also capable of providing decent sound quality and clarity.  It also has a whammy bar, because some people like to really use the whammy bar (in general, I do not except in certain instances, because when you use the whammy bar, you’re basically stretching the strings, and that leads to them ending up out of tune). 

If you’re a big fan of Nirvana, or you just want a decent Fender Jaguar with humbucking pickups, this is a good guitar for you.

PROS
  • Two quality humbucking pickups
  • Fender quality reproduction of a famous guitar
  • A fantastic representation of a famous line of guitars, too
CONS
  • Not the most popular guitar body shape from Fender
7

Gretsch G6120SH Brian Setzer Hotrod – The Rockabilly/Greaser Guitar

If you want to talk about iconic rockabilly music, the name Brian Setzer is the top of the list, with people like Reverend Horton Heat clinging to his coattails.  The Stray Cats made popular around the world the idea that you could have a greaser vibe and play punk rock with some twang to it, and you would be successful.  Brian Setzer took it even further, and formed an orchestra that is still touring at least once a year in the US, with him as the head and lyricist, while they back him up.  This is his guitar.

Brian Setzer plays almost entirely Gretsch guitars, and he has long favored Falcons and 6120 models from Gretsch.  There are a lot of reasons that the Gretsch design works out well with what he does, too.  The big one, though, is the inclusion of the Bigsby tailpiece.  If you want to be able to bend the entirety of the strings to get that sound, and to do them all at once, you are going to need to have a tail-piece, and Bigsby tailpieces are widely considered to be some of the best tail-pieces you can get.

Plus, let’s face it; the Gretsch guitar has long been an iconic guitar.  Chet Atkins played Gretsch, and he managed to get a beautiful sound out of it (don’t believe me?  Go ahead and look into the YouTube videos of him playing anything, particularly ‘Mr Sandman’).  Neil Young managed to play one and get a country sound out of it (even if a Southern Man don’t need him around, anyhow).

A great thing about Gretsch guitars is their versatility.  You can go from playing twangy folk music like Mr. Sandman, to playing hard and fast rock and roll, to playing old punk tunes, with very little effort and without having to switch out guitars.  If you are looking for a great guitar that you can use for all sorts of things, the Gretsch 6120 is a great option, and one loaded with the Brian Setzer run of TV Jones Filter’Tron pickups is even better.  And let’s be honest with ourselves here; if it’s a guitar good enough for the likes of Brian Setzer and Chet Atkins, you’re going to be able to use it to do anything you could think of.

PROS
  • Two great TV Jones Filter’Tron pickups
  • Just looks fantastic
  • Great Bigsby Tailpiece
CONS
  • The price point gets pretty high
8

Gretsch White Falcon G6136TLTV – The White Falcon

When it comes to the world of high-end guitars, there are few names that are so well known and so well-respected as the Gretsch Falcon series.  They have been used by a wide variety of people, too; from punk rockers like Dennis Casey of Flogging Molly and Lenny Lashley of Lenny Lashley’s Gang of One, Darkbuster, and the Street Dogs, to country musicians like Neil Young, to rockers like Billy Duffy (who just recently got a custom line in his name), they’ve been the kind of guitar that people save up for for a long time. 

What makes the Gretsch White Falcon so beloved?  It was originally unveiled in 1954 at NAMM, not so much as a guitar that was meant to be produced en masse, but rather as a guitar that was meant to showcase exactly what the luthiers (guitar makers) at Gretsch could do.  It was literally built to be a guitar that showed off exactly how beautiful of a guitar they could make, and not really originally meant to be something that would keep being made.  But the guitar was so beautiful and so popular that Gretsch ended up making them and selling them as a regular model for most of the time that Gretsch has been operating as a company.

They are beautiful guitars, and they manage to pack a lot of sound quality into them.  There are many different variations on the Gretsch White Falcon that are currently out on the market, and they use many different pickup configurations, but the G6136TLTV  is equipped with two TV Jones Classic pickups, which are basically a higher-end redesign of the standard Gretsch pickups. 

