The perfect electrical guitars for 2023

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Revealed Mar 30, 2023 5:15 PM

From jazz and funk to nation and heavy metallic, the not-so-humble electrical guitar has single-handedly formed the sound of contemporary music as we all know it. In actual fact, a few of historical past’s most beloved guitar producers nonetheless function as we speak, churning out streamlined tributes and historically-accurate reissues of their storied designs. Whether or not you’re a seasoned professional searching for one other axe so as to add to your assortment or a newbie searching for the precise place to start out, this checklist of the very best electrical guitars has one thing for everybody.

How we selected the very best electrical guitars

We compiled this checklist of the very best electrical guitars with a heavy emphasis on model repute and sound high quality: Martin, Fender, and Epiphone are all long-standing producers with many years of expertise designing iconic guitars. We additionally took care to characterize totally different physique shapes, pickup configurations, and different elements that have an effect on a guitar’s general tone and style suitability by together with acoustic-electric, stable physique, and semi-hollow designs. Consolation and ease of playability additionally performed a task in whether or not a guitar made the reduce, and we opted to decide on designs which are enjoyable and satisfying to play.

The perfect electrical guitars: Evaluations & Suggestions

From jamming with buddies to shifting to Philly, shopping for a loft, and beginning a noise band, one of many electrical guitars on our checklist will assist you to dwell out your rockstar goals.

Finest general: Fender American Performer Jazzmaster

Why it made the reduce: The American Performer Jazzmaster incorporates a tremendous versatile sound and an easy-to-play design that may pull off rock, blues, jazz, and every thing in between.


  • Physique: Stable alder, polyurethane end
  • Neck: Maple bolt-on, fashionable C form, polyurethane end
  • Fretboard: Rosewood, 9.5-inch radius, 22 jumbo frets
  • Scale size: 25.5”
  • Electronics: 2 x Yosemite Jazzmaster Single-coil pickups
  • Bridge: 6-saddle vintage-style synchronized tremolo
  • Equipment: Gig bag


  • Extensive tonal vary for enjoying any type
  • Comfy, easy-to-play neck
  • Non-traditional bridge affords wider tremolo vary


  • Lacks a standard Jazzmaster rhythm circuit
  • Stratocaster-style tremolo could delay Jazzmaster purists

Synonymous with surf rock and oozing with character, the Fender Jazzmaster is a quintessentially versatile electrical guitar design with a variety of tonal capabilities that’s simple to play. The corporate’s newest American Performer mannequin brings this repute to an entire new stage, streamlining the design with considerate, fashionable updates to make it one of the vital well-rounded electrical guitars you should buy proper now. The American Performer Jazzmaster options two Yosemite single-coil pickups that ship all the guitar’s distinct readability and punch however with a barely larger output stage that’s extra appropriate for enjoying modern types of music. A specialised built-in tone circuit additionally permits gamers to regulate the extent of highs and lows utilizing a single knob for a extra subdued sound that by no means turns into muddy, additional widening the vary of the guitar’s tonal capabilities.

The American Performer Jazzmaster’s bridge meeting is a departure from the design’s conventional floating tremolo, swapping in a Stratocaster-style design with bent metal saddles that enables entry to a wider pitch-bending vary than the unique. The electronics have additionally been pared all the way down to a single three-way pickup selector change, leaving out the standard Jazzmaster rhythm circuit. Whereas these modifications may trouble gamers searching for a true-to-vintage Jazzmaster expertise, we favor this streamlined design as a result of it solely makes it simpler to entry the guitar’s vary of basic tones. If historic accuracy is extra your factor, take into account the Fender American Classic II Jazzmaster as a great-sounding different.

Finest acoustic: Martin Highway Collection 000-10E

A Martin 000-10E acoustic-electric guitar on a blue and white background

Why it made the reduce: The 000-10E incorporates a heat tone and stable physique with an ideal steadiness of worth and playability, making it a superb guitar for the highway and at house.


