For a Rockstar on a Budget

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.

Top 10 Best Cheap Electric Guitars Under 200

#ImageGuitar Model
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Check Price
1ESP LTD F-50 Electric Guitar (4.9 / 5)Check on Amazon
2
Jackson JS22 Dinky (4.8 / 5)Check on Amazon
3C-1 SGR by Schecter (4.7 / 5)Check on Amazon
4Ibanez GIO Series GRG121DX (4.6 / 5)Check on Amazon
5Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC012DLX (4.6 / 5)Check on Amazon
6Epiphone Les Paul SPECIAL-II (4.6 / 5)Check on Amazon
7Dean Vendetta XM (4.5 / 5)Check on Amazon
8Squier by Fender Bullet Strat (4.5 / 5)Check on Amazon
9Ibanez GRX20ZBKN (4.4 / 5)Check on Amazon
10Oscar Schmidt OE20G (4.3 / 5)Check on Amazon

ESP LTD F-50 Electric Guitar

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ESP LTD F-50 Electric Guitar

There are many types of guitars in the world, but some of them can just be referred to as BAMFs. ESPT LITD F-50 is one of these. Both in looks and sound it provides everything your local metal head needs. Be it bright red or black, the angular design combined with the heavy sound make for an impressive axe. Look at the price and you have yourself one of the contenders for best electric guitars under 200. The basswood works well with the maple neck and the rosewood fretboard, combining into a design with so much character, you’ll wonder how many people pale in comparison. The answer is many, if you didn’t notice.

Jackson JS22 Dinky

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Jackson JS22 Dinky

The dinky, full name Jackson JS22 Dinky, might have a funny name, but this instrument is no joke (Ha Ha).  Named so for its smaller than usual size, the Dinky overcompensates with its sound. Equipped with two humbuckers it produces a full sound perfect for the heavy sustain of hard rock. Lightweight basswood body, for all you musicians who don’t like to be weighed down by the problems of the world, allows you to jump around the stage like the crazed music maniac you are. The comfortable fretboard will have you all over it and finally at the very 24th fret as you heat up in your very own sonic revolution.

C-1 SGR by Schecter

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C-1 SGR by Schecter

Once Upon a Time in the 1970s United States of America there lived a man who wanted to make guitar parts. He started his own company and put his heart and soul into it. Then he realized that there was no guitar worthy of his soul, so he started making his own guitars.  Today this company has made one of the best cheap electric guitars in the world.  It looks a little evil plays with a mean sound. It’s perfect for all your  metal ambitions. Body of simple basswood with all 24 easily available on a beautiful Rosewood Fretboard,  The C1 sgr is perfectly suited for all those looking to have more than fun with their instruments.

Ibanez GIO Series GRG121DX

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Ibanez GIO Series GRG121DX

Ibanez is a company that values newcomers. They know it can be hard to get into the guitar owning business, so they created the GIO series. Intended as a stepping stone, they accidentally (or maybe intentionally) made something of a masterpiece. One of the best value electric guitars for your money, the GRG121DX offers a flexible range of tones, as well as aggressive looks to match your style. The standard basswood body with rosewood fretboard, jumbo frets and ceramic pickups offer you the chance to make the sound you’ve always wanted to hear.  Pick this up and band out all the bucks you spent on it, and more.

Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC012DLX

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Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC012DLX

Yamaha, the Japanese company that has made more things than I will ever buy. There is a reason for that: they’re really good at making things. Especially when those things have to work well and not be expensive, such as, guitars. Let me introduce you to Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC012DLX, or the guitar you might know as the one you fell in love with. It is vintage thanks to its vibrato, heavy thanks to its 3 way switching humbuckers, and stylish thanks to how beautiful the design is. So what do we get in the end? An extremely versatile, sonically exquisite companion for your stage or home practice. I may have lied a bit though; this guitar was designed by a California musician. So, take your quintessential joining of the Japanese and American and enjoy it with everyone who knows how undervalued this guitar is.

Epiphone Les Paul SPECIAL-II

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Epiphone Les Paul SPECIAL-II

What does Epiphone sell the most of? Yes you guessed it (probably mostly because of the picture next to the text), the Epiphone Les Paul Special-II. Why does this guitar sell the most out of all things Epiphone? Well, for one, it is amazing. And that’s all the reason you need, I think. The Okoume shape Basswood body comes in so many colors and designs, it’s not even funny. Equipped with powerful humbuckers, the guitar will have the audience begging for more of your heavy, sexy sounds, and you’ve only spent a fraction of what you thought you would’ve had to spend on a guitar for this reaction. It is not only hard in its sound though, it can sound as wistful or as soft as you need it to. Flexible, beautiful and cheap. Isn’t that what you’re looking for?

Dean Vendetta XM

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Dean Vendetta XM

Have you ever thought of playing the guitar as a battle? A competition between you and all the other musicians you play with or aspire to be? Well, get ready for the true axe among the guitars, this beast will help you come back with a vengeance against all those overpriced guitar bearers. Aptly named for its purpose, this weapon features a paulownia body with a maple fretboard, a design to envy and two humbuckers so heavy in their sound, you’ll wonder if a singing, berserking viking made them. This guitar may be the contender for the best value for money electric guitar. I mean, take a look at the price tag, just make sure not to let any flies into your mouth.

Squier by Fender Bullet Strat

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Squier by Fender Bullet Strat

The Fender Guitar, the legendary, iconic, well known and almost 7-year-old guitar that haunts your dreams of want. So why am I talking to you about a Squier? Well, because it’s, it’s everything you want out of a fender at a price that makes sense. The well-known combination of Basswood body and Maple fretboard, numerous styles, pickguards, and 3 single-coil pickups will give you the soulful sound you hear in your dreams when you dream of Fender. Rarely do you get such versatility in a guitar so reasonably priced. It is good both for beginners and for people looking to expand their guitar collection, so go ahead, live at least a part of the dream you have every night.

Ibanez GRX20ZBKN

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Ibanez GRX20ZBKN

If you want character in your guitar, something that looks just like it sounds, you should probably go for the guitar the name of which stands for Black Night. Or maybe Black Knight? I’m not sure, but either way, character is what this instruments has an abundance of. 2 humbuckers and Alder body, Rosewood Fretboard and a look that batman would drool at. What else does anyone want out a guitar? Probably for it to sound as good as the Ibanez GRX20ZBKN. Go make Bruce Wayne proud and play the sound you hear when you’re driving down a dark highway in your pitch black car. Maybe, your sound will save somebody’s life as well?

Oscar Schmidt OE20G

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Oscar Schmidt OE20G

Ever wonder what you would look like if you could be just as suave as you wish you could? Well, try out the new Oscar Schmidt OE20G. Shaped a little like a Les Paul, it is an incredible take on a classic guitar. A body made out of Mahogany with two Humbuckers that sound like the lullaby you think you remember sung to you as a child, this guitar brings as much heavy or smooth in sound, as it does in looks. It is unique, beautiful and, just like so many instruments on this list, comfortably under-priced to fit your needs.

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 to graduate from your beginner guitar? 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.

Other Options

Don’t like any of the options above? Here is some advice on what you should look at if you want a best cheap guitar option that you can find on your own. Some of this is also covered in the beginner’s guide to buying guitars.

The Body

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

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.

The Fretboard

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.

Tremolo Bar

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.

Pickup

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.

Pickup Selector

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.

Conclusion

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 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, 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.

 

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