Along with being a great guitar to play, and one equipped with the Bigsby tailpiece that allows for easy string-bending, they are also a gorgeous guitar.  The headstock is white with inlay and gold sparkle throughout, and the white coloring makes it a guitar that will stand out on any stage.  You could put a Gretsch White Falcon up against almost any guitar in the world, against almost any guitar player, and it would stand out as the most impressive guitar on the stage (except maybe against something like Brian May’s guitar, which is an oddity that still gets a good sound).  These are not just guitars; they are investments, family heirlooms that, properly cared for and lovingly played, can last for decades and be passed down along blood lines.  If you’re looking for a professional grade guitar that you can get sound out of appropriate for almost every kind of music, the Gretsch White Falcon is a guitar that you need to consider, and one that will give you decades of playing pleasure.  Quite possibly, the best electric guitar ever.

PROS
  • Two TV Jones Classic pickups
  • Bigsby Tail-Piece
  • Gretsch quality and beauty
CONS
  • The price is very high
9

Gretsch G5191BK Tim Armstrong Custom Electromatic – The Punk Model

A couple of decades back, a punk rocker on the rise got, through divine providence, a guitar that was amazing.  It was a Gretsch Country Club, but while it was beautiful and played amazingly, the natural finish of the guitar didn’t really fit with the ‘punk rock’ persona that the guy was going for.  So what did he do?  He took duct tape, put it over all of the knobs and the pickups, and sprayed the guitar with matte black spray paint.

That guy was Tim Armstrong, and he played in Operation Ivy and, later, in a little band called Rancid. Rancid was one of those bands that made punk a little bit more mainstream during the 90s, and Tim Armstrong (also known as Tim Timebomb) used that Gretsch guitar he had bought to play songs that became iconic and got wide radio play.  Songs like Timebomb, Roots Radicals, Fall Back Down, and Bloodshot got wide radio play across the world, and it was that guitar that he would continue to bring with him to every single show that he played from then on.

A couple of years back at NAMM, Gretsch brought Rancid out to play their guitars.  At the show, they revealed that they had worked with Tim Armstrong to come up with his very own guitar, based on the guitar he had been playing for years, combined with the affordability of the Electromatic series. The G5191BK is what they came up with, and it is offered in black and in a kind of flesh pink color.

As with most straight punk guitars, it’s low on bells and whistles.  You may notice that not only does it not have a Bigsby tailpiece, but that it has no sort of whammy bar at all.  It comes with the classic electric guitar configuration that the Les Paul made popular, but with a master volume knob separated from the rest of the pots.  The pickups are BlackTop Filter’Tron pickups, which are supposed to be a bit hotter than the standard Filter’Tron found in the Gretsch Electromatic. 

As for the guitar itself, it looks impressive.  The F-hole design, of course, is beautiful enough (and unlike on some other Gretsch guitars, they’re actually cut out, and not painted on), and the guitar looks like the kind of guitar that you would expect an aspiring punk rocker to be playing.  The only downside, as is so common with guitars that are artist models, is that you are going to be paying a bit more for the guitar, but it is still a great guitar, and you can find them used with ease, if you would like to save a bit of money. For the price, it is easily one of the best Gretsch guitars you will ever play.

PROS
  • Beautiful guitar
  • Hot Pickups
  • A nice modernization of the Country Club design that Tim Armstrong still plays today
CONS
  • Uncharacteristic lack of Bigsby
10

Guild Starfire IV ST – The Low-Name Recognition Rocker

Guild guitars are, generally, known to be quality instruments, but they never seemed to take off the way that Gibson or Fenders did.  Which is a shame, because they have quite a few decent models to offer.