  • Physique: Sapele, cherry satin end, scalloped X-bracing
  • Neck: Choose hardwood, high-performance taper
  • Fretboard: Richlite, 16-inch radius, 20 frets
  • Scale size: 24.9”
  • Electronics: Fishman MX-T under-saddle pickup
  • Bridge: Richlite, fashionable “stomach” drop-in saddle design
  • Equipment: Softshell case


  • Midsize physique and tapered neck are simple to play and cozy to carry
  • Scalloped bracing offers wonderful projection and quantity
  • Handy soundhole-mounted controls and tuner


  • Lacks among the low-bass response present in bigger acoustics
  • Brief-scale neck and midsize physique could really feel small for bigger gamers

Based in 1833 and nonetheless going sturdy as we speak, C.F. Martin Guitar Firm is a major contributor to music historical past and is thought broadly because the producer of among the most sought-after classic guitars ever bought. You merely can’t have a listing of the very best acoustic guitars and never have a Martin mannequin on it. However these are the very best electrical guitars, you say. Effectively, the Martin 000-10E acoustic-electric guitar distills the corporate’s heritage into an reasonably priced and easy-to-play design that boasts unbelievable projection and heat, wealthy tones. An “auditorium”-sized design with a comfortable-to-hold form, the 000-10E’s high, sides, and again are created from stable sheets of sapele, a barely heavier and similar-sounding different to mahogany. This midsize physique, paired with the 000-10E’s short-scale tapered neck, makes it an excellent candidate for journey use and far simpler to play than standard-sized dreadnought acoustic guitars.

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For amplified use, the Martin 000-10E incorporates a Fishman MX-T inner pickup paired with easy-to-access dial controls and a handy onboard tuner mounted out of sight within the guitar’s soundhole. On this guitar, the MX-T pickup itself affords a reasonably typical acoustic-electric tone that may come throughout as a bit brittle or sterile in comparison with the unplugged tone of the guitar. If you’re utilizing the pickup on the 000-10E, including a sign processor just like the Boss AD-2 Acoustic Preamp will assist reintroduce the guitar’s pure tone and maintain the amplified sound. All in all, the Martin 000-10E is an extremely well-rounded acoustic-electric guitar, however take into account the Martin Highway Collection D-10E when you’ve got bigger palms or favor the brighter highs and booming lows of a extra conventional design.

Finest for freshmen: Fender Participant Mustang

A gold Fender Mustang electric guitar on a blue and white background

Why it made the reduce: This compact, fashion-forward Fender delivers basic single-coil tones and incorporates a short-scale neck that makes it perfect for freshmen and gamers with small palms.


  • Physique: Stable alder, polyester end
  • Neck: Maple bolt-on, C form, satin urethane end
  • Fretboard: Pau Ferro, 9.5-inch radius, 22 medium-jumbo frets
  • Scale size: 24”
  • Electronics: 2 x Mustang Single-coil pickups
  • Bridge: 6-saddle string-through-body hardtail Strat
  • Equipment: None included


  • Brief-scale neck makes fretting simple for small palms
  • Easy controls and biting tone in a stripped-down design
  • Journey-friendly measurement and weight


  • Tone could also be skinny for types outdoors rock
  • Small physique and neck could really feel uncomfortable for big gamers
  • Doesn’t embody a case

Initially designed in 1964 as a student-series instrument, the Fender Mustang is considerably of a rock-and-roll icon, having discovered favor with the likes of Liz Phair, Kurt Cobain, and numerous others over the many years. True to its student-friendly design, the Fender Participant Mustang incorporates a 24-inch scale neck that makes it a lot simpler for gamers with small palms to worry chords and stretch their fingers when in comparison with standard-scale designs. The guitar’s two single-coil pickups ship jangly, mid-forward tones that sound biting and aggressive when overdriven, making it an excellent selection for surf rock, punk, grunge, metallic, funk, and different historically bright-sounding guitar types. The Fender Participant Mustang can also be an excellent candidate for taking up the highway because of its brief scale and comparatively small physique, however you’ll have to deliver your personal case—we like Fender’s basic collection wooden case and short-scale bag.

