The unmistakable look of an electric guitar is a staple of many bands and music genres. Combine this with the window-shaking roar you can pull from an amp with one, and it’s easy to see why the electric guitar has remained such a popular instrument over the ages.
Even with accusations that its popularity may be waning, the instrument has remained a consistent top seller among music stores over the years.
But there are thousands of electric guitars on the market – how do you tell which one is better than another?
Obviously, price and brand can be a good metric to go by.
But there’s also value in knowing which features suit your play style and skill level, and how a collection of features match up to a given price level.
Determining playability and value is important for getting the most out of a purchase.
Here are our picks for the top 10 best electric guitars on the market. Obviously, there is a large degree of subjectivity in play when it comes to choosing instruments.
But going by a set list of criteria, we’ll offer up ten of the most high-quality and long-running options for electric guitar buyers to consider.
How Do We Choose Our Ratings?
What goes into determining the quality of the best electric guitar? It’s a combination of factors – it has to look good, sound great, and pass the field test among musicians who have bought it.
We rate our guitars based on a combination of public perception of the instrument themselves and the brands behind them. But we also take a close look at features, as no brand name alone can make a guitar worth investing in from a functional perspective.
Everything from the finish to the pickups to the tuners play a role in how the instrument plays and the experience it gives the user. Combine the design choices of a guitar with the reputation of the manufacturer behind it, and you have a good basis to go off of when determining whether to buy it.
Finally, we consider reviews and ratings. A guitar can look great on a band poster or even sound great when its signal is passed through a rack full of effects. But among musicians who have actually laid their money down to get it, what is its reputation?
Feedback matters most when considering a guitar, and many of these models have received countless positive reviews throughout the years. Here are our picks for the top 10 best electric guitars you should consider.
10 Electric Guitars Every Musician Should Consider
It’s the iconic style meets the iconic sound – combined together by one of America’s most prolific electric guitar manufacturers. The Gibson Les Paul comes in many distinct variations, but the Studio is one that mixes a high-end design with a modest price tag for the high-end instrument range. A thick mahogany body provides that deep Gibson sustain and the same material is used on the slim neck, which has a 24 ¾ scale. Add in Gibson USA Modern Classic humbuckers, and you have a sleek looking, great sounding guitar for any music style.
Our Rating: 5/5
It’s a Gibson, but it’s also more than just a brand – this guitar is a perfect example of how “basic” features can create a sound that’s anything but. High-quality pickups, premium wood choice, and top-notch construction practices make the Gibson Les Paul Studio a consistent choice for musicians of all skill levels and backgrounds. It may not make you play like Slash, Randy Rhoads, or the countless other musicians who wielded Les Paul guitars – but it’s still a great buy.
Even if a person knows next to nothing about guitars, the chances are they laid eyes on Fender’s Stratocaster at some point or another. This popular guitar brand has been used by countless musicians and lends itself well to almost all styles of music. The American Professional Series combines Fender’s revered workmanship with a focus on several key features. This includes narrow frets for easy playability, a Deep C profile, and the V-Mod/ShawBucker pickup set.
Our Rating: 5/5
It’s hard to get that type of single coil sound with such clarity and bite anywhere else. Fender’s American Professional Stratocaster can satisfy all of a musician’s needs – from giving them a guitar that looks great to offering a distinct and unmistakable sound, this guitar checks all the boxes for what a high-end instrument should be. Like the Les Paul, the Strat won’t make you sound like it’s famous wielders such as Jimi Hendrix or Stevie Ray Vaughn, but you’ll still have a great sounding instrument.
Paul Reed Smith may not have the same type of longevity as say Gibson or Fender, but this guitar maker earned a solid reputation quickly. That’s because they utilize quality parts and top-notch workmanship, as evident by their PRS SE Custom 24. PRS is so confident in their craftsmanship, some models of this guitar didn’t even feature the name on the front of the headstock. This one does, however, along with fret inlays in the shape of birds – a subtle but elegant touch. It also has a mahogany body, maple back and neck, and a set of PRS passive humbuckers.
Our Rating: 5/5
It has the type of elegant aesthetics and detailed tonality that’s made PRS such a mainstay in guitar circles. This is one of the maker’s best models, and it has the type of workmanship any musician can appreciate. From the medium-sized frets for balanced playability to a set-in neck for more stability and resonance, this model from PRS is a guitarist’s dream.
As if Ibanez wasn’t enough of a recognizable and trustworthy name among guitarists, even their sub-models have garnered respect. The Prestige line and RG models are well-known for their impressive array of features, such as this model’s five-piece maple/walnut neck designed for lightning fast shredding across the bound bird’s eye maple fingerboard. It even includes DiMarzio’s Air Norton/Tone Zone pickup combination – another popular choice among longtime electric guitarists.
Our Rating: 4/5
Though some may say the Prestige and RG guitars are only reserved for shred-heads looking to see how many notes they can tremolo pick in a minute, this guitar can be great for almost anyone. Its beautiful appearance coupled with smart design by a trusted manufacturer means it’s a great choice for the mid-to-high-end range of electric guitar options.