A lot of the Guild guitars that they make for their electric line are, more or less, based on other guitars. Guild has long been a fairly popular name for jazz guitarists, and there are still a few people playing Guild electric guitars (most notably of late, one of the members of Cake and one of the guys from Everclear back when they were a real band), but they just don’t seem to be getting the love that they deserve. 

Of course, part of that may have to do with the fact that a lot of production has been shipped to China, which is generally frowned upon in the guitar world.

But is the Starfire IV a decent guitar?  Yes, it is.  Don’t let the LB-1 ‘Little Buckers’, which look adorable and unusual, fool you, this is a serious guitar that is capable of putting out some serious sound, and if you’re looking for a guitar for playing around the house or for playing live on stage, you will find the Starfire IV to be up to the task.  Of course, there’s also the fact that they look pretty imposing, and let’s be honest with ourselves, the headstock with the characteristic pillar and crown is also a good look.

It’s got the same setup, as far as pots and switches go, as the Gibson Les Paul, with the single difference being the fact that the selector is on the far side of the guitar from the artist.  If you’re looking for a diverse guitar, but you don’t want to spend the kind of money that people spend on Gibsons or Gretsches, then the Guild brand is one that you should take a look at. Who knows?  You might find yourself surprised by the quality of the guitar that you probably didn’t even know existed in the first place.

PROS
  • Cheaper than a lot of similar guitars, but with comparable quality
  • Powerful LB-1 ‘Little Buckers’
  • Impressive design and overall beautiful
CONS
  • Kind of think that some models have been moved over to China for production
11

Gibson Explorer 2016T – The Metal Model

If you’ve ever been to a metal show in any country, it is likely that you saw one of a handful of guitar designs.  The Flying-V and the Explorer designs, particularly from Gibson, seem to be very popular among these kinds of bands.  In fact, they were also both included in the hilarious animated show ‘Metalocalypse’, and when Brendon Small went on tour as ‘Dethklok’ and performed music from the show he had created, he brought along Gibson Explorers.

As you can see, it looks nothing like a lot of the guitars that we’ve looked at thus far. Most of those guitars are not consistent of sharp angles and odd shapes.  This is not the kind of guitar that you can comfortably play while sitting around the house or on your couch, it’s the kind of guitar that you play while standing on the stage.  It’s the kind of guitar that you hammer on, too, trying to get the sound that you like out of it.

It’s got two Gibson humbucking pickups, one of which is the 496R and the other which is a 500T, and between these two pickups, you can get a lot of heavy sound (especially if you are running the guitar through a couple of foot pedals on the way to your amplifier).  It’s also a guitar that will stand up to a lot of use and abuse, and one that is not as expensive as the more beautiful offerings from Gibson, which means that if you are playing it at a concert and something happens to it, you won’t be as broken up about the loss as you would be if, for example, you broke a Gibson Byrdland (which runs around eight thousand dollars on the low end). 

As far as electric guitars go, it can produce a good sound.  If you’re looking for a guitar that can make a decent sound even when not plugged into an amp, though, you are definitely going to be disappointed.  This is a straight electric guitar, and nothing more or less.

PROS
  • Decently priced and Gibson quality!
  • Two powerful Gibson humbuckers
  • Striking Look
CONS
  • Uncomfortable to play sitting down, definitely a live guitar, not a sitting around the house and trying out new tunes kind of guitar
12

EVH Wolfgang Standard – The Affordable Eddie Van Halen Model

Eddie Van Halen is a big name in the guitar world.  In 2012, he was voted as the number one slot in the Guitar World magazine reader’s poll for the “Top 100 Guitarists Of All Time”, which is a real honor that should not be overlooked.

Eddie Van Halen is probably most famous for his Frankenstrat guitar, which is the one that looks all red and white and black and that everyone seems to be in love with. Fender actually sells them, too, or rather a reproduction that is somewhere in the 25,000 dollar range if you can find it, which is so expensive that I doubt that Eddie Van Halen would even be willing to spend that kind of money on it.