Whereas the Participant Mustang packs all the brightness and character for which its design is thought, it’s not essentially the most versatile instrument in case you’re trying to enterprise out of shiny genres into taking part in types that require a thicker, fuller guitar tone. When you love the Mustang design however want a little bit extra flexibility out of your sound, the dual-P90 configuration of the Fender Mustang 90 provides a little bit extra physique and substance to the combination with out forfeiting type factors. The Mustang can also be a reasonably small guitar, so in case you’re a newbie who prefers a extra standard-sized electrical guitar, the Fender Participant Stratocaster is one other legendary design with a really related sound and bigger physique.

Finest for blues and jazz: Epiphone Sheraton II Professional 

An Epiphone Sheraton II hollow body guitar on a blue and white background

Why it made the reduce: Full, rounded tone and woody resonance are hallmarks of the perfect blues and jazz guitar sound, all of which the Epiphone Sheraton II Professional delivers in spades.


  • Physique: Semi-hollow physique laminated maple, urethane end
  • Neck: 5-piece maple and walnut set neck, ‘60s-style taper
  • Fretboard: Pau Ferro with binding, 12-inch radius, 22 medium-jumbo frets
  • Scale size: 24.75”
  • Electronics: ProBucker-2 and ProBucker-3 humbuckers
  • Bridge: LockTone Tune-o-matic Bridge
  • Equipment: None included


  • Big selection of tones additionally appropriate for rock
  • Semi-hollow design delivers unbelievable resonance and maintain
  • Flat 12” radius is nice for dexterous taking part in


  • Semi-hollow physique vulnerable to suggestions at excessive volumes
  • Barely heavy and huge for a semi-hollow instrument
  • Doesn’t embody a case

Epiphone’s historical past as an instrument producer began in 1873 on the western coast of what’s now Turkey earlier than the corporate relocated to New York within the early twentieth century. As we speak, the model is owned by Gibson and is used primarily for providing high-quality variations of the corporate’s basic designs at reasonably priced worth factors. The luxurious-sounding, eye-catching Sheraton II Professional lifts its inspiration from the notorious Gibson ES-335, a guitar identified for its chime-like assault and thick midrange that’s been favored all through historical past by gamers like Chuck Berry and B.B. King. Regardless of being priced at over $2,000 lower than the ES-335, the Sheraton II Professional punches means above its class and produces unbelievable rock, blues, and jazz guitar tones in an easy-to-play design.

The Sheraton II Professional’s distinctly wealthy sound comes from its resonant semi-hollow physique, which is supported by a central tone block, and its two vintage-style humbuckers, which embody a variety of tones from heat and refined to shiny and daring. The Sheraton’s humbuckers give it a full, bass-heavy sound and lengthy maintain that’s perfect for jazz and blues but in addition nice for heavier rock types when paired with an overdrive, although its semi-hollow design makes it vulnerable to suggestions when taking part in at louder volumes. Regardless of being semi-hollow and sporting a skinny, easy-to-play neck, the Sheraton II Professional can also be a bit heavy and hulking, which can make it robust for smaller gamers to make use of. When you’re searching for one thing a little bit extra wieldy, the Epiphone On line casino Archtop of Beatles fame has a smaller body and skews barely extra towards rock-and-roll tones.

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Finest hybrid: Fender Acoustasonic Participant Telecaster

A Fender Acoustasonic Player Telecaster on a blue and white background

Why it made the reduce: Fender’s Acoustasonic Participant Telecaster affords a singular mix of acoustic and electrical tones in a futuristic bundle, making it an intriguing all-in-one selection for gigging and songwriting.