Jackson is another guitar brand that often gets relegated to the shredder category. But with a classic humbucker setup, fast neck, and variety of beautiful finishes to choose from, their soloist line can be a great choice for almost any guitarist. A beautiful maple top with gloss finish and detailed neck binding make this guitar an impressive sight. It’s also built for smooth playability with 24 jumbo frets and a pair of Seymour Duncan humbuckers.
Our Rating: 4/5
Jackson’s Pro Soloist line deliver the same incredible sound quality with a more traditional (but highly polished) look. Enjoy the sonic capabilities of this guitar’s powerful pickups and stay engrossed in the high-end look and feel it offers – even if you’re not a pro, or the soloing type.
- The Standard Series is the perfect choice for any musician looking to upgrade to a professional level instrument
- The "C" shaped neck provides universal comfort and elegant styling
- Envoke the iconic tones that only a Fender Telecaster can provide with the dual Single-Coil Tele pickups
Fender makes the list again, this time for the Standard Edition Telecaster. This classic model was named after the television and has experienced many updates and rereleases throughout the decades. It offers a fast maple neck and sealed machine head tuners, as well as a pair of classic single coil pickups great for country, rock, and blues sound. It also uses a distinct string-thru-body bridge iconic single cutaway body style.
Our Rating: 4/5
Fender’s Telecaster has remained one of the most popular guitars throughout the years for good reason. It’s unmistakable looks and high-quality construction make it a staple in studios, jam halls, and other places where musicians frequent. Even if the country twang or thin single coil sound isn’t your style, this instrument is worth checking out for its playability alone.
Gibson also gets another spot on this list, thanks to a guitar type that’s become iconic for both its looks and sound. The unmistakable aesthetics of the SG only add to its allure – the Special T 2017 edition combines the mahogany body and natural looking finish with a rosewood fretboard and tune-o-matic bridge. You’ll love the way the instrument looks – and gush over how it sounds. There’s great attention given to detail, right down to the gold-plated tuners.
Our Rating: 4/5
From the sleek points along the body cutaways to the beautiful body finish, this guitar looks the part of a high-end model. It sounds the same, offering multiple sound options through the use of top-quality Gibson humbuckers and multiple sound controls. See what has made the SG a great choice for generations of musicians.
Ibanez is another guitar maker popular and successful enough to make this list twice – but the two entries couldn’t be more different. While the previous one is a sleek shred machine built for speed and lightweight maneuverability, this one is designed to deliver deep and rich tones through the hollowbody design. From the elegant tailpiece to the mahogany body, sides, and neck, this guitar looks great. It comes with a set of ACH humbuckers for a wide array of sound options.
Our Rating: 3/5
It’s one of the most affordable guitars on this list – it’s also great for guitarists who want an electric guitar that can still emulate acoustics fairly well. Thanks to the hollowbody design and combination of humbuckers, this is one guitar that can be used for rhythm, lead, or both.
- Dual ceramic zebra humbucking pickups for modern and aggressive tones
- Maple neck with slim "C"-Shaped profile and matching painted headstock
- 12" Fingerboard radius; jumbo Frets
Squire is made by Fender and lives up to its name as a solid guitar with all the makings you’d expect from the well-known company. The Contemporary Stratocaster HH gives beginner or budget guitarists everything they need to rock and roll. A slim C-shaped maple neck makes it easy to play, even fast, along the narrow fretted 12” radius. There’s also dual ceramic zebra humbuckers – meaning it’s not just a lower-level clone of a Fender Strat.
Our Rating: 3/5
Great for the electric guitar player who is just starting or the one who wants the most value in the low-level price range, this Squire Stratocaster offers a classic look and a good sound.
Another guitar that makes no reservations about its home in the beginner/budget category, this one lands on the list for the same reason as the entry above – value. For a few hundred dollars or less, you can get a Les Paul from the same company behind Gibson instruments. A mahogany body and maple top give this axe an aesthetic flare while the 700T (bridge) and 650R (neck) pickups provide a lot of grit for the cash.
Our Rating: 3/5
Again, this guitar is mainly targeted toward those who are thinking small but still want value for their purchase. It’s on this list because it combines high value with the same craftsmanship that’s satisfied thousands of Gibson and Epiphone buyers throughout the decades.
Buyer’s Guide: Finding The Best Electric Guitar for You
If you’re someone who values looks and style above all, maybe you’d love a Gibson Flying V. Crazy about a certain tone?
You might find yourself buying an Ibanez Jem, or maybe even a Jackson Dinky. But regardless, a good guitar needs a combination of factors to be truly worth it.
To make sure you’re buying the best electric guitar you can have, consider the type of wood used, the fret scale/neck size it offers, and of course, the type of pickups it has.
Some design choices favor certain stylistic preferences more than others, so it is wise to do your research.
Any guitar on this list is worth checking out – there is something for every price range, meaning you’ll be able to find something that suits your needs and your budget.