If you’re in the market for a new guitar, the first question that comes to mind is probably, “how much does an electric guitar cost?”
Choosing the right electric guitar that satisfies your needs as a player, while staying within your budget can be difficult.
There are millions of options to choose from ranging from cheap guitars under $200 to professional guitars over $10,000.
But what’s the difference and what price range is best for you?
In this article, you’ll learn the average cost of an electric guitar in every price range to help you determine how much you should be spending based on your skill level.
I’ll also break down the differences in quality between each price tier, so you’ll know exactly what to expect before you make your purchase.
In short, here’s a breakdown of how much an electric guitar costs based on tier:
Beginner Guitars cost between $150-$300. Intermediate Guitars cost between $350-$700. Higher End / Advance Guitars cost between $750-$1000. Professional Guitars cost $1,200- $5,000 or more.
Electric Guitar Starter Kits
If you’re a newbie who’s thinking about learning to play guitar, then you might want to consider a guitar starter kit.
It’s a convenient way for you to get a guitar, amplifier, gig bag, and picks all bundled together.
Guitar starter kits are an inexpensive way for you beginners to get their initial exposure to the instrument.
It also saves you the trouble having to research different guitars and practice amplifiers separately, which is an absolute pain when you’re first starting.
However, there is one caveat.
Most electric guitar starter kits out there are complete garbage!
The sole purpose of these guitar starter packs is to be cheap and convenient. Most of the time, this leads to a product with terrible build quality that doesn’t last and won’t stay in tune.
If you’re browsing on Amazon for a bundle pack, avoid anything under $150 from an unknown brand, regardless if it has good reviews. These reviews are typically from novices who don’t know anything about guitars and left a review strictly based on the price.
Avoid These Starter Kits (Despite How Temping They Might Be):
- ZENY 39″ Full Size Electric Guitar with Amp
- Best Choice Products Full Size Blue Electric Guitar with Amp
- LyxPro Electric Guitar with 20w Amp
- Donner DST-1S Electric Guitar w/ Amp
These are almost always terrible! At that price point, there is no way to produce a decent sounding guitar and bundle it with an amplifier.
For $150 there are very few(if any) standalone guitars with decent build quality, let alone adding on an amplifier.
Save yourself the frustration of buzzing frets, constantly having to retune, and warped neck. This will definitely hinder your experience, and make learning the guitar less enjoyable.
You should look to spend an absolute minimum of $200 for a starter kit if you want something that’ll actually be decent. In addition, you should stick with a reputable brand such as Squier (Fender), Epiphone(Gibson), Yamaha, or Ibanez.
Keep in mind that these guitars in starter packs are typically worse than buying standalone beginner guitars. I usually advise against starter kits altogether unless the convenience is necessary for you.
That said, here are my recommendations for electric guitar starter kits that don’t completely suck.
- Epiphone PPEG-EGL1VSCH1 Les Paul Guitar Player Package
- Yamaha Gigmaker EG Electric Guitar Pack
- Squier by Fender Stratocaster Beginner Electric Guitar Pack
- Ibanez IJRG220Z Electric Guitar Package
Beginner Electric Guitars
Selecting the right first guitar is essential because your overall impressions with it will ultimately decide whether or not you end up sticking with it. If you’re desperate to save a few bucks and get a cheap guitar that sucks, you’ll likely end up quitting altogether out of frustration.
How Much Do Beginner Electric Guitars Cost?
Beginner guitars will typically cost between $150-$350. This price point is usually the sweet spot that allows for decent quality at a low price.
Anything under $150 is where you start to see a significant decrease in quality in terms of overall construction and tuning stability. I usually recommend spending about $200 for your first guitar because this is a popular price point that the major guitar manufacturers try to keep their entry-level models at.
It is possible to find good beginner guitars for under $150, but it’s not as common. One of the only guitars I would recommend at this price is the Squier by Fender Bullet Stratocaster. It’s a killer value.
For about $200 you’ll find a ton great options from reputable brands such as Epiphone, Squier by Fender, Yamaha, and Ibanez.
Here are 5 beginner guitars under $200 that I would recommend. These are all great options if you’re looking for your first guitar. They are all made by reputable manufacturers and are modeled after iconic guitars, such as the Gibson Les Paul and Fender Stratocaster. You can find all of these guitars on Amazon.
- Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC012 (Probably the best value for the money)
- Squier by Fender Affinity Stratocaster
- Epiphone Les Paul SPECIAL-II
- Squier by Fender Affinity Telecaster
- Ibanez GIO Series GRGA120
If you’re a beginner but are confident that you won’t quit, then you might want to consider investing in a higher end “beginner guitar.” By spending a little more up front, you’ll be able to get yourself an upgraded version of the guitars listed above. They’ll offer advantages such as superior build quality, pickups, tone control, and more.
The higher end beginner guitars typically cost around $300. If you know you’re going to stick with the instrument, then it might be a smart option to choose from one of these because they’ll last you a while before you need to upgrade.
- Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC112V
- Squier by Fender Vintage Modified Stratocaster
- Epiphone Les Paul-100
- Squier by Fender Standard Telecaster
What to Expect From A Beginner Guitar
The primary selling point for beginner electric guitars is the price. Over the years guitar manufacturers have continued to drive the price down, making them easily accessible to new players on any budget.
With that said, there obviously has to be some compromises. Here’s an idea of what you can expect to get right out of the box when you purchase a beginner guitar.
Guitars in this price range will pretty much always be made overseas in factories in China or Indonesia.
Though the designs of these guitars are based on classic American brands such as Fender and Gibson, their subsidiary brands (Squier and Epiphone) will have these guitars manufactured overseas where the labor costs are cheaper.
Though these factories are by no means terrible, It’s quite common to see some quality control issues.
For example, you may see some imperfections in the finish, sharp fret edges, loose knobs, etc.
Again, since these guitars are made overseas in China, they’ll be using lower quality hardware. This includes cheap nickel bridges and tuners instead of brass and steel.
Also, the nut will be made of out of plastic rather bone. You should definitely consider changing the nut, as it will drastically improve tuning stability.
The pickups in beginner guitars are typically made in-house by the factories. They work fine, but they usually lack clarity, punchiness, and character.
Though it would improve the sound significantly to swap out the pickups, I usually advise against it for guitars in this price range.
A good set of pickups, such as Seymour Duncans or DiMarzios will cost nearly as much as the guitar itself.
It would make a lot more sense to just wait until it’s time to upgrade your guitar to an intermediate or advanced level guitar, and then swap out the pickups on that.
The thing with guitars that are made overseas is that they are almost never set up properly right out of the box.
Your guitar will probably have high action, poor intonation, and fret buzz.
So, when you buy a guitar at this price point, I would definitely suggest taking it to a luthier for a professional setup.
How Much Do Intermediate Electric Guitars Cost?
Once you have some experience playing the guitar, you’ll naturally outgrow your first guitar and want to upgrade.
Intermediate level guitars are great for those who want something significantly better than a starter guitar but are still on a fairly tight budget.
Intermediate guitars typically cost between $350-$750. This is probably the most common pricing tier.
Since most people only pick up the guitar as a hobby rather than a profession, this is the price range that most people are willing to spend on a guitar.
It’s a great balance between price versus performance.
What to Expect From an Intermediate Guitar?
Intermediate, or mid-range, guitars are a solid step up from a basic beginner guitar.
With beginner guitars, you’ll get the bare minimums to get you started; Hopefully, something that will stay in tune and play properly.
When you’re looking at an intermediate level guitar, you’ll start to notice that drastic differences between each guitar. Different models of guitars will actually have specific characteristics that separate them from one another.
In terms of what features you can expect, since this price range is pretty wide, it’ll really depend on how much you spend.
From what I’ve noticed, you can usually divide intermediate level guitars into two smaller price ranges.
Electric guitars from $350-$600
This is the price range that you should expect to spend if you want something decent that will last.
In this price range, you’ll still be dealing with guitars manufactured overseas in China, Indonesia, and Mexico, but the actual build quality of these guitars are better than cheap beginner guitars.
You might still run into some quality control issues here and there, but it’s usually not too bad.
In terms of the aesthetics, you’ll start to see more elaborate finishes and design elements that emulate the top of the line models.
For example, the Epiphone Les Paul Standard and Fender MiM Stratocaster are designed to look identical to their American counterparts.
As for the pickups, guitars in this price range will usually still use generic pickups that are mass produced overseas. It’s a bit too difficult to cram the premium pickups into the guitar while managing to keep the price low.
However, in terms of sound, these guitars come very close to the real deal.
The reality is that most people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a $500 guitar and a $2000 guitar, especially in a full mix.
Here are some the best electric guitars between $350-$500
- ESP LTD EC256FM
- Yamaha Pacifica PAC611HFM
- Fender Modern Telecaster Plus
- Schecter OMEN-6
- Epiphone SG G-400
Electric guitars from $600-$700
Once you get into the higher end intermediate guitars, you’ll start to see some significant differences between a typical beginner guitar.
Guitars in this price range are much better in terms of build quality, tonewood, finish, features.
If you’re a beginner, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a higher end intermediate guitar and professional guitar.
Here are some of the best electric guitars that cost between $600-$700
- Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plus Top Pro
- Fender Standard Stratocaster MiM
- ESP LTD EC401
- Schecter Damien Platinum 7 (7 String)
- Fender Standard Telecaster MiM
Should You Get an Intermediate Guitar?
Overall, intermediate guitars are a great value because they offer excellent build quality while keeping the price relatively low. If you’re a beginner, you might even want to consider starting out with a guitar in this price range if you can spare the extra cash.