  • Physique: Semi-hollow physique mahogany, spruce high, polyester end
  • Neck: Mahogany bolt-on, fashionable deep-C form
  • Fretboard: Rosewood, 12-inch radius, 22 narrow-tall frets
  • Scale size: 25.5”
  • Electronics: N4 single-coil, under-saddle piezo
  • Bridge: Rosewood, fashionable asymmetrical
  • Equipment: Gig bag


  • Very light-weight body and comfortable-to-play design
  • Affords a customizable vary of distinctive electrical and acoustic tonal combos
  • Constructed-in overdrive by way of the mix knob


  • Unplugged sound isn’t as full or loud as conventional acoustic guitars
  • Doesn’t sound precisely like a solid-body guitar
  • Suffers from delicate neck dive

In each side, from its tone to its building, the Fender Acoustasonic Participant Telecaster blurs the road between acoustic and electrical guitar, making it an excellent choice for studio and touring musicians who need a little bit artistic inspiration. The guitar is constructed like a standard acoustic guitar with a braced spruce high and a hole physique. Nonetheless, its distinctive electronics can mix between six onboard tonal varieties to make the guitar sound like every thing from a dreadnought and small-body acoustic guitars to an overdriven solid-body Telecaster. In apply (and we’ve had a bunch, as our full overview reveals), the Acoustasonic’s built-in Telecaster pickup doesn’t totally nail the sound of a solid-body Tele; nonetheless, the ensuing tone is each bit as responsive as its stable counterpart with a little bit added resonance and midrange because of the guitar’s hole physique.

As an electrical guitar, the Fender Acoustasonic Participant Telecaster is a singular instrument that doesn’t sound fairly like anything. Its plugged-in acoustic tones are super-versatile and ear-pleasing, however the guitar’s unplugged acoustic sound is a bit skinny and quiet as a consequence of its small physique. As a result of the design combines a hole physique and a stable wooden neck, the Acoustasonic Participant Telecaster additionally suffers from a really delicate case of “neck dive” when used with a strap, however don’t let that deter you from strapping one on and making an attempt it out—it’s actually like nothing else at the moment on the market.

Finest finances: Donner DST-400

A Donner DST-400 electric guitar on a blue and white background

Why it made the reduce: This full-size electrical guitar affords an enormous vary of tonal choices and plenty of additional equipment in an reasonably priced bundle.


  • Physique: Stable alder, gloss polyester end
  • Neck: Maple bolt-on, slim C form, satin urethane end
  • Fretboard: Laurel, 9.5-inch radius, 22 medium-jumbo frets
  • Scale size: 25.5”
  • Electronics: 2 x Seeker collection single-coil, 1 x Seeker collection humbucker
  • Bridge: 2-point synchronized tremolo with vintage-style saddles
  • Equipment: Gig bag, guitar strap, guitar cable


  • Two single-coils and a humbucker provide a large tonal vary
  • Stratocaster-inspired building and sound
  • Consists of every thing you want besides an amp


  • Will doubtless want a setup to achieve full potential

Electrical guitars beneath $500 have come a great distance over time, because of fashionable developments in machining tech, and the Donner DST-400 could also be the very best instance of this incontrovertible fact that we’ve examined up to now. At first look, it’s simple to inform that the DST-400 attracts heavy design inspiration from the ever-present Fender Stratocaster, with its contoured physique, tremolo bridge, and three pickups with two single coils within the neck and center positions. The DST-400 departs from Strat custom at its bridge place, choosing a break up humbucker that may be switched between humbucking mode and basic single-coil operation to tug off a variety of tones starting from slinky and crisp to thick and loud.

The Donner DST-400 is well-built and holds its tuning admirably, contemplating that it’s a finances guitar. Nonetheless, its cheaper price tag begins to point out in its lack of ending touches: its fret-ends are a bit sharp out of the field, it has some issues with intonation throughout the neck vary, and it’s susceptible to worry buzz. All of this stuff will be mounted with a correct setup, however in case you don’t know the best way to do it your self, it’ll positively add to the general price of the guitar. Other than this caveat, the Donner DST-400 is a fairly candy deal for the cash, made solely sweeter by the cable, gig bag, and guitar strap included with the acquisition.

What to think about when shopping for the very best electrical guitars

An electrical guitar is an funding. Right here’s the best way to choose one which’s best for you:

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Do you’ve the required equipment?