He worked along with Peavey to create a reproduction that was basically a new take on his Musicman guitar, and this EVH Wolfgang Standard is the more affordable model that came out of that.  It’s a great guitar, too, and it can do a lot for you if you know what you’re doing.

It comes with a very thin neck, which is nice for those with small hands or those who are looking to get a lot of string-bending done.  It also comes with a Floyd Rose tremolo, which is that thing at the bottom of the guitar with a whammy bar on it. 

As far as the pickups, they’re both humbucking pickups, and that means you can get some decent sound out of the guitar.  It simplifies the usual pot scheme of a lot of guitars, and drops you down to one tone and one volume knob, plus the usual three-way selector switch.

So why is this guitar included on this list?  To begin with, affordability.  The higher end EVH guitars are very expensive, but this one is affordable, and is even priced to be one of the best electric guitars for beginners.   Definitely a guitar that you will want to take a look at if you’re looking for a decently priced beginner guitar.

PROS
  • Very affordable
  • Two decent humbucking pickups
  • Unusual-looking guitar, too
CONS
  • Made in Indonesia, so you may need to do some work on it before it is a great guitar

Best Electric Guitar- Buyer's Guide

Guitars are all somewhat expensive, and very complicated, pieces of musical equipment.  If you want to get the right one for you, you are going to want to know a bit more about guitars, and that being the case, here are just a few answers to questions you might have.

Should I Buy A Used Guitar?

This is a question that a lot of people have.  There are a few things in life you can buy used without worry.  Guns, for example, if they’re in decent shape.  Cars as well.  And yes, guitars are on that list. 

A used guitar not just can be a decent choice, but in some circumstances, it can be better than a new one.  Sometimes factories go through a few off years, or they make some sort of change that makes their guitar more difficult to play, or they do something else that generally makes the guitar less enjoyable, and when that happens, you are going to find that picking up an old used guitar becomes a better choice.

Just beware what you buy used from individual sellers, especially online.  If a guitar has a bunch of non-standard parts for that model, or if it’s got obvious damage, or if the seller isn’t willing to give you a written guarantee that it is in good working quality, don’t buy.

Do The Pickups Really Matter?

They do, but not as much as you would think.  Believe it or not, replacing pickups is a pretty simple thing for you to do (and if you know anything about wiring and have your own soldering equipment, you can even do it at home).  That being said, a lot of these guitars come from lines with dozens or hundreds of variants, and if you want to save yourself some hassle, buy the guitar with the pickups closest to the configuration you have in mind, and then go from there if you feel the need to.

Is It Safe To Buy A Guitar Over The Internet?

Depends on where you’re buying it from.  On Amazon.com, for example, a lot of guitars are sold either from makers or from stores that are licensed distributors.  If they get caught cheating customers, they have a lot to lose, including loss of that distribution license. 

Whenever you buy a guitar, it behooves you to take it to be looked at professionally soon after getting it, especially if it isn’t working right.  A professional setup can make most guitars sound a lot better, both in playing and sound, and you will be happy that you spent that money.

Conclusion


So, now that we’ve talked about an astonishing twelve guitars from five companies, hopefully you have an idea what kind of guitar you want.  But before we conclude, there’s one more question that needs to be answered; what is the best guitar?

Not an easy question to answer, to be sure, as there are so many opinions on the matter.  Luckily, having played almost all of these guitars at one point or another, I do believe I have an answer.

The best electric guitar we reviewed is the Gretsch White Falcon G6136TLTV.  Yes, the price point can be prohibitive to some, as I’m well aware.  But the fact is that if you’re looking for a serious guitar that will play beautifully and will sound amazing, as well as looking beautiful, you are going to find that there are few guitars on earth that are capable of competition with the Gretsch White Falcon line.

So, hopefully we’ve helped you figure out what guitar you would like, and hopefully, whatever guitar you pick, you are going to be able to learn how to get your preferred sound out of it.