It’s a bit of an investment up front, but you’ll end up having a guitar that will provide a much better learning experience. You also won’t have to ever worry about upgrading for a while, as these guitars are suitable for all levels of play.
Also, you’ll have a lot more options available to you compared to beginner guitars, so you’re sure to find the perfect fit for you that inspires you to play.
How Much Do High-End Advanced Guitars Cost?
High-end guitars typically cost between $750-$1000. These guitars are designed to be complete workhorse guitars for advanced players, though they’re really suitable for all skill levels. It just depends on whether you want to shell out the cash.
Often times, professional players will carry around these guitars as their workhorse guitars, so they can practice without worrying about causing damage to their main guitars.
Guitars in this price range are the best value for your money.
Though they’re still usually considered “budget” guitars, they are on par with the best of the best in terms of look, sound, feel at a fraction of the price.
You’ll start to see diminishing returns once to start spending above this price range. In many cases, you’ll have to spend 2-3 times more for a guitar that’s only 10% better.
Well, What Makes Them So Great?
For starters, these guitars are typically manufactured in Korea. While they are still made overseas to cut costs, Korean factories are known to be a step ahead of Indonesian or Chinese guitars in terms of quality.
From my experience, I can definitely tell the difference between Korean and Indonesian made guitars. There are usually less quality control issues such as dented frets, sharp edges, and imperfections in the finish.
Nowadays, Korean guitars are very comparable to Japanese guitars, which are typically reserved for the premium lines of guitars, such as the Ibanez Prestige series or ESP guitars.
In some cases, you’ll even find some guitars in this price range that are actually made in America or Japan, which are considered the top of the line.
In addition, you notice that guitars in this price range will start using name brand pickups instead of mass-produced generic in-house pickups. It’s actually pretty common to see guitars with legit Seymour Duncans, DiMarzios, or EMG’s.
Should You Get an Advanced Guitar?
If you have the extra cash, then absolutely.
As I mentioned, these electric guitars provide the best value for your money. Once you start spending more than $1000 for a guitar, you’ll begin to see diminishing returns.
In terms of sound quality, playability, and aesthetics, they are almost identical to guitars that cost twice as much. 95% of people wouldn’t even be able to distinguish the difference, especially in a full mix.
If you want a guitar that will essentially last you forever, you should definitely consider getting a guitar in this price range. You’ll never really need to upgrade.
Here are some of the best electric guitars under $1000.
- Fender American Special Stratocaster (Amazing value for an American made guitar)
- Fender American Special Telecaster
- ESP LTD EC-1000 Deluxe (Read my full ESP LTD EC-1000 Review Here)
- Sterling By Music Man Majesty John Petrucci Signature
- PRS SE Custom 24
- Schecter Hellraiser C-1
- Ibanez RG Prestige RG652AHM
Professional Electric Guitars
Professional electric guitars can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 or more. It really depends on the brand, specifications, and finish.
These guitars are the absolute best of the best.
They are typically handcrafted in premium American, European, or Japanese factories. Since the cost of labor is significantly higher in these areas, you’ll naturally have to pay a higher price for the guitar.
Professional guitars use the top of the line wood, hardware, and pickups.
While certainly not for the average consumer, if you can afford to pick up one of these guitars, they’ll basically last forever as long as you take care of it.
I’ve seen Gibson Les Paul’s that were made in the 1960s that are still in pristine playing condition today.
Here are some of the most reputable electric guitar brands to look for if you’re looking for a professional guitar.
Each one of these brands obviously has their own premium line of guitars, so, you’ll need to find the best fit for you. You might want to consider going to your local guitar shop and trying one out before buying.
- Paul Reed Smith (CE, Core, or Private Stock)
- Ibanez (Prestige or J Custom)
- ESP (Japan or USA)
- Ernie Ball Music Man
Another option is to consider buying a used electric guitar.
It’s a great option for those who want to save some money, while still getting a guitar that would normally be out of your price range.
Much like cars, most guitars don’t really retain their resale value on the used market. This presents a great opportunity for buyers.
You can typically expect to save a few hundred bucks if you decide to buy a used guitar model from a previous year. In some cases, you can save over 50% if you buy used.
Since guitars are typically built to last a long time, you most likely won’t even be able to tell the difference between a brand new guitar and a used guitar that is one year old (providing it was properly cared for).
There are tons of other advantages to buying used electric guitars as well. Check out my guide on buying used guitars to find out why I exclusively buy my guitars second hand.
When it comes to buying a guitar, there are thousands of options to choose from.
It can definitely be overwhelming, especially for beginners, to decide on the right one that satisfies all of their needs, while staying within a budget.
The purpose of this post was to simplify the buying process by examining the average cost of guitars in different price ranges, so you can get an idea of what to expect.
Remember that when it comes to buying an electric guitar, if it sounds good to your ear and feels comfortable to play, then that’s all that matters.
Whether you spend $300 or $3,000, if the guitar satisfies all of your needs as a player, then you should definitely buy it.
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