Not like their totally acoustic counterparts, electrical guitars require additional gear to perform. When you’re trying to purchase your first electrical guitar, you’ll additionally want a guitar amp (or amp emulator pedal), a guitar cable, and a few guitar picks at minimal, in addition to a guitar strap if you wish to play standing up. You’ll desire a guitar tuner, particularly in case you’re a newbie, and possibly a pedalboard in case you’re on the level that you simply’re gigging (or at the least heading to band rehearsal frequently). And don’t neglect a guitar stand for once you’re not taking part in however wish to admire your new axe. And don’t even get us began on what you want if you wish to report your self—okay, get us began, however an audio interface, microphones, and many others., aren’t a precedence in case you’re simply beginning out.

Do you’ve small palms?

You probably have smaller palms or shorter arms, take into account a short-scale electrical guitar over a standard-sized mannequin. Brief-scale guitars are designed particularly with small gamers in thoughts, and so they’re comfy to play because of their shut frets that require much less reaching when taking part in chords.

What kind of music will you play?

Electrical guitars are available all kinds of designs and configurations, every with its personal strengths and weaknesses. For many rock genres, any solid-body or semi-hollow-body electrical guitar with single-coil or humbucking pickups ought to do the trick. When you’re taking part in jazz primarily, take into account a semi-hollow or hollow-body guitar, and in case you play folks music, go for an acoustic-electric design.


Q: How a lot do new electrical guitars price?

New electrical guitars span a variety of prices—anyplace from round $200 to round $20,000.

Q: Does the variety of frets matter for electrical guitars?

Most electrical guitars have between 20 and 24 frets. Nonetheless, the variety of frets doesn’t actually matter except you’re taking part in technically demanding genres like metallic or fusion that require frequent entry to the very best ranges of the instrument.

Q: How a lot ought to a newbie spend on an electrical guitar?

A newbie ought to spend anyplace from $250 to $800 on an electrical guitar, relying on how severe they’re about persevering with. A big a part of an electrical guitar’s price comes from its high quality, which in flip immediately impacts its playability—and it’s not enjoyable or simple to study on a guitar that’s exhausting to play.

Q: How ought to I look after my electrical guitar?

Electrical guitar care entails storage, secure transport, and upkeep, all requiring time and consideration. A correct-fitting exhausting case made particularly in your instrument’s mannequin and form is the very best instrument for safely storing and touring together with your guitar. Strings ought to be modified on a mean of each three months, and the fretboard cleaned with a microfiber fabric every time. To maintain your strings and fretboard cleaner longer, strive wiping down the neck after every time you play.

Finals ideas on the very best electrical guitars

For our cash, the Fender American Performer Jazzmaster takes the cake for being an extremely well-rounded electrical guitar that’s simple to play and may deal with a variety of types. When you’re searching for an instrument that may ship easy acoustic tones and snappy electrical chunk multi function, the Fender Acoustasonic Participant Telecaster is a singular electrical guitar that’s price a glance; in case you favor a extra conventional acoustic guitar expertise with the additional benefit of an electrical pickup, we love the Martin Highway Collection 000-10E for its easy-to-play design and heat, spherical tone. Newbie guitarists and gamers with small palms ought to take a look at the Fender Participant Mustang, a short-scale design with a right away, rock-and-roll-friendly sound. If blues and jazz are extra your factor, the Epiphone Sheraton II Professional is price a glance, because of its thick, bass-heavy sound and high-output pickups. When you’re searching for a set-up on a budget, take into account the Donner DST-400.

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Well-liked Science began writing about know-how greater than 150 years in the past. There was no such factor as “gadget writing” after we printed our first concern in 1872, but when there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for on a regular basis readers means we might have been throughout it. Right here within the current, PopSci is totally dedicated to serving to readers navigate the more and more intimidating array of units available on the market proper now.

Our writers and editors have mixed many years of expertise masking and reviewing client electronics. We every have our personal obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video video games to cameras and past—however after we’re reviewing units outdoors of our fast wheelhouses, we do our greatest to hunt out reliable voices and opinions to assist information folks to the perfect suggestions. We all know we don’t know every thing, however we’re excited to dwell by way of the evaluation paralysis that web buying can spur so readers don’t should.